Depeche Mode Keyboardist Says Band Steadier Than Ever But For Rough Start To Tour

August, 21, 2009 / 0 comments

By Doug Elfman ~

Depeche Mode’s current tour has been both “calamitous” and “an amazing spectacle,” keyboardist Andy Fletcher tells me.

The calamitous: “I found out on the first day of the tour, my father suddenly died. Completely a shock,” Fletcher says.

“Then we had the problem with Dave.”

Singer Dave Gahan went to the hospital for gastrointestinal trouble — which led to doctors discovering cancer in another part of his body.

“They went scanning him for the gastro, and they found this tumor in his bladder. It turned out it was cancerous. But it was very, very early stages, and they snipped it off. And he’s been back on the road.”

But wait, there’s more.

Gahan then tore a calf muscle during a July concert in Spain.

And last week, Gahan’s doctor ordered him on “complete” vocal rest.

All this calamity has led to some canceled shows, although they have honored most of their tour dates.

And Fletcher says (in an interview with me just before Gahan’s latest vocal problems), when Gahan is healthy and people aren’t dying, the tour is going swimmingly.

The band “did two amazing shows” at Madison Square Garden, after pulling off “an amazing spectacle” of tight musicianship in front of wild fans in stadium shows in Paris and Milan, Italy, he says.

“We are, I hope, on the march,” Fletcher says. “In some respects, we’ve played some of the best gigs of our career, certainly in Milan and Paris.”

Fletcher says the band is also steadier than ever, internally.

Gahan almost died of an overdose in the mid-1990s. And he became difficult to work with, showing up late for commitments, if he showed up at all. DM could have split. But Gahan went through heroin rehab and afterward, the band cut the best-selling ‘Ultra’, featuring hits ‘Barrel Of A Gun’ and ‘It’s No Good’.

In retrospect, Fletcher tells me: “The old days, especially in the ’90s, was a fuzzy time for us, you know.”

Depeche Mode hasn’t broken up in 30 years largely because band members are cut from the same cloth, Fletcher says.

“We’re really lucky. We’re from the same town (Basildon, Essex, England). We have the same bunch of friends, almost. So we have the same sense of humor; we come from the same background. So maybe that’s the reason why we stuck together.

“We’re sort of regular people, and our job just happens to be playing in Depeche Mode.”

Maybe they “just happen” to play in Depeche Mode, but these are among the most unique musicians in the world. I say this as a hard-core fan myself.

Gahan’s manly yet tender voice is deep and certain yet soothing and comforting.

“What we love about Dave’s voice is as soon as you hear a track on the radio — that’s us,” Fletcher says. “You know it’s him, like with David Bowie or Mick Jagger. They have these distinctive voices. But today, we find a lot of lead vocals (in other bands) aren’t distinctive. A lot of them could be anyone.”

Depeche Mode’s electronic music is distinct, as well, as it fuses warm melody to the cool but plaintive textures of synthesizers.

“We basically write songs outside of the studio. The whole idea of the studio is to get this texturing of the music, getting the right vibe and the right atmosphere. That’s what we spend most of the time doing.”

“We strive for emotions in the music and the lyrics,” Fletcher says.

“We don’t aspire to be Bono and U2. While they do a good job of doing it, to save the planet, we try to touch people in their everyday homes and in their bedroom, etc.”

Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal