'I think for every action there is a reaction.'
01/02/2019, Danil VOLOHOV
Nowadays, the history of the formation of The Mission is a well-known tale. After leaving The Sisters Of Mercy three musicians formed one of the brightest musical collectives in the history of rock-music. Wayne Hussey changed lots of band members and colleagues up until 2013 when the band released their first album featuring original members of the band “The Brightest Light”. They didn’t stop recording at one album and after three years released “Another Fall From Grace”.
This May Wayne Hussey will release his autobiography, telling about his very first years, living in Liverpool and working with The Sisters Of Mercy. In the interview for Peek-A-Boo magazine, Wayne Hussey told us about “Another Fall From Grace”, about his attitude towards different Mission albums, about various projects and his upcoming autobiography.
I’d like to start our conversation with a question about your last record “Another Fall From Grace”. It came out after three years of silence, with different musicians taking part in it. How hard was it to record this album ?
It was quite an easy album to make. But there were parts of the process that were quite painful as always, with any album really. I think the hardest thing I found making the album is actually letting it go thinking: “Ok, it’s finished – let it go!” Certainly, I have my own studio here in Brazil that affords me the luxury of working without having to look at the clocks. I would forever think, going to the studio: “I can make this better. I can do this to that! I can make these guitars better!” Eventually, you've just got to say: “Ok, that’s it! It’s done! It’s not perfect but it’s done!”
With this album, it was the first time after many years when you get to play twelve-string guitar.
Well, what can I say? I had used twelve-string guitar through the years. I suppose, it was my principal instrument when I was with The Sisters Of Mercy and on the early Mission records. It was my main instrument of choice. But I have used it as well…on the last record, I just wanted that jangle, that kind of sparkle to the guitars that maybe you won’t get with 6-strings. I just wanted it for this record! But when the records are done, I don’t really go back and listen to them. Unless, rehearsing for a tour. And I have to remember a song, or guitar line…(laughs) So I’ll listen to the record and then say: “Ok! Really ? That’s how it goes!” Generally, I don’t listen to my own stuff. I think most musicians do the same. Once it’s done – it’s done! You wanna move to the next thing. Whatever it may be! With “Another Fall From Grace” I set out to achieve a certain sound. To make a certain kind of record as I suppose. And if you want to term it anything…I’d literally call it “gothic”. It’s a bit of a stretch. But that’s what I’d call it.
At the time of the formation of The Mission you had quite a big background being a member of Rough Justice, The Invisible Girls and Dead or Alive. So could you please tell a few words about the Liverpool scene of those days ? How do you remember your first gig with The Mission ?
Well, I’ve just written an autobiography. It’s coming out this Summer. I’ve been through all these things in a last couple of years. But Rough Justice was my first school band, basically. We changed our name a few times during three or four years (laughs). We never made any records. We just played a few shows around Bristol….I say “shows” but that were gigs in pubs, basically. Then I moved to Liverpool. It was late 77-early-78. And got to a club called Eric’s, which was fantastic club! It was a kind of punk-club…But there was a lot more than just punk. Iggy Pop was there and The B’52’s, The Pretenders, The Cure..all kinds of stuff! It was great club! And that’s where I met Budgie and lots of other people involved in the Liverpool scene. That’s where I was in a couple of bands. We'd make a couple of records but we never were very successful. It’s a learning process as much than anything else. But I’ve been there. I saw some of my friends who started and had success going on tour and I always was a bit jealous of them because that’s something I wanted to do and they were doing it before me. Then I joined Dead Or Alive. Pete Burns asked me to join. So I joined and played with them for a couple of years. After I left Dead Or Alive I was asked to join The Sisters of Mercy. I left Liverpool and moved to Leeds. I think it was 84…anyway, obviously, a couple of years in The Sisters…it’s all been well documented. We formed The Mission in late-85…very late 85. We did our first gig in London. A secret warm-up show in the club called “Alice in Wonderland” which was a trendy-kind of psychedelic nightclub at that time. It was awful! I was so nervous! I was so drunk and so nervous! I forgot all the songs! Forgot all the words! I forgot I was a singer! I just played the guitar. There was one point when I was singing and I realized that microphone was about three feet away from me....it got better, finally! Eventually we got better as a band. But the first gig...nerves and trembling.
