Depeche Mode

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Depeche Mode
Tierecke dm.jpg
Depeche Mode in concert, 2006.
Additional musicians Peter Gordeno (far left) and Christian Eigner (centre-left), with original members Dave Gahan (centre), Martin Gore (centre-right) and Andy Fletcher (far right).
Background information
Origin Basildon, Essex, England
Genres
Years active 1980–present
Labels
Website www.depechemode.com
Members
Past members

Depeche Mode /dɪˌpɛʃˈmd/ are an English electronic band that formed in Basildon, Essex in 1980. The group consists of founders Dave Gahan (lead vocals), Martin Gore (guitar, keyboards, vocals), and Andy Fletcher (keyboards). Depeche Mode released their debut album Speak & Spell in 1981, bringing the band onto the British new wave scene. Original band member Vince Clarke (keyboards, guitar), left the band after the release of the album, leaving the band as a trio to record A Broken Frame, released the following year. Gore took over the lead songwriting duties and, later in 1982, Alan Wilder (keyboards, drums, bass guitar) officially joined the band to fill Clarke's spot, establishing a line up that would continue for the next 13 years.

The band's last albums of the 1980s, Black Celebration and Music for the Masses, established them as a dominant force within the electronic music scene. A highlight of this era was the band's June 1988 concert at the Pasadena Rose Bowl, where they drew a crowd in excess of 60,000 people; it formed the basis for the D. A. Pennebaker-directed documentary film 101, released the following year. In the new decade, Depeche Mode released Violator, an international mainstream success, the subsequent album, Songs of Faith and Devotion, and the supporting Devotional Tour exacerbated tensions within the band to the point where Wilder quit in 1995, leading to intense media and fan speculation that the band would split. Now a trio once again, the band released Ultra in 1997, recorded at the height of Gahan's near-fatal drug abuse, Gore's alcoholism and seizures, and Fletcher's clinical depression, the release of Exciter confirmed Depeche Mode's willingness to remain together, the subsequent, and very successful, Exciter Tour being their first tour in support of an original album in eight years since the Devotional Tour, although the band had toured in 1998 to support The Singles 86–98 compilation album.

Depeche Mode have had 50 songs in the UK Singles Chart and seventeen top 10 albums in the UK chart; they have sold over 100 million records worldwide.[1][2] Q included the band in the list of the "50 Bands That Changed the World!".[3] Depeche Mode also rank number 98 on VH1's "100 Greatest Artists of All Time";[4] in December 2016, Billboard magazine named Depeche Mode the 10th most successful dance club artist of all time.[5]

In October 2017, it was announced Depeche Mode is one of the nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.[6]

History[edit]

Formation and debut album (1977–1981)[edit]

Depeche Mode's origins date to 1977, when schoolmates Vince Clarke and Andy Fletcher formed a Cure-influenced[7] band called No Romance In China, with Clarke on vocals and guitar and Fletcher on bass. Fletcher would later recall, "Why am I in the band? It was accidental right from the beginning. I was actually forced to be in the band. I played the guitar and I had a bass; it was a question of them roping me in."[8] In 1979, Clarke played guitar in an "Ultravox rip-off band", The Plan, with friends Robert Marlow and Paul Langwith;[9] in 1978–79, Martin Gore played guitar in an acoustic duo, Norman and the Worms, with school friend Phil Burdett on vocals.[10] In 1979, Marlow, Gore and friend Paul Redmond formed a band called the French Look, with Marlow on vocals/keyboards, Gore on guitar and Redmond on keyboards; in March 1980, Clarke, Gore and Fletcher formed a band called Composition of Sound, with Clarke on vocals/guitar, Gore on keyboards and Fletcher on bass.

Soon after the formation of Composition of Sound, Clarke heard Wirral band Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD), whose output inspired him to make electronic music.[11][12] Along with OMD, other early influences included the Human League, Daniel Miller and Fad Gadget.[13] Clarke and Fletcher switched to synthesisers, working odd jobs in order to buy or borrow the instruments from friends. Dave Gahan joined the band in 1980 after Clarke heard him perform at a local scout hut jam session, singing a rendition of David Bowie's "Heroes",[14] and Depeche Mode were born. Gahan's and Gore's favorite artists included Sparks, Siouxsie and the Banshees,[15] Cabaret Voltaire, Talking Heads and Iggy Pop.[16]

When explaining the choice for the new name, taken from French fashion magazine Dépêche mode,[17] Gore said, "It means hurried fashion or fashion dispatch. I like the sound of that."[18] However, the magazine's name (and hence the band's) is "Fashion News" or "Fashion Update"[19] (dépêche, "dispatch," from Old French despesche/despeche or "news report," and mode or "fashion").

Gore recalled that the first time the band played as Depeche Mode was a school gig in May 1980.[20] There is a plaque commemorating the gig at the James Hornsby School in Basildon, where Gore and Fletcher were pupils, the band made their recording debut in 1980 on the Some Bizzare Album with the song "Photographic", later re-recorded for their debut album Speak & Spell.

