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8 WHEN MACHINES RULED THEWORLD How Kraftwerkand others created the sound of the future yesterday.

14 NEW MUSIC NIGHT AND DAY David Bowie starts a revolution.

22 LIFE DURING WARTIME The battle of Talking Heads & Brian Eno.

26 EMPIRE STATE HUMANS The Human League bootup.

3 8 IWANTTOBEAMACHINE Plugin forUltravox!

42 I, ROBOT Gary Numan: paranoid android.

РНН5ЕТШП 48 A NEW LIFE Oepeche Mode: first Essex, now the world...

54 SLEAZE NATION Soft Cell's garden of earthly delights.


72 THE HAUNTING Aghostly encounterwith Japan.




...and th e ir favourite electro-pop song Mappin House, 4 Wlnsley Street. London W1W 8HF Contact us a t special.projectsf^emap.corr E d fto r-ln -C h ie f Mark Blake

Gouverw- 0M0)

E d ito r Steve "Ело" Malins

PHH5ETHREE 78 THE LANDSCAPE IS CHANGING Depeche Mode: the guilt, lust and fearyears.

96 ALIVE AND KICKING Simple Minds: the golden years.

100 WILDSTYLE Electro-Pop goes to America... and beyond.


(Neon U#hti - KnflvwrkJ



Pet Shop Boys: England's dreaming.

122 COMING UP How Electro-Pop spawned a dancefloor monster.

126 NEVER LET ME DOWN AGAIN Depeche Mode: the drugs, despair and retribution years.

M anaging E d itor Andy Fyfe (Down In The Part CLwe) - Gary Num«rO

A r t D irector Lora Findlay »edsrttef - Soft Ceffl

P ictu re E d itor Dave Brolan Eoutx) fcK) VWon - D*vW

P ictu re Research Susie Hudson (Turned Love - Soft CeC

Se nior Designer Isabel Cruz ГОпсе In A Uetmvc - Т**иг« n **J0

Designer Chris Morris

<19«-N*w0n*ri Sub E ditors Rae Alexandra




Urge- Dm )

Justin Hood

GkndeUw- Ю *яNotrrf

Also: Moby's PersonalJukebox&WGreat Lost Songs.

M ofo E d ito r-In -C h ie f Phil Alexander


Q E d itor Paul Rees

Order your Bowie special edition and more.

138 FUTURE SHOCK The spirit of Electro-Pop lives on...

Regional P rodu ction Manager Tracy Gallagher


Senior P rodu ction C o n tro lle r Triona McKee

Win! 20 copies of Depecfie Mode к Remixes 81-04.

P u blishing D irector Stuart Williams M ark e tin g M anager Sophie Watson Smyth Event & P ro m o tio n s M anager Nardia Plum ridge


M ark e tin g A s s is ta n t Jo Sankey C reative D irector Dave Henderson CEO Emap P erform ance London Marcus Rich Group C h ie f E xecutive Em ap Pic Tom Moloney


Contributors John Aizlewood. Martin Aston, Angus Batey. David Buckley, Johnny Dee, Tom Doyle, Daryl Easlea. Andy Fyfe, Ian Gittins. Ian Harrison, Rupert Howe, Steve Lowe, Stuart Maconle, Toby Manning, Moby. Mark Paytress. Rob Sheffield, Phil Sutcliffe, Dave Thompson



Thanks to Barbara Charone, Sarah Lowe. www.depeehe mode com. www.leagueonline com. www



Photographers Eugene Adebari. Peter Asworth, Joe Bangay. Andy Catlm. Fin Costello, Spiros Politls, Deborah Feingold. Jill Furmanovsky. Jason Joyce. Keith Morris, Peter Pakvis, Susan Philips, Pat Pope, Paul Rider, Ebet Roberts, Sheila Rock, Paul Slattery. John Stoddart, Sukita. Chns Taylor. Virginia Turbett. Lex Van Posen, Dick Wallis, Eric Watson, Jenny Wicks Colour origination Rival Colour Printed by Jarrold Printing Covers printed by Norwich Colour Print Ltd D istribution by Frontline Ltd



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Q/MOJO Electro-Pop Special Edition is published in the UK by EMAP Metro Limited on behalf o f EMAP Performance (Network). ©EMAP Metro Ltd

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They were pissed on from a great height at one of their first gigs. Yet by the end of 1981, synth-wielding Essexmen Depeche Mode had become pop stars. Then it was all over.

T H E S P L A S H IN G S O U N D wasn’t immedi­ ately audible and it blended in so well with the noises coming from the stage that most thought it was part o f the show.Then came the first cries o f disgust as the audience looked up to see a flood o f urine arcing down from the balcony. So it was that in January 1981 Depeche Mode, the band on stage, discovered the true nature o f the music industry. They were being pissed on from a great height. Later, it turned out, it wasn’t really urine.The Cabaret Futura, in London’s Soho, played host to the wildest fringes of the art scene, and the Event Group - guerrilla performance artists with an eye for hysterical outrage - was among the wildest o f them all. This night, as Cabaret Futura proprietor Richard Strange recalls, was the night they chose to do“something unspeakable with hoses and fake urine, while the band played underneath.” Strange snll owns the tapes he made at the Cabaret, and Ins cording ot Depeche Mode remains one o f his favourites to this day; a reminder ot a time when the band - Martin Gore, David Gahan.Andy Fletcher andVince Clarke - were ‘all cherubic-faced and full of nervy swagger” .The band, Strange concludes,“glisten”.

summer. A second single, Cars, compounded its success. Suddenly, you couldn’t turn a light on without shorting out a thousand wouldbe synthesizer wizards.The Human League, Ultravox, Cabaret Voltaire, Fad Gadget... all had been experimenting on the fringes for some time. Now, though, they were getting noticed. Martin Gore wanted some o f this attention, even if, as he later confessed, “ I’d had my synth for about a month before I realised you could change the sound.You know that sound that goes Waaauuugh* I was stuck on that one for ages.” Soon Clarke had invested in a drum machine, and he and Gore were regularly rehearsing - or, at least, studying synth catalogues in readiness for the day when they'd buy another.When Fletcher, too, gravitated to their side, they already had a new band name waiting: Composition O f Sound. “ I don’t think you’d call it a group "one of the trio’s schoolmates later recalled.“ It was more like a hard core o f friends w ho’d get together to dick around with their instruments / Fletcher’s bins,

“ BACK THEN, DEPECHE M O D E WERE B A C K T H E N , D E P E C H E Mode had beena band for less than a year.Yet they’d already secured residencies A L L C H E R U B IC ­ at the Top Alex in Southend and the Bridgehouse, F A C E D AIMD CanningTown.East London, while a song from their first demo tape. Photographic, was lined up for inclusion on FULL OF N E R V Y what would become the defining document o f early-’80s English electronica, DJ Stevo’s Some Bizzare album. S W A G G E R .44

The orig in a l Depeche M ode line-up, 1981: DaveGahan, A ndy Fletcher, V ince Clarke and M a rtin Gore.

48 e l e c t r o - p o p

Clarke's guitar, Gore's synth and the drum machine] and a loose outer

circle that would egg them on. 1 don’t think Composition O f Sound played more than three gigs, and they were all disasters.” The gigs, climaxed by a burbling version o fL t Pigeon’s ’70s novelty hit Mouldy Old Dough, imbued the trio with the confidence they needed to Raised in Basildon, Essex,Vince Clarke and Andy persevere, and persuaded them CABARET FUTURA CLUB PROMOTER Fletcher formed their first band. No Rom ance In China, RICHARD STRANGE that the band’s basic line-up in 1977, although they had little time for punk, prefer­ wasn’t working. Clarke aban­ ring a repertoire ofT he Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Clarke, doned guitar for his own synth, Fletcher joined him and, in spring though, was constantly wondering how to broaden the group’s 1980, a fourth member arrived: vocalist Dave Gahan. Though largely acoustic sound; a question answered one night in 1979 when Fletcher did later claim, "W e weren’t even sure that it was him we anotherlocal band.Norman AndTheWorms,turned up fora youth w anted... we got Dave on the strength o f him singing Bowie’s club gig with a new addition to their musical arsenal, guitar-playing Heroes at a jam session wath some other band. But there were so bank teller Martin Gore’s Moog Prodigy synthesizer. many other people singing.” Synths were in the news back then anyway, as Gary Numan’s Gahan soon gifted the band with a name he’d seen on a French Are ‘Friends’ Electric? had put the instrument into the charts that fashion magazine cover: Depeche Mode (translation: fast fashion). :



Given the speed with which the group’s career would soon be moving, it was an apt choice, Depeche Mode’s first task was to make something o f the original songs in their repertoire .The synth, after all, was the ultimate D IY instrument and ensured that, as Fletcher noted, “You don’t have to be a great musician to ... play and get a message out. We certainly didn't know anything about music." However, Clarke did know something about songwritmg, turning out what Richard Strange still calls “wonderful three-minute anthems”, including the three numbers that would comprise Depeche Mode s first demo, recorded towards the end o f ] 980: an untided instrumental,another piece that would eventually surface as the theme to TV's The Other Side OfThe Tracks, and Photographic, the number that caught Stevo s ear as he pursued the dream oflaunching his own label, Stevo already had the basics o f the label’s opening shot in place: contributions from Blancmange,The The and Soft Cell - unknowns one and all. Depeche Mode were no more or less regarded than any o f them, but they really weren’t keen on the compilation idea, especially after Stevo told diem what he intended calling it.The Some Bizzare Album? “But we’re not a bizarre band,” protested Clarke.

