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The Mission (band)

The Mission (known as The Mission UK in the United States ) were a gothic rock band formed in 1986 from the splinters of the freshly-dissolved rock band The Sisters of Mercy.

It was started by frontman Wayne Hussey and Craig Adams (both of the Sisters), soon adding Mick Brown (of Red Lorry Yellow Lorry) and Simon Hinkler (of Artery/Pulp). Aside from Hussey, the line-up has changed several times during the years, and the band has been dusted up from a state of dormancy once or twice.

The backbone of the band's catalogue consists of nine main albums (Gods Own Medicine, First Chapter, Children, Carved in Sand, Masque, Neverland, Blue, Aura and God Is A Bullet) with several complementing albums, compilations and other miscellaneous releases also in existence.

Detailed history

Incarnation

Initially touring as The Sisterhood, the new band played songs originally written for the Sisters of Mercy. Some were already released, some vetoed by band leader Andrew Eldritch. "Dance on Glass" was essentially Sisters' "Black Planet", while "Garden of Delight", "Over the Hills and Far Away" (one of several original songs with an identical name, great grounds for confusion), "Bridges Burning", "Serpent's Kiss" and "And the Dance Goes On" were previously unreleased.

Meanwhile, Eldritch was not too happy about their usage of Sisters of Mercy songs — or the Sisterhood name, not only because it was too similar a name, but also as it was what the band's fans were called. In order to stop the practice, he got together with friends (namely James Ray) and released an album and a single lifted off it, as The Sisterhood.

In need of a new band name, The Mission was coined. According to the Mission autobiography, "Names Are for Tombstones, Baby", Wayne said the name came about because of his Mormon upbringing and his parent's desire for him to become a missionary. Mick Brown has a different account, saying the name came from his favorite brand of speakers, Mission. Other possible rumours of how the name came about include a bite of an ankle, an originally-planned Sisters of Mercy album Left on Mission and Revenge. Using the Eldritch-rejected material from their Sisters sessions, The Mission quickly released two indie singles on the Chapter 22 label, generating great interest from various record companies.

Signing a seven-album deal with Phonogram, their debut album Gods Own Medicine was then recorded in six weeks with novice producer Tim Palmer — an acquaintance from Hussey's Dead or Alive days. The band then headed touring around Europe as supporting act for The Cult, culminating in a prestigious slot at the Reading Festival. As the American leg of their "World Crusade Tour" went into overdrive, the heavy schedule lead to the temporary departure of Adams.

During their first U.S. tour in 1986 the Mission performed on American TV for the first time on The Joan Rivers show. Problems resulted later that night as an inebriated Simon Hinkler caused problems at their hotel in Los Angeles and resulted in him getting deported just prior to their show that evening.

A reflective mood followed Adams' return as Hussey found himself to be a father to a girl named Hannah. A live video entitled Crusade was released, capturing the band and their noisy audience at the early stage of their career. Turbulent recording sessions of the John Paul Jones-produced second album Children gave way to "Tower of Strength", the band's biggest hit yet, reaching #12 in the UK Singles Chart. The following world tour "Children Play" included South America, and was supported by a legion of devoted fans (dubbed eskimos or missionaries), to whom this era would mark the high peak of the band's live prowess.

In a few months, the record company released a collection of music videos as From Dusk to Dawn, and to recapture the intimacy of the early gigs, the band travelled around Scotland to try out some new material, hitting the studio afterwards to carve out their next album, only to be briefly paused for the Hillsborough disaster benefit, spearheaded by Hussey, a lifelong Liverpool F.C. fan. Much material was recorded for Carved in Sand, and the band was never unanimous about what songs made the cut, so the album was quickly followed by Grains of Sand, containing the rest of the candidates.

To heal disagreements with humour, the foursome then promptly went camp to form a glam rock tribute band The Metal Gurus, playing support for The Wonder Stuff and recording a cover of Slade's "Merry Xmas Everybody" with Noddy Holder and Jim Lea from Slade. However, as the Deliverance World Tour rolled on it became clear that it had not been enough. Strains between the founding members resulted in Hinkler kicking over an amp and storming off the stage during a Montreal gig at the Metropolis.

He was replaced by David Wolfenden for the remainder of the tour, while Tim Bricheno (of All About Eve) guests before joining the Sisters. With Etch (ex-Ghost Dance) on keyboards and guitars, the last leg of the tour was finished with Hinkler returning twice as a guest during the encores at Leeds and the final night of the tour at the Brixton Academy. The band then retreated to lick their wounds, with Hussey moving to Herefordshire countryside, cherishing his newly-wed status and a brand-new driver's licence. Music promptly followed the man, however, as equipment was moved into an adjacent barn for some musical planning.