The band made a demo tape but, instead of mailing the tape to record companies, they would go in and personally deliver it, they would demand the companies play it; according to Dave Gahan, "most of them would tell us to fuck off. They'd say 'leave the tape with us' and we'd say 'it's our only one'. Then we'd say goodbye and go somewhere else."[21]

According to Gahan, prior to securing their record contract, they were receiving offers from all the major labels. Phonogram offered them "money you could never have imagined and all sorts of crazy things like clothes allowances".[21]

While playing a live gig at the Bridge House in Canning Town,[22] the band were approached by Daniel Miller, an electronic musician and founder of Mute Records, who was interested in their recording a single for his burgeoning label.[23] The result of this verbal contract was their first single, "Dreaming of Me", recorded in December 1980 and released in February 1981, it reached number 57 in the UK charts. Encouraged by this, the band recorded their second single, "New Life", which climbed to number 11 in the UK charts and got them an appearance on Top of the Pops, the band went to London by train, carrying their synthesisers all the way to the BBC studios.

The band's next single was "Just Can't Get Enough", this relentlessly upbeat[peacock term] piece of synth-pop became the band's first UK top ten hit and it remains one of their best known songs[citation needed]. It was also the first Depeche Mode song to get a music video[citation needed] and is the only one of the band's videos to feature Vince Clarke. Depeche Mode's debut album, Speak & Spell, was released in October 1981 and peaked at number ten on the UK album charts.[citation needed] Critical reviews were mixed; Melody Maker described it as a "great album … one they had to make to conquer fresh audiences and please the fans who just can't get enough",[24] while Rolling Stone was more critical, calling the album "PG-rated fluff".[25]

Clarke departs, Wilder joins (1981–1982)[edit]

During the touring and promotion for Speak & Spell, Clarke privately[according to whom?] began to voice his discomfort at the direction the band was taking. He later expressed his dissatisfaction, saying "there was never enough time to do anything. Not with all the interviews and photo sessions";[26] in November 1981, Clarke publicly announced that he was leaving Depeche Mode.[27] It was also claimed[according to whom?] that Clarke was sick of touring, which Gahan said years later was "bullshit to be quite honest".[21] Gahan went on to say he "suddenly lost interest in it and he started getting letters from fans asking what kind of socks he wore".[21]

Soon afterwards, Clarke joined up with blues singer Alison Moyet to form Yazoo (or Yaz in the United States). Initial talk of Clarke's continuing to write material for Depeche Mode ultimately amounted to nothing. According to third-party sources, Clarke offered the remaining members of Depeche Mode the track "Only You", but they declined.[28] Clarke, however, denied in an interview that such an offer ever took place saying, "I don't know where that came from. That's not true."[29] The song went on to become a UK Top 3 hit for Yazoo. Gore, who had written "Tora! Tora! Tora!" and the instrumental "Big Muff" for Speak & Spell, was forced[according to whom?] to become the band's new songwriter.[30]

In late 1981, the band placed an anonymous ad in Melody Maker looking for another musician: "Name band, synthesise, must be under twenty-one."[14] Alan Wilder, a keyboardist from West London, responded and, after two auditions and despite being 22 years old, was hired in early 1982, initially on a trial basis as a touring member.[31] Wilder would later be called the "Musical Director" of the band, responsible for the band's sound until his departure in 1995,[8] as producer Flood would say, "[Alan] is sort of the craftsman, Martin's the idea man and [Dave] is the attitude."[8]

In January 1982, the band released "See You", their first single without Clarke, which managed to beat all three Clarke-penned singles in the UK charts, reaching number six,[32] the following tour saw the band playing their first shows in North America. Two more singles, "The Meaning of Love" and "Leave in Silence," were released ahead of the band's second studio album, on which they began work in July 1982. Daniel Miller informed Wilder that he was not needed for the recording of the album, as the core trio wanted to prove they could succeed without Vince Clarke.[33] A Broken Frame was released that September, and the following month the band began their 1982 tour. A non-album single, "Get the Balance Right!," was released in January 1983, the first Depeche Mode track to be recorded with Wilder.[34]

Construction Time Again (1983)[edit]

For their third LP, Construction Time Again, Depeche Mode worked with producer Gareth Jones, at John Foxx's Garden Studios and at Hansa Studios in West Berlin (where much of David Bowie's trilogy of seminal electronic albums featuring Brian Eno had been produced). The album saw a dramatic shift in the group's sound, due in part to Wilder's introduction of the Synclavier and E-mu Emulator samplers.[35] By sampling the noises of everyday objects, the band created an eclectic, industrial-influenced sound, with similarities to groups such as the Art of Noise and Einstürzende Neubauten (the latter becoming Mute labelmates in 1983).[36]

Along with the music, Gore's songwriting was also rapidly evolving,[according to whom?] focusing increasingly on political and social issues. A good example[according to whom?] of the new sound was on the first single from the album, "Everything Counts", a commentary on the perceived greed of multinational corporations.[37] In a retrospective review of the single, AllMusic journalist Ned Raggett wrote that the song marked a change in the band "with Martin Gore's songwriting abilities matched with an increasing ambition of the band as a whole."[38]

"Everything Counts" rose to number six in the UK, also reaching the top 30 in Ireland, South Africa, Switzerland, Sweden and West Germany.[citation needed] Wilder contributed two songs to the album, "The Landscape Is Changing" and "Two Minute Warning"; in September 1983, to promote Construction Time Again, the band launched a European concert tour.

