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Author Topic: 1981: Speak and Spell  (Read 56016 times)

Offline Angelinda

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Re: 1981: Speak and Spell
« Reply #15 on: 26 June 2012 - 04:16:47 »
1981-03-21 - NME (UK) - BASILDON A LA MODE

[Taken from the now-defunct website]

[NME, 21st March 1981. Words: Chris Bohn. Pictures: Peter Anderson.]
" If people draw any conclusion from the lyrics it’s up to them. We don’t set out to portray any particular image of innocence, we don’t pretend or anything. "
Summary: A short but incisive early piece, with contributions from all band members. The article treats the new band very much as an unknown quantity, picking up on their innocence but without overdoing it. The author looks at the contemporary music scene and tries to predict their placing within it. Also featured are a brief news clipping and gig advert. [984 words]

    Mute maestro Daniel Miller has a notoriously sweet tooth - one that’s balanced by a taste for bitter extremes. The opposite poles of the spectrum are reflected on his label by Non’s noise at the one end and the insipidly saccharine Silicon Teens at the other. No surprise then that he has helped produce the fluffiest meringue of the moment in Depeche Mode’s “Dreaming Of Me”.
    “Dreaming” is one of those instant airplay records that are more a matter of intuition than contrivance – like OMITD’s debut “Electricity”. An infectious synth melody should guarantee it playlisting, but it’s the earnest, clutching teen vocal that elevates it.
    Ironically, writer Vince Clarke is the only one of the quartet who’s no longer a teen. He is – ulp! – 21. “Twenty,” he lies gracelessly when the others reveal their ages during a short confrontation in a backroom at Rough Trade. [1]
    Due to their extremely shy natures the four have chosen to be chaperoned by producer Miller, whom they refer to as Uncle Daniel. Only nine months into a fruitful career, they haven’t done many interviews, and generally support the picture of a guileless but adventurous pop group that one might glean from the single.
    Depeche Mode come from Basildon. (Sentence Of The Week – Ed.). They are bass synth player Andrew Fletcher, an insurance man; David Gahan, lead vocalist, electronic percussionist and trainee window dresser; the silent Martin Gore, synthesist and banker; and Vincent Clarke, writer, synthesist and otherwise unemployed.
    Their decision to switch from the more conventional guitar trio to an all electronic line-up was obviously influenced by the attractive pop of The Normal and OMITD. They recruited David, bought synths on the HP – “Costs £25 a month,” reveals Andrew. But why the switch?
    “We didn’t get into them just for the fashion,” insists David. “It just happened that way. A few of our friends were into them and we just liked the sounds.”
    “And the sounds come easier than with the guitars,” admits Andrew.
    Meanwhile, the escalation of interest in electronic dance music meant that hometown and nearby discos like Rayleigh Crocs were giving over their busiest nights to le Beau Monde, mixing soul with the pop of Numan, Human League, Normal, Ultravox, Visage, etc.
    “It’s strange,” reveals Vincent, “that the kids who went to soul clubs are now moving over to this; we’re playing an old soul club in Dartford soon which Rusty Egan’s opening as – ”
    “It’s just that electronic pop is commercially viable now, whereas two years ago it wasn’t,” interrupts Andrew. Yeah, even Human League have got a hit now after three years of trying. And a hustling DJ like Stevo manages to convince Phonogram of the viability of an electronic pop compilation, the misnamed “Some Bizzare Album”.
    Probably more attracted by the electronic line-up than the “normal” pop Depeche Mode make, Stevo flattered them into contributing “Photographic” – great tune, shame about the words – to the record.
    “We met Stevo at Crocs and he asked us to do a track for the album,” recalls Vincent. “At the time we had no record company contract and we were kind of interested in this sort of thing so we did it. We kind of regret it now because of the “futurist” connotations.” [2]
    “And we don’t like to be tagged,” adds David. “What is really looking forward is what’s going on at Cabaret Futura – not Classix Nouveaux or us really.”
    Martin: “Our music doesn’t really look into the future or say anything about the future.”
    Apart from the subject matter of photographic, I’d agree, though the title “Dreaming Of Me” and the band’s predilection for dressing colourfully might wrongfully link them with Le Beau Monde. There appears to be a tendency towards narcissism (“What does that mean?” they all chorus, nonplussed) but that’s countered by their guileless enthusiasm. What’ll they do when the innocence is gone?
    “Grow into something else I suppose. I dunno,” puzzles Vincent. They haven’t contrived any particular image for themselves, he adds. “If people draw any conclusion from the lyrics it’s up to them. We don’t set out to portray any particular image of innocence, we don’t pretend or anything.”
    Innocence isn’t something that can be convincingly manufactured – as The Human League’s very belated breakthrough confirms – and if you need proof of that check the wholly natural “Dreaming Of Me”. It is obviously a hit – though one wonders if it being on the independent Mute will hamper its progress.
    “All I can say is that we’re making every sort of legal effort to make it a hit,” states Daniel Miller. “We have had some experience with The Silicon Teens in terms of marketing and how best to approach it. I think we’re at a stage now where we can make a really concerted effort – hopefully doing the right things at the right time. In a way it’s sort of a test case. Everybody here (at Rough Trade, Mute’s distributors) from distribution through to the promotion side of things (RT do more promotion these days and an independent radio “plugger” is hired) has learnt a lot in the past few years and that’ll hopefully benefit this record.
    “It would be nice for it to reach its natural level – be it number one or at 74…”
    The problem is that “natural levels” of most chart singles are unnaturally stimulated by the sort of gimmicks and incentives for DJs and radio producers that independents can neither afford nor want anything to do with. But that’s another story…

[News Clipping] 
    Naked Lunch and Depeche Mode are among bands taking part in a Some Bizzare evening at London Strand Lyceum on Sunday, March 29 (admission £3). And it really is rather bizarre because, with no less than ten acts appearing, there’s a 3:30pm start. Also on the bill are B Movie, Illustration, Blancmange, Blah Blah Blah, The Fast Set, The Loved One, Jell and Soft Cell. Promoters are Straight Music.
[1] - Aha! Vince is actually telling the truth. His date of birth is 3rd July 1960.
[2] - Or as Vince was to phrase it a few months later, "We aren't a bizarre band".
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Offline Angelinda

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Re: 1981: Speak and Spell
« Reply #16 on: 26 June 2012 - 04:17:45 »
1981-03-xx - The Face (UK) - Some Bizarre Review

[I typed out the text:]

Various Artists
Some Bizarre (Some Bizarre)

This is the electronic pop fraternity's answer to "Hicks From the Sticks". And we all know what happened to the spectacular array of undiscovered talent contained on that particular long-player, don't we?
"Futurist" DJ Stevo has put together a compilation of bad Orchestra Manouvres In The Dark clones and even worse Throbbing Gristle/Cabaret Voltaire followers, relieved by the polished opening track from Illustration and an excellently arranged but dissapointingly weak song from Rayleigh's Depeche Mode. Bands like these, who've learnt that the way forward lies in combining synthetics and the punch of conventional instruments, offer hope.
Most of the remainder haven't yet cottoned on to the fact that we've all had enough gloom and depression-chic over the last two years. The nastiness of what's going on 'out there' is immediate enough; only a dummy would want to spend his evening alone with a music centre being reminded of the fact.
The fact that most of the 'groups' here feel that the most appropiate backing for reflections on the Moors Murders (The The), weirdos in Central Park (Blah Blah Blah) or "the girl with the patent leather face" (Soft Cell) are discordant splurges of noise, hardly helps.
After Illustration's tasteful piano-decorated evocation of the less pompous side of OMD, side one rapidly descends into the awful noise-collages of The The, Blah Blah Blah and Jell - who are mainly Eric Random, an old hand at this sort of prolonged drum-machine tedium. By the tume you're halfway through the flip and Dee Sebastian is singing "Lust Of Berlin" in an unbelievably direct impersonation of Bowie, "Some Bizarre" starts to sound like a particularly sick joke.
Finally we have "The Loved One" - Dryden Hawkins on "audio induction unites, sonics, period indication" and Zeb on "produced organ and electronic time" - Round our way a "prduced organ" is the swiftest way to being beaten up or nicked, or both. Zeb and Dryden, pottering with their synths in the garden shed, and most of the other noise mongers on "Some Bizarre" are almost enough to make you wish that the Wasp had never been invented.
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Offline Angelinda

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Re: 1981: Speak and Spell
« Reply #17 on: 26 June 2012 - 04:19:01 »
1981-03-xx - New Sounds New Styles (UK) - interview

[I could be wrong about the month of publication, but since the source says "spring 1981", I'm thinking it's either March or April.]

