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Author Topic: 1983: Construction Time Again  (Read 47363 times)

Offline Angelinda

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Re: 1983: Construction Time Again
« Reply #150 on: 18 May 2014 - 04:24:26 »
2005-05-01 - Tagesspiegel (Germany) - Wet-Look Gel, Synthie & Eyeliner

http://martingore.shinji.be/ingahumpe.html
http://www.tagesspiegel.de/zeitung/wet-gel-synthie-und-kajal/605336.html

Wet-Gel, Synthie & Kajal
Sie hatten peinliche Frisuren und ihr Name klingt bis heute doof: Depeche Mode. Aber nach 25 Jahren ist klar: Sie waren Avantgarde.
Von Inga Humpe

Ihre Musik nannte man Anfang der 80er Jahre Synthie-Pop. Das klingt ein wenig nach Plastik-Musik – die Gattung hat auch nicht lange überlebt, ebenso wenig wie die meisten Bands aus dieser Zeit. Nur eine, Depeche Mode, anfangs als Teenie-Band belächelt, ist bis heute erfolgreich und feiert dieses Jahr ihren 25. Geburtstag. Sogar Johnny Cash hat einen Song von ihnen gecovert: "Personal Jesus". Danach hat Marilyn Manson den Song noch einmal aufgenommen. Und ein neues Album mit Remixen stieg letzten Oktober in die deutschen Albumcharts auf Platz 2 ein. Über das Phänomen Depeche Mode und ihren Einfluss auf die Popmusik erzählt hier Inga Humpe. Zusammen mit ihrem Lebensgefährten Tommi Eckart ist sie 2raumwohnung, eine der erfolgreichsten deutschen Bands.

Als ich zum ersten Mal Depeche Mode hörte, war das für mich Verrat. Es muss 1982 gewesen sein, damals war ich noch in meiner Punkphase. Daniel Miller, der Chef der Independent-Plattenfirma Mute, hatte Depeche Mode unter Vertrag genommen. Ich kannte Daniel ein bisschen und war geschockt. Wie konnte der auf einmal Popmusik machen?

Jetzt ist Depeche Mode schon seit 25 Jahren erfolgreich. Jeder, der Popsongs schreibt, landet irgendwann bei ihrem Songwriter Martin Gore. Er hat es über all die Jahre geschafft, immer wieder anders zu klingen – auf seinem Soloalbum singt er sogar den deutschen Nachkriegsschlager "Das Lied vom einsamen Mädchen" – und doch hört man stets diese besondere Atmosphäre heraus, die typisch für Depeche Mode ist. Allein die Song- und Albumtitel: "Black Celebration" und "Music for the masses", das hat was Sakrales und sehr Dramatisches.

Aber so was gut zu finden, habe ich mir 1982 noch nicht erlaubt. Damals ging es mir weniger um die Musik, als viel mehr um die Ideologie. Allein dieser bescheuerte Name: Depeche Mode. Der Sänger Dave Gahan hatte die Idee dazu. Er las während seiner Ausbildung an der Londoner Kunstschule eine französische Modezeitschrift mit dem Titel "Dépêche Mode". Mir war alles, was mit Mode zu tun hatte, suspekt, ich wollte auf keinen Hype hereinfallen. Ich lief lieber mit einer Plastiktüte herum, als mir eine Handtasche zuzulegen.

Bei den Platten, die ich zwischen 1979 und 1982 mit der Punkband Neonbabies machte, ging es vor allem um eine Lebenseinstellung. Ich war mit einer irrsinnigen Wut im Bauch von Hagen nach Berlin gekommen. Schon als Teenager empfand ich den Staat als verlogen, von den RAF-Leuten dachte ich damals, dass sie als Einzige etwas verändern könnten. Als sich Ulrike Meinhof das Leben nahm, war ich 20 Jahre alt und entschlossen, Mitglied der RAF zu werden. Zum Glück kam es nie dazu, stattdessen entdeckte ich 1977 Punk für mich.

Mit den Neonbabies haben wir auch als Vorgruppe zu The Clash gespielt. Auf den Konzerten warf das Publikum gerne mal mit Bierdosen, die bekam ich dann an den Kopf und warf sie wieder zurück. Depeche Mode mit ihrem Synthiepop und Neonbabies – das waren zwei völlig verschiedene Welten.

