David Gahan (born David Callcott; 9 May 1962, Epping, Epping Forest, Essex, Essex, United Kingdom) is an English singer-songwriter, best known as the baritone lead singer of the electronic band Depeche Mode since their debut in 1980. He is also an accomplished solo artist, releasing albums in 2003 (Paper Monsters) and 2007 (Hourglass). Though his bandmate Martin Gore continues to be the main Depeche Mode songwriter, Gahan has also contributed a number of songs to the band's most recent albums; Playing the Angel (2005), Sounds of the Universe (2009), Delta Machine (2013), and Spirit (2017). Three of these songs were released as singles, including "Suffer Well" in 2005, "Hole to Feed" in 2009, and "Should Be Higher" in 2013. In 2012 and 2015, he also contributed lyrics and sang lead vocals on the Soulsavers albums The Light the Dead See and Angels and Ghosts. Q magazine ranked Gahan no. 73 on the list of the "100 Greatest Singers" and no. 27 on "The 100 Greatest Frontmen".
Childhood and early years
Gahan was born as David Callcott into a working-class family, to parents Len Callcott (a bus driver) of Malaysian descent and his wife Sylvia (a conductress or "clippy" on London buses), Dave was only six months old when his father left the family. Sylvia and Len divorced two years later and his mother moved Dave and sister Sue (born 1960) to Basildon, Essex, after Sylvia met and married her second husband Jack Gahan (an administrator with Shell Oil). The Gahan family continued to grow with the birth of two more half-brothers Peter (born 1966) and Phil (born 1968). Dave and Sue were raised under the impression that their mother's second husband, Jack, was their natural father.
In 1972, when Gahan was 10 years old, his stepfather died. Gahan recalled how he "came home one day and found this bloke [his biological father] at home". Of the incident, he has said: "I'll never forget that day. When I came home from school, there was this stranger in my mum's house. My mother introduced him to me as my real dad. I remember I said, that was impossible because my father was dead. How was I supposed to know who that man was? From that day on, Len often visited the house, until one year later he disappeared again. Forever this time. Since then he had no contact with us. By growing older, I thought about him more and more. The only thing my mother would say, was that he moved out to Jersey to open a hotel." "Mum had kept it back from me 'til there was a need to tell me about my birth father, it's a different generation and you can understand I guess she thought she was doing the right thing."
While attending Barstable School on Timberlog Close in Basildon, Gahan started bunking off school, got into trouble with the police, was suspended from school and ended up in juvenile court three times for offences ranging from joyriding and graffiti to criminal damage and theft. He enjoyed the thrill of stealing cars, driving them around, and setting them alight. Gahan tells of the time: "I was pretty wild. I loved the excitement of nicking a motor, screeching off and being chased by the police. Hiding behind the wall with your heart beating gives you a real kick – 'will they get you?'". In his final year at school, he applied for a job as an apprentice fitter with North Thames Gas. He was told by his probation officer to be honest with the interviewer, and as a result, he admitted his criminal record but claimed he was a "reformed character." As a result, he did not get the job which, he claimed, led to him trashing his probation officer's office. His punishment was weekend custody at a sub-Borstal attendance centre in Romford for one year. Gahan recalls: "You had to work. I remember doing boxing, stuff like that. You had to have your hair cut. It was every weekend, so you were deprived of your weekend and it seemed like forever. I was told very clearly that my next thing was detention centre. To be honest, music saved me."
Within six months of leaving Barstable School in July 1978, Gahan found and lost something on the order of twenty jobs, from selling soft drinks, working in a greengrocers in Basildon Bus Station, working as a cashier in Sainsbury's petrol station in Savacentre, to working on a construction site. Eventually, he earned a place at Southend Technical College, which he enjoyed immensely. After two years, he gained the British Display Society Award, which allowed him to get jobs doing displays in shop windows and shopping centres.
Career in Depeche Mode (1980)
In March 1980, Martin Gore, Andy Fletcher and Vince Clarke formed the band Composition of Sound, with Clarke on vocals and guitar, Gore on keyboards and Fletcher on bass. Clarke and Fletcher soon switched to synthesizers. The same year, Gahan joined the band after Clarke heard him perform David Bowie's "Heroes." The band was soon renamed Depeche Mode, a name suggested by Gahan after he had come across a fashion magazine called Dépêche-mode.
A new wave/synthpop pioneer of the early 1980s, Depeche Mode have explored new musical directions for over 30 years, and their sound has remained diverse since their inception. They have released 14 studio albums, 4 greatest hits compilations and 2 remix albums. The band has achieved global sales in excess of 100 million.
In a 2003 interview, Gahan shared that "During the making of Exciter, sometimes I felt a bit frustrated that there was a lack of experimentation." This led him, in 2004, to tell his bandmates that he wanted to write half of the songs on their next album, and there was "no way" he could be involved in the band without contributing. Eventually there was a compromise, and three of Gahan's songs appeared on 2005's Playing the Angel: "Suffer Well" (nominated for a Grammy award), "I Want It All" and "Nothing's Impossible." "Suffer Well" was released as a single in 2006, reaching No. 12 in the UK.
Three more Gahan-penned songs, co-written with Christian Eigner and Andrew Phillpott, appeared on the band's twelfth album, Sounds of the Universe, released on 20 April 2009. The songs are "Hole to Feed", "Come Back" and "Miles Away / The Truth Is". Gahan also wrote the lyrics to the B-side "Oh Well" although the music was done by Martin Gore. It is their first writing collaboration. "Hole to Feed" was released along with Gore's "Fragile Tension" as a double A-side single in late 2009.
In 2013, with the release of Depeche Mode's thirteenth album Delta Machine, Gahan is credited with writing the songs "Broken", "Secret to the End", the single "Should Be Higher" and two B-sides, "Happens All the Time" and "All That's Mine"; the co-writer for these is Kurt Uenala. Gahan also wrote a song with Martin Gore, called "Long Time Lie".
Solo albums (2003)
In 1997, Gahan contributed to the tribute album Dream Home Heartaches: Remaking/Remodeling Roxy Music with the song "A Song For Europe". In 2003, he released his first solo album, Paper Monsters (which he co-wrote with guitarist and friend Knox Chandler), followed by the Paper Monsters Tour (including a performance at 2003's Glastonbury Festival), singing both his new solo tracks and Depeche Mode fan favourites. His touring band included Knox Chandler on guitar, Martyn LeNoble (Porno for Pyros, Jane's Addiction, The Cult) on bass, Vincent Jones (Sarah McLachlan, The Grapes of Wrath) on keyboards, and Victor Indrizzo (Beck, Macy Gray) on drums.
The album was a moderate success. The first single "Dirty Sticky Floors" hit the Top 20 in the UK Singles Chart. The album became a Top 10 hit on the European album chart and a Top 40 hit in the UK Albums Chart. This success was backed by a world tour and a live DVD titled Live Monsters which was released in 2004. A year later, he also appeared as model and spokesperson of the Swedish mid-range fashion retailer J. Lindeberg and its S/S 2006 menswear line. The ads featured both him and seemingly random quotes like "What would happen if we all told the truth", "You can tell he's lying because his lips are moving", etc. These ads appeared prominently in international fashion press. He did a collaboration in 2003 with Junkie XL and handled the vocals for a song called "Reload" for this Dutch DJ's album Radio JXL: A Broadcast from the Computer Hell Cabin.
In 2007, Gahan announced he was working on a new album via a video greeting for Depeche Mode's official website recorded at the 2007 MusiCares Charity event on 11 May. The album, titled Hourglass, was accompanied working by Andrew Phillpott and Christian Eigner. According to Gahan, they were to be producing it together. The material was recorded at Gahan's 11th Floor Studios in New York City. The material was mixed in July by Tony Hoffer, best known for his work with Beck, The Kooks and Air. According to Gahan, Hourglass is more electronic-sounding than Paper Monsters. The album made the UK Top 50, the French Top 20 and narrowly missed going to No. 1 in Germany.
The first single to be pulled from Dave Gahan's second solo record Hourglass was "Kingdom". The single came in the following versions: a download-Single, a CD single, a Maxi-CD single and 12" vinyl besides a 7" picture vinyl. According to the second press release for the second album, the release day for the single "Kingdom" was 8 October, but a download was available way before on 27 August. Side-Line Magazine also reported that a first preview for the song had been leaked online. The second studio clip on Dave Gahan Dot Com had "Kingdom" playing throughout. The single also spent a week at No. 1 on the US Dance Chart. On 17 December 2007, iTunes released the iTunes exclusive live EP Live from SoHo holding the seven tracks played during an instore set at New York's Soho Apple store on 23 October.
The second single from the Hourglass album was the double A side "Saw Something/Deeper and deeper", released on 14 January 2008. The accompanying video was artistically shot in the Chelsea Hotel, New York, notorious for the death of Sid Vicious' partner, Nancy Spungen. In July 2007, Side-Line magazine revealed that Gahan had been working with Thomas Anselmi on a project called Mirror, which was produced by Vincent Jones. Along with Jones, who played with Gahan's touring band and mixed the live DVD Live Monsters, Mirror featured another Gahan collaborator, Knox Chandler (Siouxsie and the Banshees, the Psychedelic Furs), as well as piano by Bowie favourite Mike Garson, and a monologue by Warhol superstar Joe Dallesandro. Gahan sang vocals on the track "Nostalgia". The song was released in October 2008, and the album released via download at the start of 2009. He also appeared in the accompanying video for the song.
Gahan also contributed vocals to a track called "Visitors", after walking in while producer and ex-Clor guitarist Luke Smith was working on the song in his New York studio. The song was released under the artist name of frYars.
Gahan is the lead singer and lyricist on Soulsavers' fourth studio album The Light the Dead See. The album was released on 21 May 2012.
Gahan sings and plays harmonica on "Low Guns", the first single from the 2014 album The Morning After by English band SixToes. The single was released on 18 November 2013. The SixToes remix of "Jezebel" was released on the special edition of Sounds of the Universe in 2009. Members of SixToes also collaborated with Soulsavers, on the album The Light the Dead See.
Gahan is once again the lead singer and lyricist on Soulsavers' fifth studio album Angels and Ghosts which was released in 2015.
Gahan has lived in New York City since 1997. He lives with his third wife, Jennifer Sklias, their daughter, and Jennifer's son from a previous relationship, whom Gahan officially adopted in 2010. Gahan is a convert to the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Gahan also has one biological son named Jack from his first marriage to Joanne Fox. Gahan's marriage to his second wife, Teresa Conroy, a former Depeche Mode publicist, lasted four years.
Gahan is a recovering heroin addict. He has survived four brushes with death, living up to the nickname, "The Cat", that paramedics gave him during his roughest years in Los Angeles.
In October 1993, Gahan suffered a minor drug-induced heart attack during a performance in New Orleans, leaving his bandmates to improvise an encore without him.
The second brush came when he attempted suicide by slashing his wrists in August 1995: "It was definitely a suicide attempt," said Gahan, "but it was also a cry for help. I made sure there were people who might find me".
On 28 May 1996, Gahan overdosed on a speedball at the Sunset Marquis Hotel in Los Angeles, which resulted in his heart stopping for two minutes until he was revived by paramedics. He said of the experience, "All I saw and all I felt at first was complete darkness. I've never been in a space that was blacker, and I remember feeling that whatever it was I was doing, it was really wrong."
On 12 May 2009, shortly before the band were due onstage in Athens, Greece, for a concert on Depeche Mode's Tour of the Universe, Gahan fell ill in his dressing room. He was rushed to hospital where it was initially suspected he was suffering from a bout of gastroenteritis. An ultrasound revealed a malignant tumor in his bladder, which was removed with surgery. This resulted in several postponed shows, and Gahan underwent cancer treatments during the remaining three months of the tour.
Gahan later suffered a torn calf muscle while performing in Bilbao, Spain, on 9 July 2009, resulting in two further cancellations. After two-week's break, he and Depeche Mode returned to the tour for their North American leg. While performing in Seattle on 10 August 2009, Gahan again suffered injury, this time straining his vocal cords. Doctors ordered Gahan on complete vocal rest, resulting in two more cancelled shows.
Martin Lee Gore (born 23 July 1961, London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom) is an English singer-songwriter, guitarist, keyboardist, producer, remixer, and DJ. He is a founding member of Depeche Mode and has written the majority of their songs. His work now spans over four decades. Gore's best-known compositions include hits such as "Personal Jesus", "Enjoy the Silence", "Stripped", "It's No Good", "In Your Room", "Strangelove", "I Feel You", "People Are People", "Precious", "A Question of Time", "Policy of Truth", "Everything Counts", "Behind the Wheel", "Shake the Disease", "Never Let Me Down Again" and many more.
In addition to composing music and writing lyrics for the majority of Depeche Mode's songs, Gore has also been the lead singer on some of them (examples include "Somebody", "A Question of Lust" and "Home"). He has been a backing singer on many others.
In 1999, Gore received the Ivor Novello Award from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors for "International Achievement".
Martin Lee Gore was born in Dagenham, Essex in England. Gore's biological father was an African-American G.I. stationed in Britain. Gore was raised by his stepfather and biological mother. He believed his stepfather was his biological father until age 13. When he was 13, he learned that his biological father was an African-American serviceman and, as an adult, later met him in the American South. Gore responds to the source's information and is quoted in Miller's book saying, "It brings up family traumas" and "It's one of those things I'd rather not talk about".
He left Nicholas Comprehensive, Basildon in 1977 and took a job as a bank cashier. During evenings, weekends and any other spare time, he was involved with the local band Norman and the Worms with school friend Phil Burdett who later went on to become a singer/songwriter himself.
Gore has two younger half-sisters, Karen, born in 1967, and Jacqueline, born in 1968.
In 1980, Gore met Andy "Fletch" Fletcher at the Van Gogh club. Fletcher recruited Gore into his band Composition of Sound along with Vince Clarke. Soon the band drafted Dave Gahan to be the lead singer after hearing him sing "Heroes" by David Bowie. Gahan is credited with the name "Depeche Mode" after seeing the phrase as a title of a French fashion magazine, which later considered taking them to court, but thought it would be good publicity for the magazine to let the band have the name.
Clarke left Depeche Mode in late 1981, shortly after the release of their debut album Speak and Spell. Clarke wrote most of the album, with Gore contributing two tracks, "Tora! Tora! Tora!" and the instrumental "Big Muff". "Any Second Now (voices)" features Gore's first lead vocals for the band. Gore sings lead vocals on several of the band's songs, notably ballads, his tenor voice providing a contrast to Gahan's dramatic baritone. When Clarke announced his departure from Depeche Mode in 1981, citing the pressures of fame and creative differences, Gore took over songwriting. Gore had been writing material since the age of 12.
Songs Gore wrote for Depeche Mode's second album, A Broken Frame (1982) differed musically and lyrically from Clarke's. Gore's writing became gradually darker and more political on subsequent Depeche Mode albums.
Gore sometimes plays guitars, typically his Gretsch White Falcon or Gretsch Double Anniversary on Depeche Mode songs. The first time guitar was used as the main instrument was on "Personal Jesus", although he used small guitar parts on previous songs, such as "Behind the Wheel" and "Love, in Itself". Gore's guitar playing developed even more on Songs of Faith and Devotion. However, in live performances, he switches his keyboards for his guitar on some older Depeche Mode songs, such as "Never Let Me Down Again" and "A Question of Time". In mid 1990 Gore stated – NME – July 1990
On 27 May 1999, Gore was presented with an award by Daniel Miller for "International Achievement", by the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors, at the 44th Ivor Novello Awards, at The Grosvenor House Hotel.
Gore remains the main songwriter for Depeche Mode.
Gore lives in Santa Barbara, California. He started dating lingerie designer and model Suzanne Boisvert after meeting in Paris in 1989. They married in August 1994. He has three children with Boisvert: daughter Viva Lee Gore (born 1991), son Emil Jackson (born 1990), and son Calo Leon Gore (born 2002). Gore and Boisvert divorced in 2006.
Gore married Kerrilee Kaski in June 2014. In October 2015 Kerrilee Gore updated her Facebook profile photo showing her to be pregnant. On 19 February 2016, Kerrilee gave birth to a baby girl named Johnnie Lee, his fourth child. On 13th March 2017, Martin Gore became a father for the fifth time to a baby girl named Mazzy Lee.
Gore became a vegetarian for health and moral reasons in 1983.
Former Depeche Mode colleague Vince Clarke collaborated with Gore for the first time since 1981 as techno duo VCMG on an instrumental minimalist electronic dance album called Ssss, released on 12 March 2012. The first EP entitled Spock was first released worldwide exclusively on Beatport on 30 November 2011. The second EP Single Blip was once again first released exclusively on Beatport on 20 February 2012. Their third EP Aftermaths was released on 20 August 2012.
In late February 2015, several teaser images were displayed on Martin Gore's official Facebook page, citing a hashtag "MGxMG" which was later revealed to be a promotional tool for his new solo studio album, titled MG (named after his previous collaborative album, VCMG, with Vince Clarke from 2012). In a news post on his official website and various social media on 2 March, this confirmation of his new studio album announced its release would be on 27 or 28 April and previewed a track, Europa Hymn, from the new album.
MG 'The Third Chimpanzee E.P.' 2021
Martin Gore: "The first track that I recorded for this was “Howler,” and I did that before COVID hit. I recorded some vocals on it and manipulated them and resynthesized them and they came back sounding not like me and not very human at all. I thought they sounded more like monkeys. I go down to Costa Rica quite a bit, and there are a lot of Howler monkeys down there. You can hear them for miles, and this reminded me of that, so I called the first track “Howler.” And then as America went into lockdown, I decided maybe I should do a few more instrumental tracks. I came up with this theme of resynthesized vocals on each track and renaming each track after a different monkey. I thought it would be quite fun. I just wanted to blur the lines, really, between humans and monkeys -- which seemed quite fitting for the times. Sometimes we think that we’re so much more evolved than monkeys and, y’know, I really don’t think that we are. We’re a danger to the planet. Just put the monkeys in control and I think the planet would stand a much better chance. Without saying that explicitly, that’s what was going on in my head."
Gore played keyboard on two tracks by Annette and Inga Humpe (Humpe and Humpe), called "Happiness Is Hard to Take" and "Don't Know Where I Belong" from their 1985 album Humpe Humpe.
He played guitar on the Gwen Stefani song "Wonderful Life" on her 2006 album The Sweet Escape.
Gore collaborated on the band Onetwo's track "Cloud Nine" by playing the guitar and as songwriter of the song, which can be found on their 2007 album called Instead.
In 2010, Tim Simenon's Bomb the Bass album Back to Light was published, which contains the instrumental "Milakia", co-written by Martin Gore during the Ultra sessions. Gore also played synthesiser on the track.
Compact Space's album Nameless (2011) includes the track "The Unstoppable Collision" with Gore on guitar. Compact Space is formed by Depeche Mode's collaborators Christian Eigner, Daryl Bamonte and singer Florian Kraemmer.
Also in 2011, Gore created the sound "Siren-synth – Mutesound" on the track "Uni Rec" on the album Univrs by German glitch and minimalist techno artist Alva Noto.
1994 Spirit Feel – "Rejoice" (Mystic Span Mix)
1995 Garbage – "Queer" (The Most Beautiful Woman in Town Mix)
1999 ON – "Soluble Words" (Sublingual Remix)
2003 Señor Coconut And His Orchestra – "Smooth Operator" (In-Disguise Remix)
2013 Diamond Version - "Get Yours" (Martin L. Gore Remix)
Andrew John Leonard Fletcher, 08 July 1961 - 26 May 2022
ANDY FLETCHER BIOGRAPHY
For other people named Andrew or Andy Fletcher, see Andrew Fletcher (disambiguation) Andrew John Leonard Fletcher (born 8 July 1961, Nottingham, United Kingdom), popularly known as "Fletch", is an English keyboard player and founding member of the electronic band Depeche Mode.
In the late 1970s, Fletcher and schoolmate Vince Clarke formed the short-lived band No Romance in China, in which Fletcher played bass guitar. In 1980, Fletcher met Martin Gore at the Van Gogh Pub on Paycocke Road in Basildon. With Clarke, the trio, now all on synthesizer, formed another group called Composition of Sound. Clarke served as chief songwriter and also provided lead vocals until singer Dave Gahan was recruited into the band later that year, after which they adopted the name Depeche Mode at Gahan's suggestion. Clarke left the group in late 1981, shortly after the release of their debut album Speak and Spell.
Their 1982 follow-up, A Broken Frame, was recorded as a trio, with Gore taking over primary songwriting duties. Musician and producer Alan Wilder joined the band in late 1982 and the group continued as a quartet until Wilder's departure in 1995. Since then, the core trio of Gahan, Gore and Fletcher have remained active, most recently with the announcement of their upcoming 2017 album Spirit and ensuing world tour.
Fletcher's role within Depeche Mode has often been a topic of speculation. In early incarnations of the band, he played (electric and later synth) bass. As the band evolved after Vince Clarke's departure in 1981, Fletcher's role changed as each of the band members took to the areas that suited them and benefitted the band collectively. In a key scene in D.A. Pennebaker's 1989 documentary film about the band, Fletcher clarifies these roles: "Martin's the songwriter, Alan's the good musician, Dave's the vocalist, and I bum around." Rolling Stone writer Gavin Edwards later (after Wilder's departure) riffed upon this statement with the line: "Depeche Mode's unique division of labor has been long established, with each of the three remaining members having a distinct role: Martin Gore writes the songs, Dave Gahan sings them and Andy Fletcher shows up for photo shoots and cashes the checks." He is the only member of the band (past and present) who has not received a songwriting credit.
Fletcher, however, always has and continues to play a critical role within the band.
With the band having not always employed a full-time manager, Fletcher has handled many of the band's business, legal, and other non-musical interests over the years. In the EPK for Songs of Faith and Devotion, he discussed being genuinely interested in many of the business aspects of the music industry that other performing musicians shy away from, and as such, he took over a lot of the business management aspects of the band. In recent years, this has included acting as the band's "spokesperson", with Fletcher often being the one to announce Depeche Mode news (such as record album and tour details).
He is also said to be the member who is "the tiebreaker" and the one that "brings the band together". According to interviews, Fletcher built the compromise between Gahan and Gore that settled their serious dispute following 2001's Exciter album and tour over future songwriting duties within Depeche Mode.
In the studio and during live shows, Fletcher does contribute a variety of supporting synthesizer parts, including bass parts, pads, strings and drone sounds, and various samples.
However, he is notably the only member of Depeche Mode who does not sing. Although he can be seen singing in videos of Depeche's past live performances, usually Fletcher's vocals were either mixed very low or heard only through his own stage monitors. On the band's 2013/14 Delta Machine Tour, vocal mics were no longer present on his keyboard station.
On studio recordings, however, Fletcher's supporting vocals can be heard in some form or another on the majority of all Depeche Mode albums released since 1981.
Toast Hawaii ("Solo Project")
According to anecdotes from various members of Depeche Mode (later quoted in a band biography), an Andy Fletcher "solo album" entitled Toast Hawaii (named after Fletcher's favourite dish in Hansa Studio's cafeteria) was recorded in Berlin during the Some Great Reward sessions in 1984. According to these anecdotes, all the songs on the "album" are cover songs on which Fletcher sings lead vocals. The "album" allegedly features Alan Wilder and/or Martin Gore on piano, with an album cover photo by Wilder. The story then goes that Gore and Wilder presented the album to Mute Records' Daniel Miller and pleaded for him to release it. In reality, this "solo album" is almost certainly an in-joke, although it is not entirely unlikely that during studio "downtime" from serious work, a diversion could have been making humorous recordings.
Toast Hawaii (Record Label)
In 2002, Fletcher launched his own record label, a Mute Records imprint called Toast Hawaii (again named for the dish) and signed the band CLIEИT. He coordinated the recording of their eponymous 2003 debut and 2004's City and also produced "extended remixes" for their subsequent singles "Price of Love," "Rock and Roll Machine," "Here and Now," "In It for the Money," "Radio" and "Pornography" (featuring Carl Barât of The Libertines).
CLIEИT left the label in 2006 and no further activity with the Toast Hawaii label has occurred or been announced to date.
Initially to support CLIEИT's live shows, Fletcher began touring as a DJ. Currently, when he is on hiatus from Depeche Mode, Fletcher plays occasional festivals and club gigs in Europe, Asia, South America and "places where Depeche Mode haven't visited or been able to visit" and is known to include various exclusive Depeche remixes in his sets. A notable DJ set of Fletcher's from 2011 in Warsaw has been widely bootlegged.
In late 2015, Fletcher embarked on a small tour of European clubs.
Fletcher is the eldest of four siblings born to Joy and (the late) John Fletcher. The family moved to Basildon from Nottingham when Fletcher was two years old. He was active in the local Boys' Brigade from an early age, primarily to play football. It was in this Christian youth organisation that he met future Depeche Mode member Vince Clarke, and the two have both recollected in interviews the local missionary work they attempted on behalf of the organisation to convert non-believers.
Fletcher married his longtime girlfriend Gráinne Mullan on 16 January 1991 and the couple have two children, Meghan and Joe.
While Depeche Mode were touring with the band Blancmange in the early 1980s, Fletcher was renowned for his skill at chess. Neil Arthur of Blancmange has mentioned in interviews "never winning a game of chess with Andy Fletcher!"
During the 1990s, Fletcher owned a restaurant called Gascogne located on Blenheim Terrace in St. John's Wood, London.
Fletcher made a series of bad investments in the mid-1990s that led to a number of financial settlements involving Lloyd's of London and Daniel Miller.
