1986-06-07 WLIR 92.7, Garden City, NY, USA
During Depeche Mode's 3-night performance at Radio City Music Hall in New York, Denis McNamara interviewed Martin Gore in the restaurant at the hotel in which DM was staying. Judging by the intro in this particular file, Denis McNamara rebroadcasted the interview in 1987. McNamara's way of posing these simple questions suggests that he's such a big fan that he already knows all of the answers, but luckily Martin is in such a cheerful mood that he enjoys answering them anyway. A transcript has been made for your convenience.
- Duration interview with songs: 42:01
- Duration interview without songs: 13:46
Denis McNamara: We're very pleased to present a conversation I had with Martin Gore of Depeche Mode. Now, this interview was recorded last year just before the band took to the stage at Radio City Music Hall. So join us now for a conversation with Martin Gore and the music of Depeche Mode, on LIR 92.7.
Denis McNamara: Hello, welcome to WLIR 92.7, I'm Denis McNamara, and it's my pleasure to tell you that our guest on this particular programme is Martin Gore. Welcome, Martin.
Martin Gore: Yes, hello.
Denis McNamara: You are in town as we're speaking to play Radio City Music Hall for 3 nights, and then you'll be back a week or so in our area to play at the outdoor Jones Beach Theatre, and you're embarking on an American tour that, really, is a follow up to the release of Black Celebration. Do you like touring in America?
Martin Gore: Ehm, at the moment, things are very exciting for us over here. Three nights sold out at Radio City, that's pretty good, really. [laughs] And things are going really, really, well for us on the West Coast as well. But it's not plain sailing all the way, it's still a big challenge for us. We still got the middle markets. We're doing okay, but it's sort of nothing amazing, we're still trying to improve things there. So, it's good. It's exciting. It's still a challenge.
Denis McNamara: Now, when you tour, based on the fact that you're so popular in so many places around the world, I imagine you must tour for a long period of time when you actually do go out and tour?
Martin Gore: This is the longest tour we've ever embarked on, it's about 5 months in total. And that's almost solid as well, there's about... There were four days between the European and the American tours, which is not very long, you don't get much time to recover.
Denis McNamara: Yeah, I guess. Alright, Martin Gore is with us from Depeche Mode, this is WLIR. Let's get into the music. What I thought we'd do is, let's go back to the beginning. I guess there's probably two periods of Depeche Mode: with Vince Clarke and after Vince Clarke. And of course that's probably foggy history at this point, because so much great music has come since the departure of Clarke, to go on to Yaz and now Erasure. What do you remember from the early days how the band got together?
Martin Gore: Well, basically, we all came from the same town. Vince and Andy knew each other through the church and boys brigade, from the age of about 10, I suppose. And I knew Andy through school, we went at the same school together, from the age of 11. And Dave just lived over the other side of town, so we never met him till quite a late stage, till we were about 16 or 17. Vince and Andy decided to form a band, and they just had a bass guitar and a rhythm guitar, and I bought a synthesizer. And there weren't many people in our town who had one at the time, and I think that's the main reason they got me into the band. And we just went on from there. After a while, they realized the potential of the synthesizer, and decided to ditch the guitars. We recruited Dave in as the singer, and just went on from there, really.
Denis McNamara: As I mentioned before we started recording, you four were "Scream Of The Week" at WLIR 10 times. The first time you did it was with a song called Just Can't Get Enough, which is one of those great, seminal pop songs, no question about it. What can you tell me about that particular track?
Martin Gore: I can tell you that we're pretty sick of playing it. It's, like, one the live favourites, one of which that the audience always loves to hear, so we feel obliged to put it in the set, and I think we... I... I couldn't tell you how many times we've played it over the last six years, but it will be there. It will be there on this tour as well, don't you worry.
Denis McNamara: There's a wonderful version, a live version of it, on the 12 inch. I don't know if it's ever been released in this country, we had it as an import. Is that going to, you think, at some point in time, ever be released here?
Martin Gore: If it wasn't released at the time, I shouldn't imagine it will be released now.
Denis McNamara: So you're not projecting, at any point, a live album?
