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#depechemode They used to be in Yazoo and then they started banging dustbin lids and frying pans together’

Fake The Disease | article NME 10|85 By Danny Kelly

Will Depeche Mode chartthrashing chaps though they are, ever find the energy to progress into a more adventurous avenue? This is Danny Kelly’s gripe, which he puts first to that nice young man in the leather skirt, then to the rest of the group

Let’s be fair; Kensington is not Warsaw.I mention this because the attitude of the Polish authorities – anxious to keep my corruption and shiftlessness away from their corruption and shiftlessness – had condemned me to talking to Depeche Mode in London rather than on the banks of the Vistula.

And I mention that because it says something about this odd thing we call Depeche Mode. They are big in Eastern Europe, doing well in America, and gi-bleeding-normous-thank-you in West Germany. Meanwhile, in Britain they remain “that bunch of posey Essex types you sometimes see on the telly, y’know, the ones with the cute singer and the bloke in the leather skirt; y’know, they used to be in Yazoo and then they started banging dustbin lids and frying pans together…”

ONLY IT’S not that simple. Next month Depeche Mode issue a compilation that contains 13 of their 15 singles to date. All went Top 20. That’s 15 more hits than Cabaret Voltaire, a dozen more than Heaven 17 and a good handful more than the Human League. Chartwise at least, Depeche Mode are the runaway and lasting successes of the synthclass of 1980. And there’s more; over the space of those 45s, DM have maintained critical interest (if not always approval); have constantly refizzed their pop cocktails with dashes of funk, squirts of dub and lemony slices of metal bashing; and have defied those who, unable to see past Vince Clarke’s talent for Stylophone dinkipop and Mode’s choirboyish TV turnouts, just knew they’d be a flash (bunch) in the pan, a couple of charters and then See You.

All these things – added to a healthy addiction to their 12-inch monster mixes (the foot-wide version of the puerile “People Are People” seven-inch, for instance, is a miraculous transformation, the nearest anyone’s yet come to the perfect arc-welding of pop and industry, funk and factory) send me in Depeche Mode’s direction with a more than sneaking regard for them. But because all their little victories, their refinements and tricky subversions of the norm, have happened over so long a time and at such an evolutionary, definitely careful, pace, I also carry an armful of complaints, grumbles and reservations as I approach them.

OR RATHER, at first, quarter of them! As Depeche Mode have metamorphosed in the unrelenting glare of pop’s spotlight, from little boys to, well, bigger boys, they’ve (naturally) changed, and Martin Gore’s the one who’s altered most startlingly.

When Clarke’s departure thrust the yoke of DM songsmith onto him, Gore was a shy Basildon boy, engaged to the girl next door. Passing him in the street, you wouldn’t have spared him a second glance. And now, three years on, he’s…

Well, he’s sat in front of me in a pub where a chess match (complete with chess rowdies!) is in progress. You’d now afford him that second look, and probably a few more besides. His tiny, girlish fame is armoured from head to foot in creaking black leather. His platinum quiff has been squeezed, like toothpaste, through a hole in his otherwise shaven head. His makeup is ghostly white and thick, his nail varnish iron-cross black and chipped.

Martin, you see, caddishly ditched the G-N-D, took up with a fraulein called Christine [sic] and deserted Basildon for the last stop on rock’n’roll’s main line, siege city Berlin, a place which for the purposes of this story is entirely populated by Turkish wage slaves and the totally wired, next-stop-hell (or, failing that, the ICA) artistic community so lovingly chronicled by our very own Don and Biba.

The effect of this relocation on our hero was pure Road To Damascus. Martin Gore (who’s probably more pleased with his surname now than ever before) has attempted to take on the heart-of-darkness trappings and attitudes of the likes of Messrs Bargeld (indigenous Berliner), Cave and Thirlwell (honorary Wallflowers).

Now, it’s sometimes hard enough to take this latter trio entirely seriously in their chosen roles as decadent, death-defying delvers into the unlit recesses of the psychic junkyard, so what price a cherubic Essex lad with a voice that should, if there was any justice, have seen him a member of his local council’s Parks, Gardens and Floral Verges Department? No, try as he might, Martin Gore comes across as a viralpop YOP, a Reasonable Seed, a Chad Valley Nick Cave.

But he does try. From the mind that once rhymed “should it be" with "awfully”, catch some of this:

"I’m quite a pessimistic person and I see life as quite boring. So I kind of see our stuff as… Love And Sex And Drink Against The Boredom Of Life.