Brimming with new life in a few months, the recuperated bandsmen teamed up with engineer Joe Gibb to create a high-tech studio setup. Brown had been soaking up the Leeds dance scene, while Hussey's explorations were towards folk music. The band, asked to perform a lucrative headlining gig at Finsbury Park in 1991, brought out quite a different side, joined by Martin Allcock (ex-Fairport Convention) and Anthony Thistlethwaite (ex-The Waterboys). Many of old fanbase left the gig worried about the direction of the forthcoming release, and indeed 1992's Masque (produced by Mark Saunders) became a highly-contested release, seeing an evolution of Hussey's songwriting from the drama-and-nothing-but towards the personal, but its colourful, beat-driven pop instincts seriously alienated their traditional goth-rock following. Many have likened the record to a Hussey solo album, which evidently was the plan even though the end result wore The Mission's name. Without a tour planned, the new direction caused Craig Adams to depart towards The Cult. Reduced to a duo, the Mission began searching for new members — even placing an ad in the Melody Maker.

Childhood's end

The second incarnation of the Mission consisted of Brown, Hussey, Mark Gemini-Thwaite on guitar (ex Spear of Destiny, National Velvet), Rik Carter (ex Pendragon and Heartland) on keyboards and eventually Andy Cousin (ex 'Eve again) on bass, and the line-up's first release was a fanclub-only flexi disc cover of the Osmonds song "Crazy Horses" in early 1993. The recording of a new album started, while a BBC live album "No Snow No Show" for the Eskimo was compiled by Hussey and Joe Gibb. For the first time in three years, the band decided to tour, and a warm-up was arranged as the "Off the Street" Benefit for the homeless in Leeds. As Andrew Eldritch signed up, completely unfounded press speculation about a Hussey/Eldritch reunion became rife. The Club Mission tour romped through some smaller venues around Europe, with new tracks "Afterglow" and "Raising Cain" becoming a regular feature in the set.

The end of 1993 saw Hussey remixing "Tower of Strength" with Youth, and revisiting some of the past material for a greatest hits compilation. "Tower '93" charted in the following January, and the band made their last appearance on Top of the Pops. The compilation — Sum & Substance — was released in a month, bringing together most of the singles and two new tracks; "Sour Puss" (relating to Adams departing) and a ragged "Afterglow" remixed by Mark "Spike" Stent. The latter was also released as the final single through Vertigo/Phonogram — the seven-album contract was now up, and neither of the parties was interested in a continued relationship. A short UK tour (and some scattered summer dates) had the band keeping a low profile, and Hussey's second daughter Dylan-Rae was born.

Recordings proceeded slowly, while the band negotiated a new independent record deal, and Hussey produced a collection of three BBC sessions as Salad Daze. In late 1994, a single "Mission:1" containing an edgy "Raising Cain" had its release on the Equator Records label. And early in 1995, the single "Swoon" paved way for the next album, Neverland, more or less a Mission signature sound with a much heavier production. A following 'Neverland Tour' signals a slight revival of popularity as two concerts of the band were filmed for German television, a promo-only Live EP released and a handful of summer festivals played.

In early 1996, Hussey locked himself into an apartment in Bath with a six-track recorder and a couple of ideas. In March, the rest of the band set up in Bristol for a whirlwind punk-speed recording of eight weeks. When the end result — the slapdash Blue was released, its gritty low-fi feel touched a nerve with the critics, but left portions of the old fanbase rather unimpressed. Future interviews would see Hussey hating the album, with only the reworked B-side "Evermore & Again" ever becoming a regular staple in subsequent tours. A short stint around the UK, Belgium, Germany & the Netherlands afterwards turned out to be a farewell tour: After ten years, Hussey and Brown decided that enough is enough. The band finished it all off with festivals in Spain and South Africa, the latter being their final gig at the Kyalami racetrack in Johannesburg.

Afterlife

After the Mission disbanded, Hussey spent his time in Orange County, California with his wife and young daughter. In semi-retirement, he produced sporadic remixes and singles for Cleopatra and Dancing Ferret Records, as well as up-and-coming acts such as Gossamer, and even taking the time to contribute a new song for a Mission album put together by Mission fans over the internet.

In 1999, after releasing revamped versions of Mission classics under the Cleopatra Records label in his home studio, Hussey resurrected the band (with Craig Adams, Mark Gemini Thwaite and Scott Garrett (formerly of The Cult), for what was to be a one-off tour with Gene Loves Jezebel across the USA and an also-resurrected All About Eve across the United Kingdom. The success of the tour and the reaction of the crowds gave the band plenty of encouragement to continue beyond the tour, and 2000 saw the band take on a mammoth world tour, heading festivals in Europe and sharing the bill with the Sisters of Mercy at the M'era Luna Festival in Germany. A souvenir of the 1999 tour was released as Ever After, with the various live tracks complemented by 3 tracks from the 1995 promo-only Live EP and the even-rarer fanclub-only studio outtake "Crazy Horses".

