DENNIS BURMEISTER & SASCHA LANGE
THE FIRST COMPLETE SHOWCASE OF A SINGULAR BAND
100 million records sold. Sold-out tours. An exceptional fan community. A success story more than three decades long has been made vivid and real thanks to one of the world’s largest Depeche Mode collections: featuring the complete discography, unpublished photos, rare bootlegs, unusual record company promo material, interviews, as well as detailed descriptions of the diverse fan scene. This allows the band’s growth and coming of age from 1980 to the present day to be experienced afresh, and gives a new view of the pop-cultural significance of Depeche Mode. Featuring exclusive material from Alan Wilder, Daryl Bamonte, and interviews with Anne Haffmans (Label Manager Mute, Germany) and Daniel Miller, Depeche Mode’s discoverer. Depeche Fans know more about Depeche than me. If there was a university challenge with me and Martin and Dave against three fans, they would win easily. Andy Fletcher, Depeche Mode
“A wonderful book.” Daniel Miller
DENNIS BURMEISTER & SASCHA LANGE ISBN 978-3-351-05011-5 www.blumenbar.de
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DENNIS BURMEISTER & SASCHA L ANGE
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PREFACE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 BASILDON . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 SPEAK AND SPELL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 A BROKEN FRAME . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50 CONSTRUCTION TIME AGAIN . . . . . . . . . 70 SOME GREAT REWARD . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94 THE SINGLES 81 – 85 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 120 BLACK CELEBRATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 136 MUSIC FOR THE MASSES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 160 VIOLATOR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 190 SONGS OF FAITH AND DEVOTION . . . . 212 ULTRA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 232 EXCITER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 260 PLAYING THE ANGEL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 280 INTERVIEW WITH DARYL BAMONTE . . . . . . 298 SOUNDS OF THE UNIVERSE . . . . . . . . . . . 300 INTERVIEW WITH ANNE HAFFMANS . . . . . 324 DELTA MACHINE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 330 INTERVIEW WITH DANIEL MILLER . . . . . . . . . 342 FAN CULTURE IN THE EAST AND WEST BEHIND THE WALL . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 358 THE OFFICIAL DEPECHE MODE FAN CLUB . 388 BOOTLEGS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 394 FAN EXHIBITION 2013 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 396 APPENDIX COMPLETE TOUR DATES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 412 BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 423 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 424
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A BOOK FOR THE MASSES For over thirty years, Depeche Mode has thrilled millions of fans and yet the band has never made music for the masses. From the bubblegum synth-pop of their album Speak & Spell to the metallic reverberations of Some Great Reward, with their momentous Music for the Masses, the global smash hit Violator, the digital, minimalist Exciter, or their latest album Delta Machine, Depeche Mode has always refused to follow chart trends or be knocked off course by their detractors. And these are just a few of the things that have made them so popular with their huge fan base. There’s no other word for it: Depeche Mode is a phenomenon. Mute Label manager Anne Haffmans had already heard about Dennis Burmeister’s Depeche Mode collection. For the past 25 years, Burmeister has accumulated promo material, recordings, merchandising products, newspaper articles, tour posters and even golden discs from all over the world. Among his collection there are rarities such as Depeche Mode’s first 1980 demo tape, which they used in their first unsuccessful attempts to find a record company. It was Anne Haffmans’ suggestion that Burmeister publish a book. But where, in his endless memorabilia, was Burmeister supposed to start? As chance would have it, I met Dennis for the first time in Berlin’s Mute Record offices. He is a graphic designer and collector, and I’m a writer and youth culture historian. But more than this, we are two long-standing Depeche Mode fans, who grew up in the eighties – Dennis in Mecklenburg and I, Sascha in Leipzig. We got talking and the idea of a book didn’t seem like just a pipe dream any more. Five years later, Depeche Mode: MONUMENT has arrived. Our goal was to provide a comprehensive retrospective of the band. And this is the first book ever that allows the reader to trace three decades of music history in a polished synthesis of music and design, right down to the last detail. The story of Depeche Mode is also the story of its very active fan base which has adopted and passed on the band’s style and artwork. This book is unique in presenting a wide-ranging history of the band’s fan culture in the East and West – especially its fan clubs, fanzines and fan parties – which are documented in a very personal chapter. A decisive factor for Depeche Mode: MONUMENT was the catalogue of publications from Mute Records in the UK – home to the band and its label – that spans the book as a complete discography. What’s more, we present German releases, promotion singles, and unusual publications from all over the world. And we are very proud to be able to show unpublished photographs from the archives of Tim Williams, Alan Wilder, Herbert R. Kollisch and Daryl Bamonte. We’d like to give our warm thanks to Mute Records, former Intercord employees, countless photographers, fans, collectors and friends for their support. We wish you an enjoyable journey back in time, and much pleasure indulging in nostalgia, rediscoveries and new findings.