Martin Gore: It's a possibility. But if we did want it, we'd record a more current version of it. It was weird as well, because Just Can't Get Enough, that was just an extra, a bonus track on a special 12 inch, I think it was on the Love In Itself special 12 inch, and in Holland they turned it around and started playing the Just Can't Get Enough live version. And we had never had a hit in Holland, until the live version of Just Can't Get Enough went out, for some reason, it went sort of Top 5. And we were asked to go over there and do TV shows, but how can go and you do, like, straight TV shows, with a live version? It's a bit, like, a lot of crowd audiences, and then people just sit and around, and... [laughs]
[The live version of Just Can't Get Enough plays]
Denis McNamara: Martin Gore, Depeche Mode, our guest, WLIR 92.7, I'm Denis McNamara. Well, Vince Clarke left the band, and he, till that point in time, I got the impression, was the primary writing force behind the group, and certainly a very important part, as we mentioned before, he was a founding member. Since that time, you have emerged, as the writer in the band. Was that a situation that was forced by his leaving, was it something that you had been doing when you were in the background? Can you explain how it evolved this way?
Martin Gore: I had always written songs, even when Vince was in the band. But Vince was the real driving force in those days, he was the one with the real enthusiasm, and the rest of us tended to just take backseats. When he left, it was quite scary, I suppose, but also a good opportunity for the rest of us to take more participation in the direction of the band, and I just came forward with some of the songs that I had already written, and then just carried on from there, just carried on writing songs.
Denis McNamara: See You was the first single to come out after Vince Clarke?
Martin Gore: That's right, yeah.
Denis McNamara: And that was really, I guess, your first single, right? That you had written?
Martin Gore: Yeah, that was a very old song that I had written when I was about 17, I think. And we just tried to make it... We always felt that a lot of songs were difficult to fit into our way of working, because our first album was very electro-disco, and the majority of my songs didn't really fit into that mould. So that partly explains the big difference between Speak And Spell and the next album - and the following album.
[See You plays]
Denis McNamara: This is LIR 92.7. Looking back to that period of the songs and then eventually it evolved into an album following that, but of the songs you were writing then, which ones come back to mind?
Martin Gore: I think around the time of Construction Time Again, that was a really important phase for us, with the single Everything Counts. That was when we, I think, really took control over what we were doing. Up until that stage, I think we were still very naive, and A Broken Frame is a bit of a mishmash of songs with no particular direction. I think we really found our feet with Construction Time Again.
[Everything Counts plays]
Denis McNamara: This is Martin Gore here with us. Depeche Mode is the band. LIR 92.7 radio station, I'm Denis McNamara. Right around that time too, I saw the beginning of an evolution in your writing, I think, in two very distinct ways, not that it's just limited to that. One, almost political, but political from a humanistic standpoint. And the other, very romantic. Is that a fair evaluation, you think?
Martin Gore: Yeah, that's very fair, because when just call songs political, it's... I don't like that term very much, because some of them kind of do deal with political issues, but musically doesn't really change anything, and it's... If music is... When music is, eh... Oh, what am I saying here? [laughs] Anyway, I don't like the term political, it doesn't really sum up what music does or what music is about, really.
Denis McNamara: You seem to have, like, an everyman's voice, I think, observing. Not necessarily crusading, but observing life and its good points and bad points.
Martin Gore: I think that's very fair, yeah, very true. We're not trying to really change anything. Because, as I said, music doesn't change anything. But, just observing and putting it down in music.
Denis McNamara: Okay, this is Martin Gore with us from Depeche Mode with us, LIR 92.7. Let me throw some of the songs at you, because we are limited for time, and those of you listening, if you hear glasses tinkling in the background, it's because we're sitting in some restaurant in the lobby of a hotel here. As far as the American market goes, with the exception perhaps of stations like LIR and the people who are hip to underground or dance music, the song People Are People had a big role in introducing you to an audience that perhaps were not aware of you. How did that song come to be? I mean, do you remember how you wrote that one?
