Depeche Mode Press File


Photo of the group by unknown photographer. Reproduced without permission


Another Rock Week At The ICA

ICA, London - August 26, 1981
1981 Tour

"The second day of the ICA Rock week sees the immaculate combination of The Chefs, Tarzan 5 and Depeche Mode. The Chefs are high-grade Peelie [John Peel?] pop, accessible, catchy, euphonic and slightly uninspiring, with a faultless if faintly languid cover of "Femme Fatale" to their credit. Tarzan 5 play exigent tribal rhythms and keep up an urgent beat pounding.

Two clean supports, but the anticipation is for chart cherubs Depeche Mode; they bring their happy synth pop to the ICA, and everyone dances. TOTP weenies’ first gig, new life for a night, and jolted instamatic photos for the inside of next term’s desk.

To lump together Depeche Mode with Duran/Visage/Spands and label the resulting package "Futurist" is convenient, conventional, conjectural, and a contravention of the truth; in short, a con. Birds of a feather they may seem, but while Duran and their ilk resemble avaricious magpies, cold eyes roving, darting, eager to pilfer glinting ideas, personal inspiration a no-go, sharp beaks prising their way into the nation’s hearts and bank books, Depeche Mode are inoffensive fledglings, wide-eyed and fluffy haired, experimenting, investigating, neither making pretentious usurpations, nor wallowing in superficial bliss, "getting more shags"…

Spands and Duran sport shop-bought panache – nip along to King’s Road, cash turns to dash in a flash. Their personal criteria are very different from Depeche Modes’ – Dagger and Strange yearn to be associated with words like ‘phenomenon’, ‘new cult’ and ‘self expression’ whereas Depeche have no objection to being mentioned in the same breath as Orange sorbet, Jackanory, and the pub down the road.

Depeche are danceable, electric, earnest and endearing, young, glowing and sweet, they’ve got more poise than pose, and they’re proud to appeal to all. Besides, they smile more."

Leyla Sanai
New Musical Express, 5th September, 1981

Reprinted WITHOUT PERMISSION for non-profit use only.


JUST CAN'T GET ENOUGH - released September 7, 1981

"Bubblegum is back! OK, the title’s embarrassingly banal, and its repetition throughout the song gets very wearing, but the thing as a whole is hugely enjoyable, bouncy and boppy and very close to irritating. The latter quality is essential in bubblegum; it’s got to get on your nerves a bit, to be annoyingly catchy, and the record is. A hit of generous proportions – those baby faces will be back on TOTP before you can say "the Archies"."

Record Mirror, 12th September, 1981

Reprinted WITHOUT PERMISSION for non-profit use only.

Click on image to see original review

"For a group supposedly taking a young and fresh attitude to electro-synth pop I thought 'New Life' was a very strained and clinical set of ideas and gestures, but this is a big improvement over the recent chart favourite. 'Just Can't Get Enough' has some lovely textures, moulded into shape by the reliable Daniel Miller. It's a slight but memorable song and Depeche Mode's charm will remain querulous until their song-writing allows them to examine and expand their worth."

Unknown reviewer
New Musical Express, 12th September, 1981

Reprinted WITHOUT PERMISSION for non-profit use only.

"I can, you will. Catchy, disposable. Percussion and synths and repetition. Modes and Rockers. Product for an all-too-easily satisfied market, and empty reverberation before the final silence."

Patrick Humphries
Melody Maker, 12th September, 1981

 Dreaming Of Me 7"/New Life 7"/Just Can't Get Enough 12" (Mute)

"Depeche Mode are all under 20, and consist of synthesisers, a drum machine and an effervescent singer. Their recorded history consists of only the three singles above, all of which have done very well on the British charts.

Although there is a disco influence, they owe more to sixties' pop than anything. Clean, sharp production on what are basically teen love songs. It would be hard to dislike Depeche Mode, they're making music to have fun to. Dance, dance, dance!"

Unknown reviewer
Rip It Up

Reprinted WITHOUT PERMISSION for non-profit use only.

"A less memorable but sound enough follow-up to "New Life"; well executed and good for dancing, but not so strong lyrically as recent hits by the Mode's rivals."

Tim de Lisle
Smash Hits, 17th August, 1981

Smash Hits 'Just Can't Get Enough' lyric sheet
Click to enlarge


The following items review Depeche Mode's gig at The Venue, London on September 19, 1981.

