Taken From Pitchfork:
Depeche Mode by Joshua Klein
April 13, 2009
Depeche Mode 101 lucked into capturing the British group on the cusp of global
super-stardom. In that documentary, the band comes off almost shockingly young, if not
entirely innocent, but that may be because all the real drama-- substance abuse, nervous
breakdowns, divorces, in-fighting, and general self-destruction-- came soon after.
Miraculously, Depeche Mode not only survived but continued to prove themselves creatively
viable. The proof is in Depeche Mode's latest Sounds of the Universe, which captures the
group on the other side of its many ordeals and hardly the sound of band lazy and
complacent. In fact, when we spoke separately with members Andy Fletcher and Dave Gahan,
Fletch noted with some surprise the group's longevity, and there's no reason to believe
Depeche Mode doesn't have many more good years still to come.
Pitchfork: How is that you've managed to go almost 30 years in the band as the only
one with a nickname?
Andy Fletcher: Well, Martin [Gore]'s got a nickname. He's "Gorack." Dave's
"Gahany." Fletch is not really a nickname, is it? I mean, most Fletchers-- I
don't know if you're aware-- are known as Fletch. I've had worse nicknames than that!
Pitchfork: Especially at this point in the band's career, you have such an unusual
dynamic. The guy who writes most of the songs only sings a few, the guy who sings most of
the songs only writes a few, and the guy who doesn't sing or write the songs has the
reputation of being the glue that keeps it all together.
AF: Yeah. I don't think that is the case, in the end. I think sometimes it's harder for
people to look at electronic-based bands and work it out. It's quite easy to look at a
guitar-based band and work it out-- who is the bassist, who is the drummer. With
electronic bands, it's not so obvious. We all tend to muck in together. That's why you've
got a situation like ours.
Pitchfork: In the early years, it was mostly electronic sounds coming from the
albums. But as you've added more and more instruments, the lines have gotten even
blurrier. Do you guys like that anonymity or mystery, where people don't really know who
is doing what?
AF: We always felt like we wouldn't do well in America. We'd done a couple of, in the very
early 1980s, small forays over here, and there were sort of good things and bad things
about it. We were quite convinced that our music was too European sounding, too
electronic-based, for it to do well. We were proved wrong. But yes, we enjoyed it
throughout the 80s, where we had some real battles with journalists. Nowadays, most
journalists quite like us, you know. In those days, we had people who really hated us.
Rock'n'roll purists. Sometimes I miss that.
Pitchfork: That's one of the most enjoyable aspects of 101, the controversial idea
of this unconventional British band thinking it could conquer America and then succeeding.
AF: That was an important gig in our career, but also quite important for alternative
music in America. It was getting bigger and bigger, and that was one of the moments where
alternative music really took off and the media really started to take notice. One of
KROQ's main bands could play the Rose Bowl.
Pitchfork: Was it important to the band that the media take notice?
AF: We were just having a whale of a time. It was bizarre. It was strange. We were touring
America, playing to massive crowds, but we hadn't had a top 40 album yet [actually, Music
for the Masses hit #35 in 1987 --Ed.]. It wasn't featured in Rolling Stone or any other
magazine, hardly featured. There was some obvious undercurrent happening. But from that
moment, a lot of American music changed. Depeche Mode spawned Nirvana and everything after
Pitchfork: It also allowed you to develop and grow away from the microscope.
AF: I suppose so. Touring was just such fun. We were young, things were going well. We'd
party every night, with no pressure, it seemed. [laughs]
Pitchfork: A lot of the time, it seems the bigger you get, the less fun it gets.
AF: Unfortunately, as you get older, to keep the quality going is just a bit... you have
to slow down a bit. You can't really do it the way you used to. We've got families and
children and things, so it's not the same.
Pitchfork: You've been on a pretty consistent every-four-year album plan. Is that
by design, or chance?
