2012

In 2011 and 2012 Martin and Dave were busy with some solo projects. The band just recorded the cover version of So Cruel, which was released on a tribute album to U2 in 2011.
Martin was the vocalist of the song Man Made Machine by the band Motor and he collaborated with Vince; the project's name was simply VCMG. The EP1 Spock was released on 9 December 2011, the EP2 Blip on 27 February 2012, the album Ssss on 13 March, and finally the EP3 Aftermath was released on 20 August. It is an instrumental techno-like record.

The collaboration started when Vince thought about making "some kind of a techno album", although he had "never taken an interest in techno music at all but I was just completely blown away by the way the people were using synthesisers."[1] So he thought, "'Well, I never worked with Martin, really,' and I knew he was interested in synths. It felt like a good email to send.[2] After drinking six beers, I composed an email. I think he was genuinely surprised to hear from me."[3]
Martin was surprised indeed. "I didn't even know Vince had my email address.[4] It's funny because he tweets all the time and everyone thinks he's really, really talkative and really, you know - he's not. And I just got a really short email that said, 'Thinking of making a techno album. Interested in collaborating? Vince.'"
Dave: "After 25 years, you know, you expect a little more, but ..."
Martin: "So I felt, I mean, I like techno. It might be quite an interesting thing to do. So I said, 'Yes. Martin.'"[5] (Sometimes communication can be so easy ...)
He had some downtime at the time, so he decided to collaborate. They didn't work together physically but worked via the Internet.
Martin: "I started by taking out bits I didn't particularly like that he sent me, adding bits to it and sending it back to him, then he'd take out bits that he didn't like that I'd put in and send it back to me. There were usually three or four versions of the track before we were both happy. And after a while I started coming up with ideas that I would send to him as well.[6] One of the reasons I had fun doing this project is that I wanted to make a 'dancy' album: I think the electronic scene is really alive, and today many young people can create dance music on a budget."[7]

They seldom met personally, and if they did, they didn't talk about the record.
Martin: "We met at the Mute festival last May [Short Circuit at the Roundhouse, London], and we didn't really talk about it then. We just talked about our kids."[8]
Dave: "I think making Ssss together helped Martin. It certainly cleared up a lot of weird old resentments that they had."
Dave had the opportunity to meet Vince again, too. "We were all in a room together, and Vince was checking out all Mart's modular synthesizers and I was sitting back and watching them. I said, 'Nothing's really changed.' We shared all the same jokes and he came out to dinner with us. Vince and I walked and talked. We walked 15 blocks chatting. I hadn't talked to Vince for 25 years."[9]


trennlinie


After Dave had recovered from Touring the Universe he was asked to collaborate in a project of the band Soulsavers. It consists of two people: Rich Machin and Ian Glover. Dave got to know them through bassist Martyn LeNoble, a friend of his, and became friendly with them when Soulsavers opened for DM during TOTU.
Dave: "Martyn LeNoble was doing some session work with them in a studio in LA, and I just happened to call him up for a chat on that day, and it happened that he was in the studio with them. Rich was in the background and yelled out 'you should take us on tour!' I said to Martyn 'Is he serious? Does he really want to go on the road with Depeche Mode?', because, you know, it'd be a little bit difficult opening for Depeche Mode. You never know which way it's going to go: whether you're going to get rocks thrown at you, or something else, I don't know. It's a difficult opener, but he was totally into it, and so we took them on tour."[10]
On tour he talked a lot with Rich Marchin, also about songwriting. "He said, 'Can I send you some ideas, maybe, and see if we have something going on ...' I didn't think anything would come of it, but he did indeed send me something and I immediately felt inspired by it."[11]
And he started working on this project although "I had no intention of doing anything, really, after that tour - The Sounds of the Universe Tour. I had medical issues and stuff like that. I was taking care of myself, and I talked to my wife about it. I really wanted to take care of myself and spend time with the family, but Rich started sending me these lines, and I started writing too. It felt very natural, and I started sending things back to him. I would complete an idea, work out some melodies ... the words sort of played off what Rich was giving me, and I'd go into the studio with a friend of mine, and we'd lay down some vocals and send them off to Rich. Basically, Rich would then start to build the instrumentation around what I was doing. He'd send something back and I'd be, like, 'Oh, wow'.[12] I Can't Stay was one of the first things I worked on. These songs really kind of wrote themselves. I can't describe it in any better way."[13]