"When I write love songs people think they’re really soppy, but I see love as… a consolation for the boredom of life. And drink and sex…

"Personally speaking I think we’re quite decadent. When we’re on tour, which is generally very boring, we, orsome of us, tend to go out every night, have a lot to drink and generally have a good time. Consolation, see? I know it’s all expected of rock bands, but going out is enjoyable, drinking is enjoyable and collapsing isenjoyable.”

There’s miles more of this loving and humping and boozing stuff but you get the general drift.

A bargain of sorts has been struck here. In return for the Neubaten / Atatac (a German label much admired by MG) flourishes that add a new dimension, an undreamt-of depth, to the 12-inches of “People” (Different Mix), “Master And Servant” (Slavery Whip Mix, natch) and “Shake The Disease” (Something To Do Mix), we have to tolerate the sad spectacle of the only son of Mrs Gore of Basildon, Essex, boozing and shagging his frail body to a soggy string. Sort of. But, as it doesn’t seem to be doing him too much harm – lots of people wear leather skirts and dresses, don’t they? – it doesn’t strike as too bad a deal.

Actually, cowhide couture, miserabilism and consolatory sex aside for the moment, Berlin has been important and good for Martin Gore, leaving him more outgoing, confident and, having absorbed a lot of music he wouldn’t necessarily have heard on Radio Basildon, a better writer. So Depeche Mode, though it’s hard to believe that the band’s internal cohesion has been helped by Martin’s lifestyle transformation, have benefited too.

SO, WHILE Martin downs another whiskey in his bid to compensate for the boredom of a life that sees him jetting around the world to make pop music (his father drives lorries in Basildon), it seems, what with all this confidence in the air and an ego-massaging LP on the blocks, a good time to get my gripe about Depeche Mode off my chest.

It’s just this, Mart: yes, DM have made some spanking good records, and yes, DM have kept us all on our toes by incorporating, using, then moving on, but it’s all happened at such a sedate, civilised pace. Depeche Mode never do anything extreme, disturbing or dirty.

Don’t you ever get the urge to smash through this self-imposed restraint to set yourself and Depeche Mode dizzyingly free? Don’t you ever feel like casting off all the consideration, all the ticka-ticka Timex precision, and pummelling this music into extremis, to really let rip?

"I want to represent life’s boredom…"

Sorry I asked.

"… and if you take things to absurd extremes you’re not really reflecting life. Real life is not extreme, so we’re not, and nor is our music."

There’s an obvious trap here; if DM’s records attempt to reflect life which is drifting dully by, won’t the records follow suit?

"But if I represent life…" a thought dies somewhere between Martin Gore’s brain and lips, "…that’s all I want to do."

You seem to be suggesting that you somehow deliberately make less than riveting records.

"Sometimes I do change things because they’re too bright or summery or poppy. But if I make boring records and people identify with them, then I’ve achieved my aim."

In a pop world feverishly concerned with gilding life’s sometimes tatty lily, Martin Gore’s avowed project, apparently to make a music as dishwatery dull as the greyest grey day (a project with Gore’s passion for, and expertise in, Perfect Pop dooms to finger snappin’, humalong failure) is indeed remarkable. Not to say unique. Not to say a touch loony.

As a parting shot – the table is littered with dead ‘uns, the chess matches juddering to their titanic conclusions – I wonder if Martin’s dabblings in Berlin meant that he’d outgrown his fellow Moders.

"To an extent that may be the case… they seem to accept what I think though…" The pansticked face contorts with the strain of serious thought. "At the moment they’re most worried about the way I dress, about my dresses in fact. Maybe I’ll get them all wearing them…”

"WHA’SH THE difference between an egg anna wank? You can beat an egg but you can’t b…" Thank you, thank you, Mr Disgustingly Loud and Drunk Nuisance.

Another evening, another pub, and the other 75% of Depeche Mode have attracted an unsolicited cabaret.

They’ve changed too. Dave Gahan’s old angelpuss has been replaced by a stubbly leer better suited to a car thief turned pop star. He, unlike the dastardly Gore, has recently married his childhood sweetheart. Alan Wilder looks what he is, a sensible working musician, while the beanpole Andy Fletcher, earnest and straight as a Mother Theresa-dealt poker hand, would make a great inner city vicar. These people will not take easily to wearing leather skirts. So Martin’s dream of a full scale Depeche Mode Leather Lovelies Revue is liable to remain unfulfilled. In other matters, however, the remaining Modemen are well aware of their reliance on Gore.

"Yes, we are very dependent on Martin’s ideas, his writing," begins Al. "Whatever his whim of the moment is, that’s what the songs are about. We have to accept that."

"We’re usually happy to accept that,” the newlywed takes up the theme. “We get our say in the studio. Sometimes Martin’s not entirely with what’s happened to his demos, but he’s the kind of bloke that doesn’t say much…”

’til after it’s released.”

