Depeche Mode's Abu Dhabi F1 concert draws near!
With more than 100 million in record sales and an estimated live audience in excess of 30 million, Depeche Mode have come a long way since their humble beginnings in the early 1980s.
Synth-driven hit singles such as ‘New Life’ ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’, and ‘See You’ kept them regularly flying high in the UK charts.
But music fans surely wouldn’t have imagined that Essex boys Dave Gahan and co would have survived more than 30 years in the fickle world of popular music.
Witness their F1 closing show on Sunday at Yas Island - or indeed any of their sell-out concerts in Europe or America in the recent past - and you will be left in do doubt that Depeche Mode are in music’s major league.
Smash hits in the late 80s and early 90s, such as ‘Personal Jesus’, ‘Enjoy The Silence’, and
‘I Feel You’ - accompanied by classy Anton Corbijn-directed videos - brought them cult ‘outsider’ status and a global following.
Part of the appeal was down to charismatic lead singer Gahan, who famously cheated death several times in the 90s while in the grip of hard drugs. Now in their 50s, the band are rocking harder than ever on stage thanks to a new, clean-living ethos.
Main songwriter Martin Gore, who caught up with 7DAYS for a quick chat over the phone from his home in LA, explains: “We all have to be fit now - I mean Dave is super fit. He starts training maybe six months before a tour starts and he’s got an intense regime that he goes through. He was doing it every day, and now I think it is every other day. For his age you’ll see - he’ll have the shirt or the waistcoat off by the end!”
In 2009, Gahan had another health scare - a cancerous tumour was removed from his bladder after the singer had been complaining about stomach problems. He’s had a clean bill of health ever since the successful op, and he’s as hungry as ever for the spotlight, as Gore explains: “His workload onstage is incredible. Running around and getting the audience going is all part of his act, and probably one of those things that has made us so successful in that live environment.”
It’s not just Gahan who has adopted a healthier lifestyle. Gore says: “We have all changed at different rates. Dave had his well-documented period a long time ago now - that was around 1996. It has been a long time since he even picked up a drink. We’ve all been down that path to certain extents. I gave up drinking myself eight years ago and it’s a very different atmosphere - it’s conducive for a good working environment.
It is a very different experience to how it used to be - for one thing it is a lot easier to remember things now! Sometimes we’ll talk about something, which might be brought up from our history - maybe 15 or 20 years ago - and we can’t really remember!”
One particular honour that Gore won’t forget is a cover version of 1989 single ‘Personal Jesus’ by the late, great ‘Man In Black’, Johnny Cash. He says:
“I was completely bowled over by the fact that he decided to do it. I got a call from a friend who heard it on the radio and I didn’t believe them. People tend to go for clearance on covers. But if it’s Jonny Cash, you’re not going to turn him down. I’ve always said it’s the closest you will ever come to Elvis covering your music!”
With 13 studio albums and 50 singles under their belts, Depeche Mode are a well-oiled machine. But what is the key to their success? It could be simple geography.
Gore enjoys life in LA, while singer Gahan is based in New York and third member Andrew Fletcher lives a continent away in London. And Gore says: “We go through long periods where we don’t really see each other and we don’t really talk. I think, after being together so long, it’s more like a family environment. You might go and visit your sisters or your mum now and again, but you might not see them for a year. Once we start a project, we’ll be living on top of each other for the best part of two years with recording, promotion and tour. It’s a strange existence. And I think its only natural that you want to disappear for a while. It’s nothing to do with not getting on, or those kind of things. It’s just natural.”
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