"We Collide" - the interview

As the "We Collide" album has just been released (release date: 31 March 06) we got in contact with the three mesh guys to interview them about the album, its production, the reasons for the long wait as well as the forthcoming tour. Just read what the boys had to say...

Hi, itís a great pleasure for me. It took quite a while until the "We Collide" album was released. Can you talk about the reasons?

Rich: After "Who Watches Over Me?", we directly started writing the "We Collide" album, but because of personal reasons and the general need for a timeout the process of writing was rather slow. Weíve been together as a band for several years now and we had a quite adamant time. We needed some time to re-charge our batteries, I think. Furthermore, there were also things related to the record company. They were looking for new label partners and were busy with a re-organisation themselves. All this was quite time consuming, but I think it all turned for the best.

Is it right that the album Ė at least at first Ė is only released in Germany?

Rich: No, this time itís going to be released in different countries and itís a big relief for us. We had marketing problems with the last album, but things seem to be better now.

Neil: But thatís right, the limited edition will be only released in Germany Ė and the album can be published in different countries at different times, depending on the respective label. I have to admit thatís quite confusing.

Where do you get the inspiration for new tracks? Is the musical structure still first and the lyrics might follow later? Or is it sometimes also the other way round?

Rich: With this album we tried a different approach as we normally do. Mark wrote the songs in a very simple acoustic form and brought them along in the studio on a CD. Afterwards, I passed some time in listening to them in the car or at home and then tried to imagine how the music and atmosphere respectively go with the feeling of the song. I tried to rebuild it in the studio and together we put it in the finished form. It was interesting that some of the ballads Mark wrote ended up as clearly faster tracks, whereas some of the dance-oriented tracks turned out to be quite heavily guitar driven.

Mark: I tried to compose more on the guitar and to keep the demos quite simple this time. In the past, I had the habit of immediately finishing the songs at the computer. So I spent a lot of time with the electronic parts which we modified in the end anyway. This time I tried to consider the production as secondary and concentrated on writing stronger songs. This was also quite helpful for the final production, I guess, because we had more stuff we could work with Ė when you have a good song, the rest is just easier.

Is there a certain concept behind "We Collide"? And is there a reason for a gun on the booklet?

Mark: This album is about things we do to ourselves and to others. Itís not a collection of love songs or songs about pain caused by love. Increasingly, I donít see myself in the position to understand why people do the things that they do to themselves Ė I guess itís a consequence of having a family and people who I have to worry about. The ideas arose from things that I Ė and partly people I know Ė saw or underwent. Some songs are about children and the way some people treat them Ė that is something I will never understand. The artwork was done by Neil. He took these ideas and created something brilliant Ė something that fit the moods in the songs perfectly. It captures the innocence and the implied violence precisely.
The title seemed to be perfect for this topic. Some people meet. Some people collide. "We Collide".

How was it to work with an external producer - Gareth Jones?

Rich: Gareth's role was more that of a mixing engineer than of a producer. All tracks were written, programmed and recorded in our studio in Bristol. We then sent all the files to Gareth who started to remix them. Mark also drove to London to record some of the voice traces with Gareth once again. Gareth took several weeks to send us files and mp3s that got the mix 90 % ready before meeting in our studio in Bristol for the final mix session.
It was a fantastic collaboration with Gareth. He has got a good intuition for what we were trying to achieve with this album. He works quickly and gets the best out of a song. It really opened our eyes. Itís really difficult to hear what is good or bad when you spend so much time in the studio and listen to the songs again and again. You have to live with the tracks for a considerably long time while you are writing, producing and mixing them. Gareth was like a new pair of ears and brought the songs to a new level.

To all technicians among us: Which equipment did you use for the recordings of "We Collide"? Were there any differences to the last album?

Rich: We still use Cubase VST for sequencing, but also started to use Reason for the drum parts and a couple of soft synth lines. Furthermore, we still use many real keyboards, because we think they bring some warmth to the recordings Ė the Nord Lead, Access Virus, Korg Trinity as well as older analogue ones like the SH101 and the Pro-One.

Mark: The main differences really were in the software Ė a couple of more virtual synths, freeware plug-ins Ė such things. I have started to use Cubase SX because it works better for the cut and the recording of the voice and I think itís more user friendly. I bought a lot of new high quality outboard equipment to be able to record the vocals at home. So we were able to use some of the original demo vocals for the recordings. Songs like "Can You Mend Hearts" and the intimate vocals of "The Worldís A Big Place" were recorded in my back room with a Rode K2 and a TL Audio 5051 Valve Compressor. The b-side of "Crash", "Soul", was done exactly that way. I also invested in some new guitars and a POD XP Live which I will take along the tour.

I really like your new album very much – good songs, very diversified, once again a great voice –, but in my opinion "Crash" is not the strongest song on it. Who decided to pick this song as a single? And what are your favourite songs on the album?

Rich: Usually, we leave this decision to other people like our record label or close friends. Itís quite difficult for us to find out which track should be a single. "Crash" was mentioned quite often when we asked people. I suppose itís quite catchy, and thatís what a single should be and quite suitable for the clubs. Iím not sure if it really represents the album, but...
My personal favourites are "What Are You Scared Of" and "This Is What You Wanted".

