1998 and 1999

On 9 March 1998 the Recoil single Stalker / Missing Piece was released.
On 2 September - yes, up to this date nothing was to be seen or heard of the band except for a press conference at the Hyatt Hotel in Cologne to announce the tour - DM started the Singles-Tour with the concert in Tartu (Estonia). The tour was split into two legs. The European leg, comprising 32 concerts, ended on 17 October. This tour was the first one to feature two backing musicians in place of Alan - the Austrian drummer Christian Eigner, and the British keyboarder Peter Gordeno. This is still the live line-up up to today.
Because Devotional had been so disastrous the band was careful not to let the Singles-Tour get out of control.
Martin: "We've got rules that we keep. I only drink two days a week - you may laugh."
Dave was very nervous before the start of the tour: "Well sitting here, desperately stopping my body from shaking ... But I think it is good to be nervous, you know nervous energy can be put into performing. For me personally, it is pretty important. If I wasn't feeling nervous then I would think there was something wrong, but yes, I am really nervous."[1]
Then he, however, could manage it quite well and got accustomed to go to bed immediately after the concerts. "I've reached a certain level in life where I can trust myself, but not completely. To be honest I'm so tired after the shows that I'm asleep within five minutes of my head hitting the pillow."[2]

The tour went very well then. During the sound-check of the first show in Tartu the following conversation took place:
"Good crowd tonight ... and lots of flags. I might grab the 'Union Jack' and wrap it round myself." - "Oh, very patriotic Dave." - "Not really, it's the nearest one and I'm f*** freezing."
This time there were only small incidents like being held at a small Russian village for nearly six hours while a customs point "sorted out" some paperwork, a small cold went through the touring party, trouble for the trucks at the border to Austria, heavy rain in Berlin, voice-problems in Zurich, and there was the concert in Birmingham in which near the end of the show Martin realised the zip on his trousers had been undone.[3]


(Surrender - with friendly permission of © Wojciech Welc)

In the meantime, on 7 September, the single Only When I Lose Myself / Headstar / Surrender, for which they had worked together with Tim Simeon again, was released. Beside the original versions of the three songs, there were many different remixes available. Headstar is an instrumental track, while Only When I Lose Myself and Surrender were both sung by Dave. The video for Only When I Lose Myself was directed by Brian Griffin.
On 28 September The Videos 89-98 and The Singles 89-98 were released. For these releases Alan was involved, but he didn't talk to any of the remaining band members (just to the record company and management, etc.), although he had his input on the box sets, which versions were to be used, artwork, label copy, promo items, marketing ideas, etc. Nevertheless, he was ignored by most journalists.
Alan: "I never pushed myself forward as a member of the band and the media tends to concentrate on lead vocalists and songwriters - to a lot of people, the 'techno-nerd' in the studio isn't really that glamorous. I also haven't been to death's door and back and more importantly, I committed the heinous crime of leaving the band - so, out of sight, out of mind. I can accept all these things but I was annoyed in particular with the DM Singles E.P.K (a short film) which I thought was extremely imbalanced - to have 10 years of one's hard and dedicated work represented by about 30 seconds out of a 20 minute piece is pretty insulting. I was also excluded from (and not even advised about) the interview with Anton Corbijn where the other band members discussed his videos for the singles - the same singles that I worked and performed on."[4]


The American leg of the Singles Tour started on 27 October, comprised 33 concerts and ended on 22 December in Anaheim.
Dave: "Before we went on that tour I thought maybe this is going to be the last thing that we do together. I was ready to move on and felt totally okay with that. During the tour I realised how much I loved performing. It was overwhelming every night how much support I felt from the fans."[5]
Fletch: "It was great. A real buzz. We felt like a band again, no stupid arguments, no ego-ridden rubbish."[6]
One can and should see this as a general remark, not least because all band members admitted at a certain point to being ego-driven during Devotional. But one can also understand it as a mocking remark to Alan. Taking all these remarks from the Ultra period together, one shouldn't wonder that some fans think Alan had been mobbed out, because it sometimes seems as if he had been blamed for everything that went wrong.

For some fans the new presentation of "sober", (from the second half of Touring the Angel onwards even completely, when Martin gave up drinking) meant that DM's live performance wasn't exactly brilliant. There were a lot of changes: Alan was no longer in the band, a permanent live drummer, a new stage keyboarder, the whole thing became rockier and more conventional. Many fans think that "they lost something of their former magic" and many more people are not really happy with the current live versions of the songs.
But although there are fans who say that "Gordeno gets on my nerves", "the visual effects were much more impressive in the old days", that it is "a too often seen play without any spontaneous ideas" and that "Dave's voice was much better in former days", they will nevertheless go to the concerts. The band is still fascinating and there's something magnetic. It must be the reason why the "old" fans can't get away from them - as much as they might moan. And it must be the reason why there are many new fans, people who didn't know DM with Alan at all. They are tempted by this special charisma that some people tried to explain by saying "interaction with the fans and on stage is much better today" and "Mart has really developed". It's on the whole "still a great event to see them live".
Some fans say that DM is a "philosophy of life", I have the suspicion that it's some kind of drug. They are able to attract a large audience and this is a fact that can't be ignored when it comes to discussions about DM's live performances.

Depeche Mode

(with friendly permission of Mute/EMI)

In 1999 Dave got married for the third time, to Jennifer, and became a father for the second time, to Stella Rose. He also took on Jennifer's son Jimmy, (he adopted him officially in 2010), so that he calls the three children "his own" now.
Also in 1999, Martin got the Ivor-Novello Award, awarded by the British academy for composers and songwriters - probably the only good award DM ever got, because they are often ignored and neglected when it comes to awards.

[1] 20th April 1998 Depeche Mode Press Conference, Bong 36, June 1998
[2] Cleaning Up, Q, November 1998. Words: Nick Duerden
[3] Information were taken from: Singles Diary, Bong 40, June 1999. Words: Jez Webb
[4] recoil.co.uk
[5] In the Mode for Love, Time Out, April 4th 2001. Words: Omer Ali
[6] The Basildon Bond, The Times Magazine, April 14th 2001. Words: Paul Connolly

Biography: 2000

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