The Perfect Fantasy

"I'm biased ... some six months ago I was lucky enough to corner four funny kids, whose collective denomer was little more than a buzz about town, for a chat in the Lyceum changing rooms.

The results prompted some nirk - one of the many eager, as always, to dote on the past through rose-t(a)inted perspectives - to put pen to paper and cite our little tete-a-tete as endemic of the so-called slipped standards in your soaraway MM.

Four further weeks (love 'em! love 'em!) saw Depeche Mode slapping down the mortgage on a chart position destined to be theirs for years and years to come - sweet revenge; a pert two-fingers to our letter-writing friend and the definitive dawning of a New Life.

You think that's all? Listen. I knew they could be good, knew they were good, but this good? ... never!

Depeche, were so right they made you forget about The Venue, forget about the bar and the burgers, crack a smile, grab your partner and dance. Two sold-out shows - the earlier one for under-18's (I couldn't get in), the later one for big bro' and sis' - both in support of Amnesty and both (I'm reliably informed about the first) damn near perfect.

But obviously - they had to be. As unintentional perpetrators of a polite revolution Depeche are/were the first to intuitively put into practice longstanding electro-pop theories; are responsible for this year's three best chart singles; are the reason The League's "Hard Times/Love Action" is a laugh and not a logorhythmic exercise; the reason Orch. Man's "Souvenir" has slipped from edgy bubblegum into easy ballads; one good reason, with "New Life"/"Just Can't Get Enough" (Oh, didn't you know - they're the same song suckers!) why TOTP is sometimes still worth watching.

Because of Depeche Mode, '81 pop is no longer having to say you're sorry.

Tonight, the wonder is that they sound just like the records. They could never be technically bad - their machines wouldn't let them down that far - but they could certainly soullessly go-through-the-motions - something which, ta God, they're too young and excited to do just yet.

They look a vision too - all malleable puppy fat equally at home over tea with your gran or snogging down the disco. So sweet; I worry. Sooner or later (please make it later!) they'll start getting tainted, serious, showbizzy. Not yet though. New selections from the forthcoming LP nod more towards Motown than Krautrock mantra, and "Pretty Boy" even slips too far that way dipping into Shangri-Las self-parody. Daniel Miler should have learned with The Silicon Teens - too much sugar makes you sick.

One other grouse: they played too long - fifty-five minutes instead of the usual 40-odd. That much dancing begins to get ugly, physical, real. Depeche Mode are a fantasy potential more-than-fulfilled, the Archies of the Eighties, a dream coming true. So short, so sweet; don't nudge, don't pinch - I never wanna wake up."

Steve Sutherland
Melody Maker, 26th September, 1981

Reprinted WITHOUT PERMISSION for non-profit use only.

See the original review here


"Dreaming of (fa)me? Then awake, ye brave souls, for your 15 minutes start now. It’s hardly been the roughest ride up the charts but then smart chaps always did know how to cut corners. A few months ago, unknown. A few singles and they’re stars. What’s it all about?

Well, sharpening simplicity to a fine art has got something to do with it. An engaging melody here, an irresistible pulsebeat there and a tightness beyond reproach. Short ’n’ sweet pop songs for the pre-teens. What Madness are to the scallywags, the Modes have become to their more precocious pals – the aspiring poseurs who dream of getting a Saturday job to buy new clothes and perhaps a little synthesiser of their own. The techno-boppers of tomorrow as well as today.

And then some more. Tonight it’s another audience, the juniors having received instant recharge at the matinee. Amidst the committee or just plain curious older folks, the band look more lost than ever. Innocents abroad on an ocean of stage though they could have sold out the Hammersmith Odeon.

Are they ready for such success? Well, the growing pains are in evidence. Singer Dave Gahan is astonished by the girls grabbing kisses, blushes glowing through make-up in a contusion of near terror. Bet there are some pretty vampish visitors backstage, too!

Still, his voice holds out, even if it is rather too fashionably flat. At times he recalls the Ferry of yore but in a different context. You know the sort of thing – operating, generating, new life new life. Never did the words seem so appropriate. Churnin’, yearnin’, learnin’, burnin’ nostalgia’s rife, nostalgia’s rife. That’s true, too.

Behind David the synths and drum machines boil up a cauldron of rhythms and there’s not an anchored ankle in the house. This goes on for some time, through a lot of new material. Most of the songs stick to an unswervingly high standard, as strong as the hits and then some.

