2010 and 2011

The last leg of the tour - another European one - started on 9 January 2010 in Berlin, comprised 24 concerts and ended on 27 February in Dusseldorf. Luckily on this leg there weren't any incidents.
The concert on 17 February was a very special one. It was the first time in their career that DM did something they had never wanted to do: they played a charity concert.
Martin: It's "something we should have done long time before. A friend of us is part of the Teenage Cancer Trust and asked us to join in."
I don't know if they should have done this before. They never wanted to be one of those bands who "push their career with charity." Many fans liked DM because of their being consistent, and different to mainstream bands. Although the good cause was appreciated, the new opinion of the band about charity nevertheless caused some discussion among the fans. (It became even more charity with the next release, Delta Machine.)
However, everything was special about this concert. It took place in the Royal Albert Hall (funny when you think about what especially Dave thinks about British symbols - nothing good) in London, and they had a special guest.
Martin: "We asked Alan to join us on stage. It's a long time ago that we saw him. I think it's nine years ago that I saw him the last time and we asked him to play one song with us tonight and he very kindly agreed."[1]
Alan: "Well, I got a call from Dave and he just said: 'we would like to invite you to take part at this event, the Teenage Cancer Trust.' And my reaction was that I hoped, it was the whole band who wanted it not just Dave. So I asked him that question and he said, 'yes, definitively.' And so I didn't think twice about it because it's a great thing to do for many reasons, y'know, the good cause, getting together after such a long time ..."

So he joined Martin for Somebody on stage.
Alan: "To choose Somebody was quite natural. It was the song that makes sense for this. We wouldn't have much time to rehearse. Luckily it was all still there. It's still here in my veins."
It seems that the band and especially Alan enjoyed the show.
Alan: "The reaction of the crowd was a bit special, very heart warming, emotional, I got goosebumps ... it was a great day. It was not only that moment, it was seeing Martin and Fletch and Dave again. We had a good chat and it was good to see them again. I haven't seen Martin and Fletch for a long time, it was really interesting to catch up. And Martin was on very good form I thought, not just vocally but in himself. He seemed sharper, more focused and more open than I have ever known him. It's a little piece of history for us, y'know. Being on stage with Depeche since ... 1994 ... the end of the Songs of Faith and Devotion-Tour ... about 16 years."
That the reaction of the crowd was "a bit special" is the understatement of the century. People hadn't known before that Alan would be on stage, so the crowd almost "exploded" when they realised that he was playing the piano. They screamed, shouted, cried and were difficult to silence. Maybe it was the most emotional DM moment ever.

A few days later Alan had the opportunity to watch a DM concert for the first time in his life from the audience, something he had never wanted to do.
"At Royal Albert Hall I hadn't got the time and opportunity to watch the show properly. But tonight I got an impression of how it is to watch a Depeche Mode show. It was a very interesting and enjoyable experience. Y'know, I had feelings for every song because I know them all so well ... so ... y'know when you hear the versions they play now you remember the versions we used to do. I thought some of the versions were really good, and some I wasn't so keen on. I felt the same about the stage set, too - some things looked great, and some didn't work for me. The sound balance was poor unfortunately, but neither that nor the staging could be blamed on the band. Their own performance was impressive. Dave was on good form and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Martin's song Home sounded especially good. The after-show was fun and I was able to catch up with all kinds of people I hadn't seen for a long time. I missed Dave however as he always disappears as soon as he leaves the stage.[2] They talked about "mainly usual things that you chat about with people, you know, families, what their habits are these days, do they still drink as much as they used to do, how is the partying situation on tour ... I mean, things have actually changed quite a lot with Depeche Mode since I was in the band. Martin doesn't drink anymore, Dave goes home after every show so he doesn't go out anymore. We used to go to big parties after every concert. So, it must be a very different thing for them to be on the road these days. But in their personal lives things have changed a lot, I think. I was very impressed with Martin because he has been sober for four years and he is like a new person, someone I almost didn't recognize."[3]
Dave left the venue right after the concert and didn't talk much to Alan but nevertheless, he appreciated Alan's input.
"I think Playing The Angel was great but Alan always brought something extra to Martin's songs. We email each other and when he joined us on stage for the Teenage Cancer Trust concert at the Royal Albert Hall in 2010, it was awesome. When Alan left we missed him and it became apparent on the next couple of albums for sure."[4]