AF: It's by design. As I just pointed out... It takes six or seven months to make an
album, and then there's promoting the album. We have this situation-- and it's a great
situation-- where we're popular all over the world, and a tour takes quite a long time to
do. And then we've got our other commitments to our families and children that haven't
seen us for two years, you know? And then after that, Martin starts writing songs again.
So it's sort of... We were slightly quicker this time, because Dave did a solo album but
he chose not to tour with it. It's a bit annoying. With Playing the Angel, we got quite a
bit of momentum going on that album, and then you take a break for two years. In the 80s,
we were doing album/tour, album/tour, every year.
Pitchfork: With Playing the Angel, if you follow conventional wisdom, there was a
sense that that album recaptured something that some suggested Depeche Mode may have lost.
AF: Well, I like all the albums, but all albums are different. I think because we used a
lot of analog synthesizers on that album that maybe that was why. I think we're generally
a lot more happy with this new album. We feel that the quality goes all the way through.
Hopefully, we've taken it forward another stage.
Pitchfork: How much did that have to do with working with the same producer two
albums in a row?
AF: Well, normally that's a risky thing for Depeche Mode. We haven't done it very much.
But we thought, let's go to Ben Hillier again, and he was absolutely a man obsessed, very
tyrant-like. He really had a vision. We had so many songs, because Martin had written a
ton of songs, and Dave had as well. It was much more driven, this album.
Pitchfork: With Ultra [produced by Tim Simenon] and Exciter [produced by Mark
Bell], in both cases your producer was an artist in his own right. Ben isn't, per se.
AF: Ben comes from the traditional Flood-type background. He made tea in the studio, then
became an assistant, then an engineer, then a producer. More of a professional. Tim and
Mark come from a musician background.
Pitchfork: Does it encourage you to be more creative when the producer is more
AF: I don't know. We enjoyed working with Mark and Tim, and also with Ben. I think on this
album, everything seemed to come together. The mood within the band was very good. When we
finished, Martin was actually a bit unhappy! I've never thought that would happen, when it
comes to recording an album. He normally can't wait for it to finish.
Pitchfork: What accounts for that burst of songwriting? There are deluxe editions
with extra songs, bonus tracks, demos...
AF: Well, he gave up drinking a few years ago. Obviously, like all songwriters, when that
happens you always wonder how it's going to affect your writing. It turned out that
writing songs became an obsession. He must have written 21 songs, when normally for an
album he'd produce about 13. Dave's writing well as well, so we had a total of maybe 24,
25 songs, which for Depeche Mode is a lot.
Pitchfork: What is it like to have lifetime friends who go through these stages,
where Dave or Martin may be in a very bad way, and clean up? Do they become different
people? Do they revert to how they were before?
AF: It's something that starts and get worse, you know. With Martin and his drinking, most
of his life he was drinking but not out of control. The same with Dave. So they don't
become different people. They come back to how you knew them at their best, if that makes
any sense. Back to the late 80s, then, before it happened. One thing we've got going for
us, Depeche Mode, is that we do come from the same town. We're very close. Our friends are
very similar, and our families know each other. We are very close.
Pitchfork: And you're still in touch with Alan [Wilder] and Vince [Clarke]?
AF: Not really, no. Alan and Vince always were pretty much loners. Vince now lives in
Maine, in the middle of nowhere. I bumped into Vince a couple of times in New York the
last couple of years, had a drink with him once. But Alan, he lives in a big rock star
mansion in the countryside. No one's seen him since he's left the band. On the other hand,
they were always quite loners, anyway.
Pitchfork: So you never even saw them when you put together the documentaries on
the reissue of your catalog?
AF: We didn't see them, no. It was done separately. We did all our interviews together,
but we didn't see them. That's just the way it is. We don't slag each other off. Alan
doesn't say bad things about us, and Vince doesn't. We still follow what they're doing.
Pitchfork: All said and done, Depeche Mode has been pretty prolific. There aren't
any 10-year gaps between records.