Some Great Reward and growing international success (1984–1985)[edit]

In their early years, Depeche Mode had only really attained success in Europe and Australia.[citation needed] This changed in March 1984, when they released the single "People Are People", the song became a hit, reaching No. 2 in Ireland and Poland, No. 4 in the UK and Switzerland, and No. 1 in West Germany — the first time a DM single topped a country's singles chart — where it was used as the theme to West German TV's coverage of the 1984 Olympics.[39] Beyond this European success, the song also reached No. 13 on the US charts in mid-1985, the first appearance of a DM single on the Billboard Hot 100, and was a Top 20 hit in Canada. "People Are People" has since become an anthem for the LGBT community, regularly played at gay establishments and gay pride festivals in the late 1980s.[40] Sire, the band's North American record label, released a compilation of the same name which included tracks from A Broken Frame and Construction Time Again as well as several B-sides.

On the American tour, the band was, according to Gore, "shocked by the way the fans were turning up in droves at the concerts",[21] he said that although the concerts were selling well, Depeche Mode struggled to sell records.[21]

In September 1984, Some Great Reward was released. Melody Maker claimed that the album made one "sit up and take notice of what is happening here, right under your nose."[41] In contrast to the political and environmental subjects addressed on the previous album, the songs on Some Great Reward were mostly concerned with more personal themes such as sexual politics ("Master and Servant"), adulterous relationships ("Lie to Me"), and arbitrary divine justice ("Blasphemous Rumours"). Also included was the first Martin Gore ballad, "Somebody" — such songs would become a feature of all following albums.[citation needed] "Somebody" was released as a double A-side with "Blasphemous Rumours," and was the first single with Gore on lead vocal. Some Great Reward became the first Depeche Mode album to enter the US album charts, and made the Top 10 in several European countries.[citation needed]

The World We Live In and Live in Hamburg was the band's first video release, almost an entire concert from their 1984 Some Great Reward Tour. In July 1985, the band played their first-ever concerts behind the Iron Curtain, in Budapest and Warsaw;[42] in October 1985, Mute Records released a compilation, The Singles 81→85 (Catching Up with Depeche Mode in the US), which included the two non-album hit singles "Shake the Disease" and "It's Called a Heart".

During this period, the band became associated with the goth subculture,[according to whom?] which had begun in Britain in the early-1980s, and was slowly gaining popularity in the United States. There, the band's music had first gained prominence on college radio and modern rock stations such as KROQ in Los Angeles, KSOL ("The Quake") in San Francisco, WFNX in Boston and WLIR on Long Island, New York, and hence they appealed primarily to an alternative audience who were disenfranchised with the predominance of "soft rock and 'disco hell'"[43] on the radio. This view of the band was in sharp contrast to how the band was perceived in Europe, despite the increasingly dark and serious tone in their songs;[44] in Germany, France, and other European countries, Depeche Mode were considered teen idols and regularly featured in European teen magazines, becoming one of the most famous synthpop bands in the mid-'80s.

Black Celebration (1986)[edit]

Depeche Mode's musical style shifted slightly again[citation needed] in 1986 with the release of their fifteenth single, "Stripped", and its accompanying album Black Celebration. Retaining their often imaginative[according to whom?] sampling and beginning to move away from the "industrial pop" sound that had characterised their previous two LPs, the band introduced an ominous, highly atmospheric and textured sound.[citation needed] Gore's lyrics also took on a darker tone and became even more pessimistic.[citation needed]

The music video for "A Question of Time" was the first to be directed by Anton Corbijn,[45] beginning a working relationship that continues to the present day. Corbijn has directed a further 20 of the band's videos (the latest being 2017's "Where's the Revolution"), he has also filmed some of their live performances, and designed stage sets, as well as covers for albums and singles.[vague]

Music for the Masses and 101 (1987–1988)[edit]

1987's Music for the Masses saw further alterations in the band's sound and working methods. For the first time a producer not related to Mute Records, Dave Bascombe, was called to assist with the recording sessions, although, according to Alan Wilder, Bascombe's role ended up being more that of engineer;[46] in making the album, the band largely eschewed sampling in favour of synthesizer experimentation.[47] While chart performance of the singles "Strangelove", "Never Let Me Down Again" and "Behind the Wheel" proved to be disappointing in the UK, they performed well in countries such as Canada, Brazil, West Germany, South Africa, Sweden and Switzerland, often reaching the top 10. Record Mirror described Music for the Masses as "the most accomplished and sexy Mode album to date".[48] The album also made a breakthrough in the American market.[citation needed]

The Music for the Masses Tour began 22 October 1987, on 7 March 1988, with no previous announcement that they would be the headlining act, Depeche Mode played in the Werner-Seelenbinder-Halle, East Berlin,[49] becoming one of the few Western groups to perform in the Communist East Germany. They also performed concerts in Budapest and Prague in 1988,[50] both at the time also Communist.

