2001 and 2002

The first track they worked on was Dream On, the single that was released on 23 April 2001. It suited the album's programme: a mixture of electronic beats with an acoustic blues guitar. As has become usual over the last few years, there are many different versions of this song available. The B-side was the instrumental track Easy Tiger. While the version on the album is a short interlude, the version on the single has an extended intro, and continues the song with a similar melody underpinned by a beat.
Martin: "I think we've always made weird pop, and I think Dream On is a great example of that. I don't think it fits into a defined musical category, but we never have, so that's not a particular worry. I just like being able to make music that's different, and if it's successful as well, then that's good."[1]
The video for Dream On was recorded in the desert in California.
Fletch: "It's really a driving video. Mine and Martin's bits were only 15 minutes one afternoon and 15 minutes one evening. Dave saw the whole video in a dream, he said he looked good in it."[2]
It was directed by the French film maker Stéphane Sednaoui. One of the special aspects of the video is that it was filmed on Route 66. Although Anton Corbijn didn't make the videos, he was nevertheless the art director for the sleeves, cover and stage design.

Allegedly, the atmosphere within the team had been excellent (which was to prove to be not quite true a little later).
Fletch: "In the past we weren't getting on as a band or as people. These days, we are getting on better than ever. It's a bizarre situation for Depeche Mode to be happy.[3] We did have a chat together at the start of this album. And any problems that we had with each other we sorted out." (Evidently they didn't because Dave wasn't happy with the situation.) "We can say we had a really good time. I must say I didn't think a few years ago that I'd ever be able to say that. But don't worry, we still argue. We still have those tensions, but a band has to have tensions. Martin is one of my top three, top four friends. Dave I'd consider a brother. I don't have to be Dave's best friend to be in a band with him."[4]
Martin: "Dave and Andy are much more on the same wavelength. I don't know if they'll ever be close buddies, but they definitely get on better these days.[5] I think for the recording of this album, the inter-band relations were particularly good. We were actually able to sit down in a room and discuss things and make decisions, which sounds like a very simple and basic process, but it's something that we at one point would have avoided doing. Often our manager would have had to come to each one individually and talk to us about things; there was all kinds of weird stuff going on like that.[6] We got to a stage where we couldn't make any decisions because it would always end up in a fight. Now band meetings are actually pleasant affairs. I took my daughter to one recently. I wouldn't have considered that a couple of years ago."[7]
Fletch: "It's like a family thing, really. On this record there are four songs with the word 'love' in it. It seems like Exciter is a love album, in a way."
Martin: "That is the main theme for the record - all of my songs are about relationships."[8]
According to rumours, the working title of the album was actually Love.
So much love was almost unbearable, especially for a biographer because it's boring to be honest. ;) There are tons of material from this time but it is all about getting on well. You read through 20 different interviews without finding any quote of interest. This was and is also part of the "new DM". This is, of course, nice for them after all the bad times they had had. One could raise the theory that this band probably needs some tension to produce a good album, but a good album is something different for everyone. Some fans didn't like Exciter, and it caused a lot of discussions but it's still a question of taste, and nothing you can have a real theory about.