A t th e Rough Trade offices, 1981. Contrary to th e evidence here, Vince Clarke (second le ft) was 21 a t th e tim e.

Paul Slattery. Redfem s

H O W EV E R , T H E G R O U P were aware that the album might bring them to the attention o f somebody more in tune with the music industry than the handful o f ofFers they’d fielded so far from the Nigerian Rastafarian who wanted to dress them up as aliens and play the nightclubs o f Lagos, and supermarket magnate (and Southend United FC chairman) Anton Johnson.Their own attempts to attract conventional offers had resulted in failure and rejection. Day-tripping around the London labels, Gahan and Clarke dropped by Rough Trade.The proffered tape went down well, but in those days o f firm label identities nobody saw Depeche Mode as a Rough Trade band. They did. though, suggest the band contact Daniel Miller, whose label, Mute, they were distributing. Since launching the previous year, with Millers own T V O D /W arm Leatherette single (released in the guise ofT he Normal), Mute had positioned itself at the vanguard o f the experimental electronics scene: Germany’s outre DAF, R obert Rental and San Francisco artSOME terrorist Boyd R ice’s disturbingly ugly Non alter-ego BIZZARE were all Mute triumphs. However, Miller had also How a movement was bom. shown an ear for less confrontational synth music, when he created the Silicon Теепч and their grinning synth deconstruction o f a string o f old pop classics. Granted an audience with Miller,Depeche Mode realised they could tell what he thought before he even spoke,“ He looked at us,” Gahan shuddered,“and said,Yeeuch. We just thought. Bastard Depeche Mode ran into the<‘bastard” againafew weeks later at the Bridgehouse. Fad Gadget, one of Mute’s own acts, was headlining, and promoterTerry Miller called on the Basildon band to open the show. For once, the equipment was on its best behaviour, the audience were intent on enjoying themselves,and Mouldy Old Dough did not receive the loudest cheer o f the evening. Even more surprising than that, though, was the sight o f Daniel Miller dancing wildly at the side of the stage. By the end o f the evening, the two parties had shaken hands on their future. Depeche Mode had a record deal. Miller was under litde illusion about what Mute could offer and admitted that it wasn’t much. His evening's exposure to the band's full set convmced him that the group wouldn’t remain a cult act and that, in

50 l e l e c t r o - p o p

In 1980 selfeducated entrepreneur Stevo (real name Steve Pearce) put him self a t the centre o f th e n ew elect ronic m ovem ent as a DJ and Sounds' Futurist chart compiler. In February 1981 he launched his own label. Some Bizzare (sic), w ith a com pilation o f new synth acts. The album offers early snapshots o f Soft Cell and The The, both acts signing to the label, and Blancmange, but Depeche Mode's Photographic is the standout on an album littered w ith prim itive drum machines and m onotone vocals. Impressed, Betty Page wrote the firs t ever article on the band in Sounds.

“ 5Й

Clarke, they had a song­ writer capable o f producing hits.Yet Miller also enjoyed a chal­ lenge. He didn’t know “whether a company like Mute could get them into the Top 7 5 ”. But he was willing to try. Depeche Mode cut their first Mute single just days later, eschewing some o f their more commercial material in favour of Dreaming OfMe, a moodier slice o f what would soon be termed synthpop. Miller was aware that his decision to pick up these fresh-fated teens had raised eyebrows within the Mute ranks.

Conceptual artist b h Boyd R ic e had already described the arrival of Depeche Mode as “ a big mistake” . He, too, had been at the Dridgehouse, but his lastingmemory was of meeting Clarke and mistaking him for comedienne Lucille Ball. Voices in the music press were also puzzling over precisely what Mute and Miller saw (and heard) in the group. O n stage, Depeche Mode were a mass ofcontradicrions.Their maddeningly infectious pop hooks seemed freakishly at odds with the impassive quartet that glared studiously at their synthesisers, impervious to the audience dancing in front o f them. Later, Fletcher would insist, '‘Wejust hadn’t learned how to move yet.” For the moment, however, the dichotomy was fascinating. Dreaming O f Me came out a month after the Cabaret Futura show. Initially, it was treated with the same reserve that had accom ­ panied past Mute releases: respectful reviews, dilettante purchases, and no more airplay than any other unknown band on a litde-known libel. But then Radio 1 DJ Peter Powell started playing it, with colleague Richard Skinner following suit. In fact, Skinner even invited the band to record a session for his evening show. Suddenly, at the end o f March, Dreaming O f Me entered the U K chart. It reached Number 57 and was in and out in a month. But, as Miller pointed out,“If you can geta record that far, you’re capable o f getting it anywhere. Provided the song is good enough, o f course.”

DEPECHE M O D E G IG G E D through spring 1981, opening for Ultravox at the People’s Palace, headlining the first night at promoter Rusty Egan’s club, Flicks, and causing Melody Maker to go overboaid:“The most perfect pop group these lucky lug’oles have sampled

all season.Watch them storm the chart!” On 13 June, two days after the Richard Skinner session aired, Depeche M ode’s second single, New Life, started securing enough advance orders to guarantee it a place in theTop 7 5 .A fortnight later, it had reached the Top 30; three weeks after that, it hung at Number 11,“ It’s odd," reflected Gahan. “At first you think, God, imagine being on Top O f The Pops. But it all changes as it begins to happen.” The change became all too apparent. “We used to get letters from fans saying, I like your records,” recalls Vince Clarke.“ A couple o f hit singles later, we got letters saying, I like your trousers. Where do you go from there?” Vince Clarke did not consider himself a pop star. Despite his ability to craft breezy, hook­ laden pop, Clarke saw himself as an experimentalist. His was a world in which Kraftwerk were Elvis,The Beades andThe Rolling Stones rolled into one. His trousers simply didn't enter the equation. The audience didn’t share Clarke’s concerns. By the close o f 1981, Depeche Mode found themselves pigeon-holed as part o f a larger scene coalescing around this sudden influx o f synth-playing pop bands. N ew Romantics,Blitz Kids... call them what you would, from Spandau Ballet to Duran Duran, from OM D to Ultravox, the bands all espoused a new sound —and image to match. Frilly shirts, baggy trousers, fluffy hair... Depeche Mode, whose own sense of style dovetailed perfectly with those others, couldn’t help but find themselves caught up in the fashion parade. The group tried to play down the link. “Obviously people who buy Duran Duran records might buy ours as well,” Gahan admitted, “but I think we’re in a different market,” Or, rather, he wished they were. Still, a thousand bedroom walls couldn’t lie and, from the moment Depeche Mode s third single, Just Can’t Get Enough, emerged in September, the band’s protests were inaudible above the hysteria o f their teen audience. Depeche Mode looked like pop stars, and sometimes even behaved like pop stars (“Dave is aston­ ished by the girls grabbing kisses,” swooned Record Mirror). Now they sounded like them as well. Clarke’s bandmates were aware ofhis unhappiness and tried their best to shield him from it. “H e’s a loner,” Gahan reflected.“ I don’t think anyone knows him.” But the crisis was com ing,a“ him and us” situation, as Gore told Smash Hits. ' The general atmosphere had been getting really bad,” Gahan contimied.“ It was like us three andVince on his own. He felt that we were becom ing public property, he didn’t like what was happening to Depeche Mode, didn’t like being famous, didn’t like touring.” W hen their schedule demanded Depeche Mode make another public appearance, Clarke made no secret o f the fact that he would rather stay in the studio and work instead. Soon he began absenting himself from a succession o f interviews and allowing his bandmates to make excuses on his behalf. In O ctober 1981, with Depeche M ode’s . debut album awaiting release.Vince Clarke quit,The obituary writers, who could not see past Clarke as the band’s only viable songwriter, were waiting. Three singles and one album down the line, everybody thought Depeche Mode were finished. Ш ,


E lectro and le ath er: Top O f The Pops, 9 July 1981.