Martin Gore: Well, same sort of way I write most of them: sitting in a bedroom and a 4-track, guitar, few keyboards. And when I initially wrote it, it was very kind of almost bland disco. But we realized the potential of the tune, and then we really tried to kind of, like, "mean it up", and use a lot of metal sounds and things like that, and we're really pleased with the result, Because it really worked well in the end.
Denis McNamara: There was, like, that real percussive pounding weight to the song, almost, that emphasized that "People Are People" in the background. I'm sure it was a mixture of percussion and synthesizers. Was that something which came by accident, or was that what you were looking for, that kind of power?
Martin Gore: Yeah, we just experimented with loads and loads of different sounds, like a... What's the word I'm looking for? Superimposed loads of sounds, to get some really powerful things happening.
[People Are People plays]
Denis McNamara: You were speaking before about sitting in the bedroom and writing your songs, with your guitar. I might have taken that to mean that there are many, many songs that we haven't heard yet? Do you, like, write and write continuously, or, what's the writing process for you?
Martin Gore: I find it very difficult to write when we're on the road, but I usually get inspiration from seeing things and meeting people, and things like that when we're on tour, and I just jot down notes. And then usually after a tour, we have a writing period of a month, two months, and that's when I sit down and work on those ideas. Some of them work out, some don't.
Denis McNamara: Alright, LIR 92.7. The subject: Depeche Mode, Martin Gore, who is the man who writes the words for Depeche Mode, is with us. Let me run down some of the other favourites, for instance Master And Servant. Can you tell me about that one?
Martin Gore: Everyone likes talking about that one, I can't understand why. [laughs] No, we have got quite a lot of flak, and general... not exactly radio bans, but radio stations wouldn't play that, because they felt it was too sexual, and I think we suffered a bit, radio-playwise, because of that. But it's not really a song about sex, it's not exploiting sex at all. As most of the songs are, they are about life.
[Master And Servant plays]
Denis McNamara: It would say that's an age-old theme, Master And Servant, that I thought was captured there. What is there at the end goes on a little bit there, with that little instrumental part?
Martin Gore: Nothing pervy! But Andy, I think, was wearing shorts at the time, so we got a ruler, and he hit - this is dedication, this is dedication for you - we got him to, like, to just sit there, prepare himself, and then we slapped him with a ruler on his legs. And there was the sound of the ruler hitting him, and then his cry of pain. And then, we put that into a loop and that's at the end of the song. That's dedication for you, though, he does not mind being hurt just to get a good sound for the band.
Denis McNamara: Oh... There you go. Martin Gore, that's from Depeche Mode, LIR 92.7. One thing people have remarked on - and perhaps as we get to the new record more so than any other record - that there seems to be a darker, denser side to the music and the writing of of the last few records. Do you think that's fair? Because underneath that dark, dense thing, there seems to be some very positive lyrics-thing going on.
Martin Gore: Yeah, I think it's true. We're just gradually moving in that direction over the years. I think, from the first album to the second there is like a slight move to that area, and it has just carried on over the years. Who knows what's gonna happen next year?
Denis McNamara: Well Martin Gore is with us, LIR 92.7. A big favourite is Blasphemous Rumours, a song which I think is often misunderstood by people who don't listen close enough to the words. How did that one come to be?
Martin Gore: That was mainly inspired from the early days of the band or even before the band got started, when Andy and Vince were regular churchgoers, and I just used to go along because they were my friends. I just thought it was quite interesting. I was never a practicing Christian, although they were. And when you're not involved in it, I think you really notice the hypocrisy and just the funny side to things. One thing I often quoted is this thing called the "prayer list": every week they would sit and pray for people who were seriously ill, and you could guarantee that most of them, the majority of the people who they prayed for, would die. But they took that as, like, being very, very positive, that was "God's will" and "They've gone to somewhere better". And it's just, when you're not part of it, it just seems very ridiculous, very funny. I know a lot of people out there are not gonna agree with me.
- FM -> master cassette (unknown type) -> unknown transfer -> WAV (?) -> 128kbps AAC / LC (songs and interview parts had been separated) -> MP3 (for Box.com; songs were left out and the interviews parts were merged as one MP3 file)
- Taper: Marv