On 14 May the album Exciter was released, for which DM received the Q-Award for innovation. Although some fans didn't like it, it sold well. It debuted at No. 9 on the UK Albums Chart and at No. 8 on the Billboard 200, selling 115,000 copies in its first week in the U.S.
Dave: "We liked Ultra and Violator we like to kind of ... like have some kind of theme throughout the years of Depeche Mode. Martin actually came up with the title [Exciter]. And what we did is we had a couple of other titles going on and stuck them up on the wall in the studio and kind of lived with them during the recording. And yeah, it just stuck. It sounds good."[9]
On 4 June the Exciter-Tour started with the U.S.-leg, which comprised 41 concerts and ended on 19 August in Anaheim.
In between, on 20 July, the single I Feel Loved / Dirt was released. In 2002 I Feel Loved was nominated for two Grammy Awards, for Best Dance Recording and the Danny Tenaglia Remix for Best Remixed Recording but lost out. There were four different versions of the song available. The video for I Feel Loved was directed by John Hillcoat. The single's B-side, Dirt, was originally written by The Stooges. It was used on the soundtrack to the film Resident Evil which was released in 2002.
Dave (about I Feel Loved): "I make life hard for myself. I'm in a band, and that's a compromise, and I bring something to Depeche Mode that I think is important and I express myself through somebody else's songs, which has been normal for years for me. I feel so proud of my son, Jack, and when I go home [to New York] my stepson throws his arms around me and my little baby daughter gives me that look - that's what it's all about. It sounds soppy but I really feel loved. I'm working on myself; I'm still very distrusting and stuff but I get these massive moments when it's just like absolute bliss.[10] I miss Jennifer [my wife], and my baby daughter Stella. I really have a life now. I have a life separate from Depeche Mode. It's the first time I've had that in years and I'm determined not to fuck it up. I still make mistakes but I'm there for it. I'm not running away any more."[11]
He seemed to be more relaxed than in previous years, although he wasn't satisfied with Exciter on the whole. He would be the one who brought back some tension into the band. (Probably he also couldn't stand all this love floating around. ;))

About The Dead Of Night Martin explained, "We once lured into the privileged upstairs rookeries of London's poshest after-hours drinking establishments like Soho House, the Groucho Club, and Brown's. And it was a really sad scene. You had three levels - the regular bit downstairs, the slightly VIP but on the second floor, then upstairs the total VIP-VIP bit, which at Brown's was called the Red Room. And you got there, and everyone was taking so many drugs because it was commonly known that it was perfectly cool to take drugs there. So the Red Room for me was the 'Zombie Room', because everyone in there was always talking way too fast, saying nothing and just staring. And while you're there, all these people in the room are your best mates in the world. But the next day, if you bump into one of them on the street, you won't even know their name."[12]



Exciter

(with friendly permission of © Karen (°°k°°)



Some journalists shared the feeling of boredom, and dared to ask about "darker topics". For Alan for example, what consequences his departure had, especially on the sound of the last two albums.
Fletch: "I do feel that Alan was a very important part of Depeche Mode and we do miss his input quite a lot."
Dave: "That's very humble and kind of you, I'm sure Alan would appreciate that comment a lot." (laughs)
Fletch: "To be honest, I think we got well-rounded by working with some interesting people that perhaps have got more involved because of Alan's departure. Alan would have tended to take more control in the studio; it meant we had to rely on other people coming in, and so far we've been lucky."[13]
As it has been mentioned before - Alan was one of those questions that were repeated constantly. The band tried to fend it off, and finally one could get the impression that Alan had never been a part of DM. The same happened to the drugs theme.
Martin: "I'm bored to tears with talking about drugs. It seems anyone we ever talk to these days just wants to talk about drugs. Everyone's drug-obsessed. And, yeah, there have been drugs but, you know, that all happened so long ago - it's just so boring now. I don't know why you always have to talk about drugs. We did some interviews with some magazines and when they printed them, they were just all about drugs."[14]
At a certain point the band would claim that they couldn't remember anything about that time. This is understandable, as it is wearying to be asked the same questions all over again. On the other hand, they sometimes came across as rather impolite.