Später hatten sie aber sogar denselben Produzenten wie wir: Gareth Jones. Aus heutiger Sicht würde ich sagen, dass Depeche Mode einfach Post-Punk war. Ihre Musik war die logische Gegenbewegung zum Punk. Sie verwendeten Synthesizer, um Melodien zu erzeugen. Das fand ich für sich genommen noch ganz interessant, ich habe mir sogar selbst ein Synthesizer gekauft und ein bisschen darauf rumgeübt. Aber die Haltung, die hinter einer Popband wie Depeche Mode stand, fand ich damals unmöglich. So ist das eben in dem Alter: Von der ersten selbst gefundenen Ideologie will man nicht so leicht abrücken.

Das Hansastudio in der Köthener Straße, in dem wir aufnahmen und in dem zwischen 1983 und 1985 auch Depeche Mode ihre Platten einspielten, war ein legendärer Ort. In den 70er Jahren war Brian Eno hergekommen, hier entstand David Bowies Song "Heroes". Allein, dass er hier war, sorgte für eine ganz besondere Aura. Da standen alte Synthesizer rum, es war ziemlich dunkel und total staubig. Wir sangen in diesem riesigen, alten Orchesterraum, in dem man sich ganz verloren vorkam. Nur ein paar einsame Lampen spendeten Licht. Gleichzeitig hatte dieses vierstöckige Studio ultramodernes Equipment. Vom Mischraum aus sah man direkt auf die Mauer am Potsdamer Platz, auf den Todesstreifen und die patrouillierenden Soldaten der DDR. Dieser Ort war ein Stück Geschichte. Und das zog eine Menge Leute aus dem Ausland an. Leute wie Depeche Mode.

Ihr Songschreiber Martin Gore hat sich immer schon für deutsche elektronische Musik interessiert, für Kraftwerk. Auch für Krautrock von Bands wie Neu! Beim gleichen Plattenlabel wie Depeche Mode waren außerdem die Einstürzenden Neubauten und DAF, die mit "Tanz den Mussolini" einen Hit hatten. Auf dem Song "People are People", mit dem Depeche Mode 1983 den Durchbruch schaffte, hört man den Einfluss der Neubauten raus: Dieses Schlagen auf Metallinstrumente haben sie erfunden.

Ich kann mich nicht mehr genau erinnern, wann das war, aber irgendwann um 1983 rum habe ich dann die Jungs von Depeche Mode kennen gelernt. Mit unserem gemeinsamen Produzenten gingen wir in einen Club in der Damaschkestraße. Martin und ich hatten einen ziemlich ähnlichen Haarschnitt damals. An den Seiten kurz rasiert und oben die blonden Locken wie eine Tolle. Heute muss ich sagen: Das sah grauenhaft aus. Die Fotos von damals sind ein Brüller.

1983 war für mich ein Wendepunkt. Ich verabschiedete mich von meiner engen Punkideologie und landete mit "Codo" einen Nummer-eins-Hit. Von da an konnte ich auch Bands wie Depeche Mode gut finden. Nach drei Jahren Punk hatte sich bei mir eine Desillusionierung eingestellt, und die drückte sich in der Musik aus. Punk war eben doch nicht die ewige, heilsbringende Familie, die ich mir vorgestellt hatte, die erste andere Familie nach den Eltern. Irgendwann ist das bei jeder Jugendbewegung so: Man ist enttäuscht , weil es kommerzialisiert wird. Mit DÖF und dem Song "Codo", von dem die meisten noch die Refrainzeile "Ich düse im Sauseschritt" kennen, habe ich mich bewusst gegen meine musikalische Vergangenheit gestellt. Ich sagte mir: So, jetzt mache ich mal Schlager und werfe alles durcheinander. Von meinen alten Freunden hat mich danach keiner mehr angerufen.