Three encores including a class Everly’s "Price Of Love" and the crowd still feel short-changed. Depeche Mode have arrived and without hype. Their eventual album will shoot straight into the Top 10. Meanwhile they’ll grow bigger and better even if those freshly-scrubbed faces do acquire a few lines in the process.

Just can’t get enough? You said it, boy."

Mike Nicholls
Record Mirror, 26th September, 1981

Reprinted WITHOUT PERMISSION for non-profit use only. Photo by unknown photographer. Reproduced without permission.

"IN RESPONSE to all the letters we've had about the difficulties of getting to (and into) live gigs, Nightsout will be carrying regular reports from shows all over the country. And what better curtain-raiser than a benefit for Amnesty International at London's Venue, especially for under-18's? Both this show (5 p.m. start and soft drinks only) and the evening performance served notice that Depeche Mode had most definitely arrived.

It's not hard to see why. A neat three synthesiser line up, one of them coupled to a drum tape, provide the backdrop for David Gahan's fragile singing style and make a perfect springboard for anything from a powerful rock 'n' roll dancebeat to long, intoxicating instrumentals.

What's more they don't need any special effects to make it all work. No slide shows, films or ridiculous costumes. Just a bunch of strong dancable tunes and the odd shaft of eerie blue light contrasting with the splashes of bright colour on stage.

Their show seems to suit The Venue, a converted cinema whose main feature of interest is a vast gantry of computerised lights which is lowered over the dance floor like a giant hovering spaceship.

The audience are all immaculately turned out as you'd expect. Practically every male in the place could have passed for a member in the band. Straw hats, crisply-starched shirts, baggy trousers and braces were the order of the day. By the time Depeche Mode had covered "New Life", "Dreaming of Me" and the pleasing new single, "Just Can't Get Enough", they were into their second well-deserved encore and had won over just about everybody in earshot. All, that is, except Barry, our new gossip reporter and roving nightbird, who remarked that David Gahan danced pretty well for a bloke whose knees appeared to be tied together. Then again, Barry's a bit new to this sort of thing and hasn't got a clue what he's talking about. (Before leaving he spilled drinks over my new shoes.)

By the end the dance floor was more than full, with luminous yo-yo's providing additional colour to the occasion. There's something both exciting and restrained about Depeche Mode's music and - judging by the girl who leapt on stage, evaded the bouncers, grabbed Martin Gore by the throat and then proceeded to politely shake his hand - the audience seemed to have caught the spirit of it perfectly.

Any complaints, anyone? Thought not."

Mark Ellen
Smash Hits, 1st October, 1981

Reprinted WITHOUT PERMISSION for non-profit use only.

Smash Hits advertise the Venue concert in 'Gigz'
Click on image to enlarge


 SPEAK AND SPELL (LP) - released October 1981

 Depeche Get In The Mode

"Irresistible Depeches! They light up a dull chart landscape, put fizz into a flat format ("futurism", forsooth), and Davy Gahan’s check suit puts the op back into pop. And all, apparently, without even trying.

Their chief skill lies in making their art sound artless; simple synthesiser melodies, Gahan’s tuneful but undramatic singing and a matter-of-fact, gimmick-free production all help achieve this unforced effect. But a good listen to their first LP reveals smartness beneath the simplicity. The whole thing opens with "New Life" and closes with "Just Can’t Get Enough", a very tidy device. In between are eight sparkling songs and one instrumental, much to admire and little to disappoint.

"I Sometimes Wish I Was Dead" belies its precious title with an infectious swing and a boppy beat, while "Puppets" is a feast of Soft Cell-ish soul with the sinister catch-line: "I’ll be your operator, baby – I’m in control…" From here it’s a leap into the football chant intro of "Boys Say Go", which conjures persuasive images of disco boys dancing (where I grew up, the best ones never danced with girls, only with each other) without descending to the trumpeting machismo of Me-And-The-Lads.

A classic Talking Heads line provides the jumping-off point for "Nodisco" (as in "this ain’t no party, this ain’t…), whose dancefloor beat avoids mundanity by virtue of the bounce and freshness that pervades all the Depeche catalogue.

"What’s Your Name" fairly jumps off the vinyl to proclaim itself The Next Single. Cheeky bubblegum backing vocals give added zest to the insanely catchy chorus: it’s a sure-fire monster hit. Upon hearing this prediction, a friend commented "Yeah, it’s moronic enough", and in his way I dare say he’s right. Their detractors will call Depeche Mode shallow, I say show me the dancing feet that ever took notice of that sort of criticism.

