"I am a bit of an old fogey," Wayne Hussey tells me proudly.

Surely, Wayne, you cannot be serious!? What about the wonderful, wacky world of rock 'n' roll – the gigs, the drugs, the groupies, the nicely–spoken press officers...?

"It's a secondary consideration. It's what I do for a living. I got married two years ago. I live out in the country. I much prefer living out there. I have a studio at home so I can work at my own pace. It’s great! I'm very very lucky. I managed to come out of it pretty unscathed. Decent standard of living recently. Music and all its peripherals is definitely second place in my life."

This can't be true, can it? Afterall Wayne Hussey is still a 'youngish' man. Why is he talking like it's the end of an era? Because that what it is – the end of the Mission era, or the Mission era "Mark I," to be precise; a cosy little eon sandwiched in somewhere between the punk and grunge layers in the strata of quickly calcifying rock – a time and place where music was held sacred but not too sacred, where intense feelings were evoked with a knowing, tongue–in–cheek sense of irony. And to commemorate it all, here's the singles album Sum and Substance with all those Mission almost-hits.

Wayne is a relaxed, affable host as he greets me in the lobby of a discretely luxurious, little hotel in Kensington. No longer the wild man of rock, I venture to suggest.

"Three years ago I would probably have been stuck here drunk with a straw up my nose," he confesses as I survey the drinks cabinet full of Highland Spring mineral water.

Wane Hussey 1993, is very much his own man, able to look both to the past and the future with a healthy amount of detachment. I ask him about his first love, goth: does it still haunt him?

"It's the modern day equivalent of Teddy Boys," he sneers through his trademark granny shades. He is also wearing black trousers and a black top with a Daffy Duck logo on it. "I stopped thinking of myself as a goth after the first album."

But you're dressed as one, I point out.

"It's also very Jim Morrison," he reasons. "We played a show at the weekend, at Leeds. It was like a time–warp with an audience of 4 or 5 years ago. I think the vast majority of our audience have moved on. It's just at the weekend, it's time to get the old gladrags out and backcomb the hair."

Apart from being their first show in 2 years and the first chance for Wayne's new band to try out together live, this gig was also remarkable for the presence on the same bill of someone else with a recent compilation album, Andrew Eldritch. I ask him how things are with his old gaffer from his Sisters of Mercy days.

"Fine. I've seen him more in the last few weeks than I have in the last 6 years. The question still crops up – When are you going to get together again? But there has to be a huge fee involved for me to get on the same stage with Andrew."

But why did they break up?
"I can’t remember," he replies evasively.

So, what about his favourite tracks on the new compilation?

"Tower of Strength and Beyond the Pale. When I was compiling the album, I had to listen to all the stuff again. It was weird because I could really see distinct periods. Although I think Children is a vastly overproduced album, Tower of Strength still sounds fantastic. I just think that the attitude at that time was one of arrogance, self–importance, and total melodrama. I really liked that. Never Again and Like a Child Again proved to be not very popular with our audience, but our last album Masque to me was our best because we went against people’s expectations."

Masque was the album the Mission made after their main guitarist Simon Hinkler left to write columns for Rock World magazine. More recently, Craig, the bassist, has been sacked. What was all that about?

"After Simon left, it took us a little time to come to terms with it, but I kind of realised that it would never be the same. The relationship got pretty stagnant. On a personal level it was fine, but if I came up with a bunch of chords, I knew what kind of bass line he would come up with. If I were to survive, I realised that we needed to shake it all up, get new people in, people that I could fire ideas off."

So, does that means in few years time he'll be firing his present band?
"Sure, I've got the bug now," he jokes.

How's the new band working out?

"They all came into the group with preconceptions of what the group was about. They played what they thought I would expect from them, playing like Craig or Simon. Now I'm getting their own personalities out. If I've got one great ability, it's to do that with the people I work with. I did it with Simon."

With the new–look Mission halfway through their next studio album, Sum & Substance also includes a quick swig of things to come with two new tracks, the funky, quirky Sour Puss and the guitar–barbed belly dance of Afterglow. Rumours that the former track is a snipe at the Cure's legendary sour puss, Robert Smith, are unfounded.

"I don't know what you mean. He'd have no reason to think it was about him. Me and Robert get on fine. That song started out as a rip off of Sly and the Family Stone, but it just lent itself to being like The Cure. It's playful and fun."

So how close are Hussey and Smith?

"We french kiss," he laughs.

But what can fans expect from the forthcoming studio album?

"It's darker. Afterglow is a fair example of the way it's going – guitars up front with loops and stuff, real drums. In the last few years my personal musical tastes have changed quite drastically. I've gotten into Bassomatic and dance stuff and taken that on board, but still keeping, like, a rock edge."

So, it's the end of one era and hopefully the beginning of another. How does Hussey sum it all up?

"A good time was had by all."

And musically?

"We went too far too soon as far as our audience was concerned," he replies with a barely perceptible note of regret. "I still get a kick out of getting that feedback from the audience. There's nothing quite like going out in front of 2,000 people and doing Tower of Strength and they've got their arms in the air."

Colin Liddell
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