Dass ich in meiner Haltung lange so hart war, ist sicher auch ein Ergebnis meiner protestantischen Erziehung. Protestantismus ist ja sehr unfrei, man kann nicht beichten, Sünden werden einem nicht vergeben. Sehr unsexy. Deswegen war ich auch so kleinkariert. Für mich gab es immer nur einen sehr schmalen Grat, auf dem ich mich bewegte. Und als ich feststellte, dass die Punkbewegung nichts taugt – diese Coolness, dass man sich immer schön auf Abstand hielt – schwang ich ins Gegenteil um.

Martin war damals mit einer Deutschen zusammen, Christina Friedrichs. Nach dem Abend in der Damaschkestraße haben wir uns immer mal wieder gesehen und angefreundet, Martin war zwischen ’83 und ’86 sehr oft in Berlin. Als ich mit meiner Schwester Humpe&Humpe gründete, hat Martin von Depeche Mode auf einem unserer Alben gespielt. Das war wieder im Hansa-Studio, er nahm gerade oben eine Platte auf und als wir ihn fragten, spielte er eine Synthesizerline für einen unserer Songs.

Schon bald danach merkte ich, dass ich in Deutschland musikalisch nicht weiterkomme. Ich träumte von einer Fusion aus Dancemusik und klassischen Songs, aber das gab es in Deutschland nicht. Ich musste weg und ging nach London, denn da gab es Bands, die genau das machten. Als ich dann 1986 nach England umzog, wohnte ich bei Christina, zu diesem Zeitpunkt Martins Ex-Freundin. Ich traf ihn und die anderen drei von Depeche Mode immer wieder beim Ausgehen und auf Privatpartys. Wir wohnten im selben Viertel. Einmal gab es einen legendären Abend bei Christina. Alle von Depeche Mode kamen, ein paar von Pink Floyd waren da. Und weil wir in England feierten, kam dann der Klassiker: Dave Gahan nahm sämtlichen Alkohol, den er finden konnte, schüttete ihn in einen Eimer und alle tranken daraus. So nach dem Motto: Die Party ist erst gut, wenn man kotzt. Dave hat dann im Suff blöde Sprüche gemacht über Hitler, und mir ging das alles auf die Nerven. Ich glaube, ich bin dann irgendwann in mein Zimmer, habe die Tür zugemacht und mich geärgert.

Wahrscheinlich war ich ein bisschen empfindlich, aber ich hatte immer das Gefühl, dass ich als Musikerin, zumal als deutsche, in England nicht ernst genommen wurde: Frau ist eben Frau und nicht Musikerin. Martin war da die Ausnahme.

Martin Gore ist sehr weiblich für einen heterosexuellen Mann. Früher zog er gerne mal einen Rock an und trug enge schwarze Tops, die so tief ausgeschnitten waren, dass sie seinen Brustkorb zeigten. Wenn man so spielen und sich als Popwesen darstellen kann, ohne die eigene Person dabei zu verlieren, muss man sehr stark und bei sich sein. Und das ist er. Martin war wohl der erste metrosexuelle Mann. Erst viel später wurde das durch Leute wie David Beckham Mode.

Ich glaube, es liegt nicht nur an Martins unglaublichem Talent als Songwriter, dass Depeche Mode seit 25 Jahren Hits produzieren. Andere, wie zum Beispiel die Pet Shop Boys, konnten ihren Erfolg einfach nicht so lange halten. Depeche Mode konnte sich nämlich in der Techno- und sogar in der Countrybewegung etablieren. Sie hatten immer hervorragende Remixe, Westbam hat zum Beispiel schon vor Jahren Songs von ihnen neu abgemischt, und Johnny Cash hat "Personal Jesus" gesungen. Auf den Konzerten von Depeche Mode sind fast alle Altersgruppen vertreten, von den ganz jungen bis zu den 40- bis 50-Jährigen.