Side Two’s "Photographic" is like Numan at his best, but better; all the sinister phrases, both lyrical and musical, but with a rapid, danceable beat instead of the solemnity that Gazza always laid on with a sequinned trowel. "Tora! Tora! Tora!" covers similar ground; indeed, it must be said that side two is somewhat thinner than the never-fail first side.

However, the instrumental "Big Muff" and the gentle "Any Second Now", with its delightful harmonies and chimes, are a high quality trail to follow into the inevitable "Just Can’t Get Enough", a sublime single which I never seem to tire of.

In short, then: a charming, cheeky collection of compulsive dance tunes, bubbly and brief like the best pop should be. Get in the Mode!" *****

Record Mirror, 7th November, 1981

Reprinted WITHOUT PERMISSION for non-profit use only.

Talking Hook Lines

"So obviously bright, so clearly sparkling with new life, it’s a wonder they don’t burn permanent dancing shadows onto the walls.

The joy of Depeche Mode is that there’s nothing in the way – no hidden thought or ulterior purpose, just an unobstructed route to the heart. Like the title says, they speak with a winning immediacy and to hear the words is to fall under the spell.

And it’s the feet that surrender first. This is an album that’s meant to be danced rather than played. If there’s one secret tactic to Depeche Mode warfare it’s that each phrase, every contribution, can be lifted and survive as a world of its own. No line is just a collection of notes, it also carries its own rhythm. Every song is its own drum. Put the parts together and the result is a wriggling giant of motivation, persuading each muscle to jump in time with the music.

They could have got it wrong. Lord knows it can’t have been easy. Sudden acclaim, scant experience then thrust unknowing into the studio for a debut album – they should by rights have made every mistake in the book. A miracle: they came out unscathed, stronger than ever. No fancy techno-messing, just the set, the show as it’s played, one favourite after another.

What embellishments they’ve added are purely thoughtful asides and "Speak And Spell" is thankfully free of synthesizer backwashes and seas of noise. Everything that makes it onto the arrangements is there for a reason.

And it lasts. When you throw so much of the weight in that first punch there’s a danger that what lies underneath may be exhausted, that beneath the icing of fun is a hollow space where the cake should be. Depeche Mode might just be one hit wonders or five play heroes whose attraction wanes when you go for that sixth listen and suddenly realise there’s nothing left to hear.

This album says no, they’ll stay, if only because "New Life" released in the summer, and "Just Can’t Get Enough" already an adult in the charts, sound as fresh and unflagging as every new number.

There’s the gleefully untroubled surface of "What’s Your Name" or the hard disco beat of "Boys Say Go". The moody whisper of "Puppets" and the chattering instrumental "Big Muff". Even further back goes "Photographic", tautly sketched around octave-leaping bass lines and dark vocals.

But two important points. "Speak And Spell" is not stagnant, and neither is it perfect. On the first it would be wrong to assume Depeche Mode have unthinkingly etched a live concert onto vinyl. They’ve listened and been influenced. It hasn’t shaken the way of the music but the how, appearing as less archetypal synthesizer sounds (at moments shades of Yellow Magic Orchestra) or more daring harmonies – all signs of development.

At the same time "Speak And Spell" could have done with a little more breathing space. There are tracks, most noticeably "No Disco" [sic] , that repeat earlier thoughts and feels without adding fresh views. A slower race for release might have caught those flaws and substituted other songs.

Even so it’s a great album, the one they had to make to conquer fresh audiences and please the fans who just can’t get enough."

Paul Colbert
Melody Maker, 31st October, 1981

Reprinted WITHOUT PERMISSION for non-profit use only.

""Speak And Spell" is a simple sample of generous, silly, susceptible electro-tickled pop – the most ingenuous version of pup (Mode) at play with a less tolerant perception (Miller) – that despite its relentless friskiness and unprincipled cheerfulness is encouraging not exasperating. Where Orchestral Manoeuvres are sanctimonious and ultimately insubstantial, Depeche Mode are quaint, obtrusive and uplifting. Depeche Mode take things for granted: their indifference doesn’t interfere with a diverting vitality. Depeche Mode’s guitarless bubbly-fun pop is cohesive and supple: insinuating, well-highlighted, untainted by any serious thoughts or historical conditions or examinations of charisma. Depeche Mode have taste for the stupid and treat the conventional codes and details of the pretty pop song with well stirred cheek and a friendly flippancy; their sound has a practical urgency. Depeche Mode are a celebration of the immunity of pop. They perform a cheering job on the classically light and slight teenybop form. Depeche Mode, apparently, could quickly move as far up and away from constructing slightly sarcastic jingles. I have enough trust in the wit."

