Wayne Hussey: "I spent all my money on birds, booze, drugs and guitars"

Close up of Wayne Hussey of The Mission, on stage, hands on his face

The Mission were born out of Leeds band the Sisters Of Mercy after it became clear the latter couldn’t contain both Andrew Eldritch and Wayne Hussey’s giant egos. With Hussey at the helm, The Mission became goth prime movers, with Top 30 hits (Wasteland, Severina, Tower Of Strength) and a reputation as massive caners. Thirty years and several iterations later, The Mission are still recording and touring, while Hussey lives in São Paolo, Brazil.

The opening lyric of the first Mission album was: ‘I still believe in God, but God no longer believes in me.’ Do you believe in God?

The older I get, the more confused I am. I’d like to believe there is something else after this life, but I wouldn’t bank on it. I’m a baptised Mormon. I’ve tried my hardest to be excommunicated but they won’t have it.

Iggy Pop liked that lyric, didn’t he?

Yeah. That was his introduction to me. He came and tapped me on the shoulder and said: “Hi, I’m Jim. I love that line.” We became good friends.

Did you help invent goth?

It wasn’t invented, was it? When I was in the Sisters we went to certain kinds of clubs and hung out with certain kinds of people. Then people like you [ie journalists] decided to call it ‘goth’. If you were to see me at home, most days I’d be wearing shorts and flip-flops. That’s not very goth, is it?

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?

I worked in the Co-Op. That wasn’t very goth either. I was a trainee manager.

Bristol, Liverpool, Leeds or São Paulo?

São Paulo. Because it’s the first place I’ve lived since I left my mum and dad’s home as a kid that’s felt like home. I’m blessed because my wife, who is Brazilian, and I have an apartment in the city centre, and we also have a place in the country, up in the hills. It’s a small, non-working farm with a swimming pool and a studio. It’s pretty idyllic.

What do you remember about being in Dead Or Alive?

I loved it. When I first joined, we were actually a guitar band. We were – excuse the term – quite ‘gothy’. Then one day someone lent me a synthesizer with an input on the back called a CV/gate, and I thought: “I wonder what would happen if I plugged in my guitar?” All of a sudden it went [sound of sequencer pulse]: ‘Dugga-dugga-dugga-dugga…’ I thought: “Fuckin’ ’ell, that’s brilliant!” I accidentally brought about Dead Or Alive’s hi-NRG direction, and did myself out of a job.

Who was harder work: Andrew Eldritch or Pete Burns?

Oh, Eldritch. Pete was great. Dead Or Alive was very much a gang. We’d go out to gay clubs, cos we were into gay disco.

Were you bisexual?

I wasn’t at that time, no. It’s something I experimented with later.

What are the best and worst drugs you’ve taken?

The best drug would be ecstasy when it first came out. The worst would be the last time I took speed. It kept me up for four days.

What has been the lowest point of your career?

The mid-nineties. The Mission’s momentum had stalled and we were playing smaller venues. It felt like, “What’s the point?”

What was your biggest waste of money?

I don’t look at things like that. It was like George Best said: I spent all my money on birds, booze, drugs and nightclubs – and in my case, guitars – and the rest I squandered.

What’s the secret of success?

I wish I knew. With The Mission, when we started we flew in the face of what was going on. At the time it was all that Just Say No campaign, and we were out there campaigning for Just Say Yes. I think there were a lot of people who related to the fact that we lived life unashamedly.

What were you like at school?

The only subjects I was good at were English and football.

Where do you stand politically?

I’d say I was slightly left of centre. I don’t take a lot of interest in politics. I think they’re all much of a muchness.

What in your life are you most proud of?

The fact that I’m still alive and still making records is a pretty damn good achievement.

When the time comes, how would you like to go?

I’d like to go not knowing about it. I don’t worry about death, but I do worry about the way of dying. I’m not a big fan of pain or long, drawn-out diseases.

What will be written on your tombstone?

“Too much was never enough.”

The Goth Rock Quiz: how well do you remember the golden age of goth?

The Top 10 Essential Goth Albums

Why is goth still popular?

Paul Lester

Paul Lester is the editor of Record Collector. He began freelancing for Melody Maker in the late 80s, and was later made Features Editor. He was a member of the team that launched Uncut Magazine, where he became Deputy Editor. In 2006 he went freelance again and has written for The Guardian, The Times, the Sunday Times, the Telegraph, Classic Rock, Q and the Jewish Chronicle. He has also written books on Oasis, Blur, Pulp, Bjork, The Verve, Gang Of Four, Wire, Lady Gaga, Robbie Williams, the Spice Girls, and Pink.