Techno hat eine unglaubliche Energie frei gesetzt, das muss Depeche Mode auch gespürt haben und hat das in die Musik aufgenommen. Ich kann mich noch erinnern, als ich 1988 zum ersten Mal auf einem Rave war. Ich war da mit der Technoformation KLF unterwegs, die sind mit dem Lastwagen losgefahren und riefen die Leute über Piratensender zusammen. Wir fuhren an geheime Plätze außerhalb von London, und dann ging die Party los. Das Ganze war streng verboten: Spontane Raves mit mehr als 100 Personen fielen in England unter den "Criminal Justice Act" und waren strafbar. Es war schon unglaublich, wenn dann die Polizei aufkreuzte und wir wegrennen mussten. Verhaftet worden bin ich aber nie. Als dann 1989 die Mauer fiel, bin ich sofort zurück nach Berlin. Kurz darauf gab es die ersten Partys im Tresor, und das war viel besser als in England, weil es hier kein Gesetz dagegen gab. Es ist schwer zu sagen, was mich am Techno so fasziniert hat, aber es war wohl dieser monotone Beat, dieses Minimalistische, dieses Bumm immer auf der Vier.

Mitte der 90er Jahre sah es bei Depeche Mode so aus, als könnten sie auseinanderbrechen. Alan Wilder stieg aus. Dave Gahan versuchte sich 1995 das Leben zu nehmen, und ein Jahr später wäre er fast an einer Überdosis Heroin gestorben. Dave war noch sehr jung, als der Erfolg losging. Der kam aus einer englischen Kleinstadt und hatte damals schon Frau und Kind. Wenn sich dann plötzlich das Leben mit einem Mal so radikal verändert, kommen viele überhaupt nicht damit klar.

Ich bin jetzt seit 25 Jahren Musikerin, und dass mein Freund Tommi Eckart und ich mit 2raumwohnung so erfolgreich sind, darüber kann ich mich einfach den ganzen Tag nur freuen. Mich inspiriert das, und ich trenne auch nicht Musik und Privatleben. Klar fällt man in ein Loch, wenn man nach einem Konzert, wo einem die Fans zugejubelt haben – bei Depeche Mode waren das bis zu 80000 Menschen – in ein Loch. Du kommst von der Bühne und plötzlich bist du einfach wieder nur ein Mensch. Das Ego in den Griff zu bekommen, ist wohl das Schwierigste am Erfolg. Ich bin sehr froh, wenn ich mich dann mit Leuten aus der Crew unterhalten kann. Wir reisen auf unseren Touren im Bus, damit wir nach dem Konzert zusammen sind. Das tut mir sehr gut. Früher war ich öfter mal alleine auf dem Hotelzimmer, das ist gar nicht schön.

Ich habe Martin schon länger nicht mehr gesehen, er lebt, soviel ich weiß, in Los Angeles. Letztes Jahr im November legte er im "Cookies" auf, leider hatte ich keine Zeit hinzugehen. Beim Songschreiben denke ich bis heute immer an Martin Gore. Ich lese mir seit Jahren all seine Songtexte durch. Unser Song "Freie Liebe" ist inspiriert von "Freelove", das auf dem letzten Depeche-Mode-Album ist. Martin erfindet wunderschöne Bilder, und wie er Gefühle transportiert – man merkt, dass er Erlebtes in Songs umwandelt.

Mein schönstes Erlebnis mit Martin war eine Party in London bei einer Freundin. Wir saßen in ihrem Schlafzimmer, Martin hatte mir gerade seine Frau Suzanne vorgestellt. Und irgendwann sang ich ihm ein Lied vor, das ich gerade geschrieben hatte. Einfach so, ohne Gitarre. Martin hat mir seinen letzten Song vorgesungen. Und dann haben wir über alte Freunde geredet. Das war ein sehr warmer Moment. Da war Glück im Raum.

Mein Lied von damals ist übrigens nie veröffentlicht worden. Ich werde es Martin noch mal vorsingen, wenn ich ihn das nächste Mal wiedersehe.


English translation:
Written down by Annabel Wahba for tagesspiegel.de, 01 May 2005.
Translated by Irina Janke for martingore.shinji.be, July 2010.