The world tour ended 18 June 1988 with a concert at the Pasadena Rose Bowl with paid attendance of 60,453,[51] the highest in eight years for the venue.[citation needed] The tour was a breakthrough for the band[citation needed] and a massive success[citation needed] in the United States. It was documented in 101 – a concert film by D. A. Pennebaker and its accompanying soundtrack album. The film is notable for its portrayal of fan interaction.[52][53] Alan Wilder is credited with coming up with the title, noting that the performance was the 101st and final performance of the tour,[54] on 7 September 1988, Depeche Mode performed "Strangelove" at the 1988 MTV Video Music Awards at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles.[55]

Violator and worldwide fame (1989–1991)[edit]

In mid-1989, the band began recording in Milan with producer Flood and engineer François Kevorkian, the initial result of this session was the single "Personal Jesus." Prior to its release, a marketing campaign was launched with advertisements placed in the personals columns of UK regional newspapers with the words "Your own personal Jesus." Later, the ads included a phone number one could dial to hear the song. The resulting furor helped propel the single to number 13 on the UK charts, becoming one of their biggest sellers to date; in the United States, it was their first gold single and their first Top 40 hit since "People Are People," eventually becoming the biggest-selling 12-inch single in Warner Records' history up to that point.[56]

"I think in a way we've been at the forefront of new music; sort of chipping away at the standard rock format stations."
Martin Gore, stated to NME – July 1990.[57]

Released in January 1990, "Enjoy the Silence" reached number six in the UK (the first Top 10 hit in that country since "Master And Servant"). A few months later in the US, it reached number eight and earned the band a second gold single, it won "Best British single" at the 1991 Brit Awards.[58] To promote their new album, Violator, the band held an in-store autograph signing at Wherehouse Entertainment in Los Angeles, the event attracted approximately 20,000 fans and turned into a near riot. Some who attended were injured by being pressed against the store's glass by the crowd,[59] as an apology to the fans who were injured, the band released a limited edition cassette tape to fans living in Los Angeles, distributed through radio station KROQ (the sponsor of the Wherehouse event).

Violator was the first Depeche Mode album to enter the Top 10 of the Billboard 200, reaching Number 7 and staying 74 weeks in the chart. It was certified triple platinum in America,[60] selling over 4.5 million units there. It remains the band's best selling album worldwide.[citation needed] Two more singles from the album — "Policy of Truth" and "World in My Eyes" — were hits in the UK, with the former also charting in the US.

"I remember going to see them in Giants Stadium, and they broke the merchandising record; of Bon Jovi, U2 — all these bands — Depeche Mode were the biggest!."
Flood, on Giants Stadium concert.[61]

The World Violation Tour saw the band play several stadium shows in the US. 42,000 tickets were sold within four hours for a show at Giants Stadium, and 48,000 tickets were sold within half-an-hour of going on sale for a show at Dodger Stadium.[62] An estimated 1.2 million fans saw this tour worldwide.[8]

In 1991, Depeche Mode contribution "Death's Door" was released on the soundtrack album for the film Until the End of the World. Film director Wim Wenders had challenged musical artists to write music the way they imagined they would in the year 2000, the setting of the movie.

Songs of Faith and Devotion and Wilder's departure (1992–1996)[edit]

The members of Depeche Mode regrouped in Madrid in January 1992, Dave Gahan had become interested in the new grunge scene sweeping the U.S. and was influenced by the likes of Jane's Addiction, Soundgarden and Nirvana.[63]

"There's so many sounds that are created from the voice that you wouldn't know were taken from the voice, like rhythm sounds. The number of times I've been sitting in the studio and said, 'I wish I could get a bass that would just go [mimics wet, thick hip-hop bass-drum sound].' Then I think, 'Why can't I just go [repeats noise] into a mic and sample it?' It's obvious; you spend all day trying to get a synthesizer to try and create this sound but you can just go [repeats noise] and you've got it. Then you can send it through some other device after that, and you've got something that sounds absolutely nothing like a voice, but the source was a voice. ... It is a very interesting process."
Alan Wilder on the genesis of some of the sounds on Songs of Faith and Devotion, stated to Pulse! magazine – May 1993.[8]