The Depeche Mode story continues on page 78.

e l e c t r o - p o p ! 51






52 e l e c t r o - p o p


DEPECHE M ODE H A D been In the nation's consciousness for a little over six m onths when their debut album. Speak & Spell, showed up. It arrived as further evidence o f an already thriving British electronic pop scene. The four-week period around the album's release in 1981 also saw the arrival of the first LPsfrom New Order and Soft Cell. OMD’s third album, Architecture» Morality. andlhe Human League's crossover record. Dare!. Overseas, Germany's DAF, Switzerland's Velio and Japan’s Yellow Magic Orchestra were already establishing themselves, and France's Jean Michel Jarre had just become the first Western musician to play a live gig in China. Compared to almost all o f their contemporaries. Released: O c to b e r 1981 Depeche Mode seemed like a far lighter proposition. Label: M u te Each o f their rivals seemed to be finding their own niche: OMD were the genre's intellectuals. Soft Cell purveyors o f seedy sex, Human League the rapidly evolving big balladeers and New Order standardbearers for the darkly gothic. But Depeche Mode? Judging by the lyrics to their third hit they just couldn’t



I S o m e tim e s W ish I W as Dead Puppets Boys Say Go! Nodisco W hat's Y o u r N a m e ? P h otog rap hic Tora!Tora!Tora! Big M u ff Any S e cond N o w (V o ic e s ) Just Can’t G et E n o u g h

ARCHIVE "These boys have a sense of humour, a sense ofsimplicity and a sense of what's good and natural... Synthetic textures and natural harmony make one highly vibrant whole. If s perfect, unprepossessing, unpretentious pop, but it's not so insubstantial that it just floats away." Sounds, December 1981


get enough o f a girl who was "just like a rainbow". Frontman Dave Gahan has since acknowledged that, "When we did Speak& Spell we were very young and naive. We got slagged o ff for being teenybopper because we didn't care what was hip." When work on the album started at Blackwing Studios, a deconsecrated London Docklands church on 14 June. New Life was just entering the singles ch a rt giving Depeche Mode their second h it Its immediate predecessor. Dreaming Of Me, had nipped along on a bassline which, apart from being played on a synth. was remarkably similarto the one that powered Chuck Berry's Memphis, Tennessee, And it ended on an "Oooh la la la" backing vocal not unlike the one found in The Beatles’ You Won't See Me Hardly innovative, but the unfamiliarity of the band's electronic ARP, Moog and Roland keyboard sounds was enough to make it all sound incredibly new and fresh. As a result o f only using keyboards, the familiar sound o f strummed electric guitar chords was nowhere to be heard, replaced instead with simple interlocking electronic melody lines, while the fills and rolls typical o f a com petent rock drummer were replaced to the metronomic pulse of a drum machine. Vince Clarke was, at this p o in t the band's musical hub, composing eight of the 11 tracks and co-writing the rest. Clarke would be in Blackwing Studios tinkering all day, while the o th e rs -s till holding down day jobs - would drift in during the evening. That said. Mute Records' boss Daniel Miller probably played a larger part in the album's creation than Clarke's bandmates, Gahan, Martin Gore or Andy Fletcher. A year earlier, just for laughs, Miller had created Music For Parties, an album o f pop oldies covered in an

electro-pop style, which he released under the name The Silicon Teens. The band didn't exist, but for the sakeof press coverage, they were portrayed by young actors. Listening to Speak & Spell now, its easy to hear how much Miller's Silicon Teens experience contributed to the original Depeche Mode template. Gahan has acknowledged that the band would frequently suggest a sound and then leave the more technically accomplished M illerto create it for them. Despite its lightweight lyric, the third single from the album. Just Can’t Get Enough, is byfarthe most accomplished Mode track of the era, zipping along on euphoric little synth licks, overlaid with remarkably effective vocal harmonies. There’s little evidence anywhere on the remaining album tracks o f the heavy, sinisterlyclaustrophobicsoundthatDepecheMode would later make their own. The faintly homo-erotic Boys Say Go! exhibits a touch o f menace, and Photographic bears a trace o f dehumanised Gary Numanoid doom, b u tthe instrumental Big M uff isan almost funky romp, and What's Your Name? comes across now as a whimsical swinging '60s pastiche. Pup pets (about Vi nee Cla rke's drug experi mentation) and NoDisco(with a line stolen from Talking Heads' Life During Wartime) have more bite in their lyrics, but the music remains buoyantly optimistic. DESPITE. OR M A Y B E because of, its lightweight pop accessibility. Speak & Spell was favourably received when it appeared at the end o f October. NME’sPaul Morley took the opportunity to contrast it with OMD’s more intellectual Architecture & Morality, coming down in favour o f Depeche Mode’s "bubbly-fun pop” . Smash Hits hailed its "uncluttered electronics and nice voices in humanising harmony", and Record Mirror doled out a five-star rating. Peaking at Number 10 in the albums chart. Depeche Mode became pop stars. Yet Vince Clarke was less enamoured o f their sudden success and quit before the band released its next single, leaving Martin Gore to take over songwriting duties. Unsurprisingly, Clarke's subsequent output, in Yazoo and Erasure, is much more clearly descended from Speak & Spell than anything Depeche Mode created after 1983, by which time Gore's songwriting had established its own character. Nevertheless, the debut album's influence remains undeniable. To name just a few, London's DMXKrew, Berlin’s Miss Kittin and New York’s Magnetic Reids all owe more than a little to this irrepressibly perky electro-pop classic, even if, in retrospect, its cheery disposition sits uncomfortably alongside the rest of Depeche Mode's body of work. Johnny Black

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» for the masterful Disco Hell 45) via The 1 lumen. Ho was immediately informed that he was there simply to make up the иumbers. Wilder would not be permitted to write or help arrange songs and would not even be joining the band in the studio. He was also on a six-month trial; sufficient to see the band through a season o f live work, but nothing more. It was a calculated decision. Although Wilder was an experienced musician and something o f a dab hand in the recording studio, of ill the challenges that faced Depot he Mode in the aftermath otVince Clarkes departure the need to prove that they could cut it without him was the most pressing. In their minds,this meant cutdngit without anybody else at all. Only Miller and his own studio team ot Eric Kadcliffe and John Fryer were present as the trio set about making their second album, gathering up what Gore described as “a mishmash... of songs that were written over a very long period o f time",and which had been slowly introduced mto the live set over the past six months. Perversely, its creators quickly dismissed the end result. I982’s A Broken Frame album, as a mistake. “ People were letting us drift,” Gahan complained.“Therc was a lack ofenthusiasm." hi fact. A Broken Frame would help establish many o f the foundations around which I>opechc Mode’s next stage would develop Initially,though, their musical inspi­ rations seemed a little too obvious: be it the ghost of Bowie’sV 2 Schneider in My Secret Garden or the album’s overall deployment o f I liorgio Moroder-style sonic trickery. Even more restrictive was the group’s awareness that only the critics would be judging them on the extent o f their adven­ turousness. As far as their still predominantly teenage tans were concerned, all A Broken Frame needed to do was continue business as before, which it did with the simple pop o f A Photograph O fYou and their next single.The Meaning O f Love, complete with sickly promo video.

several times before it really began to \ make sense.” reached Number 18 on the UK chart, a fair return tor a song that the press had dismissed as commercial near-suicide. The band also succeeded in creating a subtle response to the many critics who'd pegged them as “banal inno-paps” (as N M Es Paul Morley dubbed them) capable only ot pumping out their “bland inoffensive pop music" (poet AttilaThe Stockbroker) forever more Even Paul Weller, then preparing to return with The Style Council, was moved to insist, “I’ve hoard more melody coming out o f an arsehole,” while the hardly heavy­ weight Bananarama added their voice to the chorus o f disapproval by dismissing IJepeche Mode as “wimps". The wimps remained unrepentant Leave In Silence was not a one-off.“We want to get deeper into the album-oriented market," Gahan said. “ Bands like Echo And The Bunnymen and Simple Minds do well in both charts. We just want to produce a really fine album that will establish us as a major ac t.” The next step towards achieving that goal came with the announcement that Wilder had served his apprenticeship and was now officially joining their ranks as their most E V E N T H A T . T H O U G H , was to prove accomplished musician.The new significant. Although Gahan insisted, line-up was committed “Martin can still write lightweight, poppy to creating a songs” .The Meaning O f Love was to be th last Dopeche Mode single to mine these mawkish depth darker, more sophisticated Two hit singles style, hinted at in their first single of 1983, G etThe Balance Right. Peaking at Number 13, the song’s understated atmos­ sans Clarke confirmed pherics had a subtle appeal, although that the band’s audience hadn’t Depeche Mode still sounded like a band in simply drifted away. Now, Gahan continued, transition rather than the finished article. Even more important to their future, they wanted “ to try something totally different, just to see if we can ”The group’s though, was a performance witnessed by next single in August, Leave In Silence, was Gore at the ICA just weeks before the single a slow'er, more melancholy track that was released: Einsturzende Neubauten’s eschewed the instant thrills o f the group’s uncompromisingly tided Metal Concerto. past hooks, and left even the singer admit­ To the uninitiated it was a “difficult” evening ting, “It wasn’t catchy.You had to hear it with a bank of amplifiers sending the sounds

80 e l e c t r o - p o p

T h e c la s s k Clarkeless line-up. w ith Alan Wilder second fro m right.