Alan Charles Wilder, 01 June 1959, Depeche Mode October 1982 - 01 June 1995 | one-off show in 17 February 2010)
ALAN WILDER BIOGRAPHY
Alan Charles Wilder (born 1 June 1959, London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, Greater London, London, United Kingdom) is an English musician, composer, arranger and record producer, known as a former member of the electronic band Depeche Mode from 1982 to 1995. Since his departure from the band, the musical project called Recoil became his primary musical enterprise, which initially started as a side project to Depeche Mode in 1986. Wilder has also provided production and remixing services to the bands Nitzer Ebb and Curve. He is a classically trained musician and renowned contemporary music producer.
Alan Charles Wilder was born into a middle class family and was raised in Acton, west London. He began piano at the age of eight, through the encouragement of his parents. Later on, he learned the flute at St Clement Danes Grammar school and became a leading musician in his school bands. After school, Alan worked as a studio assistant at DJM Studios. This led to him ending up working for bands such as The Dragons, Dafne and the Tenderspots (as Alan Normal), Real to Real (featuring Adrian Chilvers on Bass, Pete Fresh on guitar, Wolfgang Marlander on Drums and Paul St. James Vocals), The Hitmen, and The Korgis, appearing on the UK No. 13 single "If I Had You" (1979).
1982–1995: The Depeche Mode years
Following the departure of Vince Clarke, Depeche Mode placed an advertisement in the music magazine Melody Maker: "Keyboard player needed for established band – no timewasters." Even though the ad was looking for someone under 21 (Wilder was 22) he lied about his age to get the job, and got away with it. He joined Depeche Mode in January 1982, initially as a tour keyboardist, and soon thereafter as a full member of the recording band.
Wilder wrote a handful of songs for Depeche Mode, including "Two Minute Warning" and "The Landscape Is Changing" (and a B-Side, "Fools") from the album Construction Time Again, and "If You Want" (and a B-Side, "In Your Memory") from the album Some Great Reward. However, Wilder's more notable contributions to Depeche Mode were as a musician, arranger, and producer.
In addition to playing synthesizer throughout his time with Depeche Mode, Wilder also played piano on the band's signature ballad "Somebody," and oboe on the band's hit anthem, "Everything Counts." In the documentary film 101, Wilder demonstrates how different synthesizer parts of a song are split and arranged across a sampling keyboard for playing them live during the concert, just one small example of Wilder's ongoing contributions to Depeche Mode during his time as a member of the group. For the recording of the album Songs of Faith and Devotion and its corresponding Devotional Tour Wilder also played live drums.
For "Enjoy the Silence" from the album Violator, Wilder is credited with taking Martin Gore's melancholy ballad-esque demo and re-envisioning the song as a percolating, melodic dance track. The resulting single went on to become one of the most commercially successful songs in Depeche Mode's history.
On 26 June 1995, Wilder announced his departure from Depeche Mode:
"Due to increasing dissatisfaction with the internal relations and working practices of the group, it is with some sadness that I have decided to part company from Depeche Mode. My decision to leave the group was not an easy one particularly as our last few albums were an indication of the full potential that Depeche Mode was realizing.
Since joining in 1982, I have continually striven to give total energy, enthusiasm and commitment to the furthering of the group's success and in spite of a consistent imbalance in the distribution of the workload, willingly offered this. Unfortunately, within the group, this level of input never received the respect and acknowledgement that it warrants.
Whilst I believe that the calibre of our musical output has improved, the quality of our association has deteriorated to the point where I no longer feel that the end justifies the means. I have no wish to cast aspersions on any individual; suffice to say that relations have become seriously strained, increasingly frustrating and, ultimately, in certain situations, intolerable.
Given these circumstances, I have no option but to leave the group. It seems preferable therefore, to leave on a relative high, and as I still retain a great enthusiasm and passion for music, I am excited by the prospect of pursuing new projects. The remaining band members have my support and best wishes for anything they may pursue in the future, be it collectively or individually."
After his split from Depeche Mode, Wilder was approached by Robert Smith with an offer to join The Cure. Wilder respectfully declined. According to Wilder himself, the possibility was offered on behalf of The Cure by Daryl Bamonte (tour manager for both Depeche Mode and The Cure, and brother of The Cure member Perry Bamonte), and he declined as joining another band was the last thing on his mind.
He briefly reunited with Depeche Mode during the Teenage Cancer Trust concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 17 February 2010, and enjoyed a rapturous reception. During the encore, Wilder accompanied Martin Gore on piano for "Somebody". Gore returned the favour and played a DJ set on one of Recoil's Selected Events.
In 2011, Wilder provided two mixes for the Depeche Mode track "In Chains".
1986–present: The Recoil years
Recoil began in 1986 as a two-track experimental EP. Simply entitled 1 + 2, this collection of primitive demos caught the attention of Mute Records label boss Daniel Miller and was inconspicuously released as a mini-album on 12" vinyl. An album, Hydrology, soon followed in 1988 and both were eventually re-issued by Mute on CD as Hydrology plus 1 + 2. Wilder described the project at the time as "an antidote to Depeche Mode; a way to alleviate the frustrations of always working within a pop format".
Almost immediately, Wilder found himself back in the studio to record what would become the most successful Depeche Mode album to date, Violator. It wasn't until the band finally allowed themselves an extended break after the World Violation Tour that Alan could return to Recoil—not, however, before agreeing to produce Ebbhead, another album for label-mates Nitzer Ebb.
It was during this time that he cemented a working relationship with lead singer Douglas McCarthy who would return the favour by singing on Recoil's next album, Bloodline. For the Bloodline LP, released in 1991, Wilder recruited guest vocalists for the first time, with further contributions from Toni Halliday and Moby. 'Bloodline' also marked the first Recoil single, a cover of Alex Harvey's song 'Faith Healer' as well as 'Electro Blues For Bukka White', featuring the posthumously sampled voice of Blues-man White set into a post-modern context.
Between 1992–93 Wilder resumed his Depeche Mode duties as the band recorded the album Songs of Faith and Devotion. Depeche Mode embarked on their most adventurous tour to date, enduring a grueling fifteen months on the road. Although the group had reached the pinnacle of success, aspects of the lifestyle had taken their toll on everyone and things eventually came to a head. In June 1995, having spent fourteen years as an integral part of one of the most popular and influential bands the UK has ever produced, Alan Wilder made the decision to leave Depeche Mode.
Free from his group commitments, Wilder could now focus solely on Recoil. In September 1996, he began work in his own studio, The Thin Line, gradually piecing together what would become Recoil's next album Unsound Methods. Guest vocalists this time played a more up-front role than ever and featured Maggie Estep, Siobhan Lynch, the reappearance of Douglas McCarthy, and Hildia Campbell.
In the spring of 2000, Recoil released Liquid which this time featured fellow Mute artist Diamanda Galás, 1940s gospel crooners the Golden Gate Jubilee Quartet, along with New York spoken-word performers Nicole Blackman and Samantha Coerbell.
Following a five-year break from recording, Alan Wilder returned in 2007 with Recoil's fifth studio album, entitled SubHuman.
2010 saw the release of 'Selected', a selection of Recoil tracks chosen by Alan who explains: "The collection is made up of my personal favourites, remastered and edited together into what I consider a cohesive and total listening experience.”
A tour entitled ‘A Strange Hour’ was presented during 2010 and 2011 in 52 cities across the world, as part of the ‘Selected Events’, which celebrated 25 years of the Recoil project. It signified the first time Recoil had ever taken to the road. The events were not so much ‘live’ band but more art or video installation. Wilder gathered together filmmakers from as far as Russia, via the Czech Republic and Hungary, all the way to Argentina for this purpose, working very fast, and in the modern way, by creating a central server where everybody could upload their work for others to see, react to and feedback on. Says Wilder: “This for me typifies the whole essence of what Recoil is all about – a collective but with a focused direction – and a very thrilling process it was too, watching and hearing ’A Strange Hour’ come together from our base in the UK.”
Recoil returned in 2012 to release the concert film 'A Strange Hour In Budapest' on Blu-ray, with 5.1 surround sound, directed by Attila Herkó.
Also in 2012, we saw Alan Wilder turn up again as Executive Producer and contributor for a new tribute album to Mark Hollis and Talk Talk. Recoil offered two cover versions for the album featuring the vocals of Linton Kwesi Johnson, Shara Worden and Paul Marshall. Wilder also mixed a track for Richard Reed Parry from Arcade Fire. ‘Spirit of Talk Talk’ was released in September 2012 on Fierce Panda Records.
Wilder resides near Horsham, West Sussex, England. He has two children with his ex-wife Hepzibah Sessa named Stanley Duke Wilder and Paris Wilder. He also has one other child named Clara Lake from a present relationship with Britt Rinde Hval, a Norwegian journalist.
The Dragons – "Misbehavin'" (1977)
Dafne and The Tenderspots – "Disco Hell" (1979)
The Korgis – "If I Had You" (1979) UK No. 13 (The track also appears on The Korgis, as well as all of the band's compilation albums.)
Real to Real – "White Man Reggae" (March 1980)
Real to Real – "The Blue" (1980)
Real to Real – Tightrope Walkers (November 1980)
Real to Real – "Mr. and Mrs." (March 1981)
The Flatbackers – "Serenade of Love" (1981)
The Hitmen – "Ouija" (1981)
With Depeche Mode
Wilder appeared on all of Depeche Mode's releases from "Get the Balance Right" (31 January 1983) up to "In Your Room" (10 January 1994), later taking part in reissues and compilations containing material from his time in the band.
Alan organized with Omega an auction selling a lot of DM collectable items on 3 September 2011 in Manchester. A DVD called "Collected +" was released as promotion for these events.
Covers and collaborations
1991 – Mixed the Nitzer Ebb song "Come Alive" from their As Is EP.
1991 – Along with Flood, produced the Nitzer Ebb full album Ebbhead.
2001 – Provided strings and ambient sounds for the song "Polaroid" from the Curve album "Gift".
2003 – Provided strings and sounds for "The Digital Intervention" track called "Coma Idyllique" from their album "Capture". PK, a longtime Recoil collaborator is one of its members along with Olivia Louvel.
2012 – Covered 2 tracks: "Inheritance" – Recoil (ft. Linton Kwesi Johnson and Paul Marshall) and "Dum Dum Girl" – Recoil (ft. Shara Worden) for a Talk Talk tribute album (double) cd/book set called "Spirit of Talk Talk". He also became executive music producer for the album.
1989 Toni Halliday – "Time Turns Around" (Euro-Tech Version)
1991 Nitzer Ebb – "I Give to You" (Wilder Mix Full Version)
2010 Nitzer Ebb – "I Am Undone" (Alan Wilder Remix)
2011 Depeche Mode – "In Chains" (Alan Wilder Remix)
Vincent John Martin, 03 July 1960, Depeche Mode 1980 - 03 December 1981
VINCE CLARKE BIOGRAPHY
Vince Clarke (born Vincent John Martin; 3 July 1960, Basildon, Basildon, Essex, Essex, United Kingdom) is an English synthpop musician and songwriter. Clarke has been the main composer and musician of the band Erasure since 1985, and was previously the main songwriter of several groups, including Depeche Mode, Yazoo, and The Assembly.
Vincent John Martin was born in South Woodford, Essex and then he moved to Basildon, Essex. He initially studied the violin and then the piano, but he was inspired to make electronic music upon hearing Wirral synth band Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD). Along with OMD, other early influences included The Human League, Daniel Miller, and Fad Gadget.
Early bands and Depeche Mode
In the late-1970s, Clarke and schoolmate Andy Fletcher formed a short-lived band called No Romance in China. In 1980, he teamed up with Robert Marlow and Martin Gore to form French Look. Another band, named Composition of Sound, followed in 1980 with another addition of Martin Gore and Andy Fletcher. Clarke provided vocals until singer Dave Gahan joined the band, which was renamed Depeche Mode. At that time, he adopted the stage-name Vince Clarke, by which he is currently known. The band initially adopted a slick synthesized electropop sound, which produced the album Speak and Spell and the Clarke-penned singles "Dreaming of Me", "New Life", and "Just Can't Get Enough" in 1981.
Clarke left Depeche Mode shortly thereafter. There were many rumoured reasons pertaining to his departure. He commented on Depeche Mode's later material as being a little dark for his taste, but good nonetheless. Clarke also stated that he did not enjoy the public aspects of success, such as touring and interviews, and found himself frequently at odds with his bandmates, particularly on the tour bus. He also stated: "I think everybody in the band, especially myself, imagined that the reason we were doing so well was because of themselves ... We were pretty young and very lucky, and things had happened very quickly for us, and I don't think we were really mature to handle the situation." Clarke was replaced by musician Alan Wilder, and Depeche Mode went on to achieve international stardom.
Clarke then teamed up with singer Alison Moyet (at the time known by the nickname of Alf) to form the popular synthpop band Yazoo (known as Yaz in the U.S.), which produced two albums and a string of hits including "Only You", "Don't Go", "Situation", "The Other Side of Love", "Nobody's Diary", and "Walk Away from Love".
Yazoo disbanded in 1983, and Moyet went on to have a successful solo career. Yazoo reformed in 2008 for a series of live dates to celebrate 25 years since the duo's split.
In 1983, Clarke teamed up with Eric Radcliffe, and it was their idea to collaborate as one-off associations with different artists on each new single, under the name The Assembly; notably with singer Feargal Sharkey they scored the Top 5 hit "Never Never". Meanwhile, he founded the label Reset Records with Eric Radcliffe. During 1983 and further on in 1984, he produced four singles "The Face of Dorian Gray", "I Just Want to Dance", "Claudette", and "Calling All Destroyers" for his friend Robert Marlow, which were released on this label. They also produced an album, which was shelved but was released much later in 1999 under the name The Peter Pan Effect. In 1985, another collaboration took place with Paul Quinn of Bourgie Bourgie, the result was the single "One Day" by Vince Clarke and Paul Quinn. However, the project never took off, and Clarke moved on to other projects.
In early 1985, Clarke put an ad in Melody Maker for a singer, and one applicant was Andy Bell, who was a fan of his earlier projects. He teamed with Bell to form the group Erasure, and the duo became one of the major selling acts in British music with international hits like "Oh L'amour", "Sometimes", "Chains of Love", "A Little Respect", "Drama!", "Blue Savannah", "Chorus", "Love to Hate You", "Take a Chance on Me", and "Always".
The band has released 16 albums to date and has enjoyed a long string of hit singles spanning their three decades together, most recently topped-off by the 2005 top five hit "Breathe" taken from their Nightbird album. In 2006, Erasure produced a country-western style acoustic album consisting of mostly non-single cuts from their previous albums. This album, Union Street was preceded by the single "Boy" originally included on their 1997 Cowboy album.
On 26 January 2007, in a video message on the official Erasure website, the band announced the release of their sixteenth (thirteenth studio) album, entitled Light at the End of the World. Released in the UK on 21 May 2007, with a US release the following day, it was preceded by the single "I Could Fall in Love with You", released on 2 April 2007. The second single, "Sunday Girl" was subsequently released.
The album was produced by Gareth Jones and was a more "dance oriented" effort than some of their more recent work with Clarke making reference to the new material sounding potentially a bit more like Andy Bell's 2005 solo effort Electric Blue.
Erasure went on to tour with Cyndi Lauper, Deborah Harry, Margaret Cho, and other artists, for the 2007 True Colors Tour of the United States, a tour which benefited gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender freedoms and rights. Erasure then went out on their own, headlining the "Light at the End of the World" tour in Europe and North America.
The band released a new EP, Storm Chaser, in September 2007. The EP contains nine tracks, one of them the winner of an online fan remix contest, for the track "When a Lover Leaves You", from the Light at the End of the World album.
The Erasure album, Tomorrow's World, was released on 3 October 2011, featuring production by Frankmusik. The album was done in two locations, Vince in his Cabin Studio in Maine composing the music and vocal arrangement, and production done by Andy in Los Angeles. The album featured three singles- When I Start To Break It All Down, Be With You, and Fill Us With Fire. A very limited edition of Tomorrow's World box sets were issued through the EIS and gathered a bunch of remixes, demos, and videos of this project.
The Erasure Christmas album Snow Globe was released on 11 November 2013. A new collection of material was released on 22 September 2014 named The Violet Flame, featuring production by Richard X.
In July 1984, Clarke teamed up with Stephen Luscombe of Blancmange, Pandit Dinesh, and Asha Bhosle. The group, West India Company, released a four track, self-titled EP.
Clarke worked with synthpop producer Martyn Ware (of Heaven 17 and The Human League) in 1999 as "The Clarke and Ware Experiment" and released the album Pretentious. The duo collaborated again in 2001 for the album Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle, which was created with "3D music technology" specifically designed for listening in headphones. 2001 also saw the release of the Clarke-produced album Erasure's Vince Clarke which featured The Peter Pan Effect, an album that he and Eric Radcliffe produced for his long-time friend, Robert Marlow. Clarke wrote "Let's Get Together" for the pop girl group Girl Authority for their second album, Road Trip. The song was originally meant to be for Depeche Mode, but was never recorded by them. Clarke also co-wrote "What Do I Want From You?" with Freeform Five, for their album Strangest Things (2005).
Also in 2001, Clarke founded Illustrious Co. Ltd. with Martyn Ware, to create new forms of spatialised sound composition using their unique 3D AudioScape system, collaborating with fine artists, educational establishments, the performing arts, live events, corporate clients, and educational settings round the world.
In 2004, Clarke provided additional music for an episode of Johnny Bravo entitled "The Time of My Life". This was a collaboration with Richard Butler.
Clarke was an essential component of a 2000 project called Family Fantastic. They produced the album Nice!. In 2008 Family Fantastic released a second album, entitled Wonderful.
On 21 May 2009, Clarke was awarded by an "Outstanding Song Collection" prize, during the Ivor Novello Awards ceremony of the same day, in recognition of 30 years in the music industry.
Clarke was featured in the BBC Four documentary Synth Britannia.
Clarke collaborated with his former Depeche Mode colleague Martin Gore for the first time since 1981 as techno duo VCMG on an instrumental minimalist electronic dance album called Ssss, released on 12 March 2012. The first EP entitled Spock was released worldwide exclusively on Beatport on 30 November 2011. The second EP Single Blip was once again first released exclusively on Beatport on 20 February 2012. Their third EP Aftermaths was released on 20 August 2012.
In 2012, Vince collaborated with the band The Good Natured on a track called "Ghost Train", available as a free download on their website, in exchange for a Tweet.
Also in 2012, Vince produced a cover of the Depeche Mode song "Fly on the Windscreen" featuring Ane Brun.
In 2013, Vince worked with Andy Bell on a new Erasure Christmas LP which was released in November 2013. There is also a rumor that a collection of original materials will also be ready by mid year 2014. Vince Clarke is currently doing DJ sets in various locations in North America and Europe and has also continued his production work of remixing songs for Dido and Chad Valley. Clarke is holding a competition online for synth guring, which is composed of making synth-like noises with your mouth, registration ends at the end of August 2013, judging shortly there after.
In October 2013, Vince announced on his Twitter page that he is collaborating with musicians BT and Christian Burns on their "All Hail the Silence" project.
On 14 July 2015 Vince announced a collaboration with Jean Michel Jarre called Automatic, which was released as a part of the full album Electronica 1: The Time Machine on 16 October 2015.
In December 2013, Clarke listed his "13 LPs that mean the most to him" for The Quietus:
Pink Floyd – The Dark Side of the Moon
Kraftwerk – Computer World
The Human League – Travelogue
Simon and Garfunkel – Bookends
T. Rex – Electric Warrior
David Bowie – "Heroes"
The Eagles – Hotel California
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
Philip Glass – Glassworks
Genesis – A Trick of the Tail
Michael Jackson – Dangerous
The Sex Pistols – Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols
Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin IV
Production and recording methods
When Clarke started using synthesisers, they were predominantly analogue (digital synthesisers were rare, and would remain that way until the launch of the Yamaha DX7 in 1983). In order to connect analogue synthesisers, analogue drum machines, and analogue sequencers together, multiple CV/Gate cables were required between each device. This system was not standardised, so interoperability between instruments from different manufacturers was not always straightforward. In addition, some manufacturers used their own proprietary interfaces. When an industry-wide standard called MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) was introduced in 1983, Clarke, like most other electronic musicians, gradually migrated to the new technology. However, he continued to prefer his older analogue instruments:
"... CV and Gate is tighter. I can hear and feel that it's tighter than MIDI – we can even prove it using 'scopes. Because everything is clocked simply, it arrives bang on the beat. The whole production starts to 'tick over'. Just look at Kraftwerk's stuff. I think that 'feel' has been lost with MIDI sequencers. No matter what you do with MIDI, the music will never sound as good as it did in the good old Futurist days. That's why our tracks sound the way they do."
For the Chorus album in 1991, he gathered together his collection of analogue synthesisers from various recording studio locations in London and set up a small studio in Amsterdam. This led Clarke to assemble an intricate patch system to more easily enable the control of his analogue instruments:
"... the secret is having a good patch system – not as in patching to the mixing desk, but in patching CV and Gate. Because we don't use MIDI at all, you have to run three or four cables between each synth module – CV, Gate, Filter, Amplitude or whatever – and you've got to have a really unique system to do that."
In 1993 Clarke described his approach to songwriting:
"Andy [Bell] and I get together with a guitar and a tape recorder, I'll strum some chords, he'll sing a melody, and we work in little sections, four or eight bars long. Then we'll try stringing the sections together. It's like a jigsaw puzzle. I find it very hard to relate songwriting to synthesisers, actually – we write songs in a very traditional way. The electronic side of things is just to create the atmosphere. It's mostly just messing about..!
"Once we've worked out a song, I start programming up the arrangement on the BBC UMI sequencer, which lets me run 16 synths simultaneously. That way you get a better idea if parts are working together or not. Then we start refining the individual sounds. And finally the whole lot is transferred to my Roland MC4, piece by piece, so it's being run in CV and Gate. Once we've got that, it's a case of Andy sketching out vocal ideas – in the studio we use two 48 track digital tape machines, which gives Dinger 24 tracks just for his voice!"
Clarke continued to expand his collection of analogue synthesisers and in 1994 set up "37B", a recording studio built adjacent to his custom-made home, "Ammonite", in Chertsey, Surrey. From 1994 to 2003, all Erasure albums were either wholly or in part recorded at "37B".
In 2004 Clarke moved to Maine, USA. While waiting for his studio equipment to be shipped from the UK, he began using an Apple Mac laptop with Logic Pro, Max/MSP, and various software synthesisers (many of which were analogue emulations). Since then, he has continued to use Logic Pro, along with both software and analogue synthesisers:
"Nowadays, you can take the best bits from digital and analogue. On certain projects – say, if I'm doing library music – where you need to have instant recall all the time, then it's obviously much more convenient to use the computer. When it comes to writing a new song, though, I still like to have the old analogue gear there, too. But, a lot of soft synths have a character of their own, too; the Moog Modular V is just crazy!
"I think that analogue has an inherent sound to it – it's like the old argument over vinyl versus CD. It seems that you hear more frequencies coming from an analogue synth than you do from a software synth, but the great thing about the latter is that you can do far more complex modulation, both within the synth itself and on the keyboard. To emulate any of those really complex modulations on an analogue ... well, you'd need a mile of cable."
As of 2009, Clarke has installed his analogue synthesisers alongside his Logic Pro-based workstation in a custom-built commercial studio called "The Cabin" in Maine.
Current/recent studio equipment: Dave Smith Instruments Mopho, Roland System 700, Roland System-100M, Roland Jupiter-8, Roland Jupiter-4, Roland MKS-80, Roland SH-1, Roland VP-330, Roland JP-8000, Roland Juno-60, Roland Juno-106, Roland Super JX, Roland D-550, ARP 2500 Modular, ARP 2600, PPG Wave 2.2, Waldorf Microwave, Waldorf Pulse, Moog Modular, Minimoog, Moog Source, E-Mu Modular System, Buchla 100 series Modular, Sequential Circuits Prophet-5, Sequential Circuits Pro-One, Oxford Synthesiser Company OSCar, Synton Syrinx, Korg MS-20, Korg MS-10, Korg 700, Korg M1, Korg DVP, Serge Modular, Polyfusion Modular, Oberheim Xpander, Oberheim SEM System, RSF Kobol, Electronic Music Studios VCS 3, Matten and Wiechers x2 48 track sequencers total 96 track., Sennheiser Vocoder VSM201, Apple iPad 2, Apple Power Mac G5, Apple MacBook Pro.
