As the main driving force in The Sisters of Mercy and then The Mission, Wayne Hussey has been at the forefront of pioneering Gothic Rock. Mick Burgess chatted to him about their latest album Brightest Light, their forthcoming tour…

MER: You’re latest album The Brightest Light was released a few weeks ago. Are you pleased to finally get it out?

Yes, it was quite a quick process really. I spent a few months writing songs before we began recording in April and we finished it by the end of May. It’s all done fairly quickly so it’s not like it’s been hanging around for a while. It’s always nice to get it out so we can move onto the next thing.

MER: How’s the reaction been so far?

It’s been fairly good so far. We’ve had our fair share of good reviews and our fair share of bad ones. That’s par for the course really. Some of the fans have been calling it our Marmite album…some love it others hate it. I kind of like that view.

MER: Do you tend to read and take notice of reviews these days or is that something that just doesn’t bother you?

It’s always nice to read a good one but I’m experienced enough not to be too bothered about the bad ones and we’ve had a few of those over the years. It’s just one person’s opinion and you can’t please everyone.

MER: Did you have anything left over from the Dum Dum sessions in 2010 or did you write everything from scratch?

We wrote pretty much everything from scratch. “Swan Song” was based on an instrumental I’ve had for about five years, that’s probably the most typical Mission song on the album. There’s also a song called “I’m Falling Again” on the deluxe version that I’ve been playing at my solo acoustic shows for the last two or three years. Other than that everything else has been written during a concentrated period of time between September and April.

MER: Did you have a plan before you went into the studio of what you wanted or did you go in with an open mind?

We don’t have the budgets that we once had so we went into the studio very prepared. As I live in Brazil and Craig in the US and the other guys over here in the UK it’s not that easy to get together so we went in with a plan and we knew what we wanted. We had 10 days to record the basic backing tracks and we worked very hard as we knew what we had to do.

MER: Where did you record the album?

We recorded the basic tracks at The Chapel Studios in Lincolnshire and I went back to Brazil with producer Dave Allen to my studio there to work on the vocals. We then came back and mixed it in a studio in London. We recorded in the studio together as we wanted to get as close as possible to the way we sound live and there’s basically two guitar parts, bass and drums. If Simon is not playing guitar then he was playing piano or organ so they were songs that we could easily reproduce live on stage. It was a lot of fun recording together in the studio interacting with each other. We wanted to keep the recordings as live as possible.

MER: “Black Cat Bone” is a real epic to start the album. Did you want to make a big statement for the opener?

Not really. I think that kind of creeps in rather than blasts in. When we started rehearsing for the album we had 20-25 songs and we sat down and chose ones that we all liked. We rehearsed 16 of them and after 10 days of rehearsals we did three shows on a boat in Bristol and we decided to do two sets, one with new songs and one with old. My idea was to be on stage playing when everyone came in and “Black Cat Bone” evolved over the course of those three nights as it was the first song we played and we just extended the intro and it just evolved like that. I don’t think it would have ended up like that if we’d just played it in the rehearsal room.

MER: What about your personal favorite on the album?

Because I’m mellowing with old age I prefer the slower, softer songs. I like “When The Trap Clicks Shut” and the last track “Litany For The Faithful”. I also like “Ain’t No Prayer In the Bible Can Save Me Now.” I like a lot of the old Delta Blues stuff so I think that’s direct lineage from there. I know I’m biased but I think it’s a strong album and there aren’t any weak songs on there.

MER: There’s a few demo versions of the songs on the main album on the bonus disc of the deluxe version. Is that how you tend to write? Do you produce a rough demo and present it to the band to work on together?

I usually do full band demos so there’s an arrangement and parts for the players to start with. The band told me to concentrate on writing songs and to bring in demos for them to flesh out. It gave them a broad canvas to work on. It was nice to do it that way as it freed me up to just write. I have a theory that a song is at its most potent when it’s first written and I think some of those demos capture that in my opinion.

MER: The sound is unmistakably The Mission but it sounds very contemporary. Were you hoping to achieve a classic Mission but a 2013 version?

Not really. At the time I was writing I wasn’t even conscious of trying to write Mission songs. We don’t wear the same clothes that we wore 20 years ago and we don’t want to make the same sounding record as those we did 20 years ago. I can understand if some fans are disappointed with that but I think if they gave the album a bit of a chance they’d find enough on it to keep them happy. This is the Mission as it is now not as it was then.

MER: You worked on the album with Craig Adams and Simon Hinkler from the original line up. Was it important to you to work with Craig and Simon together again?

We got back together in 2011 for the 25th Anniversary shows and at that point in time we had no intention of making a new record but we quickly realised it was a lot of fun and we made a good noise and one thing led to another. One of the conditions of getting back together was that we’d only play songs from records that we made together. That cut out a lot of our records from the ’90s and 2000s so we were running out of songs to play live so we made a new record. It just seemed like a natural move to make.

MER: What about Mick Brown. Was he not available?

I went to see Mick when we were going to do the Anniversary shows but he hasn’t played drums for 15 or 16 years. He did give it a go and borrowed a kit. He played for 20 minutes and had to take two days off work. He wasn’t really physically prepared for it. He said that he’d love to do it but he didn’t think that he could do it. He said he didn’t want to let anyone down which was typically Mick. He gave us his blessing to go ahead and do it.

MER: Where does Mike Kelly enter The Mission story?

Mike’s a young lad in his early to mid-30s. He’s been playing in Spear of Destiny with Craig so that’s the link there. He fit in with us right away.

