PETER TROMP chatted with WAYNE HUSSEY, lead singer of the legendary British group The Mission, upon his return to South Africa for his solo ‘Songs of Candlelight and Razorblades’ Tour.
Hussey will be lighting up the Barnyard Theatre Rivonia in Sunninghill, Joburg, on Friday and Saturday, May 8 and 9, at 8pm; and Barnyard Theatre Willowbridge in Cape Town on Monday, May 11, at 8pm.
After touring South Africa four times in the past, what can you say is special about performing in our neck of the woods?
Well, I’ve always found South African audiences to be very warm and receptive. I’ve always had a good time in SA. People know how to party and that’s one thing that I used to be pretty good at myself, too. I’ve made some good friends during my previous visits and I’m looking forward to making their re-acquaintance and forging some new friendships too.
Tell us about your upcoming Barnyard Theatre shows. What do you have in store for your Capetonian and Joburg fans?
I undertook and completed a 50 plus date tour last autumn and no two shows were ever the same. It’s a different set every night, largely determined by how I’m feeling and the interaction with the audience. I have over 100 songs I can choose from on any given night so it keeps things fresh and spontaneous for me and, I like to believe, unpredictable for the audience. I’ve been using acoustic, electric, baritone guitars along with a ukulele, backing tracks for a few songs, a loop station, and a piano. So, the answer to your question is I don’t really know until we set off on that journey together.
After making music and performing for so long, what has changed about the way you approach your craft, if anything at all?
I’m not sure that, fundamentally, it has. Obviously we live in a more technological age now than when I first started out and I do use all the benefits that that has to offer. It’s certainly made a lot of things easier, but it also can cloud your judgement, as there are so many more options. But in the end it comes down to writing songs that can and do touch people and whatever process we use that has to be the result that we’re aiming for as musicians and songwriters.
Which of your numerous compositions – when you reflect upon them – do you find saying to yourself, “I really nailed that one”?
That’s impossible to answer really as I’m not sure I have. I think I’ve gotten close a couple of times. Both ‘Tower Of Strength’ and ‘Like A Child Again’ come readily to mind, without thinking too much about it.
Do you have any song-writing and musical heroes?
Yeh, of course. How long do you have? If I had to pick only one writer I guess it would have to be Bob Dylan and not just his early stuff either. Of course, like all creative people, he has also released some dross, but sometimes you have to work through that to get to the good stuff. The Beatles, The Stones, Radiohead, Neil Young, Bowie, Johnny Cash, Floyd, old delta blues et al…loads of heroes…
Tell us about your supporting acts.
I have South African living legend Ashton Nyte supporting at all three shows and I’m looking forward to meeting him and catching his show. I have watched a couple of his video clips on YouTube and I think it’s a match made in heaven. Also, in Joburg I have local band Hey Now, Hey Now Now supporting who, judging by their name and from whence it came, might be fans of my former employer, Mr. Andrew Eldritch. But I won’t hold that against them.
‘Songs of Candlelight and Razorblades’ is your second solo album. What were your main creative influences on the album, and what inspired the subject matter you cover on the release?
Ah, I don’t know. I guess any work is influenced by what I’m listening to at the time and I’ve already made mention of what is erecting my wood these days. Obviously there has to be a fair degree of yourself in what you do, otherwise it just becomes generic. And there’s already an awful lot of that kind of stuff out there. Lyrically the album deals with life, love, sex, betrayal, addiction, alcoholism, prejudice, euthanasia, ageing, death – the usual subjects that have coloured my work previously. Happy soul, aren’t I? I am actually, but please keep that to yourself.
Tell us about at least one album that changed your life.
‘Electric Warrior’ by T.Rex – my first, and enduring, love. I still love that album so much and it still sounds fantastic. Without Marc Bolan my career would probably have been well over by now, because until Bolan came into my life I had wanted to be a footballer. Seeing T.Rex and Bolan on ‘Top Of The Pops’ in the early 1970s changed the course of my life.
What keeps you energised about music and what you do?
Simply? I love music. Both listening and playing. I love the communion of being on stage in front of an audience. I love listening back to a final mix of a song I’ve written and shed blood, sweat, and tears for. I love when that moment comes when you find the way into a new song and you know it’s got something. I love when music sends shivers down my spine, whether it’s my own, or someone else’s and that happens to me a lot. I love it when there’s a moment in a song that makes you wanna play that song over and over, like ‘I’m a howling wolf for you-ou-ou’ at the end of T.Rex’s ‘Telegram Sam’, or the opening chords of ‘God Only Knows’ (by The Beach Boys), or the la-la-la-la-la-la-la’s that goes on for three minutes or more at the end of ‘Hey Jude’.
What can we expect from you in the immediate future?
Hopefully more of the same. More new songs, more records, more shows. Next year is the 30th anniversary of The Mission (my day job) and I know we are planning a new album and tour to coincide. Hopefully I’ll be back down in South Africa with my partners in crime in tow. Can’t think of a better place to celebrate 30 years.
* Tickets are R300 per person.
For bookings, visit www.barnyardtheatre.co.za
For more information, call 011 234 2033 for the Rivonia shows; and 021 914 8375 for the Willowbridge show.