“W hat do you mean d rin k in g Heineken makes you look less m anly?"

o f a scrap metal yard ricocheting around the walls. To Gore, though, “the power and excitement o f it was brilliant". So brilliant that, even as he talked, he was wondering how to employ “ the same ideas in the context o f pop”. Gore found willing collaborators not only among his bandmates but also in Daniel Miller. The Mute boss had long been fascinated by the idea of eschewing conventional instrumentation. Miller later reflected that one o f his own favourite memories of the ’80s was” . . .working with Depeche.They were great pop songwriters, but they were also into experimenting with new sounds. I sit at home with my synthe­ sizers making great noises, but when you can put those experiments into the pop form, that’s thrilling.” Gore’s first opportunity to put his new ideas into practice came in the spring of 1983, as Depeche Mode sequestered them­ selves at John Foxx’s Garden Studios in Spitalfields, London, to work on a new album that they had already christened Construction Tim e Again; a grippingly apposire title for a record whose principal goal was to merge echoes o f Einsturzende Neubauten with the group’s pop sensibilities. The key to this experimentation was the Synclavier. For many ot its exponents, the machine’s stunning range ot pre­ programmed sounds was sufficient, hut Depeche Mode wanted to push beyond this They travelled around the Garden’s largely derelict local neighbourhood w here they taped normal —“ found” —sounds, which could then be fed into the Synclavier They manipulated these noises, largely consisting of clattering anvils, running water and wood being hammered against a corrugated iron fence, rendering them barely recognisable. “You can take the purest voice in the world," Wilder explained,“and fool around with it

until it’s the most evil, monstrous sound. O r you can take a moose fart and make it beautiful.” ConstructionTime Again is very much the forgotten Depeche Mode album, a set that spawned another brace o f hits Everything Counts (in July) and Love In Itself (in September 1983) - while also confusing some fans with its harder-edged style and simplistic \ lyrics about global pollution, class warfare and corporate greed. X Although Gore’s new songs were , a direct and well-intentioned respohse to the poverty the 21-year-old had encountered during a recent visit to Thailand\as W ilder observed, “they were hardly deep”. Thjealbom also came packaged in a Brian Griffin sleeve that glorified the collective mentality of international socialism at a time

Hansa Studios, 1984, recording Some Great Reward.

^ w h e n Thatcherism seemed to be crushing "g any suc h thoughts back home in the U K W i

FROM T H E O U T S E T , then, th :he imagery o f Construction Time Again was both discomforting to some and misunder­ stood by others. It would be another two years before Paul Weller and Billy Bragg united a diverse m ix o f pop acts and hunched the left-leaning Red Wedge move­ ment, In 1983, Depeche M ode’s warnings of“grabbing hands [that] grab all that they can” (Everything Counts) and the insistence that "all that we need [tsj universal revolu­ tion” (AndThen...), simply fell oil deaf ears. Those who agreed with the message found it hard to take from a young synthe­ sizer pop group clothed in M&S jumpers and dodgy leather jackets. Meanwhile, the fact that G ore’s lyrics were becom ing anything but nonsense confused many existing fans.“ People don’t associate us with those sort o f sentiments at all,” Gahan explained. Andy Fletcher, briefly breaking his usual silence, simply sighed,“ W e’ve still

got a long way to go before people will be proud to have Depeche Mode albums in their collection.” Yet that time was drawing nearer.Time spent in Berlin, completing Construction Time Again at Hansa Studios, brought the band closer to the German industrial scene, both physically and emotionally. By March 1984, Depeche M ode’s next single, People Are People, it was possible to overlook the lyric,“ People are people, so why should it be, you and 1 should get along so awfully”, bobbing over the heavy-duty percussive rhythm.Almost. Some six months before Culture Club’s The War Song brought eternal disgrace to any attempt by pop singers to merge serious political content with a singalong chorus (“War is stupid and people are stupid”). People Are People’s disregard for anything approaching mature consideration could have brought Depeche Mode down alto­ gether. Yet even as N M E ’s Danny Baker condemned the regular 7-inch version ofthe single as “puerile", the 12-inch version forced

him to concede that it was “ the nearest anyone’s yet come to the perfect arc-welding o f pop and industry, funk and factory." Meanwhile, Baker’s N M E colleague Don Watson singled out the recent work of another industrially minded act, the sound o f a band “strugglingtowards the form of commerdality that Depeche achieve with the grace o f second nature.” People Are People remains, in equal doses, an infuriatingly lame and devastatingly far-sighted record. It was also hugely successful. In the U S it became Depeche M ode’s first ever Top 40 entry, while in the UK it was their highest-ever chart entry, their fastest ever Top 10 entry and, in reaching Number 4, their biggest hit to date. Its success emboldened Depeche Mode towards even greater musical outrages. R iding a soundtrack comprised almost exclusively o f cracking whips and dragging chains (in reality a sample o f Daniel Miller spitting and hissing), their nextTop 10 single M aster And Servant was a brutal, lasciv­ ious splicing o f bedroom bondage sessions >,

e l e c t r o - p o p l 81

» and boardroom bullying that took full advantage o f the group’s awareness (as Wilder put it) that they were now “in the position where we know w ere going to get a certain amount o f airplay, just on the strength of reputation’’ Gore admitted:“Ifyou callyourselfa pop band in England,you can get away with murder." Not only was it a step forward musically, the lyrical tone o f Master And Servant was a complete change in tone from the pocketbook sermonising o f their last few releases. Gore had at last found his own voice in the song’s exploration o f kinky vole swapping and vaguely threatening power games. Submissiveness, guilt, vulnerability and lust would become the cornerstone ofDepeche Mode’s work for the next 20 years. Gore was also starting to look a little different too.After relocating to Berlin, the fresh-faced, almost cherubic looking pop star experimented with black leather, jewellery, dresses and rubber gear, usually completed with eyeliner

82 e l e c t r o - p o p

and chipped, black nail varnish."The more you laughed at Martin’s outfits, the more outrageous he would make them," recalls Alan Wilder. Depeche Mode’s next single aimed its lance at organised religion just in time for Christmas, and got away with that as well. Blasphemous Rumours (rhymed with “God’s got a sick sense o f humour”) rode a melody as sweet as any Depeche Mode had unveiled since the innocence o f SeeYou.The song was partly inspired by Gahan and Gore observing how church services always included the reading of a prayer list for seri­ ously ill parishioners... “and the one at the top always died. But still everyone went right ahead thanking God for carrying out His will. It just seemed so strange.” The track was met with greater resist­ ance than the uncensored Master And Servant. Clean-up TV campaigner Mary Whitehouse.The Sun newspaper and the Church OfEngland all spoke out against it, and the BBC confessed they were hesitant

Gahan soundchecks at th e Pasadena Rosebowl.1988.

to play it (several DJs plumped for the more savoury B-side ballad Somebody). Even so, Depeche Mode performed the song on Top OfThe Pops and its ultimate chart placing of Number 16 in the UK probably had less to do with the song’s total disdain for conventional commerdality than the fact that most fans had already purchased both sides o f the record on Depeche Mode’s fourth album Some Great Reward. The first LP that, insisted Gore, the entire band was “really proud о Г ’, Some Great Reward’s attention to sonic detail saw it displace even Pink Floyd’sThe Dark Side Of The Moon as the hi-fi showroom’s recordof-choice. No longer a simple pop group, Depeche Mode had found a middle ground that allowed them to experiment with all sorts o f sonic and thematic conceits without completely alienating the singles market.The group had now realised Gahan s ambition to “produce a really fine album that will hope­ fully establish us as a major act” . However, following Master And Servant in August




Depeche Mode: 1 9 8 2 -1 9 8 7



M artin Gore’s fir s t album as the band's so n g w rite r isa m ixed bag, ___________ opening w ith th e moody Leave In Silence b u t also includingthe tr ite A Photograph OfVouand See You,which he'd written years before. The gh o st o f the physically d im in u tiv e Vince Clarke stl 111oom s Ia rge.

Depeche Mode entered th e ir own Berlin period and ! became obsessed Iя _l w ith both sex and religion. T heir sound was also darker, richer and m ore evocative, although still b u ilt around tough, in d u stria l percussion. Blasphem ous Rumours, M aster St Servant and People Are People com pleted th e album 's im pressive trilo g y o f singles.

CONSTRUCTION TIME AGAIN 1983 “ 1 E nthusiastic use o f new sam pling technology do m in a te s th is album . The m eta llic approach reaches its clim ax on Pipeline w ith Gore singing on location by a railw ay lin e in London's Ea s t End. The po Iiti ca I sloga neeri n g i s a s su btl e as t he clang o f m etal-against-m etal, b u t Everything C ounts rem ains a classic highlight. rfCk ,

y Itt f W~.: i



| In th e U K th e y w e re s till dism issed as em barrassing pop cherubs, b u t Black Celebration connected w ith disaffected yo u th in A m e ric a .T h e p u ls in g g lo o m o f Fly On The W indscreen Is a leather bound classic w hile rejecting '

th e c ity and g e ttin g back-to-nature has never sounded as sexy as on th e glo riou s Stripped.

