It’s taken three decades for The Sisters of Mercy to finally come to Australia. Now touring for their thirtieth anniversary, the group is a pioneering force in Gothic rock and darkwave but until now has never been Down Under. On the eve of their appearances at Soundwave and their two accompanying almost-sold out Melbourne shows, Loud asked some questions of mainman Andrew Eldritch* and he replied within hours. Here’s how it turned out:
*Doktor Avalanche was unavailable.
Q: The Sisters Of Mercy have been doing tours and playing shows regularly throughout their career, but the 2011/2012 30th Anniversarytour sees the band doing more dates than they have played in many years. How has it all been going thus far?
A: It’s been brilliant. In February 2011 (the 30th Anniversary month), we handpicked a few of our favourite venues in Europe and played our favourite songs to a lot of people. In Summer we headlined our first UK festival in twenty years, and in November we played another fine bunch of places. The upcoming dates in New Zealand, Australia and South America are the end, and celebration, of the band’s 30th year.
Q: The Sisters are touring Australia with the Soundwave Festival in February and March. Correct me if I’m wrong, but this will be The Sisters first trip to Australia? What expectations do you have coming into this tour?
A: This will be the first time The Sisters have been to Australia. We expect to eat a lot of fine seafood, drink a lot of very good wine and visit some tourist sights we never thought we’d get to see. Oh, and play a couple of gigs while we’re at it.
Q: Do you find that after 30 years you can still get a big buzz playing in new territories? How does it differ to the regular cycle through Europe?
A: Playing new places is our most fun thing to do. Actually, it’s possibly our second most fun thing to do, but we can’t tell you the first one. It’s nice to see some new places, and we always do our bit for the tourism industry of whichever territory we find ourselves in next. Andrew had a particularly fine time in Peru; Ben (Christo – guitar) loves Moscow; Chris (Catalyst – guitar) likes going anywhere.
Q: What prompted The Sisters to join the Soundwave bill, as it isn’t the kind of show that I would expect the band to normally get involved with.
A: They asked us; we said yes.
Q: In 2012 the music industry is one which is seeing immense changes happening quite rapidly. More than any other band that comes to mind, The Sisters Of Mercy fly the middle finger to the record companies and middle-men of the industry and do things their own way. Is the way this band manages their own affairs and doesn’t give into pressures the way of the future for rock bands?
A: Punk rock has always been the future, until its aged notions became the past. We keep moving forward under our own steam. Chris has been working on a project with Ginger from The Wildhearts (seminal British rock band), where they have raised more cash from ‘pledged’ presales than any rock band who isn’t Foo Fighters or Metallica have been given this century. Take the money-grubbing middlemen out of the equation, take the dumbfuck marketing genii away from the picture and let the tyres of industry down gently. Plough your own furrow.
Q: It has been over 18 years since the last official release from the band, but you haven’t stopped writing new material. What can the fans expect from your set-lists on the upcoming tour?
A: As we’ve never been to Australia or New Zealand before, and as it’s festival sets, I would imagine we’ll be concentrating on a ‘greatest hits’ package, albeit with a smattering of new tracks. The hall gigs in Melbourne, where we are more able to create our own show, will have a lot more to them.
Q: How do the fans seem to react to the new material that they often haven’t heard before?
A: Some with glee; others with despair. Most with longing.
Q:The question has to be asked, are there any plans for a new release of any description in the foreseeable future?
A: Not any time soon. We don’t really need to. We’re happy playing concerts and not playing the release game.
Q:In recent times there seems to be a trend with bands reuniting with ‘classic’ line-ups for tours and new albums. Have you felt any pressure to reconnect with any former members of the band?
A: Only from those whose ears are painted on. We look forwards, not back.
Q:The Sisters Of Mercy are also playing two headlining shows at Melbourne’s Corner Hotel and one headlining slot at The Powerstation in Auckland, NZ. Is thereanything special planned for these shows that fans might not get to see at the Soundwave Festival?
A: Yes, absolutely, the festival shows will be shorter sets, due to the other 1000 bands playing, so at our own headline shows, we’ll be able to create more of our own vibe. We’re quite suited to doing two-nighters – the two Melbourne sets will be different.
Q: What does the future hold for The Sisters Of Mercy?
A: Once we’re back from this final leg of the 30th Anniversary jaunt? A few choice festivals in Summer and a big long rest. We need to get out less.
Q: Thanks for your time!
A: Thank you for yours.
Sisters of Mercy will be touring with Soundwave 2012 on the following dates-
25/2: Brisbane Showgrounds, Brisbane QLD (SOLD OUT)
26/2: Sydney Showground, Sydney NSW (SOLD OUT)
2/3: Melbourne Showground, Melbourne VIC (SOLD OUT)
3/3: Bonython Park, Adelaide SA
5/3: Claremont Showgrounds, Perth WA
You can also catch them on these separate dates –
28/2: Corner Hotel, Melbourne VIC (SOLD OUT)
1/3: Corner Hotel, Melbourne VIC