    Depeche Mode from Basildon in Essex are one of the first young bands to have genuinely started out as a group of enthusiastic club-goers at an out-of-London venue - in their case,  Crocs,  in Rayleigh.
"Gary Turner, who's now the DJ at Crocs, and I used to put on an early 'electronic disco' at a pub called The Chiffs. Then, about six months ago, we got Crocs, which is a local club, with different nights for different styles of music.
"Our first gigs were at Crocs so we became the resident group. Now when we play there, it's completely packed out, 350 people turn up.
Gary's now opened a second club, Rascals in Southend on a Friday night. We did the first night,  five weeks ago. There's more than enough interest to support two clubs, in that area; clubs are going to start springing up everywhere.

"We all used to go the places in London like the Blitz and St. Moritz, but it was a long way to go travelling back and forth in an evening.  And we got bored. They were good clubs, but it was seeing the same people every night, doing the same things.
"At first it was just a few of us - 50 people - and we played Bowie and whatever electronic dance records there were."
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Offline Angelinda

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Re: 1981: Speak and Spell
« Reply #18 on: 26 June 2012 - 04:19:55 »
1981-04-30 - Smash Hits (UK) - Our music’s not futurist Vince just writes pop songs

[Taken from the now-defunct website]

[Words: Ian Cranna. Picture: Paul Slattery.]
" Our music’s not futurist. Vince just writes pop songs. "

Summary: A longer-than-usual news item introducing Depeche Mode to the general public in one of their first appearances outside of higher-brow papers such as Sounds and NME. Admirable in that the writer has stuck to the factual and away from the fluff. [407 words]

    “We just liked the sound of ‘Depeche Mode’ – it has no meaning at all.” That’s how the band describe the way they came to adopt their name (literally “hurried fashion”) (I thought it meant Fashion-conscious fish – Ed.) from a French magazine, but in some ways it also neatly sums up the band themselves.
    Depeche Mode have been in existence for just over a year now, formed initially by Basildon school pals Martin Gore and Andrew Fletcher with songwriter and ex-folkie (!) Vince Clarke. Vocalist Dave Gahan arrived later after auditions and completed the present line up.
    Around this time the band were still using conventional instruments but these were abandoned, according to Vince, because the band were “fed up with the sounds, or their inability to create interesting sounds”. Intrigued by a synthesizer which Martin had acquired, they opted instead for all-synthesizer instrumentation.
    This in turn attracted the interest of Daniel Miller, head of Mute Records, this country’s most important electronic label and already the home of The Silicon Teens and Fad Gadget. The outcome of Daniel’s interest was the excellent “Dreaming Of Me” which has been hovering outside the Top Forty for the past few weeks.
    Apart from the single, the band have also contributed “Photographic” to the recent “Some Bizzare” futurist compilation but, despite the fact that Dave was once a regular Blitz attender, it’s a connection which the band are keen to play down. Already their own use of make-up and flamboyant clothes has been toned down. They view futurism as an artificial creation and it’s not an image they want to be saddled with for life.
    “It’s just a fashion,” says Vince, “It’s a word that’s caught on, that’s all.”
    “Just because we use synthesizers,” echoes Dave, “we get classed as a futurist band. Our music’s not futurist. Vince just writes pop songs.”
    In fact Depeche Mode are quite happy to describe their light, uncomplicated and very melodic sound as ‘pop’, something they see as covering lots of fields. ‘Nice’ and ‘happy’ are other words they use when talking about their music.
    “It’s not serious,” Vince agrees. “That’s quite good in itself.”
    Nor are there any messages coming over in their lyrics. Andrew maintains that the music is more important than the words while Vince admits that his main interest in the lyrics is in “the sound of the words rather than the meaning.”
    Which is where we came in, is not not?
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Offline Angelinda

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Re: 1981: Speak and Spell
« Reply #19 on: 26 June 2012 - 04:20:40 »

[Taken from the now-defunct website]

[NME, 2nd May 1981. Words: Paul Du Noyer. Pictures: Anton Corbijn.]
" D Mode are three synths and a singist, visually in the Spandau Ballet mould but musically a very interesting proposition in their own right. "
Summary: A review of a Mute "label night" showcasing Depeche Mode alongside three other bands - Furious Pigs, Palais Schaumberg and Fad Gadget. The Depeche Mode coverage is consequently small, but the author recognises their possibilities and writes more enthusiastically about them than the other bands. [589 words]

    This ole house, the London Lyceum, becomes a gilded palace of synths tonight as it plays host to Daniel Miller’s Mute Records, a label that’s been instrumental in the development of electronic music ever since its first release, The Normal’s “TVOD” / “Warm Leatherette”. But there’s much more to Mute than that, as this evening’s assortment of attractions serves to show. Beginning with…
    Furious Pig! Now it isn’t easy discussing people with a name like Furious Pig – such troublesome undertones of 1970 there – and that difficulty is made worse by their music. Perhaps best known as contributors of the most horrible one minute 28 seconds of the NME C81, the Furiouses are four in number and peculiar by nature. The set began on time, with the predictable result that I missed most of it, but what I did see was really quite startling.
    The Pigs are a sort of shabby barbershop quartet who shout and bang things and walk around in a line and that’s about it. The one complete piece that I heard (their best number, said a passing Chris Bohn) was a succession of fearsome amplified growls, aggressively punctuated by hitting sounds – kind of simultaneously cute and ferocious. I’ll have to hear more.
    Lulls between acts – and these Lyceum marathons can be daunting – are eased by Mutant humorous film shows: the sort of thing that should be the rule instead of the exception at rock gigs, surely.
    Palais Schaumberg, the German group who followed, played music somewhere outside of my tastes, but the spirited good humour of their approach was very likable. It’s not every band that kick off with a song called “The Meaning Of Life” and get away with it. They’re electronic and, I suppose, experimental, but play with an advanced sense of fun; they’re not for me but could be for a great many others.
    Stealers of the show were probably Depeche Mode, the group from Basildon. D Mode are three synths and a singist, visually in the Spandau Ballet mould but musically a very interesting proposition in their own right. Accompanied by some severe outbreaks of dancing, they pumped out a set of rhythmic attractive pop, highlight of which was the lovely, flowing hit-that-should-have-been, “Dreaming Of Me” – its title alone could make it the New Romantics’ anthem. “Boys”, which followed, was harder but almost as good. They encored a fine performance with a new version of “Price Of Love”, Bryan Ferry’s moving tribute to the man who makes his trousers.
    Fad Gadget – he or they, whichever you prefer – are the last to take the stage. Five willowy young fellows, dressed as morris dancing harlequins, Dr Feelgood they ain’t. The rather effete spectacle that they present, however, is not borne out by their music, which is often raw, especially the vocals of Mr Gadget. In fact, Fad himself, once he lets go, is strangely reminiscent of Tenpole Tudor: a lanky, panicking streak, sweat-shined rib cage heaving under an open shirt.
    The group line up with two drummers, one of them synthesised, plus guitar and keyboards: musically they represent electronic music’s hooligan element. It’s an energetic, entertaining set, well-stocked with decent material like the singles “Fireside Favourites” and “Ricky’s Hand”. Midway, though, the show’s appeal suffers a slight tailing off, and it’s as if the group play faster, with increasing desperation, to less and less effect – a symptom, maybe, of a shortage of ideas. Or maybe it was getting late: the Mute night was fun while it lasted, but it lasted an awful long time.
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Offline Angelinda

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Re: 1981: Speak and Spell
« Reply #20 on: 26 June 2012 - 04:21:46 »
1981-05-02 - NME ((UK) - MUTE SPEAK

[Taken from the now-defunct website]

[NME, 2nd May 1981. Words: Vivien Goldman. Pictures: Jean Bernard Sohiez.]
" But that is precisely the glory of Mute. The incongruity of a professional drop-out from a media-conscious middle-class immigrant background, a man who looks more like a messy college lecturer than a pop star, setting the controls for a swathe of svelte synthesisers. "
Summary: Daniel Miller's CV in article format. The Mute founder and Depeche Mode godfather is interviewed about his many musical activities (and disguises), taking in The Normal, Silicon Teens and Depeche Mode, with incidental mentions of other bands. Comparatively little is said about Depeche Mode, but while other articles of the time explain what drew them to Miller, this explains what drew Miller to them. [2726 words]

