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BACK IN BUSINESS

THE NOUGHTIES WAS A TIME WHEN DEPECHE MODE TRANSFORMED THEMSELVES FROM SHAMBOLIC GENIUSES INTO A WELL-GREASED BUSINESS MACHINE. AS THEIR EMPIRE AND LIVE AUDIENCES EXPANDED, SO THE CYCLE OF LIFE ON THE ROAD AND IN THE STUDIO TOOK SHAPE. IT MIGHT NOT HAVE RESULTED IN THEIR FINEST WORK, BUT ADD IN THE SPIN-OFFS, THE SOLO PROJECTS, THE DVD EXTRAS AND THE LIVE SPECTACULARS, AND THIS WAS A GREAT DECADE TO BE A DM FAN…
Against the odds, Depeche Mode entered the noughties looking lean, mean and ready for action – and they would back it up by becoming a numbersspinning world-class live act
© Photoshot

There’s no doubt that the 2000s represented a period with less musical peaks for Depeche Mode, but the fact that they also moved away from all the other types of high they’d been enjoying (and enduring) meant that, within this decade, there was a lot of output to enjoy from the band (and, okay, some to endure). But perhaps the fact that the band was still in existence was the biggest bonus of them all. The wounds that the previous decade had left would take some healing, it’s true, but by the turn of the century, the band had largely picked itself up, dusted the synthesisers down, and was ready to go into business.

And the word ‘business’ is perhaps the most important one here, or perhaps that other dreaded b-word: ‘brand’. In the 2000s in particular, Depeche Mode would become more of a cyclical business entity, more of a musical juggernaut of a band locked into the ‘album, tour, and break’ schedule, constantly circling back around to feed the monumental delta machine.

That’s not to say that there weren’t any musical thrills here… far from it. As the band further embraced working with external producers following the departure of Alan Wilder, Gahan’s vocals actually improved with age as the likes of Mark Bell and Ben Hillier pushed him to discover new nuances and higher levels. The three Depeche Mode albums released during this decade – Exciter (2001), Playing The Angel (2005) and Sounds Of The Universe (2009) – certainly had their moments too, and definitely exhibited a unified feel, a cohesive quality that only an external producer’s vision could have brought to each project.

Yet perhaps the biggest development that the decade brought was the evolution of Dave Gahan as a songwriter. Writing had been a constant form of friction between Mode members for some time; after all, it is the songwriter who gets the royalties, and unlike bands like U2 – who famously split their royalties, whether each member contributed to the song or not – Depeche Mode have clear credits over who writes which songs, and Gore’s name had been, until now, next to the bulk of them.

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About Classic Pop Presents

In our latest special edition 132-page magazine we explore the world of synth-pop pioneers Depeche Mode. We follow the band’s epic story – decade-by-decade – from their genesis in Basildon as synth-loving adolescents with Vince Clarke at the helm, through to the present day as a globally famous three-piece with over 100 million record sales under their belts. Classic Pop Presents turn the spotlight onto classic albums from every era of the group’s evolution including Speak & Spell, Black Celebration, Violator, Songs Of Faith And Devotion, Exciter and latest LP Spirit – plus, we go behind the scenes via exclusive interviews with Depeche’s Martin Gore and Dave Gahan, as well as producers Tim Simenon, Ben Hillier and James Ford. We also sit down with the two directors of pioneering tour film 101 to hear how they captured the reality of ‘Mode on the road’. Also inside, we deliver our definitive Top 40 Depeche Mode playlist as well as highlighting some lesser-spun gems; we survey the band’s videography and revisit their mammoth global tours through the years. Add to that our in-depth feature on Depeche’s many collaborators, our investigation into collectable vinyl from their back catalogue and much more besides – it’s an unmissable issue!