The Mission (band)

The Mission (band)
The Mission
Background information
Origin Leeds, England
Genres Gothic rock, hard rock
Years active 1986–1996
Labels Current:
SPV GmbH/Cooking Vinyl
Playground Recordings
Cleopatra Records
Vertigo Records
Mercury Records
Chapter 22
Associated acts The Sisters of Mercy
Red Lorry Yellow Lorry
Dead or Alive
Wayne Hussey
Craig Adams
Simon Hinkler
Mick Brown
Mark Thwaite
Rik Carter
Andy Cousin
Scott Garrett
Rob Holliday
Ritchie Vernon
Steve Spring

The Mission (briefly known as The Sisterhood in 1986, not to be confused with The Sisterhood, and known as The Mission UK in the United States[1]) are a gothic rock band formed in 1986 from the splinters of the freshly dissolved rock band The Sisters of Mercy.

The band was started by frontman Wayne Hussey and bassist Craig Adams (both from the Sisters of Mercy), soon adding drummer Mick Brown (Red Lorry Yellow Lorry) and guitarist Simon Hinkler (Artery and Pulp). Aside from Hussey, the line-up has changed several times during the years.

The band's catalogue consists of nine main albums (God's Own Medicine, The First Chapter, Children, Carved in Sand, Masque, Neverland, Blue, Aura and God is a Bullet) with several complementing albums, compilations and other miscellaneous releases also in existence.


Detailed history


Initially touring as The Sisterhood, the new band played songs originally written for the Sisters of Mercy. Some were already released, some vetoed by band leader Andrew Eldritch. "Dance on Glass" was essentially the Sisters' "Black Planet", while "Garden of Delight", "Over the Hills and Far Away" (one of several original songs with an identical name), "Bridges Burning", "Serpent's Kiss" and "And the Dance Goes On" were previously unreleased.

Meanwhile, Eldritch was unhappy about their usage of Sisters of Mercy songs and the Sisterhood name, not only because it was too similar a name, but also as it was what the band's fans were called. In order to stop the practice, he recorded an album and a single, and released them as The Sisterhood.

Wayne Hussey of The Mission in 1987 - San Francisco, California, USA

In need of a new band name, The Mission was coined. According to the Mission's autobiography, "Names Are for Tombstones, Baby", Hussey said the name came about because of his Mormon upbringing and his parents' desire for him to become a missionary. Mick Brown has a different account, saying the name came from his favourite brand of speakers, Mission. Other possible rumours of how the name came include an originally planned Sisters of Mercy album Left on Mission and Revenge. Using the Eldritch-rejected material from their Sisters sessions, The Mission quickly released two indie singles on the Chapter 22 label, generating interest from several record companies.

Signing a seven-album deal with Phonogram, their debut album God's Own Medicine was then recorded in six weeks with novice producer Tim Palmer, an acquaintance from Hussey's Dead or Alive days. The band then headed touring around Europe as supporting act for The Cult, culminating in a prestigious slot at the Reading Festival. As the American leg of their "World Crusade Tour" went into overdrive, the heavy schedule lead to the temporary departure of Adams.

During their first U.S. tour in 1986 the Mission performed on American TV for the first time on Joan Rivers' chat show. Problems resulted later that night as an inebriated Adams caused problems at their hotel in Los Angeles and resulted in him temporarily quitting the band just prior to their show that evening. Their sound man, Pete Turner, filled in for a couple of shows and when they were offered an opening slot with The Psychedelic Furs, they recruited American Chris Bocast to play bass with them for the remainder of the first U.S. tour.

A reflective mood followed Adams' return as Hussey found himself to be a father to a girl named Hannah. A live video entitled Crusade was released, capturing the band and their noisy audience at the early stage of their career. Turbulent recording sessions of the John Paul Jones-produced second album Children gave way to "Tower of Strength", the band's biggest hit yet, reaching number 12 in the UK Singles Chart. The following world tour "Children Play" included South America, and was supported by a legion of devoted fans (dubbed "eskimos" or "missionaries"), to whom this era would mark the peak of the band's live prowess.

Mick Brown of The Mission in 1987 - Santa Clara, California, USA

Within a few months, the record company released a collection of music videos as From Dusk to Dawn, and to recapture the intimacy of the early gigs, the band travelled around Scotland to try out some new material, hitting the studio afterwards to carve out their next album, only to be briefly paused for the Hillsborough disaster benefit, spearheaded by Hussey, a lifelong Liverpool F.C. fan. Much material was recorded for Carved in Sand, and the band were never unanimous about what songs made the cut, so the album was quickly followed by Grains of Sand, containing the rest of the candidates.

