1983-07-01 BFBS Radio 1, Berlin, Germany
The British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) provides information and entertainment for British troops stationed abroad. BFBS used to have many barracks in Germany in the last century and so it was widely available throughout Germany. An unknown host talks to Dave and Martin who were in Berlin to mix 'Construction Time Again' at Hansa Studio.
- Duration: 11:30 minutes
Host: 'Just Can't Get Enough' by Depeche Mode, a band at the forefront of the electronic music boom over recent years. They've recently returned from a tour of the USA and Japan, and, as I speak, two of the guys, David Gahan and Martin Gore, are in our studio. Gentlemen, good afternoon.
Dave and Martin: Good afternoon.
Host: Now, this one you have been asked a million times, I'm convinced, either of you can answer it: is it Depeche or is it Depech-ay?
Dave: [laughs] Ehm, we don't really mind, actually, ehm -
Martin: - You're dead right, by the way, we have been asked a million times. [laughs]
Dave: We have been asked a million times!
Host: Oh, I'm quite sure, yeah.
Dave: We don't really mind Depeche or Depech-ay. It doesn't really matter that much to us.
Host: Where does the name come from originally then?
Dave: It was picked up from a magazine when I was at college. We was looking for a name and it just seemed to have a good ring and we decided to go with it.
Host: What did you call yourselves originally? I'm determined to get this out of you. Was it "-ay" or just "Depeche"?
Dave: Ehm, Depech-ay.
Host: So that's the more correct of the two, but you're not bothered?
Martin: The least correct but -
Dave: - It's the least correct.
Martin: But that's how we used to say it.
Dave: Yeah we used to say it wrong, but it doesn't matter, yeah.
Host: Well, why the heck not. Now, I've said that you'd just come back from the USA and Japan, that's right I believe?
Host: How did that go down, then?
Dave: It was really good, especially Japan, Japan was very good. The fans over there were very nice and very friendly. And America again, we've been to America now a few times, and it's getting better every time. Most of the shows were sold out, so it was really good.
Host: I was gonna say, America can be a funny market to crack, can't they? Their music is very, very different.
Dave: Yeah. We found it very difficult because, in a way, we're an all-electronic band, and they find it a bit hard to accept that at first. But now we can go over there and we do very well over there, so it's good.
Host: I'd like to go on the subject of electronic music in a little while, but still on the subject of foreign tours, how important are they for you commercially? Are they really vital? Because, obviously, all bands have to tour abroad, but I sometimes wonder if they don't do it just for the prestige. Is the vital aspect important?
Martin: Not really. I don't think we actually make any money from touring, especially abroad. But we just like to show our faces a bit. I think it's important to sort of get around and get people to see that you are actually a band and not just a few people who get together in a studio and make a little bit of music.
Dave: Because, also, I mean, in England, you obviously can make money from touring in England, but usually the money we make from touring in England, we spend on going to, let's say, America or coming to Germany. And the last time we'd come to Germany, we had done quite an extensive tour, really. And when we come back in, I think it's November, then we got a big tour line-up for then as well.
Host: Now, can I just back to the record we just started with, 'Just Can't Get Enough': I can't pretend to be completely au fait with your history. I know it was written by Vince Clarke, who is or was with Yazoo. Was he a member of the band, to start with?
Dave: Yes, he was an original member. But after that, he of course went with Yazoo, and now he's left Yazoo, and eh...
Host: He and Alf have gone their separate ways.
Host: They're now on the same label as you, with Mute, so you must know them as well as anybody.
Host: What's happening to them two, then?
Dave: Well, Vince, I think, is gonna be working with some other people. Maybe not actually being a member of a band, but helping other bands maybe to get on. And I think Alf will probably go for more of bluesy things in some ways, I think that's what she wants to do, and maybe get out on the road or-
Host: -She's certainly got the voice for it.
Host: Now back to yourselves - as we were saying, Vince was one of the original members - how did you call get together in the first place?
Martin: Well, I knew Andy - this is Martin speaking - I knew Andy from school, and he knew Andy through Boys' Brigade-
Host: -Boys' Brigade? [laughs]
Martin: Yeah. We all sort of knew each other and we just decided to form a band. And it just went off from there, sort of as a hobby, and it just took off from there, really. Then we recruited Dave as a singer after we decided it didn't work as a three-piece, all playing keyboards.
Host: Well, good. Were you always electronic, then? You never bothered with drums and guitars, and all that?
Martin: In the early days, we used to have guitars. We had just one synth, one bass guitar and one rhythm guitar.
Host: What made you decide to become all-electronic, then?
Martin: Basically, I think it was more of a hassle, being a guitar band, because we needed amps around us with us everywhere, and we didn't really have the transport.
Dave: We didn't have the amps. [laughs]
Martin: So we decided to all buy a synth and then we could just direct inject into PA to wherever we went. That meant that we could travel on the train with the synths around our arms.
Dave: It was very easy, because it was very hard to even get gigs and to pay to sort of do a gig. The cost of doing a gig, just to get a little van and things and amps, it was very hard. So we used to just travel on a train with our synths under our arms and turn up at a gig and plug in and play, and so it was very easy. And then from there we just developed into what we are now.
Host: Now, Martin, since Vince has left, I know you have taken over most of the songwriting duties, I think, haven't you?
Martin: Yeah, that's right. Host: Now, what inspires you to write your songs? Because they're certainly fairly individual, there's no mistaking the Depeche Mode sound.
Martin: Yeah, well, nothing in particular, everything, really. I'll go through stages when something might be on your mind, so I'll just write about that for a while, some sort of topic. but nothing really, nothing in particular.