It would be logically right to ask you about your debut work. I think among fans of The Mission “God’s Own Medicine” would be the main record. How do you remember the recording process? And can you say that you changed your attitude towards this record, after these years ?
Basically, I wrote most the songs for “God’s Own Medicine” when I was in The Sisters Of Mercy. The rest of them – in the early months of The Mission. We’d been out playing them live for six-eight months before we started recording the album. So we kind of knew what the album should sound like, what that songs should sound like, how they went…so there’s basically a case of going into the studio and re-creating how it sounded when we played them live, as much as possible. That’s what it was! It took two weeks to record and three weeks to mix that record, which, at that time was a very short period of time. These days, because recording budgets have been cut so much it’s quite normal to make a record at that time. Or even less. But back in the day…the Sisters of Mercy record took…almost a year in the studio. It took a long time. And the second Mission record took about three months in the studio. So our first record was fast. We knew the songs. We knew what we wanted to do. And basically we just like to tour. So being in the studio, sends us a little stir crazy, really! As we wanted to get back touring again. “Let’s make a record fast! Get an album and tour again!” – Basically that was our attitude.
As musicians you never wanted to be a part of the cliché “gothic rock”. So was it hard for you to find your sound at the very, very beginning of The Mission ?
No. Not at all. I don’t think that we even thought about things in those terms. Certainly, when I started playing the guitar as a teenager, my heroes were Marc Bolan, David Bowie and Mick Ronson. Then I got into things like Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. So these were the guitar players I liked. When I first started…yes, probably I would try to play like them. But over the course of time you develop your own stuff. You develop your own voice. I think well before I joined The Sisters Of Mercy, I already had a style of my own. So with The Mission, we didn’t sit down thinking: “Oh, we wanna do this! We wanna sound like that!” – it was just very natural! The songs were there. This is how we play. Two guitars, bass-player and a drummer. That’s the noise we make! Music is not about over thinking. Music is about expression of feelings. Not about…thought so much.
Over the years, you talked a lot about your early influences, like T.Rex or Pink Floyd. But can you say, who formed you as a lyricist ?
It’s awful to admit this, but I never really took much notice of the lyrics when I was younger. I would write lyrics but basically they were just words to sing. They weren’t words to mean anything. As I’ve gotten older I’m better at writing lyrics. They begun to mean things. But I can’t say: “So and so…The brilliant lyricist!” – I like Bob Dylan, of course. I like John Lennon. But first and foremost for me it’s always the tunes. There are some great lyricists…Leonard Cohen is another lyricist I like. Nick Cave. They’re great lyricists that I’ve come to appreciate with time. But when I was a kid, first starting to learn to play guitar, I didn’t really listen to the words. It was just: “Here is a phrase here…Oh, that’s good! “I’m a Jeepster for your love.” – I like that! I don’t know what it means but it’s great!” – It didn’t mean anything to me.
Talking about your lyrics I’d say that it’s very personal. And with that, there are lots of different references to religion, history etc. So can you say, each time you're writing a song you address it to one and the same person, or it’s always different people ? Or lyrics is always a result of your getting through the stream of consciousness ?
Certainly, with The Mission, with each subsequent album I think I’ve gotten better articulating what I want to say within a song. I think each album is a period of time. There have been lots of people in my life that have come and gone. So there are lots of songs about the people no longer in my life. Also, I think in the course of the last…three-four or five albums, I’ve actually been able to be more outward-looking with my lyrics. I’ve been able to write in the third person. Lots of the songs not about me anymore. They’re about other people. It’s just…the more you work it, with your heart…the better you become at it. I think it’s a case of that. At the end of the day…I still listen to the music now. I don’t sit there and I don’t pull it to pieces of things: “Oh, the lyrics is this, the vocals that, the guitars…” – I’m lucky because I can listen to it, still, as a music fan. Without “being a musician”, if you understand the difference. So I can listen to the music, I can accept it at face value. Being an instrumental virtuoso doesn’t impress me. I think ANYONE can practice to play an instrument. Play the guitar and all these fast solos, in particular. Anybody can do that, with enough practice! Enough dedication. If you’re not able to practice – it comes from you, and it’s specificly you. It’s your choice of notes. You can play one note and it would like…make you wanna cry!
