„I feel very privileged and fortunate” – an interview with Wayne Hussey (The Mission)
The countdown to the release of the next The Mission’s album has already begun. In September of this year their new record will see its first light of day. This was a perfect starting point to arrange an interview with the exceptional musician and leader of The Mission. One rainy day I was both thrilled and honoured to talk with Wayne Hussey about his life and achievements.
In 1984 you joined The Sisters Of Mercy for only one year and was the author of a major part of the songs on the „First and Last and Always” album, one of the most significant in the gothic/rock music. Hence my question: is being a member of Sisters Of Mercy a curse or blessing to you?
WH: Firstly, I’m very proud of that album. I don’t really listen to my own music, but I had an occasion to hear „Marian” not so long ago, and I thought that sounded fabulous. It’s been very healthful to me being a member of The Sisters of Mercy, but, to be honest, I get very bored with this question. It’s been twenty seven years since I left The Sisters Of Mercy, so it has very little relevance to my life anymore. Obviously it was good at that time, we had fun and it was a stepping stone to other and better things.
I guess it’s the first question that suggests itself.
WH: I’m sure Andrew [Eldritch] doesn’t get asked how it was working with Wayne 27 years ago, so I don’t know why we get asked the questions about The Sisters Of Mercy.
In 2008 The Mission played a tour in Europe which was to be the bands last concert ever. However, after three years and long hesitation, you agreed to play some gigs to celebrate the band’s XXV anniversary. And now, step by step, the fans are awaiting another The Mission album. What was behind that decision? Back then you seemed to be quite convinced about closing „The Mission” chapter.
WH: Yes, I was. At that time, in 2008, I had no intention of doing The Mission again. I had no intention of making any more records or play any more shows, I wanted to go and do something else. But I’m human, I change my mind. I got persuaded into considering The Mission’s XXV anniversary shows. Initially it was „ok, let’s just do the shows” and then we enjoyed it, we thought we actually made quite a big noise, so we played two more shows. And then we thought: „hmmm, why don’t we make a record?” It’s just one thing leads to another. I didn’t anticipate making another The Mission record, but we’ve done it. We’ve just finished one. I’m fortunate because I can still do The Mission and the band doesn’t take up all my time; I can still go and play solo shows and be involved in other projects. I guess that was what I was wanting to do back in 2008. I think The Mission had just been taking up too much of my life. It was time for me to change that.
Your music goes in many directions and genres – I mean, not only The Mission itself, but also your side projects. What is the next The Mission album like?
WH: For me it’s a rock album, but my wife calls it my „testosterone album”. It’s all about muscle and being a rock band. I think for the large part of The Mission’s history, I’ve fought against a notion that we were a rock band. I’ve resisted being a rock band and tried to do things that were maybe not as obvious. But with this album I wrote the songs over a 6-month period before we started recording and it was obvious to me that they were rock songs. I think I’ve become very comfortable with the idea that we are a rock band. No more, no less. I think that’s what this record is: an unashamedly rock album. There’s no pretence, there’s no attempt in doing something arty with it – it’s a rock album.
Which The Mission album and song do you feel the most sentimental about and why?
WH: That’s a difficult question because that can change from one day to the next, or one hour to the next.
Let’s say for today.
WH: Ok, so for today. Obviously I’m a lot closer to the new album than I am, say, with, „God’s Own Medicine„, for instance, which was recorded in 1986. I’m like every other artist that believes that the best work they’ve done is the recent. But we all know that’s not necessarily true. Only time will prove that, or otherwise. That aside, if I say „ok, I can’t chose the new The Mission album” I would say the song that for me sums up The Mission in the best way would probably be „The Tower of Strength„, because that’s a song that I originally wrote for our audience. It’s a song that’s a celebration of that relationship and it’s a celebration of all relationships. It’s a celebration of life. It’s still a very powerful song to be able to play live. When we play it live, there’s something communal that happens between us and the audience. I like that song a lot for those reasons. It’s not necessarily my favourite song. My favourite song… blimey, I don’t know if I have a favourite song, to be honest.
„God’s Own Medicine” would probably be the album I’m most sentimental about because it was the first one. Everything was new and we were kind of innocent to a lot of the things that happen to bands. And we experienced success for the first time with that album, so that was all kind of new and exciting. After The Sisters Of Mercy it was a relief to be able to go out there and do our own thing. So I think „God’s Own Medicine” for that reason.
It’s almost impossible not to ask you about an instrumental piece „Tadeusz (1912-1988)” on the reissue of the „Children” album. Tadeusz is a traditional Polish name, once very popular, now a little forgotten. Is there a story hidden behind this song?
WH: Basically that’s an instrumental piece that Simon [Hinkler] and Craig [Adams] put together. They started messing around with it in the rehearsals, and we needed a B-side. I think it was the B-side or an extra track on the „Beyond The Pale” single originally, so when they did the reissue of the „Children” album, we included it on that album because it came from that period.
Tadeusz is the name of a guy who used to live next door to Simon in Sheffield in England. And around the time that we were recording this piece of music, Tadeusz died and Simon wanted to remember him with music, so we called the track „Tadeusz” in his honour. Basically it’s Simon and Craig’s song, I had nothing to do with it.
Where would you place The Mission in the history of rock?
WH: After „L” and before „N”. [laugh] I don’t know, it’s not really for me to say, is it? I mean I think to some degree we’ve been very underrated over the years. We haven’t had the critical acclaim that I think we should have had. On the other hand, we’ve had commercial success, we’ve enjoyed that. There’s always gonna be bands that are better and bigger. There’s always gonna be bands that are bigger but not as good. There’s always gonna be bands that are a lot smaller, but better. I feel very privileged and fortunate to be able to still be doing this after 25 – 27 years or whatever. There must be something that our audience recognizes as a truth for us to be able to sustain this length of time. Well, I don’t really know how to answer that. This is not really for me to say where I’d put The Mission in the history of rock.