In 1993, Songs of Faith and Devotion, again with Flood producing, saw them experimenting with more organic arrangements, based as much on heavily distorted electric guitars and live drums (played by Alan Wilder, whose debut as a studio drummer had come on the Violator track "Clean") as on synthesizers.[64] Live strings, uilleann pipes and female gospel vocals were other new additions to the band's sound. The album debuted at number one in both the UK and the US, only the sixth British act to achieve such a distinction to date,[61] the first single from the album was the grunge-influenced "I Feel You". The gospel influences are most noticeable on the album's third single, "Condemnation". A symptom of the slow fracturing of the band,[citation needed] interviews given by the band during this period tended to be conducted separately, unlike earlier albums, where the band was interviewed as a group.[8]

The Devotional world tour followed, documented by a concert film of the same name, the film was directed by Anton Corbijn, and in 1995 earned the band their first Grammy nomination.[65] The band's second live album, Songs of Faith and Devotion Live, was released in December 1993.

The tour continued into 1994 with the Exotic Tour, which began in February 1994 in South Africa, and ended in April in Mexico, the final leg of the tour, consisting of more North American dates, followed shortly thereafter and ran until July. As a whole, the Devotional Tour is to date the longest and most geographically diverse Depeche Mode tour, spanning fourteen months and 159 individual performances. Q magazine described[when?] the 1993 Devotional Tour as "The Most Debauched Rock'n'Roll Tour Ever".[66]

Dave Gahan's heroin addiction was increasingly affecting his behaviour, causing him to become more erratic and introverted.[citation needed] Martin Gore experienced seizures,[citation needed] and Andy Fletcher declined to participate in the second half of the Exotic Tour due to "mental instability".[citation needed] During that period, he was replaced on stage by Daryl Bamonte, who had worked with the band as a personal assistant for many[quantify] years.[67]

In June 1995, Alan Wilder announced that he was leaving Depeche Mode, explaining:

Since joining in 1982, I have continually striven to give total energy, enthusiasm and commitment to the furthering of the group's success, and in spite of a consistent imbalance in the distribution of the workload, willingly offered this. Unfortunately, within the group, this level of input never received the respect and acknowledgement that it warrants.[68]

He continued to work on his personal project Recoil, releasing a fourth album (Unsound Methods) in 1997. Following Wilder's departure, fans were sceptical of whether Depeche Mode would ever record again.[citation needed] Gahan's mental state and drug habit became a major source of concern,[according to whom?] with a near-fatal overdose at a hotel in Los Angeles.[citation needed]

Ultra (1997–2000)[edit]

Despite Gahan's increasingly severe personal problems, Gore tried repeatedly during 1995 and 1996 to get the band recording again. However, Gahan would rarely turn up to scheduled sessions, and when he did, it would take weeks to get any vocals recorded; one six-week session at Electric Lady in New York produced just one usable vocal (for "Sister of Night"), and even that was pieced together from multiple takes.[69] Gore was forced to contemplate breaking the band up and considered releasing the songs he had written as a solo album;[70] in mid-1996, after his near-fatal overdose, Gahan entered a court-ordered drug rehabilitation program to battle his addiction to cocaine and heroin.[71] With Gahan out of rehab in 1996, Depeche Mode held recording sessions with producer Tim Simenon.

Preceded by two singles, "Barrel of a Gun" and "It's No Good," the album Ultra was released in April 1997. The album debuted at No. 1 in the UK (as well as Germany), and No. 5 in the US. The band did not tour in support of the album, with Fletcher quoted as saying

We're not fit enough. Dave's only eight months into his sobriety, and our bodies are telling us to spend time with our families.[72]

As part of the promotion for the release of the album, they did perform two short concerts in London and Los Angeles, called "Ultra Parties."[73] Ultra spawned two further singles, "Home" and "Useless".

A second singles compilation, The Singles 86–98, was released in 1998, preceded by the new single "Only When I Lose Myself", which had been recorded during the Ultra sessions. In April 1998, Depeche Mode held a press conference at the Hyatt Hotel in Cologne to announce The Singles Tour,[74] the tour was the first to feature two backing musicians in place of Alan Wilder — Austrian drummer Christian Eigner and British keyboardist Peter Gordeno.

Exciter (2001–2004)[edit]

In 2001, Depeche Mode released Exciter, produced by Mark Bell (of techno group LFO). Bell introduced a minimalist, digital sound to much of the album, influenced by IDM and glitch. "Dream On", "I Feel Loved", "Freelove" and "Goodnight Lovers" were released as singles in 2001 and 2002. Critical response to the album was mixed, with reasonably positive reviews from some magazines (NME, Rolling Stone and LA Weekly), while others (including Q magazine, PopMatters, and Pitchfork) derided it as sounding underproduced, dull and lacklustre.[75]

In March 2001, Depeche Mode held a press conference at the Valentino Hotel in Hamburg to announce the Exciter Tour,[76] the tour featured 84 performances for over 1.5 million fans in 24 countries.[77] The concerts held in Paris at the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy were filmed and later released in May 2002 as a live DVD entitled One Night in Paris.