After the popularity of “Children” and “Carved in Sand” you released “Masque” – probably the most ambiguous work of yours. So could you say, why it became so different ?
At that period we lost Simon. Simon left the group after the “Carved in Sand” tour. So we were a three-piece. I had gotten really bored with the rock-band format. It felt to me like we made three records as a rock-band. In a traditional sense of being a rock-band and I wanted to do something different. The drugs I was talking at that time were more…orientated to dance-music (laughs). I was into ecstasy, going to raves and things like that. So that had an influence on the music I wanted to make. I wanted to move away from this “being a rock-band”. I think it was an easy album for me but more difficult album for Craig and Mick to accept because, they were the bass-player and the drummer and suddenly we were using machines to do some of this stuff. And also they weren’t…oh, that’s unfair, Mick was into the dance music. Craig wasn’t particularly but I it was a lot harder for our audience to accept than for us ( laughs ).
After the departure of Simon and following the departure of Craig lots of fans and critics had doubts regarding your further activity. But in 1995 you released “Neverland” another remarkable experience on your path. It became more relief from a musical point of view. More guitar solos and different bridges. It was one of the longest records of The Mission to record, so was it hard to return back to this being a rock-band ?
I think for every action there is a reaction. While I was into ecstasy and dance-music we made “Masque”. After that my wife got pregnant. We had a daughter. So my drug-taking pissed off. And I started thinking more in terms of being a father. And about being a provider. Being a musician I understood that: “Ok, I need to make money. It’s not just for fun! I’ve got a family now to support.” So I think at that point it was ok. I accepted that The Mission are a rock-band. And our audience…is a certain kind of person. So I think in some respect “Neverland” was an album that was designed to appeal to that audience but still, trying to push the envelope here, a little bit. Trying to do the stuff that maybe wasn’t quite expected. Again, I don’t even think that there were much rationalization at that time. It was just: “I think it feels right to do this right!” It wasn’t a case of “Let’s think about it!” It was more about: “Let’s do it!” Mick and I put a new band together. We started touring and writing. I come over a lot of tunes that ended up being a long album. Too long, really. Basically, I was the producer of this record, so it’s probably benefited it. But still, you can’t always see it clearly, objectively. So I think it would have benefited from some editing, for sure. And maybe a couple of songs being kicked off. But it’s one of those things not to care with, really. Once it’s done – it’s done. We did what we did. When I hear it now, whenever I have to listen to it, which I don’t really like to, I don’t really like the sound of that record. And certainly, I don’t really like the sound of my voice. I think I wasn’t singing great at that point. I just don’t think that my vocal was the best on that record.
After The Mission reunited with Simon and Craig you recorded your first “common” record – The Brightest Light. Could you please tell me, did you feel the chemistry you had playing together back in the days ?
Yeah, I mean, what happened was – The Mission got through various line ups. The only ever-present member of the band is me. Simon left on his own accord. Craig left the band in 92…and then he came back in 99…and then he left on his own accord in 2002…I think…through all the line ups, I haven’t actually sacked anyone apart from Craig, who is my longest standing friend. I’ve known Craig since 1983, we’ve been together on and off, which is 36 years now! We love each other very, very much but it’s like a f*cking marriage! Sometimes we can’t stand each other. But we still love each other. And we have an absolute respect for each other. But when…in 2007-2008 we played our farewell shows with different line ups…at that point I absolutely had no intention of doing The Mission ever again. I’d gotten to the point where I wanted to do other things. I’m sick with this. I guess, it’s like everybody else in any other job. Everybody gets bored with it at some point or another. And you think: “I wish I could do something else.” So at that moment I thought: “Ok, I’m bored, I’m gonna do something else!” And I think we began doing it again in 2008. Anyway! Our 25th anniversary was coming up and George – my manager, contacted Craig and Simon without telling me. He asked them if they’d be doing reunion gigs for the 25th anniversary because, at that point, I was saying: “No, I don’t wanna do it!” And then George came to me: “Craig and Simon both said “Yes!” – “You’re a twat! Why didn’t you tell me you were gonna asked them ?!” But anyway, I said: “I’ll do it if Mick (Brown) would do it!” I went to see Mick in Leeds…but cutting this long story short I’d just say that Mick decided that he wasn’t doing it. But he gave us his blessing to go ahead without him. Which was good enough to me. Then we did the shows in 2011 – 25th anniversary shows…The funny thing that you asked me about the chemistry...I had all these different lineups in The Mission. Craig had been there at some point as well. But the rest – the other guitarists the other bass-players…but as soon as we started playing together in the rehearsal room, the three of us with Mike, the new boy, on drums, as soon we started, we were like: “Yes, this is right! This sounds like it should do! That sounds like it should be!” The chemistry was there! That’s the way it felt. It felt good for the three of us to get playing together again…It’s sad that Mick couldn’t be there but in all credit to young Mike – he’s done a good job. In a really difficult circumstances. Then we did those shows and we just thought: “You know what ?! We’re actually quite good! We make quite a good noise! Why don’t we do some more ?!” We toured some more. We went and did some South American shows. Then we got to “You know what? We need to put more songs in the set. Because basically we’re playing the same 25 songs. So why don’t we do a new album ?” – I’ve been writing songs, of course. As a songwriter you’re constantly coming up with new ideas for songs. So we decided to make an album. I took a whole bunch of songs to the band and we chose…maybe I had 25-30 songs. We went down and listened to them all and chose 12-15 to record. And it became the album.