AF: There better not be! Time's starting to run out! [laughs]
Pitchfork: What is it like to pause and look back at the music you've made, your
AF: The whole experience has been a dream, really. To appreciate it, you have to pinch
yourself. When we started out, to expect what has happened to us, the career we've had,
and still to be going, is unbelievable. We're very grateful. We've worked hard, we've had
a bit of luck in places, but we've made consistently good music.
Pitchfork: That may be an aspect of Depeche Mode that people tend to underrate. You
are remarkably consistent. When the Rolling Stones put out a new record, no one cares.
It's just an excuse to tour. When Depeche Mode does, it's still creatively worthwhile.
AF: We've always said we have to feel relevant to carry on. We've also said that if our
records were to not be good at all, then it'd be time to stop. But the thing about the
Stones, they're going at 65! Depeche Mode, when I look at our following and our big fan
base, I must say I never thought I might be in a situation where at the age of, say, 55,
or 56, I'd be on the road. But it's looking more and more likely! I don't know if that's a
good thing. [laughs] The whole thing is a trip, really. It's very hard to say no. Very few
artists properly retire, do they? [laughs]
Pitchfork: Well, there's good money to be made!
AF: Yeah, obviously money's important. When we first started the group we hired this
accountant, and he did this plan to save taxes. The plan was based on us being around for
three years. But we just kept on going and going and going, and it's now 30 years later.
We realize it's just incredible to be going and still doing well.
Pitchfork: Depeche Mode is a production now, an industry...
AF: A brand!
Pitchfork: There are a lot of people who work for you or with you who, to some
extent, owe their livelihood to your success or failure.
AF: Yeah, well, it's not as big as you might expect. I think U2, for instance, that's more
of an industry than we are. We're a lot smaller than they are.
Pitchfork: It's all relative.
AF: I suppose so. It's relative.
Pitchfork: But when you have that sort of commitment to the band and the people
around it, is there ever any trepidation, when Martin mentions he has 20 new songs, about
diving back in, knowing that means the wheels will be set back in motion?
AF: There's always fear, the fear factor, when you record a record and go out on tour. We
are fortunate for our fan base, which seems to always be there. It takes a lot of the fear
factor out. We know our audiences will be fanatical, great. It also takes a lot of
pressure off. For instance, we released "Wrong" as a single. I think if we were
more of a commercial band, the record company would be looking for a more commercial
radio-friendly track. So we have that freedom to do things a bit differently, which is
Pitchfork: Listening to the new record, "Wrong" did not strike me as the
most obvious first single, either.
AF: No. We just wanted to make an impact with the first single. We've always tried to do
that. "Barrel of a Gun", even "Personal Jesus", to a certain extent.
To say we're back. It's a little aggressive. It's only three minutes long. We've got
plenty of tracks on the album we can release after that are sort of more...
Pitchfork: I hear more guitar on this album than even on Playing the Angel.
AF: It's weird. I think in Playing the Angel, the guitar was more upfront. There's a lot
of guitar on this album, layering and things like that, little riffs, but a lot of reviews
have said it sounds more electronic. But there is still quite a bit of guitar on it.
Pitchfork: Though you did note a return to more analog synths. Did the digital
equipment ever become a crutch?
AF: No, we're quite happy with digital synths as well. Martin had this obsession, an eBay
obsession, buying vintage synthesizers. Every day in the studio, they would just come in.
We'd take them out, have a look at them and play with them. There's some stuff we bought
that we'd used in 1980, 81. But I don't think the album sounds like an analog thing. They
were more inspirational.
Pitchfork: Brian Eno used to say that every time he bought a new synth, the first
thing he did was throw out the manual.
AF: They're hard to read, that's for sure! They don't really tell you anything, so you
have to do it by trial and error.
Pitchfork: Is it true that you had to mediate a songwriting dispute between Martin
and Dave the last time around?
AF: In what sense "mediate?"
Pitchfork: To reach a decision on the final number of songs each would contribute.
