“I’m happy for it to be unpredictable”: Massive Attack open up about ‘Mezzanine’ tour in new interview

"I’m not thinking about the past, I’m thinking about how I’m going to feel in 10 years’ time"

In a new interview, Massive Attack have opened up about taking ‘Mezzanine’ on tour 21 years after its first release.

The trip-hop icons kicked off their the tour with a dazzling performance in Glasgow last month, which saw them play the album in full while backed by one of their most accomplished production set-ups to date.

Now, in a new interview with The Guardian, the band have spoken about the tour, the past and their hopes for the future. Robert Del Naja told The Guardian that despite the nostalgia linked to the tour, he prefers to keep looking ahead.

He said: “I don’t think I’ve got a problem with nostalgia, because a lot of the time things are self-referential…I stopped feeling nostalgia for the moment because I imagine myself looking back on it from the future, which really freaks me out. I get this vertigo where I’m not thinking about the past, I’m thinking about how I’m going to feel in 10 years’ time.”

Massive Attack perform on stage at The SSE Hydro on January 28, 2019

The tour, ‘Mezzanine XX1’, was described by the band last year as “a totally new audio / visual production” and features Elizabeth Fraser [of Cocteau Twins – touring for the first time in 12 years].

The tour was designed by Del Naja and also sees the band collaborating with acclaimed documentary maker Adam Curtis. Last year, the band said the show would re-imagine ‘Mezzanine’ using “custom audio reconstructed from the original samples and influences.”

Massive Attack’s ‘Mezzanine’ was released in 1998

Speaking about his part in the new gigs, Curtis said: “Gigs have become very formulaic these days…Not just gigs but all of culture – and that’s the challenge. The way you make people look again is by finding a different sort of image. And so the overall aim is to show how over the past 20 years, we’ve gone into a very static, repetitive world that surrounds us with the same images that keep us from really looking.”

Del Naja added: “I’m happy for it to be unpredictable…That’s the point. There’s no sort of bants, no chatting because you kind of felt…Well, you wouldn’t go to a play and the actors turn around and say: ‘Are you all right?’ And there has to be some personal creative risk attached where you don’t know what’s going to happen. It should be disorienting for us and the audience.”

Del Naja also opened up about the memories of first recording ‘Mezzanine’, which proved a difficult time for the band, describing some of the memories as still being “raw”.

“Raw. Yeah, it is to a certain extent. [‘Mezzanine’] was the end of our trio but…it projected us to greater things, I suppose. We’ve been through different things which have made us a bit raw, but we’ve managed to patch it up.

“…It wasn’t as simple as it used to be, because ‘Blue Lines’ was based on our collective history. Culturally and musically it was a big jam together. And then the second album we’d become something, so we had a kind of routine and procedure. I felt that [with] ‘Mezzanine’, the procedure had to be ripped up, the rulebook had to be changed.”

Marshall added: “It’s fraught with bad memories, but it was a departure from what we were used to and so, yeah, that’s kind of where all the heartaches came in.

“…We’ve found our own sort of niches now, in a creative sense, which is a lot more comfortable, working together, because we can express ourselves the way we want to.”

The tour continues in London later this month, before heading to Dublin and Bristol. The remaining dates are below:

February
22 – LONDON O2 Arena
24 – DUBLIN 3Arena

March
1 – BRISTOL Steel Yard