By Tom Lanham ~
Some things just don’t change. Like, say, the black-garbed faithful who follow their sinister synth idols, Depeche Mode, year after morbid year. The band’s 11th studio set, Playing The Angel, recently debuted at No. 1 in a dozen countries around the world, and bowed in on the U.S. and U.K. Top 10s. California-based bandleader Martin Gore, London keyboardist Andy Fletcher and singer Dave Gahan, a New York transplant, are all fathers now. But when they come together as Depeche Mode, something truly creepy happens, something only their Gothic acolytes can understand. Bouncing around his L.A. hotel room like a giddy schoolboy a few weeks ago, the affable Gahan attempted to explain the group’s perpetual appeal.
The Wave: What are all these tattoos on your arms and shoulders? They look Celtic.
Dave Gahan: A lot of ’em were done when I lived here in L.A., some were done after that in London, a couple in Japan. My whole back is covered in this big Celtic thing that, in the 13th century, they used to put on gates in big old houses to ward off evil, a Celtic plaque they’d put on gates. It didn’t work. Evil came anyway. But I invited it in. There was a time when it was all about the drugs, and it sorta worked for me for a while, to quiet down the noise. But now my life is completely changed. I go to the gym a lot. I run a lot. The only way I can quiet down the noise now is to basically push my body.
The Wave: Have you gotten into any extreme sports?
Dave Gahan: No. I just like running. And because I live downtown in New York, I can run all around the river and stuff like that. I feel like when I’ve done that, I’ve started the day well. I really get a kick from feeling good, strong, going onstage and performing up there.
The Wave: And yet your music still remains…
Dave Gahan: Dark? Ha! Well, you can’t destroy that part of you. There’s always a dark side and a light side, and I found out that I can reveal that much better in music. There’s a song I wrote on the new album called ‘Suffer Well’. When it started out, it was a much slower song and we just decided to go in a really pop way with it. Which is a contrast to what it’s saying lyrically, which is: Suffer well, because whatever it is you’re suffering, if you suffer well enough, you won’t have to suffer anymore. It’s something that was said to me a long time ago, which I did not understand. A guy who was sitting with me and had a lot more experience in life – an older gentleman – said, “You know, David, suffer well.” And I was like, “What the f— are you talking about? Thanks a lot, man!” It came back to me a few years ago, what he was really saying: Suffer well, and if you suffer well enough, you can move on.
The Wave: But your 20s are almost always carnal, always about the pursuit of pleasure. It’s only when you hit 30 that the spiritual starts creeping in.
Dave Gahan: In my late 20s, I was really searching for something more and going down the dark road in that search. I almost died a few times, which I would not recommend. In my early 30s, the sh-t was hitting the fan and it wasn’t gonna disappear any time soon. I wanted to be a part of life, but I didn’t at the same time. The only way to be part of it was to take it by the horns and jump in and just deal with it on a daily basis. And I’ve got a family now.
The Wave: And now you’re 43, when thoughts of mortality come creeping.
Dave Gahan: Yeah. It hits you that you’re not invincible. I gravitate toward the negative, and it’s something I have to fight against. I don’t wake up in the morning with a happy-go-lucky spirit. But if I get it out of myself straight away – in the same way that I would want to get high, now it’s about get that out of my head and going and doing something else. It’s about getting into life.
The Wave: So things are rosy now. But at least you’ve got some spooky memories of those wild years to cherish.
Dave Gahan: Back when I lived here in L.A., in my drug days, we used to hear these noises in the wall, really loud. We were all walking around with hammers, convinced the place was haunted. Turned out, in the loft, this was the house where the rats partied. This exterminator guy, this Chinese man, showed up, and he went up there and came back down with these two big garbage bags, full of dead rats. And he said, “Oh, this is party house! Rats party here!” So that’s what we were hearing – rats literally running between the walls. And they were very big. It was the beginning of the end for me, as in: Be careful what you wish for.
Source: The Wave