Dennis Burmeister and Sascha Lange
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Basildon The Birth Of A Band
BASILDON THE BIRTH OF A BAND Basildon is boring. About thirty miles east of central London, not a trace of the pulsating city’s coolness can be found. Just one dull modern estate after another with rows of low, terraced housing as far as the eye can see, built on a field in postwar England for 80,000 residents. Growing up as a teenager in the late 1970s, the only options were getting drunk, getting into fights or starting a band. And right here is where the incredible story of Depeche Mode begins. Dave Gahan, Andy Fletcher, Martin Gore and Vince Clarke, the founding members of Depeche Mode, grew up in modest but not deprived families in Basildon. Vincent John Martin (Vince), born on 3 July 1960 in South Woodford, changed his surname to Clarke in Depeche Mode’s early years, allegedly to stop the job centre finding out about them. Vince, the driving force behind the band’s creation, was in the Boys’ Brigade at St. Paul’s Methodist Church in Basildon where he got to know Andrew Fletcher (Andy), born on 8 July 1961 in Nottingham. At school, Vince took violin lessons but later changed to guitar. At the time, the dominant sound on radio airwaves and turntables was still the music from the seventies – Simon & Garfunkel, T. Rex, Pink Floyd and David Bowie. Over time, Vince and Andy stopped going to the Boys’ Brigade and met up at the youth club of their local church instead. They occasionally hung out with shy Martin Lee Gore, born on 23 July 1961 in London, and a school friend of Andy’s. Martin was good at guitar, a big Sparks and Talking Heads fan, and started his first band in 1977 – a duo called Norman and the Worms. In the same year, Vince formed a duo called Nathan, which was influenced by the music of Simon & Garfunkel. Alison Moyet also belonged to the circle of friends around the future Depeche Mode members and later formed Yazoo with Vince Clarke. Alison,
like Martin and Andy, went to St. Nicholas School in Basildon and was in some of their classes. Around this time, many British teenagers dreamed of having their own band and appearing on Top of the Pops, the most popular show on British TV in the pre-MTV era. Those who got on to TOTP had “made it,” so popular opinion went at the time. Then, in 1977, punk broke out like an epidemic – or a revolution – in the UK. The virus infected the brains of countless teenagers. Suddenly, it was really easy to start a band. You didn’t have to take music lessons for years, or even know how to read music: you could play a song on the guitar with just two chords. Do-it-yourself was the one thing anyone needed to know about punk. But punk wasn’t all just fast, aggressive music. When the Manchester-based band Joy Division released its debut album Unknown Pleasures in 1979, and Closer a year later, a whole new genre was unintentionally spawned. Other bands followed. Slow, mournful guitar riffs overlaid with synthesizer sounds spoke to the souls of a generation of teenagers: new wave was born. The synth-minimalism of the 1978 album, Die Mensch Maschine by German electroband Kraftwerk, achieved cult status for the punk and new wave generation. Besides the standard rockband line-up of guitar, bass and drums, whole new instrument combos were made possible by technical developments in electronic music: only a few years previously, drum computers and synthe-
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The Birth Of A Band Basildon
BASILDON, RAILWAY STATION Bonjour Tristesse …
sizers had been out of the price range of working-class teenagers but gradually more and more young musicians could afford these futuristic machines that wouldn’t have looked out of place on Hans Solo’s Millennium Falcon. A new era was ushered in: a 1982 article in the German magazine Der Spiegel talked of “pop music for the Star Wars’ generation,” referring to the countless new electronic bands from the UK. The early monophonic synthesizers could only produce one tone at a time, and so could be played with one finger. This meant you didn’t even need to know any chords to create sounds and melodies. One of the most radical examples of this new, futuristic electronic music was the German band Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft (German American Friendship), DAF for short, and their LP Die Kleinen und Die Bösen. Basildon is boring. That’s why the do-it-yourself genres of punk and new wave spread like wildfire. The Cure’s 1979 record, Three Imaginary Boys, impressed Vince Clarke so much that he wanted to do something similar. His guitar duo Nathan had already split up. His next shortlived band project was called No Romance in China, which he ran with a couple of mates. Vince and Andy didn’t meet in the church youth club any more; by this time they were going to Basildon’s Leisure Centre with Martin Gore and Vince’s mate, Robert Marlow, to talk about their favourite records by bands like OMD, Fad Gadget, The Human
