After 30 years together, The Mission are on tour again. Duncan Seaman caught up with them ahead of their Yorkshire gigs.
Leeds may no longer be home to a legion of Goth rockers, as it was in the mid-1980s, but next month some may be tempted to dust off their vintage greatcoats and Doc Martens for the return of one of the scene’s most successful bands.
The Mission were formed by Wayne Hussey and Craig Adams shortly after their acrimonious departure from the Sisters of Mercy. Joined by Mick Brown, former drummer with Leeds post-punk outfit Red Lorry Yellow Lorry, and bassist Simon Hinkler, from Sheffield group Artery, they went on to sell more than three million albums worldwide.
Next month they’re back in Leeds on a UK tour to mark their 30th anniversary. Reflecting on the passage of time, Hussey, the band’s singer, guitarist and main songwriter, says: “You could never anticipate still being together in 30 years time when we first started. We barely had a plan for next week, let alone next year.
“We’re still having fun with it and we’re still good at what we do. It’s not as if we’re some old nostalgia act, we’re still doing what we like to do, we’re still making decent records, so I can’t think of it in terms of time.”
The Leeds show includes a guest slot by fellow veterans of Yorkshire’s Goth scene, Skeletal Family. The two bands know each other of old – Skeletal Family toured with Sisters of Mercy when Hussey and Adams were in their ranks and bassist Roger ‘Trotwood’ Nowell is the partner of Adams’ sister.
“I saw him roadie-ing for Oasis a couple of times, he promoted a couple of Mission shows in Keighley as well,” says Hussey. “So we have a little bit of history with them.” Hussey may only have hazy memories of the Sisters of Mercy’s First and Last and Always concerts in 1985 but he did revisit the album itself while writing songs for The Mission’s new album, Another Fall From Grace. It inspired him to pick up the 12-string guitar again.
“It was probably the first time I had listened to First and Last and Always without any bitterness, without any rancour, and I really enjoyed it,” he says. “I thought ‘These are great songs, good lyrics, good singing, the guitars sounded great, I really like the vibe, it doesn’t sound particularly dated’.
“Then I played God’s Own Medicine [The Mission’s first album, from 1986] and again it was those guitar sounds. The thing for me that glued those two albums together was the use of my electric 12-string, so I started writing songs for the new record... it informed the writing of the songs, it informed the sound of what the record was going to be from day one.”
Hussey says his reasons weren’t nostalgic. “It wasn’t an attempt necessarily to recreate 1985 – it’s me re-owning that guitar sound, as opposed to recreating it.”
Another Fall From Grace features guest appearances from the likes of Gary Numan, Martin Gore of Depeche Mode and Julianne Regan of All About Eve.
Hussey says: “They’re all friends. I basically just asked ‘Do you want to have a sing on our record?’ and they all said ‘Yes’.
“I like the sound of other people’s voices with mine,” he adds. “I think you get a different colour, a different texture, a different dynamic.”
The 58-year-old singer has described the tone of the new album as dark.
“For me it was a very difficult record to make,” he says today. “At the time I got into the mindset of starting the songs with the electric 12-string guitar but I found it difficult to come up with any words.
“It was only when I was in the US earlier in the year and I decided to spend a couple of weeks driving up the West Coast from LA to San Francisco that I started writing lyrics for it.
“I would basically drive, find a little hotel or motel, get a bottle of wine and sit in my room in the evening and write. For one reason and another the subject matter is quite dark on this record but weirdly to me in many respects it’s actually the least autobiographical record I’ve made probably ever. I’m in there, of course, but probably not to the extent that people would assume.”
The Mission play at O2 Academy Leeds on November 3 and at Whitby Goth Festival on November 5. www.themissionuk.com