Dave, Al and Fletch watched the transformation of Martin with an assortment of eyes. As mates they were pleased that he’d found new love and turned his back on an England that stultified him. As Moders, adrift without Martin’s songs and, lyrically, prisoners to his changes, they looked on with a mixture of fascination, bemusement and trepidation.

Their worst fears having proved unfounded – Martin didn’t become a coke-encrusted axe murderer and his songs were not suddenly peopled with smack-wrecked bluesmonster shamen – they’ve each come to terms with the post-Berlin model Gore in their own way. Fletch, in his role as Best Mate, loyally feels that it was all very necessary. His escape from a relationship that he could no longer come to terms with, rather than where that escape propelled him to, liberated Martin.

Dave Gahan and Alan Wilder take a less romanticised view.

"He has totally changed,” offers Gahan, adding psychiatry to his list of accomplishments. “But he’s just being the way he wanted to be anyway. Mart missed out on his teens, just generally going out, seeing different girls every night and getting drunk all the time, y’know, not caring. He’s living all that now. It’s not a bad thing. Everybody should go through that phase.

"Personally, I think he’s just doing all the things I did when I was 16. All that stuff about boredom is exactly the attitude that I went through. I went to clubs with people much older than myself. I wore tons of makeup, and dresses too. But now if I go to a club I just want to have a good time, not to shock. Nothing shocks any more. Shocking is over, unless you cut your head off or something.

"But Martin says that he hates going into the street and feeling normal. As soon as he gets into a normal situation, he gets scared."

"He does enjoy it," it’s Alan now, "when we go through Customs and they ask him if he wants to go into the men’s or women’s cubicles to be searched."

David Gahan has the last word. “I look at a lot of things Martin does now, and I just laugh…”

FROM ALL this it sounds like there’s plenty of scope for, shall we say, friction within the ranks of Depeche Mode, that the upcoming compilation could be an epitaph rather than a watershed or a springboard. In fact, though, they all seem remarkably committed to a band that is now, after all, six years old.

That being the case, and given Martin Gore’s evident excitement about the new Mode noises currently vying for space in that head awash with wine, women and song, everything in the DM garden looks rosy. So it’s time again for gripe-airing. Same complaint, same question – when will they abandon their demure, stately progress? Are they going to be brave enough to push?

Feet are mentally shuffled, like guilty schoolboys. Eye contact is avoided: they answer in relays.

"We sometimes feel that we want to but then we start rationalising." Alan shuffles the buck sideways.

"We like our success, the fact that we sell a lot of records. Our very first single charted so we got to like the feeling of success." Fletch passes it on.
"I don’t think we go far enough… it frustrates me. I always feel we could go much further than we do." Dave’s got it now. "I like the success too, so it’s difficult… but surely…" CLANG!! The penny drops like a collapsing new building.

"…the fact that we’ve kept in the Top 20 all this time means that we’re in a position to do it, to push, to take a few risks."

Yes, Dave it does. Yes Alan, you can. And Fletch, the $64,000 question, will you?”

"I’m gonna push."

"I think you’re being a bit naïve."

"But I think we will do it, given time…"

Given time!! Given bloody time?? Gggnnraahh!! “Gggnnraahh” is an approximation of the sound made by the journalist-fan, eyes bulging from their sockets, simultaneously eating a tape recorder and a copy of “Some Great Reward”.

Given time? After taking five whole years to advance, however stylishly, their perfectly imperfect pop from A to somewhere past C, Depeche want more time with their big toes in the water before finally shutting their eyes and taking the plunge of which they’re so obviously capable.

But, in the end, I don’t know why I’m giving myself blood pressure about it. In another five years Fletch, Al and Dave’ll probably be respected members of their local Rotary Club , no, they don’t play imported funk at the Rotary while Martin may well have a huge spanner through his nose and a harem of alkies. And the second volume of Depeche Mode hits, all Top 20 stuff, mind, no fillers, will be ready for issue.

The question to which the chaps of Depeche Mode must urgently address themselves is will there still be anybody listening?

non-profit use only

Happy Birthday Depeche Mode with your single ‘It’s called a heart’ released on 16|9|1985, 29 years ago ! 

Martin Gore & Alan Wilder have often been quoted as saying “It’s Called a Heart” is their least favorite single ever recorded by Depeche Mode, On the documentary included on the remastered edition of the Black Celebration album, it is revealed that the band wanted to release “Fly on the Windscreen” as a single, but the Mute Records publicist nixed that idea, as the song starts with the word “death”. However, the so-called “Final” version of the song was included on Black Celebration, released the following year.

