Blender Magazine In The Studio: Depeche Mode
For nearly 30 years, Depeche Mode’s dark synth pop has blurred the line between passion and perversion. Who hasn’t gotten his freak on to ‘Master And Servant’ or ‘I Feel You’? Even tween queen Hilary Duff recently bit the monster hook in DM’s ‘Personal Jesus’ to declare her graduation into womanhood on “Reach Out.”
“I gave permission,” says DM’s main songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Martin Gore. “It was pretty harmless.” But how will he, singer Dave Gahan and keyboardist Andrew Fletcher supply a new generation with sample-ready hookup hits? By sticking to what they know. “We fear change,” Gore says while insisting that their 12th studio record ”will be just as relevant to fans as Violator,” the multi-platinum 1990 album that sparked a sellout stadium tour.
“The overall album fits in with the line of the last few records—it’s kind of an amalgamation,” Gore says, attributing the mishmash in part to decades’ worth of toys the Mode men have at their disposal. “I did the demos on a laptop. It’s really quick and frees you up so you don’t have to run around plugging things in.” He had 18 songs (Gahan penned four) by the time they got to the studio, where he tapped into his own and producer Ben Hillier’s analog-synth collections. And Gore reckons he has bought “virtually every drum machine ever built” for use on the new album, which features everything from live and sampled drum sounds to booming 808 bass.
Gore played some guitar, too, and he and Gahan spent lots of time on reverb-coated vocal harmonies. Lyricswise, “there wasn’t a specific theme, but there is a spiritual aura to them—I tend to say that a lot when we put records out, but it’s more so this time,” he admits. “We’re still writing the same song with a different twist to it each time, hoping no one will notice.”