May 26 – Goth’s ‘Mission’ary Man

Happy birthday to a musician some might dub “the Gothfather” – Wayne Hussey. The rocker on a mission – and in fact, who more or less is The Mission – turns 63 today.

Hussey grew up in Bristol, England in a Mormon family (which one might imagine made them a rather distinct minority there!). Wayne however cared more for rock music than Utah-based scriptures, and was in particular a fan of T-Rex. He learned guitar while a teen and not long after that joined Dead or Alive. He says of that band’s frontman Pete Burns, “he was a really caustic type, he was cruel at times, but he was funny.” Was Burns afraid of anyone, LouderSound asked him recently. “Pete ran scared of Courtney Love, who was living in Liverpool “ at the time.

Hussey left that group before it hit it big with “You Spin Me Around”, to join industrial-cum-Goth faves the Sisters of Mercy, again playing guitar and adding some backing vocals to the dense mix. He and bassist Craig Adams quit them after the first album and founded their own band, briefly called The Sisterhood, which soon became The Mission. Or as we usually know them over here, The Mission UK. Despite a few breaks here and there, The Mission has been rolling since, with Hussey the main writer, guitarist and lead vocalist as well as the only constant member through the years. While perhaps in North America, Nine Inch Nails might be seen as the flag-bearers for the genre, when it comes to what allmusic refer to as “melodramatic industrial Goth rock”, in Britain, The Mission pretty much set the pace.

The Mission jumped out of the gates pretty well, signing to Mercury Records and opening for both The Cure and Psychedelic Furs in ’86-87. It helped their debut album,God’s Own Medicine, to break into the UK top 20 and go gold there, as well as getting a lot of attention on college radio and in darkened underground clubs over here. He became a father around that time, which perhaps inspired the title and some lyrics on the follow-up, Children, which did even better, making it to #2 in his homeland, and producing the more epic than Gothic single “Tower of Strength.” If the song bears a little resemblance to “Kashmir” by Led Zeppelin, it is no surprise. The record was produced by John Paul Jones (Hussey said he asked Jimmy Page to produce it first, but was told to ‘F*** off’) and when Loudersound suggested that he wanted to be Led Zeppelin at the time, he confirmed “I think that’s accurate.”

Although the band has delivered eight more studio albums since, and scored an American alt rock hit in 1990 with “Deliverance”, their commercial performance dropped off considerably when grunge and Britpop took over the college music scenes on the two continents a few years later. However, they’ve kept busy, still performing live (“Now I take a bit of pride in my performance,” he notes suggesting they’re quite a bit better than they were in concert during their heyday) and when not working with The Mission, Hussey’s issued some solo work, toured as a backing member of The Cure and with Gary Numan and produced some indie artists himself. And more recently, wrote an autobiography, Salad Daze. “When you get drunk, you tell some great stories,” he jokes. Currently he lives with his actress wife in Brazil.

When asked how it feels to be one of the leaders of a musical movement he reflected “it was absolutely exciting (but) nobody at the time thought ‘yeah, we’re gonna look back 30 years in time and think ‘what a great movement!’ And we didn’t christen it ‘Goth’ – it was you lot, the press.” Wonder how Courtney Love feels about being a part of the “grunge” movement?

7 thoughts on “May 26 – Goth’s ‘Mission’ary Man

  1. badfinger20 (Max)

    Burns was smart to run from her…they sound good. It wasn’t what I was expecting…many times when I hear “Goth” I think of heavy guitars for some reason…but it doesn’t have to be that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think some of their work is heavier and more industrial but I suppose ‘goth’ is as much a mindset as a sound… I usually think of early-80s Cure and The Cult and siouxshie and the Banshees as typical goth, but they all vary a little too. I always loved “Tower of Strength” – fine record, there are different versions but I think the one I used as a link is best – longer and fuller production than some.
      Yeah, Courtney Love, multi-continental threat… who knew?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. badfinger20 (Max)

        I do like some of the Cult stuff and I have one coming up in a few weeks…more for the subject than the song though.
        Courtney didn’t do Cobain any favors…I’m not saying she killed him…but from what I read it wasn’t good near the end.

        Liked by 1 person

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