There is no limited edition (“L12 Bong”) version of this single in the way that most other Depeche Mode singles have been. Instead there was a “D12 Bong”, a double 12”, that featured both the standard 12” and the remix 12”.

Highest ranking was in the Irish charts; #5

The music video was directed by Peter Care and shot on location in a  Berkshire cornfield.

youtube; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_frfuQYofw0


Anton Corbijn, Paris, sept. 2014 © Mathieu Zazzo pour #LeFigaro Magazine

Something got mixed-up here ! 



BBCARCHIVES Depeche Mode Live 11 June 1981

Awesome Live Session from the early period 1981 | Via Soundcloud

#DepecheMode ’ have changed a lot But it would be wrong to say that after 13 years, they have ‘grown up’ they are still growing Article I-D 10|93 by Michael Fuchs-Gambock + PromoSheet Songs Of Faith And Devotion |Sire US


Depeche Mode are both loved and hated, usually to extremes. They are one of Britain’s biggest pop exports, but the dedication of their fans is often matched by damnation from the press. We talked to songwriter Martin Gore about life, love, music, and why he wants the band to keep taking chances. Interview by Michael Fuchs-Gambock. Photography by Anton Corbijn.

Dave Gahan is less than a centimetre tall. There are about 15,000 people standing between me and him, and as he launches into the chorus of I Feel You, I decide to find out if I can get close enough to see what he actually looks like in the flesh these days. After heaving through a hundred yards of black-clad shoulders, dodging the wayward flames of raised cigarette lighters, Gahan has increased in size. He’s now nearly an inch tall.

As pop stars get bigger, they tend to get smaller. Further away, that is. If this is true, judging by the indications on this mild Saturday night in Crystal Palace’s football stadium, Depeche Mode are a very large phenomenon indeed. Some 35,000 people, or ‘Devotees’ as the band’s latest T-shirts would have it, have gathered in the twilight for the first UK appearance of the Songs Of Faith And Devotion tour.

Depeche Mode have become a pop paradox: a band whose lyrics concentrate on the introverted individual, on anomie and alienation, but who attract a community of fans who mouth every memorised word in chorus.

Gahan’s bellowed exhortations of “come on!” and “make some fucking noise!” also disrupt the introspective trance that the music creates, while Gahan himself offers the incongruous spectacle of a macho-camp Rock God in leather trousers, tattoos and tresses fronting intense songs about pain and isolation.

It all comes together for the final encore. Gahan, the high priest, allows his fans to sing the last few choruses ofEverything Counts acapella, ending the show in an expression of communal celebration: from alienation to togetherness.

This is all good stuff. Depeche Mode are, undoubtedly, part of a modern tradition of Great British Pop. Like other superlative white electronic pop groups – the Pet Shop Boys, New Order, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, The Human League, The Beloved – they have never let their intellectual baggage or pretensions to artiness get in the way of a good tune or a catchy chorus. Like most of these bands, their lyrics exude a painful naivete that’s almost embarrassing in its untutored frankness. This is what has turned a lot of rock press writers off and resulted in the acres of bad reviews they’ve had in the UK over the past 13 years. But it’s this same English gawkiness that appeals to their fans: they find it endearing, they relate to it, as if the lyrics were about their lives.

And this is where Depeche win again. As with New Order, the vagueness of their songs means you can project your own personality into them, replay your feelings and fears over their soundtrack. Their lyrics are a mirror which reflects anything you want to put in front of it. Never Let Me Down, for example, with phrases like “I’m taking a ride with my best friend” and “we’re flying high, watching the world pass us by… never want to come down”, could be about taking hallucinogenic drugs. It could be about sub-dom sex. It could, however, just be about a drive in the country with a mate. It’s up to you what you want to think, and Depeche, of course, aren’t saying; they know that being too specific ruins the mystery that’s at the heart of great pop music.

Depeche Mode’s is a career mapped out in a set of beautiful pop ‘moments’ – New LifeJust Can’t Get Enough,Everything CountsStripped; each one a soundtrack to a memory, a snapshot of youth past. Up until 1987’sMusic For The Masses, it was the singles that counted. The albums were often patchy affairs, rich in ideas and concepts, though cemented with filler. If the story of Depeche Mode is one of suburban lads growing up, it’s also the story of a singles band becoming an albums band: in commercial terms, considering albums are where the real money is, it’s a story of success. (Since their first single, Dreaming Of Me, in 1981, their fame has spread outwards through Europe and the Americas. The last album, Violator, sold over six million copies globally.)