AF: Dave's new obsession is writing songs. He's really into it, and he's released two good
solo albums. So he's very keen and eager to get his songs on the albums. Martin is a
world-class songwriter, and Dave is improving all the time, but I think Martin should be
the main songwriter. I think his songs and Dave's voice are the basis of Depeche Mode. But
I think everyone's pretty cool. In fact, I think it's getting to the point now where it's
quite hard to actually distinguish which is a Dave song and which is a Martin song! That's
Pitchfork: In theory, that would drive each to higher heights.
AF: Yeah. It might take us to double-album territory.
Pitchfork: Or they'll kill each other.
Pitchfork: When you're working on the albums, are you already thinking about how
each song will be performed live?
AF: No, we don't think about it. Maybe in our heads, but we concentrate on the records.
Usually half way into the record, we have to make a decision if we're going to tour, or
when we're going to tour. We've got a few weeks of promotion, then six or six and a half
weeks of rehearsals and all the creativity that goes into making all the songs suitable
for live performance.
Pitchfork: A lot of the new songs are very nuanced. Even the most aggressive songs
are full of subtle details.
AF: They're always going to come across differently. We've got a live drummer. We use
different arrangements. We pretty much know which songs we're going to play live. We can
tell quite easily which tracks will work live and which won't.
Pitchfork: There are any number of songs your fans would want to hear, from the
most obvious to the most obscure. How do you strike a balance between new songs and old
while doing justice to both?
AF: It's really difficult, in truth. We've got over 200 songs, 219 songs or something.
Most of them, with a few exceptions, are actually good songs, and the fans have all their
different favorites. We have to try and narrow that down to a one hour, fifty-minute set,
plus a few more to change things around. So say 25 songs, 26 songs. It's really difficult.
We're probably going to play five or six from the new album, so that only gives us a
certain amount of songs. And there are tracks you have to play. "Personal
Jesus", "Enjoy the Silence". If we didn't play them, there might be riots.
Pitchfork: I guarantee you there are fans who are probably saying "I hope they
don't play 'Enjoy the Silence' and play something obscure instead."
AF: I think there'd be very few! [laughs]
Pitchfork: Does the enthusiasm of the fans help you overcome any resistance to
songs you might personally be tired of?
AF: Yeah. When you're playing live, you have to remember that you're playing one show to a
certain crowd. We go on to another gig, another gig, another gig, so it's quite easy for
us to get bored. But you have to remember that on that next gig, it's different crowd of
people, and they're not bored.
Pitchfork: Plus you've got new generations of fans.
AF: We're picking up new fans. We're like, in a bizarre way, a really big cult band. I
think every person sort of thinks of Depeche Mode as their little secret. But when they go
to a concert, there are 20,000 others. There's a certain point in that.
Pitchfork: There's a stereotypical loner Depeche Mode fan, but the shows are
tremendous communal events.
AF: Again, there's this criticism that Depeche Mode is doomy and gloomy. But we feel the
music is much more joyous, actually. It stirs emotions in people.
Pitchfork: A lot of the songs are ultimately anthemic. Invigorating.
AF: They are. Good choruses, singalongs, strong melodies. Yeah, I think they are. I'll use
that one. Anthemic.
Pitchfork: Do you consider Depeche Mode dance music?
AF: Yeah. Well, people do dance to our music, though we never set out to make dance
records. But we've always liked the remix. Martin and I DJ as well. One of our favorite
things is getting the remixes together for a track or an album and listening to what they
do to the songs. So there is a dance element. I think Madonna beats us for the number of
Billboard dance hits, but I think we've had 19 or 18 Billboard dance No. 1's [by our
count, it's 7 Billboard Hot Dance Club Play No. 1's --Ed.], so that's pretty incredible.
Pitchfork: You've alluded to the fact that future editions of the album will
feature some demos from the archives. Can you be more specific?
AF: We're doing sort of a boxed set or deluxe version. I had my house refurbed, and I
found all sorts of old cassettes. I decided to play them, and some of them sounded quite
good! So we asked Martin if he would mind us using them, and he was up for it. There are
going to be eight or nine old demos, plus demos for the tracks on the album. It was hard
to track down a lot of the demos, but we've got almost 60 or 70 now. It's interesting,
because some of them are really good, but sound totally different from the album version.