In October 2002 the band won the first-ever Q magazine "Innovation Award".[78]

In 2003, Gahan released his first solo album, Paper Monsters, and toured to promote the record. Also released in 2003 was Gore's second solo album Counterfeit².[79] Fletcher founded his own record label, Toast Hawaii, specialising in promoting electronic music.

A new remix compilation album, Remixes 81–04, was released in 2004, featuring new and unreleased promo mixes of the band's singles from 1981 to 2004. A new version of "Enjoy the Silence," remixed by Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park, "Enjoy the Silence 04," was released as a single and reached No. 7 on the UK charts.

Playing the Angel (2005–2007)[edit]

Touring the Angel concert in Bremen, June 2006.

In October 2005, the band released their 11th studio album Playing the Angel. Produced by Ben Hillier, the album peaked at No. 1 in 18 countries and featured the hit single "Precious". This is the first Depeche Mode album to feature lyrics written by Gahan and, consequently, the first album since 1984's Some Great Reward featuring songs not written by Gore. "Suffer Well" was the first ever post-Clarke Depeche Mode single not to be written by Gore (lyrics by Gahan, music by Philpott/Eigner). The final single from the album was "John the Revelator," an uptempo[citation needed] electronic track with a running religious theme, accompanied by "Lilian," a lush track[citation needed] that was a hit in many clubs all over the world.[citation needed]

To promote Playing the Angel, the band launched Touring the Angel, a concert tour of Europe and North America that began in November 2005 and ran for nine months, during the last two legs of the tour Depeche Mode headlined a number of festivals including the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and the O2 Wireless Festival. In total, the band played to more than 2.8 million people across 31 countries and the tour was one of the highest grossing and critically acclaimed tours of 2005/06.[2] Speaking about the tour, Gahan praised it as "probably the most enjoyable, rewarding live shows we've ever done, the new material was just waiting to be played live. It took on a life of its own, with the energy of the crowds, it just came to life."[80] Two shows at Milan's Fila Forum were filmed and edited into a concert film, released on DVD as Touring the Angel: Live in Milan.[81]

A "best-of" compilation was released in November 2006, entitled The Best Of, Volume 1 featuring a new single "Martyr", an outtake from the Playing the Angel sessions. Later that month Depeche Mode received the MTV Europe Music Award in the Best Group category.[82]

In December 2006, iTunes released The Complete Depeche Mode as its fourth ever digital box-set.[83]

In August 2007, during promotion for Dave Gahan's second solo album, Hourglass, it was announced that Depeche Mode were heading back in studio in early 2008 to work on a new album.[84]

Sounds of the Universe (2008–2011)[edit]

In May 2008, the band returned to the studio with producer Ben Hillier to work on some songs that Martin Gore had demoed at his home studio in Santa Barbara, California. Later that year it was announced that Depeche Mode were splitting from their long-term US label, Warner Music, and signing with EMI Music worldwide,[85] the album was created in four sessions, two in New York and two in Santa Barbara. A total of 22 songs were recorded, with the standard album being 13 songs in length while many of the others were released in subsequent deluxe editions.[86]

Tour of the Universe concert at London's O2 Arena, December 2009.

On 15 January 2009, the official Depeche Mode website announced that the band's 12th studio album would be called Sounds of the Universe,[87] the album was released in April 2009, also made available through an iTunes Pass, where the buyer received individual tracks in the weeks leading up to official release date. Andy Fletcher says the idea for their iTunes Pass was a combination of the band's and iTunes': "I think the digital and record companies are starting to get their act together, they were very lazy in the first 10 years when downloads came in. Now they're collaborating more and coming up with interesting ideas for fans to buy products."[88] The album went to number one in 21 countries. Critical response was generally positive and it was nominated for a Grammy in the "Best Alternative Album" category.[89] "Wrong" was the first single from the album, released digitally in February 2009. Subsequent singles were "Peace" and the double A-side "Fragile Tension / Hole to Feed"; in addition, "Perfect" was released as a promotional-only (non-commercial) single in the United States.

On 23 April 2009, Depeche Mode performed for the television program Jimmy Kimmel Live! at the famed corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street, drawing more than 12,000 fans, which was the largest audience the program had seen since its 2003 premiere, with a performance by Coldplay.[90]