Music For The Masses was a superb record, the one on which the sweeping orchestral arrangements that they have been developing finally gelled. Pure and electronic, the whole thing moved along like a giant, menacing juggernaut of perfectly integrated noise. Any sweetness and light had evaporated, to be replaced by this awesome, brooding thing. 1990’s Violator, their darkest hour, went further, splicing ambient interludes in between the ambiguously threatening songs (it should be noted here that Depeche Mode’s Alan Wilder has recorded two excellent albums under the name Recoil – the first in 1988, years before the current ambient boom).Personal Jesus, the anthemic rock-out hit, marked the start of Depeche’s affair with the guitar riff, one which would continue on this year’s Songs Of Faith And Devotion. Faith And Devotion is perhaps their most daring record: the final step in the three-album journey from uncertainty through darkness to redemption. This time, as well as almost becoming a Rock Band, the group have employed a gospel choir, string section and Irish uillean bagpipes to further deepen their sonic textures.

"I think we started off very closed-minded, we had tunnel vision like most rock musicians have – they think that rock is the only way," admits Martin Gore. "We believed that rock music had stagnated, and computers and electronics were the way forward for music. And gradually we’ve realised that we shouldn’t be as closed-minded as the rock musicians who don’t consider electronic music. We’re more open now, not limiting ourselves through our instrumentation."

Songs like Condemnation and Walking In My Shoes are both melancholy and messianic, truly epic in their proportions. Gahan acts as both sinner and confessor, interpreting Gore’s lyrics with total belief, as if he’d lived them. The album also demonstrates how his voice has matured from the androgynous teenage wisp of the early ’80s to a full-bodied masculine groan.

But the step forward wasn’t taken without trepidation. Even Gore wasn’t sure about using the gospel choir at first. It was their producer, Flood, who also works with U2, who convinced him. “I was very cagey about it – we’ve been going for 13 years now and we’ve never used another musician on any of our records. I always had this theory that if you do it yourselves, it doesn’t matter if you do it badly, you do it more passionately than bringing in outside musicians, because they just come in, they get paid for the day and they do their job, but at the end of the day there’ll be more passion in it if you do it yourself.

"We got the choir in and I was just sitting at the back thinking ‘this isn’t going to work, I don’t know why we’re trying this’, I was really nervous about the whole thing. But the moment they started singing, for me, it lifted the track onto another level, it was just up there somewhere, and so then I decided I shouldn’t be so closed-minded about the whole thing.”

Depeche Mode have been clever about their career. They’ve constantly strived to avoid descending into self-parody. “With every album we push ourselves to do things differently,” insists Gore. Examples abound: the adoption of industrial noise in 1983 on Construction Time Again, when, influenced by contemporary and industrial metal-bashing groups like Einsturzende Neubauten, Test Department and SPK, they went around the streets tape-recording building site noises for use as samples. The flirtation with edge sexuality and tainted religion which started on 1984’s Some Great Reward. The recent embracing of rock guitars (perhaps prompted by harder labelmates Nitzer Ebb and the screaming tekno-metal of Ministry?).

The image overhauls and costume changes are part of it too, though the band would rather play those down. “I really think that too much emphasis is put on image and I don’t like that,” says Gore. “We wear a lot of black because we feel comfortable wearing black.” But certainly, they are now taking more control over how they are seen. They are only photographed by one man, Dutch auteur Anton Corbijn (who – again – also works for U2). He directs their videos and art-directs their record sleeves, too. It’s as if they were so pissed off at being portrayed as fools in leather skirts by the music press, they decided to grab back their image and recreate it for themselves.

"In 1981, when Speak And Spell, our first album, came out, we were 18 years old; we were young, we were naïve, we didn’t have a clue! From one day to the next, we were being thrust on TV, we were being put into the press, and at that time we thought we should do every interview that came along, and we didn’t particularly care about our image; we were just kids, y’know?” Gore confirms. “It took us a long time to get to grips with what was actually happening, how to take control of our image and the things that we put out to the world.”

In Germany, the music press has just woken up to the fact that Depeche haven’t been a teen-pop sensation for a very long time, and are suddenly treating Dave Gahan as if he was Keith Richards or some other raddled rock roué: “They’re writing these stories at the moment that Dave has AIDS or he’s dying or he’s on heavy drugs, and it’s so funny because it doesn’t actually do us any harm, it sells more records,” Gore laughs. “Anyone reading it must think ‘that sounds really interesting, I’ve got to go and buy that’!”

