Home » Depeche Mode, interview in Mondo Sonoro (2023)

Depeche Mode, interview in Mondo Sonoro (2023)

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Depeche Mode, interview in Mondo Sonoro (2023)

“Memento Mori” is the return of Depeche Mode to the game, six years later, after that hard political spear that meant “Spirit” in 2017. Album that develops through a real need on the part of the now duo to heal wounds by protecting themselves with what they do best: music.

Dave Gahan and Martin Gore’s strategy for getting through the grief that came with the loss of Andy Fletcher has been to give themselves completely to the music and let it heal. Finishing a book whose first pages were written by Fletcher himself and taking the project of their lives one step further. Since that May 26, 2022, a huge shadow has constantly accompanied the group in each new step they take, but at the same time there is also a special light that has made “Memento Mori”the fifteenth album of his career, becomes one of the best and most important albums for Depeche Mode of the last years.

Martin welcomes us via Zoom with a huge smile and exceptional kindness to tell us about this new era. Andy was always present in every conversation and answer, even if he did not appear directly in the questions. There was a constant feeling in the air of wanting to make it clear that he is also part of the history of this latest album.

“We’ve never kept such a distance between albums and touring without doing anything. It’s felt like forever!”

Dave said that making this album was his way of turning to music as a refuge and getting away from the world for a bit at a very hard time for you. What has the creation of this record meant to you?
Well, as you know, this album was already planned and we were supposed to record it, obviously, together with Andy. So, well, we didn’t have much choice but to move on since we had studio time booked, the producer we wanted to do it with, our sound engineer… Also, for our own sanity and mental health I think it was important to release this album. Focusing on music helped us heal and get through the grieving process. I felt that we needed to start moving and working again after such a long hiatus because we had never kept such a distance between albums and tours without doing anything. It has become eternal for us!

It is an album that talks about the acceptance of death and the passage of time in a society that does not value it enough. What is the main message you want to convey to the public?
I really like how the album title brings together that whole concept very well. Although we had that title already thought of before Andy’s death, I think his death gave it a lot more meaning and weight. And well, I hope that all those who have never heard of this phrase before pay attention, take it seriously and understand that life is short. You have to make the most of life.

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The album opens with “My Cosmos Is Mine”, a track with a dark and personal atmosphere, a song that talks about how sometimes we go into our own world to protect ourselves and don’t listen to our surroundings.
Yeah, that was the last song I wrote for this record and I wrote it right after the Russian invasion of the Ukraine. I feel that in recent years things have not stopped happening that show that we do not have real control over our lives and there is only a constant bombardment that never stops. And yes, that’s what you say, talk about building a defense around your brain and saying it’s over, go away, leave me alone, this is mine.

But hey, beyond all that darkness with which this new era begins, “Memento Mori” has a lot of light and more positive melodies. What sound were you looking for for this era?
Yeah, it’s funny, a lot of people have told us that in some parts it sounds a bit ’80s, others a bit ’90s, maybe more modern sounds too. But, well, the truth is that we never sit down and plan these things, everything is much more organic. Each element is born and they just come together naturally, that’s what I think. Once we finish the record, we can sit down to listen to it and comment on what it reminds us of and what sound it leads. But honestly, we never decided exactly what percentage of the album we would like to have more of an 80s sound or any other style.

For the production of this album you have worked in your own studio together with James Ford (Gorillaz) and Marta Salogni (Björk, MIA). Tell me a little more about the process.
For the first time we worked in my own studio, from home. The truth is that I think it was very important, especially for me, because I go there every day anyway, it is something that is part of my routine, that I do most days of the week. And well, after Andy’s death it became much easier to make the record there because it was as if I was doing what I did every day, walking to my studio, but with Dave, James and Marta. The truth is that it would have been much harder and more difficult for us to work in the same studios where we made the last albums. In the Santa Barbara studio we have created our last five or six records and it would have been very painful to do it without Andy sitting there. And well, working with James again has been a pleasure because when we recorded “Spirit” we got along really well and we realized how effective he is. On the other hand, Marta has contributed a lot to this album since she loves to work from a more analog point of view, surrounding herself with old machines and reel tapes everywhere. And the truth is that that has given an atmosphere and a texture to the particular album.

“I’ve always been amazed that our audience spans so many different age ranges”

It is one of the best Depeche Mode albums in recent years, with a very rich and solid sound. Do you think you will be able to reach a new audience? The truth is that the central message of the album can connect with a younger target. That idea of ​​seizing the moment and living life.
It has always amazed me that our audience spans so many different age ranges. There are a lot of adolescent audiences that come to our concerts and that at this stage of our career leave us speechless. I don’t know if this new album will reach more people, but I do tell you that I feel like “Ghosts Again”, the first single from the record, is probably the most catchy and perfect track we’ve released in a long time. And I’m not saying it’s mainstream pop, because I don’t think it is, but it has that thing about it that Dave and I listen to it over and over and over and you never get bored of it. And the truth is that if it has that strength, it may lead us to connect with a new audience.

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And what would you say is the most personal track for you on this new album, considering such a special record?
I don’t know if there is a song that I like more than the rest, I have always thought about the concept of an album. I love the meaning of the album in its entirety, listening to it from start to finish and seeing its evolution.

It is an album full of romantic stories, blows, celebrations, learning experiences and phantasmagorical loves… Where do the lyrics of this project mainly come from?
Well, I think it’s important to mention at this point the fact of working with someone external for the first time. So four of the songs on the album were written with Richard Butler. It’s something he had never done before and I think it was a great help. In April 2020 he contacted me and told me that we should compose together, I asked him if he had any ideas in his head and he sent me some lyrics in response. That’s where it all started, we wrote a lot of songs together, but we had no idea what they would be for. I think at that point it even crossed our minds that they were themes for a side project. However, sitting down and listening to the songs we had created I felt they fit very well with the Depeche Mode aesthetic and would be perfect for one of our albums. So I called Richard and asked what he thought of him. In the end four of those songs co-written with Richard made it onto the record and later on I also co-wrote one of the songs with Dave, “Wagging Tongue”, and I think it’s also the first time we’ve ever written lyrics to a song. together. Hmm, on second thought, I think we’ve written other songs before, but they’ve come out as rarities, B-sides, or maybe bonus tracks on a deluxe edition or something.

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The album closes with “Speak to Me”, a song with a great orchestral weight and that generates a very special tension as the end of the album. How do you feel about this topic?
I think it’s a song that has a great atmosphere. I love the way it builds and builds and then just comes to an abrupt close. I think it’s a perfect ending to an album.

Finally, what do you expect from this new tour with the new album? How are you approaching such an important step as the return to the stage with everything that has happened in recent years?
We’re going to play five or six songs from the new album, and then we’ll play a bunch of songs from our musical history like we always do. And well, it is going to be difficult for us since obviously everything we are doing is strange to do without thinking about Andy. Every time we do a photo shoot now it’s just the two of us, when we worked on the album it was just the two of us and now when we go on tour we’re going to feel that huge empty space where Andy was. We will not stop thinking about him.

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