Growing older, they made quite a journey of self-discovery.
Fletch: "In the old days, we'd come into L.A. for seven or eight days, and we'd immediately be checking out where every party is, every happening club. But last night was different. I woke up this morning and thought, 'God, I wish I hadn't had those extra two drinks!'' I can't do my best on a hangover."
It's amusing that he was using almost the same words as Alan when asked, "why are you so f*** boring in the studio?"
Martin: "I completely agree with Andy. In the past, we would've been out partying every single night that we were here. But last night was the first night this week that we actually ventured out of our hotel rooms, and only because of that one Grammy party. And I'm not saying that I didn't drink more than I should have, but I was aware of it. In the past, I would not have been aware of it. My main goal would've been to get as wild as possible and not care about the following day."[15]
Dave: "I put myself in a position to speak very openly about all the stuff that I was going through and it becomes the next person's story and some of it was sad. It came across as sensationalism and it was anything but sensational. What I was trying to get across was how pathetic my life had become and how I let that happen. At least that was an honest depiction of what was going on. I was talking about it way too much and I was really lost - it came across like I was the first and the only junkie in the world that had been through it - but I lived like that. I take great comfort today in knowing that I'm one of millions of people desperately sadly looking for someone in their lives to make them feel good about themselves. The way I felt was so new to me, being clean and stuff, that's all I wanted to talk about because I wanted everybody else to feel that and there was a different way."[16]
About his Tattoos: "I regret all of them. I think I had some weird sense of putting myself through a lot of pain and, from that, I thought I was becoming stronger."[17]
Nevertheless, he's still showing them off whenever there's an opportunity. ;) This reminds me of a quotation of Ron Young (Little Ceasar): "Musicians are exhibitionists. What any other reason they should have to show off themselves in front of so many people? Tattoos are for people who like to show off themselves - these two things go hand in hand. It's the same with a great soul-singer who shows off lots of emotions. Tattoos show off parts of your soul on your skin."[18]

Besides Dave said, "From the start of Depeche Mode, Fletch and Martin were obviously real friends. They went to school together and I was the odd one out, and basically I've continued to be the odd one out throughout the whole life of Depeche Mode. We're very different personalities and I know Fletch and Martin hang out, but I don't think we'd ever hang out as a band. We do occasionally go to the pub and have a drink together, but that's it really. But that's alright, I'm OK with that now.[19] I have a feeling that Martin respects me as much as I respect him but he has an inability to actually acknowledge it. Martin's not the sort of person who turns around and pats you on the back and goes, 'That's fantastic.' To be honest, I wouldn't know what to do with that anyway."[20]



Dave

(with friendly permission of © Keyou Arian)



They also wonder about their fans and what would happen when both - themselves and the fans - grew older.
Martin: "I find it stranger every single time we put a record out and wherever we go we're followed by these obsessive fans. I mean they are so obsessive, and it's a real sort of compliment. But, I don't know, as you get older, maybe around sixty, I wonder if they'll still be there." (laughs) "Cause they're not much younger than us. We'll have grannies following us."
Dave: "We do have. In the hotel, there's a couple of fans that have their baby with them. There was another couple of fans that told me they wanted to come, and they have children, and their children were at home with babysitters and stuff like that. So I don't know, it's like, this little baby was already wearing black. It was a bit worrying!"[21]

Towards the end of the chapter a little tit-bit - Dave was on a radio show, a snippet of Surrender was played to him and he was supposed to guess which song it was.
Interviewer: "And you can't even identify it?"
Dave: "I haven't got a clue what it is."
Interviewer: "But it really is you, Dave?"
Dave: "Yeah. That is me. Yes ..."
Interviewer: "You should see the look on his face. He's like, 'I can't figure out what this is.'"
Dave: "I ... you know ..."
The question was given to the audience and finally someone phoned the radio station.
Dave: "It's probably Martin." (All laugh.)
But it was a girl who knew the right answer.
Dave: "Surrender! That was it! I knew that! I knew that ..."
Interviewer: "You SHOULD know that. You sang it!"
Dave: "I was getting there."
Girl: "Yeah. What a beautiful song it is. It's so beautiful, I always listen to it."
Dave: "Which album? Or ... was it like a B-side or?"
Girl: "Right. It comes out on Only When I Lose Myself."
Dave: "There you go. It was the B-side."
Interviewer: "She came up with it, right there. One mystery solved, right there."
Dave: "I knew that. I was just testing." (All laugh.)[22]