Perhaps it’s not surprising that unlikely stories abound. Depeche have developed some sort of bunker mentality – it’s them against the world (or rather, the media). In interviews they have tended to close themselves off, keep their guards up, be vague about specifics and hesitant to commit to anything, mainly because they hate the idea of their lives being scrutinised. Naturally, cynical pundits have asked whether they’ve got something to hide. Unsubstantiated tales of on-the-road excess have been compounded by Gahan’s confessions about his alcohol and relationship problems. The interview situation is never one they’ve felt comfortable with, as Gahan admitted to the Melody Maker a couple of years back. Even here, ensconced in the cosy confines of a London hotel, Martin Gore is holding a lot back. Chatty, cheery, but impeccably circumspect.

One thing he is direct about is that Depeche Mode are in no way the ‘godfathers of techno’. This story has long since passed into the realm of media cliché. True, their supple, undulating rhythms came direct from Kraftwerk and were blueprinted during Britain’s last genuine groundswell of technologically-led music in the early ’80s. Certainly, remixes by American maestros like Francois Kevorkian and Shep Pettibone have (in the States at least) gained them an audience in dance clubs. But despite their stated love of “any club which serves alcohol” and sightings of Martin Gore at London’s industrial-techno mecca, Hardclub, Depeche Mode do not belong todance music in the way that, say, The Beloved do. Their roots and intentions are elsewhere.

"The dance aspect is not that important," says Gore. "Half of every album is slow, atmospheric ballads. We’ve been labelled a dance band throughout our whole career, and I find that very funny, because I would like to see somebody dance to half our records – you can’t do it!" he laughs. "I like to dance and I like dance music; we always try to use interesting people to do remixes of singles, but to me it’s not the most important thing." As if by way of illustration, the remixes of the first single of 1993, I Feel You, were completed by Brian Eno. His ambient textures and weather-static noises accentuate the brooding emotion in what is perhaps the most successful remodelling of a pop song this year.

Songs Of Faith And Devotion was three years coming. After finishing the Violator tour, the band took a year off. Gahan got divorced and remarried, moved to Los Angeles, and started listening to Neil Young, Jane’s Addiction and Soundgarden. Wilder produced another Recoil solo album, Bloodline, using the vocals of Moby and Curve’s Toni Halliday amongst others. Gore chilled out. “I had a daughter in that year off, and that had a really positive effect on me. The new album has a very uplifting feel to it and I’m sure that is due to my daughter. You see a life being born and growing, it’s just wonderful, it moves you.”

He also indulged himself in his record collection. “I’m not passionate about anything other than music. I bore my friends to death with music! I often invite friends to come and stay with me, and I get drunk and I play them every one of my favourite records. At the end of the night, everybody is crawling to bed, and I’m still left saying, ‘But youhave to listen to this one!’”

Did those boozy hi-fi sessions show up in Songs Of Faith And Devotion? “We don’t analyse things a lot; I think that’s the best way. People who analyse a lot come to conclusions before they make the first step, and that’s wrong. You should do things more naturally. Things that we listen to just come out in our music subtly. Personal Jesus, when we recorded that, it wasn’t until we finished it I realised the obvious influences that were there. I’ve always liked glam rock, and there were obvious connotations of glam rock in there. But also I really like blues music, and I realised after we’d finished it that the main riff was pure John Lee Hooker.

"Over the last few years, I’ve listened to a lot of gospel music, but it wasn’t a conscious decision to ‘go more gospel’ on this album, it’s just something that came out naturally because it’s what I listen to. Blues and gospel are probably my two main influences, but also thrown in the bag is glam rock, dance music… I like virtually every sort of music, everything except jazz. I don’t like jazz, I’ve tried, but I don’t get it!"

It turns out that the genesis of Depeche Mode is in this thirst for musical discovery, the quest for tunes. “When I was ten or 11, I discovered my mother’s old rock’n’roll singles in the cupboard, stuff like Elvis, Chuck Berry, Del Shannon, and I played those records over and over again, and I realised then that that was the only thing I was really interested in, and it went on from there,” Gore recalls. “We formed a band as a hobby. If we hadn’t become successful, I’m sure I’d just be doing a job somewhere but playing a gig somewhere every Saturday night because that’s what I believe in.”

The exact opposite of Andrew Fletcher, the non-musician who appears on stage but plays nothing, acting as the band’s business ‘sorter’. “Andy should have been a sportsman. He’s so funny. He pulls the rest of us back down to earth, because he comes in as a layman, he knows nothing!” Gore laughs raucously. “I think the last record he bought was Mr Blue Sky by ELO! If the rest of us get carried away, if we’re all sitting around the computer or something going ‘oh that’s really great’, he’ll come in and go ‘that’s terrible, I don’t get that’! He’s no worse at music than your average fan, so if he doesn’t get it, no-one’s going to get it.”

Dave Gahan has said that Songs Of Faith And Devotion is all about trying to take people to a higher level, above the depression and detritus of contemporary society. Do you agree?