Wet-Look Gel, Synthie & Eyeliner
They sported embarrassing hairdos and their name sounds silly to this day: Depeche Mode. But after 25 years one thing is clear: They were avant-garde.
By Inga Humpe

In the early 80's their music was called "Synthie-Pop". That sounds a bit like plastic music – actually the genre didn't survive very long, just like most bands from this era. Only one band, Depeche Mode, who were initially put down as a teeniebopper-band, have been successful until this day, and they celebrate their 25th birthday this year. Even Johnny Cash did a cover of one of their songs, "Personal Jesus". Following that, Marilyn Manson recorded the song another time. And last October, a new remix album entered number 2 on the German album charts. Inga Humpe now tells us a bit about the phenomenon which is Depeche Mode and about their influence on pop music. Together with her partner Tommi Eckart she forms 2raumwohnung, one of the most successful German bands.

When I listened to Depeche Mode for the first time, it was betrayal for me. It must have been in 1982; back then I was still in my Punk phase. Daniel Miller, head of the independent record label Mute, had signed Depeche Mode. I knew Daniel a bit and was shocked. How could he make pop music all of a sudden?

Now Depeche Mode have been a success for 25 years. Everyone who writes pop songs will sooner or later hit upon their songwriter Martin Gore. Over all those years, he has managed to sound different every time – on his solo album he even sings the German post-war song "Das Lied vom einsamen Mädchen" – and still there is always that special atmosphere discernible which is typical for Depeche Mode. Just take the song and album titles "Black Celebration" and "Music for the Masses" - they've got something sacred and very dramatic.

But in 1982 I didn't yet allow myself to like something like this. Back then the most important thing for me wasn't the music, but the ideology. That stupid name alone: Depeche Mode. It had been the idea of lead singer Dave Gahan. While attending the London art school he read a French fashion magazine called "Dépêche Mode". Everything about fashion seemed suspicious to me, I didn't want to fall for some hype. I'd rather run around with a plastic bag than buy a handbag.

The albums I recorded with the Punk band Neonbabies from 1979 to 1982 were primarily about a certain attitude to life. When I moved from Hagen to Berlin I was a very angry person. Even as a teenager I thought the German state was a dishonest affair, and I felt the RAF people (note from translator: RAF = Rote Armee Fraktion, very active German terrorist organisation in the 70's and 80's) were the only ones who would be able to make some changes. Wenn Ulrike Meinhof (note: RAF terrorist who committed suicide in prison) committed suicide I was 20 years old and determined to join the RAF. Luckily that never happened; instead I discovered Punk in 1977.

Among others, our band Neonbabies supported The Clash. At the gigs the audience sometimes liked to throw beer cans - they hit me on the head and I threw them back. Depeche Mode with their Synthie-Pop and the Neonbabies – those were two completely different worlds.

But later on we even had the same producer: Gareth Jones. Looking back today I'd say Depeche Mode was simply Post-Punk. Their music was the logical countermovement to Punk. They used synthesizers to create melodies. That alone I found pretty interesting, I even bought a synthesizer and played around with it a bit. But back then I couldn't tolerate the attitude behind a pop band like Depeche Mode. That's how it's like at that age: You don't want to leave behind the first ideology you found for yourself.

The Hansa Studio in Köthener Straße, where we recorded and where Depeche Mode recorded their albums from 1983 to 1985 as well, was a legendary place. In the 70's Brian Eno was here, and here David Bowie's song "Heroes" came into being. Just his former presence alone entailed a very special aura. There were old synthesizers standing around, it was pretty dark and really dusty. We sang in a huge old orchestra room, where you could feel rather forlorn. Only a few lonely lamps shed some light. At the same time the four-storied studio contained ultra modern equipment. From the mixing room you had direct view of the Wall at Potsdamer Platz, the death strip and the patrolling soldiers of the GDR. This place was a piece of history. And that attracted a lot of people from other countries. People like Depeche Mode.

Their songwriter Martin Gore had always been interested in German electronic music, in Kraftwerk, and also in "Krautrock" by bands like Neu! Sharing the same record label with Depeche Mode were Einstürzende Neubauten and DAF, who had a hit with "Tanz den Mussolini". Depeche Mode's 1983 breakthrough song "People are People" showed the influence of the Neubauten: Hitting on metal instruments was their invention.

I don't remember exactly when it was, but sometime around 1983 I finally met the guys from Depeche Mode. We and our shared producer went to a club in Damaschkestraße. Martin and I sported a pretty similar hairdo back then. Shaved short on the sides and the blond curls like a quiff on top. Today I've got to say that it looked horrible. The photos from that time are a hoot.

