Depeche Mode

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For other uses, see Depeche Mode (disambiguation).
Missing image
The bandmembers of Depeche Mode circa 1993. From the left: Alan Wilder, Andrew Fletcher, David Gahan, and Martin Gore.

Depeche Mode was originally founded in 1980 as a synth pop band in the town of Basildon, England. They are one of the longest-lived and most successful bands to have emerged during the New Wave/New Romantic era. Depeche Mode had many videos heavily rotated on MTV and MuchMusic. As of 2005, Depeche Mode have sold over 50 million albums worldwide.

The three current members of Depeche Mode are:

Former members include:

  • Vince Clarke (songwriting, keyboards), from 1980 to 1981.
  • Alan Wilder (keyboards, drums, songwriting), from 1982 to 1995.


Early History

Depeche Mode's origins can be traced back to 1976, when Vince Clarke and Andrew Fletcher formed a band known as "No Romance in China." The band was unsuccessful and in 1979, Vince Clarke formed a new band named "French Look" with Martin Gore. Andrew Fletcher then became part of the band and it was renamed "Composition of Sound." David Gahan joined the band in 1980 after Vince Clarke heard him perform at a local gig, and "Depeche Mode" was born. The new name was taken from a French fashion magazine, "Dpche-mode", which translates to "fashion news-magazine".

The band became part of Daniel Miller's Mute label by verbal contract, and released their first album, Speak and Spell, in 1981. Soon after, Vince Clarke left to form a new band, Yazoo (Yaz in the US) with Alison Moyet, The Assembly with Feargal Sharkey, Dave Clempson and Eric Radcliffe, and later Erasure with Andy Bell.

After Vince's departure, Martin Gore, who had written "Tora! Tora! Tora!" and "Big Muff" on their debut album, took over as the band's primary song-writer and in 1982 the album A Broken Frame was released. After this, Alan Wilder joined the band as a permanent replacement for Clarke. He wrote "The Landscape is Changing" and "Two Minute Warning" for their 1983 album, Construction Time Again, as well as "Fools," the B-side to the Love in Itself single, "In Your Memory," the B-side to the People Are People single, and "If You Want" on the 1984 album Some Great Reward, but his main contribution to Depeche Mode was in the technical and musical production aspects.

In the early 1980s the band's popularity was largely confined to Europe (particularly Germany) and their style was Synth pop. In 1984 Depeche Mode made in-roads into America, which spawned the North American-only release of the People Are People EP and the compilation Catching Up With Depeche Mode featuring their first minor cross-over hit People Are People, and (along with Duran Duran), showcasing their their pioneering talents as self remixers.

This period is seen as the begining of the band's long association with America's Gothic movement. This initially owed perhaps much more to its sound than to its image as a result of the band's late exposure to the American market and to its unfortunate string of inconsistent, budget-driven music videos prior to this time. As first heard with their late 1984 single "Blasphemous Rumours", a bitter commentary on the unfairness of life and with 1985's dour "It's Called a Heart" B-side "Fly on the Windscreen" (soon thereafter remixed and released as "Fly on the Windscreen - Final" on their 1986 release Black Celebration), lead songwriter Martin began a decade long journey into the realm of dark, brooding synthesized music, interweaving religion, sex, and redemption in minor-keyed gloom. It was a sound that many associated with the ascendent Goth movement of the time - an image the band tried to later downplay with little effect. It didn't help that Martin began showing up at photoshoots and performing onstage wearing leather skirts and black nail polish either.

After a brilliant video of their 1986 single A Question of Time began to garner a lot of attention, its director Anton Corbijn began a long and lasting friendship and working relationship with the band, eventually directing 19 of their videos (the last being 2001's "Freelove") and finally giving the world a coherent, marketable image of the "Boys from Basildon". For his part, Anton Corbijn, an internationally renowned photographer and a newly emerging music video director (U2's "Pride (In the Name of Love)" (1984) and Echo and the Bunnymen's "Bring on the Dancing Horses" (1985)) was catapulted into near stardom, eventually directing music videos for the likes of Joy Division ("Atmosphere" (1988)), Front 242 ("Headhunter" (1988), "Tragedy for You" (1991)), Bryan Adams, Nirvana, and U2 ("One" (1991), "Please" (1997), "Electrical Storm" (2002)). With this new look and a bold sound that began to resonate with an emerging taste for all things Gothic in the US, everything suddenly came together for Depeche Mode on the heels of their ironically titled 1987 album Music for the Masses and followup US 1988 tour where they played to sold-out venues in places (like Nashville, TN) that nobody had previously thought possible.

Middle History

In the intervening years between the mid-80s and 90s, the band's popularity in the US grew to massive proportions, as did their influence on the emerging techno and electronica music scenes through the late 80s and 90s. Techno pioneers such as Derrick May, Kevin Saunderson, Juan Atkins, and Moby regularly quoted Depeche Mode as an influence in their development of proto-techno music during the Detroit Techno explosion in the late 80s.

