NEW ALBUM - EXCITER - RELEASED 14th MAY
DEPECHE MODE SET TO RETURN IN MAY WITH "EXCITER," THEIR FIRST STUDIO ALBUM SINCE 1997's "ULTRA"; ON BOARD AS PRODUCER IS MARK BELL; "DREAM ON" IS SET AS FIRST SINGLE
DEPECHE MODE have titled their much-anticipated forthcoming album EXCITER, set for release in late May on Reprise. In the words of songwriter MARTIN GORE, sitting in front of the mixing board at a New York City recording studio: "It still has darkness. But I find it more uplifting."
EXCITER signals a new era of creativity for DAVE GAHAN, ANDREW FLETCHER and GORE. The sounds (electronic and acoustic) are strikingly varied, the songs are emotionally rich, and GAHAN's vocals are even more resonant than before.
EXCITER marks the pioneering band's first album of new material since 1997's Ultra (four million sold worldwide), which continued their tradition of creating memorable hit singles ("Barrel of a Gun," "It's No Good") while maintaining the band's musical integrity and vision. EXCITER follows 1998's The Singles 86>98 greatest hits album and world concert trek (The Singles Tour) when the band played 64 shows in 18 countries for 650,000 fans. Every gig on the five-month trek was sold out, including three at New York's Madison Square Garden, two at The Forum in Los Angeles and another pair at the Anaheim Pond. Overseas highlights included two nights at Bercy in Paris, a pair of concerts in Berlin and two more at Wembley in London.
"After our last tour," says GAHAN, "I wasn't sure what was going to happen. I really enjoyed doing the older songs, and I simply embraced them. I felt like, ‘if this is going to be the end,' then it was OK. So recording the new album has been quite a surprise really, to be honest."
GAHAN expresses admiration for producer Mark Bell, with whom they decided to work (for the first time) based on albums he's produced for Bjork (1997's Homogenic and 2000's Selmasongs). "Mark is very musical, and extremely intuitive about working with vocals and what can be done with them. He encouraged me to push further." FLETCHER underlines GAHAN's sentiments: "With Bjork, Mark used her voice almost as an instrument. He works very hard and just seems to have a sense of what is right, both musically and vocally. He's been very important to the making of this record." Says GORE: "Mark doesn't do anything straight-forwardly. He would never do anything that is cliched. Which I think is great. He thinks so differently."
A sense of adventure is at the heart of EXCITER, which was recorded in Santa Barbara, New York City and London. "Dream On"--set as the first single, due out in April--contrasts skittering beats with acoustic guitars. "The Sweetest Condition" mixes a deep groove with a snaky rhythm and mysterious, psychedelic sounds. The tension-building "When The Body Speaks" matches sparely plucked guitars with startlingly intimate vocals by GAHAN who sings, "What the flesh requires keeps the heart imprisoned." Elsewhere, "Breathe," with MARTIN's lead vocal, has a torchy feel. And album closer "Goodnight Lovers" is a different kind of lullaby with bracing lines like "When you're born a lover you're born to suffer."
GAHAN says the tracks on the new album "could have been songs from various different years of DEPECHE MODE. It's almost like a greatest hits of songs that haven't been released yet. I'm not saying they're all going to be very big hits or anything like that. I just feel it is very strong in that way."
On EXCITER, the refreshed GAHAN admits, "I'm a lot more confident vocally. I really wanted to bring something beautiful to these songs. When you're singing a song, it's like you can just disappear into it. It's the only way I can describe it really. And I did that. It's really a luxurious place to be. I wanted to do that with every song. On Ultra I was not able to do that because I wasn't physically able to bring all of myself to it. Now I feel like I'm firing on all cylinders."
FLETCHER, citing the band members' rekindled bond, says EXCITER "feels like a new beginning of sorts. Because of problems in the band during the last two studio albums, the creativity was cut off to a certain extent. Now relations between us are better than they have been for a long time and that has carried over to the album. There is a real feeling of the group working and enjoying each other's company. When you hear the new songs, I think they come across as sounding quite fresh. The new album reminds me of one of our albums, Black Celebration, in that it has lots and lots of good songs that sound completely different from each other but actually work together on one album."
The new, emotionally powerful songs visit a familiar theme. Says GORE: "My songs are about relationships because those are the things that are closest to me. That's the thing that moves me most, the thing I can write about most passionately. All I ever intend to do is move people, to somehow tap into their emotions."
GAHAN has, once again, tapped into the feeling behind GORE's lyrics. "Dave has a voice that is really distinctive," says GORE. "It has a great tone to it, and he has a real aggression which I don't have, and that is really important for a rock star. That is really what Dave brings to our songs. Every voice is a different instrument, and he has a great sort of depth." Says GAHAN: "For me, there are many dimensions to Martin's songs lyrically. I like the graphicness of them and the emotional terrain they cover: love lost, compulsion, control, denial, addiction, lust-all those things that everyone experiences. Martin seems to be able to interpret those things in a way that is believable. And then I make it mine vocally, drawing from my own experiences and emotions."
DEPECHE MODE keep in touch with fans all over the world through the Internet via the band's official website www.depechemode.com. Users can visit the "News" section for progress reports and photos of the band in the studio. In "Archives," fans can read lyrics, listen to past radio interviews and watch videos and concert footage. Fans can also sign up for the "Announcment List," enabling them to receive breaking DEPECHE MODE news via e-mail and take part in monthly contests for special prizes. In addition, there's a "Communications" zone where fans can chat, use the message board or find links to DEPECHE MODE fan sites. In fact, FLETCHER says "I run into so many people who say they met and married through a Depeche Mode web site."
What accounts for the lasting appeal of DEPECHE MODE? They've sold over 50 million albums since 1981 and still have the kind of underground vibe that most superstar acts would kill for. Says FLETCHER: "We've always stuck to the punk and indie ideals we grew up with. We've been allowed to actually go forward and learn. We're very lucky to have this huge fan base which enables us to actually release records that are a bit off the wall." According to GORE: "I can't really explain why we've been so popular for so long. Maybe it's because we've never fit into any one trend." Says GAHAN: "I enjoy the challenge-and I still want it to be a challenge. Otherwise, why bother?"