Paul Morley
New Musical Express, 7th November, 1981

Reprinted WITHOUT PERMISSION for non-profit use only.

"Depeche Mode utilizes commercial song formulas with almost unerring precision. Three minutes at a time can be enjoyable; more forces you to come to terms with their limitations. A simple, predictable sonic palette (synth only) heightens the difficulty ..."

Unknown reviewer
Trouser Press

Reprinted WITHOUT PERMISSION for non-profit use only.

"These boys have a sense of humour, a sense of simplicity and a sense of what's good and natural ... Synthetic textures and natural harmony make one highly vibrant whole. It's perfect, unprepossessing, unpretentious pop, but it's not so insubstantial that it just floats away. Trendy electro-disco beats go hand in hand with choirboy melodies and a merry-go-round of neo-folksy synths to make a perfectly uncontrived pop souffle."

Unknown reviewer

Reprinted WITHOUT PERMISSION for non-profit use only.

"Definately more to the Mode than meets the eye on TOTP [Top Of The Pops]. Synthesisers and bubblegum pop go together like tinned peaches and Carnation, hence their hit singles - melody, uncluttered electronics and nice voices in humanising harmony. The L.P. also sees them sending up their pretty boy image in a clever '60s spoof called "What's Your Name?", shaking you with a terrific hunk of Stevie Wonderish funk in an instrumental called "Big Muff" and gnawing at the nerve ends with the oddly menacing "Boys Say Go". Vive le différence, Depeche!" (7 out of 10)

Mike Stand
Smash Hits, 12th September, 1981

Reprinted WITHOUT PERMISSION for non-profit use only.

SEE Appendix A for the Rolling Stone review

CLICK here to read a more recent assessment of 'Speak & Spell'

DM comment on the 'Speak & Spell' album cover (among other topics) here

SEE also: Christchurch Star review



Author unknown
Sounds, 7th November 1981

Depeche Mode making noises on Moogs, ARP's and other things

"STOP that clacking!" Depeche Mode couldn’t win. Even when they plugged headphones into their synthesisers, Vince Clarke’s mum complained about the noise – of clacking keys. But those eerie, silent rehearsals when they sat around in a drafty Essex garage have brought them exciting rewards.

They can make as much noise as they like, now that ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’ has blasted round the nation’s jukeboxes and turned them into a band everyone wants to hear. With their last hit single selling well over 500,000 million copies all the mums of this band of 20 year olds will be glad they didn’t stay with nice, safe, boring jobs as assurance clerks.

Depeche Mode sound like they should be part of the Futurist Movement, striking dramatic poses and clad in the latest satins and feathers from Chez Knickers. In fact they are busy, earnest and slightly nervous young synthesiser operatives (first class), who have been swept along by the tide of events. And the last thing they want is to be mixed up with some kind of spurious fashion cult.

At the same time they don’t want to be seen as techno freaks, only happy while poring over wiring diagrams or synthesiser manuals. The only label they won’t wince at too much is when they are called a pop group. It leaves their future wide open, and they are only just beginning.

"Remember," say Depeche Mode, "we are a very young group".

They were busy rehearsing and checking out their keyboards in readiness for their first major tour in a South London studio last week and there was a faint hint of apprehension in the air, as they pondered on the realities of "live" gigging.

The band have been accused of being too subservient to the gods of mechanisation, particularly because they have ditched the idea of using a drummer. Andrew Fletcher, one of the triumvirate of keyboard players, explains. "When we started rehearsing, using a drummer was impractical because of the noise, and lack of room. So we used various drum machines, which were all bad! The first one was like one of those they put on organs. It had rumba and samba, and rock/waltz. All the drum machines we tried have their limitations, but now we pre-record all the drum rhythms and play tapes on gigs. We don’t use any machines at all now."

Singer David Gahan told how they had also tried putting all their drum sounds on a cassette and then having it programmed, But when they got the tapes back, and played them in the studio the sounds had altered. "We’d tried computerising them but it didn’t work. So now we use our own tapes."

