Lifoland – Sounds Of The Universe
Last week, the Greek magazine Lifoland posted an interview with Dave. Thank you Anakita for pointing out this article. The interview was contacted by George Geranio, who is the president of the Greek Depeche Mode fan club Hysterica. I tried my best to translate the entire article. Click on the title for the entire interview. Enjoy!
They exist for almost thirty years and they have gone through fire and iron but they are still here, insisting on creating albums that sell millions. Depeche Mode speak exclusively to Lifo and to George Geranio, president of the Greek Depeche Mode fan club Hysterika, a little before their new album hits the streets and they come in Athens.
“The history of Depeche Mode is written by a hand that loves them too much.” This is what Daniel Miller, boss of Mute Records and producer of Depeche Mode during their first steps, declared when they asked him if he believed that Dave Gahan was going to be saved after his adventure with drugs in 1993, a crossroad year in the history of Depeche Mode. Back then, Dave was deep in the speedball (pinch and cocaine), Alan Wilder left the group after he considered that he never received the credit that he deserved (I believe that he was right – we all know that the sound of Depeche Mode was basically Alan’s creation, regardless who was the producer of each album) and Andy Fletcher suffered nervous breakdowns every fifteen days. From that year and afterwards, Depeche Mode entered a transition period of experimentation with Tim Simenon and Mark Bell in the albums Ultra and Exciter, respectively. After fifteen years, they have covered a course in which I was always present, as well as in their concerts, at least once in each tour, from Violator and afterwards. A total of sixteen times. Around, the people multiplied.
The interview took place in Home House of London, a labyrinthine structure that covers an entire building square, full of corridors and staircases that lead you into humid and dark pubs, hotel rooms (what kind of hotel can this be, I don’t understand) and empty offices. Fortunately, the room that they offered to us was sunny. I see Dave. With a few extra pounds, but continuing being elegant.
Good evening. How are you doing George? (in excellent Greek).
You have learned only these words so many years married to a Greek?
I also know other words. The children speak Greek in the house with their mother and their grandmother. I understand enough. In any case the words that are heard constantly in the house are “grandmother Stella – grandmother Stella.” I always heard from my wife how much close the Greek families are in Greece and now with their grandmother in the house I realized what that means. It is incredible. The grandmother is from Sikinos and the grandfather is from Monembasia, which we visited last year. I can say that it is one of the most beautiful places that I have ever seen. We haven’t visited the island yet. However, I always had a particular connection with Greece, even before I got married to a Greek girl.
Did your adventure with drugs raised the popularity of the group?
Good question, even though during that period I had so many problems and that was the last thing in my mind. However after so many years and with clean mind, I believe that perhaps it helped. People get excited by such situations. As long as they are not permanent.
Do you think that the time has come to win a Brit Award for your contributions in music?
Sure it is great to gain the recognition with such reward – naturally and I do not understand why they gave it to Pet Shop Boys, who declared that we were their big influence, and no to us. I believe that we deserve it. Whenever I found myself in similar shows I said: “I am very thankful that I am here” but inside of me I believed: “My God, the show is awful.”
Maybe in a year or two they will give it to you?
Maybe. In any case the behavior of Britons towards us changes with time. They do not snub us like the old days.
Is this why you punished them by only having one concert in England?
(loud laughters). No, we did not think this way… It is funny however. Some people might think this way.
Your new album ‘Sounds Of The Universe’ is drawn and structured for concerts. The introduction in ‘Corrupt’ and in ‘Perfect’, the line of bass in ‘Peace’, the explosion in ‘Wrong’, all are in order to excite the world.
Precisely. During recording in the studio, I placed myself in a concert atmosphere. I tried to become the Dave of concerts and I believe that I accomplished that. ‘Hole To Feed’ is my favorite. The songs have a cinematographic sentiment and this is what we want to bring out in our concerts.
How many songs from ‘Sounds Of The Universe’ are you going to perform in concerts?
Around seven. The concerts will begin with ‘In Chains’. It is going to be fantastic… A little dramatic opening, but it is going to create a huge impression. Andy, who is again our stage director, explained it to us and it sounds beautiful.
Any older songs that you haven’t perform in awhile? ‘Strange Love’ for example?
Ben (Hillier) is working on live versions of ‘Master And Servant’ and ‘Strange Love’, if that satisfies you. (laughters once again)
‘Precious’ had leaked a little before circulation, creating big noise around the new album. Now it happened with ‘Fragile Tension’. Is this some short of a commercial trick by EMI?
No, because the implementation of ‘Fragile Tension’ was demo and leaked from MGMT, when we sent it to them for remix. It was proved in the course. We sent songs to many people to create remixes. We never send multi tracks, but a first version of the song. Somebody from MGMT began to send the song here and there.
EMI sends the albums of Depeche Mode with various pseudonyms in order to avoid leaks. So, Depeche Mode for Playing The Angel were renamed ‘Black Swarm’ and for ‘Sounds Of The Universe’ were renamed ‘Tea And Biscuits’. Do these names mean anything or are simply accidental?
Martin names ‘Black Swarm’ a team of hard-core fans from Eastern Europe that follows us everywhere we play and wear only black. ‘Tea And Biscuits’ does not mean anything, but now that you mentioned it, I will ask Martin.
Shouldn’t you boycott Israel for the war in the Palestine?
Do you believe that we should?
We thought about it but we did that in the previous tour. We were suppose to play in this big park. Forty thousands people already had bought tickets. Just imagine the appearance of some guy full of explosives between all these people… It would have been hell. We could not take this risk and for this reason we decided not to play. We thought about it again this year. We do not want however to mix music with politics. The situation there is the same for decades. You cannot isolate them. Music brings the people together and if you manage at the same time to pass certain messages then it is ideal. Do you believe that in Athens we will have again so many people?
I think yes. Was it a surprise for you the presence of 25,000 fans in Athens? For Didi it was for sure…
We didn’t expect so many people in Athens either, but Depeche Mode has big dynamics. We have live audience that cannot be imagined by the world. Are things calm now in Athens after all the episodes?
Yes. Do you believe that the revolution will start by 16-year-olds that haven’t started the routine of life (work, family) and in reality they have nothing to loose?
My second son is sixteen and I can see his concerns. I wish somebody could rise and change the world.
Would you prevent him from going out on the streets, to demonstrate and to resist?
He is a person in charge of his life, and as far as I am concerned, he is free to do whatever he thinks that is correct. Naturally I would not prevent him. It would bother me, if in such development he remained inactive.
What is the secret of Depeche Mode for all the success of their albums after thirty years, while at the same moment bands, bigger than you in the ’80s, today group together for a few concerts?
The secret is that we never felt part of a scene. We could have been a group of the ’90s or the ’00s in the same way that they place us in the same sack with the groups of the ’80s. From the beginning we wanted to do our work with dignity. Daniel always allowed us to experiment and to create what we want. We had absolute freedom.
Anything changed now that you signed with EMI?
We do not know yet. EMI showed us that believes a lot in us. The difference is that for so many years we collaborated with the same people and now this must change. In general, many things changed in music. In the old days we were six people, we had an appointment and arranged everything. Now we have to ask someone for the Internet, another one for the merchandise, another one for the marketing, another one for the sales, we have six or seven accountants each one us. With EMI we have a contract for one album and afterwards will see.