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Depeche Mode

You can prove anything with statistics. Take Depeche Mode: 25 years, 11 albums, 37 top UK hits, millions of live shows, trillions of fans, inventors of at least 97 genres of music (plus, quite possibly, the wheel). All of which would make even the boldest statistician blush. But it’s not about statistics; it’s about quality. And, after 25 years, 11 albums, blah, blah, blah, Depeche Mode still exude quality like Jordan exudes cleavage, or a Parisian pavement exudes dogs***.

Okay, nasty analogy, but you get the point. Here’s the interview…

So, we hear some chap was arrested in Poland for leaking your new material online. Will you visit him in prison if he goes down?

Fletch: He won’t go to prison. He won’t…
Dave: Yeah, he will
F: Nah, he’ll just get a fine. A 50 Euro fine.
D: It's not about the downloading, though. It’s about the fact that someone is stealing from you before you’ve finished. If someone put their hand in your pocket and took a ten pound note out of it, you’d be pretty p***ed off.

You hold the record for scoring the most ever hit singles without ever getting a Number One. Will ‘Precious’ change all that?

D: Ah, but that may be the key! As soon as we get a Number One, it might be all over!
Martin: You can only go downhill from there.
D: We’ve still got plenty of room, though. We actually do our best to stay nice and low in the charts, but it’s very difficult - our fans are pretty crazy…
F: We keep the records in short supply at the shops.

There are 12 songs on the new album. It’s taken over four years. That’s less than three songs per year. Now, either you’ve been lounging around something rotten, or you’ve got a lot of songs left over…

F: Well, we do have a few in the can now. We actually have some B-sides this time!
D: We had about 20 songs ready when we went in to start the album – which is completely unknown for us. I think we usually start out with, like, three or four…

Dave, you’ve written some songs for the album this time around. Is that down to Chelsea-fan Fletch coming over all Jose Mourinho, and getting you and Martin to compete with each other for a place in the starting songwriting line-up?

F: That’s quite a good analogy, actually!!
D: Game of two halves, isn’t it?
F: But I think it was a natural thing for Dave to do after his solo record. It has made a big difference to the final album.

You’ve all written in your time, haven’t you?

D: Fletch had a solo album long before anything me or Martin did.

The mysterious covers album…

D: Yes, you know about that?

I do, but I’m yet to hear it…

D: Oh, Martin will help you out, there. He seems to help everyone out when it comes to hearing that for the first time!

Is it ever going to be released?

F: No!
M: How do you know? You’re just the artist.

Apparently, the album’s harder and faster than before. Is that a fair description?

M: Yes, that’s a good description. The last two albums were up there with our best, but they
were relatively sombre for us. We wanted to try something different this time, keep changing.
D: You know, you make the best records you can in the moment - and we’ve been fortunate enough to do that for a lot of years together now. You cant analyse it more than that. We had a good team working with us this time, especially being produced by Ben Hillier. That definitely injected us with the enthusiasm we needed in the studio

You turn 25 this year. How are you going to celebrate?

F: Well, the problem is there’s various 25th anniversary dates. There’s the one where we started as a band – we’ve passed that now, but we didn’t celebrate much. We just said: “We did it! 25 years!” when we were in the studio. Then there’s the first single anniversary…
D: …And the first gig.
F: That hasn’t happened yet. But the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame anniversary is for 25 years since your first record was released.
D: Specifically, your first album.
F: It’s interesting, because I don’t know who else from 1981 would be up for it. Spandau?!
D: One rule about it is that you’ve got to still be making records - and I’m not sure they’d qualify for that! They do tend to bend the rules when it comes to still having original members though: I remember seeing The Four Tops, and I’m sure there wasn’t one single member of the original line-up there! Little bit sad…

I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for you – simply because you were the first band to turn me on to ‘proper music’. Do you think you can still have the same effect on a new generation of listeners?

D: Awwww…
F: Well, when we release a record, it’s always nice to get new fans listening to our music. I think we make good music! So we do like picking up new fans - and we have done over the past few years.

Will you ever have another career-defining moment like Pasadena [where Depeche Mode filmed their legendary 101 live movie]?

D: I think you have them when you have them. Whenever you try and plan them, it just doesn’t seem to work out. But, over the 25 years that we’ve been together, there have been quite a few key moments like that – moments which kind of happened against all odds and became big markers. To be honest, the sheer fact that we made another record together and really enjoyed doing it is, after all these years, good.
M: Because the Pasadena show was so well documented, it’s become this really big thing. But, in actual fact, we played to more people at two German shows on the last tour than we ever played to there. 80,000 people! We just didn’t film it.
D: Hmmm… should have thought about that!

RJB

‘Precious’ is released by Mute Records on October 3rd. The album, Playing The Angel, follows on October 17th.


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