Having endured in the music industry for over 30 years, releasing 12 albums and selling in excess of 100 million copies as well as performing to over 30 million people over their touring career, Depeche Mode are inarguable one of the most successful bands of the past 50 years. Their influence can be seen in bands like Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson as well as bands like The Pet Shop Boys and the modern techno movement with artists like Richardo Villalobos and Kruder & Dorfmeister paying homage to the bands work.
Where many of today’s bands will be lucky to last 10 years in the industry, Depeche Mode have managed to weather all the forces of the fickle music world. With the nucleus of the band, lead singer Dave Gahan, songwriter, guitarist and keyboardist Martin Gore and keyboardist Andy Fletcher all coming from the same town, the secret to their longevity lies in the fact that rather then being a loose collection of people teaming up to make music because they like each others haircuts or gear, the band have a real relationship at it’s core which grounds in the storm of the music industry.
Anyway with their last tour having been cut short due to Gahan having to have a tumour removed from his bladder, plans to visit Australia had to be canceled. To make up for this, Andy Fletcher is coming out to play some DJ sets, appearing at Playground Weekender, as consolation bringing with him some as yet unheard remixes of the bands material soon to be released as part of a special remix disc featuring the likes of Alex Metric and the band’s original songwriter and keyboardist from their debut album Speak & Spell Vince Clarke. We spoke to Andy over the phone recently to talk about the band’s impressive history and outstanding longevity.
Music Feeds: So you guys have been together for over 30 years, remaining popular that whole time, that’s a bit of a miracle in the music industry.
Andy Fletcher: It’s been a really amazing career, we couldn’t ask for it to be any better and we wouldn’t want to change anything. I mean we only thought we’d last for about two years.
MF: What do you think is the secret to your success?
AF: Well there are a few factors there. Martin Gore is an amazing songwriter which helps, so we’re always using good songs, but also we’ve got a great set up with Mute Records. We’ve always had a great relationship with Daniel Miller (Mute founder) , he’s never put that sort of commercial pressure that other record labels often put on their artists, so we’ve always had room to grow.
MF: Well yeah, you’ve always managed to develop your sound and never let it remain static or anything.
AF: I think its always good to evolve and that’s what we try to do. I was saying to an interviewer recently, we really don’t plan too much with our career. When we finish the tour it’s not like we make a plan to start a new album in a years time or whatever we try and play it very naturally. We work on music when we feel like working on music not when we’re expected to.
MF: You just let it happen?
AF: I mean we know we’re going to make another record but we don’t really know when that’s going to happen. It usually happens when Martin starts writing songs at home, and that’ when we sort of know where it’s going to head.
MF: How does the songwriting process usually work?
AF: Martin always writes his songs outside the studio, so once we go in we’ve got all the songs and all we have to work on is the atmosphere.
MF: I mean being together for as long as you guys have, but I mean, there have never really been any hiatuses or anything you’ve just sorted moved through at your own steady place. I mean I would have thought you would’ve tried to kill each other by now or something I know I would in that situation.
AF: There is a respect and we all three of us realise that what we’ve achieved is completely beyond our dreams. We’re at a place in our career where everyone seems to like us and it doesn’t seem like we can do anything wrong. Mind you probably best to wait and see with the next album.
MF: Indeed, touch wood. But there was a time there when Dave’s heroin addiction got really bad , even then was there no discussion about breaking up?
AF: I mean when Dave was really in a terrible way, in the end all he really had left in his life was the band. He’d lost his wife, he’d lost everything but he still had the band. I mean we all come from the same town, we’ve got the same friends and we’ve got the same sense of humour so it’s quite a good relationship. But there have never been any thoughts of breaking up, we’ve never discussed that at all, it’s always been our attitude to carry on. We’ve always said that when our records start to deteriorate then there might be a time when we call it quits.
Andy Fletcher will be appearing at Playground Weekender as well as playing his own sideshows.
Wednesday, February 16th
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Friday, February 18th