1998-08-04 Singles 86-98 EPK, Mute Records
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Depeche Mode (including Alan Wilder) were interviewed separately for the Singles 86-98 EPK. The video EPK includes some material that does not appear on the audio EPK, including interviews with Daniel Miller, Flood, Tim Simenon, and Anton Corbijn. The video EPK is 23:28 minutes long and is not hosted online (an excerpt of it used to be on the official site but is no longer there). The EPKs were released on August 4th, 1998. Transcript by Angelinda.
- Duration: 56:49 minutes
You can listen to this entire recording below in one shot if you don't want to keep clicking play on each track, though it may be a little difficult to follow without interviewer questions between the tracks.
The interviewer is not heard; only the band's answers are heard. Keep that in mind when listening along to the transcript.
01. Play 'The Singles 86>98' spans over a decade. Why do you feel this was the right time to release this collection?
Dave: Well actually, we've been thinking about doing this for some time. It was more about the fact that, when we put out 'Ultra', we decided not to tour with that record, which I think was a good decision. We haven't actually toured for five years, so it seemed like a good idea to do this 'Singles' thing as well, and we wanted to go and record a few new songs. This really puts the emphasis more on the fact that we're touring, and that we can put a lot of energy into that. The songs that we're going to be doing are songs penned in the last ten years, and we'll be playing a songs from the past as well.
Andy: We sort of see it as a really big achievement, the fact that we are releasing a ‘best of’ album, yet we’re as popular now as we ever were. This piece of work, 86-98, we really see as the best work of our career.
02. Play The songs on the album span 12 years. How do you feel it holds together as an album?
Alan: Well, if you listen to the complete running order of all the songs, there's certainly a continuity to the sound, despite the fact that they obviously change a lot during that time. But I think that you can still hear something in the approach that ties it together - along with the obvious thing, which is Martin's songs - that will always tie whatever Depeche did or do together. Between albums, or when we started an album. We deliberately tried to make it different to the previous one. We were determined not to just repeat the same album over and over again. So we were consciously trying to change our approach. And yet, there's something about just the sheer collective of the people involved that meant that it was instantly recognisable as Depeche Mode.
03. Play With the last album 'Ultra' you didn't tour. Was that a good idea?
Martin: I think it was, yeah. I don't think it would have been right for any of us to have gone on tour after the last album, because you spent fifteen months in the studio, and if you go on a mammoth tour after that, it just takes such a huge chunk of your lives. So now it's a really good time for us to go, because we haven't been in the studio for ages. We were just in there for six to eight weeks to do these new tracks, and we're still quite fresh. So it's a lot easier to deal with that, than going from this massive bulk of recording straight out on tour.
04. Play What direction is the band going in on 'Only When I Lose Myself'?
Martin: It's a ballad that's quite slow for us to put out as a single, generally our faster stuff does a bit better, always tends to, anyway. But I think it's got a really good atmosphere, something quite obsessional about it.
Dave: I think it's a continuation of what we did with 'Ultra', but we got a lot more soulful. During the making of 'Ultra', I've become a lot more confident about my singing. I felt like I was doing something that was from me and not for everybody else. I challenge myself to, like, I wanna get better at this. I wanna feel myself improving at something, and for a long time now I felt like I wasn't improving. I lost my way a little bit there, and fortunately I am very grateful for the opportunity to make to 'Ultra'. I had the chance, musically, to feel like I'm actually producing something that really adds to it, [and] is really part of the sound of Depeche Mode. I think 'Only When I Lose Myself' is like I went to a place in the song that felt good inside. I have to think about the words that Martin has written but how I see them, how I feel about them. I think we all influence each other like that. Even though we don't know directly that we're doing it, I think that we bounce off each other, and I think that's what makes Depeche Mode still work.
05. Play Were you aware in the early days of how much freedom Mute and Daniel Miller gave you?
Martin: I've always said that I think that we're very lucky. I think some sort of gut instinct made us choose Mute and go with Daniel, he just had a good aura about him, we trusted him. And the whole thing worked out so well, it was originally just a one-off single deal that worked very well, and we got to very like Daniel. The freedom that he gives us is just incredible, we never ever had any record company pressure to do anything.
Andy: It is an important point, actually, being with Mute Records, because they have really made sure that our career has developed in a nice, slow way and we haven't been overdone too early on. There's very few bands that are allowed to actually develop in a nice, slow way.
06. Play 'Dreaming Of Me' was the first single. At the time was that the extent of your ambition?
Andy: Well we never thought we would ever get a single released anyway, so that was really exciting, obviously. When it went in the charts, if any of them were [at] 40 or [higher], when we took it home and played it in our local disco and stuff, all the exciting memories go back to those early days. That's not to say we don't have exciting things now, but everything was new then. When everything is new, it's always the best, isn't it? The best time.
07. Play When you look back at stuff like 'New Life' or 'Just Can't Get Enough' is it just good nostalgia, or is there any squirming at all?
