Fortified by their Germanic success and the support – at last – of their brand new label, the Bristol-based trio is moving on to the next rung up with "Who watches over me?", a fourth album which, even if it's no surprise to the band's fans, delivers subtle and quality electro pop tunes.
Mark: Keeping a band together is not easy as most people who have tried it with any conviction will tell you. We are very lucky in as much as
the three of us get on very well. We don't have any problems on that front. However, there is always a point in this kind of business when you have
decide if it's worth ploughing more of your life into it or do you resign yourself to the fact that it's never going to work out - and by work out I
mean make some kind of a career out of it. We've come close to that point on several occasions wholly fueled by frustration with the lack of
investment that was being made in us, not through any lack of self belief.
What does the title of your new album, "Who watches over me?", refer to?
Mark: It's about the people that look after us, who watch over us like family and friends and lovers. It's about what happens when nobody is there for us and the situations and people that can break those fragile relationships.
The new single "Leave you nothing" is about a father talking to his child. What's the whole story behind this song?
Mark: The song is about a man who has a daughter that he only gets to see for one hour a week. It describes the anticipation of that time together, the clumsiness in their friendship and the fear of what little impact he can ever have on her life. "I don't want to leave you nothing" is a wish that the man can give his daughter something in the way of love and memories and is born of his frustration and sadness. It's written in such a way that you don't know it's not a simple love song until the last few lines of the text, in fact I doubt that many people would even question the meaning unless they were told. It's one of the things I like about it.
You're usually very much involved in the artwork and overall visual design of your records. Is it also the case with the new album?
Mark: Neil did all of the artwork and the photographs for the new album as on all of the previous albums and singles (except the original version of Fragile). He has a good eye for these things and the photographs he takes just get so well with the mood of the music that it's hard to imaging anyone else doing it. The picture of the control/watch tower on the front of the album was taken in Seattle and it just fitted so well with the title. On the back is an abandoned Gas station that looks like a Cowboy hat, with a huge pair of boots where the toilets were - that was a cool photo too. Again it's a creative process like the writing of the album and it takes a long time to get it right, but we always think pretty hard about every cover and booklet. Neil is also doing video work for projection on the new tour which is another major piece of work that we're pretty excited about.
Your music seems to attract many people from the goth/industrial/electronic underground... Do you have affinities with this specific scene?
Mark: We have always identified with the scene. It's where we started and why we started. The goth thing is sometimes a little surprising, but the gothic audience identify with the sentiment of the lyrics and the mood of the music and that is enough. OK we don't dress for the scene, but it's not everything to them or us. We've headlined at the Whitby Gothic Festival (and are on the front of this years flyer!) so I guess they must accept us and that's cool. We have to be ourselves at the end of the day - we're not very good at carrying pretence. It's the way we dress normally so it doesn't make any sense to us to carry something else off when we're in the band.
What has Mesh changed in your lives so far?
Mark: It pretty much takes over your life and affects it at every level - it's not something you can ever really forget you are part of or something that you can leave behind when you go home at night. The band has given us a lot of good friends and enabled us to see more of the world than we would ever have had the opportunity to do. You see a different side of countries and people that you ever would if you were just on holiday. It's a rollercoaster of good and bad times that constantly play on your mind but that's the nature of the beast and you have to get used to it. We've had the chance to escape the mundane for a while and that's probably made the biggest difference to our lives.
You recently moved to another label (Home records, Germany). How did it all happen?
Mark: I guess the offer from Orbit Records (now Home Records) came through our brief collaboration with the German DJ Mark'Oh. He had approached us to make the Waves cover (a Blancmange track). It was his idea, and in fact the orchestral track had been recorded previously for another singer but his voice didn't suit the track. Mark'Oh knew of us through the clubs and got in contact with our German licensor to see if we wanted to do it. We recorded the vocals in his house in Dorsten (he has a cool house...) and wrote and recorded the B-side track You and Me.
Is it during this time that Home Records offered you a deal?
Mark: They signed on the strength of our previous material without hearing any demo's of new stuff which was a testament to their belief in us and just as well because we didn't have anything. OK, it wasn't quite as simple as that because the contractual situation was quite complex, but that's an abridged version if you like.
How was the break up with your former label, Memento Materia?
Mark: I think to be honest the offer came at just the right time for us. We were obviously pleased with the way things had been going for us, especially in Germany, but we needed to take the band to the next level as it was getting difficult to write the new album and to continue to work at our 'normal' jobs. We needed to be fair to ourselves at the end of the day and that meant finding a way to devote more time to the new record. There was never any animosity with Memento, and to be honest they made the move pretty easy for us. Memento Materia would be the first to admit that they had taken us as far as they were able or willing to do.
How do you explain the fact that things seem to really take off in Germany for you? What's wrong with England?
Mark: It's just the way things have turned out really. We had a Swedish label that started working with a German Licensor. The licensor did a good job in Germany and that pretty much became our biggest market. It makes a lot of sense to us at this stage to take advantage of that support and to be signed to another German label. If the interest had been there from a UK label in the beginning then we might have gone for that, but it wasn't.
How was the writing and recording of this new album?
Mark: The writing for this album went pretty smoothly. When we gave up our jobs and started working on the album it was like a breath of fresh air, having that much more time to work on the tracks. I don't think we'd ever really been in that situation before - not working in the evenings and on weekends. We pretty much wrote the whole album in a year, including mixing and mastering which is a reasonable timescale for most bands. We worked in our studio in Bristol as on all of the albums we've produced to date, so it was a familiar environment and business as usual really.
What kind of music do you listen to at home? What CDs have been playing at hour house recently?
Mark: Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Method Man, Everclear and Radiohead for me. There is also an artist Etta Scollo on Home Records that we've all been into since we saw her in concert in Hamburg - all in Italian but you kind of understand the feelings in it without understanding the narrative. Neil is listening to the new Garbage album, Zero 7 and Goldfrapp at the moment I think. Rich has got the new Nine Inch Nails live album in 5.1 Dolby - it's pretty spectacular by all accounts.
Laure Cornaire, Premonition