MUSIC FOR THE MASSES 1987 A fte rth e bondage o f Black Celebration, Depeche Mode introduced fresh dynam ics and slig h tly rockier, m ore conventional arrangem ents on Music For The Masses. A lthough th is hardly signalled a m a jo rc h a n g e -th e single Strangelove could have been o ff any o f th e ir m id-'80s a lb u m s - it is a step away from th e claustrophobia o f th e ir "in d u s tria l" period. The hubristic, if ironic, title also proved to be strangely prescient.

y O U

breadth o f the group ’s five-year development was laid out

T H E N E X T D E P E C H E Mode album,

1984, a full six years would elapse before Dcpeche M ode again entered the U K Top 10, with 1 9 9 0 ’s Enjoy The Silence. To compensate, though, two o f the group’s next three albums not only reached theToji 5, they also achieved a higher placing than the one album that should have becom e \ theirbiggest seller ever, 1985’s Singles 19811985 compilation. Laying out the lion’s share o f the band’s 45s from Dreaming O f M e through to the then-recent non-album track It’s Called A Heart,The Singles was originally conceived tor the US market, where it was re-titled Catching Up With Depeche Mode.Anyone following it from beginning to end was in for an inspiring ride, as the full audacious

The Rosebowl fans did n ’t share Gore’s preference fo r t ig h t- fit" tops.

1986’s Black Celebration,eschewed even die occasional homeliness ofits predecessors. Its heavy, claustrophobic atmosphere is hardly surprising as the band decided to record it in one back-breaking session that stretched on for four months. Most o f this slow, painstaking work took place in Berlin’s Hansa Studios, where disagreements over the album’s production broke out between Daniel Miller and an increasingly confident Alan Wilder. The cabin fever paid off in the end, with Miller himself enthusing a decade later,“ I listened to Black Celebration all the way through,for the first time in ages, and I was pleasantly surprised. I think we achieved a lot with that album.We were into people like Einstiirzende Neubauten and Test Department, so those mllueuces came through. That album seems to be the favourite ofa lot ofhardcore Depeche tans.” Black Celebration twists from poignant, yearning ballads (A Question O f ' Lust may be Gore’s finest hour) to | relentless bitterness (Here Is The House,A Question OfTime), until its grooves are transformed into a I gala o f melancholy, a celebration of emotional misery and uncertainty. Th e band wisely took a step away from all that coiled, internal tension with their next album, Music For The Masses. Now they were penitents seeking forgiveness via renewed messages ofhope and the dream o f salvation through love, throwing in a clutch o f choral harmonies and even a handful o f classical piano passages for good measure. Best o f all is the driving, organic-feeling groove o f N ever Let M e Down Again w’hich propelled them away from their usual mechanised, industrial

stutter.Yet the unapologetic apocalypse o f Pimpf, the savage Behind The Wheel (merged with a cover o f R oute 66 for the band’s next essential 12-inch single) and the moody sucker-punch pop of Strangelove all combined to create an album that, when blended with G ore’s continuing penchant for women’s clothing and make-up, was still oddly subversive. Gahan clauned diat diere were only three bands with which Depeche Mode felt comfortable allying themselves The Cure,The Smiths and New Order.The Cures own Robert Smith kindly returned the favour when

he remarked: “ Depeche occupy an unusual position There are some things that they did when they first started out,in the first couple o f years,kind of image-wise and musically, which live and haunt,and have lived and haunted many other groups. But most groups don’t really recover from that kind of beginning.” Not only had Depeche Mode recovered, they had completely turned their audience around as well, an accomplishment that was confirmed when they announced that their 1988 summer US tour would climax with a show at the 66,000-cap acity Rosebowl, Pasadena, California, one ofthe largest avail­ able arenas on the concert circuit, and some 10 times the size o f any other venue the group had played in the US. From the outside, it seemed like an extraordinary decision. With an economic recession looming, US concert ticket sales had been in a slow decline for a couple o f years already. Surely a band whose greatest hit was now five years old, and whose latest album had still to nudge the US Top 40 would be lucky to fill the Rose Bowl bar, let alone the stadium itself. In fact, by the time Depeche Mode arrived on stage - accompanied by ,i mobile recording studio for their first live album and director DA Pennebaker’s film crew for an accompanying con cert movie, the R ose Bowl was 95 per cent full, with ticket sales totalling over $1.3 million dollars. Even Martin Gore, who’d now spent the best part ofa decade experiencing one career high after another, was left speechless by the success o f the show. “ It was definitely the highlight o f my, and probably the band’s, career. It was just a feeling that I’ll never forget, and I don’t think the people who were there will, either." But there’s a moment in the film, 101, capturing Gore at die very end o f the show, that speaks volumes for the downside o f the band’s achievement. He is sitting alone in a corner,siIent and close to tears.And you can almost read his mind. He is asking himself, “ How are we ever going to top this?" Ш The Depeche Mode storycontinues on page 7 26

e l e c t r o - p o p l 83


i l


Just can't get enough: Depeche Mode (from le ft) Andy Fletcher. Dave Gahan and M artin Gore.


FOR NEARLY 10 years we never put a foot wrong, we made practically perfect progress,'“says Andy Fletcher, his measured baritone edged with rue as he recalls Depeche Mode’s mid-’9( Is tumble straight out ofelectrorock’n’roll grace and into the slough of despond. It was the Songs O f Faith And Devotion world tour that did it. Since 19 8 1 they'd been stacking up hits and enjoying a non-stop universal party. Until, one by one. they started tailing over. Apparently sober and business-like, Fletcher was the tint to go. Hospitalised for depression before the tour, he discharged himself too early then sank into black depths of tangue and miserable delusions. “When I got stressed, I thought I had a brain tumour,” he says, with an apologetic laugh ."You’ve got this headache that won’t go away, you can’t think,you can't sleep.You have tests and they can’t find anything. It’s a mental breakdown."

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e l e c t r o - p o p 12


11 was a sure sign of Depeche Mode’s withering morale that.when they reached Hawaii in May 1994, instead o f rallying fraternal support, Dave Gahan and Alan Wilder deemed Fletcher no fun anymore and persuaded Martin Gore that he should be sent home. Fletcher missed the last four months o f the tour. Gore never felt comfortable with his decision, but then he was hardly in the pink himself. The “party-load” caught up with him during another crisis meeting at the Sunset Marquis hotel, Los Angeles. By Gahan’s account,“suddenly Mart’sjust keeled over and lie’s banging his head on the floor, making these weird noises". “ It was a seizure,” says Gore. “A big stressful meeting after two hours’sleep: your brain overloads,"When he came round, the doctors advised he should never drink again. He recalibrated that into 10 pints rather than 12. Gahan w:as so upset by Gore’s ' •* illness that he went to his room and shot up. By then he was a full-on heroin addict but still in the no problem, why-worry, gung-ho phase. His corned owTn started after the tour when he suddenly realised he had lost control ofhis life. He tried rehab.Twice. When he emerged the second time, on 17 August 1995, he found his LA home had been looted: “My two Harleys, the studio, every­ thing down to the cutlery.” He ~ decided to kill himself."! went back ’ ’• ' to the Sunset Marquis,got loaded,drank a lot o f wine, took a handful of pills, went into the bathroom and cut my wrists with a razor.” Mulling over the ghastly memory7,he remembers that he did this while in the middle of a phone call to his mother back home in Essex:“I cut my wrists, then I said, Mum, I’ve got to go, I love you very m u c h ,.M e a n w h ile , a friend was waiting for him in the lounge. Gahan wrapped towels round his wrists and sat with her until she noticed blood dripping on the carpet and dialled 911. “That’s how pathetic I was,” he says. “Anyway, I woke up in a psychiatric ward, this padded room, and a psychiatrist informed me that I’d committed a crime under local law by trying to take my own life. Only in fuckin’ LA, huh?” How strange, how wonderful then, that this story will reach its current conclusion in late 2004 with Gahan, Gore and Fletcher in their 40s, together, healthy and starting work on their 1 1th studio album,“m good spirits, confident —really, we’re up for it!”