League, The Normal and Kraftwerk. Around this time Martin had a keen interest in Germany – both its language and culture – partly due to a school exchange in Erfde in Schles wig-Holstein. He was particularly keen on the German electro-punk scene and its bands like DAF, Palais Schaumburg and Der Plan. But music remained just his hobby at that time. In summer 1979 Martin finished secondary school and went to work for the NatWest bank in London. Andy Fletcher had been working for Sun Life Insurance since he’d left school. Vince didn’t look for a permanent job at first. Conventional jobs bored him as much as Basildon. Vince wanted to make music, and he wanted to do it full-time, not just after work. But his bands had been short-lived until then. In early 1980 he and his mate Andy started a new band with the slightly clumsy name Composition of Sound. They were aiming to make music that was as futuristic and fresh as the new electronic bands they were into. But Vince only owned a guitar and Andy a bass. So they started looking for other band members. “They only took me on because I was one of the few people in Basildon who had a synthesizer,” recalls Martin Gore who at the time was playing with Robert Marlow in a band called French Look. They started rehearsing in Vince’s small garage at home: he wrote the songs and the beats came out of a cheap drum computer. Around this time, they were already performing living room gigs for friends.
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The Birth Of A Band Basildon
GROWING UP IN BASILDON 16 Shepeshall (Martin Gore), 59 Mynchens (Vince Clarke), 101 Woolmer Green (Andy Fletcher), 56 Bonnygate (Dave Gahan)
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Basildon The Birth Of A Band
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Composition Of Sound Basildon
COMPOSITION OF SOUND On 30 May 1980 Composition of Sound had their first gig in front of a real audience at a party in The Paddock, a community centre in Basildon. Although Vince was the lead singer, he wasn’t really credible because he just stood coyly behind his instrument. “We need a front man to make us look interesting,” was his verdict. At an audition where several people sang David Bowie’s Heroes in a rehearsal room at Woodlands School, a teenager stood out who they knew from their wider circle of friends. David Gahan (Dave), born on 9 May 1962 in Chigwell, was a wild child from another part of Basildon, and a member of the local soul boy scene. “I rehearsed a few times with a couple of bands,” Dave later told the magazine Uncut. “Never played a gig, just rehearsing after school. They were called The Vermin. They were famous in that one area of Basildon. In our own minds we were going to be the next Sex Pistols.” He was also the occasional sound man with French Look. Andy recalls: “Dave looked better than us and had thousands more contacts. We had no contacts. And he sang very well as well.” Spontaneously, Vince asked him if he wanted to be their new singer and on 14 June 1980 the four members of Composition of Sound performed for the first time at a gig in St. Nicholas School’s cloakroom.
Poster for the concert on 14 June 1980 at St Nicholas School in Basildon, designed by Rodney Martin, Vince Clarke’s brother
Poster for the concert on 21 June 1980 at the Top Alex in Southend-on-Sea, designed by Rodney Martin, Vince Clarke’s brother
The new singer quickly worked out the band’s image. Dave had always had a soft spot for fashion and design, which he’d started studying at the Technical College in Southend-on-Sea. The band’s clumsy name in particular was crying out for a makeover. After a few gigs, Dave convinced the others to take on a new, catchier name inspired by a French fashion magazine that he’d come across: DEPECHE MODE. The name was not only changed, the sound also needed to be cooler. For weeks, Vince struggled with crummy temp jobs until at last he was able to afford a synthesizer. Andy got one too. Guitars were a thing of the past. But they weren’t content to pat each other on the back and be proud of having a band: the priority now was to make the band known. And, of course, that was easiest to do by giving as many concerts as possible. A decisive moment came when club owner Gary Turner offered them a regular slot to perform at Crocs in Rayleigh, six miles east of Basildon. And so, in August 1980, they did several gigs there. The club could hold up to 500 people and it was common for it to be packed on a Saturday night. Many people in the audience were followers of the latest New Romantic trend –defined by outlandish clothes and haircuts as well as heavy make-up; the others were mates from Basildon and students from Dave’s technical college. Slowly, their first fan base started to grow, and they began travelling down to London for shows. Vince Clarke fixed their first gig at the Bridgehouse pub in East End’s Canning Town. Although only a few people turned up, the pub owner offered them further show dates. Apart from the songs that Vince wrote, they also had a few cover versions in their repertoire such as Price of Love by the Everly Brothers. It was all going pretty well for Depeche Mode. And these were the days when new records were constantly being released on the market. Why shouldn’t theirs be one of them?
