Hello Mark and Richard! We'd like to thank you very much for giving us some of your time and for allowing us this opportunity to interview you. First, we will begin by saying that the recent news on finally upcoming new studio album and the accompanying single are more than just cool. You know, in the midwifery terminology there is a "premature fetus", while in "We Collide" case it is better to be put as really "overmature fetus". Why did it take you so long to give it a birth? Were there any force majeur factors between your band and the label since "Who Watches Over Me"?
Mark: Thank you! The completion of this album certainly had the feeling of an overdue baby, but it was a labor of love and was worth the wait for us. There were a couple of reasons things took so long. Primarily I think we needed some time to breathe and although we didn't really take a deliberate break as such, we did take our time with this album. We've been doing this a long time and I think we needed to regroup and re-evaluate everything. The rest has done us good and given us a fresh perspective on the band, the music and reasons why we still love doing it. Secondly we did have a lot of business issues with the change of label which initially led to a great deal of uncertainty and inevitably delayed things further.
The 2002's album was somehow a peak of your carrier, or so it seemed back then. After the break up with Sony and before the hand shake with Koenigskinder Schallplatten, what sort of feelings and deeds have you had socially and musically? Did you ever think about calling it quits or something? Were you just on UB40 or there was something extremely workaholic that kept you tightly all music?
Mark: Although it did cause us a few problems, I don't really think there was ever a time when we thought we wouldn't have a label to release
our records. I guess the confusion comes if you believe we were ever signed to Sony - we never were. Our label was Home Records and Home worked with
Sony for distribution and promotion. Koenigskinder Schallplatten are pretty much the same people as Home Records so from our point of view it was just
like the label had changed their name. In actual fact it is way more complicated than that, but we were still dealing with the same people and they
are people we love and trust.
The single named "Crash" is summoned to probe those "who still watching, listening, following, whatever you". But what is it all about for those going thru the crash test of your devotee audience, and what about those that are not so familiar with Mesh?
Mark: "Crash" was one of the first songs we wrote for "We Collide" and is one of my favorites from a lyrical standpoint. The song attempts to liken a person having a mental breakdown with the moment before a plane or car crash. You can go through life, just like a journey, unaware of what is going on behind the covers - just under the surface - that circumstances are coming together to bring everything down - to rip it all apart. It is meant to highlight how fragile we are and that sometimes we are unable to completely control what happens to us. "You're only flesh and bone, you'll really never know" tries to express that helplessness and that it might all be over before you ever realize it had started to happen.
Indeed, self-produced "Who Watches Over Me?" sounded just stunning, and now this new record was patronized by no one but Gareth Jones, a crowned music producer, engineer, and programmer with an attitude. Does that automatically mean that "We Collide" is guaranteed to go platinum? According to the image library on your site three of you had nothing much to do except for smiling to the camera and taking naps. Can you briefly characterize how different (or maybe similar) it was from producing an album on your own?
Richard: I think that in this case the camera does actually lie. It has been a very difficult album to put together because there was more
pressure on us to make a better record than "Who Watches Over Me?". The whole album was written, recorded and produced by us in our Bristol
studio. It was only in the final mixing stages that we got Gareth involved for an outside opinion. When you spend so long in the studio and in each
other's company it is really hard to see the big picture of what you have produced, is good? Is it too slow? Or is it better than the last album?
Etc. So we appreciate the honest views and fresh ears of someone else.
From what we can gather so far, Mesh's studio albums do not appear to involve the idea of remixes, especially those done by "outsiders". Are you averse to the idea of remixes or is there a reason for not having included anything like this so far? Have you considered the possibility that a lot of your fans may like this idea?
Richard: When we set about writing an album we have no pre-conceived ideas of what it's going to be about, but one thing we like as a band is the fact that we are responsible for the whole project from start to finish. It maybe that we are control freaks but it gives us a sense of pride knowing we have a product that is completely Mesh. So the idea of having someone else's remix on the album is unlikely. We like to think our albums take you on a journey and only we know its destination, so wouldn't be right to change drivers half way.
With all that given, your musical style is positively quite diverse and migrant. Are there any musical directions that you would like to experiment with next? Allegorically speaking, are there any forbidden fruits left for you? With the new album can we expect anything absolutely extravaganza appealing?
Richard: We all have diverse tastes and influences in music. Yes I'm sure we would all like to experiment with some different musical styles. I for one listen Trance, Industrial, Rock and general pop music in my every day life and all these elements appear in our music in one way or another. Having said that if we were to take it too far in one direction we would loose our distinctive style and identity. With "We Collide" we have incorporated a wide range of styles and influences and come up with our best album to date.
Mark: I like to think that we will continue to try things and go with what works - I'm glad that we are not constrained by the tight leash that many bands are on. Change for change's sake is not always good, but you have to be free to pursue these directions if you need to. I feel a little sorry for the bands that have locked themselves into styles or genres or a certain 'time'.
