|DEPECHE MODE - MUSIC FOR THE MASSES
By Sat Bisla
QUESTION : It's been a long journey
for you as a member of Depeche Mode. Did you ever imagine yourself being
involved with such a successful and influential band?
ANSWER : "I always had a childhood
dream of being in a group, but I never imagined that it would come true,
let alone being this old and doing what I'm doing."
QUESTION : You've been the primary
songwriter for Depeche Mode since its inception; where do you get the inspiration
to write such captivating lyrics?
ANSWER : "I don't know! I think
I'm inspired by things that most people wouldn't be moved by; I find it
difficult to write happy, upbeat songs, because it's not the sort of thing
that interests me. The majority of books that I read tend to be down-tempo,
and I suppose that I draw my inspiration from what interests me, and most
of that stuff would not be termed happy by most people."
QUESTION : Obviously, Depeche Mode
has been successful in large part due to your songwriting. What are some
of your favorite songs?
ANSWER : "I think we should count
ourselves lucky that we've managed to carve a career in pop music doing
songs that, for me, are a million miles from pop. I think that's some sort
of achievement. As far as my favorite songs go, I'd have to say that I
don't have a particular favorite at all. The last three albums were equal
favorites of mine, but to pick one song out of those three records would
be very difficult for me."
QUESTION : What songs stand out
for you from Ultra?
ANSWER : "Probably "Barrel Of A
Gun," because I thought it was different for us. It was right to release
it as the first single because we thought it would be as big a challenge
for us as it was for our fans. Then again, I found "Love Thieves" to be
very touching; I found it to be very soulful, and I think that's what I
like about our new single, "Only When I Lose Myself," which is the new
track on our new greatest hits compilation. Being soulful is a new area
for us, and I like that."
QUESTION : There's been a big evolution
for Depeche Mode from the days of Speak And Spell to where you're at today.
Are you pleased with the direction you've taken over the years?
ANSWER : "Well, we immediately
became a different band after Vince Clarke left; my songwriting style was
completely different than his. Therefore, after Speak And Spell, it was
a learning experience for us during the A Broken Frame period. We recorded
the songs that I had already written, some of them dating back to when
I was 16 years old, and a few new songs that I was writing in the studio,
and put the album together. For me, that was our weakest album, because
it was just a weird hybrid of different styles, and it was a learning process
for me. By the time Construction Time Again came around, we sort of found
our feet again. I think we started getting it right around 1986, which
is when we released Black Celebration. I'm pretty happy with the stuff
we've released from '86 onwards, especially the singles. I've been looking
forward to the Depeche Mode: The Singles '86 - '98 collection coming out
for quite a while, and now seems like the right time to release this double-album."
QUESTION : What's your feeling on
other groups doing cover versions of your songs?
ANSWER : "It's a great honor to
have people doing covers of our songs, especially for an album like For
The Masses; I think there are some very good cover versions on there. I
think Terry Hoax's [a German act] version of "Policy Of Truth" was a great
version, too. Again, it's an honor to have other acts pay tribute to you.
We never imagined that we would be here today, 18 years on, still making
music, being relevant and still meaning something to people...it's nice
to be noticed. I like writing songs myself, and fortunately they happen
to touch other people, and that's a great achievement--the whole process
is so gratifying."
QUESTION : On the other side of
the fence, is there anyone in particular that has played an influential
role in what you're doing?
ANSWER : "People like Neil Young,
John Lennon and Leonard Cohen are people whose talents I respect. I've
always tried to marry technology with good songwriting. I think that's
important, because if you know you're a good songwriter, you can do things
in a very retro style; but I think merging technology with good songwriting
is just as important. Also, another big influence would have to be someone
like Kraftwerk. Not necessarily on the songwriting, but with their instrumentation."
QUESTION : It's quite remarkable
that, after selling over 50 million albums worldwide, you still surround
yourselves with a high level of mystery.
ANSWER : "It could be due to the
fact that our music has a sort of cult-like feel to it. Somehow we manage
to maintain a level of secrecy about us, even after selling 50 million
albums...it still feels like Depeche Mode is some kind of secret society
or something. I think there's also some sort of intimacy in our music that
people have a special affinity with. Even though there are a lot of people
buying our records, we still seem to have a level of suspense surrounding
QUESTION : There's obviously been
a lot of speculation about the future of Depeche Mode with Alan's departure
and Dave's past drug addiction. How would you describe the chemistry between
ANSWER : "Things are about as good
as they can be after being together for 18 years; that's not to say they're
not good, but obviously there are ups and downs, and we're more like a
family than anything else. Spending 18 years together is a long time, and
I think we're getting on better now than we have done in the past. It helps
that Dave has been clean for almost two years, whereas before he was on
an emotional rollercoaster. One minute he'd be euphoric and the next he'd
be deeply depressed and irritable, and it can become very difficult to
work with somebody when they're going through those sort of mood swings.
Dave's on a different level now, and he's happier than I've ever seen him,
so that is an important factor in the way we get on. Me and Andrew have
had our problems as well, and I think we're both doing sort of okay at
the moment. However, we're not doing as well as Dave. He's had a remarkable
recovery, but we're doing okay, and that's the best way I can describe
QUESTION : I saw your intimate performance
at The Shrine in Los Angeles last year and you sounded fantastic. Your
world tour is obviously going to be a lot bigger. Can you describe the
stage design for this tour?
ANSWER : "We've got Anton Corbijn
involved with us again, and he designed the stage set for us. He also shot
a short film which is going to be used as a visual behind us. I don't want
to give away too much, to be honest, because I think it's always a nice
surprise for fans to actually come to a show not knowing what to expect.
The short film Anton shot of us was quite interesting; he got us to dress
up as our idols and I found that to be quite humourous...I thought I looked
like a bad clone of my idol!"
QUESTION : Have you decided on an
opening act for your US and European dates?
ANSWER : "We've got a band confirmed
for our European dates; a three-piece drum+bass group called Purity...they're
hardcore, really heavy. We're deciding on three or four acts for our US
tour, but we're not still sure on which one we'll choose."
QUESTION : There's also been some
speculation that, after the release of your greatest hits album, you won't
be recording again. Is that true?
ANSWER : "I think when we return
home after this tour I'm going to have to start writing again and just
take it from there, really. We don't have plan to never record again and
we don't really know what we're doing next year. If we enjoy this tour
that we're on, we may even decide to do some more dates next year."
QUESTION : How does your family
feel about you going on tour?
ANSWER : "I don't know. I imagine
happy and peeved at the same time. The prospect of me going away for four
months is not very appealing to them at the moment. My daughters are now
at an age where they understand things a lot better and get depressed.
I was just on holiday and, at the conclusion of my vacation I had to come
to New York, and they went up to Seattle to see my wife's parents and they
were crying because I was leaving. Even though I was going to see them
in a week they were upset; you can imagine how that feeling might get intensified
when I'm saying, 'I'll see you in four months.'"
QUESTION : What can Depeche Mode
fans expect from you in the future?
ANSWER : "Realistically, I can't
imagine that we'd have an album out before the year 2000, because I know
how slow the recording process is. I've got to write some songs, for a
start, and then we need to get into the studio. We spent 15 months in the
studio making that last record, so if this tour is going to last until
Christmas, the prospect of an album being out before the year 2000 is out
of the question. I enjoy the fact that we work at our own pace and we don't
feel pressured into putting things out too early. I think it's more important
to make sure that what you're putting out is a good product!"