Recoil Q+A / DEPECHE MODE / VIOLATOR
|Q+A VAULT / DEPECHE MODE
Fan: Do you [consider] Violator to be an '80's album or a '90's album (recorded in '89 but released in '90)?
Alan Wilder: I think of it as '90's really.
Wilder: I can't really describe them very well. The rhythms were in a constant state of flux. With "Clean", we never had the delay bass line until the very end. With "[Policy Of Truth]" it took forever to find a lead riff sound which worked. We even tried a flute at one point! Generally, songs evolve rather than change radically, often spanning more than one recording session / studio.
Fan: I was wondering if you can shed any light on the making of the song "Blue Dress" – your thoughts on it, and how far off the demo it is. Any really unique sounds used in that song?
Wilder: Not really one of my favourites – hence penultimate track on LP (filler position). I would put it in the same bag as "Get Right With Me" from [Songs Of Faith And Devotion], in that we never really quite knew which way to go with it. Again, I'm a bit vague about the demo but I remember the approach when we recorded it was based around using washy sounding, drone guitars (a la Suicide) which formed the backbone of the track. It was deliberately quite wet sounding to try to give it some atmosphere.
Fan: Who actually came up with the title Violator and were you happy with the choice? Were there any other suggestions for the album's title?
Wilder: Martin proposed it. I don't remember many other suggestions although there must have been some. I prefer it to Songs Of Faith And Devotion.
Fan: How did you create the intro melody sound of "Policy Of Truth" (also used on "Halo", if I'm not mad…)?
Wilder: It's a single note sampled from a guitar and then looped and played from a keyboard. The loop is what gives it the vibrato effect.
Wilder: Well "Sweetest Perfection" was on the LP and "Happiest Girl" was left off because we didn't think it was strong enough.
Fan: I read the August editorial and I found it very interesting. During the entire [Songs Of Faith And Devotion] project, you were the one person that kept on working while the others were on holiday. Was this the case with the earlier albums and projects too and didn't the others ever want to help out?
Wilder: It was actually during the making of Some Great Reward that I finished the record while they went on holiday, not [Songs Of Faith And Devotion]. During "SOFAD", [Andrew Fletcher] went home for personal reasons and during the Devotional tour, I did a lot of work in the studio when people were on holiday or during periods of down-time between different legs.
Fan: On Violator, the production is very consistent between songs to the point of "Personal Jesus" employing a treated snare from "World In My Eyes" and the "pewt" noise liberally sprinkled among several of the tracks. Was this intentional to bring the album into a nice level of congruency or was it simply a matter of conveniently recycling otherwise excellent sounds?
Wilder: It's called continuity. Violator's a lot more electronic than I remember it being. Obviously, that kind of sound was what felt right at the time even though we were also introducing drum loops and more guitars as well. The snares you mention were actually different sounds – there was very little recycling, just similarities. [François Kevorkian] brought an electro influence too.
Fan: [Depeche Mode's] extended break after the success of Violator and the ensuing tour left fans wanting for more – for years – but did the wait between Violator and [Songs Of Faith And Devotion] create extra tension for the band to top its commercial success, especially after climbing off the horse for so long?
Wilder: I don't think so. We just needed a rest to re-charge the batteries so to speak.
Fan: François Kevorkian mixed all the Violator album but for "Enjoy The Silence" you preferred to release the [Daniel Miller] / Flood and Miller / [Phil] Legg mixes. What's the reason? Is it true that you don't like the sound of the guitar in the [Kevorkian] one?
Wilder: Well, to be accurate, we mixed the LP together with [François]. Personally, I don't think there's much wrong with our mix of "Enjoy The Silence". The guitar sounds fine and the overall sound has a bit more sparkle. Daniel had a bee in his bonnet about the mix and felt very strongly that he could do better. We let him have a go and after [two] or [three] attempts (as you can see from the credits) decided that his mix was acceptable for the [7-inch] version. Had he not pushed for it, I think we would have happily gone with the original mix. Funnily enough, our most successful single ever was one of the flattest, dullest sounding mixes with a snare drum that sounds like a sticky toffee pudding.
Fan: Where did you find the snare drum sound on the LP version of "World In My Eyes"?
Wilder: Can't remember exactly. I think we made it from scratch or it could be a combination of analogue and a sample.
Fan: Is it a [Minimoog] bass we hear on "World In My Eyes", "Halo", and "Enjoy The Silence"?
Wilder: Again, can't remember exactly -most likely a combination of [Minimoog] and Flood's [Arp 2600].
Fan: What kind of drum sounds did you use on "Personal Jesus"?
Wilder: The main stomps are the sound of feet on flight cases and the other sounds are just sampled toms and an electro snare. Check out Report – editorial / October for more info.
Fan: Did you lift the drum track from "Edge To Life" for the Devotional version of ["World In My Eyes"]? They sound very similar to me!
Fan: Is the bass line of "Clean" sampled from" "?