To heal disagreements with humour, the foursome then promptly went camp to form a glam rock tribute band The Metal Gurus, playing support for The Wonder Stuff and recording a cover version of "Merry Xmas Everybody" with Noddy Holder and Jim Lea from Slade. However, as the Deliverance world tour rolled, strains between the founding members resulted in Hinkler kicking over an amp and storming off the stage during a gig at Montreal's Metropolis.

He was replaced by David Wolfenden for the remainder of the tour, while Tim Bricheno (of All About Eve) guested before leaving to join The Sisters of Mercy. With Paul "Etch" Etchells (ex-Ghost Dance) on keyboards and guitars, the last leg of the tour was finished with Hinkler returning twice as a guest during the encores at Leeds and the final night of the tour at Brixton Academy.

After a break to recuperate, the band teamed up with engineer Joe Gibb to create a high-tech studio setup. Brown had been soaking up the Leeds dance scene, while Hussey's explorations were towards folk music. The band, asked to perform a lucrative headlining gig at Finsbury Park in 1991, brought out quite a different side, joined by Maartin Allcock of Fairport Convention and Anthony Thistlethwaite of The Waterboys. Many long-standing fans left the gig worried about the direction of the forthcoming release, Masque (produced by Mark Saunders). Masque was originally intended to be a solo release by Hussey, however the remaining band members contributed to the recording, and the album was released under the group name as a result. Adams left the group subsequent to the release of the album. Reduced to a duo, the Mission began searching for new members, even placing an ad in the Melody Maker.

Childhood's end

The second incarnation of the Mission consisted of Brown, Hussey, Mark Thwaite (formerly of Spear of Destiny) on guitar, Rik Carter (formerly of Pendragon) on keyboards and eventually Andy Cousin (formerly of All About Eve) on bass. This line-up's first release was a fanclub-only flexi disc cover of the Osmonds song "Crazy Horses" in early 1993. The recording of a new album started, while a BBC live album No Snow, No Show for the Eskimo was compiled by Hussey and Joe Gibb. For the first time in three years, the band decided to tour, and a warm-up was arranged as the "Off the Street" benefit for the homeless in Leeds. As Andrew Eldritch signed up, completely unfounded press speculation about a Hussey/Eldritch reunion became rife. The Club Mission tour played smaller venues around Europe, with new tracks "Afterglow" and "Raising Cain" becoming a regular feature in the set.

The end of 1993 saw Hussey remixing "Tower of Strength" with Youth, and revisiting some of the past material for a greatest hits compilation album. A remixed version of "Tower of Strength" appeared in the UK Singles Chart in January 1994,[2] and the band made their last appearance on Top of the Pops. The compilation, entitled Sum and Substance, was released the next month and featured two new tracks; "Sour Puss" (relating to Adams departing) and a remix of "Afterglow" by Mark "Spike" Stent. The latter was also released as the final single through Vertigo/Phonogram — the seven-album contract was now up, and neither of the parties was interested in a continued relationship.

Recordings proceeded slowly, while the band negotiated a new independent record deal, and Hussey produced a collection of three BBC sessions as Salad Daze. In late 1994, a single, "Raising Cain", was released on Equator Records. Early in 1995, the single "Swoon" paved way for the next album, Neverland, more or less a Mission signature sound but with a much heavier production. The Neverland tour saw a slight revival in popularity, with two of the concerts being filmed for German television, a promo-only live EP released and a handful of summer festivals played.

In March 1996 the band set up in Bristol for eight weeks to record new songs which Hussey had been developing. When the resulting album, Blue, was released, it received mixed review from music critics but left portions of the old fanbase rather unimpressed[citation needed]. Future interviews would see Hussey hating the album, with only the reworked B-side "Evermore & Again" ever becoming a regular staple in subsequent tours. A short stint around the UK, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands afterwards turned out to be a farewell tour: After ten years, Hussey and Brown decided that enough is enough. The band finished it all off with festivals in Spain and South Africa, the latter being their final gig at the Kyalami racetrack in Johannesburg.


After the Mission disbanded, Hussey spent his time in Orange County, California with his wife and young daughter. In semi-retirement, he produced sporadic remixes and singles for Cleopatra Records and Dancing Ferret Records, as well as up-and-coming acts, and contributing a new song for a Mission album put together by Mission fans over the internet.

