Six Questions for ... Depeche Mode


It's been a bit of a rocky road for synth-pop pioneers Depeche Mode this year. More specifically, it's been rough for frontman Dave Gahan. First he was felled by a bout of gastroenteritis, causing the cancellation of a handful of gigs. Once he recovered from that, he promptly tore a calf muscle, leading to a couple more missed shows. But as the band comes over for the U.S. leg of its summer tour, it's been relatively smooth sailing. "Sounds of the Universe" is an impressive addition to the band's discography, hearkening back to the band's classic sound, with the songwriting to match. Keyboardist Andy Fletcher checked in prior to the band's gig tonight at Nissan Pavilion.

When all of these calamities happen do you ever feel like it's a sign to call it quits?
I should call it the Tour Leg of Doom. But the concerts themselves are amazing. Generally speaking we've never had to cancel hardly any shows so it's all a mystery, really. God's certainly not liking us at the moment. Actually, Dave was very lucky because he had gastroenteritis and they found this tumor very early. So I think he feels he's actually quite blessed that they found this thing so early. And he's been performing absolutely amazing. Sometimes I'm playing my keyboards and I just look up in awe. (Laughs.) He's really been in top form.

Every time you ask a band their favorite record they've done they always say it's the most recent one...
Well, I don't say that. I think it's very hard to judge. When you're speaking to bands at that point, when the album's [just] finished, it's really hard to judge it because you've heard every track about a thousand times over weeks and weeks in the studio. So I always give it a year or two before I can judge. My favorite albums of Depeche Mode are "Violator" and "Black Celebration," personally. [Ed. Note: Correct answers!] And I won't actually be able to judge this one until next year or something.

"Sounds of the Universe" has a bit more of a throwback sound compared to the last couple of albums.
It's quite analog. [Songwriter] Martin [Gore] has this obsession of buying vintage synthesizers on eBay. So there was a synthesizer arriving every day. We just open the box and there it is. So it's a lot more electronic sounding. It is interesting -- some of the synths we've used in the past, so it is catching up with our past a bit.

(More after the jump.)

You've been doing this for a very long time. What's the biggest thing that would have been a real shock to you in, say, 1985?
Obviously the Internet thing. We're live on the Internet when we're doing the gig. People start complaining about the set list when they're not actually at the gig. They're online somewhere in Nebraska. It's quite bizarre. We've always tried to keep on the cutting edge of everything but so much is happening so fast. When we were considering doing this album, the variety of ways we could have released it is just phenomenal. It's hard to find the best route. It's exciting stuff. Unfortunately, the recording industry is down a lot. But live music is still very, very popular. Music is more popular now than it's every been. It's just they're getting the music from different sources and generally not paying any money for it. But fortunately for groups live is really healthy. The amount of festivals in Europe is incredible. A band can make money just by doing three months of European summer festivals.

What songs would you say get the biggest responses from the crowd these days?
Well, I mean, "Enjoy the Silence." And "Never Let Me Down Again," which has this amazing crowd waving effect that Dave gets going that's pretty exciting. Some of the new songs -- "Wrong" is going down really well. The hardest thing about our set list is actually compiling it. It's so difficult with so many songs. We can't do a Robert Smith and play for three-and-a-half hours. I don't think Dave can run around and dance for that long. The problem with the Cure is they did it a couple of times and then when they went back to a normal set people complained.

That's another thing about the Internet. People sure like to complain.
Our forum is like one long moan. (Laughs.) They're supposed to be the biggest Depeche Mode fans and they moan about everything. And they know more about Depeche Mode than I do. It's incredible.

By David Malitz |  July 28, 2009; 11:41 AM ET Interviews
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The concert was awsome! The local radio stations should play more Depeche Mode songs!

Posted by: delona_shelley5 | July 29, 2009 1:26 AM

i would like to know if depechemode is performing in Arizona Phoenix in August 23,09? Heard Dave was sick how are things looking now?

Posted by: romeronica | July 29, 2009 1:54 AM

DM has been my band since they started out. Their songs bring so many memories of where I was, what I was experiencing at some time in the past and building new memories as they continue to churn out great music. Tonight's concerts was absolutely amazing. For as big a fan as I've been throughout the years, this was my first opportunity to see them live and I took my 18 year old son Ryan to let him see the guys that dad rocks to all the time. He and I had a blast, and I just want to thank DM for a spectacular event!

Emery Rudolph
Owings Mills, MD

Posted by: erudolph | July 29, 2009 2:04 AM

The weather was perfect for an outdoor concert at Nissan Pavilion (Bristow, Va.). Some would argue that the best seats would be the floor seats in front of the stage. I would argue that the best seats are the lawn seats, where I watched people of a wide age range dance and undulate when “In Chains” blared from the speakers and reverberated throughout the venu.

With nearly three decades under their belt, Depeche Mode's Tour of the Universe concert last night was a show of force by DM and a show of dedication by the fans. Compared to their Are You Devoted? tour when Songs of Faith and Devotion came out 1993, which is the last time I saw DM in concert (St. Petersburg, Florida--Thunderdome, now Tropicana Field), they still have the same energy and electricity. The camera work by the crew kept the images on the large screen lively and highly dynamic, greatly enhancing the concert experience. (The crow's eye was my personal favorite.)

Front man David Gahan's incredible voice combined with his equally incredible amount of energy to easily bring the crowd more into the Depeche Mode universe. (I was amazed at how many times he could spin around with the microphone stand). Martin Gore's musical talent with synthesizers and guitar were equaled by his performance of “One Caress” and “Little Soul,” accompanied only with Andrew Fletcher on the keyboard. Both songs showcased Gore's haunting voice that spread over dedicated fans with ethereal tones.

The Sounds of the Universe album exists on a plane where synthesizers are the norm, but devoted fans would be more than pleased. And there's nothing “Wrong” about that.

Posted by: GuarraiaFamily | July 29, 2009 8:02 AM

"I don't wanna sound like a ***** or nuthin', but I think Depeche Mode is a great band."

--Dave the Sound Guy

Posted by: jm13 | July 29, 2009 9:40 AM

I bought "Speak & Spell" in 1981. I became an instant fan. I first saw DM live in 1984. I cannot believe that 25 years later they are still putting out music that's considered cutting-edge! I saw them again in 1988 after they had caught on with the mainstream, and I felt too old -- and THAT was 21 years ago! I'm hopeful that Dave Gahan has finally overcome his bouts with drugs which almost killed him. And I'm glad that Andy Fletcher, Martin Gore and Dave Gahan seem to still be a very cohesive band. I'm also happy that Martin has embraced the old analog synths again as bands like Fischerspooner, Junior Boys, and Royksopp have made the old sound new again.

Posted by: caferide | July 29, 2009 3:36 PM

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