Andy: Of course there is. I mean, you look at all the video of that time, but at the end of the day, we were kids, eighteen and nineteen year olds, you know? I know it's a cliché line, but we did have to grow up in public. But we stuck at it.
08. Play Was Vince Clarke the creative spark behind 'Speak And Spell'?
Martin: Yeah, absolutely, he was the driving force behind the band from day one. I don't think there was every a big question mark about our carrying on when he left, but he was the instigator, he was the one who had the real passion to make something of the band at the time. He was the one who took at the demo tapes around to all the record companies. I think I had trouble being as passionate about the band at that time, because it just seemed like a bit of a fad thing to me, because I wasn't writing the songs and I wasn't really, really into the songs. So I can understand why Vince... That was Vince's creation, really, so it was understandable that he was the driving force behind it.
09. Play When Vince left, after 'Speak And Spell', were you worried about what would happen next?
Martin: I think we were very fortunate in that we were very young and naive, and we didn't think too much about the consequences of him leaving. So we just booked some studio time, went straight in and recorded a single. I don't think we even considered the prospect that it might be unsuccessful. It seemed like a real minor blip that Vince had left the band. I think that if he had left five years later, I think that we would have been in chaos, because we would have started thinking too much.
10. Play 'A Broken Frame' was your second album. Around these early hit singles did you feel that you had become pop stars?
Martin: Yeah I think that by the time 'Meaning Of Love' was released, I think we were getting far too overconfident. I remember [when] we were flying back from America, and we were supposed to land and ring up Daniel to find out the chart position, and I think it had gone in at - oh, I can't really remember - I think it had gone in at twelve or something, and we expected that the following week when we got home, we would make this phone call and it would have gone up to, like, two or something. And we made the phone call, and it dropped to eighteen. And we were thinking, 'That can't happen!' So I think that we did start falling into the 'pop star' thing a little bit. But that brought us down to Earth.
Although doing Top Of The Pops and things like that was fantastic, but, again, going back to our relationship with Mute Records, I think they never really gave us the real trappings of mega stardom. We're still travelling on the underground to Top Of The Pops, and that was a normal thing to do. So they sort of kept us on the right level as well. And the second album, as well, was a bit of a... [It] didn't do as well as the first album, and a lot of people were trying to say that we were finished. Vince was gone, Vince was then having huge success, of course, with Yazoo, and it was brilliant what he was doing. So people were saying we were crap. But, again, that gave us... There's a lot of things coinciding for the third album, like for instance, samplers were just coming into existence, and this was a big, new creative thing for us. On top of Martin actually sitting down and writing songs for a whole album, there was a lot of things going in our favour. So that's why we really consider 'Construction Time Again' to be our first real album.
11. Play Was 'Construction Time Again' pivotal in Depeche Mode's development?
Andy: I don't think it was 'the big one', I think it was the start of it. I think there were bigger further along the line. But it was a start, it was a good start. We started to feel a lot better about ourselves, and a lot more confident. We went to Berlin for that, to mix that album. That was a whole new thing for us, seeing a city like that, and we got a great vibe off that. We started to realise that Europe is where we wanted to be. You didn't have to just be popular in Britain, there was another world out there. And that's where we spent the next twelve years doing that, making ourselves popular all over the place. And that gives you much more satisfaction, to be honest.
Martin: I think there were some instrumental developments around that time, like the sampler, that made it stand out from the first two albums, which were just purely synthesizer-based. So there was that, and I think we had also just grown a bit older and wiser, and I think that the things I was writing about were just more interesting, maybe a bit deeper. I mean, you couldn't get shallower than the first cover. [laughs]
12. Play How did discovering samplers affect your music?
Martin: When we first started sampling, it was just such a wonderful tool that we used to go around sampling absolutely everything, and it was always really good fun. Going down railway arches in Brick lane with a tape recorder and recording all these sounds and going back and getting them into the sampler and trying them out, because it was new, it was all such an exciting time.
Andy: We always had this theory at the time that every sound must be different, and you must never use the same sound twice. So, of course, sampling was great for us, because we had already got all of our sounds out of our analogue synths, so when sampling came along, it gave us a whole new thing. It sounds a bit arty and stuff, but it was very exciting, doing that, going around and hitting things, going to Shoreditch and finding dustbins and skips, and hitting skips and recording everything. Gareth Jones was our engineer, and he was talking [like], "Oh, what can I do with this?", recording everything in sight. It was very exciting days, we thought of it as making music that really hadn't been - again, there had been samplers that had been used before, but never in a pop sort of way as such. It was just an exciting period.
13. Play Did you realise you were pioneering a new way of recording when using a sampler?
Andy: We didn't at the time, no, but years later, when we went to Detroit, we had black kids mobbing us in clubs. Then you sort of realise that you've done something right, and you have started being influential in a big way.