THE evolution of synthesisers, which has resulted in the [equipment] becoming more adaptable, portable and cheaper, has enabled bands like Depeche Mode to flourish. None of them can play piano, and Martin Gore only got his first synth a year ago.

Their new album is called ‘Speak And Spell’ and reflects the knock on effect where the human species is being more and more influenced by its own creations. It’s quite likely that a whole generation of kids will grow up talking in flat, robotic voices, and learning only the information that is stored in retrieval systems.

But Depeche Mode remain disarmingly human, Martin admits he had his synth for a month and didn’t know he could change the sounds. "You know that sound that goes – WAUGH? I was stuck on that for ages. And when we made our first demo all the tracks have the same sounds on it." He chuckles at their amazing naivety.

Did they find it hard to come up with new fresh sounds, for each number?

"It’s not hard," says Andy, "but if we do find something new, it hardly ever fits in with everything else. We normally stick to the regular synth sounds. Bad really. But if we keep on searching all the time, the band would never work."

Andy says that they are becoming more and more involved in keyboards and have long discussions with their mentor, Daniel Miller, who is "Mr. Mute". He runs their label and does a spot of destiny shaping. Between them they sit around and discuss the significance of the Moog synthesiser.

"Daniel does everything but the menial duties," laughs Martin. "I ‘phoned him up the other day about our tee shirts, and he said ‘Don’t talk to me about that. That’s just menial’."

Andy says they are experimenting with more and more instruments, even if they reject some of the tones they produce. And he gave a demonstration of a particularly discordant row on the nearest machine to hand.

"We are still trying to find a drum machine to connect up with, and Vince is into it as well. He’s making a collection of synths. It’s an expensive hobby. There’s definitely fashions in synthesisers. F’rinstance. Billy Currie [of Ultravox - BB] uses an ARP Odyssey and I’m sure loads of kids go out and buy one so they can go ‘Wreeeeeeeee!’ They all want to do their Billy bit."

When Depeche Mode start imitating their own instruments they tend to sound like a paper and comb band entertaining the troops.

They may have to resort to such primitive methods on occasions, as synths are still temperamental beasts and when they bought one famous and expensive make, according to Andy’s simple but graphic description, "It broke".

"We started out with the cheaper modes in the £200 range, like the Moog Prodigy. They were all little monophonic synths."

DEPECHE Mode represent the grand tradition of British home taught musicianship, using the electronic equivalent of tea chest basses and washboards.

"None of us play piano," says Andy. "And it would take a long time to learn. "You’d have to go into it seriously, and we haven’t got the time. Obviously I would like to have proper keyboard lessons. The synths have given us freedom it’s true. And it’s a nice little hobby as well – music." He said it with irony, and the band laughed at some hidden joke. "I’d recommend it – this rock’n’roll business. I used to be an assurance clerk for two years. I’ve always been an assurance person. It wasn’t too bad actually, just monotonous."

They concealed their excitement about having a succession of hits and their debut album all within a matter of months, perhaps anticipating that the real testing time for the band lies ahead.

"We’re not going to put out a single from the album, and there won’t be a new one until January. It’s not worth it," says Andy. "I think it’s bad to put out a single at the same time as an album."

David says ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’ took an age to record because they still had ‘New Life’ on the boil and a lot of their time was taken up with interviews.

"We just couldn’t concentrate on recording and the first time we did ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’ it was terrible. We got rid of most of what we had done, and recorded more tracks. It was a relief when it came out. We wouldn’t say it was music for dancing, just in case we decide to do something else. But most of the songs are dancey. Vince wrote ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’ and it’s massive in Portugal we hear. Perhaps we should do a concert there and the whole population would come to the gig."

Was their hit wholly representative of the music of Depeche Mode? "It’s much more varied, as you can hear on the album. If they played a track on the radio, you wouldn’t be able to say, ‘Oh, that’s Depeche Mode’."

How far had they got with coping with audiences, and their strange animal demands for satisfaction?

"We’re still learning," says Andy. "Really we just get up and play. We’re only young and we’ve only been going 15 months as a band, and it’s only now we’ve started to have quite big audiences."

Says David: "I’d like to sit down and design a show, but none of us have had time to think about it. Maybe we’d like to have a light show…"

The band have their priorities. Much needs to be done in all departments. Their ambition is eventually to be able to take out a road show with props and sophisticated equipment, much more than just a blowing gig.