"The world is always in a sorry state. I don’t think you can change that through music, but you can lift people and you can make people think. A lot of people find our music depressing and moody, but they’ve missed the point. Our music always offers something uplifting. I am a positive person and I hate negative music. What is the point of negative music?

"Our music is not happy music, our music is realistic. The realism is that it’s not going to be happy all the time, it’s going to be depressing, but there is always light at the end of the tunnel."

Does this yearning for the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ explain your interest in religious imagery, which has become more marked as the albums go by?

"I have a fascination with religion, but I’ve never found a religion to follow. I really like the idea of belief. I want to believe. But I’ve never found something to believe in. Maybe it’s very naïve, but the only religion for me is love. I believe in love. So that’s why the songs touch on love, sex and religion; for me they’re the same thing."

How does this translate into lyrics?

"I don’t have a solution, I’m still searching. My confusion is put out in the music. As I say, the only answers I have are love and sex. I don’t sit down and write a song and say ‘this is the message I want to give to the people’. I don’t even know why I write songs, I don’t know what I want to say, but I do want to move people."

The songs you write veer wildly between optimism and pessimism. One minute you are offering doom, the next minute hope.

"On the new album, I say ‘I will have faith in man’. Because if you don’t have faith in man, give up. But at the same time, I realise man has an inherent evilness, and things like the Third Reich and the Nazis fascinate me because they make you realise how evil man can be. Especially the average man – he can be so evil. But you have to believe that he will come through.

"Two or three years ago when the Wall came down and there was an end to communism, it looked like the world was suddenly going to be a happy place. It looked like we were all getting on. But then you get Yugoslavia… it will always happen; man is inherently evil, but you have to have faith in him.

"I actually think that the world never changes. If you think that everything’s going well, it’s not; in part of the world things will be going bad. In a way, it’s like music. Sometimes I look at the charts and I think the charts have just gone downhill so much, they are so crap, what is happening? And Andy, the layman, once said to me, ‘Well, when was music really good, then?’ And I said, ‘When I was growing up, 1972, 1973 – Gary Glitter, The Sweet, that was an excellent time.’ But then we got the chart for 1972 and we looked back – and it was crap then! It was crap then, it’s crap now – the world doesn’t change!"

But Depeche Mode have changed a lot. Developed. Achieved. Matured. But it would be wrong to say that, after 13 years, they have ‘grown up’. They are still growing.

For Non Profit Use Only | Photos by Anton Corbijn

Happy Birthday Depeche Mode with your single ‘Condemnation’ released on 13|9|1993, 21 years ago ! 

Highest Chart ranking: Sweden #3

"Condemnation" is a gospel-esque song with a rock twist. The 7” version is the “Paris Mix”, with female backing vocals added and an emerging drum beat scheme. Dave Gahan voted for “Condemnation” to be the first single for Songs of Faith and Devotion, but lost.

The B-sides are remixes of “Death’s Door” and “Rush”, and some live tracks from the Devotional Tour. “Death’s Door” was a song from the 1991 Until the the end of the world [Wim Wenders] soundtrack. The original version is still exclusive to that CD, recorded only by Martin & Alan after the World Violation Tour was over.

The music video for “Condemnation” was directed by Anton Corbijn. It did not appear on The Videos 86-98 in 1998, replaced by the live version from Devotional. The original video eventually resurfaced on The Videos 86-98’s 2002 re-release (The Videos 86-98+). Both videos appear on the Devotional DVD re-release in 2004 (although the “Condemnation Live” video was edited so that it wasn’t identical to the one in the main Devotional movie).

Link Anton Corbijn’s music video via Youtube; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTiBpciGkms

Martin Gore:I think that’s the only time in our history when we all looked to each other & said ”I think this might be a hit’ article from MOJO aug 2012

'Breaking The Law'

Depeche Mode’s Martin Gore retraces the equipment-strewn path towards the world-dominating stadium electronica of 1990’s Violator.

I got into electronic music when I was around 16, started off by Kraftwerk, obviously. Later, one of my friends got a synthesizer and we started listening to the early electronic scene, like The Dignity of Labour by The Human League. I went to see The Human League in 1979 and it was exciting to see people playing synthesizers on stage so afterwards I went out and bought a very cheap Yamaha CS-5, which was all I could afford then.

I was fascinated by the possibility of making new sounds. It felt like moving into the future, doing something that hadn’t done before. I’d played in bands from the age of 13, always played guitar, but weren’t doing anything revolutionary. Punk seemed revolutionary and, after punk, electronic music seemed to have the edge.

