Admittedly I hadn’t thought about The Mission in years. So when Caitlin Reeves over at The End Records sent me a review copy of the upcoming album The Brightest Light due out September 17 it called to mind the excitement of my high school years, and learning about bands outside the heavy metal landscape, like The Alarm, the Sisters Of Mercy, Siouxsie and the Banshees, etc. I’m not going to run down The Mission founder Wayne Hussey’s resume here. I don’t need to. His body of work with The Mission speaks for itself. But I will share my joy that original members Wayne, Craig Adams, Simon Hinkler, and drummer Mike Kelly decided to get together and deliver an album of great songs. And I WILL share with you the phone conversation we had recently from his country home in Brazil, where we talked about his life there, the new record, tour plans, and English Premier League Soccer, believe it or not:
Amps: When I listen to this record, I feel like I’m in high school again, especially senior year when I was listening to a lot of The Alarm, All About Eve, The Stone Roses, YOU, The Sisters of Mercy. But it still sounds fresh!!
Wayne: It’s a rock record. We wanted to make a record that represented what we thought we sounded like live, certainly a record where we were all playing in the same room together for the majority of it. So, I think we achieved what we set out to achieve.
Amps: Listening for the first time, I almost fell out of my chair!
Wayne: Well…Be careful (laughing)!! We don’t want you hurting yourself. We had a lot of fun making it. It was an easy bunch of songs to write. I spent about six months writing songs before we started rehearsing, and came up with about 24, 25 new songs, and we went into rehearsal and chose 16 to have a go at, and 11 ended up on the record. The whole process of rehearsals and recording was stress-free. And I think you can hear that in the music. There was no great deliberation where we said, “Oh we need to come up with some great work of art”, it was just four guys making a noise and enjoying it.
Amps: Well some of it definitely sounds like it could be played at the pub, that’s for sure. “Born Under a Good Sign”, for sure. But the intro to “Black Cat Bone” is very interesting as well. That one takes you by surprise, and you have no idea where it’s going for the first few minutes, then becomes this eight-minute epic song.
Wayne: What happened with that was I wrote the song, and it was a little three minute song, and when we were rehearsing, we had three small shows on a boat, with the idea that we were gonna play new songs in front of an audience. But rather than try and shoot off three or four new songs in a set of older songs, which is what bands normally do, we decided to go on first dressed up in strange clothes, we adopted different personas (I ended up being Redneck Bill), we wore wigs, we were sat down on stools and we had music starting, it was very, very informal. But my idea also was that when they opened the doors we would already be onstage playing, so we had to allow a certain bit of time to go by before I started singing to enable people to get in. So that’s how that song evolved, and there was no doubt it would end up on the record, and there was no place for it anywhere but at the beginning.
Amps: So, being back with Craig and Simon, how is everything? That’s a long relationship.
Wayne: Oh we’re all older, a lot more mellow, and hopefully a little bit wiser, so we kind of realized that we’re in a very fortunate position and this is a great opportunity. At this stage of our lives, we never anticipated being able to do this again together. We get on fine, Craig lives in the U.S., I live in Brazil, Simon lives in Devon, and Mike lives in Brighton, so we don’t actually see each other apart from when we work, and one of the things we decided on when we first got back together again was that we would only do things in small chunks. Only two or three weeks at a time at the most. So that meant that we hopefully wouldn’t get sick of each other or bored with doing it, and it wouldn’t become too grueling, and we kind of pretty much stuck to that. In that sense it’s been a lot of fun but we always know it’s only for a couple of weeks, and we get on fine. There’s a long-standing deep affection between us that only time can bring.
Amps: Ok, so everything’s going to be done in a couple of week chunks. I noticed in your first run of dates, no Dallas. You start the tour in New York and Philly, two of my favorite cities, as luck would have it. Any plans to get down here?
Wayne: Well, we are talking about that. It would probably be next year, depending on how this first run goes, and (laughing) depending on whether there’s still an audience for us in the U.S. It’s really in the hands of the promoters.
Amps: How is life in Brazil?
Wayne: Oh, I love it. I’ve been here for 11-12 years now. My wife is Brazilian, and it’s a strange thing because I’m 55 years old now, and I’ve lived all over the world, and this is the first place since I left my parental home as a teenager that really felt like home. Everywhere else felt temporary. I love it here, it’s a nice lifestyle. We have a place in the country which is really nice, out there in the boonies, with only a dirt road to our house, and we have a small apartment in Sao Paolo because my wife is an actress and spends a lot of her time in the city, which affords me the chance to every few weeks go into town and get a bit of culture, shopping, go to the cinema or whatever, and when it gets a bit much (usually after three days) I go back out in the country.
Amps: “Just Another Pawn” and “Swan Song” are just two fantastic songs. When you listen to those, you really feel something.
Wayne: “Just Another Pawn” was actually written very quickly. It was a five minute verse. To me it’s actually a funny song; it’s got some of the funniest lines on the record. I don’t feel any catharsis from those songs. I think generally on this record, lyrically it’s a bit more outward looking than previous ones. And Swan Song was from lyrics Dave (Allen) our producer sent me, and I liked some of it, so I took what I liked, and added my own bits here and there, and kind of knocked it into shape. That was probably the first lyrical collaboration I’ve ever done! But if you hear that passion or that kind of angst in the vocal that means I’m taking a piece out of my wife’s book and being a good actress (we both laugh).
Amps: So, you’re a lifelong Liverpool FC fan. I don’t wanna tell you who I support for fear you may hang up on me (Arsenal)…
Wayne: Well, yeah, lifelong. It’s not something you can turn off. It’s a life sentence. You pick your team as a kid, and that’s it. Arsenal, I have a soft spot for Arsenal. I don’t really know why, but I like them. I detest, absolutely DETEST Manchester United (I say “YES!”)! If you had said them, I definitely would have hung up on you. And I detest Chelsea (Me screaming “YESSS!!!”). I have a soft spot for Arsenal, and I always want them to win, just not against us.
Amps: Oh man, if someone had told me I’d be sitting here talking football with Wayne Hussey…I can’t believe this (he laughs). Wayne, is there anything you’d like to say to The Mission fans of old, and to the newer generation all set to discover your music?
Wayne: I mean this is probably more of a message to older fans who are expecting a more traditional sounding Mission record. I don’t think this record is that, I think this is a record that didn’t try to capture a sound we once had. This is a record of where we’re at now, and that was really, really important to us, to capture that, as opposed to trying to emulate what we once were. So if you’re an old Mission fan it might not be the record you’re expecting. Give it a chance, and I think you will grow to love it. I don’t even think this record is “contemporary”, I think it’s just timeless. It’s a modern-sounding rock record, but a timeless rock record. A lot of modern rock records sound too generic, and there’s a lot of technology that takes away from them. I wanted to make a record that sounded ageless.
I think you’ve succeeded in doing just that, Wayne…