In terms of adulation and sales,Violator was their apotheosis. In terms o f real life, it did them no good at all. “You go into a city and take it over for the night,” says Fletcher, “You are the kings. Everyone wants to film you, photograph you, scream at you.” “Everyone wants to take you out,” says Gore. “It’s very hard to say, Actually, I’m going to bed early,” “Our egos got out of control,” concludes Gahan, well aware that he led the way, undergoing a strange,self-willed character transfor­ mation. Splitting with Ins first wife,Joanne, and getting together with his second,Teresa, as the tour moved oil he “decided to become a monster”.A rock’n’roll monster. “I wanted to live that very selfish lifestyle without bemgjudged,” . ' he said.“ It wras something I read in a book:The £.. Stones by Philip Norman.” He moved to LA,grew his hair, added a goatee, got into tattoos - 1 0 hours o f pain for the wings on his back - and started injecting heroin (future wife and tormei Jane’s Addiction PR Teresa was a user too). Gahan has no rational explanation for this “insanity”. Maybe there was an element of guilt to it. “I felt like shit because I constantly cheated on my wife and went back home and lied. My soul needed cleansing” he said in 1991, adding grandly,“I’ve been able to breathe, really take ANDY FLETCHER control. I have a lot more perspective on '■? what 1 want from life.”Then he left Joanne and his five-year-old son, Jack, just as his own father had left him at the same age But there was still no stopping him “Ijumped into the fire head­ first and thought it would be fun. I’d found my drug of choice. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me feel... like I’d never felt before. Like I belonged.To what, I've no idea. I just felt nothing was gonna hurt me.That was the euphoria. It disappears very quick. After that, for six years, I was chasing that high. But it completely stopped working and then I maintained a very sad existence.Just to function I would need my fix. In the morning,in the afternoon, in die evening. On schedule, the chills would come and I’d start shaking.”


FOR D E P E C H E M O D E the innocence —albeit an innocence featuring plenty of drugs and sex —had ended with the release of Violator in 1990. “Till that point, we’d been ticking along nicely, selling well, never too much attention paid to us,” says Gore, his speaking voice Mr Bean-ish as ever.“Then suddenly Violator took ofT.I t went over the edge in America. Pressures immediately doubled or tripled.” The 65,000 crowd and million-dollar T-shirt receipts at the Pasadena Rose Bowl a couple o f years earlier had proclaimed die USA’s appreciation o f the band (see story beginning page 78). But, on 20 March Violator launched quite crazily with a riot outside LA’s Wherehouse record store on La Cienega.Ten thousand queuing down the block. Hundreds of police standing by.Ambulances ferrying the injured to the nearest E R . The album reached Number 7 m America, Number 2 in the UK, en route to seven million worldwide sales. Not least because it was very good. Gore having let the others back into the creative process after his misbegotten attempt to appropriate it all on Music For The Masses. Industrial noises combined with a new interest in guitars and their usual easeful mastery o f electro-pop. Gahan sang with a fresh Jim Morrison-ian richness. The lyrics of songs such as Personal Jesus,The Sweetest Perfection and Clean teased and tantalised around murky matters o f obsession - religious, sexual, maybe narcotic.

128 I el ec t r o - p o p

. M

Primal Scream were afraid of these men: (from le ft) Dave Gahan, Alan Wilder. M artin Gore and Andy Fletcher, 1993.



"R ight hand dow n a bit " Gahan and m anager Jonathan Kessler leave th e police sta tio n a fte r O D /a rre st fiasco. May 1996

They did survive. U p to a point. O n his early return home, Fletcher spent a month in hospital and convalesced — much abetted by a

IN M A R C H 1 9 9 2 . Depeche Mode flew to Madrid to start recording Songs O f Faith And Devotion. It was the first time for several months the others had seen Gahan and he remembers how they just stood and stared:‘T d changed, but it was my honeymoon period, I didn’t really understand it until I saw Al, Mart and Fletch. The looks on their faces-. ■battered me.” Although Gore and Fletcher say they didn’t realise what was going on until a htde later - when Wilder saw Gahan’s drug para­ phernalia in a hotel room - for the first time the band found they couldn’t work together. They took a break, then reconvened in Hamburg.The shock of the new Gahan had worn off to a degree They adjusted, moved on, and produced the album, released in M arch 1993, which both expressed and transcended their internal turmoil. I Feel You, M ercy In You and judas brought a discomfiting emphasis on themes o f guilt and conscience, matched by their harshest industrial sounds and heaviest guitars. Gore called it“a quirk,our pseudo-rock album”. Regardless, their accrued fan base j approved: it entered both U K and US 1 charts at Number l,a triumph. At which, it seems, they set out to test a P? /s ° naUcsus; Gahaan shows ° " Ю hou rs o f needU lework. ______ themselves to destruction on *‘that tour”. _______ Musically,it was fine. Personally, it was hellish .Togetherness began to fragment. Insularity ruled. When they weren’t out being feted by the city du jour —an activity they pursued so zealously that even support band Primal Scream took to retiring early for self-preservation’s sake they sat alone in hotel rooms; Gahan shooting up, Gore drinking, Fletcher feeling depressed,Wilder probably making lists. Things got so bad they really did employ a tour psychotherapist. “The idea was to help as all communicate,”says Gore, with his apple­ cheeked droll grin .“ In fact, me, Dave and Alan never saw him. I think Fletch did occasionally. After six weeks, we knocked it 011 the head.”


Л i-

(iraiime, and two А young daughters, plus ample distrac^ t i o n from running the restaurant he’d bought a couple o f years earlier in St John’s Wood, London. Gore, by then practising at least a modicum ofmoderation he says, married his long-time girlfriend Suzanne and, in 1995, they too had a second daughter,Wilder left the band that same year, perhaps feeling under-appreciated by the others, perhaps merely laid low by gallstones —his unglamorous entry in Depeche Mode’s voluminous medical records. Meanwhile, Gahan really hit the skids. “After the tour, I spent a few months in London and that’s when my habit got completely out ofhand.Teresa decided that she wanted to have a baby and 1 had to say to her, Teresa, we’rejunkies! ’Cos when you’re ajunkie, you can’t shit, piss, come, nothing.Those bodily functions_goYou’re in this soulless shell." W hen they returned to LA (only to split up within a few months), his mother brought his son Jack over for a visit. It went appallingly wrong. Still desperately trying to conceal his addiction from them, one morning Gahan ended up collapsed on the bathroom floor, his mother standing over him while he babbled lies about throat prob­ lems and steroids:“Then I looked at my mum’s eyes and I said,Mum, »

electro-pop I 1

» I’m a junkie, I’m a heroin addict. She said, I know, love. Jack took my hand and led me into his bedroom and knelt me down on the floor and said to me, Daddy, I don't want you to be sick any more. And that didn’t stop me. Even that didn’t do i t...” Repeatedly, over the next couple of years, Gahan tried and failed to break his addiction. He slashed his wrists. He contemplated “going out on a big one, just shoot the big speedball to heaven. I couldn’t face myself,let alone face the world. It was a vision ofjust stopping. I wanted to stop being myself, to stop living in this body. M y skin was crawling. I hated what I’d done to myself and to everyone around me.” But even his oldest friends couldn’t help him.They had no idea what to do. “You’d go up to him and say, Come on Dave,sort yourselfout,you’re gonna kill yourself here," Fletcher recalls. “H e’d say, Let me do what I like.” “Every time the phone went and someone said. It’s about Dave, my first thought was always,This is it,he’s dead,” says Gore. “Which is not very nice.”



usual disorderly strategy o f recording another album “when Martin’s written enough songs”,Depeche Mode recon­ vened at Electric Lady Studios, New York, in spring 1996. O f course, they were wondering what shape Gahan would be in. Well, he said he was clean, reinforcing his point with remarks like, “I see Alice In Chains are in town next week and they’re friends o f mine, but they won’t want to hang around with me —now I’m clean”. Once they put him in the vocal booth, though,says Gore,“some­ thing was badly amiss” . Gahan croaked away for four weeks and completed one usable track (Sister O f Night —Gahan says he was high when he did it). “We told him,We think we should spend the next couple of weeks focusing on the music because we’re not getting anywhere with the vocals,” says Gore. “You should go back to LA and really sort yourself out, get a vocal coach. We said we’d record him later in the year. I did feel sympathy for him, but it made you angry as well to realise that he’d been lying to you so much.” Fletcher’s recollection o f the occasion is rather more pungent: “We told him he had lost everything else in his life and now he was going to lose Depeche Mode as well. And when he got to LA he just went on a b inge...” Gahan, by now toting a .38 at all times because o f the company he needed to keep, returned to his ill-starred lodgings at the Sunset Marquis and bought a stash o f Red R um heroin. He imagined it was named after the great steeplechaser until he realised it spelt “murder” backwards. “I remember saying to the guy, Don’t fill the rig up,and don’t put too much coke in, because there was something weird about it. N ext thing, I woke up in hospital with a paramedic saying, I think we lost him. Apparendy I sat up and said, No you fuckin’ haven’t. My heart had stopped for two minutes.They’d done the full Pulp Fiction [shot of adrenaline straight into the heartj!' Back in London, Gore heard the news on the radio:“Form e that