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Basildon Dreaming Of A Single
DREAMING OF A SINGLE A demo tape, urged Vince Clarke, was the only way to get better gigs. And so, in the Lower Wapping Conker Company studio in nearby Barking, they recorded the songs Ice Machine, Photographic and Radio News on a four-track recording system and primitive equipment. They had the cassette copied by the Tape Copying Services in London. As a contact, Vince Clarke handwrote his parent’s address on the inside of each cassette case.
DEMOTAPE The band’s first demo tape was thought to be lost until it turned up at a major online auction house in February 2011 and changed hands for £2,000. A second copy, in the possession of Terry Murphy, owner of the legendary Bridgehouse Pub in Canning Town, was auctioned shortly afterwards fetching the even higher price of £2,800.
Poster for the concert on 16 October 1980 at The Bridgehouse pub in London.
In the hope of making a record deal, Vince and Dave then trawled around several major record labels in London. In those days, you didn’t just send in your demo tape but went personally to see the A&R managers and listened to your tape with them – if they had the time and the inclination. But no one was interested in Depeche Mode. Their last stop was the indie label Rough Trade, with its little shop in Notting Hill. The owner, Richard Scott, listened to the tape but didn’t think they were right for Rough Trade. He pointed them in the direction of Daniel Miller at Mute Records, who was also based in the shop. But on that day he was having a technical problem with the Fad Gadget LP and simply waved them away. So far, Depeche Mode’s band story resembles that of countless other bands – they were young musicians with an ambitious demo tape and no record deal in sight. So the lads sim-
ply focused on their next concert. In November 1980 they supported Fad Gadget in Canning Town. Daniel Miller was also there. After seeing the band live he radically changed his opinion of them. Only a few days went by before Daniel got in touch and asked if they’d be interested in producing a single for Mute. “We were big fans of Mute at that time,” explained Martin later, “and being offered a single deal on the spot was pretty amazing.” At the same time, the band had come to the attention of the 17-year-old manager of Soft Cell, Steve Pearce (Stevo), who asked them to contribute a song to a futurist compilation album that he was planning to release on his label, Some Bizzare. ‘Futurist’ was a catchall term back then for some of the new electronic bands. But it didn’t stick. DJ Stevo, who was also a concert organiser for up-and-coming artists, also wanted to sign up Depeche Mode and tried to tempt them by offering support gigs with Ultravox, as well as a multi-album deal. But Depeche Mode didn’t jump straight away – they were unwilling to commit themselves to a longterm deal on the spot and preferred to release a single to start with. For the Some Bizzare album, they agreed to contribute their song Photographic, which Daniel Miller produced together with the band at the end of 1980 in the Tape One Studio. On 30 January 1981, the compilation was available in the shops, including Depeche Mode’s first song on vinyl. They were still four normal lads from Basildon. But there was no trace of boredom any more – they couldn’t wait to get hold of their first single.
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Dreaming Of A Single Basildon
SOME BIZZARE ALBUM LP • SOME BIZARRE BZLP 1 • UK
The Some Bizzare Album version of Photographic was the only record on which this track was available for a long time. But on 26 October 1998 it was re-released on the reissue of The Singles 81– 85.
SOME BIZZARE Album PROMO Poster • UK
TWENTY BIZARRE NIGHTS To coincide with the Some Bizzare Album 30 January 1981, Stevo Pearce made a press release announcing “twenty bizarre nights” in February 1981, featuring concerts by some of the acts on the album.