Dave

(with friendly permission of © Jérôme Pouille)



This is a good reason to do some surveys about how much Alan is still present to the fans. The result of a survey in a big message board was that 69% want him back as a band member, and 20% at least as a producer. The survey of depechemodebiographie.de had similar results. For 71% he "still belongs to the band somehow" (at least as a legend), and for 21% he is even still a part of the band today, "because he was part of them at their highest point and had a big influence on their music and success." For the minority, however, he is the "most nerve-racking discussion whenever it comes to DM."
The appearance at the Royal Albert Hall and the promotion for his own tour took place almost at the same time, so one could come to the conclusion one fan had: "It's amazing that it is mostly Alan, who is using the history of DM for his own project."

Alan had a difficult time after the release of SubHuman in 2007. "I separated from my wife and now have a lovely new partner, Britt. It has been a difficult two years.[5] I share custody of my children so you have to plan 6 months ahead in your diary, who is going to have them when etc, and I have to fit the music somewhere in the gaps.[6] That has made working on a new album almost impossible, although I have made a start on new material but it's a long way off being near to completion."[7]
Instead, he started the Selected-Tour on 12 March. The first leg comprised 24 events, mainly in Europe, and ended on 18 May. The idea to tour Recoil evolved when Alan decided to undertake some promo visits. But he didn't want to keep making personal appearances to sign CDs and shake hands. "I just couldn't do the same thing over again - I needed to do something more, so it evolved from that."[8] So he decided to do a kind of audio/visual presentation, a mixture of DJing and playing live, while showing special films.

On 19 April Selected was released, a kind of Best Of Recoil.
Alan: "Mute Records approached me with an idea for a compilation and it was initially just going to be a quick 'best of' selection. But we then started to discuss releasing it on multiple formats and performing it live so the project got bigger and bigger. I had to decide which were my favourite tracks and which ones worked together. I really wanted to avoid a mish-mash which most compilations are. So this involved going through a lot of the old master tapes to pick out the best versions and even 'baking' some of the tapes in an oven to prepare them for digital mastering. The weird thing about this baking process is that I found a lot of these older tape versions sounded better than the digital masters I originally walked out of the studio with. So hopefully the tracks on the compilation sound better than the versions of the original albums!"[9]
Nevertheless, the most requently-asked question, of course, was whether there might be a reunion with DM. Alan got tired of it quite soon. It started with a friendly "I doubt you'll see me in the Depeche Mode line-up in the near future. They haven't asked me being their producer. It would certainly be weird",[10] went on to "Well, we've not discussed anything like that so there aren't any plans. But you never know",[11] then to "It's just boring - it's the question I get asked more than any other"[12] and ended up in saying nothing at all when the question was put forward again.
The second leg of the Selected-Tour started on 16 October. This time it was more concentrated on the U.S. and South America, but there were also some more events in Europe afterwards. The tour ended on 4 December in Budapest.
The reunion rumour was fed with Martin DJing at the event in Santa Ana on 24 October, and Dave appearing as a guest at the event in New York on 1 November.

The discussions about whether Alan might re-join DM again or at least might produce their new album eased off when it became clear that DM would produce Delta Machine with Ben Hillier again. But it never really stopped.
The reasons why Alan had left the band were brought up again - each time a different one - and were used to substantiate the different opinions as to whether Alan might or might not re-join the band.
Even if you left out all his other reasons - family, his own projects, not wanting to be in a band anymore - the "driving force" in his leaving the band after Devotional, the bad team-spirit, would be the main reason for not re-joining. Why should something that didn't work anymore 20 years ago suddenly work again? Because everyone had grown older, become wiser? I don't think so. In fact, the working methods of DM and Alan have become more different over the years than ever before. They would find the same situation again, with Alan focused on studio work (maybe more than ever, remember what he said about recording Liquid), while the others aren't really interested or meanwhile have become interested, but nevertheless use different working methods. Martin has started to develop a fondness for studio work. "I love being in the studio. If I'm at home, I will go to the studio pretty much every day anyway. It's just something that I like to do."[30] I don't think this new passion would work with Alan's passion for studio work.
The former musical heads, Alan and Martin, have developed in different musical directions over the course of time. They are farther away from each other in their musical interests than ever before. Listening to SubHuman and then to Delta Machine is all you need to do to know how these two see "electronic with Blues elements."
Although some people think that the most interesting thing about DM was the combination of these two extremes, that it was this "that made it work" as some people say, I doubt that they are really interested in trying it again. Maybe both sides thought about it at one point or another, especially after Alan's appearance at the Royal Albert Hall (and insiders say not all rumours about a reunion were baseless), but it's hard to say if it was a heart's desire.