    “When I’m introduced to people they all look in horror at me, and say – that’s Daniel Miller?!?
    “Which suits me perfectly. That’s what I like. They all expect some kind of Steve Strange character. That,” continues Daniel, gleefully chopsticking at the seaweed on his plate, “makes me very happy. That I’m still Normal. Not quite right.
    “I’ve never fitted in, I suppose.”
    His smile works better than underfloor heating.
    Daniel Miller, also known as The Normal. Also known as The Silicon Teens. The earmaster behind the various works of Fad Gadget, DAF, and now the chart-enterers Depeche Mode. Founder and pilot of Mute Records. Grace Jones covered his “Warm Leatherette”, the flip of his epoch-making “TVOD”, positively the first synthesiser weird pop single, released in ’77.
    The strangeness of that sound is difficult to conceive of now, with synthesisers almost as common as electric typewriters (both keyboard instruments). Daniel’s newscaster evenness, the accent plummy after months of yobspeak, rattling through a terse morse code of images, all ominous as the froth on bursting pods (really, they’re human clones…).
    The rhythm was all machines! If things carried on this way, regular human musicians would be redundant!
    They were to become clichés in their turn, but moments like the growing entry of random radios, coupled with the teen-appeal of lines like “I don’t need no TV screen, I just stick the aerial into my vein” were shiny new currency then [1], suggested a marginally less bourgeois origin than Daniel’s bedroom in Golder’s Green.
    But that is precisely the glory of Mute. The incongruity of a professional drop-out from a media-conscious middle-class immigrant background, a man who looks more like a messy college lecturer than a pop star, setting the controls for a swathe of svelte synthesisers.
    At the time Daniel made “TVOD” he wasn’t in contact with any other musicians. He basically worked in complete isolation, with only the early works of Neu, Kraftwerk, Can and Klaus Schulze pointing vaguely in similar directions. And they weren’t making independent pop singles, either.
    He’d just got back from working as a disc jockey in Swiss clubs – this was before the synthadisco boom, so it was down to Abba and Schlager music; heavy metal.
    Daniel had already scored some Normal musical credentials; “I played with groups when I was at school. I suppose that’s what decided me to work alone.
    “I was really frustrated. I couldn’t play guitar” – I flash on hearing Daniel and Fad Gadget condemn a record with their ultimate insult: “Ugh! They’re a guitar band!” – “I couldn’t express myself musically.
    “When I was 14 I used to play noise alone in my room, using metal objects to hit the guitar with. I was always arguing about music with my friends, people in the band. I had very strong ideas. Everybody always thought I was nuts. Our band was terrible. We used to play at dances and parties. That was the best thing about it – we were the worst musicians from all the bands in the school (King Alfred’s in Hampstead) so there was no pressure to be good musically…”
    Which helps explain why, when Daniel returned from his Swiss DJ excursion in ’76, he yelled “What the fux this?” with great glee on hearing The Ramones. He loved the noise. He adored the lack of guitar solos.
    “Guitars? Well… they have their place. I like Keith Levene, and Marco when he was with Rema-Rema. They’re not using the guitar in the traditional way. It used to play along and provide a rhythmic backing for the voice, then play a melody in the middle, but its function was becoming circular. It was just repeating itself, not leading anywhere in music.
    “The good guitarists now are the ones that have been listening to synthesizers. Guitarists used to think they were getting better because they were playing more notes to the minute, playing longer solos, jazz-rock riffs, meaningful classical influences. In fact, it was the same with keyboards and drums too – quantity is quality.
    “Not to mention the sexual role of the guitar… I’m not clear on my ideas about this, but it’s – the guitar as truncheon. Why women in bands play guitar, I think that’s really strange. In many ways it’s a very offensive male instrument…” [2]
    All of which is in contrast to the synthesizer, which Daniel sees as one of those instruments you can play best when you can’t play at all.
    Thus, inspired by the new-found punk do-it-yourself philosophy, Daniel decided to go back to work in the “crushingly boring” field of editing TV commercials, freelance, to raise the money for a £200 Korg 700S synthesiser in early ’77. Then he bought a TEAC four-track, 7½” per second, with small reels, and started mucking about for fun at home – again, without realising that Cabaret Voltaire, Human League and Throbbing Gristle were up to the same japes. Then he decided to make a record, after hearing about The Desperate Bicycles’ self-production.
    “I never thought of approaching a ‘major’ label. I didn’t like them because they’d ruined quite a few of my favourite bands – like Can, Faust and Klaus Schultze with Virgin. May be the companies just thought it was cool to sign those bands, and didn’t have much judgement of what was good.
    “The idea of being an independent appealed to me because if I’m working with someone else I just tend to put the load on them, it’s more personal than ideological” (more power then to Mute’s doughty Hildy Swengard who carries her load like a feather – even down to sneaking the workaholic Daniel off to surprise holidays to prevent total collapse) “So I rented an echo unit for three days…”
    Daniel pressed up 500 of “TVOD” / “Warm Leatherette”. “It was just the same process as film – you cut, process, approve… I thought nobody would be interested at all. The only thing remotely like it was Kraftwerk. Punk was big then, and getting very boring. I’ve sold 30,000 by now – and that’s just from England. It’s also been released in America, France and Australia.
    “When I took the test pressing into Rough Trade, they just loved it and said they’d help me press 2000. I was dead chuffed. Although I didn’t know any music people, I’d heard of Rough Trade, and I knew they were supposed to be – quite cool.”
    Since the unprecedented success of his single as The Normal, Daniel hasn’t released anything as a solo artiste. Officially, that is. Why?
    “I was taken aback by the good reviews. It made me a bit nervous. Does that make sense? I thought I was making a record no one wanted to listen to or buy. I didn’t even want it to be liked all that much. Then I thought – what’s the point of making another record?
    “But I was besotted with electronic music. I felt that this was what people should be doing, or listening to, there was so much you could do with it…”
    Flash back to Stiff Little Fingers’ first big tour, when “Inflammable Material” had just come out. Daniel and Robert Rental performing on the same bill.
    All the black leather’d pogo puppies staring bemused at these two unlikely figures, unglamorous in all the ways expected of people that get up on a stage before a young audience. Quite a polite response, considering so many people seemed to dislike it…
    What of the established idea of the musician as poser, extrovert style-setter? Where do you stand with that one?

    ”I feel like I’m in a different world, musically and ideologically. I don’t feel that I have anything to do with rock and roll music or ideas – not then, anyway. Now I’m more realistic. For example – the Mute night that John Curd’s putting on at the Lyceum. [3] Life is so full of contradictions.
    “It’s hard for a band that if they want huge chart success they still have to follow the old routines, like touring. Some bands, like PiL, get away with it – great band. They should be on Mute, then they’d really go places!
[1] - The line just quoted is uncannily similar to a lyric in Television Set, a track Depeche Mode used to perform in 1980/1 but never recorded or released officially - correct me if I'm wrong here, someone - "You can have me babe if you want me / Just plug me into your wall / And I'll give you sex if you want it / Or I'll give you nothing at all." Maybe the band were familiar with TVOD, maybe not, but it helps explain Miller's attraction to them, as it's a track they would certainly have been performing on the night he saw them perform and approached them.
[2] - Before you laugh too hard at this theory, The Face in 1985 mooted the same point, ending off its article with the question "If Joe Strummer started dressing in frocks and dealing with emotions other than anger openly without shouting and without the protection of a guitar swinging round his crotch, would you take him seriously?"
[3] - That night was reviewed in the same issue of NME.