Host: How long does it take you to write a song on average? I'm always very interested when I'm talking to composers and musicians as to where their ideas come from. Is it a case that you just got to sort of ram it all down, or does it take days and weeks?
Martin: It's difficult to answer that, really, because I might get an idea and write down the basics in five minutes, then to actually complete it, I might spend two weeks working on a porter studio or something. So basically I can write a song in ten or fifteen minutes, say, but to finish it completely it might take roughly two weeks or so. Host: Well over here we have an example of one of your songs now, and we'll come back and talk some more in a moment or two after an 'Excerpt From My Secret Garden'.
['My Secret Garden' plays]
Host: [...] 'Excerpt From My Secret Garden' by Depeche Mode. Or Depechay Mode, apparently it's quite correct to say it either way, as far as the band are concerned. It was written by Martin Gore, and Martin and another member of the band, David Gahan are on the line from our Berlin studio. Martin, was that from a film, 'My Secret Garden'?
Martin: No. [laughs] Host: I had a feeling it was, I remember reading somewhere, it said that 'Excerpt From My Secret Garden', it said something about a film. That must have been my mistake.
Dave: It was used in a thing for England, it was for instance on a sports programme, I think it was Grand Stand, it was used for the horse racing. But that's as near it got to a film.
Host: Possibly what I'm thinking of. Now, electronic music has been around for a while now, getting bigger and better. Do you think it's matured sufficiently to be considered an art form in its own right, rather than a cheap way of providing a fuller sound, which is what it was originally, wasn't it?
Dave: Well, I don't know, not really, I think it's just a way... It's good because musicians that are not technically as good as musicians that could pick up a guitar and do a twenty-minute solo can use electronics in a way that you can put across your ideas and your music without really having to be able to play the instruments really well. Because, I don't know, I think that's a very good thing.
Host: Now, one thing I'm always reading about is the attitudes of conventional musicians to electronic musicians, especially drummers with things like the LinnDrum around. Do you get much hassle from, say, studio session musicians, who obviously must be affected by the boom of electronic music?
Dave: Not really because we never use session musicians.
Host: Well, that's what I'm thinking of, the fact that they haven't got any work because of bands like you.
Dave: Well, that's good, because I think it's bad for a band in a way to use session musicians, because it's then other people's ideas coming into it as well, whereas if you're doing it as a band, you might as well go the whole way. I don't see the need to use session musicians, unless you really want something, like, there's no other way you can do it, like a saxophone solo or something, but then we can reproduce that anyway.
Host: I never thought about that, the purity of electronic music. Interesting answer! So do you don't regard electronic music as cheating at all?
Dave: No, not at all.
Host: Now, as to the actual gear itself, you were mentioning you started with just three synths I think it was. How much apparatus do you have on stage now?
Dave: Well, it's more or less the same, actual instruments-wise.
Martin: Roughly it's the same number of synths, it's just that they improved a bit, I think.
Host: Do you use the computerised job?
Dave: Yeah, well, Martin plays PPG, and Alan plays a Roland, and Andy has just recently bought an Oberheim which we're gonna be using on the next tour. Also an Emulator with which we made up a lot of our own sounds just by banging on pieces of metal and things and playing them into this computer, and it's actually got a keyboard and you play it live, so you can also make your own form of sound, which is quite important to us as well.
Host: Sounds like a miniature version of that has been the Fairlight.
Dave: Yeah, but, in a way, it's better. I think the quality of the sound is better than the Fairlight.
Martin: Relative to the price, it's definitely better. [laughs]
Dave: Yeah, it's a lot cheaper than the Fairlight.
Host: I think we should point out, the Fairlight is a computerised musical instrument, it's called, isn't it?
Host: Basically a very, very fancy synthesiser.
Host: Indeed. Now, onto the future: what are you up to a the moment? You said you were coming back, was it in November, for a concert tour?
Dave: Yeah. Well, at the moment we're just finishing mixing a new album, which we're very pleased with so far, it's going very well. We finished a new single, which should be coming out, I think it's the 11th of July. And then of course we start rehearsing and we start touring again in September.
Host: When is the album out, then?
Dave: End of August.
Host: End of August. What's it going to be called, do you know yet?
Dave: Yes, it's gonna be called 'Construction Time Again'.
Host: 'Construction Time Again', well, I shall look forward to hearing that. But we have a bit of a scoop on our hands, I believe, don't we, because the single isn't out until the 11th of July, but behind you in the Berlin studio, I believe Chris Russel has a tape of it, all ready to go.
Dave: That's right. Well, it's a world-first to us, to anybody who is listening, the first playing of the Depeche Mode single. What's it called?
Martin: 'Everything Counts'.
Host: 'Everything Counts'.
Host: Well, we'll have a listen to this one, and it will be in the shops on the 11th of July.
Dave: That's right, yeah.
Host: Fine. Now, what about TV appearances? Any of those lined up?
Dave: I think so, yeah. I think they're doing a few things over here as well as in England, when we get back. We go back in July, we got a lot of things to do, we gotta go back and do, so, you should be seeing our faces. Hopefully. [laughs]
Host: Right, well, I shall look forward to catching you in concert, even more soon, the new album when it comes out. Martin Gore and David Gahan of Depeche Mode. The very best of luck in the future.
Dave and Martin: Thanks very much.
- low generation Maxell XLII 90 high position cassette, 1982 - 1984 Europe stock -> Technics RS-AZ7 cassette deck -> Yamaha RX-V1300RDS receiver -> Roland R-05 (24/48) -> WAV (16/44) -> encoded to MP3 for streaming
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