Mesh are one of the few constants in the world of high-quality electropop. As the pre-single "Crash" has already shown, there is no need to worry that mesh will be unfaithful to their original style, seek commercial success or try to enter the charts with cover versions. They would rather do without the big success and continue making music the band and their fans love. "We Collide" is their new album which contains eleven tracks and runs about 50 minutes long, including a short hidden track. Mesh's musical style has always been described as consistent– exciting indie-electropop that is at the same time, progressive, danceable and melodic and always exquisitely produced. Mesh are also known for working with alluring sounds and occasionally mixing in some electric guitar without lapsing into crossover. Mesh really offers everything their fans come to expect, from finely crafted midtempo ballads like "No Place Like Home" or "Room With A View" to groovy dance floor anthems like "Crash" or "This Is What You Wanted". The new compositions show improved songwriting abilities and Mesh's sound is more mature and not as restless as it used to be. Recall their vibrant albums "Fragmente" and "Fragile" which seemed perhaps a bit more exciting at the time simply because by the end of the 90s, Mesh suddenly stood out in the crowd of synthpop bands. Nowadays, their fans expect only the best compositions from them and Mesh faithfully follow the musical path they have been on since their 2002 album "Who Watches Over Me?". Mesh simply create top notch synthpop arrangements with a definite modern sound however their early 90's charm still remains. Mesh is still one of the best electropop bands of our time. Singer Mark answered a couple of our questions via e-mail.
Your fans had to wait four long years for the new album - why did it take so long?
Mark: We did start writing this album pretty soon after finishing "Who Watches Over Me?" but I think that was possibly a mistake. We were long overdue a rest from everything and that soon became apparent in the slow speed at which we were working and in our enthusiasm generally. We’ve been doing this a long time and I think we just needed a bit of time to step back from things and appreciate what we have and what we’ve achieved before moving on. We needed to spend some time with our families and get our lives sorted out – it can be a disruptive job and it doesn’t fit well with a 'normal' life. We also had a few issues with changes at our label and these problems started at about the time we were finishing the new material after our 'break'. They were mainly issues with distribution and label partners and weren’t conflicts between us and the label. Regardless they took a while to sort out but we are still basically working with the same people as we were with "Who Watches Over Me?". I guess ultimately the break did us good but we do feel sorry for the fans and apologise for the long wait. We’ll be quicker with the next album...
Compared to the last album "Who Watches Over Me?", what differences do you see?
Mark: That’s always a difficult one really. We have lived with all the tracks for a long time now and we just see everything as a continuation of what we do. "We Collide" certainly represents our strongest material to date both in terms of songwriting and production. It’s possibly a more edgy album than "Who Watches Over Me?" with the sounds more defined and the guitars higher in the mix generally. I personally feel there is more emotion and more of ourselves in these songs than we have managed to put into a piece of work before, but maybe that’s just because we are changing as people – it has been a long time since "Who Watches Over Me?".
What do you want to express with the lyrics on the album?
Mark: I think where the last CD seemed to be centred on the uncontrollable, the things that happen to us, this album is more about the intentional relationships, the things we do to ourselves and the things we do to others. These are the relationships we go out of our way to find or that others inflict on us whether we want them or not. Sometimes these relationships are explosive or violent or happy or painful. These are a collection of songs about how cruel people are to each other and about how far they will go to stay together. I’m finding myself increasingly unable to understand why people do the things they do to each other – it’s a consequence of having a family and people I love – but it takes up more and more of my mind these days and that spills over into the lyrics. "We Collide" seemed the perfect title for this reason. Some people meet. Some people collide...
What are your favourite tracks on "We Collide", and why?
Mark: My personal favourites are "Can You Mend Hearts?", "Step By Step" and "Petrified" although if I was honest there aren’t any tracks on the album I’m not happy with. I love "Can You Mend Hearts?" because of the sentiments in the lyrics and it’s simplicity – it still sends a chill through me that you get when you know a song is perfect for you – when it fits with who you are. "Step By Step" I just enjoy because of it’s energy and because I love playing it live. It works well acoustically too – the underlying song and it’s structure is nice to play on the guitar. "Petrified" is just a classic 'mesh' track and has a great deal of emotional as well as technical depth to it. It’s just such a big sounding track yet it’s also 'close' and personal – it works well. I love all of the tracks as do all of us – I think this an album we will be happy to live with for a long time to come.
In the concert you did not play classic hits like "Trust You" and "You Didn't Want Me", but surprised with some b-sides like "Soul" and "Let Them Crush Us" in the encores. How came this?
Mark: Again, I think it all comes down to moving forward and trying to do something new that interests us as well as the fans. With this tour we’ve tried to include a mixture of the new material from "We Collide", some tracks like the 'B' sides that we know the fans will appreciate and some of the classics like "Friends Like These", "Leave You Nothing", "People Like Me", "It Scares Me". We include some older tracks like "My Perfection", "Fragile" and "Is Nothing Sacred?" just for good measure. We had a lot of fun with the set this time around and I think it showed.