1983 was a turning point for me. I said goodbye to my narrow punk ideology and landed a number one hit with "Codo". From now on I was finally able to like bands like Depeche Mode. After three years of Punk I was disillusioned and I expressed that in my music. After all, Punk wasn't the ever-lasting, redeeming family like I had pictured it, the first new family after my parents. At some point every youth movement comes to this: You are disappointed because it's getting commercialized. With DÖF and the song "Codo", which will be known by most people by its chorus line "Ich düse im Sauseschritt", I deliberately defied my musical past. I said to myself, "OK, now I'm doing "Schlager" (note by translator: very light German musical genre) and turn everything upside down". As a consequence none of my old friends called me anymore.

One reason for my rigorous attitude surely was my Protestant upbringing. Protestantism is rather unfree, you can't go to confession, your sins won't be forgiven. That's really unsexy. That's why I was so narrow-minded. For me there always existed only a very fine line I moved on. And when I realized that the Punk movement wasn't any good – that coolness, always keeping your distance – I embraced the very antithesis.

At that time, Martin was seeing a German girl, Christina Friedrichs. After that evening in Damaschkestraße we ran into each other regularly and became friends. From ’83 to ’86 Martin was very often in Berlin. When my sister and I founded Humpe&Humpe, Martin from Depeche Mode played on one of our albums. That was at Hansa-Studio again; he was recording an album upstairs and when we asked him, he played a synthesizer-line for one of our songs.

Soon I realized that musically I couldn't get any further in Germany. My vision was a fusion of dance music and classical songs, but that didn't exist in Germany. I had to leave, and I went to London, because there were bands there who did exactly that. When I moved to England in 1986, I stayed at Christina's, who was Martin's ex-girlfriend at that time. I met him and the other three members of Depeche Mode every now and then while going out or at private parties. We lived in the same neighbourhood. Once there was a legendary evening at Christina's. All members of Depeche Mode came and a few guys from Pink Floyd were there. And because the partying took place in England, a classic followed: Dave Gahan took all the booze he could find, poured it into a bucket and everyone drank from it. Along the lines of: The party won't be any good unless you have to puke. Then drunken Dave made some stupid remarks about Hitler, and I was pretty pissed off from all this. I think I went into my room at some point, closed the door and was annoyed.

I guess I was a bit sensitive, but I always had the feeling of not being taken seriously as a female musician in England, especially as a German one: After all a woman is a woman and not a musician. Martin was an exception.

Martin Gore is very feminine for a straight man. Back in the day he liked to wear a skirt now and then, and he wore tight black tops that were so low-cut that his chest was showing. Anyone who is able to play around like that and to present themselves as a pop creature without losing their own personality must be very strong and sure of themselves. And he is all that. Martin probably was the first metrosexual man. Only a lot later it became fashionable via people like David Beckham.

I believe the reason why Depeche Mode produced hits for 25 years now isn't just Martin's incredible talent as a songwriter. Others like the Pet Shop Boys for example weren't able to maintain their success for such a long time. Unlike them, Depeche Mode managed to establish themselves in the techno scene and even in the country scene. They always had excellent remixes; for example Westbam remixed some of their songs years ago already, and Johnny Cash sang "Personal Jesus". At Depeche Mode concerts almost all age groups are to be found, from the very young to people in their 40's and 50's.

Techno released an incredible energy; Depeche Mode surely felt that too and integrated it into the music. I still remember how I went to my first rave in 1988. I hooked up with the techno group KLF, who drove around with a truck and called the people together via pirate radio stations. We drove to secret places outside London, and then the party started. The whole thing was strictly forbidden: In England spontaneous raves with over 100 people were subject to the "Criminal Justice Act" and liable to prosecution. It was really incredible when the police came and we had to run away. But I never got arrested. When the wall came down in 1989, I returned to Berlin at once. Soon after there were the first parties in the Tresor club, and that was much better than in England, because there was no law forbidding it. It's difficult to say what I found so fascinating about Techno, but I guess it was the monotonous beat, the minimalism, the constant "boom" on the fourth beat.