    “Yes, I fought against the idea of a Mute night for years. There were all these Rough Trade tours and Factory nights – I hate all that corporate idea. But Fad Gadget and Depeche Mode wanted it, Curd phoned me up and in a moment of weakness I said yes. There aren’t even enough Mute bands to fill the whole bill!
    It’s the variety of those few bands that makes Mute so intriguing. They encompass Fad Gadget’s exploitations of dub and bleak rhythm, with those kinky words, the gentle Boyd Rice’s Non extravaganzas of noise – remember the 45 with two holes that could be played in either hole at either speed? That’s some form of liberation, eh what?
    The soft-spoken man from New Mexico’s eyes light up as he thrills the ideas of sheer NOOIIIISSSEEEEEEE! “Some melodies are too rational, they structure your thoughts. It gives people a sick impression if the world.”
    Then compare and contrast with DAF’s bang-bang Teuton rock, the first people Daniel saw that successfully combined synth with the dreaded guitar (even though they’ve now slipped off to Virgin, Daniel’s favourite “major”), and Depeche Mode’s ruffled and frilled glamour-teen synth pop.
    DM are less eccentric than most Mute artistes, or perhaps the most obviously timely. Daniel was drawn to them because he loves their songs. The four youths stand in a line staring down at their synthesisers onstage, looking rather like Elizabethan schoolboys studiously bent over their books. Two of them are still in jobs they don’t like, two are unemployed and broke; yet they actually rejected various big money “major” advances. Are one of pop’s new Hot Properties daft, or what?
    Vince: “Mute are one of the most honest companies going. We like the one to one way of working. We spoke to all the ‘majors’ and found they weren’t nearly as pleasant as they first appeared, we were a bit dubious about them. I suppose we were just lucky to meet the right person at the right time…”
    I couldn’t actually see Daniel twisting Vince’s arm behind his back as he spoke; but then, every “major” label said it was impossible for Depeche Mode to reach anywhere near their full pop potential with Mute, and now that they’re happily tucked away in the charts with all the luxuries of complete control, it does seem as if they will have the best of both worlds – for a while at least.
    As to Fad Gadget (Frank), Daniel met him when he was sharing a flat with Sounds’ Edwin Pouncey, who was then a cartoonist drawing the “Savage Pencil” strip. Edwin told Daniel about this geezer who used to lock himself up in a cupboard with a drum machine, and Daniel was instantly intrigued.
    It was another right time, right place happenstance. Daniel was “in a very bad way mentally”, trying to decide whether he should go back to film editing, or what. Recording reams of reels at home, disliking everything; still so staggered by the success of “TVOD” that it verged on intimidation.
    Rough Trade helped him through the crisis by giving him a job in promotion. “I was really bad at it.” Meeting Frank decided Daniel to work with other people’s music, that it was just as interesting to him as doing his own things.
    Fear of flying; or realism? Daniel’s at least as conscious of his shortcoming as he is of his positive attributes. He says that Depeche Mode write better songs than he ever could, that both Boyd and Frank are better on stage than he could ever hope to be.
    And because he’s sufficiently drawn to them to work with them on Mute, yes, he supposes they do reflect different bits of himself, more adequate externalisations of talents that Daniel recognises as there, but not quite there enough.
    It’s in the studio that Daniel relaxes into his element, with no need for public image or mask. Mixing at live dates, fingers flying over the board, Normal at the controls.
    For those that love a jape and a bit of mystery, Daniel’s greatest wheeze is probably the whole Silicon Teens escapade. Remember The Silicon Teens, the world’s first school-age synthesiser pop band, two boys and two girls? Darryl, Jacki, Paul and Diane, obvious heart-throbs worthy of a centre-spread in Photo Love.
    “Yes,” says Daniel, “I thought that if I was head of EMI, that’s what I’d pay a million pounds for right now, a two-boy two-girl electronic pop group. So I made one up.
    “It was just a bit of a joke, really, which got a bit carried away.”
    The Silly-con Teens’ “Memphis Tennessee” and “Let’s Dance” are champagne pop, they tickle your ears and make you giggle. Daniel recorded them in his bedroom before “TVOD”, with the help of his Chuck Berry Songbook.
    “I still love Chuck Berry. I listen to blues. That’s where the guitar belongs, in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s.”
    Rough Trade’s Sue Dunne, a rock and roll connoisseuse, was chatting with Daniel about cover versions one day, and he played the old tapes to her for a joke. It was only when Rough Traders encouraged him that it even occurred to Daniel to release the tunes that were to provide Mute’s greatest financial security, and purchase the luxury of being able to afford to work with DAF – they’re expensive, because they’re a group, not a solo weirdo.
    Daniel would have released the single as The Normal, but decided that was a bit boring. When the record became a hit, Radio One airplay and everything, Daniel decided to form a group for promotional purposes.
    “When Radio One asked us to do an interview, I didn’t want to blow it. Fad’s quite useful because he can look very young if he wants…”
    Daniel corralled Frank and a woman called Priscilla as Jackie, and coached them the night before the interview. The idea was that the other two couldn’t get leave from school.
    “It was great, like a performance,” gloats Daniel. With comedian Keith Allen playing the role of the manager, “Chas Barton”, and Daniel playing himself, they trotted off to be interviewed by Richard Skinner for Round Table. “I think Richard Skinner half-sussed it, but he went along with the joke.”
    New Musical Express, true to form, were less gracious: “They phoned me up and got really aggressive – “Will you admit that you’re The Silicon Teens, or we can’t print the story!” I refused. Some people have no sense of humour!”
    The Silicon Teens album represents Daniel going along comparatively meekly with rock and roll traditions (hit, single, album, tour… group… ) and tends to pall, apart from the odd instant party flashes. It did fulfil the function of ensuring Mute’s survival via a distribution deal with Phonogram.
    “At last I was hated! I did compromise on that album; I did some originals, which was a mistake. Sounds said it was an insult to my rock and roll heritage! Perfect reviews. I enjoyed doing it, and I enjoyed all the reactions.”
    Plus, there was DAF waiting on the corner like Mr Right…
    “They weren’t playing rock, or funk, they weren’t relying on past rock traditions at all – which I suppose is the criterion of what goes on Mute. Like Non – no compromises. I’ve always liked that. And a way of not being serious, even though you’re serious about the music in a way.”
    Daniel thinks it’s important that he never liked Eno (“too much like laid-back muzak”), Roxy Music, David Bowie, or any of the people he was supposed to like.
    Now he and the other intrepid synthesiser explorers of the mid-‘70s have spawned a new generation. Only five years for the new frontier to transmute into prefab housing estates with pocket handkerchief gardens.
    What does Daniel think of all the pretty, stylish boys who’ve been toying around with half-baked no-heart half-dance ideas? He shakes his head.
    “Bad. Very disappointing. It seems as if nothing’s happened since “TVOD” and the Cabs and Throbbing Gristle. It’s all pop stuff, like Landscape – jazz rock played on synthesisers. Horrible. The synthesiser’s not a musician’s instrument.”
    Daniel shrugs, looking for all the world like a harassed supply teacher. Then brightens, reassuring as a TV announcer.
    “Ah, the old clichés. They still ring true…”
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Offline Angelinda

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Re: 1981: Speak and Spell
« Reply #21 on: 26 June 2012 - 04:22:33 »
1981-05-09 - Melody Maker (UK) - Fast Fashion in Basildon (REPRINT)

[Thanks to Barclay for scanning this for this forum! N.B.: This article was reprinted in NME in 2005.]

[I typed out the text:]

Fast Fashion in Basildon

Steve Sutherland ventures into deepest, darkest Essex to meet Mute men and purveyors of perfect pop music, Depeche Mode.

God, what a year it's been. Not half over yet and every week they're coming - great new bands bragging, bruising, begging for attention. It's getting so I can't tell me Scars from me Spandaus, but listen to this and listen good.
Depeche Mode, far from being yet another seven-day wonder, are damn near the most perfect pop group these two lucky lug 'oles have sampled all season. A couple of cracking tracks - one a narcissistic boppin' beauty of a single called "Dreaming Of Me" that nudged the charts; the other a moody, melodic pseudo-mechanical outing on the 'Some Bizarre Album' aptly titled 'Photographic' - were enough to put me on the scent.
Several scorching live dates confirmed it. This band has a full set of knowing but naive, intense and yet idiotically simple two-minute gems, that stand quiff and earrings above the ever-growing pile of synth-pop fad followers. Suss enough to play by the rules, but brilliant enough to break 'em.