At the end of 2000, the band were going to record at [[Fat Man Studios]] in Birmingham, but recorded some initial tracks at the Levellers' Brighton studios, while again thinking about a new album, and Dave Allen (who produced the first Sisters album) was drafted in to oversee the recording of tracks in Bath. Before the release of the album, dubbed Aura, the band was invited to play support for the German tour of the Finnish band HIM. At this juncture, Mark Gemini-Thwaite left the band (first due to previous touring commitments with Tricky and later to form the band New Disease) to be replaced by Rob Holliday of Sulpher.

Aura hit the stores, released on their own Playground label run by former Phonogram A&R man Charlie Eyre, garnering varying degrees of appreciation. The sound was heavy and the production very intricate, but fans noted that "Dragonfly" flew almost identically to the past hit "Butterfly on a Wheel", with many other songs having their analogies in Mission back-catalogue as well. Nonetheless, the band undertook a large world tour supporting the album. However, stresses of touring and diminishing returns once again saw tensions grow, and during a shambolic South American leg of their 2002 tour, Craig Adams decided to leave — later joining The Alarm. Hussey continued the leg of the tour by himself, with some acoustic shows backed by pre-recorded tapes, also lining himself up for a number of much more successful solo acoustic shows in Europe.

In early 2003, The Mission gained a new bass player in the form of Ritchie Vernon and after some months, losing Scott Garrett due to personal reasons, gained a new drummer in the form of Steve Spring. This new line-up had the band on firm ground, with a new fire in their bellies, resulting in some blistering shows across Europe, carrying on through to mid-2004.

Recency

In September 2005 the band and the German SPV label released The Mission's first DVD, Lighting the Candles, complemented by a live CD. It took over a year for Hussey to compile this 2 DVD set which includes a live gig, some video-clips, a commented biography and discography and plenty of interviews, live performances and backstage shots. The result is awesome, complimented by very good reviews and good sales. The single "Breathe Me In" hit the top of the Alternative Chart in Germany, and the band once again undertook an extensive EU tour. Mark Gemini-Thwaite is back on the line up as Rob Holliday was occupied with the touring Prodigy. The band evolved the hard-rock angle further, while audience ranks grew throughout the tour. Hussey announced that 2006 would hold no tours, as he would concentrate on the new album and his personal projects.

In November 2005, Hussey announces that Mark Gemini-Thwaite is officially again part of The Mission line-up, replacing permanently Rob Holliday due to the latter's ever increasing workload with The Prodigy and his own band, Sulpher, and because of his inability to be able to commit to being involved in the creative process of writing and recording the new Mission album.

2005 saw the release of a 2-DVD + 1-CD set called "Lighting the Candles", filmed in Cologne Germany in August 2004 as well as the "Waves Upon the Sand" and "Crusade" tour videos both issued together for the first time on DVD. Meanwhile, Phonogram records recently released (yet another) best of, "Anthology: The Phonogram Years", featuring "The Anthology - The Phonogram Years", a 2CD set including all 11 of The Missions Top 40 hits alongside rare mixes, long lost b-sides, BBC sessions, 5 previously unavailable tracks and 5 tracks appearing on CD for the first time.

Early 2006 sees Brazil-bound Hussey celebrating the 20th anniversary of the band, marked by the issue of a special T-shirt designed for the occasion. The old record company is inspired as well, delving into the vaults and coming out with a 2CD greatest hits / rarities set, titled The Mission: the Phonogram Years. Hussey provides copious liner notes, examining all those demos and alternative takes — even an unreleased outtake from the Carved in Sand sessions ("Diamond Cuts Diamond") sits together with live takes on "Amelia" and "Blood Brother". Universal also releases the Mission classic Crusade and the documentary Waves Upon the Sand on DVD.

A new single, "Keep It In The Family" is released in March 2007, followed a month later by the new album "God Is A Bullet" featuring the current line-up of Wayne Hussey, Mark Gemini Thwaite, Vernon and Spring and which contains collaborations with ex-member Simon Hinkler and long-time friends Tim Bricheno and Julianne Regan from All About Eve .

Set to coincide with the release of the new album "God Is A Bullet" on Cooking Vinyl, Mercury records reissued the first three The Mission albums as enhanced CDs complete with bonus tracks.

In February-March 2008 the band played a series of four concerts at Shepherds Bush Empire in London, with each night dedicated to a particular period of the band's history. They announced that these are the last concerts the band has committed to play, as Wayne has decided he wants an indefinite break from band activity to concentrate on other personal projects. Various magazines do consider this to be the final end of the band though.. Simon Hinkler joined on each night for the encores and occasional songs in main set.

The final concert in the series was filmed, and each night was recorded for future release.

Wayne Hussey now resides in Brazil along with his new wife in between touring and writing. A pianist in addition to a guitarist, Hussey has said that he may one day release an album of songs he's written on piano.

In April 2008, Hussey's first solo album "Bare" was released as well as four live albums of The Mission's farewell tour, recorded at Shepherds Bush in London.

Discography

Studio Albums

Live Albums

Compilations

Singles

External links

References

Book: Names Are For Tombstones, Baby (Independent Press, 1993) Interview with Wayne Hussey - Record Collector Magazine (November 1993)

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