The album The Light the Dead See was recorded at studios in London, New York, Los Angeles, Berlin and Sydney and was released on 21 May. Dave wrote all lyrics and was the leading vocalist.
Probably for the first time, many DM-fans bought an album of the Soulsavers. It was quite successful, peaked No. 69 of UK album charts, No. 28 of US Top Heatseekers Albums Chart and No. 12 in Germany. The latter shows that Germany is still one of the most important markets for DM.
The first single taken from the album Longest Day was released as digital download on 2 April. The second single Take Me Back Home was released as digital download on 20 August.
Dave: "It was definitely a very new experience for me. I know some of the songs will come across as quite dark and moody, but it was the most uplifting experience I've ever had making a record."[14]
It wasn't only a new experience for him, he also became inspired for the songs he wrote for DM's next record. Delta Machine and The Light the Dead See aren't similar, but there's an influence, nevertheless.
Dave: "The title The Light the Dead See works so well because sometimes when you're still and not trying to steer things in a certain way is really when the magic can happen."
The project also had an influence on his way of singing. "I think some of that stuff comes from the way I used my voice. I go to a very visual place when I'm singing. It's very cinematic and I get this feeling of space. I love when music does that."[15]
His way of singing, that had changed from Playing the Angel to SOTU, caused a lot of discussion among the fans. Some people didn't like that he almost over-emphasised the syllables, and tried to vary his voice a lot. On The Light the Dead See he sang differently again, and he carried this style over to Delta Machine.
Because of the new DM album Dave didn't tour with the Soulsavers. However, the band played an invitation-only "secret show" at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles on 21 July.

In May Dave said, "We have begun to record the album [Delta Machine] I have written 6-7 songs," - he was working with Kurt Uenala -, "Martin has 13 or 14, we play into all, and we'll see what we include on the album. I think three or four of my songs going with, so it gets the more than before. The album seems to have a strong sense of the blues. Not as Violator and Songs of Faith and Devotion, but definitely more blues, and more direct. We will take good care not to overproduce this time. Too many sounds are not necessary. If the melodies are good, they do not need more.[16] I push all the time, much to the annoyance of the other guys sometimes, to keep things as raw as possible. They get a little bit afraid of that, in case we're all gonna get judged. Yes, you are going to get judged, but I'd rather get really s*** reviews than mediocre reviews. I'd rather hear people saying 'what the f***'s going on with the band?' than just 'yeah, hmmm, it's an okay record'."[17]
But exactly this would happen when Delta Machine was released. Many fans liked the album a lot, saying it's the best since SOFAD (or since Ultra), many said it's an okay record, and only a few asked what the f*** is going on with the band. It is noticeable that many of the critical fans had lost interest long before the release, and didn't say anything at all about Delta Machine. Sometimes this says a lot. It seems that the band lost some fans along the way, but it hasn't done them any harm. Delta Machine and the tickets for the upcoming tour sold well.


trennlinie


The band met in January 2012 to listen to demos, and started recording Delta Machine in March in Santa Barbara. This time they only worked in Santa Barbara and New York, but they worked with Ben Hillier again.
The original plan was that Martin was going to co-produce the album.
Dave: "Well, the truth is when we first did get together, like, this last January, we went to Martin's place and, you know, listened to the songs. You know, I came, did a few demos and Martin did these demos and we'd just kind of sit and we'd listen. And Martin's demos were so well produced. And we didn't want to mess with that too much. So once we decided that we wanted to get Ben Hillier involved again, it seemed logical."[18]
Fletch: "I think it's better than the last album. I think there's a lot more energy on this album. Amazingly we actually finished ahead of schedule, which we'd never done in our careers so that was incredible as well. That tells you it must be a good album if you finish early!"[19]