Ypu’ve been living in Brazil more than 13 years. Can you say that this fact affected your creativity ?
I think in terms of my own disposition it’s great to wake up in the morning every day. There is sunshine and you don’t need to think: “Is it rainy ? Should I put on long trousers or a jumper ?” When I get up I put on shorts and flip flops. It’s great! So in that sense – it’s a very good lifestyle I’ve got here. It’s not expensive to live here. So I can live fairly well on not as much money as I need elsewhere. I love it here! But I think anything I’ve been resistant to having the culture impact on my work. I’m not into Brazilian music. That’s a pretty sweet punk generalization but I’m not really…I’m certainly not into Brazilian rock or Brazilian pop. I like some of the old – 60s and 70s stuff. It doesn’t really have an influence on what I do. I moved here when I was in my mid 40s. So my personality was already established. It’s not like moving here when I was in my early 20s becoming coloured by the country and the culture. I don’t live like a recluse. But with that said, we do live away from any town. Some days I don’t see anybody else. That’s fine. I have a studio here. It’s a very quiet, creative good-life I have here.
In terms of working in the studio…how do you see your next release and what would come out first – the next album of The Mission or your third solo-record ?
I have no idea! Last year I was writing my book. I also wrote the music for a Brazilian play, actually. And then record that with a couple of friends of mine - piano-player and violin-player in England. I really enjoyed writing music for that discipline. Writing music for a play, it doesn’t demand attention. Usually, when you make music it has this kind…of quality of asking for attention…the music I wrote for the play was very secondary to the dialogue that was going on the stage. And obviously…good film, for instance…a scene has a finite length of time until it’s finished. So you write the music for that scene, that length of time. With the play, the music has to be more open. More flexible. Because every night the rhythm of the artist would be different. So it was very interesting discipline for me to deal with. I really, really enjoyed making the music…it’s more about seduction than about rape ( laughs ).
You just mentioned your book that would came out this year. So a final question about it – how did you came to this kind of activity?
The thing was – a few people had said to me: “Oh, you should write a book! You have some of these great stories and stuff!” But writing a book is a big commitment! It takes a long time. Over the course of last ten years I was involved in various projects. Basically, making an album each year. Not with The Mission or solo. But with other projects as well. So once I was in that creative flow of making music – cause that’s what I do. I make music. I’m not a writer. I make music. So once I was in that creative flow, I thought: “I don’t want to waste my time writing a book! I’m gonna make music!” but then, with the last Mission album – at the end of that, I felt quite exhausted, creatively. I made more records in the previous ten years than I had done in the previous 20 years, before that. I just felt: “Ok! I need to replenish the van! I need to give myself some time! To be creative again!” Then I thought: “Why not try to write a book ?” so it took a year to write a book. It’s coming out in May on Omnibus Press. It’s basically the first half of my life..the book finishes on the day Craig and I left The Sisters of Mercy. It tells my story up to that point. There may be a second book. There may not. Depends if I hit that rich vein in making music or not ( laughs ).
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