In May 2009, the band embarked on a concert tour in support of the album — called Tour of the Universe; it had been announced at a press conference in October 2008 at the Olympiastadion in Berlin.[91] There was a warm up show in Luxembourg and it officially started on 10 May 2009 in Tel Aviv, the first leg of the tour was disrupted when Dave Gahan was struck down with gastroenteritis. During treatment, doctors found and removed a low grade tumour from the singer's bladder. Gahan's illness caused 16 concerts to be cancelled, but several of the shows were rescheduled for 2010,[92] the band headlined the Lollapalooza festival during the North American leg of the tour. The tour also took the band back to South America for the first time since 1994's Exotic Tour, during the final European leg, the band played a show at London's Royal Albert Hall in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust, where former member Alan Wilder joined Martin Gore on stage for a performance of "Somebody".[93][94] In total the band played to more than 2.7 million people across 32 countries and the tour was one of the most profitable in America in 2009.[95][96] The concerts held at Palau Sant Jordi, Barcelona, Spain were filmed and later released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc release entitled Tour of the Universe: Barcelona 20/21.11.09.[97] In March 2010, Depeche Mode won the award for "Best International Group – Rock / Pop" at the ECHO Awards in Germany.[98]

On 6 June 2011, as the final commitment to their contract with EMI,[99] the band released a remix compilation album, entitled Remixes 2: 81–11 that features remixes by former members Vince Clarke and Alan Wilder.[100][101] Other remixers involved with the project were Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran,[102] Röyksopp, Karlsson & Winnberg of Miike Snow, Eric Prydz, Clark and more.[103] A new remix of "Personal Jesus" by Stargate, entitled "Personal Jesus 2011", was released as a single on 30 May 2011, in support of the compilation.

Depeche Mode contributed their cover of the U2 song "So Cruel" to the tribute album AHK-toong BAY-bi Covered honouring the 20th anniversary of Achtung Baby, a 1991 album by U2. The compilation CD was released with the December 2011 issue of Q Magazine.[104][105]

Delta Machine (2012–2014)[edit]

In October 2012 during a press conference in Paris, Dave Gahan, Martin Gore and Andy Fletcher announced plans for a new album and a 2013 worldwide tour starting from Tel Aviv and continuing in Europe and North America.[106] Martin Gore revealed that Flood mixed the album, marking the producer's first studio collaboration with the band since 1993's Songs of Faith and Devotion.

In December 2012, the band officially announced signing a worldwide deal with Columbia Records and releasing a new album in March 2013,[107] on 24 January 2013, it was confirmed that the album was titled Delta Machine.[108] "Heaven", the debut single from Delta Machine was released commercially on Friday 1 February 2013 (although not in the UK). The release date in the UK was pushed back to 18 March 2013 (17 March 2013 on iTunes), the physical release still bore the Mute Records logo, even though the band have now severed ties with their long standing label. Andy Fletcher mentioned in an interview this was due to their "devotion" to the label and with the band's insistence.

In March, the band announced North American dates to its Delta Machine summer tour, starting 22 August from Detroit and ending 8 October in Phoenix;[109] in June, other European dates[110] were confirmed for early 2014. The final gig of Delta Machine Tour took place in Moscow (Russia) on 7 March 2014, at Olimpiski venue.

That month, Depeche Mode won the award for "Best International Group – Rock / Pop" at the ECHO Awards in Germany. Also they were nominated at the category "Album des Jahres (national oder international)" for Delta Machine, but lost against Helene Fischer's Farbenspiel.[111][112]

On 8 October 2014, the band announced Depeche Mode Live in Berlin, the new video and audio release filmed and recorded at the O2 World in Berlin, Germany in November 2013 during the Delta Machine Tour, it was released on 17 November 2014 worldwide.[113]

Spirit (2016–present)[edit]

On 25 January 2016, Martin Gore announced a projected return to the recording studio in April, with both Gore and Gahan having already written and demoed new songs.[114]

In September, the official Depeche Mode Facebook page hinted at a new release, later confirmed by the band to be a music video compilation, Video Singles Collection, scheduled for release in November by Sony.[115][116] In October 2016, the band announced that their fourteenth album, titled Spirit and produced by James Ford, would be released in spring 2017,[117] the group has also been nominated for the 2018 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.[118]

"Where's the Revolution," the lead single from Spirit, was released 3 February 2017, along with its lyric video. The official video was published a week later, on 9 February,[119] the Global Spirit Tour officially kicked off on 5 May 2017 with a performance in Stockholm, Sweden, at the Friends Arena. The first leg of the tour covered European countries only, ending with a final stadium show in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, at the Cluj Arena, the second leg of the tour will[when?] cover North America and then return to Europe. The North America leg of the tour kicked off in Salt Lake City, Utah, on 23 August, at the USANA Amphitheatre, the band will remain in North America until 15 November when they leave for Dublin and resume the European leg. The band will end the tour in South America with a final show on 27 March 2018 in São Paulo, Brazil, at the Allianz Parque.[120][121]

Artistry[edit]

Depeche Mode drew its artistic influences from a wide range of artists and scenes, such as Kraftwerk,[122] David Bowie, The Clash,[123] Roxy Music and Brian Eno,[124] Elvis Presley, the Velvet Underground,[125] and blues.[126] Depeche Mode's music has mainly been described as synth-pop,[20][94][127][128][129][130] new wave,[100][127][131][132] electronic rock,[133][134][135][136] dance-rock[137][138] and alternative rock.[130] The band also experimented with various other genres throughout its career, including avant-garde, electronica, pop, soul, techno, industrial rock and heavy metal.[139]

