Songs of Preys Interview with Wayne Hussey

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The connection/bond/friendship between Wayne Hussey and Songs of Preys runs deep. As The Mission ready themselves to start their ‘D-Tour’ in the USA (including playing at Cruel World Festival) Wayne willingly took time out of his busy schedule to grant us this interview.

Questions in BOLD, pictures by Songs of Preys.

Before you became involved in the music industry, what music were you listening to?

WH. I grew up listening to the pop music of the 60s in our house, my mum and dad’s record collection boasting such gems as The Beatles, The Stones, The Kinks, The Animals, Walker Bros, and many more classic pop records from that period. Then I got into football and my fave single became ‘Back Home’. 1971 and as I hit my teenage years along came T.Rex and an interest in girls. Bowie, Slade, Roxy Music, Rod Stewart, & The Sweet all followed as faves of mine alongside Bolan. I started playing guitar and as I became more proficient I got into bands like Wishbone Ash, Led Zeppelin, and the first band I ever saw live, Pink Floyd. I played in a band around Bristol mostly playing covers although they did let me play a few of my own songs but I hardly consider myself to have been part of the ‘music industry’ at that point. Then punk came along and while I welcomed the changing of the musical guard it wasn’t the UK based punk that I gravitated towards but the more musically sophisticated NYC scene with bands like Television, Talking Heads, Blondie, and Suicide staking their claims to my affections. I never liked The Ramones, mind, let’s get that straight right off the bat. I moved to Liverpool at New Year 1978 and began playing in bands and that’s when I feel I got into bed with the lifelong feckless mistress that is the ‘music industry’.

What was the main catalyst for embarking on a career in music?

WH. A burning desire to be popular and accepted. Oh, and I loved, love, and will always love, music and the making thereof. It felt like something I could become good at.

How would you describe your current occupation?

WH. Ha, good one. Simple really, musician.

What was your first major stumbling block on your journey into the music business, and how did you overcome it?

WH. I can’t really remember any real stumbling blocks although it did feel at times that for every step forward I’d then take two back. But I was driven and ambitious and wasn’t gonna let anything ultimately get in my way.

Quick question: Bowie or Iggy?

WH. Ha, another good one. This feels like a trick question in a way. On a personal level as a human being, Iggy for sure. Musically it has to be Bowie though if only for the sheer volume of genius work in his oeuvre. But the best of Iggy is as good as the best of Bowie. Sitting on a fence….. .

What do you consider was your first major musical breakthrough?

WH. Playing with the Ded Byrds / Walkie Talkies in Liverpool. With them I played at Eric’s, did my first recordings, released my first single, appeared on TV for the first time, had mentions in the music press, and signed to a major label, Sire Records.

Was there ever a time that you wanted to quit the music business?

WH. Often. But the realisation that I wasn’t fit to do anything else always made me knuckle down and work my way out of feeling that way.

Do you miss anything, at all, about the printed music press?

WH. Being on the cover…? Tbh, I don’t miss ’em, print press seems so archaic to me now that I’m a member of the human race that gets their news as it happens. I never buy magazines or papers anymore, the last time was when I had a subscription for Mojo which I cancelled about 5 years ago because they’d never write about us!

There’s a huge revival in 70’s & 80’s music, in particular Rewind Festivals and online radio shows like Songs of Preys, do you think the music has stood the test of time, or do you feel it’s dated?

WH. Like any period in history there’s some great works of art that transcend their time and place and others that haven’t fared so well. There was some great music undoubtedly being made in the 70s and 80s but let’s not forget there was an awful lot of dross too. Nostalgia’s always a big seller, particularly the older we get. For some, nostalgia is all they’ve got to look forward to. But the more creative artists still attempt to make new music even though most of their audience just wants ‘the old stuff’. That’s a very frustrating situation to be in, as a musician. It’s all subjective though, isn’t it? Some music has aged very well and actually is more popular now than when it was first released. Some hasn’t aged very well at all and those tend to have been artists that were fashionable at the time but ultimately fell out of favour. As I said, it’s subjective. Something you think still sounds fresh and brilliant I may think is rubbish, and vice versa.

Quick question: Vinyl, CD or digital download?

WH. Well, if I buy any music these days, and I’m ashamed to admit that like most I stream, I would buy CD. I still have a CD player in the car, in my studio, in the house, connected to my laptop. I have a good record player but no amp for it. Too much faffing about in my humble…..and very rarely buy digital because when I do buy I like to buy something that’s more tactile than a file from the internet.

