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Depeche Mode’s Martin Gore and Andy Fletcher Explain How to Save the World

Electronic legends talk about making a record for an increasingly strange and troubling era

Depeche Mode Interview
Depeche Mode, photo by Anton Corbijn
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    This article originally ran in 2017.


    “Oh, we’re fucked!”

    Depeche Mode have always been keen observers of the darkest corners of the world, the shadows that haunt our psyches, but there’s a frank fatalism to lyrics like that of “Fail” from their new album, Spirit. It’s as if the world can no longer bear the nuances of their past. And while those howls stand out in the midst of the technical machinery of their classic pop sense, so too do Martin Gore’s highest highs, insisting on “So Much Love” that even though we’re facing something bleak, there remains a spirit that can’t be broken — as long as we choose to nourish it. “You can forsake me/ Try to break me/ But you can’t shake me now,” Dave Gahan sings on the track.

    The key difference on Spirit, it would seem, is that the trio are actively looking outward rather than looking deeper inward, assessing the world and its reality in addition to the cracks and dents it places on the soul that rests within. Depeche Mode hit a peak in the mid-‘80s, exploring their own world that seemed just one or two darker shades away from the pop machine, yet still so inherently tied to it. They discussed faith, suicide, sin, control, power, obsession, and more, all through a series of unstoppable radio-ready hooks. They made the sacrilegious “Personal Jesus” into a smash hit and infected dance floors across the world for decades with the bondage-dominated “Master and Servant.”

    Their music celebrates wounds and scars, looking deeper and deeper at them until you sink right through the skin. With their new album, though, the spirit has escaped the dermis, and Depeche Mode are out in the barren wasteland, searching for where it’s gone and finding a way to convince it to return.

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    That fight for the last shreds of society’s spirit is apparent on the phone as well, though, of course, without the anthemic melodies of the album. Both Gore and Andy Fletcher look at this new album as a powerful statement from their iconic band, and it really translates. “In some ways it couldn’t have come out at a better time,” Gore says. “But if it had come out six months ago, it would’ve still worked because the world was still a mess. It’s just plummeted even deeper into the abyss.”

    Even among all that darkness, though, the two are quick to laugh, chuckling when looking back at their legendary career and finding the lunacy of today’s political spectrum equally ludicrous.


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