Sometimes it's just Martin on guitar or piano.
Pitchfork: It's easy to overlook the fact that no matter how ornate the results,
Depeche Mode songs can begin with something as simple as that. Even then, some people may
still think that keyboards play themselves.
AF: Well, you can get them to play themselves, too. [laughs]
Pitchfork: Do you get together before the promotion machine starts up again to
discuss what subjects are on or off the table? Do you have talking points?
Dave Gahan: No, not really. We don't get together to talk about anything before we do
anything, really. It's weird, though. People often ask that question. I mean, we get
together when we've all got demos done, sit around, listen to them and talk about the
approach we want to take recording, but it's always kind of get on with it and then see
Pitchfork: Speaking with Fletch, he mentioned how Martin had been writing a lot
ever since he stopped drinking, which some might consider too personal to share.
DG: That might have had a lot to do with it. But I think he's just become... what I
noticed most in the studio was how he showed up every day, almost the first in the studio
every day, ready to work. Eager to do stuff and very excited about working on the songs.
He's worked really hard in the last couple of years... actually, it was during the Playing
the Angel tour that he just decided he was done with the drinking. I was, to be honest,
very pleased with that. It gets a little worrying, and certainly I've been on the other
side of that, when I know the guy's been worried about me. It's a joy to be around Martin
now. He's really very disciplined. He seems so much happier. Having spent a lot of time
together over the years, you know, for me the truth is that booze and drugs can be fun for
some time, but then it begins to get in the way of creativity. For me, anyway, it gets in
the way. It doesn't help anymore. When that becomes the most important thing, and you
can't even be bothered to put a record on, that sort of thing, that's when it gets really
Pitchfork: Was anything he was going through at all similar to what you went
DG: To me, it was totally the same. Using different stuff to get you there is really
neither here nor there. I could just see it wasn't working anymore. Martin's the kind of
guy, when he was drinking, he would go and have a good time. Be really social, go to bars
and clubs and hang out. The difference is that I was really not like that anymore. I would
be on my own, with my stuff, left alone. So that didn't really work. With Martin, he was
always very social, and he still is. He just put down the booze, because it was just not
working anymore. In fact, during the last album, there were a couple of moments there
where it just got sort of scary. Where he didn't show up, or if he did show up he was too
drunk to really do anything. It was becoming worrying, and kind of boring. That feeling,
when you're worrying a lot about somebody... I had a lot of sleepless nights. Same on the
tour as well. Things got a little hairy.
One night, some of the guys in the band went out to some club somewhere-- Budapest or
somewhere-- and they ended up getting a bit of a beating! [laughs] For whatever reason.
And I think it shocked the hell out of all of them, and things began to change a little
bit after that. I've been in that position many times. Looking down the end of a pistol is
not fun, let me tell you. [laughs] It's like, how did I get here? How the fuck did this
happen? So, I remember that on the last tour, coming into the dressing room and people
were just sitting around with black eyes and stuff. I was like, guys, we're in our 40s
now. There are a lot of people coming to see us. You can't be doing this shit. [laughs]
You're not just letting the band down, you're letting everybody down. It's over. You've
got to find a different way. It was a little while after that-- that was just one of the
things-- that Martin just made a big change. More power to him. I don't know how he does
it, but he shifted his whole way of life, to be honest. There was a lot of personal stuff
that went on with him as well that changed a lot of things. I see him now working very
hard. He's a great father to his kids. He's a different person to be around.
Pitchfork: Those Hungarians had no idea who they were messing with.
DG: I could picture the scene, believe me. Sometimes you think when you're out there, and
you've got your security with you, that you can get away with anything. Then you're in
some bar at 4 a.m. and you're the only people in there, and there's a bunch of mean
looking guys trying to get you out of there, I think you lose perspective a little bit.
