The Blah Brothers
- Andrew "Nobby" Marr - vocals, tambourine, saxophone
- Daryl Bamonte - keyboard, keytar, drum pads
The Blah Brothers was a band active from 1985 till 1986, during Depeche Mode's tours in those years. The band consisted of Depeche Mode's crew members Daryl Bamonte (Equipment/stage manager, Backline) & Andrew "Nobby" Marr (Stageset operator). This was not a real band in the sense that they released songs or toured on their own: rather, the band was created for Depeche Mode's tours whenever they needed a support act. Daryl says that they performed 6 times in total.
The first Blah Brothers concert happened at 1985-07-30 Torwar Hall, Warsaw, Poland: Depeche Mode were behind the Iron Curtain for the first time that year. They were not allowed to earn any money with this gig since it was still behind the Iron Curtain, and they presumably did not know any Polish bands that could be their support act. Daryl Bamonte reveals: "After the Depeche Mode soundcheck, I asked the sound engineer to play my instrumental demos through the PA so I could hear what they would sound like through a full system, and Nobby started singing along to them. Andy Franks, who was Production Manager at the time, decided we should open for DM that night... So a bit of a happy accident." A fan who filmed the entire concert by Depeche Mode on this day had also filmed a minute's worth of footage of the Blah Brothers: this can be watched and downloaded here. Daryl has also uploaded that same footage on his YouTube channel and on MySpace. He also uploaded four audio excerpts of this gig on MySpace. In the intro, tour manager Andy Franks can be heard announcing the band, and says that they are "from Basildon".
The following concert was not until 1986 when The Blah Brothers had to perform on two consecutive nights, at 1986-07-01 Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Denver, CO, USA and 1986-07-03 Park West, Salt Lake City, UT, USA. Presumably, these concerts were relatively large gigs for Depeche Mode, and even though Book Of Love was already scheduled as a support act for all 1986 gigs including these, it was nevertheless decided to have The Blah Brothers on stage too, before Book Of Love.
The fourth and fifth concert took place at 1986-07-22 Koseinenkin Hall, Nagoya, Japan and 1986-07-23 NHK Hall, Tokyo, Japan, which were the second and third Depeche Mode concert in Japan that year. Daryl states that he recalls that "we had some technical issues with Depeche Mode at the first show in Japan July 1986 so The Blah Brothers couldn't play [that night]."
The final gig took place on 1986-08-04 Arènes de Frejus, Fréjus, France. Eyeless In Gaza were asked to be Depeche Mode's support act for six concerts, but were only informed of this on August 3rd, a day before their first support gig. This band drove from the UK to Fréjus but arrived fifteen minutes too late, so The Blah Brothers had to go on instead.
Songs, style, and equipment
Looking at the video and audio uploads on their MySpace channel, The Blah Brothers had at least four songs: "Theme From Blah", "Listen To My Name", "Life Is A Game", and "Bullerjahn". In the photo section of the same site, a photo of promoter's representative (and eventually DM's tour manager) Harald Bullerjahn has been uploaded, with the caption "There is only one word to describe this man - "Bullerjahn"", which would suggest that the eponymous song was named after Harald Bullerjahn.
Since The Blah Brothers were not active on their own, it can be assumed that the efforts put into the band was minimal. The Blah Brothers probably did not rehearse or work on songs until they were scheduled to perform before Depeche Mode. Daryl Bamonte explains: "Nobby used to carry a book of lyrics that he had been writing, starting in 1969. We used to rehearse in our hotel room the day before a show." Since they used a lot of Depeche Mode's equipment, their sound would have been quite similar to that of Depeche Mode. Ro Newton, reviewing Depeche Mode in Fréjus for Smash Hits magazine, wrote that "they sound like a weedy version of Blancmange, with every song having the same drumbeat and squealing saxophone (not to mention a singer who sounds like he’s got a ton of cement lodged at the back of his throat)." Daryl concludes: "In all, it was just a bit of fun that kept the DM band and crew entertained. And we had a rider: £200 and a bottle of gold-leaf tequila."
The song excerpts from Warsaw '85 reveal keyboard sounds that sound just like those of Depeche Mode: the photo of them at this concert (see right) indeed shows Daryl using Andy Fletcher's keyboard. The two photos of The Blah Brothers at Red Rocks in Denver and in Salt Lake City (see right) shows that they also used Book Of Love's tambourine, keytar, and drum pads. The quote above from Smash Hits about the Fréjus concert also mentions a saxophone being used, which Nobby Marr owned.
According to The Blah Brothers' Facebook page bio, "[i]nevitably, a record deal was offered, a studio in Paris was booked for the autumn of 1986, the band were to record their first single, a double B-side, and then the album, to be titled 'Open Wide And Say Blah'..." However, no recordings have been ever released. Andrew Marr appears to have stopped working as a stageset operator for Depeche Mode after 1986, since he is not credited in the list of crew members in the crew's 'Music For The Masses' tourbook, meaning that it was no longer easy for The Blah Brothers to open for Depeche Mode. Daryl Bamonte continued working for Depeche Mode in numerous roles up until 1995. Andrew now works as a prop hand for British TV movies. Daryl is now a managing director of Schubert Music Publishing Ltd.
- Source: "INSIGHT: Daryl Bamonte part 2", Interview for Depeche-mode.com, published 12 September 2006.
- Source: Online conversation between DMWiki user Angelinda and Daryl Bamonte, 5 October 2016.
- Source: Smash Hits magazine, 27 August 1986 issue. Words: Ro Newton.