They were just ordinary children from a small town.
Lange Zeit war es um die sympathische Band aus Bristol ruhig geworden, doch 2006 starten Mesh wieder voll durch. Neben einer Tour, die am 21.04. in Leipzig beginnt, wird am 31.03. das lang erwartete vierte Album "We Collide" veröffentlicht, dass den mit "Who Watches Over Me?" eingeschlagenen Weg fortsetzt, ohne die eigenen Wurzeln vollkommen zu verleugnen. Fans der ersten Mesh-Veröffentlichungen sollten dem Album dabei etwas Zeit einräumen, da es seinen gesamten Zauber erst nach mehrmaligem Hören entfaltet oder wie es Sänger Mark Hockings schon so treffend formulierte: "Hier geht es nicht allein nur um Musik, es ist vielmehr wie dein Lieblingsbuch; du musst es einfach immer und immer wieder lesen." Mit jedem neuen Durchgang genießt man die bereits bekannten Stellen und entdeckt gleichzeitig etwas Neues, Aufregendes.
It has been three years since your last album, "Who Watches Over Me?", was released. What have you been up to?
Mark: When we finished "Who Watches Over Me?" we did the usual touring and promotion started writing for the new album fairly soon afterwards. We then took a bit of a break – nothing deliberate really – we drifted into it, but we have been doing this a long time and I think we needed some time to get our lives together really. The break did us a lot of good. We have a renewed enthusiasm and creativity which has come through in the new material.
It is known that there have been problems with your old record company Home Records. You have discussed a new deal for quite a long time but eventually signed a new contract with Koenigskinder. What led to this decision?
Mark: This is a weird one really. We are actually still with the same people as we were with the last album. Home Records in effect are now Koenigskinder. The problems really have come from the label partners. Previously Home Records worked with Sony which was kind of good and kind of bad. Good because they are Sony, bad because they don't really much care about bands like us – we don't earn them enough money so they go through the motions but there is no real connection there. Koenigskinder are now working with SPV which we believe is a better deal for us. I think they understand the scene as well as the mainstream and know where a band like us fits into things. We are optimistic.
The album has been pretty much finished for more than a year already, but the release kept getting delayed. How frustrating was it to keep the album on ice for such a long time and having to keep your fans waiting?
Mark: Yes it was very frustrating but there is always lots of stuff going on – the time kind of goes by. It wasn't really as long as a year because we were still mixing and mastering until quite recently, but the project could have been finished sooner I guess. You have to get used to waiting in this business – waiting for a deal, waiting for money, waiting for a release, waiting to go on stage – it's part of the job.
The new album is another milestone in your biography and in your discography. How do you view yourself? Have you become more serious and open to the world from the musical and lyrical point of view? Maybe even more eager to experiment?
Mark: We are definitely more musically open, but we know our audience and we know our limits. We have always experimented I think, but at the end of the day people like good song writing so that will never change – it may get dressed up differently that's all. I think lyrically we have changed. Not more serious, just different subjects. It's less about love and relationships and more about the things we see and hear going on around us. You can't write about yourself forever – it's stupid. You can write about what you see or how you see things - what makes you sad or angry even if it something you have never experienced. It's just like a new palette of paints for us really.
Are there any parallels between single songs of the new and the last album, either in lyrical or musical respect?
Mark: Maybe songs like "Leave You Nothing" and "What Does It Cost You" started us down a bit of a path musically. Simpler but bigger production maybe – it's difficult to describe. I feel the sound of the new album is a 'larger' sound canvas but it's less dense in many ways – less complex. Lyrically the songs of WWOM definitely had an influence. I started then to realise you could write very specifically about a subject yet at the same time leave it completely open to interpretation. Yet, if the meaning of the song is explained it suddenly becomes so obvious. I like this way of writing and I have tried to develop it more on "We Collide".
Does the following quote sound familiar to you? :-) "Dorothy: Oh, but anyway, Toto, we're home. Home! And this is my room, and you're all here. And I'm not gonna leave here ever, ever again, because I love you all, and - oh, Auntie Em - there's no place like home!" (Quote from "the wizard of oz")
Mark: Definitely. This is of course what I had in mind for "No Place Like Home". It's quite a personal song I guess. It's about someone close to me. They were going through a tough time as a child and I suppose it was nice to think that there was some hope at the end of it – that they could just click their heels and everything would be back to the way it was. There is a lot of stuff in that song and it took a lot of writing to get it right. I like it very much but I'm not sure everyone will get it.
Almost daily, the news report about bloody deeds done to people, especially children. Unfortunately, this isn't anything rare these days, but one special incident (the double murder of two 10-year-old girls in England) led you to write the song "Can You Mend Hearts". What was so special in that case that you felt the need to write a song about it?
Mark: I don't know really. You see this stuff on TV all the time – much worse things perhaps. It was just one of those things that hit a nerve somewhere. They were just ordinary children from a small town. Then they were dead. There was no reason for it and I think it affected people so much because it could have been any of their children. People were just hoping every day that they would be found alive and well, at the same time you just knew it wouldn't turn out that way. The song kind of came out of the moment when the hope was gone and when the police announced they had found them – it was kind of written as a question to the police spokesman on the TV. It's still quite an open song I think - it isn't obvious when you first listen to it.