Pitchfork: It's interesting to hear how tough things might have been during the
last album, since some people treated Playing the Angel almost as a comeback. Even though
you didn't go anywhere, of course.
DG: There was a little bit of that. Every record there's something going on. This one was
clearly about the work. But there's always a bit of that-- a tension -- and there always
has been in the past. I defy any band to say there's not shit that goes on between
members. It just does. I heard that Kings of Leon often have fistfights with each other!
[laughs] They're brothers, so I can see that.
But being in a band is like your family. All the little quirks that you have, all that
little stuff, after a while it becomes really irritating. You have to learn to live
together and accept each other, the good things and the bad things. There have been many
albums where, I could tell you, when we were making it we thought, are we actually going
to get this thing finished? It really didn't feel like that with this new album. It felt
quite different, kind of the same feeling as when we were making Violator; we knew we were
doing something that felt new and fresh and innovative, to ourselves, to our way of
A lot of the time, you're only as good as the people you work with, and we used Ben
Hillier again to produce this record. He used a different engineer and a different
programmer, and there was just an enthusiasm, right from the off, to really make the best
record we possibly could. Everybody worked hard. There was time allotted to work, and
that's what we did. Ben's a great producer in that way. He doesn't take any shit. He's
very controlling, very opinionated. But in a good way. If anybody's going to have the last
say, it's Ben, and you trust it. He's just so knowledgeable. You feel safe with him.
Sometimes it doesn't work like that. We've worked with producers where they're great, and
great technically, but they just can't finish. Nor can we! [laughs] You've got to have
someone who's cracking the whip.
Pitchfork: You don't usually use the same producer twice in a row.
DG: No, that's true. I mean, Flood, and Daniel Miller, who was kind of stable. And still
is. He comes into the studio every few weeks, and we'll sit there and spend a couple of
days going through things. We fully respect that, because we know his perspective really
Pitchfork: Working with someone like Tim Simenon or Mark Bell, they're musicians in
their own right who put out their own records.
DG: It's funny you should mention that, because although Martin and Fletch would probably
argue with me, I still describe those records as the Tim Simenon album and the Mark Bell
album. We happened to be part of that process, too, but it was definitely their thing.
Mark worked in a very sort of isolated way. I think he's a great producer. Tim worked that
way, too. He was perhaps more similar to Ben in that he had a team-- a musician,
programmer, engineer, everything-- but Alan had just left, and he was what we needed at
Pitchfork: When a new Depeche Mode album is scheduled, that means a big commitment
on your part, right?
DG: It does, because it means that all the work that you put into being part of your
family for the last couple of years, you've got to step out of that again. And no matter
which way you try to do it... occasionally the wife and kids will come out and visit, but
it's not much fun for them, really. I know that when I get back, and all's said and done
and finished, there's going to be a period of time that's going to be a real adjustment
again. Me coming home and yelling at my wife because she hasn't loaded the dishwasher
properly does not work. [laughs] This time especially, it's kind of a bittersweet thing.
This time I think we've really made a fantastic record. I know that this is an album that
you've got to tour. The songs lend themselves to performance. Certainly at least half of
them I can see us performing live. Our popularity seems to be, in terms of people wanting
to come to see us... just in the last couple of months since putting the European tour on
sale, we sold close to a million tickets. With everything going on in the world today that
kind of baffles me, so I feel a sense of duty. We do something that brings a lot of joy to
people, when we perform, and I like that feeling, that I'm doing something that's good.
Pitchfork: It's remarkable that the same group of people can go into the studio
together, yet Sounds of the Universe still has a completely different character from
Playing the Angel.