Alan: The sort of time between Depeche Mode and the dance culture and techno, it was always slightly lost on me, I never really understood it. People talked about it said, "Oh, don't you realise how influential you are?", and I never quite got it. Because, to us - well, certainly to me, anyway - the technology wasn't the more important aspect of the group. It was something there to be used, and something to try to enhance. What was the important thing was the songs, and still is, in my opinion, the most important thing. We had an open attitude about the technology and about the back that we wanted to use lots of different sounds and electronics and everything. And so, there we were, just making these song-based records, and suddenly being cited as great influences of techno and dance music, which was fairly alien to us, really. And to this day, I don't quite understand the link. I would say that dance music has more in common with the forerunners of electronic music, such as Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream and DAF and all these sort of German late '70s electronic groups.
14. Play Do you see yourselves as part of an electronic musical lineage?
Alan: Yeah, I think it's true to say that Depeche was born out of perhaps a combination of late '70s electronic groups, such as Kraftwerk and those kind of people, along with the punk ethos of the late '70s as well, which created this hybrid of almost anti-rockist pop song, along with this electronic approach.
15. Play Were you aware you were pioneering new ways of recording?
Alan: I think that our approach to the technology was always to try to be very open minded about it, and certainly to new technology. And in the very early days we could have been accused of being elitist about it and not being including guitars and having a sort of anti-rockist stance, but I think we quite quickly realised that actually you could encompass all instrumentation. But we wanted to push it a little bit further and to try to be more original than others, and so we welcomed the technology. As time went on, I think the live performance side crept in more and more and we welcomed that, but even then, for example on the later albums like '[Songs Of] Faith And Devotion', even then when we were incorporating large sections of performed music, we would still apply all the technology to try to take it away from just being a standard group line-up of three or four people playing together, and apply the technology to it and make it different again, to take it further.
16. Play 'People Are People' was your first success in the U.S. entering the charts at 13. How did you react to this American success?
Andy: America was for us a completely, a total shock and a surprise. We went there, we did two small tours there. The second tour was a complete disaster. Dave had his tattoo removed on his arm, and it was one of those dodgy ones that went wrong, so he had to do the whole tour in a sling. Our lead vocalist, in a sling, which did not go down well with the crowd. It was a complete disaster, there was synthesizers going wrong. We left America, and we said, "There's no way that America is ever going to accept our type of music", it was so rock based, you can't believe. And we didn't touch America for another four years. Then all of a sudden we announced a tour, a small tour, and it sold out instantly. And we got a massive hit and it had just been skyrocketing. It's been amazing ever since. I can't tell you why, because we certainly never aimed at the American audience.
17. Play Why do you think you became so successful in America?
Andy: I think what happened was, you know it as well, the sort of history of alternative radio in America, which started, really, in sort of the early '80s and became a massive factor. It was a whole new... which we never never really had so much in this country, and these were playing all bands that Americans had never heard before, and it became a big wave. And we was sort of the main band of that wave, so it was nice. Again, we changed the face of American radio, basically.
Alan: By the time we got to something like 'Black Celebration', there was an imbalance between the live audience and perhaps the record sales, if we are talking about America now. And I think imbalance had to sort of spill over in the end. There was such a big audience coming to see the group, and yet very little radio play. That just had, after a while, change. There was a massive sort of middle ground audience looking for something different to what they were hearing on the radio, and groups like ourselves, and one or two other English groups at the time, perhaps The Cure and The Smiths and those kind of people, were tapping into those audiences, and managing to play 25.000 seated arenas, without having any radio play at all. And eventually, of course, this tipped over and radio picked up on it, but having such a good basis meant that you could really capitalise on that new-found radio play.
18. Play It's hard to understand the chemistry within the band. How would you describe it?
Alan: Depeche Mode has always been a very unusual group in the components. The individuals that made up or make up the group now are all very different, and all quite unusual as personalities. As to why that particular group of people somehow merge together and make something that works and has worked for a number of years is just an impossible question to answer. We certainly didn't cross over that greatly in our roles, we were quite separated, and I think that worked in our favour. I'm not a writer, and Martin definitely is, and likewise, Martin is not particularly into production and sound, and I very much am, and Dave, by the same token, is very much a singer, but doesn't cross over into the writing area. And so we all had very, very specific jobs to do, and I think we were quite good at recognising that, actually, each individual does his own thing quite well, so let's not step on each other's toes in that respect.
19. Play Do you think Depeche Mode's music was still moving forwards around 'Some Great Reward'?
Martin: I don't feel that we were treading water at all at that time. For me, one of the most drastic changes came with 'Black Celebration'. From then on, all of our albums sort of have a thread to them, for me. And I pretty much like everything that we have put out since then. If I start thinking about some of the stuff that we have put out pre-1986, then there's quite a few things I don't really like now. But from then on, I'm sort of quite proud of our output. So I was really lucky in a way that the first album came out [as] 'Singles 81>85', [and] got rid of all the dodgy ones, and then from '86 onwards, and then hopefully, or [so] I think anyway, all the singles are good.
Andy: I think that 'Black Celebration' has got a collection of songs on there that is absolutely fantastic. I mean, all the way through is classic, but none of them are really commercial, just lovely songs, great lyrics. And I think that a lot of traditional, big Depeche Mode fans would say that that was their favourite album, and that would really dig... Our image at that point was very powerful, I think. When we opened up that tour with the title track 'Black Celebration', it was a very powerful image.