Fan: Is it correct that the right title was "Waiting For The Night To Fall"?
Fan: I have been offered a double platinum record from Violator. It's a U.S. edition given to Ms. Jo Bailey. Price: £600. Is it worth it?
Wilder: That's entirely down to whether you're willing to pay it.
Fan: I was reading your Violator report and I noticed you wrote this under the "Policy Of Truth" single:
Wilder: Anton's promo was shot in New York and along with another Violator song "Waiting For The Night", "[Policy Of Truth]" eventually featured in the film The Confessional.
Fan: Did you mean to say the promo for "Clean" was filmed or was there really a promo video for "Waiting For The Night"?
Wilder: Sorry to confuse you Farhan but no, there was no promo for "Waiting For The Night". Funnily enough, this was a point of debate between me and the missus while we were writing the editorials. [Hepzibah Sessa, Wilder's ex-wife and then personal assistant] said that she thought the above sentence was open to misinterpretation and I argued that it made perfect sense – it would seem however she was right! What I actually should have said was:
Wilder: Anton's promo was shot in New York and along with another Violator song "Waiting For The Night", "[Policy Of Truth]" eventually featured on the soundtrack to the film.
Fan: Why didn't [Depeche Mode] release the video version of "Enjoy The Silence" as a single and on the album respectively?
Wilder: No particular reason. We just had a few different intros floating about.
Fan: I can listen to "World In My Eyes" over and over again without ever getting tired of hearing it – it's my favouriteor song. Can you say what was the inspiration for this song, either by you or other group members at the time?
Wilder: I can't really comment as I didn't write it – you'll have to ask Martin. You can read about how it was recorded in the Depeche Mode singles editorial – go to Report – editorial / October.
Fan: Was there any tension during the recording of Violator and/or the World Violation tour which carried over into the [Songs Of Faith And Devotion] recording/tour?
Wilder: Tension is a normal state at certain times for any band and we were no exception to that.
Fan: Is it you whispering in different parts of "Waiting For The Night"?
Wilder: I can't remember – I don't think so.
Fan: Was the Minimoog used to make the basslines for "Halo" and "World in My eyes"?
Wilder: I think they were created using a combination of the Minimoog and Flood's ARP.
Fan: I've heard many [Depeche Mode] fans say (after your departure) "...the songwriter and the singer are still there so the next albums will be as good as the previous ones…" but what I miss on the Ultra album is the basslines which I think have been the trademark of [Depeche Mode]. Were you responsible for most of these, especially the powerful bassline in "World In My Eyes" which I think is a big part of the song?
Wilder: I was responsible for quite a lot of them including "World In My Eyes".
Fan: I've heard a demo of "Enjoy The Silence" and noticed how much the song had changed from the demo to the final version. Which factors determine whether the song is going to be "dark and melodic" like the demo or "more optimistic" like the album version?
Wilder: This is not easy to answer. There are no rules – you just go on a feeling and allow a song to develop. I thought that particular track would be better with a more upbeat 'dance' vibe than as an organ / vocal ballad.
Fan: What is your favourite song from Violator?
Wilder: "Clean", "Halo" and "World In My Eyes".
Fan: The song you mentioned for Violator called "Mother Me", will you please give a description of what it sounded like, any possible lyrics, whether this song was ever actually recorded and who sang it, Dave or Martin.?
Wilder: It sort of got started with some drums, bass + a couple of other parts but was shelved quite quickly. It was medium tempo and if I remember correctly it slipped into 7
Fan: Did you set out to make Violator such a commercial CD or did it just happen?
Wilder: It was more luck than judgement.
Fan: I wanted to say that of all the [Depeche Mode] songs I have heard, "Sweetest Perfection" would have [fit] in great on Unsound Methods. It has a sound that is all yours. Could you describe how you came up with the ending?
Wilder: The weird stuff at the end came together during the mixing stage (with [François Kevorkian]). It's the kind of thing you resort to when you haven't really got an ending 😉
Fan: At the beginning of the 90's,released and [Depeche Mode] released Violator – both huge successes, musically. There were a lot of discussions amongst fans about who was the best and the most innovative but it was very difficult to decide because you used the same people in production and art design (sleeves, videos, [photos]). Was this a coincidence? Rumour also had it that when U2 were planning their tour, they looked over their shoulders to see how the "Violation" tour stage design looked.
Wilder: Well there were certain parallels between [Depeche Mode] and U2 but musically they are [worlds] apart. The production teams weren't actually the same – I think Achtung Baby was produced by [[Anton Corbijn] taking photographs of both groups there were obviously going to be similarities there because he has such a distinctive style. The cover of Achtung Baby is actually very similar to the cover of 101 and whenever you see another of Anton's video's you notice all kinds of characteristics that are very particular to him. However, correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think Anton was involved in any of U2's stage designs, whereas he was very closely linked to ours.] and [ ] with Flood's role being that of an engineer and in our case, Flood was a co-producer. With
None of [Depeche Mode] knew any of the U2 band members very well although we did bump into each other on occasion.