There were some things different in comparison with previous albums. So Martin re-worked Dave's demos before starting the recording session probably to give all the demos a sense of consistency in terms of sound and direction. It was really difficult later to guess who had written which song.
And they had a kind of second producer with Christoffer Berg.
Dave: "He's a great musician and has a lot of fantastic ideas. He's not afraid to stand up and say, 'I got an idea.' I like that. It's quite intimidating working with a band like ours because you have certain expectations of how it is. A lot are true and some aren't. Martin and I are open to other people's ideas."[20]
They also had "a guy called Ferg [Peterkin] who's the engineer," Fletch added. About Christoffer Berg he said that "he makes his own music and he's a real genius and a lot younger than us so he brings some young energy in. He was excellent."[21]
The band members don't spend much time with each other when they are not in the studio or on tour together - or at least Dave doesn't meet Martin and Fletch very often - so, it always takes a while to get on with each other after a break.
Dave: "Coming into the studio with Depeche for the first time in a while is just a different process. We have a lot of time and there are lots of people helping - programmers, engineers and so forth. That said, to still be doing this after 30-odd years means we've certainly come to a new place with all that. It's all gravy now.[22] We're probably not finished til the end of the year, and we're talking about touring next year. But right now it's like a science lab here. We're working in two rooms at the moment, just full of electronics and guitars and everybody's getting very creative."[23]

But, as we've seen before, they completed recording ahead of schedule. This time another problem had to be dealt with. It was the first time in their career that they didn't have a label.
Dave: "What happened was around the time of Exciter, Daniel, with our blessing, signed Mute to EMI. And he gave over a lot of control to them. He retained complete artistic control, but right before we were set to record Delta Machine, there were rumours about EMI folding. We didn't want to be stuck in limbo and have this thing stuck in the courts, because you hear about this stuff happening. Now Daniel still owns Mute Artists, but not Mute Records, which he tried to buy back after he sold it, without success. He got outbid and was very upset, which I only found out recently. He wanted to take it all back, but we basically told him, 'Dan, we've got to move on.' Sony came up with the best offer to make sure Daniel is still around for us, and to make sure we were able to gain control of what we're doing. Most importantly, in 2015, we'll be able to get control of our entire catalogue. We'll own it. After Delta Machine, we'll be in real control."[24]
It meant that they released a record without the famous Bong label. This was especially disappointing for collectors, but it seemed to be the best deal for them, because they were still aware of keeping some independence. They took on all the costs for the production themselves, because they didn't want to be tied to a record company. So the deal with Sony is obviously a kind of logistic deal rather than a real record deal.

There were plans to collaborate with other musicians but it didn't work.
Dave: "Our producer Ben Hillier interviewed all sorts of musicians to work on this record, and they all said, 'Oh yeah, we know electronics.' But what they meant was that they knew how to program software and things on the computer. They didn't know really how to use the massive modular hardware systems - ARP gear and all that."[25]
So there weren't many other people involved. And, of course, they got on well again.
Dave: "There was definitely a time in my life where I was like, 'You've got to be bigger, faster, stronger, better'. Over the years, this being our 13th studio album ... working on this record somehow felt like a new thing. Martin and I were really on the same page what we were doing writing-wise, and we just really came together, so it was a really enjoyable experience to do."[26]
On the other hand it seemed that he wasn't patient enough. "Making a record with Depeche Mode is not a simple process. It's quite complicated and long. We have the luxury of time. I'm not sure that's such a good thing when you're being creative. I kind of like that process of working a little faster in the studio. It gets boring for me. They are in their laboratory surrounded by all these twiddly things with all these things that make bleeps and noises and I sit there, like, 'Can I sing now? Can I sing now? Can I sing now?'[27] We're not a band band. We're not The Rolling Stones, jamming together in the studio. Things are very constructed between Martin and me. Fletch has ideas and input; he's the one who'll say, 'What are you doing? You've been working on this for three days, it's rubbish!' But he's not conceptual. He's the mediator. He's the luke-warm water between fire and ice." (laughs). "He'll do his crossword, and as long as he gets to lunch by one o'clock, he's fine."[28]
Martin: "I think this album was one of the easiest to make."[29]
You remember the last time he said that a record was easy to make, in fact it was very difficult, but I don't think that this time we will hear unpleasant stories afterwards.