"We face a dilemma," says Andy, "because a lot of our audience are under 18 and the places we play, only older kids are allowed in. So a lot of people can’t come to see us. We tried early evening shows, but it’s really tiring playing twice a night."

Dave objects to getting wet with sweat and then having to wait around two hours for the next show and the possibility of a different and decidedly dodgy atmosphere. "You say, ‘Oh no, I really don’t fancy it!’ I do jump around, and work up a sweat, but that’s mainly due to the lights. It depends how much I’m enjoying it and what the audience is like."

A keyboard line up tends to restrict movements anyway, but it was the price of breaking free from the guitar tradition. "We’ve got nothing against guitars, and we have played them in the past," says Andy. "We may experiment with guitars again one day, but it’s so much easier with a synthesiser. There is a lot of good guitar music around but you have to be pretty good to use the guitar."

Martin quoted Daniel Miller on the subject: "He says that if you have really good ideas in your head, you have to be a technically good musician to get them out. But a synthesiser helps a lot!"

"Rock musicians say you can’t express yourself with a synthesiser. Soulless is the word. But what is there in whacking a guitar? Every heavy metal riff is near enough the same anyway."

THE band look a bit baffled when it comes to discussing their influences, because they have grown up listening to synthesiser music and have absorbed its language in unconscious fashion.

"It’s a hard question," says David. "People ask who inspired us. But I can’t say who inspired me to get up and sing or write a song. Some people listen to the same artists all the time and learn from them. All the moody bands will give some obscure name from the past like Velvet Underground."

"We’ve been influenced by everything we’ve heard since we were eight years old," says Andy. "Every time you hear a record on the radio, whether you like it or not, the influences combine."

Depeche Mode clearly haven’t modelled themselves on any other band, although they will admit to quite liking Kraftwerk.

"We didn’t want to stay in garages, and obviously the dream is to be successful," says Andy. "But we never thought it would happen. It just has! We’ve never struggled and we haven’t been gigging for years and years. When we first took our plugger ‘Dreaming Of Me’ and he said it was amazing, we didn’t really believe him."

They started by making a demo tape which they took around all the record companies, and they were totally convinced they would get a deal. They listen to it now and think it’s terrible, but they were confident they had some worthwhile music to offer, even if they didn’t believe it was chart material.

Said David: "We got turned down, and no-one was interested. All of a sudden, everyone was interested and the majors were queueing to sign us. Suddenly that style of music came in, and they were all after us. We were associated with this movement and we had a tag. But we weren’t really anything to do with this Futurist thing, or New Romantic whatever."

The one immediate bonus success has brought them is that the band who started out playing small local clubs and pubs are no longer a support act. "When we used to support, we got treated so bad," said Dave. "Especially at certain places in London, which I won’t mention. They tread all over you, and to the PA blokes, you’re nothing. It’s always ‘Where’s the support?’ They won’t even mention your name. Now we are the headliners – they love us. We’re playing two nights at the Lyceum – so we are the big band now!

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by Don Stewart
Basildon Evening Echo, 12th November 1981

The four young men of the Depeche Mode band jumped out of their Bristol hotel beds early on Tuesday morning.

It was an unheard of happening on their nationwide tour.

Pop stars traditionally do not rise early and these young men are right now on the crest of a pop wave, with a single and an album riding high in the charts.

But this was not like any other day of the tour for the band that, in six months, has shot from obscurity to being one of the hottest properties in the pop business.

Vince Clare, Martin Gore, Andrew Fletcher and Dave Gahan were pop star heroes on their way to play before their very own, the people from the streets around where they live, the kids from the schools they once went to.

John Botting, their road manager, said the minibus journey from the West Country was like none other of the tour so far. The boys were excited about going home – and it showed.

Basildon was the ninth stop of their 12 venues which had them playing from Newcastle and Edinburgh down to Manchester, Birmingham and Nottingham.

Tonight they will play to 2,500 in Poole, on Saturday they will be in Leicester and the tour will finish on Sunday at the Lyceum in London.

But Tuesday night was home town night and this was special.

Raquel’s disco was full to its 850 capacity. Advance sale tickets had been snapped up weeks ago. The queue for the 100 kept back for sale at the door on the night was stretching round the building by 7.00pm.

It has been a fantastic 1981 so far for the all-electric Basildon band that was formed only in the autumn of last year.

The first hint of success came in early Spring when their first single, Dreaming Of Me, neared the top 50 in the record charts.

