Your new album is absolutely brilliant. A masterpiece, you must be very proud of it.
Mark: (Thank you!) Yes, we are very proud of it. We've been involved as closely as it's possible to be in the making of the record, and that makes the end result more satisfying, but that also makes it difficult to be truly objective - it would be nice to be in a situation where we could hear the album for the first time.
Mesh is now very popular in Germany and England. What about other countries?
Mark: It's true that Germany, the UK and Scandinavia have the biggest fanbases for us, but we are getting more and more feedback from all over the World and it's increasing every day. The offers of gigs and tours are a good indication of this and we are already looking at a formidable number of shows in various countries this year as well as a full tour of Germany. It's actually a great feeling to hear from someone in Russia, Brazil or South Africa - it's very strange to think that something you've created has travelled so far.
What is the difference for you between the last two albums and the new one?
Mark: Because we have done all of the writing, production, recording, artwork and photographs ourselves as before this was always going to be very much a 'mesh album'. I think the song writing has got better for us with each new release and "Who Watches Over Me?" is certainly the pinnacle of our work to date in that respect. The lyrical content has perhaps shifted a little in it's subject matter and there is much more depth there I think, just as there is perhaps more complexity in the music. Our previous albums have been mixed in our own studio in Bristol 'Urban', and possibly the biggest technical shift has been the use of an external studio and mix engineer in the final mixing. We used Home Studio in Hamburg and mix engineer BlackPete. Studio One at Home is one of the best equipped facilities in Germany and BlackPete was the perfect partner for us - he knew exactly what we wanted to achieve with the record and how to get that sound. We were very lucky.
Why do you release the first single from the album after the album and not before like in the past?
Mark: It was a record company decision and there are reasons tied in with promotion. We trust their judgement.
Please tell us about the time after the "Waves" release with Mark'Oh and your "break up" with normal jobs.
Mark: The "Waves" single was a good experience for us. We were very pleased with the single as it was something different for us and it came out so well. We were a little confused and largely disappointed by some of the negative press that surfaced before the record came out mainly because of Mark'Oh's association with the mainstream dance scene. We never had a single letter or email from a fan after the event to say that they didn't like the record so we felt vindicated and we hope that certain people will credit us for more sense in the future than to throw away all of our hard work. I guess there will always be people who will look for a way to knock you down. Marko is a great guy, and although we all decided that a further collaberation would not make sense, we are still very good friends. We gave up our jobs in January 2001 to continue working on the new album. We owed it to ourselves to give the project that commitment and with the new deal we finally had the means. It was never really going to be a difficult decision to make, but it's still a big step I guess. I suppose it's many people's dream to get the opportunity to do something like this as a job, but I think we have always been pretty aware of the time and effort that it takes to write a record and we have been fairly strict with ourselves. It's worked out well and the whole situation is still exciting for us.
What kind of machines (equipment) and which PC/Mac programmes did you use for this album?
Mark: We have a very large pool of equipment at our main studio and at two smaller studios in our houses. I guess the most useful synths have been the awesome Access Virus, the Korg Trinity, Nord Lead, Novation Nova and Korg Prophecy. The Roland JV1080 and W30 have been really useful as general work horses and are good for writing with. We have also used a lot of older stuff like the Roland SH101, Sequential Pro One, Roland SH2, Roland JUNO 106, Waldorf Pulse, Waldorf Microwave. FM stuff like the TX81Z and the TG77 are still useful to us if programmed carefully. We are still working with a lot of Emax samplers like the EMAXII (we have three now, two keyboards and a rack. Great filters - they are good for live work too) and the Esi32 (upgraded to 32Meg/digital in/out x 2). We use Cubase VST 5.x on the PC for sequencing and recording audio/vocals - very flexible and pretty reliable now. We have a Fostex D2424 24 track recorded for archiving and mix on a Mackie 24:8:2, although the new album was mixed in Hamburg on a J series SSL desk. We use Sonic Foundry's Sound Forge for a lot of audio editing work which is becoming a crucial part of sound manipulation and creation for us now - it is very much more flexible than using samplers, although samplers still have a place because they are 'hands on' - we tend now to download from the PC into the sampler and play around with the triggering from there - it's always a balance between sound creation and musical input.
What can we expect for the concerts? Guest musicians, video-show...?
Mark: We have worked very hard on making the new live shows a great evening for everyone who comes and we hope we will succeed. We will have no guest musicians, but we don't feel that we need them - our music has, and always will be about what we can do as a band and I don't think unconnected musicians have a place in that. It's also confusing for fans I think. We will really be pushing ourselves musically on this tour, incorporating as much live input from the band as we can technically manage, including some guitar. We have a very cool video projection system for this tour which will integrate completely synchronised video (painstakingly put together over the last 4 months by Neil who also did all of the artwork and photography for the new album) that will add impact and emotion to the performances, not distract from them. We are looking forward to it!
How do you see the internet and the possibility to get your album for free very easily?
Mark: The internet has been a fantastic tool for us. We have had a web page from the days of "Fragile" and it has been a constant source of new fans and has given us greater interaction with them. I think the internet gives people access to information on genres of music that they simply wouldn't have been able to get before. This is crucial in building a following - it may be that you don't know anyone near where you live that likes the kind of music you are into, but you can talk to someone in another country or town who is. I think that much of our success in places that we have never even played a gig in is due to the internet in some respects. The piracy issue is a very real problem of course and it affects bands like us greatly. All we can ask is the usual - if you like the album and you can afford it, please buy it.
I think "Friends Like These" is the strongest song from the new album. Is it also your opinion?
Mark: We all like different tracks on the album so it is difficult to choose a favourite. I guess we're just too close to it all. We have said in previous interviews that we would be happy for any track on that album to be released as a single, and although that is probably not realistic, it shows the strength of the belief we have in it. "Friends Like These" is a strong track certainly and many fans have expressed a similar opinion.