MER: David M Allen produced the album? You’ve worked with him on and off in the past. When was the last time you worked together?

We last worked together 10 years ago. He mixed the album Aura for us.

MER: Why did you choose him for your latest album?

We had a budget to get a producer in this time. I’ve produced the last four or five albums and it’s a lot of work. I have a lot on being the songwriter, singer, guitarist and producer as well. I just wanted someone else to take the weight this time. Dave was a natural choice and both Craig and I have worked with him before and loved working with him. He’s a little older than us and gets our reference points. He helps us do what we want to do and doesn’t impose himself on us. He’s great at man management and he got really good performances out of the band.

MER: You actually worked with him for the first time when you were in Dead or Alive in the early ’80s. I bet there’s a few of your more casual fans that don’t realise you were in that band for a while?

It’s hard to believe that was over 30 years ago. There may be a few but it’s never been a secret. The band when I was in it was very different to what it evolved into. We were quite a dark, guitar based band at first and I suppose you could even call it Goth but it evolved into something else and it was the right time for me to leave.

MER: You’d left the band for the Sisters of Mercy by the time they had their big hit single, “You Spin Me Around”. What did you make of that?

I’d left the band maybe a year or so before that and I thought it was great. I still like the boys in the band and was pleased for them to have that success. Pete Burns is great; he has a great, powerful voice.

MER: John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin produced your album Children back in 1988. How did you end up working with him?

It was no secret that we were big fans of Led Zeppelin, especially me and that was a time when Zeppelin weren’t particularly fashionable. When we came to make the second record someone at the record company suggested John Paul Jones as he was looking to get into production. We met up with him and got on great. He came to see us play at Elland Road in Leeds with U2 and we were diabolical. He saw enough in it to want to work with us. He was a lot of fun to work with and taught us a lot of valuable things. I haven’t seen John for about 10 years now but I did see Robert Plant in San Paulo recently and it was good to catch up with him again.

MER: You’re heading out on the road in December for 4 dates. Are you looking forward to getting back on tour?

We also have a secret gig on Friday 13th December up in the Newcastle area and that will be formally announced soon. This will be a warm up show under our alter ego name The Blood Brothers. We can’t wait to get out on stage and play again.

MER: Will you be playing a few from your latest album?

On our recent American shows we played about five new songs in the set and the album wasn’t even released then so I think we’ll play a similar amount on this tour and maybe one or two more.

MER: You’ll be joined by Fields of Nephilm. Was that your idea to add them to the bill?

When we did our Anniversary show they very graciously agreed to do a show with us then and it was a very successful night. We kind of come from the same area of music and I think there’s a large crossover between our audiences and it was a great bill. We thought we’d do it again and take it to the provinces.

MER: Talking of live shows. Last year you toured with The Cult and were also due to play with Killing Joke. What happened to Killing Joke?

I’m not really sure. I think the tour was a bad decision. When we originally agreed to do The Cult tour it was going to be Billy Idol, The Cult and us. We were booked into arenas. We thought that would be great and was a chance for us to play to people who had forgotten that we existed. It didn’t work out with Billy Idol but the promoter kept us in the arenas and put The Cult as headliners and added Killing Joke. I think it was a case of over optimism on the part of the promoter and I also think the audiences were too close together. I think Billy Idol would have had a broader appeal and brought in fans that weren’t necessarily fans of us or The Cult. It didn’t work and the venues were downsized to Academies. Killing Joke had just done their own tour of the Academies and filled them on their own and they didn’t want to do it again I guess. Jaz Coleman being Jaz was quite vocal about it. He’s a crazy man but I do love him. He just decided he didn’t want to do it and the band pulled out. It worked out OK in the end. The Cult and us both got more time on stage and really it would have been a logistical nightmare to get three bands on and off the stage at the Academy. The Cult need about 16 dressing rooms so that would have been a problem as well…Ha!!

MER: Many bands have followed in your path bringing in Gothic influences such as Paradise Lost, Katatonia, Lacuna Coil. What do you make of these acts?

I don’t really listen to them. I’m not really a fan of modern Rock music. I like “old” Rock music from the ’60s, 70s and even the ’80s. There is some stuff around these days that I like such as the XX.

MER: After the run of dates in the UK ends, where do you head next?

We head over to Germany and I’ll come back to the UK to spend Christmas with my parents before going home to Brazil the day after Boxing Day. As far as the Mission there is talk of some more US shows and maybe heading down to Australia. We try not to make too many long term plans as you never know what’s around the corner.

The Mission’s UK tour starts on 14th December at the O2 Academy, Glasgow.

The latest Mission album Brightest Light is out now.


  • Mick Burgess

    Mick is a reviewer and photographer here at Metal Express Radio, based in the North-East of England. He first fell in love with music after hearing Jeff Wayne's spectacular The War of the Worlds in the cold winter of 1978. Then in the summer of '79 he discovered a copy of Kiss Alive II amongst his sister’s record collection, which literally blew him away! He then quickly found Van Halen I and Rainbow's Down To Earth, and he was well on the way to being rescued from Top 40 radio hell!   Over the ensuing years, he's enjoyed the Classic Rock music of Rush, Blue Oyster Cult, and Deep Purple; the AOR of Journey and Foreigner; the Pomp of Styx and Kansas; the Progressive Metal of Dream Theater, Queensrÿche, and Symphony X; the Goth Metal of Nightwish, Within Temptation, and Epica, and a whole host of other great bands that are too numerous to mention. When he's not listening to music, he watches Sunderland lose more football (soccer) matches than they win, and occasionally, if he has to, he goes to work as a property lawyer.

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