Clarke has been married to Tracy Hurley since 2004. They have a son named Oscar and live together in the United States, in Brooklyn, New York, and have another home in Maine. Tracy Hurley is co-founder of the Morbid Anatomy Museum (now closed) in Brooklyn. Her twin sister, the American author Tonya Hurley is married to Michael Pagnotta, the manager of Erasure. In 2012, Clarke and his family moved into a new house in Brooklyn, where he also relocated his Cabin studio and synthesizer collection.
with Depeche Mode
Speak and Spell (1981, album)
"Dreaming of Me" (1981, single)
"New Life" (1981, single)
"Just Can't Get Enough" (1981, single)
The Singles 81>85 (1985, compilation)
Upstairs at Eric's (1982, album)
"Only You" (1982, single)
"Don't Go" (1982, single)
"The Other Side of Love" (1982, single)
"Situation" (1982, single)
You and Me Both (1983, album)
"Nobody's Diary" (1983, single)
with The Assembly
"Never Never" (1983, single)
In duet with Paul Quinn
"One Day" (1985, single)
See Erasure discography
Lucky Bastard (1993, Sample CD)
In duet with Martyn Ware
Pretentious (1999, as The Clarke and Ware Experiment)
Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle (2001, simply as Vincent Clarke and Martyn Ware)
The House of Illustrious (2012, as The Clarke and Ware Experiment)
with Family Fantastic
"Knock on Your Door" (2001, single)
Ssss (2012, album)
"Spock" (2011, EP)
"Single Blip" (2012, EP)
"Aftermaths" (2012, EP)
In Clarke Hartnoll
2Square (2016, album)
"Better Have a Drink to Think" (2016, single)
He has remixed the following songs for artists other than Erasure:
1988 Happy Mondays – "WFL (Wrote For Luck)"
1990 Betty Boo – "24 Hours" (Oratronic Mix)
1991 Fortran 5 – "Heart On the Line" (V.C. Mix)
1991 Habit – "Power"
1992 Nitzer Ebb – "Ascend" (Anonymous Mix)
1992 The Wolfgang Press – "Angel"
1992 Betty Boo – "I'm On My Way" (The Batman And Robin Mix)
1993 The Time Frequency – "Real Love '93" (Vince Clarke Remix)
1994 Sparks – "When Do I Get to Sing "My Way"" (Vince Clarke Remix and Vince Clarke Extended Remix)
1994 Alison Moyet – "Whispering Your Name" (A Remix)
2015 Simon Lowery - "I Am An Astronaut" (Vince Clarke Remix)
2016 Nitzer Ebb - "Once You Say" (Vince Clarke Remix)
2016 Andy Bell - "My Precious One" (Vince Clarke Remix)
2016 Reed and Caroline - "Electrons" (Vince Clarke Remix)
2017 Bright Light Bright Light - "Running Back To You" (Vince Clarke Remix)
2017 Miss Kittin, Dubfire - "Ride" (Vince Clarke Remix)
2017 The Overlords - "God’s Eye" (Vince Clarke Loony Remix)
2017 Alka - "Truncate" (Vince Clarke Remix)
2018 Ladytron - "The Animals" (Vince Clarke Remix)
2018 Robert Görl – "Part 1" (Vince Clarke Remix)
2018 Reed and Caroline - "Before" (Vince Clarke Remix)
2018 Soft Cell - "Bedsitter" (Erasure Remix)
2018 Space - "Magic Fly" (Vince Clarke Rework)
For Depeche Mode
Early in 1980, Fletch, Martin and Vince agree to form a typical guitar trio, with the added accompaniment of a drum machine. Vince writes and sings all their early material - the band is named Composition Of Sound.
The guys spot their new vocalist in a local scout-hut jam session with another band. With a strong cover of the David Bowie number "Heroes", Dave Gahan charms the members of Composition Of Sound and is immediately invited to join the Band.
Dave is recruited as lead singer, and suggests the Band be re-named Depeche Mode after a French fashion magazine, which he has been reading in college.
Depeche Mode perform their first ever gig at St. Nicholas School in Basildon on May 31st, followed by several shows in Essex and London.
Depeche Mode headline the Saturday night electronic showcase at Crocs Club in Rayleigh. At one of their shows, they are approached by Stevo, of Some Bizarre Records, who persuades them to record a track for his Some Bizarre compilation, due out in February the following year.
It is Daniel Miller who eventually produces "Photographic", which appears on this album.
Dave and Vince proudly hand-deliver the Band's demo tape to dozens of club owners and record companies, but Terry Murphy of Canning Town's Bridgehouse is the only other promoter to recognise their ingenuity with a booking.
In December, Daniel Miller of Mute Records witnesses a live performance of Depeche Mode at the Bridgehouse and approaches the Band. Depeche Mode agree to make a single and enter an agreement on the basis of a 50/50 profit-sharing arrangement with Daniel.
Shortly before Christmas, Depeche Mode go into the studio to begin work on their first single "Dreaming Of Me".
"The songs, the arrangements and the presentation of the songs are what inspired me to sign Depeche Mode. I felt they were the first pop group to really use synthesisers as their first instrument." Daniel Miller
"To us, the synth was a punk instrument. Because it was still fairly new, its potential seemed limitless. It really gave us a chance to explore." Martin Gore
"I've never really questioned the band's continued success and have definitely never analysed it. I believe, sub-consciously, I have always known they would get bigger and bigger, almost to the point of taking it for granted. " Daryl Bamonte
"We got turned down everywhere at first, and no-one was interested. Then all of a sudden, everyone was interested and the majors were queuing up to sign us. Suddenly that style of music came in, and they were all after us. We were associated with this movement and we had a tag. But we weren't really anything to do with the Futurist or New Romantic thing." Dave Gahan
Depeche Mode play several dates across the UK through most of the year, and some European shows in September.
The first single "Dreaming Of Me" is released on February 20th and although it only reaches number 57, it is a good start, and according to Miller, who produced the single, it begins a long-term crossover trend for Indie releases into mainstream radio.
Shortly after the release of Depeche Mode's debut album "Speak and Spell" on October 5th the Band leaves for their first official tour and play fourteen very successful nights throughout the UK.
The Some Bizarre album is eventually released in March, and although the anthology is considered "the watershed techno-pop album", Depeche Mode would later have mixed feelings about their involvement with the stylised Futurist scene.
With the press behind them, Depeche Mode's popularity grows, and another single is released. "New Life" comes out on June 13th and it is already in the Top 75.
Their third single "Just Can't Get Enough" (September 7th) becomes an international dance hit and climbs to No. 8 in the UK charts. The Band record their first video.
Vince Clarke announces he is to leave the Band in December and Martin is elected as chief songwriter. The Band also decide that a fourth member is necessary for touring. After several auditions, Alan Wilder, a classically trained musician, is chosen from ten finalists.
"Despite the narcissistic title, Dreaming Of Me is as sweetly unassuming a slice of electronic whimsy as anything by early OMD. Deadpan vocals, programmed rhythm rejoinders and a candyfloss melody makes for a pleasant three minutes. Live, they look great, make comfortable background noises, but don't really sustain attention for much longer than that." Chris Bogh, NME
"We've got nothing against guitars, and we have played them in the past. We may experiment with guitars again one day, but it's so much easier with a synthesiser. There is a lot of good guitar music around but you have to be pretty good to use the guitar." Andy Fletcher
"It was the way the whole thing was going. It lost its enthusiasm. It was turning into a production line and that was worrying me. The techniques were improving to an extent, the way we were playing, but even then I found there were things in the way. preventing us from experimenting. We were so busy, there was something going on every day and no time to play around." Vince Clarke
Of Depeche Mode
Alan first performs with Depeche Mode at Croes in Rayleigh in January and the Band continue touring in support of their debut album. They also play in front of a new audience in the US and Canada for the first time.
The single "See You", announcing the forthcoming album, is released on January 29th and peaks at No. 6 on the UK Chart. "The Meaning Of Love" comes out en April 26th, followed by "Leave In Silence" (August 16th), the first DM single bearing the catalogue name BONG.
Following a short break, the Band hit the road again in October, shortly after the release of their second album "A Broken Frame" (September 27th), visiting many European cities in a period of three months. It is during this tour that Fletch, Martin and Dave slowly integrate Alan into the permanent framework of the Band.
Told You So
It's not until the recording of "Get The Balance Right" (January 3 1 st) that Alan joins the Band as a full-time member. With this new track moving bodies on the dance floors the World over, the band commence on a Spring tour of North America and the Far East, the most extensive tour outside of Europe do date.
The Band work on new material in The Garden Studios in London and Hansa Studios in Berlin, which provides an ideal location for the album's final mixing. It is also where Depeche Mode shoot the video for "Everything Counts".
"Everything Counts", their new single from the upcoming album, makes its debut on July 11th, followed by "Love In Itself" on September 19th.
Depeche Mode's third studio album "Construction Time Again) is released on August 22nd and like its two predecessors hits the Top 10. The album has a more potent and refined sound and also introduces not only Alan's musical talents, but also an ability to contribute his own songs.
The Band hit the road again in September to introduce the songs of "Construction Time Again" to an audience across the UK and Europe, also reaching North America and the Far East.
"A Broken Frame might give the reason to everyone to find the use of synthesisers very pedant, boring, devoid of ideas etc. We might also think that they let their keyboards play without a control. We can if really necessary remember The Meaning Of Love, which contains a bit of energy and melody. Just enough to make a single, but not an album. Despite a beautiful sleeve featuring a kolkhoz woman cutting wheat under a stormy sky." Rock'n'roll, France
"The lyrics have matured from wide-eyed fun to wide-eyed frustration. A Broken Frame sounds sadly naked, rudely deprived of the formula's novelty." Steve Sutherland, Melody Maker
"I think we all like the idea (sampling). When we actually made the album we did go on a sound hunting expedition. We went down Brick Lane and just hit everything and then recorded it and took it back to the studio and put it into a keyboard. That's how we made the track Pipeline. We were smashing corrugated iron and old cars. The vocals were recorded in a railway arch in Shoreditch…" Andy Fletcher
The Band's next single "People Are People" is released on March 12th and its success is followed by a concert on June 2nd, where they share the bill with Elton John, to a crowd of 50,000 in Ludwigshafen.
"People Are People" barrels its way to No. 4 on the British charts and it also holds the No. 1 spot in Germany for three weeks. It eventually reaches number 13 in the US.
The singles "Master And Servant" released on August 20th, and "Blasphemous Rumours" released on October 29th, both receive a lot of media attention for their controversial ideas.
The Band find themselves genuinely satisfied with the end results of their new album "Some Great Reward" which hits stores on September 24th and clinches a No. 5 spot on the British charts.
They immediately set off on a four-month tour to promote the new album, filming a sold-out show in Hamburg for a future video.
Two new songs are recorded and released, which have no trouble finding their way into the charts. The first, "Shake The Disease" greets music stores on April 29th and the second single "It's Called A Heart" is delivered to the fans on September 16th.
A month later sees the release of the compilation LP "The Singles 8 1-85", appropriately titled "Catching Up With Depeche Mode" in the States, covering all the singles from "Dreaming Of Me" to "It's Called A Heart".
"Some Great Videos", a compilation of the greatest single videoclips, coincides with the release of the album, and "The World We Live In And Live In Hamburg", a live concert recording is also released.
"We've still got a long way to go before people will be proud to have Depeche Mode albums in their collection." Andy Fletcher
"Pop goes to your house! OK, so I already expected to like this album, despite the Test Dept image plagiarism, despite the teen paper glamour and even the pop fashionability, Depeche Mode have always won through with that most endearing of qualities - good tunes" Carole Linfield, Sounds, UK
"...as long as David Gahan s big mascared eyes and Martin Gore's cheeky rouged nipples continue to adorn album covers. they'll be dismissed as teenybop fodder. This complete collection of the boys singles including the latest, It's Called A Heart, provides convincing evidence that such a charge is nonsense." Frank Owen, Melody Maker
Of Depeche Mode
After three months of extensive recording at Westside Studios in West Kensington, London, then moving operations to Hansa Studio in Berlin, "Stripped" is released on February 10th, giving the listening audience only a taste of what is to come.
"Black Celebration" sees March 1 7th as its official introduction into a "black" society and offers a heavier, darker and harder sound than anything in the band's past.
A world tour in support of the new album "Black Celebration" begins in March and takes the Band across Europe, North America and Far East for nearly six months.
The next singles "A Question Of Lust" (April 14th) and "A Question Of Time" (August 1 1 th) mark a turning point for Depeche Mode as they sound self-assured enough to take risks and succeed.
The filming of the video for "A Question Of Time", in the American desert, sets the beginning of a long running collaboration between the Band and Anton Corbijn, whose unique visual presentation has become a Depeche Mode hallmark...
Depeche Mode return to the recording studio after a few months break following their Black Celebration Tour to begin work on their next album.
"The crew tend to play tricks on us a lot. At one of the last gigs they covered the riser (back bit of the stage that Dave has to climb up on) with all these porno pictures to try and put me off. They succeeded." Dave Gahan on Black Celebration Tour
"Here are some things to admire about Depeche Mode: 1) their self sufficiency; 2) their refusal to follow anything but their own fashion; 3) their refusal to be anything but themselves; 4) their unswerving ability to come up with great, fresh melodies." Betty Page, Record Mirror
"If we are to have bands filling the World's stadiums, then let them be like Depeche Mode." John Peel
For The Masses
Recording begins at Studio Guilliame Tell in Paris and finishes up at Konk, London. The new album is mixed at Puk Studios in Denmark.
The first single "Strangelove" is released on April 13th and becomes an immediate favourite. Several months later on, the second single "Never Let Me Down Again" (August 24th) greets music stores.
On September 28th, we see the highly anticipated release of "Music For The Masses", the band's sixth studio album, which immediately goes platinum Worldwide.
Shortly after release of the album, Depeche Mode prepare to launch a six month World tour which is the most extensive one to date, selling out stadiums and concert halls around the globe.
The next single "Behind The Wheel" in released on December 28th, while the tour is underway and is added to the list of Top 20 hits.
Are Behind The Wheel
The Music For The Masses Tour brings the foursome together on stage to deliver their passion and soul. Arriving in Los Angeles for their last stop at the Pasadena Rose Bowl Stadium on June 18th, Depeche Mode perform their historic 101 st show of the tour in front of 75,000 fans. The event is recorded and filmed for the later to be released documentary album and D. A. Pennebaker movie bearing the name "Depeche Mode 101".
Just a month before the tour ends, Depeche Mode release "Little 15" (May 16th), yet another track from the "Music For The Masses" album, but only in certain European countries.
"Strange", the first video compilation directed by Anton Corbijn is released. It contains five excellent videos, all in Corbijn's black and white imagery.
Alan and Martin are busy working on side projects of their own. Alan finishes a solo project under the name of Recoil and releases his "Hydrology and 1+2" tracks at the end of the year.
"After six albums and a few thousand singles, you might expect the Mode to be full of 'artistic exhaustion' and all those things that befall groups when they're a bit old. But not for these pop chirperers! Music For The Masses is the Mode's most consistently excellent record yet - as tuneful and thoughtful and moody (especially moody) as anything they've created before. " John Barty, Smash Hits, UK
"This is the band's most lifelike effort to date, and a compelling dance number." David Hiltbrand of Rolling Stone on Never Let Me Down Again
"We weren't able to enjoy the moment because we were just worrying about the logistics of the show too much. Nobody really enjoyed the gig and we didn't play particularly well that night. It's only really when you look back and it's being captured on film and the sound has been tarted up a bit, that you realise what a big, special moment it was for us as a group. We should have just taken the time to enjoy it a bit more." Alan Wilder on the Rose Bowl show
"I'd never been to any concert before with 70,000 people. It wasn't just 70,000 people watching the concert it was 70,000 people participating in the concert, really responding. Everybody there was a fan, it wasn't 'let's go and have a look at this, see what it's like There were 70,000 Depeche Mode fans there." Daniel Miller on the Rose Bowl show
Count It In Large Amounts
A live single of the encore favourite "Everything Counts" keeps fans happy even after the tour is over. It is released on February 13th, and contains some live tracks from the Pasadena Rose Bowl performance.
The double compilation album "101" is released on March 13th and showcases the group's entire performance at the Rose Bowl. The album goes gold in France within 24 hours of release!
"101", the D. A. Pennebaker film, a great road movie made up of live action. footage and all the band's hits from the "Music For The Masses Tour" is released internationally on home video.
Martin, continuing work on his solo from last year, releases e. p. titled "Counterfeit". He then begins concentrating on new material for the next Depeche Mode album.
The Band enlists the help of a new producer, Mark "Flood" Ellis and legendary mixer, Francois Kevorkian, and begin work at Logic Studios in Milan, Axis in New York, London's Church and Master Rock Studios and finish at Puk Studios in Denmark.
"Personal Jesus", the first single from the eagerly anticipated album, comes out on August 29th and becomes the biggest selling 12" in Warner Brothers history.
"It would seem that Mute Records have decided it's time to give Depeche Mode the Big Push that will elevate them into the league occupied by stadium rockers like U2. 101 should ensure there will be longer queues for tickets next time Depeche Mode come to town, but on the strength of this piece of vinyl, it II be well worth the wait." Music Technology, UK
"I think we were more nervous about the recording and filming of the show than the actual number of people at the Rose Bowl. Personally, I'm blind so I can only see the front row!" Andy Fletcher
In Depeche Mode Eyes
"Violator", the new album that covers a wide range of moods and styles is released on March 19th and climbs to No. 2 in Britain and No. 7 in the United States.
On March 20th, Depeche Mode appear for a promotional autograph signing of their album "Violator" at the music store The Wherehouse in West Los Angeles. Over 10,000 fans besiege the store to catch a glimpse of the Band and are simply too much for the security staff to handle. The event makes the national news with the headline: "English rock band Depeche Mode stopped the traffic at Beverly!"
Less than a week after its release, "Violator" goes gold in France, Germany, Britain, USA, Spain and Italy! The album later on receives ten platinum awards in UK, Austria, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Spain, Switzerland, including double platinum in USA, Canada and France.
The second single from the new LP "Enjoy The Silence" is another million seller released on February 5th, followed by "Police Of Truth" (May 7th) and the final single from the album "World In My Eyes" (September 17th).
Depeche Mode's new tour in support of "Violator" starts in May and takes the Band on nearly a year long trip over five continents and reaches over 1,200,000 people.
A new Depeche Mode video compilation by Anton Corbijn titled "Strange Too - Another Violation" is released on October 22nd.
"The Depeche Mode set-up is a vastly complicated network of interlinked musical computers used to recreate their songs in a live situation, perfectly every time. It takes several months beforehand to program everything up and make the machines communicate correctly, and two full-time technicians to look after the equipment on the road. " Jonathan Roberts, World Violation Tour Technician
"Violator marked a move away from Depeche Mode's more adolescent infatuations, songwriter Martin Gore developing into a surprisingly subtle observer of emotional ruction without losing the gift for pop melodies which was largely responsible for their earlier success." Q. Magazine, UK
Enjoy The Silence
Depeche Mode's "Enjoy The Silence", one of the Band's strongest tracks to date wins the Brit Award for Best Single of 1990 voted by the listeners of Radio One.
Martin is honoured by ASCAP (The American Society for Composers, Authors and Publishers) for the songs "Policy Of Truth" and "Enjoy The Silence", both of which are among the most played songs in the US during 1990.
The soundtrack album of the Wim Wenders' film "Until The End Of The World" is released in December and features a beautiful ballad titled "Death's Door" by Depeche Mode.
Faith And Devotion In
Martin is busy songwriting and when he comes back, he has a wide assortment of new themes for an album.
Depeche Mode reunite in February and set up a studio in a privately rented villa in Madrid, Spain to work on new material for their eight studio album "Songs Of Faith And Devotion" with Flood in the producer's chair.
"This was the only time ever in the studio when we thought we had a hit single. When I finished the demo of Enjoy The Silence it was more of a ballad and sounded a bit like the harmonium version that came out on one of the formats. Alan had this idea to speed it up and make it a bit more disco which I was really averse to at first, because l thought 'the song is called Enjoy The Silence and it's supposed to be about serenity, and serenity doesn't go with the disco beat'. So I was sulking for about two days but after he sped it up, I got used to it and added the guitar part, which adds to the whole atmosphere. We could really hear that it had a crossover potential. I have to say that I was sulking for two days for no reason." Martin Gore
"A Depeche Mode fan is anyone who still gives us the time of day after having heard It's Called A Heart (Slow Mix)." Alan Wilder
"Right now there's a lot of dance techno music out there. I think everyone expected us to come up with a hard dance album, but there's so much of it out there right now that the songs are really getting lost. I think I subconsciously tried to rebel against that." Martin Gore on SOFAD
"Nobody thought they were going to make it through that album. Even l, for the first time, wasn't sure if they were going to make it. I felt there was a really good chance, but I started having my doubts because of what was going on. I think the fact that they did was a shock to everybody who was close to the band, and to the media, who were watching with interest." Daniel Miller
Depeche Mode Shoes
The first Depeche Mode single from the new album "I Feel You" arrives on February 15th and goes straight into the upper reaches of the music charts. The video for the song directed by Anton Corbijn is nominated by MTV's annual Music Awards for the Alternative Video Of The Year.
The newest studio LP "Songs Of Faith And Devotion" is released on March 22nd and goes straight to the top of the music industry, debuting at No. 1 on both the American and British charts, and goes on to dominate album charts the World over.
The sales of the "Songs Of Faith And Devotion" exceed everyone's expectations and the album receives eleven gold disc awards in Britain, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and two platinum awards in the USA and Canada.
To celebrate the release of the long-awaited album, Depeche Mode throw an exclusive "Global Release Party" on March 12th at the club Ministry Of Sound in London. The Band meet fans and take part in an interview that is broadcast World-wide by satellite.
Depeche Mode embark on the extensive Devotional Tour in May, which takes them across the globe twice, playing to devotees throughout Europe and North America by the end of the year.
The second single from the album, "Walking In My Shoes" is released on April 26th, followed by "Condemnation" (September 13th), featuring the haunting ballad "Death's Door".
A live video, directed by Anton Corbijn, is shot during shows in Lieven, Barcelona and Budapest. The video captures Depeche Mode at their finest and is released in December, accompanied with a live album titled "Songs Of Faith And Devotion Live".
"Songs Of Faith And Devotion is a work of untouchable excellence." What's On, UK
"My favourite song from this album has to be Walking In My Shoes' as I love the sounds on it enormously - also it is one of my own favorite videos tor Depeche Mode." Anton Corbijn
"I'd like to feel that this music will lift people and make them feel better in whatever they do. I'm just trying to push myself further." Dave Gahan on SOFAD
On The Road
With Depeche Mode
Depeche Mode are back on the road in February, performing in front of audiences in far off places like South Africa, Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong. Philippines, Hawaii, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico.
Depeche Mode return to the United States in May for the final leg of the tour simply called USA 94 where they finish off after 14 months during which Depeche Mode have visited 122 cities in 27 different countries and played for over 2,000,000 people in 156 shows.
Anton Corbijn receives a Grammy nomination for the live video recording of the "Devotional".
"In Your Room", the fourth and final single out of "Songs Of Faith And Devotion" is released on January 10th.
Coming Back To
Martin Gore covers a Leonard Cohen song "Coming Back To You" for the Cohen tribute album "Tower Of Song: The Songs of Leonard Cohen".
At the end of May, Alan Wilder announces his departure from Depeche Mode. The remaining band members decide not to seek a replacement.
Depeche Mode are in the recording studio for six before Christmas working on some new material with Tim Simenon producing.
"It's all faultlessly conceived and presented, and equally well filmed and edited. An absorbing experience, even for non-die hard fans. Devotional is a wonderful, creative example of achieving success without artistic compromise." Q. Magazine, UK
"I think that every video I had to do while they were on tour, was the hardest to make and in particular Condemnation because of Dave's mental condition at the time. The easiest was probably Strangelove, as it doesn't feature the band so much…" Anton Corbijn
"I think my decision to leave the band came during the making of that album. I can remember one or two occasions during the recording that stick vividly in my mind, particularly those first sessions where I thought this is just not enjoyable, this is last time I want to be in this situation." Alan Wilder
"Martin's an amazing songwriter, and I want people to take their hats off to him. Songs, songs, songs, that's what it's all about." Tim Simenon
It's All Good For
Dave accidentally overdoses on drugs in Los Angeles in May and is arrested. Upon his successful completion of the drug treatment and rehabilitation program, all charges against him are dismissed.
Depeche Mode are recording in New York at Electric Lady Studios. They also put in some extra time in London, including a one day return to Westside Studios (after ten years) to record some strings.
Following a short summer break, the Band are back in the studio in September, mixing the first single at Sarm Studios in London. They later on return to Eastcote and Rak Studios for more recording.
In December, Depeche Mode shoot the video for their first single "Barrel Of A Gun" in Morocco under the direction of Anton Corbijn.
"There's not really a concept or a theme, but quite a lot of the songs deal with destiny. Religion is probably touched on less on this album than it has been in the past, but it's still got a quite spiritual feel." Martin Gore on Ultra
"Ultra reveals a band who have weathered the storms to produce their finest work. Its minimalistic, moody grooves are influenced by recent trip-hop happenings, while Gore's lyrics are his finest yet. From boys to men, through good times and bad, Depeche Mode are still very much around. And they're getting the balance right." Gary Crossing, Big Issue, UK
The first single "Barrel Of A Gun" is released on February 3rd, also featuring an alternative track called "Painkiller". It goes straight into the UK charts at No. 4, equalling their highest ever chart position with "People Are People".
Depeche Mode visit seven European countries on a promotional tour in February, giving interviews to all the major press, TV and radio stations. The promotional trip continues towards the end of April.
The Band spend the last week of February in New York and in addition to loads of interviews, they are shooting the video for the second single "It's No Good" (March 31st) which becomes a smash hit and one of the most requested songs on radio stations everywhere straight after its release.
During March, London's Mute Records organises a chain of listening parties with a playback of the tracks from the new album. The evenings welcome nearly two thousand DM fans and Bong members from all over the UK.
A huge launch party is held by Mute Records on April 10th at London's Adrenaline Village featuring the first live performance by Depeche Mode in three years.
The release date of the long-awaited album "Ultra" is set for April 14th. It is Depeche Mode's 9th studio album, featuring eleven original tracks, all written by Martin Gore and produced by Tim Simenon.
Attacking the highest positions in most of the European countries, "Ultra" sells 3,000,000 in seven months and goes gold and platinum around the globe.
Depeche Mode launch their official web site on May 13th, initially focusing on "Ultra", but creating a centralised resource for Depeche Mode fans world-wide, including the extensive history of Depeche Mode.
"Home", an epic string-drenched ballad sees Martin taking over the vocal duty from Dave, is the third single from "Ultra" released on June 16th.
The gently funky song with the moaning guitar riffs "Useless" and the fourth single from "Ultra" is released on October 20th. The accompanying video is shot at an old lead mine in North Wales at the end of August, with Anton Corbijn directing.
