Q & A with Rich Vernon - April 2007
By Petra Sümnicht
Pic: Promo 2007
Q.) There are only a few days left until the release of the new Mission album GIAB, how do you feel these days?
A.) iv got to say that the tour is really close now and im really excited, playing over the songs for the past few weeks it struck me that the new songs are going to sound fantastic. there seems to be so much space and feel in them and in a way its given me a different route into some of the old songs. things like pacing and feel could change a bit on this tour i think and i dont think iv ever looked forward to a tour as much.
re the album,i feel quite detached from it which may sound strange but i feel i put my absolute maximum into it at every level and once i had done that i didnt think about it much afterwards. i love the album, im thrilled with it and i cant play any better than that. none of us let anything slip by that wasnt 100 percent and thats a great feeling. i normally think i should have played differently or said something when i wasnt happy with a part someone else did but not this time, i did my best and let nothing past me which feels lovely lol. great feeling, ive never had it before!! now i feel like it isnt mine or even the bands, its the fans now, do with it what you will. generally though these feel like exciting times for the band.
Q.) How would you describe the style of the album to someone who never heard of The Mission before?
A.) Magazine meets Frank Sinatra in a bad mood with mick ronson on guitar.....i hope:-)
Q.) You really seem to be a good team in the band now. What strengths did you draw from each other while you were together with the band in the studio in Bath?
A.) well i would agree that we are a good team and sometimes its hard to pinpoint why.mark and wayne have known each other for so long that they had an ease with each other that they maybe were not aware of but its tremendously easy to be around and left lots of time and space to just play.that isnt always the case as politics and jostling for authority can take lots of energy. the lack of it with them meant that steve and i could really concentrate on recording. i found wayne to be very productive and not how i imagined in the studio, his role as producer gave him a different atmosphere and i rate him very, very highly. iv worked with world class producers and he is right up there. he gave me and steve loads of freedom to play what we wanted but still kept everything rolling along with a very gentle touch. impressive. he got great performances out of me and thats what i wanted. he was remarkably laid back and any pressure i felt came from myself. im not just massaging his ego, he can be a right pain in the arse to rehearse with!! in the studio i came to really trust his view of my playing and i love the end result so thats proof it was working. mark had already done lots of recording before arriving and mainly what recording he did was after steve and i had gone to the pub at he end of the day. he really lent the recording an air of positivity though and even when he wasnt recording he would be sorting stuff out that would benefit the band, e mails, websites etc and it all contributed to the good vibe surrounding the band now. steve was awesome in the studio and he and i spent a lot of time outside the studio at the end of the day (in the pub actually....) talking about how we had played and what we were aiming for next day, it was pretty intense but well worth it and i think he and i clicked playing wise in a way i didnt anticipate. put it this way, we captured something together and thank god it got recorded as sometimes those moments happen in rehearsals or on demos etc, this time when were absolutely playing our arses off it all got captured and thats the album. i told you i was excited!! having said all that we had a real laugh too and springy and i had to leave the pub one night as were choking with laughter, cant say why but i wont forget his reaction to me demonstrating an... unusual bedroom situation in a long time!
Q.) What were the high and low points of recording this new album for you? Wayne told us already about the nightmare of the hard drive crash, anything else for you personally?
A.) high point for me was about two thirds of the way through, realising how fanatstic it was all sounding. i know steve felt the same but we didnt tempt fate by mentioning it or gloating but i knew that he knew too. low point was the hard drive crash wayne mentioned. also arguing with other band members after we had left the studio over parts or arrangements was very stressfull but absolutely necessary and i would do the same again.
Q.) Did you have the chance to bring in your own ideas into the new songs?
A.) yes as i said,i felt i had loads of freedom and wayne encouraged me to play off the rails more not less.equally where songs had no set bass parts i had come up with stuff that was very unlike the song in a way, Father springs to mind and im happy that such unusual ideas were entertained.
Q.) Have you been surprised as you heard Wayne`s lyrics for the first time?
A.) no, iv heard his lyrics and knew that potentially he can write great stuff although i havnt liked everything he has done in the past. things like shades of green are very clever and subtle and i dont think he gets credit for stuff like that. this time there is only 1 lyric on the whole album i dont like and thats just taste. otherwise there are some great lyrics and thats important, i think the days of bands getting away with riffs and rock cliches are long gone and we would have been hammered for trotting that stuff out. some of these songs have a resonance for me and he has captured painful issues very well. i cant remember where but i read someone saying they resented being preached to in a song, either about absolution or grotesque i think. that made me laugh, just because you dont agree with what is being said! that means that you wouldnt listen to lyrics like "we are the champions" as its a pro gay song, "its raining men" as its about women wanting sex or "smoke on the water" because its about hotels being burnt down and how people with long hair felt about it!! thats the whole point of writing, you write how you feel about something at that moment, it may change in 5 years but thats how you feel at that point in time. what else can you write about? its the same as having a conversation with people you have just met at a dinner party, if they say something you dont agree with do you have a go at them because you dont agree or do you listen and accept that thats their point of view and maybe broaden your mind a bit? even if you dont agree you could learn from the fact that some people feel differently. dylan thomas wrote wonderful literature, much of it criticising places i love but it doesnt make his work bad and i dont resent hearing things i dont agree with, also he changed his views on things over years as people do of course. if you interpret a lyric, which is just an opinion as being "preached" to its another way of saying you have got to that point where you are only interested in having your prejudices reinforced. to me that sounds like 60 year old daily mail readers. (for all the non-brits: the daily mail is a subtly nasty right wing paper that supports the royal family and still calls us Great Britain. its really conservative and xenophobic!!!)