The European leg of the tour began on 28 August 2001 in Tallinn, comprising 43 concerts, and ended on 5 November. Altogether, they were performing to over 1.5 million people in 24 countries. A second European leg was planned for the summer of 2002, but never materialised.
On the same day, on 5 November, the single Freelove / Zenstation was released. The single version of Freelove is completely remixed from the album version. It was done by Flood although he had previously said he never wanted to work with DM again but of course, you don't need to when remixing a song. There also were some different versions of the song available. The single's B-side Zenstation is an instrumental track. There also was a DVD release of Freelove. It contained video footage of Freelove from the Philadelphia concert in 2001, as well as audio of some of other songs. The video was directed by Anton Corbijn.
Before, on 3 September, The Singles 81-98+ had been released.
In 2002 Mute was sold for L 23 Mio to EMI. (Daniel Miller stayed managing director of the label, though.) And so finally, DM ended up as an EMI-act, something they had always tried to avoid. Nevertheless, they kept some of their independence.
At the same time, Fletch founded his own label Toast Hawaii. He mainly was busy to market the band Client.
On 11 February 2002 the single Goodnight Lovers was released. The single did not qualify for the UK Singles Chart because it had too many songs on it. Singles with more than one unique track need no more than three tracks while this single had four. The single's B-sides were an acoustic version of When the Body Speaks, the Electronicat Remix of The Dead of Night and the Isan Falling Leaf Mix of Goodnight Lovers. The music video for Goodnight Lovers was directed by John Hillcoat, filmed in Germany following the final Exciter-Tour concert in Mannheim.
On 27 May the concert video One Night in Paris, and on 25 November The Videos 89-98+ were released.






References:
[1] The Story Of Depeche Mode, BBC Radio London Live94.9, 7 May 2001. Producer: Tony Wood.
[2] Andy Fletcher Interview, Dotmusic, 4 May 2001. Words: Uncredited.
[3] Mode in Britain, Hot Tickets, 12-18 October 2001. Words: Andrew Panos.
[4] Just Can't Get Enough, Uncut, May 2001. Words: Stephen Dalton.
[5] Hard drugs, alcoholism, nervous breakdowns at last Depeche Mode find, The Sunday Herald, 11 April 2001. Words: Uncredited.
[6] Article in Virtually Alternative, April 2001, Words: Sat Bisla.
[7] Hard drugs, alcoholism, nervous breakdowns at last Depeche Mode find, The Sunday Herald, 11 April 2001. Words: Uncredited.
[8] Article in Virtually Alternative, April 2001, Words: Sat Bisla.
[9] Interview with Dave, KROQ, 19 February 2001. DJs: Kevin and Bean.
[10] In the Mode for Love, Time Out, 4 April 2001. Words: Omer Ali.
[11] Many Smack-Free Returns! Q, June 2001. Words: Dorian Lynskey.
[12] Article in Flaunt, May 2001, Words: Tom Lonham.
[13] Article in Virtually Alternative, April 2001, Words: Sat Bisla.
[14] Time for a clean living Mode, Sunday Express, 22 April 2001. Words: Dominic Utton.
[15] Article in Flaunt, May 2001, Words: Tom Lonham.
[16] In the Mode for Love, Time Out, 4 April 2001. Words: Omer Ali.
[17] The Survivor, FHM, June 2001. Words: Caroline Rees.
[18] Metal Hammer, exact source can't be found anymore
[19] The Basildon Bond, The Times Magazine, 14 April 2001. Words: Paul Connolly.
[20] Many Smack-Free Returns! Q, June 2001. Words: Dorian Lynskey.
[21] Depeche Mode - Press Conference, Valentino Hotel, Hamburg, 3 March 2001.
[22] Interview with Dave, KROQ, 19 February 2001. DJs: Kevin and Bean.



Biography: 2003

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