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Basildon Mute Records
MUTE RECORDS Do-it-yourself was the order of the day – for songs, production, artwork and labels. For years Daniel Miller had been a huge fan of German electronic and Krautrock bands and now he needed a label for his own one-man, electro-punk music project, The Normal. The do-it-yourself ethic of the punk movement convinced Miller straight away, because he had no ambitions to be with a commercial label – they would only meddle with his music. So he founded the label Mute Records in 1978 at the age of 27, without a clue about how a label actually worked. The Normal’s debut single called T.V.O.D. / Warm Leatherette was released on 1 May 1978 and sold 30,000 copies – a huge success for an indie label – bringing Daniel Miller a great deal of recognition even though it wasn’t picked up in the charts or mainstream press.
The Silicon Teens, Daniel Miller’s second project, consisted of arranging old rock‘n’roll cover versions for synthesizers. In fact, the project was a shrewd sham: the band’s “musicians,” who appeared on records and flyers as Darryl (vocals), Jacki (synth), Paul (e-beats) and Diane (synth), didn’t actually exist. Vocals and music were all by Miller, who, just like in his previous project, The Normal, played all the instruments himself. Real bands like Fad Gadget and, for a while, the German band DAF, were also signed by Mute. Even Soft Cell was under discussion at some point. “It was a decision between signing Depeche Mode or Soft Cell,” Daniel later recalled. He decided to go with Depeche Mode, and Soft Cell went to Some Bizzare and Phonogram. However, in 1981 Daniel produced Soft Cell’s first single entitled Memorabilia. Mute became a record label that was similar to the music it sold and exemplary of post-punk development: it was independent. This independence applied to both its artistic and financial decision-making. Daniel Miller only collaborated with bands whose music he found personally appealing and he was accountable to no one. On the other
hand, the bands kept control over their creative process. And that made authenticity possible, which was invaluable, not only for indie labels. It wasn’t the target groups and sales figures that determined the programme but the music. This may sound naïve from a financial point of view, but for Mute Records it worked. And precisely because indie label bands were often more authentic than the products of major labels, they found greater acceptance, and their records sold well even if they started off as niche products. At first Daniel ran his label from home but soon afterwards he teamed up with Rough Trade as his distribution partner.
SILICON TEENS • MEMPHIS TENNESSEE Promo poster for Memphis Tennessee, the first 7-inch by the Silicon Teens to be released on Mute
Having started off as a record shop in 1976, Rough Trade soon expanded its activities to include a small label and a distribution warehouse where Mute was able to store its record releases in the beginning. This was the start of Daniel’s one-man enterprise and no one guessed back then that Mute would progress to become one of the most successful and durable independent labels of all time.
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Mute Records Basildon
THE FIRST ROUGH TRADE SHOP in Talbot Road 130 in London opened in 1976. The legendary record shop is still highly popular. THE NORMAL • T.V.O.D. 7" • MUTE • MUTE001 • UK
SILICON TEENS • MEMPHIS TENNESSEE 7" • MUTE • MUTE003 • UK
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Basildon Dreaming Of Me
DREAMING OF ME It was no longer about getting a demo tape together, it was about making a vinyl single for record shops, clubs, radio and even TV stations. For their first Mute release, Depeche Mode and Daniel Miller chose Dreaming of Me from the band’s live repertoire, a sweet, flowing song with a good drive. In the small London Blackwing studio, they recorded it with Ice Machine on the B-side. Daniel took the role of producer as he’d had some experience while recording The Normal and Silicon Teens. But would the single make it onto the airwaves?
Mute’s first press release for the UK single. This letter was enclosed with the singles and distributed to radio presenters and DJs as release information.