Dave sings "Song For Europe" which is included on a Roxy Music tribute album "Dreamhome Heartaches…Remaking, Remodelling Roxy Music", proceeds of which go to a children's charity.
"Barrel Of A Gun is about understanding what you're about and realising that you don't necessarily fit into somebody else's scheme of things. You can have slight diversions from your path, but I think there is something that is written for us that is meant to be. I'm not being totally fatalistic, I think that we do have a say in things, but I don't think that say is very strong. " Martin Gore
"Trying times for the band, yet with the guidance of producer Tim Simenon, Depeche Mode have come back with an album which will - once the headlines are forgotten - be seen as one of the most outstanding and enganging in their 16-year career. " Music & Media "I'm pleased that we have consolidated our position as an influential and still popular group in the 1990s. The high points for me were playing live at the Ultra launch parties in London and Los Angeles." Andy Fletcher
Martin is busy writing songs for inclusion on the long awaited double CD package "The Singles 86>98", featuring all the Band's hits since 1986, along with a new song.
In February, the Band meet in London to discuss their plans and ideas. They decide to go into the studio in March to begin work on new material. Tim Simenon, is once again in charge of production.
Depeche Mode hold a press conference on April 20th in Cologne, Germany to announce their upcoming tour The Singles Tour 96-98, coinciding with the release of the retrospective double CD set "The Singles 86>98" (September 28th).
The Band are on location in New York City during July, to film the video for their new single "Only When I Lose Myself" directed by Brian Griffin, who collaborated with Depeche Mode on their first four album covers.
The production rehearsals for the upcoming tour take place during August at Three Mills Island Studios in East London.
The new single called "Only When I Lose Myself", featuring Dave on vocals is released on September 7th. The single also includes two more new titles, "Headstar" and "Surrender".
Depeche Mode embark on a world tour, starting in September, which takes them for the first time ever to Russia, Estonia and Latvia. Following the European leg, the Band tour North America in November and December. As soon as the dates are announced, tickets sell like hot cakes with some shows selling out within hours!
The stage-set design and video projection is provided once again by Anton Corbijn and Depeche Mode are accompanied on stage by Christian Eigner on drums. Peter Gordeno on keyboards and Jordan Bailey and Janet Cooke, the two backing vocalists.
During The Singles 86-98 Tour Depeche Mode visit 29 cities in 15 different countries around Europe, 27 cities in the North America and play 64 shows to almost 800,000 fans.
A new video compilation of the singles coincides with the release date of "The Singles 86>98" and features a special intro and an exclusive short film.
Sales figures of more than 1.5 million copies in a couple of months since its release secure "The Singles 86>98" several gold and platinum disc awards across the world.
Depeche Mode headline at KROO's Almost Acoustic Christmas show on December 12th in Los Angeles. Their one hour performance includes an acoustic version of "Sisters Of Night", and during "Never Let Me Down Again" Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins appeared on stage with the Band.
"With Only When I Lose Myself, I started with the opening motif and the words were suggested to me by what was happening in the music. I find that a very natural way to write." Martin Gore
"Essex electronica veterans don't get out of bed for less than an arena tour. Here (The Singles 86-98 Tour) they're promoting a hits package, a singular pop affair that traces dark-lines between Basildon and Berlin." Evening Standard, UK
The Band members get together during April to discuss their future plans. Meanwhile, Martin is getting down to some serious work in the song-writing department. The Band hope to be in the studio next year.
In the Music Week Creative and Design Awards 1999, "The Singles 86>98" wins "Best Album Design" and "The Singles 86>98" album campaign wins "Best Design of a Series of Sleeves".
In May, Martin is presented with an "Award for International Achievement", by the British Academy of Composers & Songwriters, at the 44th Ivor Nowello Awards in London. Martin is presented with his award by Daniel Miller.
Depeche Mode celebrate their 20th anniversary since they formed in Basildon, named themselves Depeche Mode and conquered the World.
Martin is songwriting, and working at home in his studio with Gareth Jones and Paul Freegard. The Band announce plans to go in to the studio.
The International Bong Convention is held on April 15th in Depeche Mode's hometown Basildon. It is a celebration of 20 years of Depeche Mode and although the Band members are not present, a concert-like atmosphere is created by more than 250 fans from all over the World.
Several new songs are ready for the Band to work on. Martin is still busy writing more tracks for the new album and the Band start recording during June and July in studios in both London and New York with producer Mark Bell. The recording process continues in September and concludes just before Christmas in New York.
"I think we've always made weird pop. and I think Exciter is a great example of that. I don't think it fits into a defined musical category, but we never have, so that's not a particular worry. I just like being able to make music that's different. and if it's successful as well, then that's good. " Martin Gore
"I'm very proud of the work that i've contributed to this record, and I want people to hear it. I've really enjoyed singing on this album too, and I've enjoyed it more because I'm in a good place, I feel really content. Yes, I want it to sell millions of copies, I'd love to pick up a Grammy next year, and get an MTV award. I'd like to pick up a Brit award - l'd be lying if I said I didn't - but if it doesn't happen, c'est la vie…we've made a great record and we're going to go out and tour. I know our fans are really loyal and they'll be coming out to see us. There's not much else you can really ask for. I'm doing what I want to do in my life." Dave Gahan
Feel Loved By
The video for the first single "Dream On" is shot in Los Angeles in February. The man behind the camera this time is the world famous video director and fashion photographer Stephane Sednaoui.
The official web site celebrates a victory in the second annual MidemNet Awards, which are announced in Cannes in January, winning the award for Best Artist Web Site. The site hosts two exclusive MP3 extracts from "Exciter" per day marking the release of the Band's tenth studio album.
The Band finish mixing the album in London in January, and after a well-deserved break and some promotional activities, release their first single "Dream On" on April 23rd, with "Easy Tiger" on the B-side. It enters the German Top 100 Single Charts on pole possition and becomes the first number one single for the Band in Germany since "People Are People" (1984)!
Depeche Mode announce their world-wide tour at a press conference in Hamburg in March and start pre-production in April: The rehearsals begin in London in May and continue in June when the Exciter Tour starts rolling in Canada. The second leg of the tour brings Depeche Mode to Europe towards the end of August.
The excellent and highly anticipated new album "Exciter" is released on May 14th. There are a total of thirteen tracks, including two instrumentals. Anton Corbijn is once again asked to do the album artwork. The new album immediately hits the charts across the World and the sales reach award status gold or platinum in many countries around the globe.
The massive tour sees Depeche Mode performing to 1,2 million people in 24 countries over a five-month period and again features the innovative stage design and unique visual element of Anton Corbijn. Martin, Fletch and Dave welcome the return of the musicians Christian Eigner, Peter Gordeno and backing vocalist Jordan, with newcomer Georgia Lewis.
"I Feel Loved" is the second single from the album with the official release date of July 16th, featuring a cover of the legendary The Stooges song "Dirt" as a B-side. The radio friendly track makes it to heavy rotation on most radio stations across Europe.
The third single from "Exciter" is the beautiful ballad "Freelove" out on November 5th. The video is directed in July by the Australian director John Hillcoat, who is also responsible for the "I Feel Loved" video.
Depeche Mode win The Best International Artist A Music Channel VIVA "Comet" Award ceremony, beating Madonna, Jennifer Lopez and U2!
The Band performed the old time classic "Never Let Me Down Again" at the MTV Europe Music Awards held in Frankfurt in November. The official DM web site receives a nomination and although it doesn't win, it is selected by MTV Europe as one of only five web sites up for Best Band Web Site.
The filming of the video for the new single "Goodnight Lovers" takes place in November in Frankfurt and is once more directed by John Hillcoat.
"The word Exciter sounds like typical Martin word and has a sexual meaning in a way…and that sort of pictures on the album too, but at the same time it's quite a broad nature and it goes down the core of things. I think the music is a bit like that as well…it's quite relaxed…it has beautiful sounds and it's a very different Depeche again." Anton Corbijn
"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." Dave Gahan
"Blame it on the sunshine, or the settled wile-and-kinds lives of all three members, but Exciter is the most optimistic record the band have made in 20 years." Dorian Lynskey, Q Magazine, UK
"Gahan has stripped off his shirt, and proceeds to spin across the stage with comical, sweaty abandon, shouting 'Hello London!' as if he's never been here before. His sheer happiness in his work is hard to resist, as he leads crowd-clapping so synchronised it gives fresh life to the old comparison between stadium shows and Nuremberg rallies. He won't rest until we're singing the new single Freelove as if we've loved it all our lives." Nick Hasted, The Independent, UK
One Night With
Depeche Mode And...
"Goodnight Lovers", the fourth single from "Exciter", is released on February 11th, coinciding with the announcement of two nominations for Depeche Mode in this year's Grammy Awards in the categories of "Best Dance Recording" for "I Feel Loved" and the "Best Remixed Recording/Non-Classical" for Danny Tenaglia's remix of "I Feel Loved". The Band is also nominated for Echo Pop 2002 Awards in the category "Best International Rock/Pop Band".
The eagerly awaited live DVD of the "Exciter Tour" titled "One Night In Paris" hits the stores on May 27th and, apart from the live footage, contains some extras, such as rare personal interviews, stills gallery and many more. The exclusive two-hour event is directed by Anton Corbijn at the sold-out Palais Omnisports de Paris Bercy in front of 16,000 wildly enthusiastic fans.
"The venue itself is probably one of the best in the world. We've played this venue many, many times, so for us it's almost like a second home in Paris. Depeche Mode fans will travel from all over the world to see a concert in Paris." Andy Fletcher on Paris's Bercy
"As far as performing goes, I enjoyed this tour more than any other before. I really felt it was the best we've ever played and that the musicians that were playing really brought new life to the older songs and the new songs from Exciter. I was just floating out there." Dave Gahan
"A great project to work on is always the design of an album cover, including photographs and title-lettering. I also enjoy video making and think the band are better when they have to work to a clear idea than standing in front of a stills camera for a photograph. I love doing the stage sets too so in a way I am a happy bunny in whatever discipline I work with Depeche Mode." Anton Corbijn
Songs Of Faith and Devotion
The new, and tenth, Depeche Mode album Songs Of Faith and Devotion, is one of the most eagerly expected awaited albums of 1993. Their last album, Violator, was their most successful to date and, after the tour finished playing to 1,200,000 people over eight months, group decided to take a year's sabbatical.
It took the young Essex group only three weeks to record their first album, Speak and Spell, in 1981. The new work, however, was made by David Gahan, Alan Wilder, Martin Gore and Andrew Fletcher over an eight-month period from April to December, 1992, with long breaks between recording sessions in Madrid, Hamburg and London. "Your standards go up," Martin explains. "It takes longer until everybody is happy. And we've tried so many things before, that to be experimental and different takes longer."
One of the secrets of the lasting appeal of Depeche Mode has been that way are indeed different from any group and any trend. Their music is always a welcome alternative to whoever and whatever happen to be in vogue. The voice of their lead vocalist Dave Gahan is one of the most distinctive and riveting in rock.
Writer Martin Gore deals with subject matter that doesn't even occur to most lyricists, let alone get expressed in song form. Musician Alan Wilder stays on top of the latests developments in recording technology, with added input on the last two albums from co-producer Flood. As Alan explains, "He had the rare ability to be able to step back and have a producer's perspective and also the technical know how to be completely hands on with all the equipment. He's now become a crucial member of our team, and hi contribution is vast."
The group Queen, who were born in the seventies and survived through the eighties, were long considered the classic example of how four very different individuals could maintain a professional partnership that was in all their interests, realizing that people don't have to be personal friends to work well together. With Depeche Mode, conceived in the eighties and destined to outlast the nineties, there has been the pleasant discovery over the years that the four members have naturally gravitated to different tasks, respect each other's performance in the seperate jobs and have no desire to compete. In simplistic terms, Dave is the singer, Martin is the songwriter, Alan the musician and Andrew the co-ordinator. "I think this is the way a modern band should be," says Andy, referred to as Fletch. "If more bands were like that, they could run their affairs more successfully."
Important financial matters that might bore many artists fascinate Fletch. "I liaise with our accountant, our office staff and our business staff, and I really enjoy it, to be honest. It's important to keep an eye on merchandising and royalties. Mute, our record company, didn't have a computerized accounts system until recently, so it's a good thing Daniel Miller (who founded the label) is one of the most honest people I've ever met. We've got one of the best record deals in the music industry."
"There has been a natural delegation of responsibility," Alan confirms. "I've always had a strong interest in the production side. Alot of the time it's myself and Flood who are left there in the early hours of the morning doing what we call 'screwdriver' work. It's sifting through bits of peromance and restructuring it, which bores Martin most of the time and Dave to an extent, but I actually quite enjoy it."
"I prefer the writing," Martin confirms. "Although you know you are creating when you're in the studio, you're starting totally afresh when you're writing. I've always found it a fascinating process. Sometimes I'll look at a song that I've just written and think that I know where it came from."
Some of the most startling Depeche hits have had religious themes, including the 1984 UK top twenty hit "Blasphemous Rumours" and, in 1989-90, "Personal Jesus." "I've always had a fascination with religion," Gore admits. "I don't really understand it, but I've always longed for some sort of belief. A few of the songs on the new album have a sort of gospel feel."
One of them, "Condemnation", is a particular favorite of Dave Gahan. "I think that's the best lyric and melody I've ever sung," he affirms. "I wish I could have written it." Other group members are full of praise for his performance of this and other songs on the album.
"With this record we've tried to make Dave sing in a different way," Alan explains. "In simple things, like raising the register of the song so he had to sing higher than he would normally, forcing him to approach songs differently and making him go over and over things, trying different environments in which he hasn't sung before, not using headphones like we normally do... anything to try and get a different performance. He's responded really well. Dave had a very good attitude. He's willing to try things because he understands that by repeatedly doing over things eventually something will click and a special moment will occur." With "Condemnation", the new environment turned out to be a marble-tiled garage in the Madrid villa.
Five key singles in Depeche's career can be identified. The first is "Just Can't Get Enough", their technopop sound with founding member Vince Clarke, "before the group was a democracy," as Fletch quips. Early Depeche Mode material continues to sell to new fans.
The second crucial Depeche single was "Everything Counts", a 1983 UK hit that brought criticism of the music business onto the airwaves and introduced an adult tone to the young band's music. As Fletch points out, the group had the freedom to make this statement because of it's close relationships with Daniel Miller's Mute Records in the UK and Seymour Stein's Sire in the U.S.
"People Are People" was a particularly important record. It achieved what is still the group's highest British chart position (4) and introduced them to the American top twenty in 1985. Despite these distinction, it is one of Martin Gore's least favorite compositions. "It's just not very subtle," he mourns. "I like the songs to be ambiguous enough for people to get their own meaning from them."
Martin broke new ground for top forty radio with the lyrics of "Personal Jesus," on of the best selling 12-inch discs in American history and their firt U.S. gold single. As happened with Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA", many listener read their own meaning into the song. "We often get fans coming to concerts with meanings that are a million miles away from what I intended," Gore related, "but they still seem very passionate about what they feel. I like that."
A final key single was "Enjoy The Silence", the first Depeche US top ten single and another million seller. In Britain this was chosen as Best Single if 1990 by listeners of BBC Radio for the BPI awards.
Now a new group of songs stand ready to join this select list. First in line is "I Feel You", chosen as the single both because of its infectious appeal and because its hook line "this is the dawning of our love." Other tracks, including "Condemnation", are likely to follow. One piece noteworthy for it's distinctiveness is "One Caress", on which Martin sang live to the accompaniment of a twenty-eight-piece string orchestra.
With this album Depeche Mode continues to make musical progress. As Alan explains, "We've placed the emphasis on performance, using sequencers and other technology to rearrange it in a way we couldn't if we were simply playing through the entire song." Wilder himself will be playing more live drums on tour, and Gore will come forward more to play guitar. Gahan is as fervent as an artist can be about his new work and the opportunity to perform it live.
"I'd like to feel that this music will lift people and make them feel better about themselves and better in whatever they do. I'm just trying to push myself further."
Central to Depeche Mode's determination to excel as a group is its member awareness that each of the other individuals are performing at a peak standard. "I value what Dave does on stage," Alan says. "Without his performance as a front person we would be a very boring band to watch. There are very few good front men around, and I think he does it well."
Gahan returns the compliment to Wilder in a discussion about his studio technique. "Alan will sit there for twenty-four hours until it's right. It's very special to me when people care that much about everything and want it to be that good. That's what is unique about Depeche Mode."
It has been three years since Depeche Mode issued their last album, Violator, which achieved career high chart positions of two in Britain and seven in America. 1990 was spent on the World Violation Tour, which ended at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, and 1992 was predominantly devoted to recording the new work. In between, band members have managed to get some personal time off from the virtually non-stop schedule that has given them nin top ten UK LP's in nine releases and D.A. Pennebaker's documentary film Depeche Mode 101, filmed in part at the Pasadena Rose Bowl concert in front of 75,000 fans.
The way Depeche Mode feels about returning to the road is best summed up by Dave. "We're getting to a stage now where the music's moving onto higher ground, at it really moves me. The most important thing in my life right now is to get out and bring this music to the fans; now it's the circus, now it begins."
Depeche Mode will play near you in 1993.
Playing The Angel
This October, Depeche Mode release their first album since 2001's two million-selling Exciter. "I really felt, before we started this album, that there was unfinished business," says Dave Gahan of their 11th studio album, Playing The Angel. And so it is that the world's foremost subversive electronic pop group have reconvened to, as the singer puts it, "make the best record we can." They just can't shake the disease.
Playing The Angel is an astonishingly fresh, exuberant release from the band who have, over 25 years, sold upwards of 50 million records worldwide and amassed a staggering 38 hit singles in the UK and no fewer than 13 Top 10 albums. And yet they sound like a new group, not one halfway through their third decade together. "Precious", the first single, is quintessential Mode, all cyber pulse and glorious chorus. "The Sinner In Me" perfectly balances the organic and synthetic, and climaxes, as do most of the tracks, with staccato blasts of noise and FX. On "Suffer Well" Dave's voice is more powerful than ever. "Macrovision", sung by Martin Gore, is hi-tech pop with an enormous hook. "John The Revelator" is one of many potential hit singles. "I Want It All" is one of the slower tracks with its minor-key menace, like trip hop from hell. "A Pain That I'm Used To" kicks off what would have been Side 2 in fine, furious style with its savage bursts of guitar.
The title for the album was taken, according to Fletch, from the lyric of a track called "The Darkest Star". The LP was recorded in Santa Barbara, New York and London. Recording began in January 2005 in California, with producer Ben Hillier at the helm providing a sense of challenge. "You have to work hard at reinventing yourself," admits Dave, "so you have to choose new people who push you." Playing The Angel is faster-paced than the last two Mode albums, heightening the sense of urgency and vibrancy. Ben's fondness for analogue synths over digital ones helped shape the sound.
It is also the first Depeche album to feature Dave Gahan credits - three of the tracks ("I Want It All", "Suffer Well" and "Nothing's Impossible") were written by the singer, who was encouraged by the reaction to his debut solo album Paper Monsters (2003). Martin was responsible for the remaining nine tracks. As usual, he was unflinching in his depiction of the dark side of the human condition. In fact, he jokes, the back cover of the LP sleeve may well feature the subtitle: Pain And Suffering In Various Tempos. "Dave said I've made a 25-year career out of one subject. I disagree: it's two!"
When asked what the broad, overarching themes of this record are, Martin smiles: "Anything that appeals to really dysfunctional people." It would be wrong, however, to dismiss Depeche Mode as harvesters of sorrow. "I never see our music as over-dark. There's always an element of hope. And I hope that comes over in the music."
A sense of optimism, of renewed vigour, of pleasure at what they've achieved, can be discerned from Playing The Angel. It's also obvious from the sheer delight Dave, Martin and Andy feel at being back with Depeche Mode, on the eve of the release of a brilliant album and a mammoth, sell-out world tour that confirms the enormity of their global audience.
Dave counts his blessings that he's still actually here to do this. "That we've achieved so much in 25 years, and survived so much... Of all the bands, this is the one I'd have put money on not still being around!" he laughs. "I see ourselves alongside U2 and R.E.M. more than any of the bands we came up with, although really we don't fit in and we never have, and I've come to embrace that - there's no one like Depeche Mode. I might have lost some of my drive in the mid-'90s, but now I've got it back. It's better being in Depeche Mode now than it has been for 15 years."
On 13 January 2006 the European leg of the tour started in Dresden. It comprised 52 concerts and ended on 3 April in London.
In the meantime, on 27 March, the single Suffer Well / Better Days was released. It is the first single that was written by Dave. It was nominated in the category of "Best Dance Recording" at the 2007 Grammy Awards but lost out. The video was filmed by Anton Corbijn in mid-December 2005 in California. It was the first time after some years break that Corbijn made a video for DM.
Dave (about the line where were you when I fell from grace in Suffer Well): "It was definitely a little dig at them. I didn't write it like that but when I sang it, I did picture Martin. It was, 'What didn't you understand that I needed you the most then. Where was the f*** answers when I needed them most?' When I finally hit a wall, of crawling across the floor of that apartment in Santa Monica, I felt myself dying. I felt my soul had gone and inside I was screaming, 'Where the f*** are you?!'"
I suppose this is one of those statements about which Martin said he'd think, 'What?!' And I don't think Dave meant it as he'd said it. He just jumped on a suggestive question from the journalist because it sounded so nice at that moment.
Martin: "I've been accused of being closed, emotionally, and it's true up to a point. Sometimes I find it difficult, dealing with life in general. Music helps me there. It's some kind of therapy. There are obviously things I feel guilty about in my life. I'm in the middle of my divorce at the moment. I've got three children." - That's what the lyrics of Precious are about. - "I feel like I've failed in my marriage. I feel guilty about that because of the children. Maybe the marriage was partly a charade for a while anyway. Maybe I felt guilty about that for ... I don't know how many years. We're a very non-talkative band. I think, deep down, we all want the same thing, but it only takes one person to say something slightly off the beaten track for someone to take it wrongly and for it all to go off. But why not look at it another way? We've been together 25 years, so we must be doing something right."
From 27 April to 21 May the band returned for 12 concerts to the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
On 2 June the second European leg started, comprised 33 concerts, including many festivals, and ended on 1 August in Athens.
In the meantime, on 5 June, the single John the Revelator / Lilian was released. It was the first double A-side release since Blasphemous Rumours / Somebody in 1984. John the Revelator was edited down several seconds for the single, while Lilian was slightly remixed and the introduction was shortened.
John the Revelator is based on an early 20th century gospel/folk song performed by Son House, Blind Willie Johnson, and later by The Holy Modal Rounders, The Blues Brothers and John Mellencamp. It's not a cover song as such but is working with several elements of the original track.
On 25 September the concert video Touring the Angel: Live in Milan was released.
On 30 October the single Martyr was released. It was linked to Best of Depeche Mode Volume One which was released on 13 November. The song, originally titled Martyr for Love, is a missing track from the Playing the Angel sessions. It was considered to be the first single but in the end it did not make it onto the album.
Fletch (about the Best of): "It isn't a release for the big fan. This one has the songs anyway. The record is aimed more at people who only have a few DM records, or even none at all. We discussed the selection of the songs a lot. It was difficult. Every big DM fan probably has a completely different list of favourite songs. I associate many memories with every song, for example how we recorded it and whether we had good or bad times."
Altogether Playing the Angel (including the tour) was a great success. Many fans liked the livelier and "edgier" Playing the Angel better than Exciter, and it brought many new fans to the band. The internet helped, too, or the fact that in 2006 many more people had internet access than in 2001. Many fans are in networks nowadays talking about their collections and interests and making appointments for parties and concerts. The "devoted community" (or Black Swarm) came alive a second time, although in a different way than in the 1980s.
Sometimes it doesn't work at all because some "old" fans, who still hang on to "their" band but have increasing problems with what DM is doing and releasing today, get into trouble with "new" fans. And the difference gets bigger so there are almost two communities today - "the fans who want Alan back moaner community" and the "I like most what they do who the f*** is Alan community".
While the "old timers" often have their difficulties with the newer stuff from the band, the younger fans often don't understand the real old stuff, but it's interesting that most of them nevertheless often name Black Celebration, Music for the Masses, Violator or SOFAD as their favourite albums, along with the newer ones with which they found their way to the band. There are only a few who say that they have difficulties with Violator or SOFAD because of "all the drug stories."
Every album from the "post-Alan-era" had its critics, (although critics of the critics say that even an album like Violator got bad reviews) and these critics get louder from album to album. The highpoint was reached at Sounds of the Universe (SOTU) which divided the fans more than ever before.
Of course, the fans are still devoted - and there are many new fans - but it's noticeable that in the survey of depechemodebiographie.de most answers (34%) applied to "the former days". Of those there are 24% saying that "the sound (without Alan) is not longer that complex / rich / bombastic / atmospheric / orchestral". And 24% - applying to "today" - said that the "quality isn't as high anymore". It is also noticeable that 77% of the answers applying to former times are positive, while there are only 54% positive answers applying to today. That they "lost their typical sound" is one of the central points in the endless "Alan-discussion".
I found an interesting statement from Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden) about this. Of course, he is referring to Iron Maiden but it nevertheless suits DM as well. "I think that fans are very old fashioned in general - whatever they are fans of. In that very moment you discover something you like you want to keep this for you. If you like a painter who tells you one day that he won't paint anymore but works as a sculptor, you'll be disappointed. It is the same with the music business. Musicians are always trying to find something new so as not to get bored. But fans are only entertained by songs they really like. They don't want completely new things, but consistency."
After having released Liquid Alan announced that he would release another album quite soon. But it took until 25 June 2007 before the single Prey was released, followed by the album SubHuman on 9 July, for which he won the IGN-Award (best electronic album).