Take my advice - name-drop Depeche Mode like crazy, turn on your radio and wait. Watch them storm up the charts, sit back and feel smug as your friends all scramble to follow your lead. Be the first one on your block to sport a DM T-shirt and allow yourself a snicker as hoards of nouveau new romantics and grubby electronic garage bands put down their icy frowns and bid to get the drop of Mode magic. Prior to partaking in the Mute Night Silent Night extravagance at the Lyceum Ballroom in London, huffing and puffed from endless games of tag

"The four Mode music-makers effortlessly enhance their reputation as an "awkward" interview"

and run-outs, bloated by a batch of greasy McDonald's, slightly upset by a skimpy soundcheck and surrounded by a gaggle of giggling girlfriends, the four Mode music-makers crammed into the support band's dressing room and effortlessly enhanced their reputation as an "awkward" interview. It's not that they're in any way stand-offish - they blush and bluster their way through my clumsy inquiries and clueless evasion, never once suggesting the smug, self satisfied smokescreen that Spandau build around discussions. It's no rehearsed conspiracy - they just feel that they have little to say other than what their music offers.
An example: halfway through the proceedings I realise lead synther Martin Gore has remained stoney silent throughout. I ask why and beanpole, carrot-quiffed bass synth player Andrew Fletcher tells me has has strong views on music.
"Have you?" I ask.
He shrugs.
I persevere: "Why don't you ask him a question, Andy?"
"OK. Have you got your Lurex pants on?"
Quickly, quickly. Back to basics. Depeche Mode were formed "nine or ten months ago" as a three-piece, two-guitar-and-synth-outfit, who according to songwriter, rhythm synth player, old man at 21 and chief spokesperson Vince Clarke, "just about played live but under a different name - we won't go into that now".
"Oh go on, be a devil," I urge.
"No," he replies.
The next step was to audition a vocalist - enter snappy dresser David Gahan - and then, suddenly, the big swap as the Basildon boys packed up string-picking for good and plumped for total electronics "because we simply like the sound of synthesizers".
The change made little difference to their musical outlook - "Some numbers we did with guitars we still do now, " claims Vince - but the drastic upheaval of image worked wonders.
Suddenly finding gigs fair easier to come by, they earned themselves something of a residency at Canning Town's Bridge House supporting Fad Gadget, and it was, here in these inauspicious surroundings, that they were discovered by 'Uncle' Daniel Miller, the maestro behind Britain's zaniest electronic label Mute Records.
It was love at first sight; Daniel took the boys under his wings and produced the aforementioned fab single 'Dreaming Of Me' without inking any contract. Now, after suitably encouraging sales, he's produced their magnificent follow-up 'New Life' and formally signed them up.
"Daniel's helped us a lot, " says Vince, laughing off my suggestion that the Mute man sounds something of a Svengaly figure.
"He's been really good."
But why, I wondered, with a far bigger and more influential labels hot on their trail, did they choose Mute?
"Well, we trusted Daniel," admits Dave.
"We went to see various majors and we were impressed at first with what they'd got to offer but it was the same every time, y'know. Daniel seem a lot more honest. Anything that a major can do, Daniel can do."
So all's hunky dory at Mute. The Some Bizarre connection rankles, however. Spotted by the opportunist Bizarre founder Stevo supporting Soft Cell and Crocs, he approached them to contribute to his compilation and they naively agreed - a decision why they now unanimously regret.
"We didn't play the Bizarre evening here at the Lyceum," elaborates Dave. "We were never even approached to play it. It was only when we were advertised that we knew anything about it. We had no intention of doing it at all. "
Why not?
"We're not bizarre," claims Vince. It's the whole sort of thing about being a futurist band and all that crap. There isn't a futurist scene really is there? It's only a name."
So how would you describe yourselves?
"A dancy pop band," says Dave.

So what's in a name?
Depeche Mode means something like 'fast fashion' in French; a keen reflection of the current scene with it constantly shifting styles but also, perhaps, a perilous prediction that synthy-pop, like mod, punk, and 2 Tone before it, is subject to the fickly whims of fashion?
"No, we just found it in a magazine and liked the sound of it,", claims Dave. "There was no reason why we chose it. We didn't even know what it meant until..."
"We still don't," quips Andy.
Vince writes his irresistibly catchy songs this way too. A heavyweight talent searching out lightweight commercial sounds and then thinking up cute lyrics to suit, he miraculously turns out the sort of precious fringe to come up with; the sort that Gazza Numan could have created if he'd only cracked a smile.
Their only peers, in fact, are early Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark.
"You're the first person to mention that," says Vince semi-sarcastically. It doesn't sound nothing like it to us. Orchestral Manoeuvres use flowing keyboards and poppy tures, I suppose. but we like different things y'know - lots of music, no one particular thing. I mean, most of our songs are dancable, the beat is very important and as long as people can dance to it, it's all right.
"You know, if you wanna put us anywhere," he adds, "I think there's a market for pop music and always will be. That bracket we fit into."
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Offline Angelinda

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Re: 1981: Speak and Spell
« Reply #22 on: 26 June 2012 - 04:22:59 »
1981-05-09 - Record Mirror (UK) - Gigs

[Thanks to Barclay for scanning this for this forum! Transcribed using OCR.]

By Mark Total
LAST Sunday night at the Lyceum varied between the adventurous and stagnant — beginning well, sagging in the middle and erupting into a celebration at the end. I arrived in the middle of a bizarre American film (circa early 1960's) about life in an American family. This preceded an equally bizzare live performance by Furious Pig. I consider this four - piece group who bang things and chant in superb arrangement to be very good, more for the way they do things rather than for the actual noise they produce. On record Furious Pig inspire intense irritation but live they inspire a sense of quaint amusement. Tonight was no exception. Second on the bill, Depeche Mode were definitely the band that most people had come to see. However, their music was as superficial as their fans. Pretty synthesised minds that held little, if no substance, kept the assembled masses of Les Beaux Mondes happy and bopping with potentious delight. In my opinion what they play sound more like synthesised folk music — its main characteristics being the whiny nasal vocals. Personally, I hope my path doesn't cross with Depeche Mode again. Fad Gadget arrived on stage —this was the most original happening of the whole evening. An unknown minstral wandered on stage and I had to ask myself who was this the mysterious minstral decked out in a colourful jester's outfit and was masked to hide his identity? He romped around the stage beating pieces of equipment with a twizzle stick that gave off electric crashing noises. It was not until the rest of the band similarly dressed took out their instruments that I realised the mysterious dancer was none other than Frank Tovey (aka Fad Gadget). Through the first number it looked as though the whole performance was going to be an anti - climax because it sounded just like a disorganised melee of noise (due largely to the mix); however as they launched into their single 'Back To Nature', I knew that tonight was going to be something special. Many of the futurists who were present took a lot of convincing by Fad's electronic parodies (he was obviously trying to send up people like Depeche Mode). But by the time he reached the climax of his set, the electric doodler had won his battle. Fad Gadget with his variety, ingenuity, humour and style is now in the top rank of entertainers.

1981-05-29 - Mute Records - press release

Depeche Mode
Mute Rec

Following the release of their first single 'Dreaming of Me', Depeche Mode release their second single on Mute Records.

'New Life' c/w 'Shout' is available on both 7" and extended 12" versions, and is distributed by Rough Trade Records and Spartan.
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Offline Angelinda

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Re: 1981: Speak and Spell
« Reply #23 on: 26 June 2012 - 04:24:10 »
1981-06-10 - Hot Press (Ireland) - New Life Review

This is the way honest synth pop should sound.
Steve Rapid
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Offline Angelinda

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Re: 1981: Speak and Spell
« Reply #24 on: 26 June 2012 - 04:25:10 »
1981-06-11 - BBC Radio 1 (UK) - Live Session: Depeche Mode

Session originally recorded by Richard Skinner on BBC Radio 1.
Rebroadcast by BBC6 Music on 14th of March 2009 for "Live at four".
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Offline Angelinda

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Re: 1981: Speak and Spell
« Reply #25 on: 26 June 2012 - 04:26:20 »
1981-06-13 - Sounds (UK) - New Life Review

Tinkly bonk excursion groping in the dark for the switch that will hopefully turn on the torchlight of success.
Edwin Pouncey

1981-06-20 - Record Mirror (UK) - Sine Of The Times

[Thanks to Barclay for scanning this for this forum!]