A question in connection with lyrics. In one of the interviews you highlighted that you sing about things which some people may find difficult to talk about or even offensive. And consequently Mesh has been considered to be a man rather than woman oriented band :) How can you comment on the stories and topics you sing about in the new album? Also did Neil and Richard have a chance to contribute lyrics for the Mesh songs?
Mark: I'm not sure that is really true. I think the spread is pretty even at least at the live shows. Our tour manager calculated it once -
roughly 68.45% in favour of the women :-) The lyrics are an important part of what we are as a band and they form the bedrock on which everything
else is built. It is true that I use the lyrics as a way of talking about things that I find difficult to express otherwise, but the themes are
universal and could be understood by anyone.
The information about your German tour is already online. Have you got any plans and invitations so far to visit other territories of the world with a tour supporting your new album? Is Russia on the list?
Richard: Yes, the German tour is only the start of the proposed dates for this album promotion. I'm sure there will be others announced soon, Russia included.
It is a fact that popularity and fame make some people change. How would you say that your attitudes and opinions towards people around you have transformed due to your growing reputation? How have the attitudes and opinions of those around you changed towards you?
Richard: It has been such a long and slow process that I don't think we have changed. We certainly do not see ourselves as stars or anything. Sometimes I don't think we really appreciate how far we have come. It is still weird today after all these years when fans come up to you and want an autograph or just to meet you, it so flattering.
Mark: I have a better perspective on it than I used to, but this sometimes makes it more difficult to talk directly with fans I think. You do feel a little bit like 'why do you want to talk to me?' but on other levels I understand and it's very flattering. I have two lives really - a normal life in England where nobody really knows what you do, and an alternative universe where you are the centre of attention and people cannot do enough for you. I think in some ways it makes you realize how ordinary you really are and how peoples perception of you is entirely based around who and what they 'think' you are.
It's often said that the musical approach of Mesh and your "toques and baseball caps forever" dress code is a contradiction in terms of professionalism in the music industry. For instance, what do you think of being associated with snowboarders and not that, say, Hugh Grant English mannered style? :-) Does this detract from the image and music you are trying to relay?
Richard: This question makes us laugh... I think our approach is an honest one. We dress and behave in the way we are. We don't dress in black and wear make-up because it just isn't us and we would feel uncomfortable trying to portray this image. What is good is that the very fact that we do not dress like everyone else in the scene makes us stand out. Our roots are firmly in the Gothic, industrial, dark electronic genre and are proud of the huge following we have in this scene. People seem to accept us as we are, which is cool. Hmm...now where's my Hugh Grant suit :-)
Mark: I like to wear Gothic clothes when I'm doing the gardening :-)
You used to open for Gary Numan in the early days. Did this legendary person influence you musically or in any other way? How? Besides that can you say that there were some bands or artists that tritely influenced the way the tunes and sound in general are?
Richard: Oh yes, Mr. Numan was a massive influence on us musically. When I first came into contact with his music, it was like the most
unusual thing I had ever heard. He certainly broke the mould of what was around at the time. It was quite an honor to do the shows with him. He was a
really nice guy as well.
Do you have plans to resurrect the Tolerance label at some point in the future to assist any new talented artists and bands that you may have an interest in? Would you fancy a career as a businessman in this way?
Mark: It's something to fall back on maybe. If we get tired of making music ourselves, perhaps we can help some other poor devils to go through what we have.
Which bands (on the synth scene) do you like and why? Are there any releases lately that have attracted your attention? Do you maintain an interest in other artists' musical activities, such as concerts and new releases, to keep up-to-date with the current state of the scene?
Richard: For me there are some bands that do stand out in this scene. It is very difficult to say as many of them are good friends of ours, but some that spring to mind are Apoptygma Berzerk, their new album "You And Me Against The World" is brilliant. Covenant I like, De/Vision, Iris and VNV, we have known Mark and Ronan for years.
What do you think about the development of synth totem in Europe and America? Don't you think that the major influence of bands like Depeche Mode has now come to a natural end and that it is time for Mesh take over the reins in Britain and be seen as the best in this genre?
Richard: I think the problem is the fact that a lot of people still see electronic/synth music as too dark or 80s. It is the way it is
portrayed or presented that will make a difference. People like Madonna is producing purely electronic albums and is widely accepted because it's her.
Yet a band could submit a video to MTV and have it turned down because they are stood behind keyboards and it looks dated.
Are there any messages you'd like to give to Mesh's "friends like those" in Russia and all the readers?
Richard: The Russian fans were brilliant to us the last time we played was probably one of the most enthusiastic crowds we have played in
front of. So we really hope to get back this year and do it again.
Mark: Thanks for all the support we have received from our Russian fans. It wasn't brought home to me how much that support was worth until we visited Moscow. Incredible. We will try our best to get back there and pay our debt of gratitude in 2006. Best Wishes. Mark.
P.S. At the moment Neil is locked in a small room somewhere going insane putting together the visuals for the tour (as well as dealing with all the other artwork and Mesh business) which is why he wasn't able to contribute to this interview.
Observer, Denim Synthpop.ru