The media was astonished by the long break, so almost every interview would start with the question as to why Alan had been away for such a long time. His answers varied from that he wanted to spend more time with his family to "I did make some feeble attempts to write music on a few occasions but didn't posses the will to battle through - which I took as a sign that I needed a longer break" and ended with explanations that he had been a bit frustrated about having put so much work into Liquid, but people had difficulties finding the albums in the shops. "I know that times are changing, as well as the way to buy and sell music. Today I'm aware of it. Nevertheless I was frustrated by it seven years ago because we got good feedback, everything went fine - and then people weren't able to buy the record in the shops. For a musician this is really frustrating."
There were also interviews in which he - between the lines or directly - admitted that he hadn't done much during that time, until his wife had had enough of all this hanging around, drinking, watching sports, doing nothing ..., and "encouraged" him to go back into the studio. He realised then that he was more pleasant when he was creative. After a technical update in his studio, he started to work on SubHuman.
Alan: "I had no real idea where the album was headed when I started. I simply started working. It soon became clear that the basic of the album was blues, an interesting mix of electronic and swampblues. Therefore, I was looking for an intensive, authentic blues singer."
He found Joe Richardson (a white blues singer from New Orleans) via the Internet and started to work with him. He sent him some music to which Joe worked out some lyrics and then finally, they met in Texas.
Alan: "I think one of the most exciting moments was going over to Texas to record with Joe. He's such a fantastic musician anyway. He was able to give me even more than I expected because he's also a great guitarist and harmonica player and has a wonderful voice. We recorded in a very very special sort of semi-commercial studio, it's really open to only friends, really, with a guy who had massive of old vintage equipment. There were moments then when I thought: 'This is what Recoil is all about.' The mixture of musicians from completely different areas coming together to make something modern and new in an interesting way, you know. It was great."
After this recording session, Alan was looking for a second voice to bring in a balance to Joe's very distinctive voice. It took some time before he found Carla Tresvaskis.
Finally, the title was found - SubHuman, which led to some speculations whether it might be a "political" album.
Alan: "I do not have some great political message to bring to the world - the SubHuman concept is much more to do with human nature. The title is designed to be slightly provocative but not directed towards any specific group - it can also apply to racism and homophobia, class or politics and so on. It represents a repeating pattern of human behaviour where subordination occurs in a seemingly endless cycle, often with tragic consequences, and where people are rendered as worthless. The artwork design came from Jesse Holborn who came up with various ideas and I was attracted to the mannequins, shown in everyday situations to represent recyclable life-forms."
In 2007 Alan also collaborated in the re-releases of old DM albums. "I don't think that any other band member would have had the time or the interest to get involved with this project. I'm interested in everything that has to do with records, recordings or production. But the main reason why I was asked was: I had all the rare sounds." (laughs) "But the aim wasn't to produce radical new mixes of the old songs. I was involved only sporadically, just listened to the songs, saying 'yes', 'no', 'yes' ..."
He also provided some of his private film-material for the re-released documentary. While he didn't really like the commentaries (I can see why: they tend to brighten things up. They don't lie! They understate things in a way the band members wish they had happened) he enjoyed the short films nevertheless.
Dave: "It's something we started years and years ago, like twenty years ago. It's kind of interesting because you get to give your music that you've finished to somebody else to mess around with and put their own input into it. Yeah, it's something we've always done. It's become a part of what we do."
Speaking of Dave - on 8 October he released his solo-single Kingdom / Tomorrow, followed by the album Hourglass on 22 October.
Again, he had worked together with Andrew Phillpott, who belongs to the DM-Team, and Christian Eigner, the live-drummer of the band.
The album was some kind of "accident" or "occupational therapy" because after the end of Touring the Angel Dave didn't know what to do with so much free time. "I went home and tried to get back in the swing of things. It's always quite difficult after a tour - you're kind of waiting for somebody to put a note under your door with what it is you've got to do that day." (laughs) "You create new obsessions, like how to load the dishwasher correctly and stuff like that. All the big fights with my wife start with the dishwasher. It shows you how it's supposed to be loaded: knives and forks go pointed-end downwards. You get more in if you put everything where it's supposed to go. If Jen goes out of the room and I get the chance before it goes on, I will fiddle with it. It's like you get locked into this type of personality that functions pretty well in the performance mode, but is not what you want to take home. It's like, 'I want it all, I want it now, I'm going to take it whenever I want it, and I don't really care what you think about it.'" He also admitted that he, "still can be the kind of person that's like, 'F*** it! You know what? This ain't working, it's over.' I jump straight to that rather than, 'Let's talk about this.' It's very childish. My wife often says to me, 'God, you're like Jimmy! You're acting like a teenager!' And I'll stomp around the room saying, 'So what?!' But it doesn't work."
After he had annoyed his family for about a month, as he said, "it was suggested to me to do some work, so I called up Christian and Andrew and we planned to get together and do some writing."
The first song they worked on was Saw Something.
Dave: "The lyrics are about sitting, waiting for something to come - protection of some kind, or some kind of answer. What I've come to learn is that you've got to go find it, take some action. I prefer to sit and wait, but it just doesn't work. It sounds kind weird, but I do believe in that sort of divine intervention, if you allow it. If you allow life to happen, not try to push it in the direction you think it's supposed to go in - which is what I spend a lot of time doing - then really amazing things happen, things that you didn't expect. But you've got to take some action."
Otherwise there wasn't any concept at first. "When we started, we had a few musical ideas, but nothing song-like in any way. We really wrote as we went along. After two weeks, we looked around and realized we weren't just demoing, so we thought, 'Why don't we just make a record?' We decided to produce it ourselves, which was a lot more work than we thought. But it turned out to be a great learning experience." Nevertheless, they finished the recording process in a speedy eight weeks.
And not Saw Something became the first single but Kingdom.
Dave: "It's this idea that there's a better place, and it's not up there in the clouds, it's right here. And it's about becoming more accepting of life and the way it is. I would be lying if I said the world didn't affect me. I have children and I want to protect them; and sometimes I don't really have the ability to do that."
After Paper Monsters had been a very personal album one could suspect that Hourglass also contains autobiographical elements.
Dave: "I'm becoming more accepting of the fact that I'm getting a little older. It always seems to be a theme in my life that I'm racing against time. I'm a 25-year-old in a 45-year-old man's body. I wrote about those themes more, like, this is who I am and these are my frustrations. My inspiration comes from the life that I have around me - you know, being part of a family and desperately trying to do better at that" (laughs) "and falling flat on my face most of the time. And New York is a great place to feel inspired all the time. I quite often spend time walking around being among people here. My little studio is on one of the busiest streets in the city so you get the flavour of New York all day and all night long: On the track called Endless, you can hear the street in the background. At one point you'll hear the 'woop' of a cop car. But we just left it."
So maybe he used it as some kind of therapy?
Dave: "Well, I'm not in therapy - I actually now have a run-of-the-mill psychiatrist. I've moved away from the 'be gentle with yourself' kind to, like, getting down to the nitty-gritty. I actually find it a lot more ordered. With a psychiatrist, it's more like, 'So, what do you think that means, David?' That kind of stuff. 'I don't know, I'm paying you to tell me what it f***ing means!'"
On 14 January 2008 the single Saw Something / Deeper And Deeper / Love Will Leave was released. Dave decided not to tour because on 5 May, DM started to record SOTU.
In spring 2008 DM began to record Sounds of the Universe.
Again, they recorded in three different cities - Santa Barbara, New York and London. Again, they worked with Ben Hillier as a producer - "We thought that it worked very well with Playing the Angel, and we were very comfortable with him," Fletch said - and again Martin and Dave shared the songwriting. Once more, they had a "nice friendly atmosphere" and a lot of fun in the studio. Again, these were the main topics in the media. After you had read one article about it, you didn't need to read another. (I nevertheless did it of course. ;))
Fletch: "Dave was in quite a strange position - it's rare for a frontman not to write lyrics, but now he's been writing songs for the last two albums and he feels more a part of it. I think generally Dave writing songs has really glued him a bit more to the group, and he's so much more confident and fulfilled. It's one of the main reasons the band is really gelling together. Dave's songwriting is improving all the time. You know, it's sometimes hard to actually distinguish between Dave's songs and Martin's songs."
Martin: "This time I did go about the whole song writing process in a totally different way. The actual writing process I did on a lap top. It's so much quicker. I think that was the reason why I wrote so many songs this time. I think I wrote 18 or 20 songs this time. With Dave's songs included I think we had 22 songs of which we recorded 18."
There were only a few new things that happened. One was that Martin stopped drinking - a topic you could find in almost every article in that time. Of course, it was at least more interesting than getting on well, although Martin had already given up drinking three years previously during Touring the Angel.
Dave: "He is a changed man. There's a different side of Martin that has always been there, but sometimes it gets clouded when the drinking and stuff becomes more important than anything else. I think it got to that phase on the last tour, and Martin was the one that stood up and said, 'You know what? I've got to stop this.'"
Martin: "It was just a decision I made. I didn't go to AA or any of that stuff. I've found that I've got plenty of things to do with my time. It was all part and parcel of being in a band. It's almost encouraged for you to be drunk almost all the time if you're in a band. People are disappointed if you're not! There's always someone somewhere who wants to give you something!" (laughs) "I think I am more spiritually connected now. More a part of the universe, no pun intended. I feel like I'm more in touch with my emotions. You have to be careful when you talk about spirituality and stopping drinking in the same breath. You start sounding a bit holier than thou. That's the last thing I want to do - come across as some new-age guru." (laughs)
Now Fletch is left over as the last one who sometimes likes to take a drink: "I've cut down but ..."
Dave: "He's under pressure."
Fletch (obviously doesn't like being under pressure): "These things are happening to make the atmosphere better. So it's got to be good."
The second new topic was that Martin swapped alcohol against buying old analogue synthesizers and other stuff on ebay. Although he bought the stuff under his real name only few people commented on it - and it didn't even make the round. Dave: "Literally every day something new would show up. Drum machines, synthesizers, sequencers. So there was some of the fun that there was in some of the early recordings in exploring a new piece of equipment and seeing what sound we could get out of it." But there was also "a lot of performance. Martin playing guitar, me singing, every day in the studio."
Fletch: "That was quite an inspiration. Generally, I think it's more of an electronic album. There is guitar on it, of course, but much more electronic than Playing The Angel."
They warded off the prejudice that this album was "retro". For Martin it was more a kind of "yesterday's future". "I started buying these old, vintage synthesisers, and the sounds they produced conjured up images of the universe and space travel. That's how we came up with the album title."
Later it became clear that the band - or at least Dave - wasn't happy with SOTU and the way it was recorded throughout.
Dave: "Sounds of the Universe was a bit too much production, too smooth, too much was going on. You can not force out good music. It is a delicate thing. So it is with Depeche Mode, albums come when they are supposed to. And they are not like they were planned to be." Nevertheless, "it was certainly more landscape-y, more filmic, and I think this was more of a combination of the two elements there. It's very driven, it's very out front, and it still has some of those kinds of dreamy qualities to it as well."
Maybe this was one of the reasons why they wouldn't play many of these songs live later. It was too difficult to transpose the complex studio versions into live versions.
After the new single had been represented at the Echo-Awards in Berlin on 21 February, the single Wrong / Oh Well finally was officially released on 6 April. There were several different versions of Wrong available, while there was just one different version of Oh Well available, the Black Light Odyssey Remix. The video for Wrong was directed and filmed by Patrick Daughters in December 2008. The actor in the video was Liars drummer Julian Gross. The video was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Short Form Video.
At a fairly early stage, the band had decided to release Wrong as the first single because it was quite different to anything they had released before. And it really stood out of the album tracks.
Fletch: "Wrong was the song of which we thought it would make a big impact. We thought it would be good to come back with a bang. The first single has to be challenging to the audience, something to makes them react."
They thought the same about the video. "Anton Corbijn normally does our videos, and we had an idea from Anton and we had ideas from for other people. One of them was Patrick Daughters. And Patrick's idea didn't include the band very much, and Anton's idea did include the band. And, y'know, I think on these days MTV doesn't play many videos anymore. So finally we decided for Patrick's idea because it we thought it had more effect on the audience. We don't like making videos anymore, so it was quite enjoyable."
Oh Well was the first track to be released which had been co-written by Martin and Dave.
Martin: "It wasn't a real co-write because I had originally written the song as an instrumental but Dave heard it and liked it and he took it back to his hotel room and wrote some words and a melody over the top. It wasn't like we sat in a room and wrote it together."
Unfortunately, some demos leaked out, and finally the whole mastered album. They took it as it came, and comforted themselves in the knowledge that the fans would buy it anyway. They were less happy about the leaked demos, as it seemed to them like showing someone an unfinished painting.
On 20 April the album Sounds of the Universe (SOTU) was released. A year later they received the award for Best International Group - Rock / Pop at the 2010-Echo-Awards in Germany for it.
The band, of course, tried to explain the album, said things like that they wanted it to sound as if they drove with a car in a tunnel by night and that this album was less "dark" than Playing the Angel. Again, they tried to point out that there was a lot of humour in their lyrics.
Martin: "There's always a lot of humour on our records but there's definitely more on this one. It's mainly dark humour but this time it's sometimes more obvious. In the song Little Soul there's a small musical break, and every time I hear that I laugh. I hope the listener will laugh when they hear this too. Well, I think Jezebel is a good name for an exotic booze. I imagine it would taste like a strong-smelling perfume. There must be a perfume called Jezebel."
Fletch: "You can't drink perfume!"
Martin: "Well, you can, but they take it away from you if you go to rehab."
Fletch: "It would be quite good for goth girls, wouldn't it?"
Martin: "Women are different now; they like wearing T-shirts with things like SLUT and WHORE and stuff. I'm sure a bottle of Jezebel would go down well."
While Martin changed the title Footprint to Little Soul and was worrying that Miles Away was a Madonna song title, and wanted Dave to change the title to Miles Away/The Truth Is, he wasn't worried about Jezebel. Of course it's a biblical figure, but nevertheless it's also a song title on Alan's album Liquid.
On the SOTU-box set they also released some old demo-tracks.
Fletch: "Initially it was my idea to put the demos on the box set. I was convinced that this was unique content that people would appreciate and that would make the purchase of this box set worthwhile. Martin didn't mind at all. He was fine with it. The main problem we encountered was to actually find the demos. Basically the 5 people that you'd think who would logically have the demos would be Alan, Daniel Miller, Dave, Martin and me. But as it ended up, Alan had them somewhere tucked away and couldn't find them directly and that was also the case with Daniel, Martin and Dave. I knew I had lots of demos but they were in storage so I dug them up. In the end I recouped about hundred demo songs - which also means that there are hundreds that we don't have anymore ... and that includes for instance the demo for Personal Jesus which seems to be lost forever."
He promised that they would release some more demos in the future. (They didn't when Delta Machine was released, but they had some problems with the various labels, and on the other hand, you don't know how many albums they will make in future.)
Then they prepared for the tour. There was no question of not touring the album, because especially for Dave this is the thing that makes sense for him. And of course they were aware that you sell a record by touring today.
Martin: "We've done a lot of touring for a so-called 'electronic band,' and we've proven that electronic music works in a live format and in a huge live format. In a way, what we're going to do now is a landmark like the Rose Bowl gig. We're going out to play our first stadium tour. There's not another electronic band that has gone out to play a stadium tour."
Although for them it's always a bit of a nightmare to pick a setlist, -
Fletch: "We're a democracy, so it's like the Eurovision Song Contest. We have to cast votes for our favourite tracks."
Dave: "We'll do some old stuff and some staples. And we'll have fun doing songs like Just Can't Get Enough. We can't ignore that. It would be like the Stones not doing (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction."
- in the end the setlist turned out like most previous setlists.
This caused lots of discussions on several message-boards about the question whether DM might have become too "Rolling Stones". In fact, DM had never played as many different songs on a tour as on this one, although all of the all-time classics like Personal Jesus, Enjoy the Silence and Never Let Me Down Again appeared. That the live versions aren't as varied as they used to be in former times is probably mainly a problem for the hardcore fanbase. People who sometimes listen to DM and have been to one concert on a tour probably wouldn't notice it. But it is noticeable that although the band had announced that they wanted to play as many songs from the new album as possible, they didn't play many from it in the end.
Martin: "When we're playing, you look in the front row and there's a lot of younger kids as well as the older audience. People are coming to hear the new record as well as songs we made 20 years ago. Obviously, we are the worst people to have any subjectivity on the matter, but we are really aware of our legacy and not repeating ourselves. The day we start making music and don't think we're achieving something - or stop enjoying it - we'll stop."
This led to the question whether this was the last album and the ultimate tour (as they had been asked before during the promotion for Playing the Angel).
Martin: "We've been together for 29 years and we've had ups and downs, but I think if Depeche Mode ended tomorrow we'd end on a positive note."
Fletch: "It's hard to think about your farewell gig and where it would be."
Martin: "It would have to be the Pyramids."
On 6 May the Tour of the Universe began in Esch-sur-Alzette in Luxembourg as a warm-up gig. The first real gig was played in Tel Aviv. They started the tour there because they were supposed to end Touring the Angel there "but unfortunately the Israel/Lebanon war got in the way of it," Martin said.
Fletch: "They've got different agendas. They like music, but missiles are just more important."
Martin: "Yes. We had to make the decision not to fly in and do the gig because there were missiles flying around and to make up for that we're starting this time in Tel Aviv."
It was astonishing to read in some comments in the internet that they were blamed for cancelling the gig in 2006. Some people thought it would have been a political statement to play there, no matter if there was a conflict going on or not. I think it's harsh to demand playing a gig in a crisis region. You not only endanger yourself and your crew members, you also endanger everyone in the audience.
DM has never been a political band. They did not even react to the attack on 11 September 2001, although they were on tour at the time. While other artists cancelled gigs, made a speech or asked for a minute's silence, DM did nothing. They simply played their gigs (11 September in Vienna and 12 September in Budapest) without saying or doing anything special. Some people thought it was a strange, even a cold reaction. But maybe it was the best reaction to show. If you don't have words for something, it's always the best to say nothing at all and carry on as usual, showing that the world still turns (from Insight, Ultra).
Some political statements were made from the recording of SOTU onwards, like supporting gay rights. But you couldn't get rid of the feeling that their way of not mentioning political issues, as they had done before, was the better one.
However, it seems that Tel Aviv and DM weren't a good combination, because with this gig some problems started.
Fletch: "Actually on the first gig of the tour in Israel, I had the first bit of bad news: My father died."
The gig in Athens had to be cancelled because Dave fell ill. It was said it was a severe bout of gastroenteritis. While in hospital, further medical tests revealed a low-grade malignant tumour in Dave's bladder.
Fletch: "Actually, Dave was very lucky because he had gastroenteritis and they found this tumor very early. It was low grade. It was just a question of zapping it out. I said to Dave to other day, 'I can't wait for your autobiography.' It's quite a story developing. Dave has really got a competitive spirit in him. If anything, he thrives on these sorts of things."
This information was released very late. Too late. Instead, an extremely bad new policy was in practice. While Dave had a surgery in New York, fans thought the concert in Poland might still take place. While he was recovering from surgery, fans thought other planned concerts might take place. A lot of rumours were floating around, it seemed to take ages before it was confirmed that the gigs were cancelled. The band apologized, saying that they hadn't known how things would continue. Sure, but if someone undergoes surgery, it's obvious that they won't be able to play a concert on that day, and that they will need some time to recover afterwards.
With the release of Exciter in 2001 the band had established a presence on the Internet. The Bong-magazine that had been used for information and interaction until then was stopped in the same year. Instead, they now had a website and a message-board. And while they had shown some interest in this new way of communication, it was now diminishing increasingly. Around the time of SOTU the band remarked that their official forum was a "big moan" because people were complaining about a lot of things, and Dave even wondered whether the people posting there had a job at all.
And while other bands are using the Internet a lot, providing news, using Facebook and Twitter, and being interactive with their fans, DM's official website and Facebook site got less interesting over the course of time. They went retro, and they became much more retro with the next album, Delta Machine, at least as far as their way of communicating was concerned.
The tour was re-started in Leipzig on 8 June, comprising 18 concerts in Europe, until 9 July, when another concert had to be cancelled because Dave injured his leg.
In the meantime, on 15 June, the single Peace was released. The single version of the song has a completely different introduction than the album version. It charted at No. 57 in the UK charts; this is the band's second lowest UK singles chart position since Little 15. In Germany Peace reached No. 25. It was not commercially released in the U.S. The video was filmed in Romania by French duo Jonas & François. It featured the Romanian actress Maria Dinulescu and was the first video without any of the band members, but this was due to Dave's illness.
On 24 July the American leg started in Toronto, comprised 22 concerts, and ended on 5 September. In August, they had to cancel some concerts again, this time because of Dave's voice-problems.
He wasn't well at all, but this turned out much later.
Dave: "Physically, I had some problems. I got sick for a bit and I got through that. Then I had some other problems with my voice, which I think all has to do with the fact that I was struggling to try and get my body back together after being diagnosed with cancer, unfortunately, at the beginning of that tour. Every time we took a break, I went back to the hospital for some more treatment. It was the first tour I felt like: 'I can't do this anymore. This is fucking hard.'" Nevertheless, "I was very lucky. The cancer hadn't spread through the walls of my bladder so all the chemo was localised. It still made me sick but I didn't lose all my hair."
Despite all these problems, Martin did enjoy this tour, the first one he experienced sober completely. "It was difficult as we were on the road and that's always difficult to avoid drinking. I just got to a point where I knew if I carried on then I wouldn't be alive for much longer. I was drinking all day - literally getting up and drinking with breakfast. I'm just thankful some of the madness missed the age of smartphones. Back in the day when I was drinking and out of control I would have been all over YouTube." (laughs) "Just for the fun of it I'd just get naked in hotel bars. Can you imagine doing that now?" (Oh, I think lots of people would have enjoyed this. ;)) But this time "I'd really been lucid enough to take in everything and enjoy the concerts and then enjoy the cities the next day."
From 1 to 17 October they played 9 concerts in Central and South America, before the second European leg started on 31 October, which comprised 27 concerts and ended on 18 December
In the meantime, on 7 December, the single Fragile Tension / Hole to Feed was released. Both songs have been slightly edited and remixed for the single. Fragile Tension has some new instrumentation and clearer vocals, while Hole to Feed has been re-arranged and some sections have been removed. The video for Hole to Feed was directed by Eric Wareheim. The Fragile Tension video was directed by Rob Chandler and Barney Steel.
The last leg of the tour - another European one - started on 9 January 2010 in Berlin, comprised 24 concerts and ended on 27 February in Dusseldorf. Luckily on this leg there weren't any incidents.
The concert on 17 February was a very special one. It was the first time in their career that DM did something they had never wanted to do: they played a charity concert.
Martin: It's "something we should have done long time before. A friend of us is part of the Teenage Cancer Trust and asked us to join in."
I don't know if they should have done this before. They never wanted to be one of those bands who "push their career with charity." Many fans liked DM because of their being consistent, and different to mainstream bands. Although the good cause was appreciated, the new opinion of the band about charity nevertheless caused some discussion among the fans. (It became even more charity with the next release, Delta Machine.)
However, everything was special about this concert. It took place in the Royal Albert Hall (funny when you think about what especially Dave thinks about British symbols - nothing good) in London, and they had a special guest.
Martin: "We asked Alan to join us on stage. It's a long time ago that we saw him. I think it's nine years ago that I saw him the last time and we asked him to play one song with us tonight and he very kindly agreed."
Alan: "Well, I got a call from Dave and he just said: 'we would like to invite you to take part at this event, the Teenage Cancer Trust.' And my reaction was that I hoped, it was the whole band who wanted it not just Dave. So I asked him that question and he said, 'yes, definitively.' And so I didn't think twice about it because it's a great thing to do for many reasons, y'know, the good cause, getting together after such a long time ..."
So he joined Martin for Somebody on stage.
Alan: "To choose Somebody was quite natural. It was the song that makes sense for this. We wouldn't have much time to rehearse. Luckily it was all still there. It's still here in my veins."
It seems that the band and especially Alan enjoyed the show.
Alan: "The reaction of the crowd was a bit special, very heart warming, emotional, I got goosebumps ... it was a great day. It was not only that moment, it was seeing Martin and Fletch and Dave again. We had a good chat and it was good to see them again. I haven't seen Martin and Fletch for a long time, it was really interesting to catch up. And Martin was on very good form I thought, not just vocally but in himself. He seemed sharper, more focused and more open than I have ever known him. It's a little piece of history for us, y'know. Being on stage with Depeche since ... 1994 ... the end of the Songs of Faith and Devotion-Tour ... about 16 years."
That the reaction of the crowd was "a bit special" is the understatement of the century. People hadn't known before that Alan would be on stage, so the crowd almost "exploded" when they realised that he was playing the piano. They screamed, shouted, cried and were difficult to silence. Maybe it was the most emotional DM moment ever.
A few days later Alan had the opportunity to watch a DM concert for the first time in his life from the audience, something he had never wanted to do.
"At Royal Albert Hall I hadn't got the time and opportunity to watch the show properly. But tonight I got an impression of how it is to watch a Depeche Mode show. It was a very interesting and enjoyable experience. Y'know, I had feelings for every song because I know them all so well ... so ... y'know when you hear the versions they play now you remember the versions we used to do. I thought some of the versions were really good, and some I wasn't so keen on. I felt the same about the stage set, too - some things looked great, and some didn't work for me. The sound balance was poor unfortunately, but neither that nor the staging could be blamed on the band. Their own performance was impressive. Dave was on good form and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Martin's song Home sounded especially good. The after-show was fun and I was able to catch up with all kinds of people I hadn't seen for a long time. I missed Dave however as he always disappears as soon as he leaves the stage. They talked about "mainly usual things that you chat about with people, you know, families, what their habits are these days, do they still drink as much as they used to do, how is the partying situation on tour ... I mean, things have actually changed quite a lot with Depeche Mode since I was in the band. Martin doesn't drink anymore, Dave goes home after every show so he doesn't go out anymore. We used to go to big parties after every concert. So, it must be a very different thing for them to be on the road these days. But in their personal lives things have changed a lot, I think. I was very impressed with Martin because he has been sober for four years and he is like a new person, someone I almost didn't recognize."
