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SMELLS LIKE TEAM SPIRIT

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…
Martin Gore, Dave Gahan and Andrew Fletcher, 2017. “It was time to make a change, to challenge ourselves,” says Gore

Depeche Mode certainly have staying power. Despite those rare but crucial line-up changes, countless hairy escapes and being taken off mainstream radio playlists, they still remain one of the universe’s biggest acts. Four decades in, the trio are enjoying some of the best reviews of their career with Spirit, while its accompanying stadium tour is cementing their status as a major box office draw. “People never took us seriously,” says Martin Gore. “But eventually they have come to accept us.”

“I’ve never felt we were like any other bands,” Dave Gahan adds. “Especially with those we first appeared on the scene with in the 1980s, like Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet or those others who had success at the time. We never felt we were anything like them.”

Basildon’s finest are back in the UK on a fleeting visit, conducting interviews – individually – in a very upmarket Mayfair hotel. Outside, a clutch of patient teenagers dressed from head-to-toe in black and parading a range of piercings fry gently in the sunshine. It’s an impressively young crowd for an act 37 years into their career, but the frontman is right – Depeche Mode are no ordinary band. They seem to have more in common with heavy metal or alternative rock acts, those timeless names who consistently attract new generations of admirers, almost like a rite of passage.

“We probably had more in common with Fad Gadget, The Normal or Kraftwerk,“ Gahan continues, listing a number of other cult acts that used to grace the back pages of the now defunct Melody Maker. “We definitely have survived and been through a lot together. Ups and downs, marriages, divorces.”

“I’VE NEVER FELT WE WERE LIKE ANY OTHER BANDS. ESPECIALLY WITH THOSE WE FIRST APPEARED ON THE SCENE WITH IN THE 1980S, LIKE DURAN DURAN AND SPANDAU BALLET OR OTHERS WHO HAD SUCCESS AT THE TIME. WE NEVER FELT WE WERE ANYTHING LIKE THEM” DAVE GAHAN

Unlike most of those aforementioned chart rivals from yesteryear, Depeche Mode command stadium-sized audiences in 2017, yet they kicked off their latest Global Spirit Tour with an unusually intimate date at Glasgow Barrowland as part of the BBC Radio 6 Music festival. Gahan considers small shows “more terrifying”, but Gore – who once required verbal assurance he wouldn’t pop his clogs on stage – is over any superstitions. “It was fun because even though it was smaller than people are used to us playing, it was the biggest gig we”d played in three years,” reflects the songwriter. “It felt like a real show.”

It’s currently feeling a lot more ‘real’ now the band are in the throes of European stadium dates, playing to more than 1.5 million fans in 32 cities. With further gigs in the UK, US and across the rest of the world still to come, it must be a daunting undertaking…

“We look forward to it, really,” says Gore without flinching, “because we’ve been on this four-year schedule thing now for a while, which we fell into more than anything else. It’s quite good because when we finish an album it’s usually been a long time since we’d played live, so you’re itching to do that bit again. And then when you finish the tour you take a break and you haven’t been writing songs for a long time, so you’re feeling more creative.”

The band have been on that remarkably consistent ‘four-year cycle’ ever since 2001’s Exciter LP. Subsequent studio albums were solid fan-pleasers, but some accusations of treading water were beginning to be thrown their way. After more than a decade recording with Ben Hillier, the trio decided to shake things up a little and enlist producer du jour James Ford, one half of Simian Mobile Disco.

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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!