For all these first steps, Depeche Mode relied on the support of their Basildon circle of friends. They didn’t just come to the band’s gigs: the drawing for the cover of Dreaming of Me came from Mark Crick, a friend of Martin Gore’s who later went on to become a photographer and writer. They lived in the same street and went to the same school. Around this time, the first roadie also happened to join the band – Daryl Bamonte, younger brother of Perry Bamonte who went on to play guitar with The Cure. Daryl was to stay with Depeche Mode until the mid-1990s and become a close friend of its members. Dreaming of Me was released on 20 February 1981 in the UK, around the same time as Heaven 17’s highly polit-
ical debut single (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thing. Shortly before, the iconic New Romantic band, Visage, had topped the British charts with Fade to Grey. A surprisingly short time after its release Dreaming of Me was being played on the radio and climbed the charts to number 57. This wasn’t sensational but it was a good start as none of Mute’s releases had made it into the charts at all until then. The band’s mood was euphoric. Martin remembers: “We felt if we concentrated a little bit more on the band, maybe we could give up our day jobs and actually make it.” HANDSHAKE WITH DANIEL MILLER Wanted: young synth band. With acts like Visage, Spandau Ballet or Soft Cell, British record companies saw a trend coming and young electronic musicians were suddenly in demand. Depeche Mode received a wide range of offers: Roger Ames, A&R manager at Phonogram, contacted the band and offered them a record deal including a generous advance. Other major labels also showed interest. Daniel Miller was not able to compete with these kinds of financial incentives.
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Handshake With Daniel Miller Basildon
DREAMING OF ME 7" • MUTE • MUTE 013 • UK
The first pressing of the UK single Dreaming Of Me bore the information “Distributed by Rough Trade” on the back cover. Later pressings listed Spartan as a second distributor.
DREAMING OF ME 7" • INTERCORD • INT 197.206 • GER
Poster with the motif of Dreaming Of Me for the concert in London’s Southbank Poly on 1 May 1981. The illustration was by Mark Crick, a friend of Martin Gore’s.
In West Germany, Dreaming Of Me was not released as a single. Intercord distributed some copies for promotional purposes to the press and DJs. However these were English pressings of the single with a sticker listing Intercord’s catalogue number 197.206 on the back. The single was mentioned in Intercord’s press information for the West German release of Speak & Spell.
But Rod Buckle (co-owner of Sonet Records and Mute Record’s cooperation partner) and Neil Ferris (Mute’s radio promoter) recommended that the band stick with Daniel as he would look after them better. The band followed this advice and stayed because they trusted Daniel and felt that rather than create short-lived hype, Mute would be able to develop Depeche Mode. “Why shouldn’t we have been able to? The other record companies were quite old-fashioned and very pop-oriented, but we worked in a completely different way,” recalls Daniel Miller. With a handshake they agreed to a fifty-fifty share of the UK profits. The deal also bound Mute Records to finding licensees in other countries. A modest advance was organised by Rod Buckle from Sonet, and the record company Intercord in Stuttgart became the German partner for Mute’s artists. From then on, Intercord released all Depeche Mode’s records in West Germany until 1989. It’s only by looking at what happened to other bands who were signed up to major labels around the time that it becomes clear how right Depeche Mode’s decision was to stay with Daniel Miller and Mute: many of the others soon slipped into oblivion.
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Basildon New Life
NEW LIFE Over the moon at the success of their first single, the band followed with New Life on 13 June. For the first time, a 12-inch single of the song was also produced. New Life brought the hotly anticipated invitation to perform on Top of the Pops. Following this, the band’s single climbed to number 11 in the UK charts, making it a hit. Various offers followed from European TV broadcasters for pre-recorded performances on TV shows. The next step was obvious: an album had to be made. BLACKWING STUDIOS Daniel Miller had come across Blackwing while looking for a studio to work on his Silicon Teens album. The owner Eric Radcliffe and his sound assistant John Fryer showed that they were open to Daniel’s way of working and to new electronic music in general, which was very rare back then within the rock-oriented studio scene. To boot, the Blackwing Studio had a large control room at its disposal where the synthesizers could be plugged in directly. The studio was located in a small side street in south-east London, inside a former church that was partially destroyed by bombs in 1941. For economical reasons, the founder Eric
TOP OF THE POPS 1981 Performance of New Life
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Blackwing Studios Basildon
Radcliffe was only able to equip the studio with an eighttrack recording system. No one, least of all Radcliffe, could have suspected that Blackwing was to become the legendary birthplace of numerous Mute albums in the years to come and would also be much in demand by other indie labels such as 4AD and Creation Records. Apart from Depeche Mode, in the following decades, albums would be recorded there by bands such as Dead Can Dance, My Bloody Valentine and Nine Inch Nails. For the recording work on Depeche Mode’s first album, Daniel set up his analogue Arp 2600 synthesizer and sequencer in the studio, quite considerably enhancing the band’s sparse equipment. As Vince was unemployed, he spent the day at Blackwing with Daniel; the others turned up after work. Because of the limitations of the eight-track system, the songs were mostly recorded live. “I would capture as best I could the atmosphere and the vibes of the songs the way I’d seen them live. Just to have a good electronic pop sound that wasn’t a copy of something else,” explained Daniel Miller. But the real benchmark came after the mixing. Then they would all leave the studio, get into Eric Radcliffe’s car and shove a cassette into the player: if the songs sounded good on a tape on an old car stereo, they’d sound good on any hi-fi system.