Changing room : Gahan displays his new ly clean limbs to Gore and Fletcher, 1997

was the low point in the band's whole career. I thought, We’re slogging away getting the music right and he’s obviously so... ill, he’s never gonna be fit to carry on, 1 thought Depeche Mode were over.” With new manager Jonathan Kessler in LA doing his best to keep track o f him, Gahan was charged with possession o f cocaine and did two nights in the county jail. When he was bailed, he scored again immediately.Then he laid off fora couple o f days wondering,“What the fuck am I doing: I died!” That frightened him so much he shot up again. But when Kessler called him to a meeting with the band’s lawyer ' he went along. “It turned out to be a full intervention run by this guy Bob Timmons who’s worked with loads o f addicts in the enter­ tainment business. Everyone said,You’re going into rehab right now! I went home, did my last deal, had my last little party, and checked into the rehab. Since then I’ve been clean.The whole way I felt changed. I don’t know why. Just the accumulation o f all those things I’ve talked about. I was a very fortunate junkie — I am because I have a lot o f people who care about me and weren’t going to let me disappear into oblivion. I had my fair share of drugs and alcohol and I’m done.” He readily accepted random drug tests as a condition o f avoiding serving tune. He even signed up with a vocal coach. Finally, he told Gore and Fletcher he was ready, then proved it when, like footballers unable to watch a team-mate take a crucial penalty, they sent producer Tim Simenon out to LA to record him. “His voice is back to form," said Gore when Ultra was done. “And the atmosphere in the studio is better. Before, he would only come in to do his vocals and he probably couldn’t care less how the record was going because it came last on a very long list o f priori­ ties. Now he has a much more active role. He is a changed person. If he started using again we would know immediately.”

e l e c t r o - p o p i 131


As ever, some o f Gore’s lyrics struck remarkably close to home for Gahan who said he “method-acted himself back six months” to get the bleak menace into Barrel O f A Gun. Gore never discusses the meaning o f particular tracks, but he did allow that Ultra carried “a destiny theme about us not having as much choice as we think we have. We all have certain conditions laid down for us, genetically and by social upbringing or whatever.The barrel of a gun.. Gahan felt relieved that his band mates acknowledged the fragility o f their collective recovery by not touring the album. Yet he wondered what they really thought of him: “I put Mart and Fletch

! h u ff o f I Feel You to the beautiful One Caress.

ULTRA 1997 Alan Wilder le ft the band before recording started on Ultra and his absence Is easily detected in the album 's sparse, pareddown sound. In fact, Depeche Mode made no a tte m p t to fill his shoes, instead em ploying Tim S im enonfrom BombThe Bass as a producer w ith good taste b u t little technical ability.The stark but exquisite Ultra is arguably Depeche Mode's m ost under-rated album , and includes th e singles Barrel O f A Gun, It’s No Good, Useless and ballad Home.

1993 and beyond. EXCITER



Apart from th e u p b e a t) Feel Loved and the curiously forced Marilyn MansonesqueThe Dead Of Night, ballads dom inate this slow-m oving album. LFO's Mark Beil was drafted in to help produce at a tim e when Gore was increasingly liste n in g to leftfield dance recordsfor inspiration. Subtle highlights include Dream On and slow-mo am bient pop o f Breathe and Sweetest Condition, but it's all to o one-paced to rank am ong th e ir best.

S IN C E T H E U L T R A uproar, they've all passed 40. Gore has moved from Hertfordshire to Santa Barbara, California. Gahan has moved from Los Angeles to New York and married his new love, Jennifer. Fletcher has sold his restaurant, launched a label {Toast Hawaii), managed a girl duo called Client, and become an interna­ tional DJ - like a lesser, bespectacled Fatboy Slim. Although Gahan is seven years clean now, when he spoke to Q in late November 2004 he was still chastened by memories o f the pain he had inflicted on his bandmates.“Martin and Fletch are prob­ ably amazed I haven't gone back to heroin,” he says.“I think it took a couple o f records, a couple o f tours to win their trust and respect back. For them to forgive me,” “ No,” says Fletcher, quite adamant. “He didn’t do anything to forgive. His recovery was staggering and that made up for everything.” Gahan passed perhaps his toughest test in 1998 and ’99 when Depeche Mode decided they would risk a world tour after releasing their twin hits compilations The Singles.Tliroughout, he quietly espoused the iron discipline o f the early night.“After a show, all I want to do is go back to the hotel, have a cheeseburger and fall asleep in front o f the TV,” he says. No laddish resentment from »

Chris Taylor

were being heralded as "godfathers o f techno", Depeche Mode spliced together th e ir m ost rockinfluenced album so far. As th is was not a band who "jam m ed" to g eth e r,this is effectively a painstakingly assembled collage o f real, organic sounds, treated drum loopsand synthesizers. Wilder and producer Flood made sense o f it all on an electrorockalbum th a t ranges from : th e blow-your-house-down

I N E Depeche Mode:

through a lot o f worry, I’m sure they think 1 won’t last.” Back then, though, Fletcher professed a fierce hope for him: “I have good chats with Dave now. Like, we were going to shoot a video and on the plane he was particularly down, waiting for news o f his divorce, and I could say,Yeah, I feel bad too, but we’ve just got to remember w e’re always stressed at this stage when we're finishing an album. I think I can help him, you know. I want Dave to be a success story.” In April 1997, Ultra hit Number 1 in UK, Number 5 in US. But Gore admitted that a fundamental sense of dread about Depeche Mode had been growing in him for years —hardly eased by recent events: “I've felt it since Black Celebration / 1 986 ] that our whole set-up was very tenuous, that it could fall apart at any time, We’ve got through this record and things seem to be going well.The next iix months.,, I don’t know.”

e l e c t r o - p o p 13:

the others ensued. They were just relieved that he could deal with band life on his own terms. Then Gahan gave them another jolt; for 20 years a happy mouth­ piece for someone else’s imagination, the singer suddenly found himself driven to write songs: “After Ultra, I was spilling my guts with the joy o f feeling life again, feeling a part o f it, I had no guards up.That was a good tiling for a while, but people definitely got sick o f it. I realised it would be better to get it out creatively.” A friend put him m touch with American guitarist/cellist/ arranger/programmer Knox Chandler (previously sideman to The Psychedelic Furs, Siouxsie & The Banshees, Marianne Faithfull): “I played him my ideas on a Dictaphone and soon we were writing a new song so I came away thinking Santa Claus did exist. I needed to express my idea-. and have them entertained by Depeche Mode.’ Meanwhile, Gore had been struggling to write the band’s next album, Exciter. He started in 1999 and got stuck, but eventually nailed enough songs.Then, for the first time ever, Gahan approached him with a demo. “1 didn’t go, Hey, I’ve got some songs'” says Gahan,insisting he was aware it could be a delicate issue. "Well, Martin listened to the tape and he said, Oh, it’s a lot harder than 1 thought it would be. Which is sort of a compliment from him.” “Dave did play it wrong,” Fletcher inteijects.“He played the songs to Martin when he was drunk, Martin made some comments and when he’d sobered up he couldn’t remember what he’d said.” Gahan, strenuously seeking sensitivity, had already backed off. “ I got the message that wasn’t what we were doing this time. Me writing has been a bit o f a shock for Martin and Fletch, 1 think. I put my songs on hold and gave myself to the Depeche Mode album.”


Cody S m yth/R etna

O N C E A G A IN , HE found that many of Gore’s songs seemed made for him, as if written by his diarist or his conscience: “As your bony fingers close around m e/Long and spindly/Death becomes me” (Dream O n);“A body in heaven and a mind full o f dirt” (The Sweetest Condition). Gore, however, has always denied working as the singer’s alter ego.“ I never write from Dave’s perspective. I think he has sometimes felt songs were hand-crafted for him because they’re in the first person and although I've never been a heroin junkie, say, we come from sinular upbringings and we’ve been through all the years with the band together... In fact, I came up with a term for the way Dave’s voice works against what I play,him sliding up on a note as I’m sliding down: it’s'karmonics’. It should be in the dictionary.” Gahan used to doubt Gore’s account of their artistic symbiosis, but he understands it now. "It was very self-centred o f me to think that Martin was writing through me," Gahan says.“ After all, life hasn't been easy for him either in recent years. Beyond that, I think what we have in common is the search for belief and faith,somehow wrapped up in the sexual element o f rock’n’roll. It’s about trying to reveal yourselfand begging for forgiveness too (laughsJIt’s about not feeling that you fit anywhere — looking back to the beerdrinking, pub-fighting scene in Basildon which we didn’t fit, and then punk coming along, some­ thing we could slot into, and getting back home on the tram at four in the morning, always running away from other drunk people who wanted to beat me up. It’s about redemption!” They finished Exciter (released May 2001) with mutual backslaps, their traditional roles reinforced. But Gahan, the new man, wasn’t done, the songs wouldn’t go away. In June 2003, a month after Gore released Ins second solo covers collection, Counterfeit-, Gahan’s