20. Play Was 'Music For The Masses' important in your development into a band who could suddenly fill stadiums?
Andy: We take funny risks, as a band. 'Music For The Masses', when we went off, it was supposed to be very tongue-in-cheek. And everyone knew it was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, apart from the Germans. It comes from an album Martin bought, called 'Music For The Millions'. We thought it was quite funny, so 'Music For the Masses'... But then again, it did become in the end 'Music For The Masses', because we did this, like, big gig at the Rosebowl, which was the real highlight of our career. And, incidentally, we had only ever played at a few stadiums, and it's like, you do, with stadiums, lose touch with the audience. But that particular gig, the audience was just with us the whole way and it was absolutely amazing. And, again, it was not just big for us, it was big for alternative music in America.
Dave: It was like 70.000 people or something, and this was something that we were pretty nervous about doing, playing this big gig. When we actually did the show, it didn't matter. We didn't play particularly good, my voice went, everything went wrong during the gig, like, from what we thought we were doing and what we thought was important about it, but it wasn't. It was, like, the event, it was what was really happening there. It's hard to describe unless you're standing there, watching it or being a part of it. But I think everybody who was in that concert and was part of it felt that moment. And, you know, I just kind of started, like, blubbing on stage, and trying to cover it up, and still look very macho and do my thing. But I just stood there for a minute, stood on this big kind of riser, and I looked, and at that moment, everybody's arms were, like, waving in the air. And I looked down, and it sounds cheesy, but it just looked like this big field of corn or whatever swaying, and I just stopped. It didn't matter that I was singing or anything, it was just happening. And I remember afterwards, walking off, and the deflation of, like, "It's over", bang, and then I was like, "ughhh". I wonder if that's ever gonna happen again. And I sat backstage, and my wife was there, Joanne, and I sat in this room, and I remember I just started crying, I don't really know why crying, I was happy, sad, everything at the same moment. I remember that, it was a nice moment. We sat together, my son was there as well, he was probably about, like, three months old, just a little baby, he's actually in the movie. It looks like a big alien, he's got his big head in the camera. That whole event was just one of those special things, and fortunately we caught it on film. You can't see it on there, really, I watch it, I get these little goosebumps when I watch it, because only because I remember the recall of the experience, it's that euphoric recall that kicks in. A combination of everything: nerves, anxiety, happiness, sadness, the end of it. That was the last show of our tour as well. So, I would say that was one of the most special moments of, I guess, nearly twenty years that we've been together, one [of which] we did not know what was going to happen, but it was a beautiful moment.
21. Play Around this time you were probably the biggest alternative band in the world. You decided to make a documentary, a 'rockumentary' if you like, on your '101' tour. Why choose DA Pennebaker to film it?
Andy: We thought we'd ask him, we never thought that he - we didn't think he was still alive! - we never thought that he would accept, and he came out and saw us. And I must say, the relationship we had with him, in that period there, when we made that film, was just another special part of our career. It was a pleasure working with someone like DA Pennebaker and he's out there somewhere, but he's really got it.
22. Play How confident did you feel whilst making 'Violator'?
Andy: We were always, as a band, very, very pessimistic. We estimated that the records were gonna do badly, it going to go low chart entries, it's not gonna be played on the radio, no one's gonna like it, etcetera, etcetera, so we were always very pessimistic. So we had a song, Martin wrote this song [called] 'Personal Jesus', and we loved it. We thought it was a great song, great sound. We recorded it, François Kevorkian remixed it in Milan with us, and this was way before the album was ready. Six months before the album was going to be out. And we thought, "This record is not going to get played at all." And of course it ended up being the top selling 12" in Warner Bros' history, and in America it was in the charts for six months, until Enjoy The Silence came out. But on the other hand, that was a really big risk we took, there.
Martin: We were unsure about whether it was commercial at all. When you're very close to something, I think you sort of lose focus a bit, and we thought that especially in America it would struggle for airplay, and things like that. And we were proven totally wrong.
Alan: 'Personal Jesus' was a track that we recorded with Flood and we released six months prior to the album. And by accident, really, that six months was the perfect time period for it to gradually build up radio play and tip over into a top 40 single in America. And so, by the time the rest of that album appeared, and the follow-up single, which was 'Enjoy The Silence', which was also, I think I am right in saying, Depeche's biggest ever commercial success, at the time it was perfect for that to then kick in. And, really, along with the tour that we did with it, that moved Depeche into a much bigger audience.
23. Play 'Violator' went on to sell six million copies. What was the feeling in the band whilst recording 'Songs Of Faith And Devotion'?
Martin: I just can remembering being on a holiday and getting a fax, saying that we had gone to number one, and I can't remember, but it was something like thirteen countries, or something like that, in the first week of release, and that was just an amazing feeling. We had had quite a gap again and you're always unsure, you never know how well you're going to do. But we had had some problems during the recording of that, but I think that at that time, they were still sort of manageable problems, they weren't out of control. It didn't go that way until sort of on the tour, afterwards.