Basildon Boys Depeche Mode after the classic ingredients for success - superb catchy songs, synthesised yet simple. An effortlessly android image (all four look naturally unusual) and an impressively mature knowledge of the music business - international licensing, publishing, promotional companies, pluggers, they know it all! Indeed quite unique for a group of 18 to 20-year-olds.
Small wonder their second single, "New Life", crashed into the charts within a week of release, despite the fact that it's only on tiny independent label Mute.
The latter belongs to Daniel Miller, a.k.a. The Normal, whose other achievements to date include providing Grace Jones with 'Warm Leatherette' and releasing hits for the Silicon Teens (remember 'Memphis Tennessee'?).
Andy, Martin, Dave and Vince (the songwriter plus one of three synthesizer players) all agree they are indebted to Daniel who saw them supporting his own Fad Gadget earlier this year. Apart from producing their hits - the fab 'Dreaming Of Me' also charted - he has given them priceless advice.
Practically every major record company has tried to sign the band, one in particular offering a huge advance and another suddenly changing its mind after rejecting their demo tape a year ago.
"It's no point going with a big name", cute vocalist Dave reasons. "They're just jumping on the futurist bandwagon. Which means when it stops rolling, so will we."
The band deny being futurist themselves, not withstanding their modern sound and the fact that their first music appeared on Stevo's 'Some Bizarre Album' compilation.
Nevertheless their contemporary sound and image had enabled them to play some fairly prestigious support slots, including Ultravox at the People's Palace. They were also offered the special guest act on Toyah's recent tour, but turned it down on account of Andy and Martin still having jobs in insurance and banking.
Suffice to say the're now full time musicians, their band earning from giggling and the royalties which are now rolling in. This is no less than they deserve since, according to one local newspaper, they have "the most original sound since the Beatles".
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Re: 1981: Speak and Spell
« Reply #26 on: 26 June 2012 - 04:27:12 »
1981-06-25 - BBC (UK) - Top of the Pops

New Life:

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Re: 1981: Speak and Spell
« Reply #27 on: 26 June 2012 - 04:27:52 »
1981-06-25 - Smash Hits (UK) - Band names

20 odd band names and where they came from.

12. Depeche Mode is the name of a French fashion magazine.
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Re: 1981: Speak and Spell
« Reply #28 on: 26 June 2012 - 04:28:27 »
1981-06-27 - Sounds (UK) - DEPECHE GUEVARA

[Taken from the now-defunct website]

[Sounds, 27th June 1981. Words: Betty Page. Pictures: Virginia Turbett.]
" “You can film my usual Saturday morning routine,” joked David. “Have a sauna, go to a brothel, then a commando course… Nah, it’ll be Andy waking up at 5am, having ’is toast and going down the newsagents for his paper round. Boys next door!” "
Summary: Long relaxed chat with the band - although Martin is quiet - shortly after the release of New Life and introducing the band to the world as people for the first time. Generally, Vince comes out with the intelligent answers, while Dave and Andy banter. There's little real information, but the strength of the piece is in what comes through of each band member's personality. An early gem. [1977 words]

    Five months ago the prospect of doing an interview shut inside an airless, sterile studio would have made Depeche Mode run all the way home to Basildon. But then five months, as Wowington Woy would say, is a long time in the wacky world of wock and woll. One look at Vince Clarke sitting confidently behind the mixing desk and shorts-sporting Martin Gore’s welcoming smile and I knew things would be hunky dory.
    Dan “The Man” Miller quickly ordered Martin back in front of the mike to contribute his part to the now characteristic Mode quasi-barbershop harmonics on a new track which might be the new single, or possibly the start of the (gasp) album.
    “I just can’t get enough, I just can’t get enough,” sung Mart.
    But he had, and stopped for a cuppa and a chat.
    Les Moders, as I’ve hinted, are now 100% more confident, talkative, witty and brighter than all other known brands of washing powder. (Shurely shome mishtake?) Vince set his synth onto random programming to break the icky atmosphere and we commenced. How appropriate! With one record set straight – ie Depeche Mode aren’t shy, incommunicative, fragile young things at all, here’s the official mode of pronunciation: Depech-ay, if you please. “It’s probably grammatically wrong,” said Vince. “But we like it that way.” [1]
    Okay. Depecheeee Mode are laying down lotsa new tracks, having come to a halt after mucho gigging around London following the surprise success of “Dreaming Of Me” and even bigger surprise of “New Life”. Up until now Andy and Martin have had day jobs so the touring principle is only now an ongoing viability. Offers of the calibre of Classix and Toyah had been pouring in, but Vince reckoned it wasn’t the best thing for them to do at the time. Martin considered that the Classix tour may have tied them irrevocably to the futuromanticism tag which they’ve steadfastly been trying (unsuccessfully) to avoid.
    But of the bands who secured deals following the “Some Bizzare” LP, Depeche have fared the best: their simple, uncomplicated synthi-pop tunes are terribly hard to dislike, after all.
    “We had a sad day on Tuesday, though,” said David Gahan, crest suddenly fallen, “we expected “New Life” to go up a bit more. I think we all thought it wasn’t gonna do much at first, but inside… You can’t tell.”
    Funny, ’cos “New Life” is definitely even more instant than the debut… Vince: “It’s really up isn’t it.”
    David: “We learned a lot from “Dreaming”, came in here and just did a better job on the next one.”
    And that riveting little synth riff is still locked in my head, reminding me of God-knows-what. Just an old r&b riff, said Vince. No, it’s a good job they do have insistent hooks – David reckoned people have beaucoup de trouble remembering the name:
    “I bet they get to the shop and forget the name. They go on, hum the tune and say oh, can’t remember the name, I’ll have that Duran Duran one instead!”
    Andy Fletcher suggested Dep Mod as an abbreviation in fine Orch Man tradition. An imaginary lightbulb above Vince’s head suddenly fired him with a cracking good idea.
    “When your photographer comes,” he smirked, “can we have a picture taken in the back of Dan’s Renault? Just like Spandau Ballet? Only there’ll be five of us in the back, and we’ll all be squashed up like this…” (David imitates dead sardine)
    OK, wrench those tongues out of yer cheeks, boys. Mutemobile, indeed? It is true that they did well in the US Disco charts and have great appeal for Europe too… deals are currently being set up with several different majors to get Mode released in France, Germany et al. Many doubted the ability of Mute and Miller to break the Modes, but for an indie they’ve broken the required barriers.
    David: “We would much rather have had points than big advances, and we’ve got that with Daniel – he’s proved he can get us what we want, there’s nothing he can’t do – that we haven’t found out yet!”
    Andy: “Indies are at their height, they never used to get in the charts before.”
    David: “And radio stations are more likely to play indies.”
    Vince: “They have to pay less royalties!”
    David: “Radio One have been very good to us – 3 plays a day on this one. They said they’d stick with it, give it lots of airplay.”
    So from the insecure, nervous and unsure start, things have actually turned out as they’d hoped?
    Vince: “It has really. You learn things very quickly. With Mute we know everything that’s going on, we’re in contact with distributors, pluggers and promotion people every day.”
    Andy: “What we don’t know is what a major is like. We’re quite happy with our set up, but we don’t know if the distribution could be better.”
    Aah, but Rough Trade gets you into those little shops that the hordes of independent buyers frequent, you lucky boys.
    Andy then proceeded to go off at a tangent (this is not unusual), musing about how the band’s audiences had changed, become much younger. No-one else agreed.
    David: “We get a varied audience, you can’t say that at all!”
    Vince: “In clubs an’ that, the audience is already there, they haven’t come to see us.”
    David: “Don’t be silly! You can’t say everywhere we play has a fixed audience!”
    Andy: “You’re getting worse than Martin now… Martin hasn’t said one thing yet!”