In Depeche Mode we started out very young and had led very sheltered lives. Then we were thrust into the limelight. Vince [Clarke] left suddenly [after 1981 album Speak & Spell] and I don’t think we thought too much about what we were resenting to the world.

It was only we were starting making [third album] Construction Time Again [1983] that we had travelled and grown up a bit and thought we should take things a little more seriously. Being with Daniel Miller of Mute was a big part of our growing process. To this days we listening to everything he says. He exposed us to a lot of stuff that we weren’t aware of before. I remember being in Daniel’s car listening to Alles Ist Gut by [German electro-punk band] DAF and thinking, Wow, this is amazing.

These songs weren’t throwaway as the earlier songs. Everything we’ve done falls into the pop realm but maybe we’re on the fringes of pop sometimes. And the sampler came up, which opened up a new area. It was really fun time. We probably spent as much time sampling as we did making music. We sampled anything and everything could get our hands on. Things were just lying around the studio – you could always get some percussion out of the cutlery drawer. Then we’d go out with sledgehammers into desolate area and start smashing pieces of metal. It was about creating music out of all these different sound elements. [1984 single] People Are People, for instance: initial attack on the bass drum came from hitting a piece of metal and then we spliced that onto an actual bass drum. Something very simple but, until that time, those things had been really complicates to do.

We were using the Emulator [8-bit sampler], which was amazing technology at the time but, looking back, it was very limited. You had to store one sound on a huge floppy disc. There were times you’d be working on something and you’d forget to press save and you’d think, Shit, I’ve just lost a day’s work. There was one time around the 1982 when we were using a prototype PPG [eaerlier digital synthesizer] live and it was very unreliable. Kraftwerk turned up to see us play somewhere in Germany and the PPG went down during the first song and never came back. It was one of the worst concerts we’ve ever played.

From 1981 to 1983 we felt that there was no hope for us in America. Every interview seemed like a battle with someone who was obviously into Bruce Springsteen and didn’t consider electronic music to be real music at all. We dreaded going into every interview. But around the time of Some Great Reward went back to America and we realised that alternative music had taken off and we were flag-bearers for this new scene. There ewer huge alternative radio stations playing us, The Smiths and The Cure. Suddenly, it was good to be doing something different.

Black Celebration, for me, was the first album where we started putting all the pieces together. We were on a high because we were starting to get a worldwide following. We went back to Berlin and worked with Daniel Miller and Gareth Jones again and everything fell in place. Daniel invested in a Synclavier [polyphonic sampler], which at the time was a fortune. It opened up more possibilities. For Stripped we took microphones out and got Dave to rev his car. We went out and let off the fireworks. Gareth was very excitable, so if we had an idea he’d run around and setting up various mikes, trying to position them perfectly to catch the trajectory of the fireworks. It’s amazing how much energy Gareth had. If it had been left to us we’d have gone, ”It sounds like a really good idea but we can’t be bothered to set the mikes up!”

I think it was important that we were out there doing it live when there no one else, especially in America. I think people were shocked that they could come to a show and see people, pretty static behind keyboards, playing electronic music, and it was still exciting. Dave was a huge part of that. He was the human element engaging the audience when there wasn’t much else going on.

Before Violator I used to go out to a lot of clubs. The rave scene was happening and I was influenced by it up to a point, but we weren’t that aware of Detroit [techno] scene. When we got taken out to Detroit by The Face magazine to meet up with Derrick May we knew who he was but we weren’t big fans. But I was more opened to change with the songs on Violator. It wasn’t just about recreating the demos with much better sound. It was more ”Let’s work on this as a band.” At that point I was happy presenting a song idea and working on it but when it came to fine-turning – what Flood used to call the ”spanner work” – that used to drive me mad. It was days of tinkering but it created a great feel.

I usually start with some chords or an atmosphere and start singing along. The original demo of Enjoy The Silence was very slow and minimal, just me and harmonium, and Alan had this idea to putting a beat to it. We added the choir chords and Flood and Alan said, ”Why don’t you play some guitar over the top?” That’s when I came up with the riff. I think that’s the only time in our history when we all looked to each other and said, ”I think this might be a hit.” We’d done a lot of work up to that point. We’d put an album out almost every year in the ’80s and I think that helped build a fanbase so we were riding the crest of a wave when Violator came out. Sometimes you have to realise it’s just being in right place at the right time.

Electronic music seemed to be doing all the things that were exciting about punk and doing it in a futuristic way. I didn’t realise it could be as big as it became. I could see it flourishing but it was still a shock in 1981 to see Soft Cell zoom up the charts, because Tainted Love still sounded underground to me. Whereas nowadays, of course, you can’t get away from it.

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