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6 MIN READ TIME

RECORDING MODE

After completing the prestigious Tonmeister course at Surrey University – one that has delivered many a top record producer – Ben Hillier landed a job with the production duo of Paul Oakenfold and Steve Osbourne. With them he soon learned the arts of engineering and remixing and spent the rest of the 1990s working with the greats of the production world (Flood, Steven Street, Alan Moulder among many others) before being promoted to the role of producer on Elbow’s debut album. “Yeah, my first proper album was Asleep In The Back,” he says. “It was a little weird as Steve Osbourne had already produced the album with Elbow when they were with EMI, but the record company didn’t release the album and eventually dropped the band.

“Then Elbow were picked up by V2 and had to make the record again, but by this point they’d moved on and wanted to do something different so only half the songs that were on the original were on the new version.” Ben helped the band re-record some songs and produced the rest of the tracks with critically-acclaimed results, and even though it would be some years for the band to really find their feet, Ben could tell they eventually would…

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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!

Other Articles in this Issue


Classic Pop Presents
Over 100 million record sales… let’s just sit back
DECADES
THEY CAME FROM COMMUTERVILLE, SCHLEPPING THEIR SYNTHESISERS ON THE TRAIN TO THE BIG CITY’S BRIGHT LIGHTS. BUT SOON THEY WOULD BE AIRBORNE AND FIRST-CLASS, JET-SETTING A NEW POP SOUND AROUND THE WORLD…
PACKED WITH THE INNOCENT BELIEF THAT THEY WERE CREATING THE FUTURE, DEPECHE MODE’S SYNTH-POP-DEFINING DEBUT ALBUM IS A CHARMING, DANCEABLE, HOOK-CRAMMED MINI-MASTERPIECE, SUFFUSED WITH THE INFLUENCE OF THE MAN WHO WOULD SOON BE GONE – VINCE CLARKE…
RECORDED, LIKE MUCH OF BOWIE’S BERLIN TRILOGY, IN THE SHADOW OF THE WALL, THE BAND’S ECHO-SOAKED FIFTH ALBUM MIGHT NOT BE THEIR VERY BEST, BUT FEW WOULD ARGUE THAT IT’S DEFINITIVE DEPECHE MODE…
HAS A BAND EVER SUFFERED FOR THEIR ART AS MUCH AS DEPECHE MODE? IF YOU WERE JUST TO TAKE THE 1990s AS A SNAPSHOT, YOU’D THINK NOT. THIS WAS A DECADE THAT DELIVERED THE BAND’S GREATEST MUSICAL HIGHS BUT ALSO THEIR LOWEST OF PERSONAL LOWS AS A DEPARTURE, A NEAR-DEATH, ADDICTIONS AND DEPRESSION NEARLY FINISHED THEM OFF. STILL, WE DID GET THEIR TWO FINEST MUSICAL HOURS…
IN THE LATE 80s, DEPECHE MODE WERE HUGE STATESIDE. APPEARANCES WOULD CAUSE RIOTS AND THEY COULD EASILY WOW 70,000 PEOPLE IN A SINGLE SITTING. BUT AFTER SIX VARIED AND SUCCESSFUL ALBUMS IN ONE DECADE, HOW COULD THEY POSSIBLY GET ANY HIGHER? WELCOME TO VIOLATOR…
FOLLOWING UP THE ENORMOUS SUCCESS OF VIOLATOR ALMOST BROKE DEPECHE MODE. BUT DESPITE DAVE GAHAN’S HEROIN ADDICTION AND INTER-BAND FIGHTING, WITH SONGS OF FAITH AND DEVOTION THEY EVENTUALLY CREATED A DARK MASTERPIECE…
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…
THE LAST CLASSIC MODE ALBUM? IT’S FAIR TO SAY THAT EXCITER DOESN’T SIT IN MANY A DEPECHE MODE FAN’S TOP FIVE ALBUMS, BUT WE THINK IT DESERVES REAPPRAISAL AND THAT IN YEARS TO COME IT COULD WELL BE SEEN AND HEARD AS THE LAST GREAT MODE ALBUM. CONTROVERSIAL? READ ON, AND DREAM ON…
FEATURES
JOHN EARLS TRACKS DOWN THE PRODUCER OF DEPECHE MODE’S ULTRA FOR THE INSIDE STORY OF THE MAKING OF THE 1997 ALBUM
THE FIRST RECORD BEN HILLIER EVER BOUGHT WAS EVERYTHING COUNTS.SINCE THEN HE’S WORKED WITH BLUR, DOVES, SUEDE, ELBOW, VILLAGERS, NADINE SHAH AND MORE, BUT IS PERHAPS BEST-KNOWN FOR PRODUCING THREE DEPECHE MODE ALBUMS. HE TELLS CLASSIC POP ALL ABOUT IT…