    Martin woke up. “I’m saving it up, it’s all going to come out in a minute, I’m just waiting for the right question.”
    We launched into a discussion about clubs, people not dressing up as much as they used to and the sight of Midge Ure sending lace-clad young girls into the water and into a frenzy at Crystal Pal last week.
    This caused much amusement.
    Andy: “That’s what Martin does!”
    Martin: “You’re asking for it, Fletch…”
    To avert a full-scale war, I mentioned my liking for the “Rio” mix of “Shout!”, B-Side of their first ever 12”. They love the rhythm, but the song? David loves it, Vince hates it, Martin says so-so. Humph. It’s the first dancefloor oriented thing they’ve done tho’, eh?
    Andy: “Apart from the things we did when we were Light Of The World…” Silence… laughter!
    They all paused to watch Daniel frowning in the control room, doubtless searching for that stray note out of tune. A conspiracy brewed. “What was that thing we wanted in Jaws about Daniel?” they whispered. “Nooooo – don’t put it in, he’d know it was us… if you say it, Andy, you’re the one – we all tried to stop you!” [2]
    Andy turned to me with a probing question. “Who told you about the folk group and church hall thing?” (Referring to a gossip item about their acoustic past). “We practised in a church hall, that’s all.” [3]
    And they’re recording in a deconsecrated church now! [4]
    David: “Yeah, we just love churches.”
    Martin: “You wait till you hear our new single – it’s a gospel song.”
    David: “It’s called “Have You Got The Sunshine Smile”.”
    Andy sung the words, gesticulating his finger at his smiling lips in Sunday School teacher style.
    David: “On the picture bag, there’s Andy’s face, and when you press his nose, a finger comes out and there’s Martin inside showing the actions. Martin doing the Mode!”
    And they chorused: “Have you got the sunshine HA-HA-HA HEE HEE.” I think this is what we in the trade call a joke…
    On entering studiospace, I’d noticed Darryl, Fan Club President and original Silicon Teen, scribbling away replies to D Mode fan mail. Are they getting lots?
    David: “Not really. We were just trying to impress you! We were s’posed to have this Postman come in just after you with a great big sack!”
    Andy: “Yeah, binfuls of used biros, hard skin on our fingers where we’ve been writing so much!”
    Well, I saw at least ten letters.
    David: “A lot of them are really young. This 13 year old boy wrote us a story using words from the singles and sent us some badge designs.”
    Vince: “We’re pop! Ultra pop!”
    Andy: “People write to us from up North but they haven’t seen us. We want to branch out from London, but first we must rehearse new material, we’ve been doing the same set for 4 months. The live show should be better, more danceable.”
    Daniel looked quizzical again. The boys told him to stop listening in.
    Andy: “He’s a great man. Look – the ultimate picture of Daniel Miller, father of electronic music…”
    Vince: “Grandfather, more like.”
    Daniel the scolding father retorted, “I can hear you.”
    A man from ITV arrived to discus Dep Mod’s appearance on a 20th Century Box prog on the Essex music scene, past and present. Depeche are to be filmed live at Croc’s in Rayleigh, and filmed au naturel around Basildon, all to be shown sometime in August.
    “You can film my usual Saturday morning routine,” joked David. “Have a sauna, go to a brothel, then a commando course… Nah, it’ll be Andy waking up at 5am, having ’is toast and going down the newsagents for his paper round. Boys next door!” He concluded, sensibly: “It doesn’t matter if we’re sitting on the loo – a minute on tele is better than a thousand radio plays.”
    Andy came over all pensive again, wondering why so many of their interviews spent more time talking about Daniel than the band.
    “There’s nothing really that people can say about us is there? All other bands go on about political things, we don’t talk about our views.”
    Dave: “We don’t have political views, I don’t think.”
    Andy: “There’s always an extrovert member of a band with strong views.” [5]
    Vince: “We don’t stand for anything united do we?”
    Andy: “We haven’t got a person who’s domineering.”
    David: “That’s good!”
    Andy: “On the other hand, that’s why our interviews are very empty, ’cause usually the loudmouth of a band goes on about what the Labour party are doing or something.”
    Martin: “Sexism always comes up too, especially with HM bands.”
    David: “They always talk about sex.”
    Vince: “It’s all that macho stuff.”
    Macho. Dep Mod certainly aren’t Macho. Now they were in a more reflective mood, I asked what their immediate hopes for the future were.
    Chorus: “Ultimate success!”
    David: “We’re happy as it is, we’d just like some money.”
    Vince: “We want to change our sound, get some new stuff together, get a good live show.”
    Vince: “We don’t want to get like Kraftwerk, we don’t want to use tapes any more. We’ve got a rhythm unit with a TV screen that plays Space Invaders as well!” [6]
    Andy: “We want to give the show more of an aura.”
    David: “Down the Bridgehouse?!”
    Now there’s a thought… anything else?
    David: “Yes, Andy would love to have a cult following, be underground. We have gigs in here when Vince is getting down on the mixer, and Andy sings! Things get on top of you in the studio – you have to do something to let it all go, so we come in here and scream and shout.”
    The lads played me a tape of impromptu raw electro-punk with Crass-style vocals by Andy, featuring a cover version of “Simple Simon Says”, “You’re Gonna Lose That Girl” and a sensitive rendition of a popular school hymn. There’s that religious influence again… But they need this relief valve from the precise orderliness required to produce their brand of neatly-packed pop songs – operating, generating new life for our pop kids.
    A lot of people know the name Depeche Mode now. Now you know who they are, what they are. Like their boss, they’re all heart – boys next door who turn into Ultra Popsters at the flick of a switch. Mode: strictly not avant-garde.
[1] - Martin knew fine well it was grammatically wrong - he had a French A-Level.
[2] - Jaws is the name of the gossip / opinion page in Sounds - nothing to do with sharks.
[3] - This is probably referring to the band Andy and Vince formed in 1979, No Romance In China. Both of them were avid Boys' Brigade members and were allowed to use the hall (St Paul's Methodist Church, Ballards Walk, Basildon) after hours for sessions, although the band only ever gave one real 'performance' as such.
[4] - That'll be Blackwing Studios in south London.
[5] - In later years the strongest views on political or current affairs would come from Andy, be it about superpowers, the arms race or tax-evading fellow musicians.
[6] - With hindsight you can see the first stirrings of Vince's dissatisfaction here. Although he's certainly not at a loss for enthusiasm, he's the only one to tackle the question head on and come up with a focused, intelligent answer. Compared to Andy and Dave he could be speaking a foreign language.
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Offline Angelinda

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Re: 1981: Speak and Spell
« Reply #29 on: 26 June 2012 - 04:29:04 »
1981-06-xx - Score and Roar (UK) - Depeche Mode Hurried Fashion

[I don't remember the source.]

[I typed out the text:]

Depeche Mode
Hurried Fashion

Dave Gahan and Vince Clark of Depeche Mode, interviewed by Malcom and Jonathan at Basildon Arts Centre, June 6th, 1981.
(Vince arrived late and missed the first half of the interview, but as we later asked him some quiestions we'd put to David we were able to edit his answers in, where appropiate.)