And what would happen to Dave and his new role as a songwriter? Maybe he would be the one who would benefit most from working together with Alan. On the other hand, it's probably much too late. It would have been interesting to know what would have happened if Dave had played his early demos to Alan, and had asked him if they could work them out together. Maybe the whole story of DM would have taken a completely new direction. But he didn't, and found his own formulas to write songs now. Although he is open to collaboration and to new ways, it might be difficult for him to work with an over-accurate musician like Alan, especially because he says several times during the recording of Delta Machine that he would prefer not to overproduce, but rather to make things simpler and more direct. That wouldn't suit Alan's working methods at all.
The only one who probably wouldn't care at all is the one who is mostly accused of being against a reunion - Fletch. The only reason I can think of why he should be against it is that he might fear new tensions.
Another point that hasn't changed at all is the communication. They didn't talk to each other in the old days, and they still don't. Sometimes you find some friendly remarks about Alan from Dave, and even from Fletch and Martin, or about the band members from Alan, but there aren't any signs that they sat down at a certain point and really talked WITH each other.



Alan

(with friendly permission of © Paola Gravina Red)



In 2010 Mute became independent again, but DM stayed signed to and marketed worldwide by EMI Music. In 2011 this contract ended with the release of Remixes 2: 81-11. Alan and Vince were both involved in Remixes 2: 81-11, which was released on 6 June 2011.
Martin: "Toward the end of the last tour I asked Alan if he would come onstage at London's Royal Albert Hall and he agreed." (This is an interesting new perspective because until then everyone said that Dave phoned Alan and asked him to join.) "Then he came on tour in America. It seemed natural to ask him" to collaborate at the Remix-album. "With Vince, I got an e-mail from him out of the blue about nine months ago saying, 'I'm thinking of making a techno album. Are you interested in collaborating?' That's finished now, but we need to mix it. It was natural to ask him to do a remix as well."[13]
So Vince remixed Behind the Wheel, and Alan remixed In Chains.
Alan: "It was the Depeche Mode manager Jonathan Kessler who suggested it. It had been suggested a long time before that, by the guys at Mute organizing the whole remix album. They asked me if I would be interested and I said quite possibly." (Hasn't Martin just said that he asked Alan to contribute? Hm, maybe it was Martin's wish, but he told Dave to phone and Kessler to ask. ;))"They never came back to me. I thought: 'oh well that's not going to happen.' I wasn't bothered by that at all and then I was speaking to Jonathan about something else, I think it was about Martin DJing at one of the Recoil nights and the idea was put to me again. By then they needed it within something like two weeks, and this was just before we were going back on the road again. I wish they would have given me more time, we'd booked a holiday in the south of France and I ended up spending the whole holiday encamped in a room doing the remix instead of being out in the beautiful sunshine drinking wine. Jonathan told me the band would prefer that I did something new, from the era after which I left the band, and I thought it was a good challenge to do that. I hope they like it, they said they do. Martin seemed to be really keen on it, which was nice of him. I think the others like it too; don't know about Fletch - he didn't say anything. I think it is a more dynamic version of what they had."[14]
Some fans speculated whether this remix had been some kind of a "test" to see if Alan suited the current line-up. It's possible, if there really were some considerations about a reunion.
But again - it seems that the band and Alan didn't talk to each other about this remix. "Martin seemed to be really keen on it", "I think the others like it too" says all you need to know about their communication. And if you think that Dave and Alan write to each other very often, you are wrong. Dave sometimes says he e-mails Alan (although there are other interviews in which he says he doesn't like computers and just texts a bit sometimes) but Alan says Dave writes about twice a year. This is not what you could call a "lively conversation".