A sign at the All Hallows Church 2012, formerly the Blackwing Studio
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Basildon New Life
NEW LIFE 7" • MUTE • 7MUTE014 • UK
In the mid-1970s the 12-inch single introduced a new vinyl format to the market. Its significantly broader groove in comparison to conventional 7-inch singles and LPs gave the 12-inch a superior sound reproduction, particularly a higher base volume, and a clearly improved dynamic range, meaning richer basses and tre bles. The higher base volume also created a better signal-to-noise ratio so that when played at high volume, in discos for example, the sound quality was improved no end. The first 12-inch single, which was initially identical to the 7-inch, was soon marketed as the Super Sound Single in shops. The international breakthrough of the 12-single can be traced back to the need for longer, danceable disco versions, now simply known as the remix.
The New Life 12-inch contained Depeche Mode’s first remixed songs. Later 12-inch promos with remixes were the cornerstone for the band’s success, above all on US dance floors.
NEW LIFE 12" • MUTE • 12MUTE014 • UK
The graphic design for the New Life UK 12-inch sleeve was based on a photograph of a crying baby, which had already been on the cover of the scientific magazine Mind Alive in 1968. The English rock legends Black Sabbath used the same motif later for the cover of Born Again in 1983.
Copyrighted Material NEW LIFE
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New Life Basildon
The British music magazine Sounds published the first UK title story on Depeche Mode on 27 June 1981. The cover photo was shot by Virginia Turbett, a well-known pop and rock photographer. It was taken in the churchyard of the Blackwing Studios in London.
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Basildon New Life
MERCHANDISE 1981 Words and music to New Life by Music Sales Ltd London
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New Life Basildon
NEW LIFE 7" • INTERCORD • INT 111.800 • GER
The sleeve design by Simon Rice was first only used on the UK 12-inch. All the other licensees worldwide released the 12-inch with the 7-inch graphic design featuring Rodney Martin’s photograph. The 12-inch “baby sleeve,” as it was known among fans, only found a use from the mid-1980s when 12-inch CDs first came out. The name Rio Mix, given to the 12-inch remix version of Shout! on the B-side, was also only published on the English cover. In Germany, the customary 7-inch version received a “not for sale” sticker on the front and was distributed as a promo. NEW LIFE 12" • INTERCORD • INT 126.800 • GER
Press article about the new band for Intercord by Manfred Gillig-Degrave (above) and an Intercord press release for New Life dated 4 August 1981.
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Basildon First Photo Shoot With Tim Williams
FIRST PHOTO SHOOT WITH TIM WILLIAMS In June 1981, Vince Clarke asked photographer Tim Williams – who had been a Depeche Mode fan from the word go – if he would take some pictures of the band. Endless requests for autographs were arriving in the Depeche Mode Information Service letterbox, founded by Deb Danahay, Vince Clarke’s girlfriend at the time, to regularly inform the rapidly growing Depeche Mode fan base about the band’s activities. So on 21 June 1981, a photo shoot took place in Basildon during which the first three official shots for autographed postcards were taken. The cards could be ordered from the Information Service and were also sold as merchandise at gigs. FASHION & FAME Another way for a band to cultivate its image, aside from its music, live performances and record covers, was its dress code. In 1981, Depeche Mode turned themselves out in dark suits, white shirts and ties, in the swing-boy style of the forties, or in leather gear – the kind that was fashion-
This photo was taken in front of Vince Clarke’s parent’s house. The car whose bonnet the band is casually posed on belonged to Deb Danahay’s father. Deb was Vince Clarke’s girlfriend at the time and the founder of the Depeche Mode Information Service, the band’s first fan club. 500 autographed pictures were printed using this photo.