Q.) Julianne from AAE did some backing vocals for several tracks. There are also male backing vocals on the album, were you involved?
A.) i dont think so, i cant remember....no i obviously wasnt then!
Q.) Were the band members involved in the process of putting the track list for the album together or was it only Wayne`s decision?
A.) in reality the decision went back to before we even went into the studio, there are songs on there that were not even scheduled to be recorded until we all argued etc. wayne chose the final ones from the Nam studios session but there was a lot leading up to that.
Q.) Listening to all this new material now, are there any feelings of "I wish I had played that differently" for any of the tracks?
A.) none at all. when i was a kid listening to albums seemed magical, i had no idea how they came to sound like that, before i understood about recording techniques etc. seriously there are moments like that on GIAB, where i remember playing it but how it all melts together is better than i could have imagined. i wouldnt change a thing.
Q.) As far as I know you`re an Arsenal supporter. What do you think about Wayne`s FC Liverpool song Draped In Red? And what was your first thought as you heard the song?
A.) i loved the song because its nice to hear someone so passionate about football. i remember peter perrett telling me a song called Out There In The Night was actually a love song about his much adored cat that disappeared! it was still a great love song though and Draped is a song about passion. my wife sang it for days before i explained what the lyrics were about, she thought it was about a date with someone! as an arsenal fan i dont mind liverpool, they have a great history and we have always respected them. if it was about manchester mcdonalds utd i dont think i would have played on it. i would have got mark to play bass.
Q.) Do you have any personal favourites on the album and on the EP?
A.) absolution, belladonna, aquarius and gemini, chinese burn, blush, hdshrinkerea.
Q.) How would you describe your style of playing bass? And have you changed your style for the album?
A.) my style of playing is hard and groovy, i dont like most rock bass players as they are not as hard as they think they are. larry graham, bootsy, bernard edwards(chic) really attacked the notes physically and i play like those guys crossed with some barry adamson (magazine) thrown in. i try and channel my aggression into my playing which means i can relax in my everyday life. im also a complete daydreamer and often my mind wanders off and i think you can hear that in how i play, bursts of anger combined with i wonder where this will go melodies! i didnt change my style for the album at all, if anything wayne encouraged me to do what i do more....if you get my meaning.
Q.) Your best bass line on the album is on…
A.) chinese burn/absolution/sub bass on still deep waters
*Mr. Rock Trousers*
Q.) The Tour Is A Bullet will start quite soon as well. Have you already bought new and - let`s say *interesting* - trousers for the tour?
A.) ah petra....you know me so well! i have bought some trousers, in tokyo actually but they are subtle. there was no way up from the orange and black flares (still love them!) so iv gone for punky purple, this doesnt sound like an extravagant trouser album to me.
Q.) I guess you`re doing some rehearsals before the tour starts, do you have to rehearse the old songs together as well?
A.) too bloody right! wayne wont want to but he has a weird pissheads memory where he doesnt really know the chords but he always gets them right! it means that he spends all the time wanting to watch the footy while the rest of us try and remember what the hell is going on. mark actually remembers most things too, in fact so does steve....bollocks, thats just me isnt it?
Q.) Are there any old songs you would love to play live?
A.) ha, ha yes there are but if i mention them here we will have to learn them and iv got too much to do as it is!
Q.) Are you looking forward to play Draped In Red? ;-)
A.) yeah,i will shut my eyes, turn the lights out and pretend im with Arsenal
Q.) The last two gigs of the tour are going to be in Israel. Have you ever been there?
A.) no but i have been watching The Life of Brian a lot so i know what its gonna be like, im always prepared...
Q.) Do you have any special wishes for the tour?
A.) not for me but i want people to come and really enjoy these gigs. i think its going to be a great tour. come, have a drink and lets have a good time. sometimes audiences can be too cool to clap. life is too short, enjoy yourself!!
Q.) Music wise, have you done anything else apart from the album since the last tour? Any other musical projects?
A.) actually since the last tour most of my time musically has been taken up with the album, either writing or listening or encouraging or criticising. it didnt just come together at the recording, it took lots of thought before that. having said that iv been asked to play by a few people but apart from close friends iv politely said no. i value my time off and have been enjoying my new life in the country. the whole point of moving here was to do less and spend more time with my son or playing with cars so thats what im doing.
Thanks very much for your time Rich, enjoy the tour, have fun and see you there...
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