Andy: The sort of pressures that... It was the early... The whole recording of the album, all the early signs of the break up that was going to come, was starting to become apparent. Dave was then, in those days, in a pretty bad way, started to be in a bad way. I was becoming heavily depressed. We were out in Madrid in this sort of mansion, recording. It was very slow. And you could see the signs [that] were... Then we agreed to do this year and a half tour, and from the album straight on tour, and then we'd... It was probably the worst two years of our lives.
24. Play 'I Feel You' was quite a musical departure, bringing in more of a rock element to the music. Was that calculated or just a musical evolution?
Dave: No, it was very calculated. We had all spent quite a bit of time apart before we recorded 'Songs Of Faith And Devotion'. We wanted to challenge the idea of what Depeche Mode was. Martin had come put with this bunch of songs that were leaning towards the rockier side, a lot more blues based, more rock 'n' roll. 'I Feel You' is like a classic, bluesy, rock 'n' roll sort of riff. So I came back, as well, I was living in Los Angeles, and the kind of bands that I was [listening to]... It wasn't that I was listening to [them], but I had been getting into a couple of gigs, and there was this band playing around town called Jane's Addiction, and while I saw the energy that was going on on stage, between those guys, there was something that I suddenly thought, "Wow, I hadn't seen that since, like, The Clash." And it was exciting, and I wanted to bring some of that back, the way it would make me feel. I wanted us to toughen up a bit, and that we did.
Alan: 'Songs Of Faith And Devotion', we definitely wanted to go for this more performance based approach. And for the first two recording periods on that album, which we each of five weeks, we got almost nothing done, because we spent the whole time trying to perform together, and finding it quite difficult to do, because it was alien to us, really.
25. Play So were you trying to record 'Songs Of Faith And Devotion' as more of a live based album?
Alan: Yeah, but as a starting point. We wanted to just do something that was alien to us, which meant going into the studio and actually playing together. Which sounds strange, but that was pretty alien to us. We would programme everything.
26. Play What made you decide to embrace the guitar on 'Songs Of Faith And Devotion', after using synths for so long?
Andy: Well, I think you could credit it to Flood, actually. When we started working with Flood, like you say, we had these 'golden rules', and we couldn't use [a] guitar. And if we used a guitar, it had to be distorted into a synth sound, or something like that. And poor old Martin, all this time, he's been playing a synth, but he's actually a guitarist. He writes all his songs on a guitar. Then Flood sort of basically said, "Look, forget about all these rules. Let's, you got a song, and do it in the way that's best for the song, and if it means using a blues sound or a rock sound or a guitar or whatever, do it."
Dave: Flood was a very experienced producer and had worked with a lot of different bands, anyone from Nick Cave to U2. And yeah, he just pushed us hard. And he worked very closely with Alan. Alan and he, especially towards the end there with 'Songs Of Faith And Devotion', they'd be sitting there, like, twelve [to] fourteen hours a day, at the desk, working on stuff, while we were kind of running around, the rest of us, doing the rockstar thing.
Martin: Well, it's definitely the rockiest we've ever got, and I think that sometimes we think, "Oh, maybe we made a mistake there", but I think it was always good fun to branch out and do that. I mean, in some ways, we were maybe turning into the band that rebelling against from when we started out being electronic. But we've always had still quite a large element of electronics in there, so it's like, it wasn't quite as clear-cut as that, really.
27. Play How has the Depeche Mode sound evolved?
Alan: I know that, over the years, the sound of Depeche Mode has probably moved in a darker area, although I think there's always an underlying sort of element of that within the songs. Certainly I find that side of things more interesting, and I would push the music to go in a darker direction. And I think that over the last two albums that I was involved in, certainly the darkest, most dept [side] to the music appeared particularly, I would say, on 'Songs Of Faith And Devotion', where it's a very, very layered, very complex sound, which probably reflects the characters involved in exactly the same way as the very, very simple, minimal, early sound of Depeche also reflects the characters as they were then. So you could say that there's a direct correlation between the sound of the group and the characters involved [in] making the music.
28. Play The 'Devotional' world tour encompassed a full year and a half. How did this effect you?
Andy: For me personally, I was... This sounds a bit morbid - believe me, I'm alright now - but I was actually depressed before the tour, so the tour didn't really go too well in the beginning for me, it was a struggle all the way, but I sort of managed to hold in there till the last American leg [after] which I then came home.
29. Play Did it go as far as having four separate floors of the hotel, four separate cars, four separate minders?
Martin: It almost did. Dave was definitely off somewhere on his own, Alan was definitely off somewhere on his own. But me and Andy, we used to go to school together, we've known each other since we were eleven or something, something like that, so we always had one car, and we always probably had the same floor.