"The World Is A Big Place" is, by Mesh standards, a pretty optimistic and especially experimental song. What's the cause for this hidden track? Does it suit as some kind of summary for the whole album, a paradox to every day and universal life, or did it simply not fit in the album concept but has an important meaning to it?
Mark: It has quite unusual beginnings. I was given an old copper record from World War 2 – a one off pressing that soldiers used to make and
send home with a few short messages to their family. It was so badly oxidised and scratched that it was difficult to hear what was on it, but as more
and more processing was put on it the words became clearer and it was kind of eerie and sad. The song was written from the point of view of a daughter
hearing these words for the first time, like a voice from the grave, telling her things that he never told her when he was alive, that he was proud of
her and that he loved her more than anything else in the World.
The video to "Crash" tells the same story twice but with some kind of "what if" effect: What would happen if only one single important second would change our life completely? It was shot in Dusseldorf. Do you have any preferences for that city or any other features that people from Dusseldorf can be proud of now? ;-)
Mark: I guess the fact that we chose to make a video in Germany rather than in England shows we are at ease there. Mind you, Dusseldorf was ideal because of the sheer number of old factories there... Take your choice.
"Crash" is not the first time that "Feuerstake" helped you shooting a video, they also filmed "Not Prepared". What made you choose him again over other directors?
Mark: Mark is a great director and we get on very well which is important for us. We like to work with people we are comfortable with and that we trust – like David Incorvaia who we used for the last two videos. He did a great job of course, as we expected. Videos are difficult – sometimes they never see the light of day on mainstream TV so to some extent we make them for the fans.
Dirk Lindner is an established and proven photographer who has worked for a lot of famous artists and musicians. What do you like about his special style, and why was he just the right person for the promotional pictures to put Mesh 2006 into the right light?
Mark: It was David Incorvaia's idea really. He recommended him and we took his advice. He is another person that we would like to work with again because we are so at ease with him and he has a great style – no gimmicks, just a simple depth and clarity.
Right on time for the new album, you have now found your own little home on MySpace.com. What do you think of this kind of chance to promote a band and the feedback you have received so far from your fans, who stand united behind you and slowly start pawing their hooves, waiting for the new album and the upcoming tour?
Mark: MySpace is an interesting animal – we don't really know exactly what it's doing for us, but the list of 'friends' is growing at an astounding rate. It's more effective than pretty much anything we have been able to do ourselves as far as an internet meeting place, and we have been on the net for about 12 years now. We'll maybe answer that one in more depth next time.
Your last extended tour was four years ago followed by a smaller tour in 2003. How do you prepare yourself for such an event, and what are your feelings towards those two weeks in April?
Mark: The preparation has been more intense than writing the album to be honest. We have to reprogram everything pretty much from scratch and Neil has been working non-stop on the video projection for weeks now. Musically we are planning a lot more of a live feel to the show and I think the fans will get much more out of this tour than anything we have done before. We are looking forward to it but we are also pretty nervous.
During your last shows, you started to experiment with guitars, and now, you have also used them on the new album. Who played the guitars for the new album, and how strong will the impact of guitars be on tour? Are there any variations between the album and live versions, and can we expect a change in the whole "look and feel" of Mesh in 2006 compared to former tours?
Mark: Rich and myself both play guitar on the new album and we will bring this to the 2006 tour. The look and feel is going to be different this time around but it won't be unfamiliar to the fans which is important. We don't intend to turn ourselves into a guitar band because it isn't what we do. The visuals will be different and there will be more use of video and lighting which we have been planning for some time now.
There is one more thing I need to ask: In your band-history, the b-sides of your single releases have a much higher importance and quality than other bands' b-sides. There are more than enough examples, such as "Let Them Crush Us" or "From This Height". Is there some kind of philosophy behind that, and how do you choose which songs end up on the album and which "only" get released as b-sides?
Mark: I guess we remember the old vinyl single days with fondness. If you were a fan of a band the B-side was just as exciting as the A-side. Some of my favourite records from those days were on the flip side of a record. For us it's also a chance to experiment a little – for some reason we feel more free working on these tracks. Maybe the fact that it doesn't matter so much and that you don't get judged makes you take more risks or push in a different direction. For 'Crash' we actually included two tracks – a 'B' and a 'C' side maybe. With 'Crash', 'Soul' was written specifically for the single and 'Into This World' was a track not used on the album.
I want to thank you for the interview and especially for a new album, which even outperforms your former body of work and will, as I am sure, mean a lot to me personally but also to your other fans out there. The last words belong to you...
Mark: Thank you for your support as always - it's very much appreciated. I guess if we have the opportunity we'd like to say thanks to the fans
that continue to support us despite how long they have to wait between albums. It will be different next time - we promise. If you get the
opportunity, come and see us live in 2006 – you may come away with a different perspective on how much people can enjoy music.
Stephanie Sieler, Electric Diary