Unfortunately, things still didn't go well for Alan. "Times are tight for everyone these days, and divorce plus lack of any finance for making records means I need to do some belt-tightening.[15] The record business has been in crisis for some time now."[16]
This even endangered the planned DVD-release (Selected). "We recorded and filmed the last European show from 2010, in Budapest, and we're at rough edit stage. Personally, I think it looks stunning, but we still have quite a lot of work to do on it. It doesn't seem like my record company is interested in it though. So far it's been completely self-financed, and I will find a way to release it myself."[17]
Alan finally decided to sell parts of his large DM collection. The auction was held on 3 September 2011 in Manchester, and was a rather bittersweet event for many fans. And if there ever had been considerations about a reunion, it seems that Alan spoilt things with this auction. According to rumours, the band was upset because he sold keyboards still programmed with original samples.
However, in some ways it seems as if Alan burnt some of his bridges in connection with DM and his former life. There was a re-launch of his website in 2012 (almost all sections about DM are gone now), and in 2013 he even sold his house and his studio. It's exciting to wait and see what will happen next. Maybe there will a reunion some day, maybe he will surprise the fans with something completely different.

Meanwhile Dave recovered. "For a while there I almost turned to my manager and said 'I'm not coming back.' I spent a lot of time with my wife and kids. It was beautiful in New York, the blossom was on the trees, everything seemed a little brighter. It was similar to the feeling of waking up after a week or two in rehab. You notice s***. I was noticing a lot of stuff that I liked in my life and I was afraid to leave it in case I didn't get the chance to come back to it.[18] That lasted a couple of weeks, then I really wanted to get back on the road."[19] He laughs.
He didn't go directly back on the road but got involved in a record project that would have some kind of influence on the 13th album of DM - Delta Machine.






References:
[1] A video interview at the RAH-gig, dmdotcom
[2] Interview With Alan Wilder, 20 February 2010, dmdotcom
[3] "Recoil in Bucharest - Interview with Alan Wilder", depechemode.ro, 2010. Words: Otiliei Haraga
[4] Depeche Mode: Brits wouldn't show our set so we said 'f*** them', The Sun, 22 March 2013. Words: Uncredited.
[5] "Recoil / Alan Wilder - February 2010", Reflectionsofdarkness.com, 5 March 2010. Words: Janos Janurik
[5] "Recoil / Alan Wilder - I'm not naive", Sideline, 21 March 2010. Words: Bernard van Isacker
[6] "Recoil / Alan Wilder - February 2010", Reflectionsofdarkness.com, 5 March 2010. Words: Janos Janurik
[7] "Recoil / Alan Wilder - I'm not naive", Sideline, 31 March 2010. Words: Bernard van Isacker
[8] "Alan Wilder: A Selected Interview", stevenwilsonbeales.com, 14 April 2010. Words: Steven Wilson-Beales
[9] "Recoil / Alan Wilder - February 2010", Reflectionsofdarkness.com, 5 March 2010. Words: Janos Janurik
[10] "Alan Wilder: A Selected Interview", stevenwilsonbeales.com, 14 April 2010. Words: Steven Wilson-Beales
[11] "Recoil / Alan Wilder - I'm not naive", Sideline, 31 March 2010. Words: Bernard van Isacker
[12] Martin Gore on new Depeche Mode CD, Frank Ocean, Associated Press, 26 March 2013. Words: Uncredited.
[13] Q & A: Martin Gore of Depeche Mode, Vanityfair, 7 June 2011. Words: Marc Spitz
[14] ALAN WILDER - collected thoughts, Releasemagazine, 19 August 2011, words: Fredrik "Schlatta" Svensson
[15] Recoil / Alan Wilder, Reflections Of Darkness, 1 September 2011, Words: János Janurik
[16] Alan Wilder (ex-Depeche Mode/Recoil) talks on synths, music creation and his upcoming auction, Aug. 2011, Steelberry Clones, Stereoklang.se, words: unknown
[17] Recoil / Alan Wilder, Reflections Of Darkness, 1 September 2011, Words: János Janurik
[18] We're dysfunctional. Maybe that's what makes us tick, The Guardian (UK), 28 March 2013. Words: Dorian Lynskey.
[19] Depeche Mode on synths, drugs and Basildon, The Times (UK), 21 March 2013. Words: Ed Potton.



Biography: 2012

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