BEGINNING BY ENLISTING THE SUPPORT OF TALENTED FRIENDS, DEPECHE MODE BEGAN TO DEVELOP A DESIGN AESTHETIC TO MATCH AND OFTEN UNDERMINE THE SUBJECTS TOUCHED UPON IN THEIR MUSIC. SOON, THE BAND MOVED ON TO JOIN FORCES WITH SAVVY VISUAL COLLABORATORS TO PLAY WITH THE SIGNS AND CODES OF MODERN SOCIETY. IT WAS A JOURNEY THAT WOULD TAKE IN CATS, EGGS, FLOWERS… AND A THING WITH FEATHERS
CLASSIC POP
FEW TOP 40 SELECTIONS HAVE CAUSED AS MUCH HEART-RENDING AS TRYING TO PLACE NEARLY FOUR DECADES OF DEPECHE MODE SONGS IN SOME KIND OF JUSTIFIABLE ORDER, BUT HERE’S OUR FINAL CHOICE, FROM FABULOUS EARLY SINGLES TO CRACKING RECENT ALBUM CUTS – AND, JUST FOR BALANCE, SOME PERSONAL CHOICES TOO…
IF THE PREVIOUS TWO DECADES WERE ABOUT TURMOIL AND TENTATIVE RECOVERY, RECENT YEARS HAVE SEEN DEPECHE MODE RE-ESTABLISH THEIR SUPERIORITY WITH TWO FINE ALBUMS AND FINDING OUT ABOUT LIFE AT BRITISH FESTIVALS. IS THEIR FUTURE FINALLY NOW AS SECURE AS THEIR PAST? CLASSIC POP INVESTIGATES THE STATE OF DEPECHE’S TEAM SPIRIT…
HAVING COMPLETED A TRILOGY OF ALBUMS, IT WAS TIME FOR DEPECHE MODE TO DO SOMETHING RADICALLY DIFFERENT ON SPIRIT. WITH THE WORLD AROUND THEM TOO FRACTIOUS AND TOO DIVIDED TO IGNORE, IT WAS TIME FOR DEPECHE TO GO ON THE ATTACK. AIDED BY A STUNNING OPENING QUARTET OF POLITICAL VENGEANCE, SPIRIT IS EITHER A ONE-OFF – OR THE FUTURE OF DEPECHE MODE…
BACK IN 2017 CLASSIC POP PACKED ITS DICTAPHONE AND HEADED OFF TO ENJOY EXTENDED CHATS WITH MARTIN GORE AND DAVE GAHAN ON THE OCCASION OF THE LAUNCH OF DEPECHE MODE’S LATEST ALBUM, SPIRIT – CONVERSATIONS THAT WOULD TAKE IN SUBJECTS SUCH AS SONGWRITING, STAGECRAFT, CONFLICT, POLITICS, THE REVOLUTION, AND HOPE. WE ALSO SCORED A REVEALING NATTER WITH SPIRIT PRODUCER JAMES FORD…
DEPECHE MODE’S LIFE ON THE ROAD HAS SEEN UNRIVALLED DEBAUCHERY, MENTAL COLLAPSE AND LIFE-THREATENING HEALTH SCARES. YET DESPITE THEIR TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS, THEY’VE BEATEN THE ODDS TO BECOME ONE OF THE WORLD’S MOST EXHILARATING AND SUCCESSFUL LIVE ACTS…
FROM REUNITING WITH OLD BANDMATES TO HELPING OUT THEIR NEIGHBOURS, THE WORLD OF DEPECHE MODE’S PROJECTS AWAY FROM THE BAND IS AN ESOTERIC TRIP. CLASSIC POP SPEAKS TO SOME OF THE KEY COLLABORATORS WHO HAVE HELPED NURTURE DEPECHE’S SECRET PASSIONS…
DEPECHE MODE: 101 WAS THE BEHIND-THE-SCENES TOUR FILM THAT BROKE THE MOULD FOR MUSIC DOCUMENTARIES. CLASSIC POP MEETS THE TWO STILL-PROUD FILM-MAKERS, DA PENNEBAKER AND CHRIS HEGEDUS…
DENNIS BURMEISTER HAS SPENT A QUARTER OF A CENTURY COLLECTING DEPECHE MODE MEMORABILIA. TOGETHER WITH WRITER SASCHA LANGE HE HAS PRODUCED A BOOK THAT REVEALS ONE OF THE WORLD’S LARGEST DEPECHE MODE COLLECTIONS TO THE WORLD, AN ARCHIVE THAT SHOULD DELIGHT FANS OF DAVE GAHAN & CO…
FROM GAUCHE POP FRIPPERIES TO STARK, GRAINY ARTHOUSE IMAGININGS, DEPECHE MODE HAVE DRAWN UPON SOME SERIOUS TALENT TO HELP EMBODY THEIR MUSIC. THE MODE WORLD MAY HAVE BEGUN IN ESSEX, BUT IT WAS HEADING SOMEWHERE VERY STRANGE INDEED…
IT WAS A BAD SPLIT. AFTER 13 YEARS IN THE EYE OF THE DEPECHE MODE STORM ALAN WILDER QUIT IN SEARCH OF PEACE, FREEDOM AND ARTISTIC EXPRESSION. HE THEN FOUND HIMSELF ABLE TO CONCENTRATE ON THE EVER-EVOLVING ENTITY KNOWN AS RECOIL, BREAKING NEW GROUND ALL THE WAY AND HOOKING UP WITH A WIDE ARRAY OF COLLABORATORS…
EARLY STEPS ON VINYL, ULTRA-RARE ALBUM VARIATIONS, A HOST OF TECHNICOLOUR TREASURES, LIVE AND LOUD, A BEAUTIFULLY BOXED-UP CAREER OF 12” TREASURES, OTHER ARTISTS’ TRIBUTES – AND SOME HIGHLIGHTS OF A FORMER BAND MEMBER’S EPIC COLLECTION OF HOLY GRAIL RELEASES…
SPEAK & SPELL SESSIONS