Mark: My favourites are "Can You Mend Hearts" and "Petrified". "No Place Like Home" and "The Worldís A Big Place" are quite personal and thatís why I love them. To be honest, I like the complete album without exception Ė I think it will endure many listenings and is our best work so far.

Neil: Yes, I also like the complete album, but if I had to decide "Petrified", "Can You Mend Hearts" and "This Is What You Wanted" would be my first choices.

You have a very strong German fan base. But why of all things in Germany, what do you think? Are there any other countries with especially many mesh fans? And when will the English fans discover you and bring you in the Top 40?

Rich: Hmm... I donít really know why, maybe because electronic music in Germany has got a strong following. We have always received a great welcome from the Germans thatís why we always toured here more often. But Scandinavia has also treated us very well (thatís where our first label Memento Materia was based) and also Greece. Furthermore, we get lots of e-mails from fans in the US. We did a few gigs there in the past and would like to do it again. The UK is quite a difficult market to crack. We have good and loyal fans at home, but the scene still is very much an underground one.

Itís always very enjoyable to see you performing on stage. Which "real" instruments (guitars? drums?) are you going to use this time? How many songs do you plan to play? Are there any surprises for the fans?

Rich: On this tour, we want to try to stress the live aspect a bit more. We donít want to be considered another of these electronic bands that jumps up and down to DAT machines. Thus we will play more live parts than ever before and also have a couple of surprises planned. We, therefore, apologies in advance for all the goofed sounds. ;)
Of course, this tour is also intended to promote "We Collide", so we also play the new stuff as well as some revised old tracks. We are still working on it and hope that it all works fine with the new visuals.

Did you choose "Mechanical Cabaret" as your tour support? Where do you know them from? And the same questions with regard to "Client" that will be supporting you in the UK.

Rich: Yes, we chose Mechanical Cabaret. We already did a couple of gigs with them in Great Britain last year and liked what they did. Itís a kind of dirty electro punk and we think it really differs from what is going on in the scene nowadays. We like the idea to bring along something new to the European audience instead of relying on something safe or what is already established. We think that the people will like it.

Mark: They were the first band in a long while who made me come out of the backstage area and watch them. You better make sure that you donít miss them!

Neil: In regard to the UK shows, Client is a band I like and mentioned them to our tour management and UK promoters. And thank god they could arrange it.

As this interview is done for the German Depeche Mode homepage I would like to ask you the following question: Have you listened to DMís last album "Playing The Angel"? And did you like it?

Rich: Yes, I have bought the album. My honest opinion is: I really like it very much. I think itís their best album for a long time, so good that I got my ass up to go to the NEC in Birmingham to see them live, a great show!

Mark: Itís been the first time after a long while that I bought a single of theirs and the album is cool. The production is edgy and the songs are, generally speaking, cool Ė they are back to their old form, I guess.

You are from Bristol. Did you have or do you have connections to the local music scene? I think Bristol got famous for its trip hop with great bands and artists like Massive Attack, Tricky or Portishead.

Rich: Well, Bristol has got a big and diverse music scene and the press mainly jumped at the whole trip hop Portishead Massive Attack thing. I donít agree that it really represents what is happening here. But it put Bristol, of course, on the musical world map. We really would like to say that we all know these artists, but that would be a lie.

Neil: Apart from going to similar clubs, when I was younger and that I saw Massive Attack in Bristol last year Ė no. Sorry!

Mark: The new Massive Attack single Ė "Live With Me" Ė has a Bristol City Football Club fan chant carried out by the town crier and Roni Size is really cool. That is all I know.

Could you say what music has influenced you in your career? And what music you are listening to at the moment?

Rich: Early electronic pioneers, dance music, rock and indie, a great and mixed deal of music influenced me, even the rockíní roll and Elvis records of my parents.
Nowadays: Madonna, Soulwax, Nine Inch Nails, Trance, Linkin Park.

Mark: I listened to Yazoo, Portion Control, Nitzer Ebb, Depeche Mode, OMD, Skinny Puppy, Front 242. Now I listen to Placebo, Apoptygma Berzerk, Coldplay, Radiohead, Kate Bush and Ivor Cutler.

Neil: Then: The Clash, OMD, Tubeway Army, Gary Numan, Yazoo, Silicon Teens. Now: Madonna, Elvis, Apop, Ella Fitzgerald, Green Day, Muse, Goldfrapp, The Knife.

Last question: Could you already tell us something about your future plans?

Rich: The tour is the immediate plan, then another single and more promotion...

Mark: My next major task will be to start with writing the next album. Iím looking forward to this.

Neil: For me: to get the videos ready for this tour!!!

Thank you, we are looking forward to the tour!

Rich: No, we have to thank you, it was a pleasure.

Mark: Thanks for taking the time! And for the support Ė we appreciate it very much.

Neil: Yes, a big thank you! We should mention that we now have a German fan page Ė www.mesh-musik.de Ė so with this, it will be much easier for German fans to get full and updated information on mesh. You can also register for the newsletter. We are looking forward to seeing you on tour!

Addison, DepecheMode.de