In 1999, after releasing an album of solo versions of Mission classics in his home studio, Hussey resurrected the band with Adams, drummer Scott Garrett (Adams' band-mate in The Cult) and Mark Thwaite, for what was intended to be a one-off tour with Gene Loves Jezebel across the United States and an also-resurrected All About Eve across the United Kingdom. The success of the tour and the reaction of the crowds gave the band plenty of encouragement to continue beyond the tour, and 2000 saw the band take on a mammoth world tour, heading festivals in Europe and sharing the bill with the Sisters of Mercy at the M'era Luna Festival in Germany. A souvenir CD of the 1999 tour was released as Ever After, with the various live tracks complemented by three tracks from the 1995 promo-only Live EP and the even-rarer fanclub-only studio outtake "Crazy Horses".

At the end of 2000, the band recorded tracks for a new album at The Levellers' Brighton studios, and Dave Allen (who produced the first Sisters of Mercy album) was drafted in to oversee the recording of tracks in Bath. Before the release of the album, dubbed Aura, the band were invited to play support for the German tour of the Finnish band HIM. At this juncture, Thwaite left the band (first due to touring commitments with Tricky and later to form the band New Disease) to be replaced by Rob Holliday of Sulpher.

Aura was released on their own Playground label run by former Phonogram A&R man Charlie Eyre. The sound was heavy and the production very intricate, but fans noted that several songs were uncomfortably similar to previous Mission songs, notably "Dragonfly", which was very similar to 1990 hit "Butterfly on a Wheel". Nonetheless, the band undertook a large world tour supporting the album. However, the stresses of touring and diminishing returns once again saw tensions grow, and during the South American leg of their 2002 tour, Adams decided to leave once again. Hussey continued the leg of the tour by himself, with some acoustic shows backed by pre-recorded tapes, also lining himself up for a number of much more successful solo acoustic shows in Europe.

In early 2003, The Mission gained a new bass player in the form of Ritchie Vernon and within a matter of months, Garrett also left, to be replaced by Steve Spring. This new line-up carried on through to mid-2004.


In September 2005 the band's first DVD, Lighting the Candles, was released, complemented by a live CD. It took over a year for Hussey to compile this 2 DVD set which includes a live gig, some video clips, a commented biography and discography and plenty of interviews, live performances and backstage shots. The result gained good reviews and good sales. The single "Breathe Me In" hit the top of the Alternative Chart in Germany, and the band once again undertook an extensive EU tour. Mark Thwaite rejoined the band, as Holliday was occupied touring with The Prodigy. The band evolved the hard-rock angle further, while audience ranks grew throughout the tour. Hussey announced that 2006 would hold no tours, as he would concentrate on the new album and his personal projects. As well as Lighting the Candles, 2005 saw the release of Waves Upon the Sand and Crusade for the first time on DVD.

In 2006 Hussey marked the 20th anniversary of the band with the issue of a limited edition T-shirt designed especially for the occasion. Meanwhile, Phonogram records released another "best of", Anthology: The Phonogram Years, a two-CD set including all 11 of the band's Top 40 hits alongside rare mixes, long lost B-sides, BBC sessions, 5 previously unavailable tracks and 5 tracks appearing on CD for the first time.

A new single, "Keep It In the Family" was released in March 2007, followed a month later by the new album God is a Bullet featuring Hussey, Thwaite, Vernon and Spring and guest musicians Simon Hinkler, Bricheno and Julianne Regan. To coincide with the release of the new album, Mercury Records reissued the first three Mission albums as enhanced CDs complete with bonus tracks.

In February–March 2008 the band played a series of four concerts at Shepherds Bush Empire in London, with each night dedicated to a particular period of the band's history. Hussey announced that these would be the last ever Mission concerts, as he wished to have an indefinite break from band activity and concentrate on other personal projects.[3] Simon Hinkler joined on each night for the encores and occasional songs in main set. The final concert in the series was filmed, and each night recorded and later released as part of a boxed set.

In February 2009 the Mission's record label SPV records released a double album Live & Last plus the DVD Final Chapter recording of the final show which included additional footage from the tour. The DVD debuted in the official UK BBC charts[which?] at No.6 - the highest UK chart position in many years for the band.

In June 2010 the band's label SPV released Dum Dum Bullet. Hussey alluded to a possible reformation of the band in 2011, for some live shows celebrating the band's 25th anniversary.

On 31 October 2010, it was announced that The Mission will be playing in Belgium, at the Sinners Day Festival, on 31 October 2011.


Studio albums


  1. ^ due to a naming clash with a Philadelphia R&B band
  2. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 370. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  3. ^ The Mission UK // God is a Bullet
  • Book: "Names Are for Tombstones, Baby" (Independent Press, 1993)
  • Interview with Wayne Hussey - Record Collector magazine (November 1993)

External links

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