They last played here in 2012, and they are eager to return to the A38 for a double concert! Led by frontman Wayne Hussey, The Mission emerged as a gothic rock band in the mid-eighties, and throughout the years their style has included post-punk, hard rock, alternative rock and electronica as well. With three members from the original classic lineup, they guarantee to blow your minds on May 10 and 11. Guitarist Simon Hinkler and bassist Craig Adams kindly answered our questions.
When you first played in Hungary, in 1990, you happened to be here on the day of the famous taxi blockade. What memories do you have from that day?
Craig: I believe we were staying at a hotel in Buda and should’ve returned there after the show but we got wind of what was happening and were told to take all our belongings to the soundcheck so we could try to get out of Hungary straight after the gig. We waited for the crew to pack up all the gear, and the promoters employed a couple of friendly taxi drivers to head and tail the convoy of two tour buses and a truck, and off we set. The crew had taken lots of beer, food, T-shirts etc to donate to the strikers. Negotiations were conducted at every blockade by our taxi drivers and the strikers, gifts and donations were handed out, and slowly we departed Hungary. Truth be told, after the first couple of encounters I’m sure we were all drunk, watching Spinal Tap!
The last time you played in Hungary was at our venue the A38 in 2012. What did you think of the club? Any particular memories that stand out?
Simon: I do remember the Ship. You could feel the floor moving, so you had to find your “sea legs.” It was a great show too. Mostly I remember my day-out in Budapest. I walked from our hotel to the Danube and spent two hours in The Great Market Hall which, as a cooking & food enthusiast, is really my kind of place.
In 2013 you released the album The Brightest Light. It was the first time since 1990’s Carved In Sand / Grains Of Sand that the three of you (Wayne, Craig, Simon) worked on an album together. How was that experience for you, compared to working on your early LPs?
Simon: That was an interesting experience because we put the songs together in rehearsals, played a couple of secret gigs, and recorded mostly live in a residential studio, all in the space of four weeks. That album sounds very different to most Mission albums, but I like it, and there are some great moments on there. When we came to do “Another Fall From Grace” in 2016, it was completely the opposite approach. We put this together remotely from start to finish. The band members live in three different countries and we never actually met up in the same place to record. These were the two extremes of recording methods. For me, the ideal is between the two; more like the way we did the early albums. We’d work on new songs in rehearsal rooms and soundchecks, and work them into the live set while on tour. That way, the songs were developed as a band, with nuances; bits and pieces that evolved over time being on the road. Then when taking the songs into the studio, they’ve already come to life and are sounding good. On those early albums we’d lay down all the drums first, then all the basses, then stack the guitars, and finally the vocals.
Craig: The main difference is that we were never in the same room, as Wayne is in Brazil, Simon is in the UK and I’m in the US. Lots of emails, music files flying around. Quite odd really.
Alex joined the band on drums last year. How did you recruit him for The Mission? What skills does he have to possess to fit The Mission dynamic?
Simon: Our previous drummer announced four weeks before the tour that he was quitting, which left us in trouble. We drew up a very short list of people we either knew or we thought might work out. There were two guys, both from well known bands, who said yes then backed out because they didn’t feel there was enough time to learn the songs – which we’d stripped down from 57 to 25. Then Alex’s name came up in conversation. Craig had toured with him before with Spear Of Destiny and said he had learned the songs very quickly. Now there were only two weeks before the tour. We had a Zoom meeting with Alex who was immediately very enthusiastic. At this point, time had run out. I’ll never forget Alex saying “I won’t let you guys down”, which was exactly what we needed to hear. When he came to rehearsals he had really done his homework and very soon the songs were sounding great, with new energy. He’s an extremely good drummer.
Your current tour had to be postponed multiple times because of covid. How did you get through lockdown? Did you learn a new skill?
Simon: What a weird time. From the time we had to abandon that European tour and drive back to the UK, there was so much uncertainty; fear of the unknown. For me, and I’m sure many people, it’s like two years lost. I felt I really should be making a solo album or working on some kind of music project, but my heart was never in it, so I did very little.
Craig: I didn’t make many differences to my life during covid, it was almost normal in many ways. My life continued to work, I walked the dog, cooked, did all the usual pottering around the house as I would when not on tour or recording. I do remember speaking to the people in the UK telling me how bad it was over there, whilst in the US where I live it seemed not quite as serious and there was a lot of ‘no one’s telling me what to do’ flag-waving nonsense.
On May 10-11, you’ll be playing two concerts here. How are you planning to select songs for the setlists for double dates? Or do you completely stick to your online polls?
Simon: Well, the plan is to play songs from albums 1, 3, 5 etc on one night, and 2 ,4 , 6 on the other night. I think at the moment we’re up to 41 songs since Alex joined. The online polls were a way of helping to decide which to do.
Craig: We reserve the right to change our minds, ha! We will be changing the set every night as we always do, there is no plan for a ‘night 1 set’ or a ‘night 2 set’. It will be what it will be, and of course we have taken all the poll results to heart and are currently relearning a few songs we haven’t played for some time, and the youth Alex is starting from scratch on quite a few songs! It is a fairly substantial list we start off with and I’m sure more will be added as we progress on the tour.
What are your favorite songs to play live?
Simon: I always say Beyond The Pale. For many years it’s been the song we open with and it’s always an exciting moment. Of course Tower Of Strength is a highlight. Just lately Grotesque has become a real favourite of the band, especially for myself as I have some very satisfying guitar sections in that song. In fact we’ve just released a single version of Grotesque, recorded live in Buenos Aires recently.
Craig: Difficult to say. For me, it changes every night, maybe how we play a particular song on a particular night, how the audience react? It’s an open question and an open answer.
What else are you involved in musically?
Craig: With my other band Spear Of Destiny, I recently recorded a new album called Ghost Population. They are currently out on tour with Big Country, and they have a stand-in bass player. I am busy on another project, one I have been doing many a year.
Simon: I haven’t worked on anything since lockdown. Well, I have dabbled in my studio a bit but nothing has formed into a plan yet.
Wayne released his autobiography in 2019. Any plans for you to write your own memoirs?
Craig: I have thought about it and Wayne did leave many questions in his book Salad Daze that I could answer. Maybe I’ll wait and see what his next book contains!
Simon: I’ve been writing a daily tour diary published on my Facebook page since 2011. Many people have told me I should do a book, and in fact I have spent quite a lot of time putting it all together. Maybe one day when I’m in the right mood I’ll get it finished and published.
Your tour is set to end in October. What’s next for you then, band-wise and otherwise?
Simon: Yes, after Europe we have the summer off, then we do the USA in September and October, finishing with five big shows in the UK. After that I don’t know of any further plans yet. Probably best to wait and see if we’re all still alive.