Dave left the venue right after the concert and didn't talk much to Alan but nevertheless, he appreciated Alan's input.
"I think Playing The Angel was great but Alan always brought something extra to Martin's songs. We email each other and when he joined us on stage for the Teenage Cancer Trust concert at the Royal Albert Hall in 2010, it was awesome. When Alan left we missed him and it became apparent on the next couple of albums for sure."
This is a good reason to do some surveys about how much Alan is still present to the fans. The result of a survey in a big message board was that 69% want him back as a band member, and 20% at least as a producer. The survey of depechemodebiographie.de had similar results. For 71% he "still belongs to the band somehow" (at least as a legend), and for 21% he is even still a part of the band today, "because he was part of them at their highest point and had a big influence on their music and success." For the minority, however, he is the "most nerve-racking discussion whenever it comes to DM."
The appearance at the Royal Albert Hall and the promotion for his own tour took place almost at the same time, so one could come to the conclusion one fan had: "It's amazing that it is mostly Alan, who is using the history of DM for his own project."
Alan had a difficult time after the release of SubHuman in 2007. "I separated from my wife and now have a lovely new partner, Britt. It has been a difficult two years. I share custody of my children so you have to plan 6 months ahead in your diary, who is going to have them when etc, and I have to fit the music somewhere in the gaps. That has made working on a new album almost impossible, although I have made a start on new material but it's a long way off being near to completion."
Instead, he started the Selected-Tour on 12 March. The first leg comprised 24 events, mainly in Europe, and ended on 18 May. The idea to tour Recoil evolved when Alan decided to undertake some promo visits. But he didn't want to keep making personal appearances to sign CDs and shake hands. "I just couldn't do the same thing over again - I needed to do something more, so it evolved from that." So he decided to do a kind of audio/visual presentation, a mixture of DJing and playing live, while showing special films.
On 19 April Selected was released, a kind of Best Of Recoil.
Alan: "Mute Records approached me with an idea for a compilation and it was initially just going to be a quick 'best of' selection. But we then started to discuss releasing it on multiple formats and performing it live so the project got bigger and bigger. I had to decide which were my favourite tracks and which ones worked together. I really wanted to avoid a mish-mash which most compilations are. So this involved going through a lot of the old master tapes to pick out the best versions and even 'baking' some of the tapes in an oven to prepare them for digital mastering. The weird thing about this baking process is that I found a lot of these older tape versions sounded better than the digital masters I originally walked out of the studio with. So hopefully the tracks on the compilation sound better than the versions of the original albums!"
Nevertheless, the most requently-asked question, of course, was whether there might be a reunion with DM. Alan got tired of it quite soon. It started with a friendly "I doubt you'll see me in the Depeche Mode line-up in the near future. They haven't asked me being their producer. It would certainly be weird", went on to "Well, we've not discussed anything like that so there aren't any plans. But you never know", then to "It's just boring - it's the question I get asked more than any other" and ended up in saying nothing at all when the question was put forward again.
The second leg of the Selected-Tour started on 16 October. This time it was more concentrated on the U.S. and South America, but there were also some more events in Europe afterwards. The tour ended on 4 December in Budapest.
The reunion rumour was fed with Martin DJing at the event in Santa Ana on 24 October, and Dave appearing as a guest at the event in New York on 1 November.
The discussions about whether Alan might re-join DM again or at least might produce their new album eased off when it became clear that DM would produce Delta Machine with Ben Hillier again. But it never really stopped.
The reasons why Alan had left the band were brought up again - each time a different one - and were used to substantiate the different opinions as to whether Alan might or might not re-join the band.
Even if you left out all his other reasons - family, his own projects, not wanting to be in a band anymore - the "driving force" in his leaving the band after Devotional, the bad team-spirit, would be the main reason for not re-joining. Why should something that didn't work anymore 20 years ago suddenly work again? Because everyone had grown older, become wiser? I don't think so. In fact, the working methods of DM and Alan have become more different over the years than ever before. They would find the same situation again, with Alan focused on studio work (maybe more than ever, remember what he said about recording Liquid), while the others aren't really interested or meanwhile have become interested, but nevertheless use different working methods. Martin has started to develop a fondness for studio work. "I love being in the studio. If I'm at home, I will go to the studio pretty much every day anyway. It's just something that I like to do." I don't think this new passion would work with Alan's passion for studio work.
The former musical heads, Alan and Martin, have developed in different musical directions over the course of time. They are farther away from each other in their musical interests than ever before. Listening to SubHuman and then to Delta Machine is all you need to do to know how these two see "electronic with Blues elements."
Although some people think that the most interesting thing about DM was the combination of these two extremes, that it was this "that made it work" as some people say, I doubt that they are really interested in trying it again. Maybe both sides thought about it at one point or another, especially after Alan's appearance at the Royal Albert Hall (and insiders say not all rumours about a reunion were baseless), but it's hard to say if it was a heart's desire.
And what would happen to Dave and his new role as a songwriter? Maybe he would be the one who would benefit most from working together with Alan. On the other hand, it's probably much too late. It would have been interesting to know what would have happened if Dave had played his early demos to Alan, and had asked him if they could work them out together. Maybe the whole story of DM would have taken a completely new direction. But he didn't, and found his own formulas to write songs now. Although he is open to collaboration and to new ways, it might be difficult for him to work with an over-accurate musician like Alan, especially because he says several times during the recording of Delta Machine that he would prefer not to overproduce, but rather to make things simpler and more direct. That wouldn't suit Alan's working methods at all.
The only one who probably wouldn't care at all is the one who is mostly accused of being against a reunion - Fletch. The only reason I can think of why he should be against it is that he might fear new tensions.
Another point that hasn't changed at all is the communication. They didn't talk to each other in the old days, and they still don't. Sometimes you find some friendly remarks about Alan from Dave, and even from Fletch and Martin, or about the band members from Alan, but there aren't any signs that they sat down at a certain point and really talked WITH each other.
In 2010 Mute became independent again, but DM stayed signed to and marketed worldwide by EMI Music. In 2011 this contract ended with the release of Remixes 2: 81-11. Alan and Vince were both involved in Remixes 2: 81-11, which was released on 6 June 2011.
Martin: "Toward the end of the last tour I asked Alan if he would come onstage at London's Royal Albert Hall and he agreed." (This is an interesting new perspective because until then everyone said that Dave phoned Alan and asked him to join.) "Then he came on tour in America. It seemed natural to ask him" to collaborate at the Remix-album. "With Vince, I got an e-mail from him out of the blue about nine months ago saying, 'I'm thinking of making a techno album. Are you interested in collaborating?' That's finished now, but we need to mix it. It was natural to ask him to do a remix as well."
So Vince remixed Behind the Wheel, and Alan remixed In Chains.
Alan: "It was the Depeche Mode manager Jonathan Kessler who suggested it. It had been suggested a long time before that, by the guys at Mute organizing the whole remix album. They asked me if I would be interested and I said quite possibly." (Hasn't Martin just said that he asked Alan to contribute? Hm, maybe it was Martin's wish, but he told Dave to phone and Kessler to ask. ;))"They never came back to me. I thought: 'oh well that's not going to happen.' I wasn't bothered by that at all and then I was speaking to Jonathan about something else, I think it was about Martin DJing at one of the Recoil nights and the idea was put to me again. By then they needed it within something like two weeks, and this was just before we were going back on the road again. I wish they would have given me more time, we'd booked a holiday in the south of France and I ended up spending the whole holiday encamped in a room doing the remix instead of being out in the beautiful sunshine drinking wine. Jonathan told me the band would prefer that I did something new, from the era after which I left the band, and I thought it was a good challenge to do that. I hope they like it, they said they do. Martin seemed to be really keen on it, which was nice of him. I think the others like it too; don't know about Fletch - he didn't say anything. I think it is a more dynamic version of what they had."
Some fans speculated whether this remix had been some kind of a "test" to see if Alan suited the current line-up. It's possible, if there really were some considerations about a reunion.
But again - it seems that the band and Alan didn't talk to each other about this remix. "Martin seemed to be really keen on it", "I think the others like it too" says all you need to know about their communication. And if you think that Dave and Alan write to each other very often, you are wrong. Dave sometimes says he e-mails Alan (although there are other interviews in which he says he doesn't like computers and just texts a bit sometimes) but Alan says Dave writes about twice a year. This is not what you could call a "lively conversation".
Unfortunately, things still didn't go well for Alan. "Times are tight for everyone these days, and divorce plus lack of any finance for making records means I need to do some belt-tightening. The record business has been in crisis for some time now."
This even endangered the planned DVD-release (Selected). "We recorded and filmed the last European show from 2010, in Budapest, and we're at rough edit stage. Personally, I think it looks stunning, but we still have quite a lot of work to do on it. It doesn't seem like my record company is interested in it though. So far it's been completely self-financed, and I will find a way to release it myself."
Alan finally decided to sell parts of his large DM collection. The auction was held on 3 September 2011 in Manchester, and was a rather bittersweet event for many fans. And if there ever had been considerations about a reunion, it seems that Alan spoilt things with this auction. According to rumours, the band was upset because he sold keyboards still programmed with original samples.
However, in some ways it seems as if Alan burnt some of his bridges in connection with DM and his former life. There was a re-launch of his website in 2012 (almost all sections about DM are gone now), and in 2013 he even sold his house and his studio. It's exciting to wait and see what will happen next. Maybe there will a reunion some day, maybe he will surprise the fans with something completely different.
Meanwhile Dave recovered. "For a while there I almost turned to my manager and said 'I'm not coming back.' I spent a lot of time with my wife and kids. It was beautiful in New York, the blossom was on the trees, everything seemed a little brighter. It was similar to the feeling of waking up after a week or two in rehab. You notice s***. I was noticing a lot of stuff that I liked in my life and I was afraid to leave it in case I didn't get the chance to come back to it. That lasted a couple of weeks, then I really wanted to get back on the road." He laughs.
He didn't go directly back on the road but got involved in a record project that would have some kind of influence on the 13th album of DM - Delta Machine.
In 2011 and 2012 Martin and Dave were busy with some solo projects. The band just recorded the cover version of So Cruel, which was released on a tribute album to U2 in 2011.
Martin was the vocalist of the song Man Made Machine by the band Motor and he collaborated with Vince; the project's name was simply VCMG. The EP1 Spock was released on 9 December 2011, the EP2 Blip on 27 February 2012, the album Ssss on 13 March, and finally the EP3 Aftermath was released on 20 August. It is an instrumental techno-like record.
The collaboration started when Vince thought about making "some kind of a techno album", although he had "never taken an interest in techno music at all but I was just completely blown away by the way the people were using synthesisers." So he thought, "'Well, I never worked with Martin, really,' and I knew he was interested in synths. It felt like a good email to send. After drinking six beers, I composed an email. I think he was genuinely surprised to hear from me."
Martin was surprised indeed. "I didn't even know Vince had my email address. It's funny because he tweets all the time and everyone thinks he's really, really talkative and really, you know - he's not. And I just got a really short email that said, 'Thinking of making a techno album. Interested in collaborating? Vince.'"
Dave: "After 25 years, you know, you expect a little more, but ..."
Martin: "So I felt, I mean, I like techno. It might be quite an interesting thing to do. So I said, 'Yes. Martin.'" (Sometimes communication can be so easy ...)
He had some downtime at the time, so he decided to collaborate. They didn't work together physically but worked via the Internet.
Martin: "I started by taking out bits I didn't particularly like that he sent me, adding bits to it and sending it back to him, then he'd take out bits that he didn't like that I'd put in and send it back to me. There were usually three or four versions of the track before we were both happy. And after a while I started coming up with ideas that I would send to him as well. One of the reasons I had fun doing this project is that I wanted to make a 'dancy' album: I think the electronic scene is really alive, and today many young people can create dance music on a budget."
They seldom met personally, and if they did, they didn't talk about the record.
Martin: "We met at the Mute festival last May [Short Circuit at the Roundhouse, London], and we didn't really talk about it then. We just talked about our kids."
Dave: "I think making Ssss together helped Martin. It certainly cleared up a lot of weird old resentments that they had."
Dave had the opportunity to meet Vince again, too. "We were all in a room together, and Vince was checking out all Mart's modular synthesizers and I was sitting back and watching them. I said, 'Nothing's really changed.' We shared all the same jokes and he came out to dinner with us. Vince and I walked and talked. We walked 15 blocks chatting. I hadn't talked to Vince for 25 years."
After Dave had recovered from Touring the Universe he was asked to collaborate in a project of the band Soulsavers. It consists of two people: Rich Machin and Ian Glover. Dave got to know them through bassist Martyn LeNoble, a friend of his, and became friendly with them when Soulsavers opened for DM during TOTU.
Dave: "Martyn LeNoble was doing some session work with them in a studio in LA, and I just happened to call him up for a chat on that day, and it happened that he was in the studio with them. Rich was in the background and yelled out 'you should take us on tour!' I said to Martyn 'Is he serious? Does he really want to go on the road with Depeche Mode?', because, you know, it'd be a little bit difficult opening for Depeche Mode. You never know which way it's going to go: whether you're going to get rocks thrown at you, or something else, I don't know. It's a difficult opener, but he was totally into it, and so we took them on tour."
On tour he talked a lot with Rich Marchin, also about songwriting. "He said, 'Can I send you some ideas, maybe, and see if we have something going on ...' I didn't think anything would come of it, but he did indeed send me something and I immediately felt inspired by it."
And he started working on this project although "I had no intention of doing anything, really, after that tour - The Sounds of the Universe Tour. I had medical issues and stuff like that. I was taking care of myself, and I talked to my wife about it. I really wanted to take care of myself and spend time with the family, but Rich started sending me these lines, and I started writing too. It felt very natural, and I started sending things back to him. I would complete an idea, work out some melodies ... the words sort of played off what Rich was giving me, and I'd go into the studio with a friend of mine, and we'd lay down some vocals and send them off to Rich. Basically, Rich would then start to build the instrumentation around what I was doing. He'd send something back and I'd be, like, 'Oh, wow'. I Can't Stay was one of the first things I worked on. These songs really kind of wrote themselves. I can't describe it in any better way."
The album The Light the Dead See was recorded at studios in London, New York, Los Angeles, Berlin and Sydney and was released on 21 May. Dave wrote all lyrics and was the leading vocalist.
Probably for the first time, many DM-fans bought an album of the Soulsavers. It was quite successful, peaked No. 69 of UK album charts, No. 28 of US Top Heatseekers Albums Chart and No. 12 in Germany. The latter shows that Germany is still one of the most important markets for DM.
The first single taken from the album Longest Day was released as digital download on 2 April. The second single Take Me Back Home was released as digital download on 20 August.
Dave: "It was definitely a very new experience for me. I know some of the songs will come across as quite dark and moody, but it was the most uplifting experience I've ever had making a record."
It wasn't only a new experience for him, he also became inspired for the songs he wrote for DM's next record. Delta Machine and The Light the Dead See aren't similar, but there's an influence, nevertheless.
Dave: "The title The Light the Dead See works so well because sometimes when you're still and not trying to steer things in a certain way is really when the magic can happen."
The project also had an influence on his way of singing. "I think some of that stuff comes from the way I used my voice. I go to a very visual place when I'm singing. It's very cinematic and I get this feeling of space. I love when music does that."
His way of singing, that had changed from Playing the Angel to SOTU, caused a lot of discussion among the fans. Some people didn't like that he almost over-emphasised the syllables, and tried to vary his voice a lot. On The Light the Dead See he sang differently again, and he carried this style over to Delta Machine.
Because of the new DM album Dave didn't tour with the Soulsavers. However, the band played an invitation-only "secret show" at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles on 21 July.
In May Dave said, "We have begun to record the album [Delta Machine] I have written 6-7 songs," - he was working with Kurt Uenala -, "Martin has 13 or 14, we play into all, and we'll see what we include on the album. I think three or four of my songs going with, so it gets the more than before. The album seems to have a strong sense of the blues. Not as Violator and Songs of Faith and Devotion, but definitely more blues, and more direct. We will take good care not to overproduce this time. Too many sounds are not necessary. If the melodies are good, they do not need more. I push all the time, much to the annoyance of the other guys sometimes, to keep things as raw as possible. They get a little bit afraid of that, in case we're all gonna get judged. Yes, you are going to get judged, but I'd rather get really s*** reviews than mediocre reviews. I'd rather hear people saying 'what the f***'s going on with the band?' than just 'yeah, hmmm, it's an okay record'."
But exactly this would happen when Delta Machine was released. Many fans liked the album a lot, saying it's the best since SOFAD (or since Ultra), many said it's an okay record, and only a few asked what the f*** is going on with the band. It is noticeable that many of the critical fans had lost interest long before the release, and didn't say anything at all about Delta Machine. Sometimes this says a lot. It seems that the band lost some fans along the way, but it hasn't done them any harm. Delta Machine and the tickets for the upcoming tour sold well.
The band met in January 2012 to listen to demos, and started recording Delta Machine in March in Santa Barbara. This time they only worked in Santa Barbara and New York, but they worked with Ben Hillier again.
The original plan was that Martin was going to co-produce the album.
Dave: "Well, the truth is when we first did get together, like, this last January, we went to Martin's place and, you know, listened to the songs. You know, I came, did a few demos and Martin did these demos and we'd just kind of sit and we'd listen. And Martin's demos were so well produced. And we didn't want to mess with that too much. So once we decided that we wanted to get Ben Hillier involved again, it seemed logical."
Fletch: "I think it's better than the last album. I think there's a lot more energy on this album. Amazingly we actually finished ahead of schedule, which we'd never done in our careers so that was incredible as well. That tells you it must be a good album if you finish early!"
There were some things different in comparison with previous albums. So Martin re-worked Dave's demos before starting the recording session probably to give all the demos a sense of consistency in terms of sound and direction. It was really difficult later to guess who had written which song.
And they had a kind of second producer with Christoffer Berg.
Dave: "He's a great musician and has a lot of fantastic ideas. He's not afraid to stand up and say, 'I got an idea.' I like that. It's quite intimidating working with a band like ours because you have certain expectations of how it is. A lot are true and some aren't. Martin and I are open to other people's ideas."
They also had "a guy called Ferg [Peterkin] who's the engineer," Fletch added. About Christoffer Berg he said that "he makes his own music and he's a real genius and a lot younger than us so he brings some young energy in. He was excellent."
The band members don't spend much time with each other when they are not in the studio or on tour together - or at least Dave doesn't meet Martin and Fletch very often - so, it always takes a while to get on with each other after a break.
Dave: "Coming into the studio with Depeche for the first time in a while is just a different process. We have a lot of time and there are lots of people helping - programmers, engineers and so forth. That said, to still be doing this after 30-odd years means we've certainly come to a new place with all that. It's all gravy now. We're probably not finished til the end of the year, and we're talking about touring next year. But right now it's like a science lab here. We're working in two rooms at the moment, just full of electronics and guitars and everybody's getting very creative."
But, as we've seen before, they completed recording ahead of schedule. This time another problem had to be dealt with. It was the first time in their career that they didn't have a label.
Dave: "What happened was around the time of Exciter, Daniel, with our blessing, signed Mute to EMI. And he gave over a lot of control to them. He retained complete artistic control, but right before we were set to record Delta Machine, there were rumours about EMI folding. We didn't want to be stuck in limbo and have this thing stuck in the courts, because you hear about this stuff happening. Now Daniel still owns Mute Artists, but not Mute Records, which he tried to buy back after he sold it, without success. He got outbid and was very upset, which I only found out recently. He wanted to take it all back, but we basically told him, 'Dan, we've got to move on.' Sony came up with the best offer to make sure Daniel is still around for us, and to make sure we were able to gain control of what we're doing. Most importantly, in 2015, we'll be able to get control of our entire catalogue. We'll own it. After Delta Machine, we'll be in real control."
It meant that they released a record without the famous Bong label. This was especially disappointing for collectors, but it seemed to be the best deal for them, because they were still aware of keeping some independence. They took on all the costs for the production themselves, because they didn't want to be tied to a record company. So the deal with Sony is obviously a kind of logistic deal rather than a real record deal.
There were plans to collaborate with other musicians but it didn't work.
Dave: "Our producer Ben Hillier interviewed all sorts of musicians to work on this record, and they all said, 'Oh yeah, we know electronics.' But what they meant was that they knew how to program software and things on the computer. They didn't know really how to use the massive modular hardware systems - ARP gear and all that."
So there weren't many other people involved. And, of course, they got on well again.
Dave: "There was definitely a time in my life where I was like, 'You've got to be bigger, faster, stronger, better'. Over the years, this being our 13th studio album ... working on this record somehow felt like a new thing. Martin and I were really on the same page what we were doing writing-wise, and we just really came together, so it was a really enjoyable experience to do."
On the other hand it seemed that he wasn't patient enough. "Making a record with Depeche Mode is not a simple process. It's quite complicated and long. We have the luxury of time. I'm not sure that's such a good thing when you're being creative. I kind of like that process of working a little faster in the studio. It gets boring for me. They are in their laboratory surrounded by all these twiddly things with all these things that make bleeps and noises and I sit there, like, 'Can I sing now? Can I sing now? Can I sing now?' We're not a band band. We're not The Rolling Stones, jamming together in the studio. Things are very constructed between Martin and me. Fletch has ideas and input; he's the one who'll say, 'What are you doing? You've been working on this for three days, it's rubbish!' But he's not conceptual. He's the mediator. He's the luke-warm water between fire and ice." (laughs). "He'll do his crossword, and as long as he gets to lunch by one o'clock, he's fine."
Martin: "I think this album was one of the easiest to make."
You remember the last time he said that a record was easy to make, in fact it was very difficult, but I don't think that this time we will hear unpleasant stories afterwards.
When it came to the mixing process, an old acquaintance appeared.
Dave: "It was good on this record to kind of have Flood back on board and have Flood mixing the record. That technology was good there, because Martin and I would get on Skype with him and he'd be in London mixing while we were in New York still recording. That's the only way we'd communicated with him! We did not spend any time in the studio with him. I think this record as well is the end of a trilogy of records that we're doing with Ben Hillier."
As has been previously referred to - fans tend to attach too much importance to the role of the (former co-)producers, especially to the role of Flood. Hearing that he was to mix the record, some people had very high expectations. But mixing a record doesn't mean producing a record, and producing a record doesn't automatically mean having a huge musical influence.
As the first single of Delta Machine, Heaven / All That's Mine was released. It was the 50th single of the band. It was released digitally in most territories on 31 January, and physically the following day. In the UK it was released digitally on 17 March and physically the following day.
The video for Heaven was directed by Timothy Saccenti and filmed at The Marigny Opera House, a former Catholic church in New Orleans in November 2012.
The chart performance was low in the average, but it was No. 1 of the US Hot Dance Club Songs and in Hungary and No. 2 in Germany.
Heaven was a courageous choice because it is a quite slow and moody song, nothing you could call a hit-single.
Fletch: "It flopped a bit because of the sound. We're old timers. We thought radio might play a slower track. Turns out, they won't."
Martin: "Funnily enough, Heaven, the lead single, is not very representative for the rest of the sound. So for a lot of" the songs on the album "I would start off with like, you know, like a bass line and then create some drums and some effects with the modulars and start from there, really, and then just start singing along. That's what I do. I'm sorry. And when I sing along, I don't sing along like, you know, little pretend words. When I sing, then sort of words just come out. It starts with words. A lot of people do that, you know, like, singing, you know, strange languages or whatever. But I always just start singing."
Dave: "To be honest, we were all gung-ho on the track Angel, which is a little more aggressive and a little more typical of what you'd expect from a first record." But he thinks that, "Heaven is one of the best songs Martin's written in many, many years, for many reasons. It's just one of those songs that makes me want to continue making music, long story short. As soon as I heard it, I was excited to sing it. Martin and I felt Heaven represented the record in lots of ways, which is why we wanted to put it out first. It's not like we felt it was going to be a big hit or something, but that doesn't really drive us to make music. We all like to have hits, it's nice to have hits, of course, but after making 13 records together, it's not what drives you. What drives you is to make a great record. That's what still drives me. Certain songs propel that. Heaven is one of those songs. When Martin played the demo for me, I was in. It's gospel-y bluesy, it's right up my street. Songs like that speak to me."
On 22 March the album Delta Machine was released. It was labelled to Columbia Records and Mute Records in the U.S. and to Sony Music in the rest of the world.
The album debuted at No. 2 on the UK Albums Chart, selling 28,450 copies in its first week. In the U.S. the album entered the Billboard 200 at No. 6 with 52,000 copies sold in its opening week. And it debuted at No. 1 on the German Albums Chart with first-week sales of 142,000 units.
"Delta" stands for the blues elements and "Machine" stands for the electronic elements of the album. The title immediately caused some irritations in the message-boards because some people started to use the short cut "DM" for "Delta Machine". Unfortunately, this has been the short cut for "Depeche Mode" for 30 years.
Dave: "We had a few permutations of the title, like 'something' Machine and Delta 'something' before Martin said, 'Delta Machine?' But I wouldn't dare say this is a blues record as Fletch has said a couple of times. That's insulting, to blues musicians, on so many levels. Well, OK, we have influences coming from the blues. And Depeche Mode is fundamentally us whining, searching for something, moaning our way through life." (laughs)
As usually they didn't tell much about the single songs of the album.