Alan: For me personally, once we were actually out on the road, the process of repeating the show on a nightly basis became automatic - I wouldn't say tedious, but certainly automatic. We did not have a lot of scope, let's say, for improvisation. Up to a point, yes, but when you're dealing with a big live production, normally things have to be fairly set, because you got lighting cues and all the rest of it, all that kind of thing. Plus, our particular style was to use backing tapes and sequencers and very much to sort of prepare versions of the songs that would work in a live context, and utilise all the sounds and technology that we had employed in the studio. So it meant a lot of preparation in that respect, and then not much leeway afterwards.
30. Play Was it depressing that it had got this bad?
Martin: I think it was a bit depressing around that time, because, before that, wherever we went, there used to be the four of us together. We were a gang, we would always go out together, and we went to TV, we would always have a really good time, we'd always go out afterwards. And something happened around the time of 'Songs Of Faith And Devotion', where that just didn't happen so much anymore. Dave was probably off, doing his deed, going out wasn't something that particularly interested him at the time. But Alan definitely was showing signs of being a real loner, and it was just obvious, I felt, that he wasn't particularly getting on with us anymore.
31. Play Had you lost the plot?
Martin: Obviously, I went through periods where I thought, "What am I doing? What is the point of all this? This is supposed to be about enjoyment and nobody seems to to enjoy it anymore..." But there are other times when it is still really enjoyable. I was still quite friendly with Andy, and the rest of us weren't having massive arguments all the time, it was just sort of more [a matter of] no communication going on. And then I sort of had to look at the bigger picture, really, and I really enjoy making music, and going out and being able to play that music to your fans live is something that you should relish and not find a nightmare.
32. Play Did you think there would ever be another Depeche Mode album at that stage?
Andy: Well, basically, we had some time off, and then we had a meeting with Alan, just me, Martin, and Alan, and Alan just says, "I'm deciding to knock it on the head, that's it." And it was fair enough, we sort of shook hands, it wasn't exactly a "hugs all around" sort of thing, and then we did not really know... You see, Dave was still an addict at this stage, so we didn't really know where he was at. I think Alan had thought that there was no way that there was going to be another album, that we were all too "untogether" and that we wouldn't get it together. But it turns out that the spirit within Depeche Mode is good. We have been making our best records, and we weren't finished. Martin wanted to get back and write songs, Dave wanted to get back into the studio and start singing, and it is the biggest [cliche], rock 'n' roll is a drug. That creative thing that you get, you need it again.
33. Play There was a four year gap between 'Songs Of Faith And Devotion' and 'Ultra'. Was that planned?
Martin: We said that when I had a few songs together, that we'd think about getting back into the studio again, and just testing the water, really. Just to see if we were getting on okay, and if things were still working, and if we were still enjoying it. We didn't plan a whole album, we just said that we'd do a few tracks to start with and if we're lucky we will get a single out of it. If we're not enjoying it, then we'll just stop. And we did those first few tracks, and we all really enjoyed it, so I went away and wrote some more songs, and we decided to get together and try and actually make a whole album.
Dave: When we first started recording 'Ultra', I came in just like I had before, and listened to the songs, and then I was just going to sing them. But what became very apparent to all of us, was that I was going to have to work a little harder at that this time. And for the first time - well, I've worked with a vocal coach [before], but this time I had done it very seriously, and I learned a lot. And the best lesson that I had learned was that you never stop learning, and that everybody is teachable. Evelyn, this lady in Los Angeles, who helped a lot, she made me a lot more confident about what I was doing, and I was able to go in and really work on the songs. I managed to really go in and get myself on there, and, like, sing from my heart. I found out that I could do that.
34. Play Why did you decide to release 'Barrel Of A Gun' as the first single from 'Ultra'?
Andy: Because you have to make a statement [saying] that you're back, and it has to be something that is going to jar a few nerves. We knew we had 'It's No Good' which was a good pop song. If you release 'It's No Good' first, then 'Barrel...' wouldn't work second. You have to sort of jar the nerves first.
35. Play What was the lyrical theme behind 'Ultra'?
Martin: I think it's more in retrospect [that] when I look back at the 'Ultra' album, I realise that there was a kind of very loose destiny theme going on. And I've always had this religion fascination. On 'Ultra', even, there's some religious references, but I am trying to sort of hold myself back a bit, though, after the 'Songs Of Faith And Devotion' theme. Maybe I've sort of overdone it a bit. But it is a question that I am trying to suppress all the time: the moment I pick up a pen, something religious will just come out!
