Their amps go up to 11 and they’re not fazed by Marilyn Manson’s security men. Mesh mean business
The sound of Mesh is big. No, make that massive. Gigantic. The sort of anthemic electronic stadium rock that falls somewhere between Depeche Mode’s ‘I Feel You’ and Garbage’s ‘Vow’. Rich Silverthorn, one half of the Bristol duo, appreciates the comparison. “We’d love to have that same dark, alternative appeal,” he says. And like both Depeche Mode and Garbage, Mesh aren’t a conventional rock act who’ve merely cobbled together a few keyboards and stuck drum loops on their songs here and there.
After slogging their way to cult success (the band originally formed as a three-piece way back in 1991), it looks as if Rich and bandmate Mark Hockings’ seventh studio album, ‘Automation Baby’, might finally earn them the wider success they crave. “It would be nice to get some recognition at home, but whenever we talked to UK record labels, they all wanted to change us into something different,” says Rich. “In Europe, we’ve always been accepted for who we are.”
With ‘Automation Baby’, Mesh have attempted to change their approach to songwriting and recording. “We decided to write the songs very quickly and not get bogged down in the technology,” Rich explains. “I’m very picky and will spend ages working on little details, but this time we wanted to keep the songs fresh and more immediate. I do like albums to be rich and complex, so people can listen to one of our songs hundreds of times and still hear something new. I find that if an album is instant, you tire of it very quickly. That’s why albums like ‘Songs Of Faith And Devotion’ and ‘The Downward Spiral’ reward repeated listening.”
Part of the band’s progression even sees elements of dubstep creeping into the album. “Ah,” says Rich, smiling. “Well, I was introduced to EDM and dubstep by one of our road crew in America. I think people like Skrillex are doing the most pioneering electronic music we’ve heard in years. Interestingly, the critics of EDM are saying the same things that people have been saying about electronic music from the start – too calculated, too cold, not real music.”
The track ‘Never Meet Your Heroes’ on the new album concludes that legends often ultimately turn out to be pretty mundane characters. Has that been Mesh’s experience? “I’m not the sort of person to go up and ask for an autograph, although recently I felt compelled to speak to Alan Wilder [Recoil and ex-Depeche Mode] when we saw him at an event,” admits Rich. “He’s a production genius. I went up and said, ‘Hi, I’m Rich from Mesh’, and to my delight he’d heard of us, knew we were from Bristol and liked our music. Fortunately, he turned out to be a really nice guy.”
Have any of their heroes turned out to be more of a disappointment. “Probably Marilyn Manson,” Rich remembers. “He was a bit up his own arse. We did a festival with him and he was surrounded by security and didn’t mix with the other acts at all. At one point, Mark was in a portaloo and Manson’s security people started shaking it from side to side, trying to get him out because it was apparently Manson’s personal toilet.”
So what has kept Mesh together all these years, when lesser acts would probably have fallen by the wayside?
“The secret to our longevity is that Mark and I get on remarkably well,” explains Rich, matter-of-factly. “We’ve tried writing together in the studio and it doesn’t work, it’s better if we write alone and then bring the ideas together. I don’t know why that is, but it just works. We’ve always acknowledged that any successful band is really the sum of its parts.”
‘Automation Baby’ is out on Mindbase Records