In their early years,[when defined as?] Depeche Mode were considered teen idols,[according to whom?] and regularly featured on front covers of magazines such as Smash Hits.[citation needed] Following the departure of Vince Clarke, their music began to take on a darker tone akin to that found in gothic rock, as Martin Gore assumed lead songwriting duties.[130] Gore's lyrical artistry has been recognised as encapsulating themes such as sex, religion, and politics,[140] so much so that many[vague] labelled the band's lyrical and musical themes as dark and bleak.[citation needed] In response, Gore has stated he feels lyrical themes which tackle issues related to solitude and loneliness present more of a realistic character and are a better representation of reality, whereas he finds "happy songs" fake and unrealistic:[141] "I've never seen our music as being over-dark. I think that there is always an element of hope in our music."[142]

Legacy[edit]

Depeche Mode have released a total of 14 studio albums, 10 compilation albums, six live albums, eight box sets, 13 video albums, 71 music videos, and 54 singles, the band have sold over 100 million records worldwide.[2] Depeche Mode have had 50 songs in the UK Singles Chart, and one US and two UK number-one albums;[143] in addition, all of their studio albums have reached the UK Top 10 and their albums have spent over 210 weeks on the UK Charts.[144]

Music critic Sasha Frere-Jones claimed that "the last serious English influence was Depeche Mode, who seem more and more significant as time passes."[undue weight? ][145] Depeche Mode have been nominated for five Grammy Awards; "Devotional" for Best Long Form Music Video, "I Feel Loved" and "Suffer Well", both for Best Dance Recording, Sounds of the Universe for Best Alternative Album and "Wrong" for Best Short Form Music Video. In addition, Depeche Mode have been honoured with a Brit Award for Enjoy the Silence in the Best British Single category, the first-ever Q Magazine Innovation Award, and an Ivor Novello Award for Martin Gore in the category of International Achievement.

Depeche Mode are frequently[according to whom?] praised by the music press; they became "the most popular electronic band the world has ever known" according to Q magazine,[citation needed] "one of the greatest British pop groups of all time" according to The Sunday Telegraph,[146] and "the quintessential eighties techno-pop band" according to Rolling Stone[128] and AllMusic.[127] Depeche Mode were ranked No. 2 on Electronic Music Realm's list of The 100 Greatest Artists of Electronic Music,[147] ranked No. 158 on Acclaimed Music's list of Top 1000 Artists of All Time[148] and Q Magazine included them on their list of "50 bands that changed the world".[3]

Influence[edit]

Depeche Mode have been recognised as making a significant impact on the development of various popular music genres, leading to many artists citing them as an inspiration, including: Marilyn Manson,[149] No Doubt,[150] Deftones,[149] the Pet Shop Boys,[151][152] Derrick May, Juan Atkins,[153] Hurts,[154] The Killers/Brandon Flowers,[154][155] Crosses,[154] Coldplay,[154] Lady Gaga,[154] Muse,[154] Chester Bennington and Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park,[156][157] Televizor,[158] the Crystal Method,[159] God Lives Underwater,[160] Mad at the World,[161] Raymond Herrera of Fear Factory,[162] Funeral for a Friend,[163] La Roux,[164] Gotye,[165] Rammstein,[149][166] Magne Furuholmen of a-ha,[167] Arcade Fire,[168] Nine Inch Nails,[130] Gary Numan,[169] Chvrches[170] and the Bloodhound Gang.[171]

Depeche Mode have been cited as a major influence on heavy metal music,[172] Detroit techno[130] and indie rock.[173]

Charity work[edit]

Depeche Mode have applied their celebrity and cultural longevity to help promote and raise funds for several notable charity endeavours, they lent their support to high-profile charities such as MusiCares, Cancer Research UK and the Teenage Cancer Trust. The band has also supported the Small Steps Project, a humanitarian organisation based in the United Kingdom, aiming to assist economically disadvantaged children into education,[174] since 2010, Depeche Mode have partnered with Swiss watchmaker Hublot to support Charity: Water, aimed at the provision of clean drinking water in developing countries.[175] In 2014, the partnership hosted a gala and fundraiser at the TsUM building in Moscow, raising $1.4 million for the charity.[176]

Band members[edit]

Current members

  • Andy Fletcher – keyboards, backing vocals, bass guitar (1980–present)
  • Martin Gore – keyboards, backing and lead vocals, guitars (1980–present)
  • Dave Gahan – lead vocals (1980–present)

Touring members

Former members

  • Vince Clarke – keyboards, lead and backing vocals, guitars (1980–1981)
  • Alan Wilder – keyboards, piano, backing vocals, drums (1982–1995, one-off show in 2010)
Timeline

Discography[edit]

Studio albums

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]