36. Play Dave, how do you deal with putting your emotions into Martin's lyrics?
Dave: My interpretation of what he writes is probably very different. If Martin is writing about a relationship and about love, that's something that everybody can experience anyway and it everybody experiences it, but my experience of that may be different. So the way I sing it may be different to the way Martin does. But the words that he writes inspire me to think about what I'm doing, where I'm at, and the relationship that I'm in, or the relationship with people, with life, the way I feel about the world, the way I feel about I'm treating myself in the world. I take what he has [written] and it inspires me. Songs like 'Barrel Of A Gun' and 'Sister Of Night' [are] completely different songs, but they're songs that anybody can identify with. The way we use stuff in live to give ourselves instant gratification, and then the trouble we get in, of not really being able to understand where we're going with it, and why we're doing it, but, we like it, and we want to experience more of it. 'Only When I Lose Myself' is a really good example of that. When you lose yourself in something, somebody, it's like to find yourself. It's the only time that you're happy. You feel happy when you're in love with somebody. You don't really know what's going on with yourself, and if you dare to ask the question, "Do I like this myself? It's only when I lose myself in someone that I think I'm happy", because, ultimately, the only way that you can be happy in life is if you are happy with yourself, some kind of peace with yourself. And then, if you get in a relationship and you're not at peace with yourself, how the hell can you possibly think that this is gonna make it any better? But we do it, we do it all the time, and then we wonder why we're hurt, at the end of it.
37. Play Are you happier with who you are now?
Dave: I'm happier now, I can honestly say that I am happier now than that I've ever been. And I'm very, very grateful for what I have in my life, and life, at the moment. I have so many choices, and I am very comfortable with my life. That's not to say that on some days I don't wake up in the morning and I just want to pull the sheets over my head and say, "Forget about it", because that's gonna happen. But you know what? There's always tomorrow. Sometimes it feels like a painful process, but it's a lot better than going down some road that I think is going to bring me happiness, instant gratification, and being so disappointed, so miserable, at the end of it, and then just repeating that. I'm trying to be as open as I can to what's there in the future and the way I feel today. And then, when I have a relationship, when I'm in a relationship, it just feels so much more comfortable. Ultimately, if I'm not happy, I cannot be happy with anyone else.
38. Play For this album you're touring again. Is it a greatest hits tour?
Andy: Yes. Well, not "greatest", "The Singles tour". We're doing most of the singles from '86 till '98. We're throwing in a couple from the old days. It's a nice little set, actually, it's quite easy for us to do. Every song is a classic.
Dave: I don't really know what to expect, visually, but my job is to sing, and I wanna really do that well. I wanna enjoy doing that. And I'm excited and nervous about doing it, in front of people, and that's a good thing, I think. But I have the opportunity to, like, really sing these songs like I never have before, from a completely sort of different perspective, because I've had some time to be away from it, and away from the songs. As usual, I am sure that the gig will be a lot of fun for us and for the audience. We still got fans that want to see us, and not many bands can say that after twenty years, that can still go out. We must be doing something right, I don't know!
39. Play Your fans are incredibly loyal. Why do you think that is?
Dave: It's a combination of a lot of things. Martin's songs, without a doubt, they're very personal songs, and they deal with stuff that we all deal with, so you usually can personally identify with the words that he writes. I think a lot of our fans have grown up with us, as well. They've been there from the start, and I'm sure that a lot of the fans that have been buying records since, like, fifteen years ago, have got their own families now and they're playing the records at home, and [the kids] get influenced. We're fortunate to have been around long enough that we can do that. There's only a handful of bands that get the chance to do that, I think.
40. Play It's a long time since you last toured. You must be nervous?
Dave: That's right, [we haven't] tred the boards for a long time. Well, we have [-someone's name?-] on the side, being ready to go, a paramedics... No, hopefully none of that stuff will be there, we won't need it... Yeah, I'm very nervous about it. I can get really messed up over it. When I start thinking about it too much, like, I'll just sit and stare at the wall all day. But, I mean, what an opportunity! I mean, come on! You get to go up on stage and sing and show off for two hours and people applaud me, who wouldn't wanna do that?! You get paid for it, too.
41. Play Do you miss being on the road?
Martin: There are certain aspects of touring that are really exciting and good fun. When I'm not actually touring, I don't really travel that much. We're getting to quite a few new places that I've never been too, on this tour, which is unusual. Usually we go back to the same places, over and over again. But I think we're getting to places like Estonia and I think maybe Latvia or Lithuania, I'm getting confused now, Vince's been changing quite a lot. And we've never been to Moscow before, that should be really a big event. Apparently we're quite big in Russia.
42. Play You're also releasing a compilation of your videos. The early ones were directed by Julien Temple. How do you feel about those now?
Andy: Well, as a sort of embarrassment. 'See You' was probably the most embarrassing to make, because we actually did it in Woolworths, in something like Streatham High Street. And I remember that Alan had just joined the band, but he wasn't an official member, and we said to him, "Well, you can't be in the video, but you can have a little bit in it", and his bit was basically his hand playing a little keyboard, but that was Alan Wilder's hand, so that is why he left us! Julien Temple was the producer of those videos, and of course he went on to [do] big things, but I think he was just having having a laugh with us, definitely. He made those three videos, and we didn't like any of them, ever. And in those days, videos were very new, and there was always this thing of making a storyboard, wasn't it? We weren't actors, we couldn't do it, and we didn't have any creative control over these videos at the time.