When it came to the mixing process, an old acquaintance appeared.
Dave: "It was good on this record to kind of have Flood back on board and have Flood mixing the record. That technology was good there, because Martin and I would get on Skype with him and he'd be in London mixing while we were in New York still recording. That's the only way we'd communicated with him! We did not spend any time in the studio with him. I think this record as well is the end of a trilogy of records that we're doing with Ben Hillier."[30]
As has been previously referred to - fans tend to attach too much importance to the role of the (former co-)producers, especially to the role of Flood. Hearing that he was to mix the record, some people had very high expectations. But mixing a record doesn't mean producing a record, and producing a record doesn't automatically mean having a huge musical influence.






References:
[1] Interview: VCMG, The Stoolpigenon, 16 February 2012. Words: Tim Burrows.
[2] VCMG, 'Ssss': Album Preview, Billboard.com, 17 January 2012. Words: Kerri Mason.
[3] Interview: VCMG, The Stoolpigenon, 16 February 2012. Words: Tim Burrows.
[4] Clarke e Gore, L'Uomo Vogue, January 2012. Words: Uncredited.
[5] The Complete SXSW 2013 Interview, NPR, 25 March 2013. Words: Jason Bentley.
[6] Interview: VCMG, The Stoolpigenon, 16 February 2012. Words: Tim Burrows.
[7] Clarke e Gore, L'Uomo Vogue, January 2012. Words: Uncredited.
[8] Interview: VCMG, The Stoolpigenon, 16 February 2012. Words: Tim Burrows.
[9] Depeche Mode: Brits wouldn't show our set so we said 'f*** them', The Sun, 22 March 2013. Words: Uncredited.
[10] Soulsavers & Dave Gahan: 'We Were On The Same Page Very Quickly', Features, DIY, 23 July 2012. Words: Huw Oliver.
[11] Depeche Mode Working on 'Punchier' Songs, Eye Tour in 2013, Billboard.com, Detroit, 29 May 2012. Words: Gary Graff.
[12] Soulsavers & Dave Gahan: 'We Were On The Same Page Very Quickly', Features, DIY, 23 July 2012. Words: Huw Oliver.
[13] Depeche Mode frontman Dave Gahan gets spiritual, Special to CNN, 8 June 2012. Words: Abbey Goodman.
[14] Taken from: Dave Gahan Discusses Soulsavers & New DM, The Quitus, 1 March 2012. Words: Sam Spokony.
[15] Depeche Mode frontman Dave Gahan gets spiritual, Special to CNN, 8 June 2012. Words: Abbey Goodman.
[16] Sanger på tro og ære, dagsavisen.no, May 2012. Words: Geir Rakvaag.
[17] Depeche Mode Album Update, Clash Music, 25 July 2012. Words: Mat Smith.
[18] The Complete SXSW 2013 Interview, NPR, 25 March 2013. Words: Jason Bentley.
[19] Revealing the Depeche Mode Plan, Exclaim, 26 March 2013. Words: Vincent Pollard.
[20] Dave Gahan: Depeche Mode Plan 'To Be Touring Next Year', SPIN.com, 1 May 2012. Words: Uncredited.
[21] Revealing the Depeche Mode Plan, Exclaim, 26 March 2013. Words: Vincent Pollard.
[22] Out, demons, out!, The Word magazine, 17 May 2012. Words: Uncredited.
[23] Depeche Mode Working on 'Punchier' Songs, Eye Tour in 2013, Billboard.com, 29 May 2012. Words: Gary Graff.
[24] Through That Darkness You'll Find the Light: A.J. Samuels interviews Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan, Electronic Beats Magazine, 12 March 2013. Words: A.J. Samuels.
[25] Through That Darkness You'll Find the Light: A.J. Samuels interviews Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan, Electronic Beats Magazine, 12 March 2013. Words: A.J. Samuels.
[26] Depeche Mode Q & A: Dave Gahan Talks 'Delta Machine,' Massive Tour Plans, Billboard.com, New York, 8 March 2013. Words: Jason Lipshutz.
[27] Delta Force: A Q & A with Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan, Time Entertainment, 4 April 2013. Words: Melissa Locker.
[28] Interview with Dave Gahan, Mojo, 22 March 2013. Words: Martin Aston.
[29] Survival Mode, Irish Times, 22 March 2013. Words: Uncredited.
[30] Depeche Mode Q & A: Dave Gahan Talks 'Delta Machine,' Massive Tour Plans, Billboard.com, New York, 8 March 2013. Words: Jason Lipshutz.



Biography: 2013

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