Depeche Mode come from Basildon in Essex and play electronic music of the more accessible kind. Their first single, 'Dreaming of Me' did well in the National and the Independent Charts, besides achieving a crossover success in the Disco ratings. Their latest offering, 'New Life', looks set to make an even bigger impression, having come straight in at number 7 in the Independent Charts; a position which must make their mentor, Daniel Miller, a very happy man.
The first two singles were recorded with Daniel at Mute but their first offering on vinyl was actually a track for Stevo's 'Some Bizarre' album. The band also went out to do the tour, which, in David's words, "Never happened." We asked David how that track for Stevo came about:
"That was just before we had any deal at all, and we just wanted to get a record out. Stevo offered us a track on the album- this was before the word futurist was mentioned. He said, 'It'll be great for you, you'll have all the companies after you.' So we thought we might as well do it. In that sense it was good- it promoted us a bit before our first single was released, but it was bad because of the futurist tag which was given to us."
The word 'futurist' has been a misleading and overworked label; its application to the music of Depeche Mode may yet prove a thread to the band when the music press, who've manipulated the futurist scene from the beginning, decide it's time for the inevitable backlash.
David: "I think at first that i was very much a threat to us. Doing the track on the 'Some Bizarre' album was a mistake. But the futurist thing has died down a bit in London now; altough they're just catching on to it in France. It's a very stupid scene, actually. We don't feel anything about it- it's a thing that isn't there anyway; there's no such thing as a Futurist scene, it's was just a name that was used in Sounds."
Vince: "It's was a bit of a threat at first, but I don't think the music press can manipulate... They can't tell the whole world that you've gone out of fashion."
Jon: "I think that's the whole reason they do it, because it annoys them that they can't change things, Do you think there will be a backlash though?"
David: "Maybe it's already happened to us with Sounds. They haven't reviewed our single and we sent them 5 or 6 copies. A month ago we were the greatest thing to happen and Betty Page was estatic about us- and then it's just finished. It's a silly paper, I think. It's like a comic. The Melody Maker was late picking up on us, and the N.M.E., which I think is more important than Sounds anyway."
Jon: "Do you mind that your records are being bought by 11 and 12 year old girls? I've got a sister and she's just bought your single along with the Adam and the Ants record..."
David: "I don't mind really, as long as they enjoy it. I think if a tune is melodic and poppy enough they buy it... I think Adam and the Ants are really poppy- he writes pop songs and I'm really pleased for him that he's got into the charts and done what he's done. I don't think it's bad that little kids are buying- my little brother bought our record; not just because he's my brother..."
Jon: "You don't mind that probably in six months time they'll forget?"
David: "I don't know- I mean, people of 30 and upwards are buying it as well, it's not just people who've jumped onto the futurist thing. That's what we were worried about, that just because we played electronic music a certain kind of person bought it, and as soon as that scene faded out the record wouldn't sell- but it's proved that it won't go that way by the airplay that we've had on it- it's getting played quite a lot."
Being on Mute, too, will help to give the band a certain credibility- not that their music lacks sincerity- but Daniel certainly isn't known for signing bands simply because they conform to the current fashion, which seems to be the policy of some of the major labels.
David: "Yeh, I don't think that being on a major would have helped us in any way. At firdt, all we wanted was to get a record out, and then we had time to think; we had time to pick and choose between about five different majors and Daniel, and we decided to go for Daniel. I mean they offered us money and things like that, but they were just jumping on the scene because it was the in-thing at the moment, and then once that scene dies away, then you'll die anyway, and they'll just forget about you and put you on the shelf with all the other bands that are wasted. But with Daniel we've got such a good relationship that I don't think he'd be likelu to do that to us."
Apparently Daniel Miller had the chance to sign Depeche Mode to Mute at quite an early stage in their career, but he didn't seem very enthusiastic when he first met them...
David: "We had a few tracks that we'd done in a studio to take around to the clubs and a few companies we'd heard about, and when we took it to Rough Trade they weren't interested but they thought Mute might be. Daniel just happened to walk in at that moment and Scott from Rough Trade said 'What do you think of this then, Daniel?' about He was in a real mood that day- something about Rough Trade had really got up his nose- and he just walked out and didn't say anything. So we just though Oh God! Anyway, a month later we supported Fad Gadget at the Bridge House and Daniel approached us then. We were a bit... I thought, 'Get out of it, we don't want anything to do with you', but he asked for our number and then he phoned us and asked when we were doing another gig. He came along to that and we had a good long talk and decided to do a single.
Malcolm: "Did Rough Trade say ehy they didn't like the single?"
David: "Well, they liked it, they just said it wasn't Rough Trade. It was too soft for Rough Trade really- which is fair enough.
Malcolm: "Did Daniel help you much with your first single, 'Dreaming of Me'?"
David: "Yes, he didn't play any aynthesizers or anything, but he played a large part in producing it. He was explaining what this was for and ehat that was for- we hadn't been in a studio before, except to do the demo tapes- and he helped us to produce it to the best of our ability."
Working at Mute, Depeche Mode have the use of Daniel's equipment- and the studio they use has good facilities for electronic music. The band have gradually built up a good working knowledge of synthesizers, and they own a Moog (monophonic), a Yamaha, and a Roland...
Jon: "With all that equipment, is it very easy to be seduced into just making noises?"
David: "Yeh, it's quite hard to find running melodies with the right sort of sound. It's come from a synthesizer, and you musn't be too morbid. You get so many morbid sounds from synthesizers- we try and do the opposite with them, really."
Jon: "Do you spend a lot of time just mucking around with the sound?"
David: "Yes... We spend hourse. Vince writes the songs, and Martin does a couple..."
Jon: "Do you do them straight from the synthesizer- I mean, you don't write them on the guitar?"
Dsvid: "Vince writes them on guitar- he'll put a few sounds down on tapes, and then we'll go and practise and get it together like that."
Malcolm: "Will you use the guitar on record at all?"
Vince: "I don't think so. I'm not particularly good at playing it anyway."
Malcolm: "Some of the electronic bands get quite an interesting sound from the guitar."
Vince: "Yeh, but our sound is very clear cut, that's why I like it- it's really clean. I'm not particularly interested in noise. Some of the stuff's o.k., but I like a clean sound. Adding monophonic synthesizers you can't cloud the sound- that's what makes pour particular sound. The Psychedelic Furs have two guitars, both mostly playing rhythm; bass; saxophone and drums. It's a really heavy sound, a confuse sound. Not the sort of sound we want to achieve."
Malcolm: "How far are you pleased with the sound you're getting?"
David: "Well, the first single we weren't too hot about, but the second single we had more experience and we were happy with the sound on that."
Malcolm: "Do you set out to make an 'A' side people can dance to?"
David: "Yeh, it's very important to us that people can dance to our music and tap their feet and just enjoy it."
Malcolm: "Because there has been a sort of crossover, hasn't there, with electronic pop doing well it the disco charts..."
David: "Yeh, in the U.S. disco charts it went quite well...
 Malcolm: "Do you find that restricts you, though, in terms of what you can do?"
David: "I think that's why we did the 'B' side in an alternative way. Even though the lyrics were still pop lyrics, and rhymed, the actual track was totally different..."
Vince: "Yeh, that was totally incredible, it was done at the time and nothing was planned."
David: "We put down this drum rhythm and just went on adding things. We used 16 tracks of different sounds, just mixing down and adding a bit more."
Malcolm: "So you're using the 'B' sides as more experimental sides?"
David: "Not so much with 'Ich Machine', because that was an old song which we used to do. We've got a 12" of 'New Liife' coming out and the 'B' side of that is about 9 minutes long- just what we did in the studio. We found that working that way was much easier than recording a song that you already do live and trying to put it down..."
Jon: "How long did it take to record?"
David: "New Life took about 4 days- like 12 hour sessions- and the 'B' side we did in 2 days."
Jon: "You don't ever get bored with it and feel like leaving? It's very claustrophobic in the studio..."
David: "Yes, sometimes. It's a really big studio, really spacious, but when we're in the mixing room it gets better really tight; so we can go out, into another room, and chat for an hour or so about nothing to do with music and then come in and listen to the track again, and if there's something wrong we can get down and work on it again."
Now that 'New life' is out, and doing well, Depeche Mode are due to go back into the studio to put down some more tracks, possibly for an album. Musical tastes are quite wide- David listens to Soul music, as well as the likes of Cabaret Voltair & DAF; and Vince likes Disco music, amongst other things. There will probably be a couple of 'funky' songs included in the new session. The range of their musical interests is absorbed quite well in their own songs, and psrtly, I think, explains their wide appeal- so they have won fans from the 'harder edge' of electronic music and also, suprisingly enough, from the 'Oi' crowd at the Bridge House.
David: "Terry, at the Bridge House, gave us our first London gig- our first support gig; and then he gave us a residency. We only pulled in about 20 people, but he still supported us even though he lost money- and now we pack it out."
Jon: "What's the reaction to the 'Oi' crowd?"
David: "Oh, they enjoy it. The skinheads will dance to anything. We've been back so many times that I think they've given us credit for it. Other bands, like us, play there and get booed off. "
The fashion image- the 'dressing up' side of Depeche Mode must have been particularly at odds with the 'Oi' audience'skinhead fashion being a thing apart. It's also strange that Depeche Mode, who dislike being connected with the futurist scene, associate themselves with all the trappings of that scene thought the way they dress on stage. David, an ex-Fashion student, is perhaps the best qualified to talk about this aspect of the band...
"I don't think it plays a great part in the music that we do- it is important to us, to dress up and look good on stage, but it's not as important as it is for Spandeau Ballet or a band like that."
Malcolm: "I haven't seen you live on stage- are you a pretty static band in performance?"
David: "We used to be nervous, but now we dance with the crowd. We've had a few stage invasions, a lot of people dancing on stage with us. Touch wood, we've never really had a bad gig."
The next few months should be important ones for Depeche Mode- after finishing his College course David went back to do extra studies but he is now devoting all his time to the group; and Andy is probably giving up his office job- so, in David's words, "We'll be professionals!"
Hopefully, with the band's own aspirations closly linked with Mute know-how and Daniel's obvious enthusiasm, they will avoid any DAF-like splits. One of Mute's stumbling blocks with DAF was promotion. David doesn't see this as a problem as far as Depeche Mode are concerned: "We've hired in a company called Bullet, who are handling posters- and Daniel handles the London end."
Even so, the band like to keep total control over their product- although they aren't particularly interested in developing a sort of 'House Style' that us recognisably theirs, neither do that want to consider putting stuff out on forgeign labels, like Cabaret Voltaire did with 'Creepyscule' (as Sue Mailorder calls it) and Joy Division  and Throbbing Gristle did with Sordide Sentimentale.
Vince: "Yeh, if they wanted something. That's what the Silicon Teens duid with 'Red River Rock'. It wasn't released over heree, but they put it out in France and it was quite a success."
Success- will this only truly come to Depeche Mode when they have played TOTP? We put this very tonguq-in-cheeck question to David and the boys:
"Oh yeh- I'd like to be introduced by DLT- 'This great band, I've been watching them for some time- I didn't play their first single, but I played this one'." (Laughter.)
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