Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan: “The excess became the priority”

Gahan, Martin Gore and Andy Fletcher take us through their greatest albums

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MUTE, 1983
A harder industrial sound with new boy Alan Wilder helping the Mode shake off their “boy band” past. Partly recorded in Berlin, it includes the hit “Everything Counts”.

FLETCHER: That was really exciting. Samplers were coming in, and we went to Berlin to mix the album. Things were really starting to move on.
GORE: That’s when we first started stretching ourselves. Even the decision to go to Berlin was a big deal for us. We’d never spent much time outside England, apart from a couple of little tours. FLETCHER: We were in the mix room at Hansa, with the speakers on the terrace, playing “Everything Counts” with Russian soldiers in the towers 150 yards away. The weather was great, blue skies. It was a good feeling. Berlin did affect things. For Depeche Mode it was always about getting out of our domestic stuff. We’d had a nosedive with the tracks on A Broken Frame, but then “Everything Counts” went to No 6 .
GORE: Berlin was significant for me personally, as before that I’d been going out with a devout Christian who really had me on reins. She was ridiculous. Anything was perverted. If I watched something on TV and there was somebody naked, I was a pervert. When I finally left her, I started going out with a girl in Berlin and suddenly discovered all this freedom.



MUTE, 1984
An appropriate title: this clever, catchy set earned Depeche Mode their first serious chart success in America, going platinum.

GORE: We did half the recording in Berlin. Lots of sampling. I remember Some Great Reward being a bit of struggle. I don’t think we quite got our heads around the fact that albums took so long to make. We started to focus more, maybe because we’d had a bit of success we could spend a bit more time. It was a nightmare – we spent nine days to mix one track. You’re really going up your own arsehole if you spend nine days mixing something. It was probably a case of too many cooks. I remember me, Andy and Dave all left that project early to go on holiday. We all had holidays booked and we ran out of time. We left Daniel, Gareth Jones and Alan to finish the mixing. We’d had enough by that stage. That’s the big difference with the new album, we were actually quite sad when we finished that project. We weren’t sad when we finished Some Great Reward.
FLETCHER: “Master And Servant”, “People Are People”, “Blasphemous Rumours”: those were the first big singles we had in America [“People Are People” made No 13]. We didn’t think we had a chance in Hell. We did a couple of small tours there, gave it a break, then went back and it was like The Beatles! Hysteria!
GAHAN: We thought we were never going back to America again. But by the time of Some Great Reward this underground cult was really building, and we were playing to much bigger audiences. There was an enthusiasm that we weren’t getting in England.
GORE: When we first went over with Speak & Spell, we were playing in clubs of 1,500 people. We went back with Some Great Reward and we were playing to 15,000 people a night…


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