The 1988 Music for the Masses tour culminated in a final concert at the Pasadena Rose Bowl with a sell-out attendance of 80,000 (the highest in 8 years for the venue). The tour was documented in a film by D.A. Pennebaker, recently released on DVD, which is notable for its portrayal of fan interaction. An album release of the concert, titled 101 (the show was the 101st and final stop on the tour) became a bestseller in 1989.

Later that year, DM convened in Milan, where they had just finished recording their latest single "Personal Jesus". The release of this bluesy country-western influenced song was preceded by advertisements in the personal columns of UK regional newspapers using just the words "Your own personal Jesus." This campaign was followed by a series of the same ads containing a phone number which, when dialed, played the song. Despite (or perhaps because of) the ensuing controversy, the single soared to number 13 on the UK charts, becoming one of their biggest sellers and their first gold single in the US.

In Feb 1990, "Enjoy the Silence", their most successful single to date, reached #8 in the US charts (#6 in the UK) and has since become their signature song. To underscore the impact of their success, the band even whipped 17,000 fans in Los Angeles into a near riot at an in-store autograph signing to promote the release of their new studio album Violator. The album was a Top Ten sensation. Ticket sales for the World Violation Tour went through the roof. In New York, DM sold 40,000 tickets for their Giants Stadium show within 8 hours, and 48,000 tickets to their Dodger Stadium show in L.A. were gone within one hour of going on sale. Depeche Mode were bonafide superstars.

By 1991, Depeche Mode had emerged as one of the world's most successful acts, relying on their "techno" sound to distiguish themselves. But in 1992, when Dave decided he didn't want to make another "dance" record, Martin sent a demo comprised of "electrifying, bluesy" songs for their next album. 1993's Songs of Faith and Devotion, a rock oriented record that "butched up" the Depeche Mode sound, marked a decisive move away from their trademark keyboards and heavily synth pop-influenced sound... indeed, in a CD booklet, Dave Gahan is instead pictured lovingly holding an acoustic guitar - a far cry from the synthpop ideal of 'keyboards with everything'. The album debuted at number 1 in both the US and the UK. It marked a series of firsts: first use of live drums by the band (Wilder), their first use of outside musicians, and the first truly "alternative" album to acheive this distinguished double number 1 debut. Highlights from the album include the country-blues-meets-techno song "I Feel You", the soulful "Walking in My Shoes", and the Butch Vig (of later Garbage fame) remixed version of "In Your Room". The album was followed up by a gruelling 14 month tour that took the band to places as far flung as Australia, South Africa, Latin America, and Hong Kong.

However, at the very peak of their success, the strain of a solid year-and-a-half on the road took its toll on the band. The cracks were starting to show, and the group began to unravel, with Fletcher even declining to participate the second "exotic" leg of their Devotional tour.

In June 1995 after the 'Devotional' tour, Alan Wilder shocked fans by leaving the band citing "unsatisfactory internal working conditions", while continuing to work on his personal project Recoil. It has been suggested that a failure of the band to recognize its own brand appeal in previous records may have played some part in his departure, with other factors including the drug addiction issues of Dave Gahan; Martin Gore's admission of "battling his own demons" at this time; and growing tensions between Wilder and Andrew Fletcher. Wilder himself has stated that he contributed a lion's share of work while receiving the least credit on past albums. Nothing that Depeche Mode has released since Wilder's departure disproves the notion that, whilst Gore was capable of generating excellent source material, it was Wilder that turned it into something particularly Mode-ish.

Immediately on the heels of Wilder's departure came the news that lead singer Dave Gahan survived a suicide attempt at his home in L.A. and later entered a drug rehab program to battle an addiction to heroin. Success, it seemed, had come at too high a price.

After a four year hiatus, during which it seemed certain that Depeche Mode had broken up for good, Dave, fresh out of rehab, teamed up with band members Martin and Andy to see if there was enough chemistry still between them to continue on as a band. After a productive series of sessions working with some new demos Martin had written during the interim, including the songs "Sister of Night" and "Useless", the band was confident they could produce a new record. Teaming up with producer Tim Simenon, the band held recording sessions in late 1996 and released the album Ultra and its first single "Barrel of a Gun" in 1997 to wide acclaim. Although declining to tour in support of the album (likely so as not to repeat the excesses of the Devotional Tour), the album again debuted at #1, but fell through the charts shortly thereafter.

A retrospective work, simply titled The Singles (86-98) followed the next year, which included the new single "Only When I Lose Myself". Now that all members were ready to tour, the band set off on a 4 month Singles Tour that cemented their position along the likes of U2, the Rolling Stones, and Rod Stewart as somewhat of a permanent attraction, in which album chart positions don't affect their concert attendance figures.

Depeche Mode Today

While Depeche Mode remains quite popular in the US, Western Europe and Australia,, its most loyal fan base and widest appeal seems to lie in Central Europe and Russia, fed by the timely confluence of several key events in this part of the world in the early 90's: the then world-wide popularity of DM and synth music in general (which has since waned in the US), the collapse of communism, and the rise of the internet with the instant access this brought to a region thirsting for western music and ideals. Today there are countless fan-created web sites, in nearly every language, propelling the band to perpetual fame.