Dave: "Broken is uptempo, but lyrically it's dark. The lyrics of Broken are probably based on a friend who's been struggling for a while with his own demons. I see myself in him, and you can't make somebody change. All I can say is that Delta Machine is a truthful record. This is who we are, and this is what Martin and I can conjure up together. If I had my way, and it might not be the right way, we'd probably do things a lot looser. Martin is a great guitar player, but he likes to work with electronics, and I have to support that."
Martin (about My Little Universe: "Funnily enough, I think that out of all of my songs on the album, that's the one that changed dramatically. You know, for ages we were thinking that it wasn't going to go on the album because it somehow didn't quite fit. It was too fiddly. There were, you know, chord changes in it that it didn't need. So, you know, we stripped it right back. And I think our programmer, Christoffer Berg, should take a lot of credit for that. You know, he was the one who kind of started stripping it back and started it on that path."
About Should be Higher Dave explains that, "it's reflecting on my interest quite often initially in something that is not necessarily real." (laughs.) "And can quite often get me in trouble. But I'm still quite often attracted to this, the other side of things I think influence the optimistic side of my head. But sometimes I do find that the line is basically, saying initially how you might, something seems more exciting that could be quite dangerous for you. But the truth takes longer to achieve. But it ultimately is more rewarding. Cause the line that follows that line is: you should be higher. I'll take you higher. And I'm referring to something that I feel quite often in life, which is life itself - which is just a beautiful thing. But you have to work a little harder to be part of it. And I also follow those lines with the line: Love is all I want."
A little surprise was the song Slow.
Fletch: "That, believe it or not, was a song that was written for Songs of Faith and Devotion and for some bizarre reason never got recorded. Martin was going through his demos and came across it and said, 'Actually, this is quite good', so he did a new demo and it's a great song."
Dave: "As soon as I heard it, I said to Martin, 'That's an old song'. And he said, 'Yeah, I needed to reinterpret it.' He'd kind of reworked it. When Martin was demoing before, I seem to remember sitting in a meeting when we listened to the demos, and Alan kind of not getting it, just kind of ... well, out of songs that we were going to record it just wasn't chosen at that particular time. So I guess Martin put it away, and it fits really well with everything we're doing now."
Slow caused a little discussion among the fans. One group thought it would have suited SOFAD well, the other group thought that there must have been a good reason why it wasn't chosen at that time. "Alan kind of not getting it" is probably a diplomatic way to say that he didn't like it, that he saw it as too "lightweight" (one of his favourite descriptions to say that he doesn't like something), as too simple. And well, if you look at the lyrics of most SOFAD-songs and at the lyrics of Slow, which are quite simply about having sex in a slow, intensive way, you might get an idea why it was turned down. Lines like I don't need a race in my bed when speed's in my heart and speed's in my head instead or Slow, slow, slow as you can go that's how I like it (from Slow) cannot really compete with ambivalent lines like oh girl, lead me into your darkness when this world is trying its hardest to leave me unimpressed (from One Caress) or thoughtful lines like Is simplicity best or simply the easiest? The narrowest path is always the holiest (from Judas).
Nevertheless, a song like this can fit into a different context, which the band thought they had found with Delta Machine.
During the promotion for Delta Machine Martin said in an interview - being asked for his opinion about the general music business - that "somebody should shoot Simon Cowell", (an English A & R executive, television producer, entrepreneur, and television personality. He is known for his role as a talent judge on TV shows such as Pop Idol, The X Factor, Britain's Got Talent and American Idol), something that caused some trouble, at least when Cowell Twittered, "A ton of people have got shot this year, and people like weirdo Gore encourage this."
"That was great," Martin laughed. He didn't think that "a little flippant comment" would get such a response. "I think the majority of the world agreed with me." He grinned.
To be honest it was almost the only funny bit that I was able to find. The band members hadn't lost their sense of humour, but most interviews showed them as being serious and more mature. Also, almost all journalists brought up the same old stories again - at least Dave's overdose in 1996 was mentioned in almost every article. It's 17 years ago now, they should be over it. But you still find this angle - Dave almost died in 1996, then he suffered from cancer during TOTU and now he has written a song like Broken, so the lyrics MUST have a connection to all these experiences. When you are being asked about the bad things in your life all over again, it's definitely difficult to be anything but serious. I personally think you could have a funny chat with Dave (and nevertheless get something serious about the new album) if you just leave out the subjects of drugs and cancer.
The second single release was Soothe My Soul. It was physically released as CD single and CD maxi single in Germany, Austria and Switzerland on 10 May, worldwide on 13 May, in the U.S. on 14 May, and as 12" single worldwide on 10 June, in the U.S. on 11 June. CD single, CD maxi single and 12" single were labelled to Columbia Records. Only in Hungary it was a No. 1 hit.
The music video directed by Warren Fu was premiered on 28 March.
Of course, they planned to tour the album.
Dave: "This tour, we've got some ambitious plans. We're starting out pretty large in Europe, going to some big stadiums for a bunch of shows, and then we come back to the States and go into more reasonable sized venues, lots of arenas, and that brings us close to Christmas. We're already now planning another European leg and then definitely South America and possibly Asia. Then I think we're planning to come back to America, and some more festivals in Europe in the summer of 2014."
As usual they had their difficulties to find a setlist (and as usual it turned out not being that different to the previous tours, except that they played some more songs from the new album this time).
Fletch: "Our last album, Sounds of the Universe, I don't think many of the songs really translated live that well, but this album seems to be completely the opposite, it's quite a minimal but powerful album and a lot of the tracks are sounding very good like Soft Touch/Raw Nerve. Angel is sounding really, really powerful, and Should Be Higher. We can't play, unfortunately, too many songs from the new album because we have fans that go back such a long way, it'd be a bit selfish, I think, just playing a lot of songs off the new album and disregarding tracks from our career."
Dave (about how to find a setlist): "Well, it starts out with putting together a list of songs that we want to play - particularly from other albums like Black Celebration, Music for the Masses, and Ultra - all of which ultimately should fit with Delta Machine. Also, we're thinking about reviving songs that we never really played that much, like Barrel of a Gun. Naturally you have to throw things in the fans want to hear. With us it's a constant debate: 'Should we do Just Can't Get Enough?' - 'I don't know, should we?' You've got to look at it as a song that means a lot to a lot of hardcore fans, but when you do something from thirty years ago, it can be like putting on a pair of pants from thirty years ago: they don't quite fit anymore, you know? You might really, really like them, but they might not, uh, work."
The hardcore fans probably don't need songs like Just Can't Get Enough, Enjoy the Silence and Personal Jesus anymore because they have heard them too often but of course, fans who don't go to many gigs will enjoy it.
Speaking of fans, the band was asked again why they thought they were so popular and had such a strong, faithful following.
Martin: "I think people do see us as their little secret. Even though it's not that much of a secret - if you go into Europe about every third person has got one of our records somewhere."
Fletch: "A lot of people know the name Depeche Mode but can't point to the individuals in the band."
Martin: "There are certain places where people seem have more of an affiliation with us; generally Europe as a whole - even Holland's starting to get on board a little bit more than it used to. But the UK is the one place where we probably do least well. In Europe and especially when you get to places like Germany and anywhere eastwards, it seems to be more than just about the music, it's like a lifestyle for them. They follow us, they wear uniforms of black - we call them the black swarm - we seem to be really really important to them."
Dave: "I think it's also because we come from a real place emotionally. I mean there's an image which has developed over the years and we're quite comfortable with that as well: we'd much rather be with the misfits than be with the norm. That's always been the case, we were ridiculed for it in the beginning and now we're praised for it."
It seems that they have learned a lot about their followers over the course of time. So they were very critical of the film The Posters Came from the Walls by Jeremy Deller which tries to depict the fan culture. It was released in 2008 originally, but went online in 2013, that's why Dave was asked about it.
Dave: "First of all, no disrespect to Jeremy Deller. He made an extremely good documentary film about this band that's pretty accurate in terms of how important we are to some of our fans: in their growth, in their lives, in their beings. When people come up to me on the street, it's not usually like, 'Whoa! It's the guy!' Rather, most people look me straight in the eye and say: 'Thank you so much for the music. It's truly helped me.' That's an amazing thing. But what I felt about the film was, and I can't speak for Martin and Fletch, the whole thing was just too sycophantic, almost to a point of being comedic. And not in a good way. It didn't show the diversity of our fans and focused in one area. The whole drum corps and the Russian girl with the drawings of us, and of course the German family ... it wasn't objective enough for me. Even if it was well done. And the timing was weird, much too focused on what was and not what is today."
Well, the fan culture was born in the 1980s, so it might be no surprise that the film focused on the past. Of course, the film shows mainly real fanatics, not the "normal" fans, but the "normal" fans mostly came a long way with the band too. The average DM fan is between 30 and 50 years old, and got to know the band and its music in the 1980s, or at least in the early 1990s. There are some younger fans as well, but they are definitely in the minority. (And sometimes these younger fans came to the band through their parents.) The survey of depechemodebiographie.de shows a ratio of 70% to 30%. 70% of respondents became fans before Ultra (1997). So the fan culture is almost as old as the band itself, and maybe this is one of the reasons why the fans are so faithful, and sometimes weird.
On the tour the band members were confronted with them again, but obviously they weren't bothered.
The tour started on 7 May in Tel Aviv with the European leg. It comprised 36 gigs, and ended on 29 July. Before that there had been some short promotion gigs, and a warm up concert in Nice on 4 May.
At this tour the band, especially Dave, showed up in a very good shape and mood. This is the complete opposite to the picture the media and the general public obviously still have about them. As I've said above, it was difficult to find something funny and up-lifting these days although the band maybe has never been in a better mood. It became obvious now that Dave had really been ill during TOTU. At Delta Machine-Tour he was full of energy and very present, and his voice was much better than on previous tours.
I asked a fan if I may tell an anecdote which happened during this first leg of the tour. As I've said above the hardcore fan as such doesn't need songs like Personal Jesus or Just Can't Get Enough anymore. Nevertheless, the band decided to play Just Can't Get Enough again. Now, this fan thought that there are many other old songs they could play instead. He noticed that the starting beat of the live version of Just Can't Get Enough is similar to the beat of Boys Say Go! So he initiated a little campaign with shouting Boys Say Go!, whenever Just Can't Get Enough was played. More and more people got involved shouting, "Boys Say Go! Boys Say Go! Boys Say Go!" during Just Can't Get Enough at each gig on this leg.
At the show in Dusseldorf on 5 July, one Boys Say Go!-group was loud enough to be noticed by Dave. "And now, Boys Say Go,"" he said. Nevertheless, they played Just Can't Get Enough. "Yeah, this is Boys Say Go," he said in the middle of the song and was quite amused. The group enjoyed themselves and didn*t notice it at all, learned about it later.
And almost every time, when Martin was singing But Not Tonight (Oh God its raining) it started to rain. Two or three times it even happened that it just rained during this song. Martin's face when getting aware that he could make it rain tells more about him than any interview.
The North American leg started on 22 August in Detroit and ended on 11 October in Austin, Texas. The third leg, another European one, started on 7 November in Belfast and ended on 07 March 2014. The tour DVD Live in Berlin was released on 14 November 2014.
Before the last leg had started, the band was the headliner at the Yasalam After Race Concert, after the Formula One Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi on 3 November. This was another thing they have never done before. Not all their fans were really enthusiastic about it. Their band is going increasingly mainstream, and there were critical voices talking about "a complete sell-out," and that the band members are apparently trying to make as much money as possible while they are still on the road.
After the end of the Delta Machine Tour, both Dave and Martin worked solo. Martin released an instrumental record titled MG on 24 April 2015, Dave worked with the band Soulsavers together again and released the album Angels & Ghosts on 23 October 2015.
"When I was writing for the Delta Machine project I had about four or five instrumentals written which we didn't use," Martin said about MG. "I had all these instrumentals without a home and that gave me the idea to continue in that vein and complete a whole instrumental album. I just thought that was a good concept, and something new for me, something I've never done."
"We never really stopped writing after the first Soulsavers album," Dave explained about Angels & Ghosts. "Even when I was on tour with Depeche, ideas would pop into my head. At the end of that Depeche tour I spent a bit of time staring at the walls, as you do, but this time it seemed more severe. I felt a tremendous sense of loss. "It's over." It hit me pretty hard. So I sat around moping for a bit, and when Rich from Soulsavers started sending me music over, I started to find working on it quite therapeutic. I started to write myself out of the hole I'd fallen into."
The "transformation" from the solo project to the new DM record was an easy one. "When I finished my MG solo project in 2015, I just kept writing," Martin said. "When I felt as if I had enough songs like Going Backwards together, and Dave - who had finished his solo - had enough songs together, we met up. We talked about changing producers as we did the last three with the same man, found James Ford, and we were off."
Spirit was released on 17 March 2017 by Columbia Records and Mute Records.
The production of Spirit was a fast one.
"We have a different producer this time, James Ford," Fletch explained, "and we worked at a much faster pace than we normally do. We actually finished early, which is unbelievable. It normally is four sessions, plus mixing. This was done in three sessions. Normally, we finish the album just before Christmas, then we go out, have a couple of weeks off before we go into promotion mode. But this time, we actually had some more time off."
"We called the album Spirit, because it's like, 'Where's the spirit gone?' or 'Where's the spirit in humanity?'" Dave explained. "We considered calling it Maelstrom - that was a bit too heavy metal." Would have been an interesting title, though.
Spirit was a lot more political than any other album before.
"I really felt during the writing process for Spirit that the world was in a complete mess," Martin said. "Humanity had lost its way. By pointing that out, maybe you could somehow get some sort of values back. Now, I may just be imparting too much importance to music and what it can do - I don't know if it can change the world - but even if one person is affected, then maybe I've achieved something."
Dave saw the line Where's the revolution? Come on people you're letting me down as "a linchpin on the album. We're really asking that question of ourselves and of the world. What's happening? What's happening? We're all feeling it and none of us seems to have the answer. I would say that this album definitely reflects what's going on outside more than what's going on inside. And the outside world is becoming too much."
Where's The Revolution was not directly influenced by current events.
"Martin wrote the song a couple of years ago," Fletch said. "We didn't jump on the bandwagon because it was literally a couple of years ago."
But they have become experts on American elections because their first year of recording is almost always a year when the election takes place.
"Normally, we write songs about the world we live in and life in general," Fletch said, "you know about relationships and problems people have in their lives. Martin felt there were so many things going astray, that he felt that he should write about it."
And Martin explained: "It's quite coincidental that the album has come out right now. I can't claim that the songs were all written for Trump. It just seems like such perfect timing, because the world is in such a mess. But the majority of these songs were written in 2015-2016, so the world was in a mess then too. It's just gotten a little worse."
He was shocked about how many people had elected "that idiot,"" but nevertheless, alt-right leader Richard Spencer called them "the official band of the Alt-Right."
"We were quite shocked, I have to say," Fletch said. "We're the opposite of that if anything."
"He says he's a big fan," Martin added, "but he obviously hasn't completely listened to our lyrics. I just think he's not all there. I think people always kind of know where we stand politically - everyone in the world except Richard Spencer."
Dave thought that one could listen to the songs quite differently as well. "Some on the songs have a political content lyrically, but I don't listen to music like that. Music informs me. So it informs you to do something or to raise a question or to check your own position about how you feel about something, great. But at the same time, it's music and its there to entertain you."
But Martin also wrote a few personal songs. "There's dark, humorous lyrics in Eternal, which was written for my daughter. I had to slip in a vision of a black mushroom cloud rising and the radiation falling." Well, I have to admit that the vision of radiation falling is kind of strange when you think about your baby girl ...
As usually, they claimed that the atmosphere and the communication had been great, just to find an example that showed that they still don't understand each other completely.
"It's about the beauty of communication, of wanting to be understood and loved," Dave said about Cover Me. "I've spent most of my life trying to get that. But sometimes when I get it, I don't know what to do with it. When I feel that side of me that is yearning for connection, I try to get it - and then it goes away again."
He showed the lines to Martin who didn't understand the metaphor, which drove Dave crazy. "What the f*** do you know? I never question your songs, Martin, I just sing them!"
Before, on 3 February 2017, the single Where Is The Revolution was released, followed by Going Backwards on 23 June 2017 and Cover Me on 6 October 2017. As usual in the past years, there were several remixes and different digital and physical releases.
Dave contributed four songs to the album, You Move (co-written with Martin), No More (assisted by Kurt Uenala) Cover Me and Poison Heart (both assisted by Christian Eigner and Peter Gordeno.) He took care of the lead vocals, except of Eternal and Fail, which were sung by Martin. There were no instrumental tracks.
And of course, they were planning to tour the album, especially as Dave is still a restless guy. "I try desperately to do nothing - it seems like a good idea at the time. But I get into a weird place if I'm not doing things. My wife will indulge that for a while, then she'll tell me to go and do something." That will probably be the main reason for going on tour. Not so much the money, as some people suspect.
"The stage is the only place where I dont feel my age," he explained. On the other hand: "It horrifies me to think that I might be on stage at 70 years old. It really horrifies me. I've got the idea of me walking on some remote beach somewhere, hopefully still with Jennifer, and a couple of dogs, and a beard that's down to here. I feel like I'm getting close to the point where I will actually have to stop doing this."
Well, not for now. After some pre-tour performances in different cities between 1 March and 3 May, the Global Spirit Tour kicked off on 5 May in Stockholm and saw a European leg with 33 gigs until 23 July.
The second leg started on 23 August, took place in North America and saw 30 gigs until 27 October. The third leg was a European one again and started on 15 November.
There is a fourth leg planned in South America and an fifth leg in Europe again in summer 2018, which will probably end on 25 July in Berlin.
The tour saw a tribute to David Bowie by singing the song Heroes, which was the one - as every DM fan knows - that brought Dave to DM. "I had seen the news but it wasn't until my wife told me he had died that I just broke down in tears. My daughter came out and they were both hugging me. It really affected me. I felt a huge gap. Bowie, since I was in my early teens, had an extraordinary effect on me. He represented something that was a little different and he didn't feel comfortable going along with what was considered to be the norm. That really appealed to me and somehow comforted me, certainly as a teenager. His music has been with me throughout anything I've ever done. And I've seen him time and time again over the years. My daughter and his daughter went to the same school for a couple years, so I'd see him at these school functions. One thing I regret - of course when he passed away - is never telling him how much his music had meant to me all these years. I always thought it was kind of weird to do that, especially when we were at school together, just two dads with their kids, but it was shocking to me when he passed away. He was too young."
‘Fletch was meant to outlive us all’: Depeche Mode on death, rebirth and defying the odds
As Dave Gahan happily admits, there was a moment when he thought there would never be another Depeche Mode album. Actually, he says, there were two. The first came as a result of the pandemic, when he underwent a rock star equivalent of the Great Resignation, the phenomenon in which people stuck at home started reconsidering their priorities. He had tried to gig with his other band, Soulsavers, at the end of 2020, between the first and second lockdowns (“Wonderful shows, but the whole thing was a constant state of anxiety – are you fit to fly? What’s happening tomorrow?”), but spent most of the time at home in the US. It was the longest he had ever spent off the road.
“Not making a record; spending time with my family, friends, my fucking cat,” he says. “I thought: I want to stay here. I was quite happy listening to records, watching the Knicks lose at basketball, plugging in my guitar and playing along to someone else’s music, not really interested in making new music.” He smiles. “I was 18 when Depeche Mode started. I thought: it’s enough. I’ve had a good run. So when our manager called and said ‘It’s time’, I honestly said: ‘Jonathan, I don’t know if I want to do this any more.’”
Gahan was eventually persuaded back, energised by the new songs sent by his bandmate Martin Gore. Depeche Mode’s last album, 2017’s Spirit, was stridently political, which was perhaps just as well: a month before its release, American neo-Nazi Richard Spencer attempted to claim them as “the official band of the alt-right”. (“He’s a cunt,” offered Gahan, with winning bluntness, in response.) In contrast, these were songs that hit what the Guardian’s Dorian Lynskey once called the “horny, morbid sweet spot” central to Depeche Mode’s appeal: songs about sex, about addiction, about information overload and, especially, about death, the latter perhaps the inevitable result of writing during a global pandemic.
In fact, there were so many songs about death that Gore suggested they call the album Memento Mori. Gahan looked forward to working on them in the studio, “making the songs more colourful, elevating them, getting them to the point where Fletch would say” – he imitates bandmate Andy Fletcher’s gruff Essex accent – “‘Let’s leave this alone, we’ve got it, what are you guys doing, don’t over-fucking-complicate it!’ The enjoyable part of making an album.” He employed a trainer – “sports therapist, trains American footballers, doesn’t fuck about” – to get him in shape for another tour: “I’m 60, and I’m not going to half-arse it up there.”
Six weeks before the recording sessions for Depeche Mode’s 15th album, Fletcher died, suddenly, at his London home, of an aortic dissection. The reaction among fans was one of stunned disbelief. He was only 60, and moreover, Fletch was the band’s rock: the least affected by their global fame, the one who kept his head during the early 90s, when Gahan succumbed to a heroin addiction that nearly killed him, Gore was in the grip of alcoholism, and keyboard player and songwriter Alan Wilder quit. It was, says Gahan, a reaction mirrored within the band. “What?” he says, shaking his head. “Alan used to say it: ‘He’ll outlive us all the way we’re all going.’ Fletch was always the steady one.”
He was so stunned, Gahan says, that Fletcher’s death only fully hit him at the funeral, when he saw Daniel Miller, founder of Mute Records: the man who signed Depeche Mode as teenagers and maintained his faith in them when their chief songwriter, Vince Clarke, left after their debut album; who, says Gore, “let us experiment and grow at our own pace” and who still contributes ideas to their albums. “He walked in with his wife, and Martin and I stood up and kind of fell into him, and he put his arms around us and all of us were just … I was sobbing. It was just the three of us. I can’t explain it, but that’s when I totally lost it. He pointed it out: when he met me and my band, I was a teenager, just about to turn 19. I thought about that. It’s been 40-odd years. My entire adult life.”
In the wake of Fletcher’s death, Gahan says that “for a minute” he was convinced once again that Depeche Mode was over. “But Martin and I had a conversation. I was just calling up to see how he was doing and he was like, ‘We’re moving on, right?’ I said, yeah. I didn’t miss a beat.”
For his part, Gore says he never really considered the band ending. “I did question for a second whether it was a good idea to carry on with the schedule we had,” he says, “because we were due to start in the studio six weeks after he died, and I wondered if we should put that back a little bit. But we decided it was probably best for us to focus on the album, on the music, something we know, something to take our minds off Andy’s death.”
Recording went remarkably smoothly: certainly smoother than some of the famously fractious sessions for previous albums. “I think that the one thing that’s come out of Andy’s dying that’s possibly, you know, positive,” Gore says, before his voice trails off and he reconsiders. “There’s nothing positive about it. But you know, the one good thing is that it’s brought me and Dave closer. We have to make decisions as the two of us, so we talk things out, we talk a lot more on the phone, even FaceTime sometimes. That’s something we just never did before.”
Certainly, meeting them separately, each in their own rooms in a luxurious London hotel, it’s hard not to be struck by their differences. Gahan is friendly and garrulous and very much a rock star, charismatic and blessed with his ability to look supremely cool while wearing clothes that would make anyone who wasn’t a rock star look ridiculous: leathers, purple-tinted sunglasses, tight trousers (slightly flared), his all-black ensemble rounded off with a pair of bright red snakeskin pointed boots.
Gore, meanwhile, looks exactly like Martin Gore: even at 61, the biker jacket and shock of curly blond hair, shaved at the sides, are immediately recognisable from the pages of 80s Smash Hits. He is friendly but businesslike and less expansive: as Gahan suggests, Gore is “not one to wear his feelings on his sleeve, he always wears his feelings in his songs”. Gore says he never considered changing the album title or dropping its songs about death following Fletcher’s passing. “For me, when Andy died it cemented the idea that we had to carry on with these songs and the title. The idea that we should all be making the most of our time on Earth and it’s very limited – it’s kind of an important message. And it’s even more important now Andy’s gone.”
Nevertheless, Gore concedes, it is a slightly odd situation: releasing an album full of intimations of mortality less than a year after a co-founder’s death. “I don’t want to sound too new age-y about this, but sometimes you wonder when you write songs, if there’s something out there in the ether that you tap into. Sometimes I’ll sit down and write something and it comes naturally and flows and I don’t really know where the words come from. When I look at it, I think: Oh, it’s about that.”
But then, as both Gore and Gahan point out, Depeche Mode have almost always been in an odd position. On YouTube, you can find a clip from a 1981 ITV documentary, shot just as their first big hit, New Life, breached the Top 20. They are filmed doing the kind of things that “futurist” bands did: playing monophonic synthesisers with one finger, eschewing old-fashioned entertainment for a Space Invaders-style arcade game, earnestly discussing the new romantic movement. On one level, it’s very of its time, but on another, what’s striking is how detached Depeche Mode seem from the scene they’re supposed to represent. The denizens of the Blitz club think they’re a bit non-U: they aren’t hip London scene-makers, but kids from the distinctly unfashionable environ of Basildon, and they aren’t terribly arty, at least by the standards of the time.
They enthusiastically discuss their love of disco and pop and their videos look very British and provincial – shot in tacky nightclubs and branches of Woolworths – rather than meaningful and serious and mitteleuropäisch. They subsequently became huge, but that was odd, too. Their peers became globally successful with big pop hits or by switching to a more traditional, guitar-based approach; Depeche Mode did it while sticking fast to electronics and getting weirder and more experimental (they are, perhaps, the only band in history ever to break the US shortly after launching a new musical direction heavily influenced by metal-banging Berlin experimentalists Einstürzende Neubauten).
