Fans of gothic rock have recently gotten access to a real treat as one of the genre’s veteran bands, MGT, has released a new album called Gemini Nyte. MGT is fronted by guitarist Mark Gemini Thwaite, who lends his initials to the band moniker, and vocalist Ashton Nyte. Both men have extensive credentials, Thwaite with The Mission, Peter Murphy and Primitive Race to name a few, and Nyte with countless collaborations and a string of solo efforts and albums with his own groups The Accused and The Awakening.
In conjunction with the release of Gemini Nyte, MGT are about to embark on a brief tour of western states. The tour begins March 9 at Club Red in Mesa, Ariz. and includes stops at the DNA Lounge in San Francisco March 11 and at Studio Seven in Seattle March 15 before wrapping up March 21 at the Whisky a Go Go in West Hollywood. We were able to chat by email with both Thwaite and Nyte and they answered questions about Gemini Nyte as well as what else they’re up to. Their commentary below is given exclusively to AXS.com.
AXS: Gemini Nyte cut “Trading Faces” is a bit of a departure from the rest of the album as it gives Ashton a chance to sound yearning as opposed to brooding. Is the song perhaps a bit more personal to you?
Mark Gemini Thwaite: It was one of the later songs we wrote and added to the album; once we had two-thirds of the album recorded it was clearer to see what room we had to stretch the envelope of the record and the sound. I had demoed those chord progressions on my iPhone and decided to send it to Ashton and see if he got any inspiration. Once he got some ideas I recorded the drums, bass and guitars and arrangement and Ashton recorded his vocal. I knew it would be more of a ballad vibe, but the addition of Ashton’s amazing vocals and lyrics, and later addition of Paul Ferguson’s inspired electric drumming on the choruses really lifted the song into an anthem.
Ashton Nyte: Yes, “Trading Faces” is definitely one of the most personal songs on the album. For the most part, the album has a dystopian lyrical undercurrent that is broken by songs like “Trading Faces” and “Every Little Dream.” “Trading Faces” was also one of the last songs written for the album, along with “Hide Your Secret,” which are both sonically and lyrically in a more intimate place.
AXS: While the upcoming tour is in support of Gemini Nyte, might your set list include any The Mission or Peter Murphy favorites, or covers fans might not expect?
MGT: We played some MGT shows last summer in Europe with Ashton and ex-Mission bassist Richard Vernon, partly to promote the Volumes album, and we included a couple of Mission songs in those festival sets, including “Butterfly on a Wheel.” It sounded great and we already know it so we’ll definitely include that classic on this U.S. tour. No plans to include any Peter Murphy songs; I did co-write a couple of songs on Ninth, but our set is already rammed with songs from the new album!
AN: Seeing as though half of the MGT live line-up played together in The Mission and I've supported The Mission with The Awakening and duetted with Wayne Hussey in a solo capacity, we will most certainly play something by the Mish! As for unexpected covers, we may well cover something by The Awakening, too.
AXS: Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee came on stage to sing during one of your tours with Peter Murphy half a dozen years ago. That seems like a surreal situation. What was the occasion, and did you hang out with Stan before or after the show?
MGT: Yes that was a surreal moment. We were invited to play a set at Club Nokia (now The Novo by Microsoft) in Los Angeles as part of the kickoff of Stan's Comikaze Expo in 2012. I think Peter suggested Stan join us for a song and it seemed like a fun idea, and Stan suggested we play “That Old Black Magic,” an older jazz song covered by Frank Sinatra among others. We quickly learned the chords and arrangement and next thing I knew, we were onstage with Stan opening the show with it. He didn’t make the sound check! He was very cool; I got to meet him backstage before the show. He has amazing energy for a chap in his 90s. A total legend! (View the performance here.)
AXS: Can you share a favorite memory of the late Chuck Mosley, who you worked with recently in Primitive Race?
MGT: I was a huge fan of the first breakout Faith No More album that Chuck sang on back in the ’80s. It was called Introduce Yourself and featured the hit single “We Care a Lot,” which certainly put them on the map in the UK where I lived. They apparently broke big in the UK first and found later success in the USA once Mike Patton took over on vocals. So to finally get to record on new songs with Chuck 30 years later was amazing; it was for the Primitive Race collective. We had released an album in 2015 with a bunch of different singers; it was, in fact, a catalyst for my decision to record my own record with various guest singers. And for the follow up, the band’s producer and bassist Chris Kniker knew Chuck and asked me if I’d be interested in recording guitars on the new Primitive Race last year, this time with Chuck singing. I jumped at the chance to work with a hero and the result is the Soul Pretender album which came out last year, just a week before Chuck died of a drug overdose. It was well-publicized that Chuck had fought a long battle with addiction. I know he was very proud of the record and I think it’s a fitting bookend to his legacy, having been in the wilderness for a few years.
AXS: You’re a resident of Los Angeles but you’re a native of Birmingham in the UK. Other than people, is there anything you miss about your hometown and do you ever go back, not on tour, but just to visit?
MGT: More often than not I’m usually back in the UK for a tour or passing through en route to Europe. But I also go back on the occasional holiday, to visit my Mum and family; my Dad moved to Canada many years ago so I visit him in Toronto as well. I do miss my friends in the UK the most, and English chips, sometimes with gravy. And going for a good curry after a night out. They’re a staple in Birmingham; it has the best curry houses!
AXS: You seem to always stay very busy; after the tour wraps up do you have session work or collaborations coming up that you can tell us about?
MGT: I do like to keep being productive. My remix work has been expanding and I’ve been doing a steady stream of remixes over the last few years. In fact, I’ll be working on a Beauty in Chaos remix, a T Rex cover with Al Jourgensen of Ministry on vocals, when I get back from tour next month. I’ve also been working on new material with Killing Joke drummer Paul Ferguson; he’s planning to release some solo material later this year after we collaborated on a track for a Killing Joke limited edition vinyl release last year. And I’m also working with Burton C Bell of Fear Factory on his Ascension of the Watchers side project. We played some shows last year and I’ve played on some new recordings. Last but not least Lol Tolhurst (formerly of The Cure) asked me to collaborate with him on some new material as well this year.
AN: I have a new Awakening album that has been sitting on ice for an eternity, which I'd like to see the light of day at some point. I have also written three songs with Michael Ciravolo for his Beauty in Chaos project, which features a host of wonderful artists including members of The Cure, The Mission, Ministry, Cheap Trick and many more. And then there's a new solo album and book in the works. No rest for the creatively obsessed!
Follow MGT and find a complete list of tour dates here.