It was also a little bit surprising for me that the crowd in Cologne seemed to enjoy the new tracks like "Step By Step" and "Petrified" more than classics like "Fragile" and "Is Nothing Sacred?" - did you realize that also in other cities you played, and do you think you have got many new fans with the new album?
Mark: That was a surprise to be honest. Every gig was the same – the crowds were bigger and the people knew the new material from "We Collide" – I think we worked out that we saw more people singing the words than we had album sales at the time – that’s the only down side ;-) We have always felt like things were moving forward with every release and this time we hoped that would continue to be the case. On every level the tour was more of a success than when we toured "Who Watches Over Me?" and it has given us a well needed boost – 4 years is a long time to be away so if you can come back after all that time and still feel as if people are interested then it can only be good for the future.
I have been a big Mesh fan from the beginning and still am, and I am happy that you have done constantly good music with own style in independent progressive electro pop. Other bands like De/Vision had some poor releases in the years, a rollercoaster ride for fans, and a band like Apoptygma Berzerk I always liked disappointed me a lot with their new material going the commercial way with a cover version and style changes for more success. Can I believe in Mesh not to change only for some more chart success also in the future and not to come up with a lousy cover version?
Mark: It’s difficult to comment on what other bands reasons are for writing what they do. In some respects it’s not so difficult to see why bands change if they feel they’ve reached a dead end or they are not doing what they really want to do. Sometimes it’s change or die – lose the thing you love completely or bend it around what the record companies want – that way you get to cling onto something you enjoy doing at least. I actually think the Apoptygma album is the best album I have heard in a while but I can understand why some fans perhaps don’t like it. For me it’s made me more of a fan – their new album just sounds like they have always sounded live. I think we will just continue to do what we have always done – we did the Mark'Oh thing with "Waves" and it was a lesson to us that we have learned. We enjoyed the experience but there was something uncomfortable about being in a place that you didn’t feel you had got to through any belief in the music. We don’t want to go there again.
You already discussed to work with Gareth Jones on "Who Watches Over Me?", but didn't few years ago. Now you recorded with Gareth - are you completely happy, and what was different compared to other producers?
Mark: Gareth was an inspiration and a pleasure to work with. We did have some reservations mainly because of his close association with Depeche Mode but we did our homework and those preconceptions were not a true reflection of what he does now. I think our decision to work with Peter Schmidt on the last record was right as was our decision to work with Gareth with "We Collide". Peter had a very electronic album to work with whereas Gareth works mainly with Indie guitar bands these days and this was the kind of mixing that interested us on this album – to try and bring a more edgy sound to the record. He is a man who is still on the cutting edge of technology yet has a weath of experience that most producers can only aspire to.
What are your next plans with Mesh when the tour is finished? Do you start working on new material already then not to let us wait another four years?
Mark: We’ve started putting demo tracks down already so it won’t be a long wait I’m sure – there is a renewed enthusiasm at Mesh HQ which I believe is going to continue. We had our rest before this album and as a consequence we have a new balance in our lives that fits with the whole band thing but allows us to work at a reasonable pace. We don’t have any else we need to do outside of Mesh – no collaborations or side projects at the moment. Maybe some remixing but we’ll do it for the love not the money. We would like to go to America but we’ll see how things work out over there – it’s a big commitment and you need good people working for you if you want to avoid wasting a large chunk of your life.
What were the three best records in the last 12 months in your eyes, what the biggest disappointments?
Mark: Best: "Apoptygma Berzerk – You and Me Against The World", "Hard-Fi – Stars of CCTV", "Madonna – Confessions on
a Dance Floor", "Morrissey – Ringleader of the Tormentors", "Kaiser Chiefs – Employment" - (sorry – that’s 5)
Neil: Best: "Madonna – Confessions on a Dance Floor", "Apoptygma Berzerk – You and Me Against The World", "Keane –
Under The Iron Sea" (but it’s very new so I write this in anticipation that it turns out to be as good as I hope!)
Mark, isn't it very hot under your woolly hat in the concerts? Do you also wear it running around on normal days?
Mark: Indeed it is – but hey, no pain no gain as Beavis and Butthead used to say. I’m not sure what the 'gain' is in this case, but I suppose it’s become a kind of trade mark. I shave my head completely now so in 'normal' life it’s the opposite – I’m usually too cold. I remember Moby saying once that the World is full of unremarkable little men with shaved heads – they all look the same. That’s perhaps the thing I like about it.
Are you into soccer and looking forward to the world cup in Germany? Who do you think will win the cup?
Mark: Well, as we’ve taken so long to answer this interview the World Cup is now in full swing. I’d like to say that England stand a good chance but our star player Rooney still has a bad leg so it’s not looking so good. Brazil look awesome this year again. My money would be on them – no question. It’s good to see America playing again – they need to get more involved in the World game I think.
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