In 2001, Depeche Mode released the unfortunately titled Exciter, which did not place well in the charts outside of Continental Europe. Although it spawned several dance club hits such as Danny Tenaglia's remixes of "I Feel Loved", to many fans the album felt uninspired and underproduced, although the record was noted as containing some of the strongest vocal stylings of Dave Gahan since joining the band. Web blogs from L.A. to Sydney questioned if this wasn't a manifestation that indeed Depeche Mode had in essence broken up with the departure of Alan Wilder in 1995. With little to distingish this outing from earlier solo projects, Martin and Dave seemed to sense that this would be a good time to busy themselves with new solo efforts.

2003 saw the release of Dave Gahan's solo album, Paper Monsters, followed by a worldwide tour and a DVD taken from it, titled Live Monsters; Martin Gore continued his solo career with the release of Counterfeit 2 (a furthering of re-recordings of some of Martin's most beloved and influential songs first canonized in his 1989 release Counterfeit); and Andrew Fletcher launched his own label, Toast Hawaii.

In August 2004, Mute released the DVD version of "Devotional," filmed during their world tour in 1993, and a new remix compilation album Remixes 81-04 that covers some new & unreleased promo mixes of the singles from 1981 to 2004, highlighted with a re-release and new renditions of their timeworn classic "Enjoy the Silence." This single peaked at #7 in the UK, but did poorly in the US, where most fans yawned at the mostly cheezy clone-like euro-pop remixes that populated this single.

In November 2004, it was announced on the band's [site (|offical)] that the band was planning on going into the studio to record an album in early 2005 with producer Ben Hillier. As of June 2005, the album is currently being recorded, with a tenative October 2005 release date.

On 16 June 2005 the band held a press conference to outline plans for their 2005/2006 tour. Dates for the 2006 European leg were finalised, while the late-2005 North American dates are yet to be released.


Studio Albums

  1. Speak & Spell (1981)
  2. A Broken Frame (1982)
  3. Construction Time Again (1983)
  4. People Are People (EP) (1984)
  5. Some Great Reward (1984)
  6. Black Celebration (1986)
  7. Music for the Masses (1987)
  8. Violator (1990)
  9. Songs of Faith and Devotion (1993)
  10. Ultra (1997)
  11. Exciter (2001)



1980's 1990's 2000's
  • Dreaming Of Me (1981) #57 UK
  • New Life (1981) #11 UK
  • Just Can't Get Enough (1981) #8 UK
  • See You (1982) #6 UK
  • The Meaning of Love (1982) #12 UK
  • Leave In Silence (1982) #18 UK
  • Get the Balance Right (1983) #13 UK
  • Everything Counts (1983) #6 UK
  • Love In Itself (1983) #21 UK
  • People Are People (1984) #4 UK; #13 US
  • Master and Servant (1984) #9 UK; #87 US
  • Blasphemous Rumours / Somebody (1984) #16 UK
  • Shake the Disease (1985) #18 UK
  • It's Called a Heart (1985) #18 UK
  • Stripped (1986) #15 UK
  • A Question of Lust (1986) #28 UK
  • A Question of Time (1986) #17 UK
  • But Not Tonight (US release) (1986)
  • Strangelove (1987) #16 UK; #50 US
  • Never Let Me Down Again (1987) #22 UK; #63 US
  • Behind the Wheel (1987) #21 UK; #61 US
  • Little 15 (1988) (FR release) #60 UK
  • Everything Counts (Live) (1989) #22 UK
  • Personal Jesus (1989) #13 UK; #28 US
  • Enjoy the Silence (1990) #6 UK; #8 US
  • Policy Of Truth (1990) #16 UK; #15 US
  • World In My Eyes (1990) #17 UK; #52 US
  • X1 Disc 1: The Twelve Inches (Uno) (1991)
  • X1 Disc 2: The Twelve Inches (Zwei) (1991)
  • X1 Disc 3: The Twelve Inches (Trois) (1991)
  • X1 Disc 4: Strange Mixes (Four) (1991)
  • X2 Disc 5: Instrumentals (Cinco) (1991)
  • X2 Disc 6: B-Sides (Sex) (1991)
  • X2 Disc 7: Live One (Cemb) (1991)
  • X2 Disc 8: Live Two (Oziem) (1991)
  • I Feel You (1993) #8 UK; #37 US
  • Walking In My Shoes (1993) #14 UK; #69 US
  • Condemnation (1993) #9 UK
  • In Your Room (1994) #8 UK
  • Barrel Of a Gun (1997) #4 UK; #47 US
  • It's No Good (1997) #5 UK; #38 US
  • Home (1997) #23 UK; #88 US
  • Useless (1997) #28 UK
  • Only When I Lose Myself (1998) #17 UK; #61 US
  • Dream On (2001) #6 UK; #85 US
  • I Feel Loved (2001) #12 UK
  • Freelove (2001) #19 UK
  • Goodnight Lovers (2002)
  • Enjoy the Silence 04 (2004) #7 UK

See Also

External links

es:Depeche Mode fr:Depeche Mode hu:Depeche Mode it:Depeche Mode ja:デペッシュ・モード pl:Depeche Mode pt:Depeche Mode fi:Depeche Mode sv:Depeche Mode


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