2001-09-02 Polskie Radio Program III, Warsaw, Poland

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Andrew Fletcher is interviewed by Polish radio host Piotr Kaczkowski prior to Depeche Mode's concert that same evening.

  • Duration: 06:19


Audio Transcript

Piotr Kaczkowski: You have been in the charts for twenty years. What is the secret to staying successful for so long?

Andrew Fletcher: I would sell it if I had such a secret. But I think it's a combination of good — still good songs, hard work, a bit of luck. We've managed to produce a sound that is unique and different from other bands.

PK: Your music used to be labelled as New Romantic.

AF: New Romantic was a really horrible term for a few groups who really didn't sound like each other. We kept, you know, really true to our electronic roots through the eighties, and lots of journalists, lots of critics couldn't understand that there was no guitar on stage. So that is another reason why, I think, we're still popular now.

PK: And Kraftwerk, were they an inspiration for you?

AF: Of course, especially that we liked punk music. 1976, 1977 — we were fifteen, sixteen, we were listening to Kraftwerk, even The Human League at the beginning. They had been doing their music differently [from how other groups make theirs], and if you look at the music that's made today, you'll see that it's built as Kraftwerk's music was.

PK: And how about punk?

AF: We were punk enthusiasts.

PK: Was punk music an inspiration for you, then?

AF: It was, because before punk rock, we had lots of progressive rock bands like, you know, Genesis and [the like]. Basically, well, you had to be a brilliant musician. You had crappy ideas, bad ideas, but all you had to do was play the guitar really fast [to be a successful progressive rock act]. What punk did, it brought it all back to having good ideas and some attitude.

PK: When you said: "I make music for myself..."

AF: We make music for ourselves as a group. I mean this album — you know, a lot of people say this and that, and the fans — We love our fans. We don't make music for our fans, we make music for ourselves that we like and we hope that other people like it.

PK: How was your new album (Exciter) recorded? Was it the same scheme: three songs, getting in the studio and then a short break again?

AF: Well, you know, we basically start — we don't write songs in the studio. Martin writes the songs at home. We start off with three songs, we go in the studio, we record them. Martin then writes another few songs and it's that sort of process all the time. It's important because we can look at what we already did and think if we're going in the right direction, and eventually direct these next three songs that we are preparing a bit differently.

PK: You can be called a traveling group, a touring group.

AF: Yes, but it's only one part of what we do. But [touring has] always been very important part for our career. These two parts of our career: one half is making music, which we love, and second is performing music, which we love, you know.

PK: How do you cope with touring for so long?

AF: [It's] hard now, yeah. The older you get the tougher it is. We all know that, don't we? [laughs]

PK: We know a lot about your last twenty years, tell me about the first two.

AF: First two? We were friends from school. We've met — everybody wanted to play in a band then, it was natural. We're not U2, we didn't have a master plan to conquer the world. We enjoyed every record, every [single that hit] the charts, every radio play. Simple things.

PK: And these simple things gave you twenty years of success.

AF: I know, it's like a dream. We never thought we were going to survive more than two, three years. Yes, it's really like a dream that came true.

PK: You have two children. How do they cope with you going away?

AF: Megan and Joe, yes. There are many occupations where people must go away, it's nothing unusual. But I think they would prefer if I was a firefighter.

PK: What do you think about new music?

AF: There is good and bad new music. I always think that music used to be better twenty years ago, but if you look at the charts from twenty years ago, you'll see that this was bad, this was bad... It's always the same.

PK: In your opinion, in what direction does music go now?

AF: It's hard to predict. What is the best — what has showed up in the last 10 years, is that lots of good music comes from different European countries [now]. Twenty years ago, the UK and the United States were leading — well, maybe except for Abba. And now music that gains popularity comes, for example from France, or Estonia. When it comes to the UK, you can be disappointed. There are no new stars like there used to be. England used to create music trends. It no longer does, but I think that it's actually very good. We live in a time of video culture. When we were beginning, we were playing in small pubs and clubs and we were building our career step by step. Now, you can become a star in three months and perform at huge festivals. I think that new music should be more accessible. We know that many radio and TV stations don't allow this new music to make it big. But I think that through the internet, this situation is now easier for young bands.

PK: What is your advice for young, budding groups?

AF: Write good songs and never think that your last song is already the best one.

PK: What are your memories from the first visit in Poland?

AF: It was strange. I remember, I bought myself a painting. What I can tell now, going back to Poland, walking the streets — I see crazy, positive differences. When we came sixteen years ago, it seemed to us that it's almost a police state. Now it's completely different, Warsaw is a beautiful city.[1]


  1. Translation courtesy of Suzie Grant.