Do you think the music business has evolved or devolved in the 21st century?

WH. By the very definition of evolved the music business has done that. Whether it’s for the better is arguable. Some things are for the better but there are certainly some things that aren’t. The value of music has decreased making it very difficult for musicians to earn a living from the recordings they make. And recording music is expensive. A band like The Mission, who have a history and a fairly loyal fan base, can just about make money releasing new albums, and that would be with cutting big corners compared to the way we recorded in the 80s and 90s. Where we earn the bulk of our income these days is from live work and the sale of merchandise. And as the principle songwriter in the band I earn a steady stream of income from publishing. Of course our catalogue still sells, particularly our early releases, which is frustrating as we have released albums that are equally as good, if not better in some cases, in my humble opinion, in comparison.

If you knew then what you know now, would you still want to pursue a career in music?

WH. Oh yeah, absolutely. Don’t regret it for a second although, as stated earlier, there have been times I’ve wanted out. But I’ve been one of the lucky ones and have managed to sustain a career, for what its worth, making music. And it’s been a privilege.

What would be the ONE bit of advice you would give a new musician?

WH. Whatever you do, whether you sing, play, or write or all three, find your own voice. It’s okay to start off by copying your favourite musicians but when doing so always be sure to add something of yourself into the mix and eventually you will find your own voice has developed and become the prominent trait. And be strong in your desire to do it. You will find all kinds of people will try to stop you in all kinds of ways, but keep going, and believe in yourself. So, that’s two pieces of advice. It’s a funny thing being a songwriter because you need to be sensitive and open to write songs but that same sensitivity and open-ness when the bad reviews and disparaging comments start being made about you can be really painful. You have to learn to trust your own instincts and shut out all the noise. So that’s another piece of advise……

Do you have any new project(s) in the pipe-line?

WH. I’ve been working on a kind of ambient neo-classical thing with Cinthya, my wife, called Archèometre, which is a million miles away from The Mission. We’ve only released two tracks so far but have another half a dozen or so on the go and close to completion. We’re aiming to have enough for a full album by the end of the year. And I’m gearing myself up to write and record another Mission album, hopefully to be released in 2026, our fortieth anniversary. Fortieth….let that sink in. How the fuck did that happen? And I’ve just finished writing the lyrics and singing ‘them for a new Beauty In Chaos song. I’m sure Michael Ciravolo will be letting you know about it!

Where have you enjoyed performing, and where would your ideal gig be?

WH. I’ve enjoyed playing shows all over the world. After all these years of touring I get more of a kick out of visiting places for the first time. For example, later this year we’re scheduled to play in Dubai and Colombia, neither place have we played before. Looking forward to those two. Otherwise I always enjoy shows in South America, particularly Buenos Aires, Santiago, and Sao Paulo. As for my ideal gig? There’s an amphitheatre overlooking the Roman ruins of Tharros in Sardinia that looks out to the sea. Wonderful place, always thought that would be a great place to play. Or the beach at Karekare in New Zealand where the film, The Piano, was filmed. That place is spiritual.

What music, if any, do you listen to when you are relaxing?

WH. Well, as I suffer a little with insomnia I do listen to a lot of instrumental ambient music these days to help me relax. With no vocals or lyrics to engage me.

What you your ideal four-band mini festival line-up be of artists alive today?

WH. As a punter I would like to see a line-up of Radiohead, Massive Attack, PJ Harvey, & The Cure, perhaps. If we were to play the mini festival then alongside us I’d like to take the place of The Cure in the above list.

Is there any musician alive today that you would love to collaborate with (that you have not worked with already), or cover one of their songs?

WH. There’s loads of musicians who I am in awe of and look up to and would love to work with just to see their processes but I’m not sure I’d wanna get in the way of their process. Who? Thom and Jonny from Radiohead, two genius’ imho and I can think of only one other band that boasted two genius’ and that would be The Beatles, and no, not Ringo or George. So Macca would be another. Robert Del Naja, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, PJ, Nick Cave, to name just a very few.

Quick question: What was the last book you read?

WH. Revolutionary Spirit: A Post-Punk Exorcism by Paul Simpson. Very enjoyable. I used to know Paul as a passing acquaintance back in the late 70s/early 80s when I lived in Liverpool.

And finally: What tune is playing in your head at the moment?

WH. Well, as a result of your previous question, ‘Revolutionary Spirit’ by The Wild Swans.

Thank you Wayne and looking forward to seeing you on the tour.

SONGS of PREYS




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