DG: I think you're right, and actually that was something that we did talk about before we
started the record. We didn't want to repeat that process. The good thing about Ben was
before he started working with us, he really wasn't that familiar with Depeche Mode. I
mean, he'd heard a few songs, but hadn't really bought an album. I think he said he'd
bought Violator, I remember, but he wasn't a big fan or anything, so he came in with this
fresh perspective. He enthused Martin to pick up the guitar and play, and me to sing along
with him. We'd got to this place where it was much more about building something
carefully, each part being produced, and me singing. It was all very ordered. Ben doesn't
really work like that. We'd jump around from song to song, go back to a song, start
working on drums, leave it, take the drums away, work on some guitar. There's a constant
energy. Also, having made a record together that we felt was very strong, he also wanted
to up the ante. He had some clear ideas of where he wanted to go, production-wise, and we
needed that as well. We always need that. We need somebody to, like I said, crack the
Pitchfork: Being the singer, the man upfront, you carry a big burden. Why would you
also want to write songs?
DG: It's become, for me, a necessity. From the moment I started writing and demoing songs
with Knox Chandler here in New York, for what was to become Paper Monsters, I knew there
was no turning back. Now I had really opened that door. I wasn't just talking about or
sitting around working on a half-assed idea and not really finishing it. I was completing
these songs and going home at night with a little CD in my hands, feeling like this elated
little kid that just had ice cream for the first time. Really, it felt like that. There
was no way I could go back to the old way of working.
To be quite honest, I think it was a bit of a catalyst as well. It started the wheels
rolling for a change within the band that needed to happen, not because Martin wasn't
writing great songs, but just to shake it up. Throw something else in the mix there that
would make everybody feel maybe more competitive. Martin said the other day, in an
interview, he said to the journalist, "I think you'd be really hard-pushed to say
which songs were Dave songs and which ones were mine." From Martin, that was a
compliment, a compliment that I definitely took it. It's something that's growing for me.
It makes me feel more excited about coming back to Depeche as well and making a record,
because I feel like I've got something more to offer.
By the time we finished Exciter, for me it had become, I don't get it. Especially with
just Mark Bell, a small production team-- it felt like we weren't really a band anymore.
Why doesn't Martin just do his own thing? He's perfectly capable of doing that. He's got a
great voice. What I'd come to realize after making a couple of solo records and having a
few tracks on Depeche records is that it's the combined effort that makes it what it is.
And now I'm lucky enough to be like the sub-writer! [laughs]
Pitchfork: When Martin or anybody says it's hard to tell who wrote what song, it's
a compliment to the whole band. It says that Depeche Mode is more than just who wrote
DG: Exactly. I think that's what he was saying, more than anything else. Like I said, he
really showed up and worked really hard on this record. I've never seen him work so hard,
or to see him as excited working on one my songs as well as his own.
Pitchfork: Fletch said one of the reasons you were able to turn this album around
so fast is that you chose not to tour behind your last solo record. Did you make that
decision with the band in mind?
DG: I actually did, because I knew I was writing some more songs as well that I felt would
be songs I'd turn up with for the next Depeche record. I knew that also, just in terms of
my family, for me to go on the road so soon after the Playing the Angel tour, which was so
soon after I toured Paper Monsters, it was just going to be too much on my personal life
as well, to spend that much time away from my family, and expect that to still be intact
by the time I came back. Because mentally it was getting too much. I said to myself, by
the time I finish this next tour, I really do need to take some kind of break. Not to say
that I'm not going to write and produce demos, and work with some interesting people. But
in terms of thinking about what I want to do next, I kind of owe it to my family to take
some time, to be honest. Big time. They've been pretty patient.
Pitchfork: The narrative has it that it was all the touring that pushed you toward
drugs to begin with, so I guess you know your limits.
DG: Well, that's not really something that comes to mind with me. It's really just
mentally not being able to spread myself that thin. The amount of work that goes into
making a record, and touring, and putting that together, and certainly doing my own tour--
putting the production together, and the band together, and having all that weight on my
shoulders-- was really fun to do, but it's so much work. I would like to in the future
make a record with the guys that played in my Monsters band. To do something that was a
lot more performance-driven in the studio. Maybe to demo more songs, first spend a couple
of weeks performing a record. Do something different. But that's in the future.