Fan: After buying Strange Too, I've always wanted to get hold of the video mix of "Enjoy The Silence" (with the different intro.) on CD. Was this mix ever released apart from on that video?
Wilder: I don't think so but then again, I lose track of these things over the years. Your best bet is to ask a real trainspotter like Brat for example. I'm sure he'll know.
Fan: In a 1990 [Music For The Masses] is correct (in [the Music For The Masses] archives), why did Martin have such a change in policy between albums?interview, Martin referred to Violator as "Alan's album." If the statement regarding
Wilder: My answer on [Music For The Masses] should help you with this one. I've also read that Martin cites Violator as his favourite Mode LP. I wonder what it all [means?]
Fan: The opening of "Clean" sounds exactly like that of Pink Floyd's "One Of These Days" on Meddle. Was that conscious / unconscious, sampled or programmed? (I've checked in the archives and couldn't see any mention of that, ;-))
Wilder: I recognise the similarity but It's not a Floyd sample. It was programmed using a combination of analogue synth and sampled bass gtr.
Wilder: No, now that you mention it, I think one was called "Crucified". Not sure about the others.
Fan: I just wanted to know if the choir pad in "Enjoy The Silence" is the Emax preset sound "pop voices"?
Fan: Is that you whispering "the cleanest I've been" near the end of "Clean"? Who generally did those whisper parts (for example, the "my kingdom comes" toward the end of "I Feel You" and the stuff in "Mercy In You" etc.)?
Wilder: I can't actually remember [whose] voice it is on "Clean". Generally, whispers could have been done by Dave, Martin or myself.
Fan: Specifically, what are the elements of the song "Halo" that you like. This is one of my favourite [Depeche Mode] songs. The mood/atmosphere is powerful with an excellent build-up – it reminds me of the feeling I get when I listen to the LP version of "In Your Room".
Wilder: I like the string arrangement and the fact that we used drum loops on it – something we had hardly done before that time. It's not a bad song either.
Fan: Who sings "Personal Jesus" acoustic – David or Martin?
Fan: One question I've been dying to ask is just how you created the loop for "Waiting For The Night"? Did you use an? How did you get the loop to change key?
Wilder: Flood and I had been listening toand decided to try and create a similar atmosphere for this track. The main sequence was put together using his ARP and the sequencer that accompanies the synth. Due to its many velocity and filtering possibilities, this unit has a unique quality which is difficult to replicate using a modern-day sequencer triggered by . Once it has been set-up, in order for the sequence to be transposed to follow the chord structure of the song, I needed to play in each chord change from an external keyboard. A similar principal was applied to achieve the bubbling bass part which, together with the main sequence, forms the backbone of the track. The charm of the ARP sequencer stems from the slight tuning and timing variations that occur each time the part is played. This gives a sense of fluidity and continual change which seems to suit the song.
Fan: When Martin gave you the "Enjoy The Silence" demo, what made you figure it would be good if it was sped up? Did you slow or speed up any other songs?
Wilder: Strangely, the thing that immediately came to mind was that I could hearsinging it in my head. Something about the line "All I ever wanted" sounded very hamster...er... to me. Most [Depeche Mode] songs changed tempo to some degree from the original demo although none I can think of have been that extreme.
Fan: On Violator, did you use any drum machines in particular or are they all samples? I've found getting hi-hats and crashes to sound good through a drum machine very difficult. I've used Boss, Alesis and others and they all sound weak, thin and well… like a drum machine.
Wilder: Are you surprised? Part of the reason drums from drum machines sound that way is because of the lack of human feel. No two snare beats sound the same when played by a drummer – I like that. That's why I prefer to use lots of drum loops with all the feel (and flaws) of the original performance. Most of the drum sounds on Violator were sampled (apart from obvious electro sounds) but the rhythms were still programmed. Some hi-hat patterns ("[Policy Of Truth]" for example) were played and sampled as loops and in the case of "Halo" and "Clean" it's all loops. Again, I prefer the looped parts because of the performance element.
Fan: Which version of "Personal Jesus" do you prefer: the single mix, which just peters out on a guitar riff or the album version which has a groovier ending? If I had to bet money and / or alcohol, I would put you down for the album version. Am I right?
Wilder: Yes. I would nearly always favour the version which allows a song to [breathe]. Most single mixes are edited down to their minimum possible length to suit radio, often squashing a song to it's absolute essential ingredients – not a bad thing some might say, but not my cup of tea...
Fan: Who came up with the idea of the [fifteen minute] long [The Quad: Final Mix] of "Enjoy The Silence"? Was it a production with several producers because on the Sire/Reprise [12-inch] there are a lot of people mentioned.
Wilder: I can't remember who suggested it – most likely Daniel. It was done with four separate remixers and then edited together by Gareth Jones I think. Rather over-ambitious really.