Autographed pictures from the London-based firm Walkerprint rate highly among collectors. 1,000 copies of this picture were printed.
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Fashion & Fame Basildon
Depeche Mode in June 1981, photographed on an embankment on Vange Hill Drive in Basildon. 500 autographed pictures were printed with this photograph.
able at gay clubs at the time. The band wavered between these styles, not quite deciding which way to go, and not associating its look with its music. That was to come much later. At the time, however, their mix of styles was quite common. Many other bands, Soft Cell among them, also varied their look. The British music press, which was dominated at the time by New Musical Express, Sounds and Melody Maker, branded Depeche Mode as a teenybopper phenomenon after their first single was released. Perhaps this was because minor chords were lacking in Dreaming of Me, or because the lads looked too optimistic in photos, unlike other new wave bands whose world-weariness and arrogance was etched on their faces. “People didn’t take us as seriously as Heaven 17 or The Human League, or bands like them, which was very depressing,” recalls Mute’s radio promoter Neil Ferris. This improved slightly after New Life, but the band found it hard to explain that chart compatibility didn’t preclude seriousness and an independent attitude. “Dep-
eche Mode are too young for the melancholy of Kraftwerk, and their underpants are too clean for the despair of DAF. At an extreme – when the three synths splutter, jam, and freeze on I Take Pictures, they are only children staging pile-ups with toy cars,” wrote the NME in August 1981. The German magazine Musikexpress, on the other hand, believed that Depeche Mode was merely a product created by Daniel Miller and condemned them with the searing words: “Untaxing, ultra-synth glamour-pop by four pretty boys that Daniel Miller (Fad Gadget, Silicon Teens) has soldered together in his electro garage to form a commercial power package. The packaging reads something like: ‘Every single a hit!’ Despite the fact that, in Germany, the band was an inside tip at the time (unlike in the UK), the readers of German magazine Sounds voted Depeche Mode to number 4 on its Best International Newcomer chart. They were beaten by the Au Pairs, Bow Wow Wow – who soon disappeared from the face of the earth – and Heaven 17.
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Basildon Depeche Mode Live
Depeche Mode live at the Bridgehouse Pub in Barking, East London on 29 July 1981. This concert took place a few weeks after the band’s appearance on Top of the Pops and was kept secret to avoid a huge turnout. The ad in NME codenamed the concert “Modepeche: Dreaming of a new life”.
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Depeche Mode Live Basildon
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Basildon Just Can’t Get Enough
JUST CAN’T GET ENOUGH Before their debut album was released, the band’s third single Just Can’t Get Enough was released at the beginning of September and soared to number 8 in the UK charts. Once again, they managed to get on to Top of the Pops. And after a long period of uncertainty, it seemed that the moment had come: the lads resigned from their jobs to focus entirely on music. There was no turning back any more.
TOP OF THE POPS Depeche Mode with Just Can’t Get Enough on Top of the Pops. The music show was one of the most successful BBC productions in the 1980s. But due to falling viewing figures it was dropped after over 42 years on 20 June 2006.
JUST CAN’T GET ENOUGH Press Release
JUST CAN’T GET ENOUGH 7" • MUTE • 7MUTE016 • UK
JUST CAN’T GET ENOUGH 12" • MUTE • 12MUTE016 • UK
for Just Can’t Get Enough in the UK. As was common at the time, there was no detailed information about the band or the material contained on the single.
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Just Can’t Get Enough Basildon
The band was not overjoyed – especially not the lead singer Dave Gahan, who was only visible as a blurred, grainy figure – over the cover photograph for the NME published on 22 August 1981 and shot by Dutch photographer Anton Corbijn, who had already taken pictures of bands like Joy Division and U2. Corbijn’s unconventional photographic style made him world famous in the following years.
MERCHANDISE 1981 Words and music by Music Sales Ltd London
JUST CAN’T GET ENOUGH 7" • RCA • SPBO-7292 • ESP • PROMO
JUST CAN’T GET ENOUGH 7" • FERMATA • 88.506 • BRA • PROMO
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THE FIRST COMPLETE SHOWCASE MONUMENT OF A SINGULAR BAND - 100 million records sold. Sold-out tours. An exceptional fan community. A succe...