Martin: I think Julien Temple must have detested us. I just got a feeling. [laughs]
43. Play When did you start working with Anton Corbijn?
Andy: Well, we wanted Anton to do stuff with us before, but he always said that he was ill or sick or busy or whatever, which basically meant that he didn't want to work for us. He used to be in this "enemy" credibility stage at that time, but then we had a track called "Question Of Time", and we decided that we'd ask him again if he would like to do the video, and he said yes! So it was the first video where we had ever worked with him, and we have done virtually all our videos since with Anton. And he's great, because, I don't know, he sort of seems to understand, he brings a sense of humour to us as well, which is good, I think it's important to the group to have sense of humour.
Martin: I think we needed somebody who had a very sort of strong identity and a strong image to try and help turn around all these years of negative pop pictures that we had been presenting, really. And Anton just seemed like really the right person, because he has a great way of capturing people. His photographs and his videos have a certain seriousness to them, which I think was really important for us.
44. Play Do you have a favourite Depeche Mode video?
Dave: Well, 'Enjoy The Silence' was, ehm... I think that video, really, was like Anton on his best. And when I say that, I mean, like, it was all about the photography. It was basically myself and Anton and the producer, Richard Bell. And we spent about a week filming that. I got to dress up as a king, with a crown and everything, and, like, I'm walking around with this deck chair. There's a lot of shots in that video that actually weren't me. There's one particular shot, where it's, like, towards of the end of filming, and we were on top of this mountain, it was freezing cold, I had really had it. I was like, "I just wanna go back to the hotel", and there is, like, me, Richard Bell the producer, and we had this relationship where we would kind of, like, take the piss out of each other all the time. And Anton wanted me to do this shot where I was, like, way, way, away. I said, "You know what Richard?" I took the crown off, put it on his head, I took the robe off, I put it on him, [and] I said, "You do it." And there is one shot in the video that's still in there, and, walking across, it's nice and all, it's Richard Bell. But he got to have to do it, and I got into the helicopter and I went down and got a cup of hot chocolate in the hotel.
Andy: 'Enjoy The Silence' was my personal favourite video to make, because it only took me an hour. We went into the studio, and Anton said, "This will only take a while", and we said, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, this is going to take all day." And he said after an hour, "Well, you can go home now", and we thought, "Oh, great!" And poor old Dave, he had six days of filming in freezing conditions in the Alps, in everywhere, which was just freezing. So that was my personal favourite.
45. Play How about 'Personal Jesus'?
Dave: We did it in Spain, and yeah, we got to play cowboys for a day. We actually filmed it in this little town that was used for all those kind of spaghetti western things, the Clint Eastwood movies. We had the whole stuff on, the hats, the leather chaps and everything. It was quite fun, we had drunk a lot beer and sat around all day chew tobacco and... No we didn't chew tobacco, but... I was fun playing cowboys. There was also this whole thing, when there's, like, cowboys coming into town in the movies, and they wanna get a bath, a woman, and a couple of drinks. I don't for the life of me know what that has got to do with 'Personal Jesus', but it was fun.
Andy: 'Personal Jesus' could have been my worst experience, because all day they had been telling me, "Well Fletch, you got to ride a horse later on", things like that, I was like, "Oh, I can't ride a horse! I can't ride a horse!" "Don't worry, it's going to okay, he's nice, he's calm, he's big, but he's okay." It came to this bit, and Richard Bell, our producer, and Anton came over and said "Here it comes". And everyone was with me to watch me ride this horse. I had only ridden a pony once when I went pony tracking, and that ran away. It turned out it was a rocking horse. There's the bit on the video when I am like that, and it's like one of those sort of nice wind ups, but it did spoil my whole day, thinking about that.
46. Play Tell us about the 'Barrel Of A Gun' video.
Andy: 'Barrel Of A Gun' must be the shortest script for a video in history. Basically, the script was, "Here are your flights to Morocco. You're leaving tomorrow at two o'clock." That was the only script we had ever got from Anton. It was out there, and we just did it from scratch.
Dave: The interesting thing about this video was, I had eyes painted over the top of my eyes, so in the whole video I had my eyes shut, and there was one camera guy, there was a lot of moving and stuff, so we're going down all these little back streets in Morocco, like in the old part of the city, and he would be directing me, supposedly. Directing me, like, "Left, right, left, forward", which looked great, but needless to say, I walked into quite a few walls. And there's this wall around the old city of Morocco, this huge wall, which, to the Moroccans, is basically a bathroom. It's, like, where they go and take a shit, stuff like that, right? And they literally, like, pull up their robes, along this wall which I had to walk along. And I'd be, like, left, right, and every time, I would come along some guy that was, like, doing his business there. They go up to the wall, they pull up their robes, they take a shit, and then they go about their business. So I'm like, blind, I am walking through all this stuff, this shit, which was very amusing for Anton and Richard at the time. And I don't know if there's anything to do with that, but we also ate at this restaurant there, I have a memory of this because it was pretty uncomfortable. I came back with pretty severe salmonella poisoning, and I was sick for days after that, like nobody's business. But we got the video done, and I think, actually, the video was pretty cool.