By the early 90s, when most of their peers’ careers had waned, Depeche Mode were selling millions of albums and exercising a staggering global reach: even Gore admits to being taken aback when the 2019 documentary Spirits in the Forest revealed the band had fans in Outer Mongolia. Thirty years after their biggest-selling album, 1990’s Violator, they could still call themselves the biggest cult band in the world without much fear of contradiction: as Gore points out, the tour they’re about to embark on “will probably be the biggest tour we’ve ever done, and the tour before that was the biggest we’d ever done. Every time we go out, we seem to play to more people.”
And yet, something of the outsider clings to them. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at the end of 2020 (their acceptance speech, via Zoom, was the last time Gahan and Gore appeared in public with Fletcher), but even so, Gahan says he felt oddly out of place. “I’d heard a few years before, when we were first nominated, that someone on the panel had said something about us being dull ‘eyeliner-wearing weirdos’.” He laughs. “I loved that. Let’s just go down the line of eyeliner-wearing fucking weirdos: Prince, Mick Jagger, Dave Vanian from the Damned. I’m happy to join that club.”
He is, understandably, delighted with Memento Mori, an album that offers a perfect blend of ominous mood, electronic textures that range from intense to ethereal and a classic Depeche Mode way with a melancholy but nagging melody. He compares the single Ghosts Again to Enjoy the Silence, “one of those songs that to me are key anchors for Depeche”. It’s another song about the fleeting and fragile nature of life: “Everybody says goodbye … whisper we’ll be ghosts again.”
It is a subject that Gahan is uniquely placed to sing about, not because of Fletcher’s passing, but because he has technically died himself, in the days when he was, as he puts it, “following the rock-star thing in way that was beyond cliche”. His heart stopped beating for two minutes after he took an overdose of heroin and cocaine in 1996, an incident that ultimately led him to get clean. “There was complete blackness and this feeling I’ve never felt before of utter terror. No sound in the room, nothing, but the blackness felt close to you.
“I had the thing that people talk about, the out-of-body-experience, and then the next thing I know I’m sat up in the back of an ambulance being brought around. In that particular time the only real thought I had, which was terrifying, was that I don’t get to decide what happens. I thought I did. I was hellbent on the idea of ‘if I’m going out, I’m going out with a bang’, having what I thought was a good time, surrounded by other fucking sycophantic losers. It’s coming to all of us, but you don’t really know when.”
Which starts Gahan talking about Fletch again, about how weird it is doing things without him for the first time: interviews, TV appearances, photoshoots with long-term collaborator Anton Corbijn. He gestures towards the next-door balcony. “I keep expecting to hear him outside my room,” he says. “Or smell him lighting a cigarette. ‘Put that fucking thing out, Fletch! I’ve got to sing later!’”
People always asked what Fletch did in the band, he says, because Fletch always used to run his own contribution down, telling an interviewer in the 1989 documentary 101 that while the others dealt with the music, he “bummed around”.
“To me that was kind of offensive. His personality was huge. He was the voice of reason if we were going too far out with a song. We’ve been doing this a long time – me, Martin, Fletch. So this is a monumental change. Not a monumental musical change, he didn’t do masterful things on the records, but what Fletch represented within the band was identity.”
He says it is going to be odd without him on stage; Fletcher always looked so excited to be there: “Depeche Mode’s biggest supporter” performing with the band. “My job is to perform. It’s about creating something that’s larger than any existence you could possibly have had. Martin’s like the gunslinger by my side. And Fletch was the superfan.”
He pauses and grins at me, as if he’s recalling why he decided to come back to Depeche Mode despite his initial doubts. “He knew it’s the best job in the world. You know, you’ve won the lottery a thousand fucking times.”
“We Had To Find A Way Of Becoming Friends…”
Dave Gahan refers to Andy Fletcher as “the Captain of the ship”. James Ford, the producer of the band’s new LP Memento Mori and Depeche Mode’s previous album, 2017’s Spirit, calls him “the rudder”. Mute boss Daniel Miller describes him as the “positive pessimist” who kept the others grounded, especially early on.
“It’s still not quite real that he’s gone,” says Gahan. “You work with somebody like this for over 40 years. You know everything about each other. And nothing really. It’s a weird, weird relationship, people in bands…”
Gahan says he soon realised that it was Gore who would be most in need of support (“I felt a sort of protectiveness”). And also that Gore’s loss of Fletcher would require Gore and Gahan to look at their own relationship – a relationship that had not always benefited from Fletcher’s well-meaning intercessions.
“Martin had lost his champion – someone who would always fight for Martin,” says Gahan. “If there was ever a disagreement over a song or a part, Fletch would sit me down and it would be, ‘Fing is, Dave… Martin and I have been talking and…’ I mean, that got really old. Why won’t Martin tell me himself? And that’s where we kind of got to on the last record.”
Sessions for Spirit, says Gahan, were marred by tensions of this sort. To the extent that James Ford, on his first job for the band, was forced to draw a line.
“In the end James was kind of, ‘I’ve had enough of this! I want everyone out of studio. I just want Martin and Dave to sit in here and we’re going to talk about this.’ Fletch did not like that. He literally had to get manhandled out of the studio by our manager. I mean, kicking and screaming. ‘I’m in the band! Why aren’t I in this conversation?’”
So Gahan and Gore had it out, minus Fletcher, and in the process realised their issues were more wide-ranging than they’d thought.
“We had these unspoken things. Martin was like, ‘Well, you get this and you can walk on stage and everybody goes nuts. And I write the songs.’”
Gahan – who has contributed songs since 2005’s Playing The Angel – took up the gauntlet.
“How many songs can I have then?”
"I was at our hotel," Gore says, looking out the window. – We have stayed there many times before. And I saw the bar where Fletch used to sit..." he pauses. "And now he's not there."
Gore describes the death of Fletch – one of the founders of DM and his friend since the age of 11 – as "the biggest shock in life." Fletch died suddenly of aortic dissection at his home in London on May 26, shortly before he was due to join Martin and Dave at the Santa Barbara studio. When the musicians recovered from the shock, they had to make a decision. "We had to really decide whether we were going to finish the job or continue," says Gore.
Fletch was an unshakable rock in a band whose stunning rise, changing musical forms and infamous strained relationships with loyal fans for more than 40 years put their sanity to the test. And although it is known that his contribution to the DM, especially in recent years, was not significant, his role in maintaining a delicate balance in the group was undeniable. In the most difficult times – when the direction of the band changed in the early 90s, and they moved into the category of stadium performers - Fletcher did not pass the strength test. He ran away from the 1993 Devotional tour due to nervous exhaustion. But among his dissolute colleagues (Gore suffered from alcoholism, and Dave something heavier) Fletch remained the center-forming foundation when everything threatened to fall apart.
The development of DM in the 21st century, their return to their electronic roots - was smooth, although not always. Since Dave overcame his heroin addiction and literally came back to life in the early 90s, the frontman has a new habit - to test the band for resistance with his own songs. After Fletch's death, he came back to it.
"Dave was honest with me before we started recording the album," says Gore, "he said he had discussed our future and our new relationship with a psychologist."
Now Depeche Mode is a duo. But how will it work now?
In A ROOM at the FOUR SEASONS HOTEL in Manhattan, a smartly dressed Dave Gahan removes a hair from his trousers, clanking rock and roll rings on his fingers with a neat manicure. On his feet – bright red pointed shoes, from which you can not take your eyes off.
His loud but charming speech with a unique American-British accent is replaced by quiet memories of Fletch's death.
"I called Mart. We were both very upset. My first thought was: how I wish I could be kinder to him." Kinder? "Yes. There are things I'd like to tell Fletch. For example: hey, I know you don't play instruments, but damn, I'm glad you're here. I do not know what you are doing here at all, but this is something... probably very important."
Fletcher and Gore met at school in Basildon, and after school they were together in the Youth Fellowship, a Christian organization with a strong music program. In 1980, Fletcher and Vince Clark, who attended another Christian school, formed a band called Composition of Sound, in which they recruited Gore to play guitar and keyboards, and later — after Clark heard Dave perform David Bowie's "Heroes" —Dave as a singer. The desire for a fully synthesized sound was driven by the desire to resemble the musicians they were inspired by: Gary Numan, Human League, OMD. They became Depeche Mode in September 1980. They started with a performance that impressed the key names of the "futuristic" music scene, including Daniel Miller, the manager of The Normal and Silicon Teens bands, and in the future also the boss of the Mute label, who offered a contract to the young band.
"They were kids," Miller says, "and kids at that time weren't making electronic music. Depeche Mode played pop music on synthesizers and it worked great."
From the very beginning, the red-haired Fletcher was always in the background in group photos. And even after Vince Clarke left the band, he was happy to keep a more strategic and connecting role. Gore led the band into a darker atmosphere, being influenced by industrial on albums 83 and 84, breaking into the charts with rough and melancholic singles, while Fletch was responsible for what he called the "pop side" of the band. But he didn't interfere in anything else.
"I'm not interested in making music," Fletcher said in 1993. "I'm a useless musician." But he was attracted to the music business. "For me, working in a group is a challenge followed by a reward. I like that we create something and then sell it. I love marketing."
Gore says that at events like press conferences, Fletch felt in his place: he remembered names, was a lightning rod and drank beer.
"We always said that Andy was a man of the people," recalls Gore. "He was more like an ordinary person than Dave and I were. When we started thinking too much about ourselves, he could smell it a mile away."
DAVE CALLS FLETCHER THE CAPTAIN OF THE ship. Producer of the album "Memento Mori" (and the previous "Spirit") James Ford called him the steering wheel. Daniel Miller described him as a positive pessimist who grounded everyone, especially at the beginning.
"I still can't believe he's gone," says Dave. – You've been working with a man for 40 years. You know everything about each other. And at the same time nothing. There are strange relationships between people in groups..."
Dave says that Martin needs support most of all ("I felt a desire to protect"). Also, the loss of Fletch forced a new look at the relationship between Dave and Martin.
"Martin lost his champion – the one who always fought for him," says Dave. – If we had a disagreement about a song, Fletch would sit me down and start: "Hey, Dave... Martin and I have been talking..." It's been done hundreds of times. Why doesn't Martin talk to me himself? And that's what we had to do on the last album."
The work on "Spirit" was overshadowed by such tense moments. To the point that James Ford was forced to put an end to it.
"In the end, James couldn't stand it, kicked everyone out of the studio and said: let Dave and Martin stay and talk. Fletch was very unhappy. Our manager literally pushed him out of the studio. He almost fought: "I'm also a member of the group! Why am I not participating in the conversation?!""
So Martin and Dave talked–without Fletch–and realized they had more problems than they thought.
"We have accumulated a lot of unspoken things. Martin said: you go on stage, you sing and the audience goes crazy, and I write songs. I think Fletch's presence made us... maybe that's the wrong word, but compete. And such an acute atmosphere was created. So Martin and I had to find a way out. It was necessary to start talking and become friends."
– How many songs can I write?
– Well, if there are 12 of them in total, then four at most.
– Good! Now I understand. I won't have to write ten.
It seems bitterly ironic that despite its unifying function, it was Fletch's departure that improved Dave and Martin's relationship.
"I think Fletch's presence forced Martin and me.. maybe it's the wrong word, but to compete," says Dave. — And this created a certain atmosphere, the atmosphere that we were not very accommodating. So Martin and I had to find another remedy. We had to find a way to become friends."
Finally become friends after 40 years in the band? Dave smiles.
"Sounds weird, I know."
GORE COINED THE NAME "MEMENTO MORI" long before Fletch's death, which gave it a new meaning. This phrase came from ancient Rome, when the generals returning with a triumphant victory from the battlefields, a slave whispered: "Remember death." More than a caricature of the band's gloominess, Gore sees these words as a path to humility and the value of time. "I don't see anything depressing about it. Rather a call to enjoy life."
These thoughts are reflected on the album — the most outspoken since, probably, "Ultra" in 1997. His melodies are convincing, his sound is rich and elegant. The album seems inward-looking, like the best DM songs, avoiding the political preoccupation of the moralizing "Spirit" ("a little too literal," says Gore), but the balance between unearthly synth motifs and the painful soul-searching illustrated in the single "Ghosts Again" is close to perfection. Both loyal fans and ordinary music lovers will be pleasantly surprised, but not in the way Dave was when Martin sent him the first demos, because there was something unusual in them.
"Martin called me on a video call and said: I want to warn you — a couple of songs will be performed by Richard Butler..."
Butler— the frontman of Psychedelic Furs, is a longtime friend of Gore. During the pandemic, he contacted Martin and said, "We need to compose something together." "I think he suggested it once before," recalls Gore, "but then it didn't end with anything. This time I answered him: do you have any ideas?"
Butler had ideas, and they started a collaboration with Martin. "We eventually threw out the first song," says Gore, "but then everything was better. It happened that I would write a line, he would write a line. Or he will write the melody of the verse, and I will lose. That is, there were different methods."
Dave was impressed. "It was a huge leap for Martin to compose with someone. This is a risk for him, because he usually works in a certain way. He likes order and everything should be as he likes." But Dave was also discouraged — the demos were a real challenge, especially the leitmotif "Ghosts Again".
"When I first heard this demo, I was overcome with joy (laughs) — an unusual feeling for me. But I had to overcome Richard's singing style, his distinctive style. But the melody and intonation hooked me. The text relied heavily on the imagery of Richard's repertoire. It was close to me."
The songs co-written by Gore and Butler are among the strongest on the album, as is Dave's performance. The majestic and lyrical "Don't Say You Love Me" refers to the manner of Scott Walker's performance.
"This is a typical Scott Walker! Dave exclaims. "It's a strange coincidence because I've listened to him a lot — songs like 'Sundown' and 'A Woman Left Lonely'."
Dave also wrote two songs for the album — with his regular collaborators Christian Ainer and Peter Gordeno, as well as one song with Martin — "Wagging Tongue". This is their first collaboration for the Depeche Mode album. Dave attacks vocally, as if angry at someone. To whom?
"I don't know for sure," says Gahan. — I'm yelling at someone. Part of the text appeared when I found out that Mark Lanegan was gone. Rich [Machin from Soulsavers] called me and said, 'Mark's dead, buddy.'"
Dave met the former Screaming Trees lead singer through Soulsavers, for whom they both recorded vocals. Although Dave and Mark admired each other's creativity long before that. According to him, Depeche Mode were "surprised, but not shocked" when Lanegan, who had experienced various addictions and life trials, expired in February 2022.
"He seemed wonderful to us," Dave shakes his head. — And that's what took him away. He had a serious covid, he spent several months in a hospital in Ireland. In general, the song was partially inspired by this event," Dave pauses. — Mark was a great storyteller, just through his voice. Sometimes I didn't even need a text, I could tell by his intonation what he was singing about."
One of Dave's songs is played at the end of the album. "Speak To Me" explodes with an epic whirlwind of sound. Martin and James Ford say that the merit of Marta Salogni (recording engineer) in creating the aerial analog processing that adorns this and other songs ("Frippertronics comes to mind," they say). The lyrical hero remains alone, in desperate search of a way out. Is this a song about addiction?
"Definitely. It's completely imprinted on me," says Dave. — The power of this feeling is when you disappear under the influence of a drug. And the power of pleading for help. I'm also talking to Martin there. I would like to have something between us that we didn't have before. I don't know what. And it's a little scary. Because suddenly it won't work?"
MARTIN GORE DOES NOT GIVE the impression of an unfriendly or distant person. He is tanned, smiling and childish for his 61. And very funny. He's not ready to talk much, and it's easy to imagine that he and Dave, who are diligently trying to sort out their own and other people's feelings, are in different weight categories. In a sense, the friendship of the taboo destroyer Martin Gore, whose leather belts and heels surprised in the mid-80s, with the modestly dressed Fletch seemed strange. Talking about their differences, Martin recalls how he made fun of a friend in the mid-80s.
"I don't remember what kind of album it was, but I told Fletch I'd call it Perversions," Gore chuckles. And we played it for a day or two, until finally we admitted that it was a joke. I think he said, "What will my mom think?“».
What Mrs. Fletcher thought of Martin Gore's lyrical hints on the subject of bdsm - this weakness enlivened bilious statements about politics, economics, religion and sexuality, this blossoming unfamiliar sensuality, which seemed to gain more momentum, oddly enough, with the growing popularity of Depeche Mode — is unknown. But you can guess.
"When Martin performed 'Blasphemous Rumours' for the first time, I was offended," Fletch said in a 1985 interview about the DM single, which proclaimed that "the Lord has a sick sense of humor." Today, Martin assures that he did not share the faith of the "preachers" Fletcher and Vince Clark one iota — the latter even belonged to a Christian folk duo called Nathan - although he was tolerant of various Christian organizations.
"From the outside, it looked curious," says Gore. "People are always on the lookout. I think this is one of the reasons for our popularity. Maybe we're here to help people ask unanswered questions."
Shortly before the release of "Construction Time Again" (1983) — the first significant DM album after the departure of Vince Clark — a chance came to Gore. He abandoned his religious—minded girlfriend ("Everything around was a 'perversion,'" he said in an interview. — If I watched a program where they showed a naked body, they called me a pervert") for the sake of a girl from Germany. They moved to a hostel in Charlottensburg, and life in Berlin turned his thinking of an English provincial.
"[Producer] Gareth Jones has influenced me a lot," Gore says today. — He was a vegetarian, and I was thinking about it at the time, too. I watched what he was eating and tried it too. And became a vegetarian in 1983. When we were working on "Construction Time Again", he was the first to suggest recording at Hansa Studio."
Berlin, according to Dave, felt "unique and strange"— inspiring.
"It was a mecca for creators. It was possible to avoid army service if you moved there. I guess I absorbed these creative... vibes. Daniel Miller had acquaintances there. Blixa Bargeld from Einstürzende Neubauten often came into the studio — maybe he was waiting for Daniel. It seemed strange to us at the time."
The now popular image of Depeche Mode — dark, gloomy, a little perverted — was molded there. Does he not feel it imposed?
"I think we're a kind of cult in Europe," says Gore, "and that's the irony, because we were just talking about religion. Maybe we are filling this gap? But we are very different from the image created by the group. [Photographer] Anton [Korbijn] has developed our visual image — and it all looks very cool. But it's not us, to put it mildly."
Maybe this is Depeche Mode's way of softening a different opinion of them — as the preened pop stars from "I Just Can't Get Enough"? A kind of rock establishment view?
"I think it's different in different parts of the world," Martin says. — We are highly appreciated in Europe. And yes, we're probably a bit like gods there. America is completely different. We are respected. But there are still people who, when you tell them you're from Depeche Mode, ask, 'Is this the band from the '80s?'"
In 2020, Depeche Mode was included in the Rock and Roll Walk of Fame. But it happened in a pandemic, so everything happened online, in Zoom. Are they disappointed?
"I think I was even glad that we didn't have to go to Cleveland," Gore smiles. "I guess we can close this topic on that."
EVEN BEFORE FLETCH LEFT, Dave was wondering if he would be ready to record another record with Depeche Mode. He spent his self-isolation in Montauk, on the very edge of Long Island. Like everyone else, he had a hard time returning to the world. "I was having breakfast with one of my friends, Craig, and I said, 'Martin is talking about a new album, and I don't know what to do.' Craig replied: "Can't you record another album?“ And it doesn't work that way for me. It's a whole military operation — a tour, everything. It's a whole ritual, and you're part of it. I didn't know if I wanted to fight that monster again."
This isn't the first time Gahan has imagined the end of the band. Mired in drugs and turned to rock and roll, corresponding to his lifestyle, he was disgusted by the idea of recording "Songs Of Faith And Devotion" (1993), until he heard a gospel-style demo of "Condemnation". And after the lackluster "Exciter" (2001) and the contrasting sense of freedom and self-importance after the release of the first solo album "Paper Monsters" (2003), he expressed his demands before going to the studio to work on "Playing The Angel" (2005).
This time, he agrees, his return was associated with some unfinished business. It was necessary to forget the problems after recording "Spirit". Despite the huge success of Depeche Mode, they constantly prove that they are worth something.
"You know, we probably felt like an indie band all the time, outsiders," says Dave. — We don't see ourselves on the same level as other successful groups. We've always been the weird ones, the ones who sit in the corner at parties, who don't know how to talk to girls... until they've had six pints, after which everything goes awry."
Dave laughs. "I've been married three times. So I'm still working on myself. I hope this marriage is successful. No, she's beautiful. She's having a hard time..."
Dave has been married to Jennifer Sklias-Gahan since 1999. Their daughter Stella-Rose is also a singer. Dave enthusiastically shows off her first single. They live in New York. Gore settled on the opposite shore, in Santa Barbara (in January, a couple of months after our interview, he was one of those who were evacuated after the terrible floods). He is divorced, but in a close relationship with children. Both teetotallers — and for a long time. Fletcher, on the contrary, liked to sip beer and smoke a cigarette. Gore, Gahan and James Ford will look with sadness at empty bar stools in hotels around the world. If he had followed the abstinence of his colleagues, would he be alive now?
"I don't know. Who knows? "But he didn't drink that much." For the last 10 years, he could go to the pub early. Usually at 18:30. Gradually, the time shifted to 17:30. But he was always at home at seven or eight o'clock. He drank a couple of pints, but he never got drunk. He had a heart attack. And his father had a heart attack. Perhaps it's hereditary."
Horus shakes his head.
"I've asked myself these questions many times, but in the end I realized that it's useless to think about it all the time. It won't bring him back."
One of Martin's big regrets is that Fletcher wasn't on the recording of "Memento Mori" to enjoy the result.
"He couldn't wait to start working. It makes me very sad, besides the fact that my best friend died — we were just about to start. It's so unfair."
JAMES FORD, KNOWN for working with the duo Simian Mobile Disco, Gorillaz, Florence + The Machine and Arctic Monkeys do not hesitate to recognize the importance of their employers in the pantheon of modern music.
"They've always made the music of the future," Ford says. "They're from the first generation, like Raymond Scott or Delia Derbyshire. They still follow the principle of doing what no one has heard yet."
Combining this goal with a reliance on a classical approach seasoned with what Ford calls Gore's "distorted chords", they have created songs with the thrilling, unearthly splendor of "Enjoy The Silence" and the current "Ghosts Again", but the DM are the first to admit that this process can be destructive. Gore remembers working on SOFAD as agony: this experience drove Alan Wilder — their main sound manager since "Construction Time Again" — to leave the band. "After six weeks of recording in Madrid, we had nothing left that we could use," says Gore regretfully. — Although we had a reggae version of "Judas"" (laughs).
Ford is valuable because it lubricates these gears. However, the producer was surprised when he was called to work on "Memento Mori". The recording of "Spirit" was accompanied by irritation and tension, despite all his attempts at meditation. And he was surprised again when he was told that the recording would start according to plan. And the third time — when the work began.
"It felt like it was a different band," Ford says. — There was a completely different energy. It was as if the encounter with death had shifted the paradigm in their worldview, changed the sense of what was important and meaningful. Such a strange result of a tragic experience."
Ford felt that they were open to ideas and had a common goal, which was not the case on Spirit. And this is not to mention the atmosphere of tenderness and loss that permeated the songs.
"There are a lot of allusions and references to the theme of death on the album," says Ford. The album has a melancholic beauty that I haven't heard on DM records for a long time."
After focusing on the outside world on the previous album, "Memento Mori" is a record of personal research and breakthroughs. During and after the covid, Dave was exhausted: "I didn't know what I was writing songs for; I didn't know why I was writing" — until the idea of "Speak To Me" came up, which absorbed all the struggle and its meaning.
"I heard this melody. I heard some words. But I didn't have my phone with me, so I ran home to record it," Dave recalls. — It's like Keith Richard said — when a song is circling next to you, and until you record it, it will fly off to some Neil Young. And recording "Speak To Me" was part of the solution —I have to do it."
Gahan still has enough to answer the question "Who am I?" to stay in Depeche Mode. This is a healthier path to introspection than the one he tried before.
"Drugs have been the answer for a long time," he says. — Especially one — heroin. To be honest, when he was working, I didn't need anything else. I didn't care about the opinions of others. I was in a kind of nirvana. And when I stopped, I felt an incredible loss. I know it sounds awful. It was the purest and most honest relationship. And they were mine. Small, but doable."
Dave laughs sheepishly. MOJO suggests that apart from the fact that it was a reality for him, addiction, like religion, is one of those metaphors without which music cannot exist — such things fill a void in life.
"Music was the only truth in my life," says Dave. — She always corrected me, well, at least she gave me hope of involvement. I can't say that about other things in my life. Maybe another movie? But people don't."
BEFORE the UPCOMING TOUR, Dave and Martin have two more questions to answer. What would it be like to go on stage without Fletcher? And will Dave be able to assemble a version of himself that hypnotizes 40 thousand people every night? It's scary, but, according to him, he doesn't want to complain. After all, "Fletch's death reminds us that life is fleeting."
"What does it say? Dave adds. — Don't they look a gift horse in the mouth? I keep saying "This is the last tour! I won't do it again!“ What if I really don't have a choice anymore? Yes. So I'd rather enjoy it."
A group from the 80s survived until 2020. Not entirely. But she's still moving forward. "We're researchers,— says Dave. — We were always ready to open the door: atmospheric, musical or otherwise. This time Martin took a risk — he opened up, took a co-author." And Depeche Mode with a drop of Richard Butler is still Depeche Mode.
"And what is Depeche Mode? Dave asks. — We still don't know. We are still looking for an answer to this question. But we've gone much further than the Essex kid could have imagined. I think Martin will agree with me," Dave smiles broadly. "It was a wonderful journey."