solo debut,Paper Monsters,came out. Both won favourable reviews (if unspectacular sales). Almost inevitably, many of Gahan’s songs might have been written by Gore.There was the vividly familiar squalor o f Bottle Living and Dirty Sticky Floors, the haunted self­ disgust o f Hidden Houses. Even the romance o f Hold On and Goodbye was by no means alien to Depeche Mode followers. But much as their music proved they were“karmonic”soulmates, they still had trouble getting it out face to face.“Martin s never told me what he thought ofPaper Monsters,’’says Gahan .“Someone said he just didn’t know what to make of it, he didn’t know why I was doing it. But Martin never really gives you an answer about anything. It’s incredibly frustrating.” Last December, Depeche Mode convened at Gore’s home in Santa Barbara. After Christmas, they were due to start recording with producer В eti Hiller. The album will conclude both their current, long-standing deal with Reprise in America and their two-album UK deal with Mute, their first ever “proper"contract with the former indie, now owned by EM I (they made it official when founder Daniel Miller started talking about retirement). ANDY FLETCHER “ It’s been a wonderful journey,” Fletcher expati­ «Гates, gazing back over the years. “ Imagine, when I was 14 I was playing football with Vince Clarke and Martin Gore and they' turned out to be two o f the most successful songwriters ever! For me, the milestones were the first single, Dreaming O f Me 11981 j - that pure, electro pop sound was great —then Everything Counts [ t 9 8 3 j —going to Berlin, we found our feet there - and Violator really crowned it, perfect pop produc­ tion, we’d created something from Basildon that millions ofpeople all over the world liked.Then, o f course, there was the massive down­ fall, but we only lost it for a short period. Getting back together with Ultra proved we could still make a good record.” But right now they are breaking the mould as never betore, starting out on two years of gang living in the studio and on the road widi a whole new tension in the band. Competition. Rivalry'. Dave Gahan comes bearing a fresh sheaf ot songs." At the moment I diink Marnn sees it as a threat,” he says, though without rancour." I hope it will be embraced.We’ll see. It won’t be boring.And he has actually said, I like that, about one o f my new songs. That was all, but 1 looked at him like,Wow!” “It is tricky,” Fletcher acknowledges. “Dave^i songs are really good now. Some o f them will earn their place on the album. A while ago, he said he had 12 new songs and he played us nine of them. It was a bit like watching the Eurovision Song Contest. But he’s done another five since then. Martin only had about five himself, so he needed to knuckle down.Then just last week Martin rang me when I was sitting in a taxi in Greece and claimed he’d written his best ever song. He sang it down the phone to me so he must have been pleased...” If it comes to it, says Fletcher - who casts himself as taking care of the“ 50ul” of the band - they know how to resolve a dispute:“We are a democracy.We have equal votes.” That must be one reason why split rumours - most recently occasioned by the Gore and Gahan solos - are always wrong. Another is Depeche Mode’s air o f sheer dyed-in-the-wool-despite-it-all friendship.“Yeah, fans used to think we lived in the same house and shared a bedroom like Morecambe andWise,” Fletcher chortles. “I just always feel we can make a better record,” says Gahan. “I look to U 2. I’m sure they have their fights behind the scenes, but they are still trying to make that great record- Depeche Mode is always a mystery to me. And 1 haven’t finished reading the book.







VIO LA TO R H A S TO b e one o f the most unlikely Ecstasy albums ever made. Yet despite Depeche Mode consuming copious quantities of the stuff during its making, the drug is the album's motor. Right down, paradoxically, to its gloom, as songwriter Martin Gore suffered such unbearable comedowns that it coloured his entire creative process. While Ecstasy may have induced uncharacteristic behaviour elsewhere- camaraderie on the football terraces; topless British men hugging each other; w hitem alesdancing-in Depeche Mode's case it

FACTS Released: M a rch 199 0 Label: M u te

TRACKS W orld In M y Eyes S w e e te s t P e rfe c tio n P e rs o n a lje s u s H a lo W a itin g F o rT h e N ig h t E n jo y T h e S ilen ce P o lic y o f T ru th B lu e D ress C lean

ARCHIVE “Have Depeche Mode been listening to (shock) rock’n'roll or even (horror) R&B records? If you listen to some of the fine arrangements on this record, then if s not difficult to imagine them being played by a tastefully inventive, disciplined rock band. Neither particularly upbeat norcommercial. it’s still full of insidious songs that creep up on you and hugthe brain." Q, April 1990


simply enhanced what was already present, The band, seemingly divorced from the acid house revolution then in full swing in the UK, had recently discovered they were dance music heroes, hugely influential on the Detroit techno scene. Indeed, when they1d visited the city, this whitest and uncoolest o f bands had been mobbed by black techno fans. This experience led them to employing house producer Francois Kevorkian to mix their 3lbum, buffing their extant dance elements up with a contemporary techno sheen. Equally, Violator's dark muscularity was part of a process that began with 1983’s proto-industrial Construction Time Again, found its feet with Black Celebration, adding guitars to the mix on 1987's Music For The Masses, and now gained additional grit with the employment o f goth/industrial producer Rood (Soft Cell, Nine Inch Nails). All of which points to the fact that Violator is Depeche Mode in excelsis: the distillation o fth e ircra ftw ith Ecstasy the emulsifier Furthermore, their amped-up, arena-friendly sound, gothic wordplay - and. naturally, the new guitars chimed with the American audience they had been tirelessly targeting. Gahan, with some bemusement, observed, "All o f a sudden it's cool to like Depeche Mode." Nevertheless, despite the huge success o f their 101 tour, theirs was still perceived as an underground success. Violatorwould change all that. RECORDED INAvariety o f studios In Italy, Denmark, and the UK, the Violator sessions got off to a bad start in Milan as partying overtook recording The first signs that the band's hedonism might become a problem started to become apparent; Gahan's behaviour was particularly erratic, while Andy Fletcher's hypochondria and compulsions hit critical mass, culminating in him feeing to check himself into rehab clinic The Priory.


All this uncertainty-topped off with those Ecstasy comedowns—may accountfor lyrics that distil Gore’s angst-ridden concerns: religion (Personal Jesus), sex (Blue Dress) and guilt (Halo). Precision-tailored to the music (assisted by the perfect diction o f Gahan and Gore himself), Gore clusters rhyme upon rhyme without ever sounding forced: "When I need a drug in me/and it brings out the thug in me/feel something


tugging me." These lyrics - from The Sweetest Perfection - clearly refer to Gahan, who had begun to show drug-induced personality changes, to become, in Fletcher's words, more of "a spanner": in Milan he'd randomly picked a fight with 10 local youths. As for the music, the trailer single in late '89, Personal Jesus, announced Depeche Mode’s ever more muscular, guitar-orientated intent The song contains hints o f blues and glam in its brutally simple riff and stomping rhythm, the former perhaps not unrelatedtoGore’sshockdiscoveryjustpriortothe sessions that his father was black: the latter probably the result of the glam tendencies on Gore's covers album. Counterfeit, recorded earlier that year. The song would later be very effectively covered by Johnny Cash, The album itself opens in purposeful fashion: World In My Eyes shows off Depeche Mode's new dancey facility, with its propulsive beat and techno polyrhythms. Despite being the only track not mixed by Kevorkian, Enjoy The Silence is dancier still: a fourto-the-four full-fat disco pump that invokes a darker, gothier New Order (as if in acknowledgement the Violator tour would feature New Order side-project Electronic as support). Itwould become their biggest American h it Policy OfTruth would be another substantial hit, another dance floor stormer featuring horns, slithering bass, abrasive guitars a n d harmonised by Gahan and Gore - a contrastingly wistful, slightly melancholy melody. Even more haunting, Waiting ForThe Night's bed of pulsing synths, prefigures dance duo Leftfield's 1992 epic Song Of Life. The album ends on two brooding ballads: Blue Dress - su ng, Iike Sweetest Perfection, by G ore- seemingly reflecting on the simplicity o f male sexuality: and Clean, a bass-heavy. PinkFloyd-ian throbber, its title gaining resonance in the light o f Gahan's heroin addiction. He gives the song the album's most powerful vocal, stretching from bass boom to high yearning keen. It’s a bleak, commandingend to a colossal album V IO LA TO R W ENT ON to sell seven million copies and helped create the dominant ethos of "Alternative" for the next decade: arena-sized gothic angst, decadence an d drugs. As such, Violator's success opened up mainstream space for explicitly Mode-influenced groups like Nine Inch Nails and for grunge. Gore says. "I think Violator's probably up there with our best album, so if I can do something like that again I’d be very happy." Happy?Judging by the effect Ecstasy had on him, happiness is not something that comes easily to Gore. Nor indeed, when gloom produces something as glorious as Violator, anything you'd wish upon him. Toby Manning

2005 01 хх mojo special limited edition  

2005 01 хх mojo special limited edition

2005 01 хх mojo special limited edition  

2005 01 хх mojo special limited edition