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“People who romanticise the booze and drugs lifestyle should try living it,” says Martin Gore. Here, Basildon’s kings of electro-sleaze seem reinvigorated as they discuss 30 years of highs, lows and landmark LPs, and look forward to the release of a new one. “It’s a good time to be in this band,’” they tell us… Interview: Stephen Dalton. Originally published in Uncut’s May 2009 issue (Take 144).

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SPEAK & SPELL
MUTE, 1981
Produced by Mute label boss Miller, the band’s debut was clean, chart-friendly synth-pop. And largely written by Vince Clarke, who left to form Yazoo soon afterwards.

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MARTIN GORE, guitar, keyboards: It’s a different band, literally. Vince was at the helm and he wrote nearly all the songs. It sounds totally different to anything else we’ve done. Even the next album, A Broken Frame [1982], was a slight departure, though it still had its roots in bubblegum.
ANDY FLETCHER, keyboards: Vince was definitely still in charge at that time. I still have fond memories of being in the studio for the first time, being young and very naïve but luckily having Daniel to help us get through it. We were a boy band, basically. We were kids. But we were never groomed like these kids today. We didn’t go to stage school, we didn’t learn to dance from the age of two.
GORE: Vince told us before the actual release date that he was leaving. We never thought about stopping. It’s one of the luxuries of youth that you don’t worry too much about those things.
FLETCHER: When we started our accountant did a tax plan for us to last three years, and we’ve done that by 10 times now. But he was only going by what happens to most groups.
DAVE GAHAN, vocals: Speak & Spell is a solid album, whether you like it or not. I still think of it as Vince’s album – and all the records he’s made since sound exactly the same. Ha ha!

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