Family Guys

Ten years ago, the Britons of mesh released their debut album "In This Place Forever", and securing a support slot on the '98 De/Vision tour brought about their breakthrough in Germany. Their single "You Didn't Want Me", melodic electro pop at its best, was played in clubs in heavy rotation. Quickly a strong and large fan base grew that was eagerly waiting for a new musical sign from the trio since 2002. With "We Collide" a new album will finally be released at the end of March with an extravagant collection of first-class pop songs which also offer, quite a bit of subtleness. In Hamburg, we met Mark Hockings, Neil Taylor and Richard Silverthorn for an interview, and rarely do you can see a band that appears as strong as a unit as mesh you can tell that the musicians have a long and strong friendship, and so the conversation turns out to be a pleasant talk about music, producers and rock'n'roll.

In the past, the band worked together with a variety of producers, however, none has left their mark on the sustainable songs; they insist on deciding as much as possible for themselves. In the case of "We Collide" unlike previous productions, they got a producer on board namely Gareth Jones a real celebrity for the co-production who was responsible for Depeche Mode's legendary album "Some Great Reward" amongst other things. Rich tells how the contact came about: "Actually, it was a recommendation from our last producer. We weren't sure because of this strong connection to Depeche Mode. For 'We Collide' we dealt more intensively with the things he has already done. He has produced so many different albums! At one of our concerts in London we met for the first time and understood each other well right away." All in all, the opinion of the band on their producer is very positive, as Mark adds, because "he has brought a lot of enthusiasm. When we explained things to him he listened very carefully and considered what we wanted. We liked it that he has already worked with many guitar bands, because we didn't want anyone who has only produced electronic music."

These external factors were very important for the album production. The band has already worked on it intensively on the album's preparation. Rich points out: "You spend so much time in the studio trying to write the songs that you may eventually no longer be able to judge whether something is good or not. The fact that Gareth joined us at the end of the production was good for us. He listened to the stuff and found it great and said he wouldn't change too much. Some pieces, we just left them as they were, with others, he mixed them a bit differently." So he only laid his hand on a few songs? "No, also on a few vocals", Mark explains, "I drove to his London studio. We recorded some of the vocals again because they weren't strong enough. It made a big difference on the pieces", and Neil jokes: "He kicked Mark's ass!" and everybody laughs. Mark finishes his thought, "Gareth is very professional, he lets you sing some parts thirty times until he's satisfied." Though the three band members are obviously not eager to leave it too much to other people involved in the creative process. "We're in a position to be able to control this as we do the most ourselves. If you have a producer who works on your pieces you cannot correct it afterward because it would be too expensive. We've the luxury of working very long on a song. There's no reason why a new album should be worse than the previous one, it should always be better. If you let other people work on your material, you can always blame them", Mark laughs. "We have no excuse." Neil summarizes it in his own way: "We are slow, but we are working hard!"

The question inevitably arises: Are the boys from mesh control freaks? "Yes!" Rich replies without even thinking about it. Neil says: "It also depends on the experience you've had. We're open to work with the right people, but every time we've tried so far, it didn't work." And Mark adds: "It's also an artistic thing. When you paint a picture, you don't look for anybody who chooses the colour. It's the same with music. You involve people who do one half of the work. And I see no reason for it. In the production decisions are made that have an impact on the whole album, which is also creative work."

If you compare the lyrics of the first releases with those of the current album, it's striking that these are more open, but also less accessible, more vague than it used to be, more subtle and less angry. Mark sees a similar development. "They're better now, if I may say so. When we started, we didn't know much. At that time, I wrote about things that don't interest me anymore. And, of course, it's getting more difficult to write about things I've never written before, so that it's still interesting for me." Rich adds: "It's, of course, also in the perception of the listener. We know what the songs on the album are all about, and it's a very dark album. For other listeners it might not be. It's important that the songs remain as interpretable as possible so that also other people can find themselves in them." A good example of this ambiguity is "Can You Mend Hearts", a song that's also important to the band. No wonder as it's about the cruel double murder of ten-year-old girls from near Cambridge four years ago by their former teacher and her partner, the school caretaker. "That's what I mean. That's what the song is about, but it could also be all about something else."

You can read the entire article in the issue 04/06 of Sonic Seducer.

Julia Beyer, Sonic Seducer