Interview Andrew Fletcher
By Tomas ~
Andrew Fletcher is about to land in Australia for the Playground Weekender festival as well as a doing a few side-shows. We decided to catch up with the Solo-Artist, Depeche Mode bass player and synthesiser programmer.
Hey Andy, how have you been?
Yeah, pretty good. We finished the tour last year, had a bit of time off. We’re just sort of starting to crank it up a bit now.
Sounds great. With all that you’ve accomplished you guys still manage to tour and release records productively. Are there any secrets on staying together for so long?
I think we realise what we’ve achieved, you know, from nothing really. And I think that’s an important thing to realise. We’ve worked hard and had a bit of luck along the way. We come from the same town, we have the same friends, same sense of humor, so I think that helps.
Before Depeche Mode formed, you and schoolmates Vince Clarke and Martin Gore were playing in bands together. What was that like and what kind of music were you influenced by?
We were very lucky in life. When I was 16, punk happened. [It was] obviously the perfect age to experience it. After that it was Siouxsie & the Banshees, the Cure, Kraftwerk even came into fashion, early Human League, even early OMD. It was a really, really exciting time for music. We really blew out the sky. The idea to make music, you had to be a brilliant musician. And to make good music you just needed good ideas.
Do you think that the music you were playing helped influence or translate easily into Depeche mode?
Yeah I think it did. It was quite a short time in retrospect. Vince wrote most of the early stuff. After Vince left, Martin took over and really came into his own. I mean the first album with Vince writing it sort of does sound a bit odd compared to the rest. At the time we were a pop band and we weren’t ashamed of being a pop band. And we managed to graduate from a pop band to a rock band or a regular band, you know. It was lucky that we had the people around us that enabled us to do that.
Has much has changed since then compared to today?
I think so, but I think one of the problems is with a lot of artists is they become stars over night with the media being so fast. Whereas we had to really go about it the traditional way of making a demo tape, taking it around, taking the demo around to gigs, trying to get any little gig we could get. And it was a gradual rise for us, you know. We sort of broke England first. And then a few years later we started to break Europe and then a few years after that we started to break America. But these days you’re a star straight away aren’t you? But I think its good, because we managed to gain experience as we went along. We weren’t just completely put in the spotlight.
I couldn’t agree more. I mean, look at some of the younger artists today, they’re only sixteen or seventeen years old.
And they’re big in Australia, in the States, Europe and Britain all at the same time!
It’s amazing that after dozens of singles and number 1 albums that you’re still one of the most successful electronic bands in history.
Our career has been phenomenal and when we first started we really thought we’d last a couple of singles and then it would all finish. We’ve gone from strength to strength and really built up our career in the traditional way of playing and touring in small places, to bigger places to even bigger places. These days artists are stars over night, aren’t they? For us it was a gradual thing to spread our music all over the world.
Why is it that your role within in the band seems to have been a topic of confusion between fans and the media?
Well I think it’s very hard with an electronic group. You know, it’s very easy when you look at a traditional guitar band line up. When you see the drummer the bass player and the two guitarists. We’re different to that. The way we make music is completely different. But I see my role as really gelling the whole band together. And from day one we never had a manager so I used to take care of that. And also I realise that I’m surrounded by people like Dave Gahan who’s a fantastic front man and a great songwriter. I don’t write songs and I’m not a great front man. But you have to have people in the background to make the group work.
Tell me about Toast Hawaii, the record label you set up early last decade.
I set it up really for a band I had called Client and that was really good fun. We did okay actually. We got quite a bit of a following, sold really well. But I’ve been working, doing albums and doing tours with Depeche [Mode]. So every time I get some time off I really put the feelers out, I just haven’t found a band that I want to work with. It’s also very hard because I have to say to them, ‘Bye-bye, I’m going away for two years.’ It’s still a label and I’m always on the look out for artists but the timing has to be right unfortunately.
Aside from touring the world and managing bands, you’ve been known to do a bit of DJing as well. How different is that, from playing live shows with Depeche Mode to being behind the DJ booth in a club?
Well you go on a lot later than you do when you’re in a band. It’s quite nice for me, because I’m a sort of a celebrity DJ. I admit that I’m not as good as the pros, you know, the Paul Van Dykes and all these amazing guys. But I play a mixture of music and I try and have a bit of fun. I’ve been playing some brand new Depeche Mode mixes that are gonna be for the the new remix album, so that should add an element of interest for the fans.
Have you got any favourite songs you like to play?
I don’t know. I haven’t DJ’d for a couple of years and I’ve just rejigged my whole set so I’m a bit unsure what my favourite is. I don’t want to give my favourite away in an interview incase I decide not to play it [laughs].
Any chance we’re going to see you in Australia some time soon?
Yeah, it’s been a sad scenario with regards to Depeche mode and Australia. We were thinking we might make it on the last tour but Dave had some terrible trouble so we’ll just have to say let’s hope we can make it on the next tour. We’ll try our best. We’ve had a good time when we’ve been there in the past. We haven’t been to Australia enough.