Their next record, New Life, shot into the top 20 but could not quite nudge into the top 10. But last week their latest, Just Can’t Get Enough, made it.

Now their first album, Speak and Spell, is poised to get into the top 10 only a week after being released. It cannot fail because advance orders for the album totalled 80,000.

Success does not appear to have made much difference to them

They stood around the dance floor of Raquels before the show hardly distinguishable from the army of technicians building the huge battery of amplifiers that would later assault the eardrums of the fanatical hundreds.

They were as shy of a newspaper interview then as they were when I first talked with them in May.

Vince, 20, said that as far as he was concerned success meant that they worked harder and he smoked more cigarettes.

A stubble of fair whiskers was sprouting, matching his blond hair and making him look older than when I last saw him six months ago.

How was life pop star style, with a wardrobe full of expensive clothes, cars, high living?

"I bought myself a new pair of leather boots in Edinburgh," he said. "They cost me £10."

To lead singer, Dave Gahan, 20, success meant he was able to sign off the dole, not that he noticed he was much better off.

His sensuous face carries a more worried look than it used to as he feels a more professional concern that the show must be right. He likes to help set up the equipment even though there are technicians to do that for him now.

The Depeche Mode circus moves around the country in three vehicles carrying a tour crew and musicians of 15.

Instruments and amplifiers are packed into an HGV, a car with five technicians follows it.

Then comes the mini-bus with the Basildon four, two musicians of the support band, Blancmange, the tour manager and the fiancees of Dave and Martin, respectively Jo Fox, 19, of Billericay, and Anne Swindell, 18, of Basildon.

The girls work on the promotions side of the tour, dealing with requests from fans and selling tee-shirts.

Tall Andrew Fletcher, 20, leaned against a wall watching cables being hauled into place. There was no difference now in the way he lived or the way he felt since Depeche Mode became a top band, he said.

"Fame and fortune, what’s that?" Martin Gore, 20, grinned and added, "We’re not famous."

The band had just finished their sound test. The amps, the synthesizers and all the controls had been set up. For a test piece they played I Take Pictures [Photographic] as Robin Woosey got them on film.

During a brief break in preparations I was driving Martin to his home in Shepeshall, Basildon, for a quick cup of tea with his mother.

Not famous? So why were hundreds waiting outside Raquels when they had no hope of tickets I asked, nodding towards the huge queue.

"Not really famous," he said. "And we have not made a lot of money."

What the band do make they plough back into the business. Martin is taking delivery of a new synthesizer this week.

His mother, Pamela, is proud and says she helped start Martin on a musical career when she bought him his first guitar when he was 12 or 13.

His two sisters, Karen, 14, and Jackie, 13, would be at the show. "We get teased at school about him," said Jackie, who idolises Martin.

It is around 10 o’clock that night when the support bands have done their bit and Depeche Mode make an appearance.

There is a release of the restrained hysteria as the audience of mainly young girls shriek a welcome.

A few years ago their shrieks would have drowned the musicians – but not any more.

Those amps are too powerful. They crush screams and the beat hits the body like powerful punches.

Hundreds crush against the barriers and the strong men attendants of the disco make themselves human props to hold back the barriers from the stage.

Six months ago Depeche Mode were good. Now they are very good, their professionalism is complete.

But just for a few more hours later that night they returned to being simply four Basildon boys, safely asleep in their own beds.

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DEPECHE MODE are at present down to trio size, following the departure of the band's principal writer Vince Clarke. He apparently decided to quit the band a couple of months ago, but stayed on with them while they fulfilled their autumn commitments. Clarke will continue to write material for the group, though he will also be composing for other artists and for himself in a solo capacity.

At press time, Depeche Mode were still seeking a replacement to join them specifically for live work, and they expect to be back to quartet size for the start of their 12-concert February [1982] tour - announced in our Christmas issue. But they will remain a three-piece for recording purposes and, in this format, will have a new single titled 'See You' released by Mute Records on January 25.

New Musical Express, 2nd January, 1982

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Au Revoir, Vince

Vince Clark has left Depeche Mode. No hard feelings or anything; he's now just "not a permanent member". He's off so he can "concentrate on song-writing" and intends to offer the results to anyone who wants them, including Depeche Mode.

Smash Hits ('Bitz' column), 24th December, 1981

Dave Gahan discusses the reasons for Vince's departure here

On to 1982