In the mid-90's it looked like Depeche Mode could well break apart. Alan Wilder left. Dave Gahan tried to kill himself in 1995, and one year later he almost died of an heroin overdose. Dave was very young when success set in. He came from an English smalltown and was already married with a child at that time. When your life suddenly changes so dramatically, lots of people can't cope.

I've been a musician for 25 years now and I'm really happy that my boyfriend Tommi Eckart and I are so successful with 2raumwohnung. That's an inspiration for me, and I don't keep the music and my personal life separated. Obviously you fall into a sort of limbo after a show where the fans went crazy for you – up to 80,000 people at Depeche Mode shows. You go off stage and suddenly you are just a human being again. Getting your ego under control is probably the most difficult thing when you're successful. I'm really glad that I can chat with my crew guys in such situations. We travel by bus on our tours, so that we are together after a show. That does me a whole lot of good. There were times in the past when I was alone in my hotel room, and that's not very nice.

I haven't seen Martin for quite some time now; as far as I know he lives in Los Angeles. Last November he DJ'ed at "Cookies"; unfortunately I was busy and couldn't go. While writing songs I still have Martin Gore in my mind. For years I've been reading all his song lyrics. Our song "Freie Liebe" (='Free Love') was inspired by "Freelove" from the latest Depeche Mode album. Martin comes up with really beautiful images and the way he brings emotions across – it's obvious that he turns his own experiences into songs.

My nicest Martin moment was a party at a friend's in London. We sat in her bedroom, Martin had just introduced his wife Suzanne to me. And eventually I sang him a song which I had recently written. Just like that, without a guitar. Martin sang me his latest song. And then we talked about old friends. That was a very warm moment. There was happiness in the room.

By the way, my song from that evening was never published. I will sing it to Martin again when I see him next time.
2017-06-30: Photobucket has disabled external image hosting, all scans will have to be re-uploaded on another site.

Offline Angelinda

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Re: 1983: Construction Time Again
« Reply #151 on: 18 May 2014 - 04:24:51 »
2007-03-16 - Mute - Construction Time Again remaster

Documentary: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uLO7eX5llU



[I made a transcript:]

"Teenagers growing up, bad government... and all that stuff."
Depeche Mode: 1983

Andy Franks: ...their plans, because from even then on, the keyboards was virtuoso style, was it?
Daryl Bamonte: No, no. (laughter)
Alan Wilder: I'm sure I had put some pressure on, after I had given them a nick of time, that, "Look, either let me join or I'll just go somewhere else, because I don't wanna be a part-time musician, really."
Daniel Miller: Because it was, like, a one-off single, there wasn't a commitment to doing a whole album. It was kind of, like "Well, let's give it a bit of a trial, see how it goes."
Dave Gahan: We had a hard time recording that song, it was the longest we had spent in the studio doing anything. We tried many different ways to sort of make it work. And that time it was really experimenting, as well, with trying to get as much level on tape as you could, and we always complained to Daniel that our records weren't as loud as anybody else's on the radio.
Daniel Miller: It was very hard to mix, because you're sitting there in front of the mixing desk, and the words keep coming out of the speakers, 'Get the balance right', 'Get the balance right', and you're trying to get the balance right. It was, yeah, the first difficult mix we did, I think.
Dave Gahan: It was weird, I think it got later on picked up by sort of a lot of Detroit underground club people as being a sort of important club song.
Derrick May: I simply thought it was, really, really funky. Maybe someone could laugh at that and say "Well how the hell can a Depeche Mode record be funky?" With that record, Get The Balance Right, we bought two copies, and we used to mix the beginning over and over again on the instrumental side. And it became, like, a big club hit in Detroit with all the kids of our age.
Martin Gore: The 12 inch was just starting out and becoming popular, so we felt that - it was actually quite fun making them anyway - but we felt that we should be making them.
Derrick May: I mean, you had people in the black community that were way down with the music. In the States, we had no image, no marketing, there was no planning for them, so I'm sure it was by accident, other than these white label sort of jackets that came across from Sire Records at the time, so you get no impression, other than the music itself. Nobody knew who these guys were.
Daniel Miller: When you go back and say that people like Derrick May were influenced by or inspired by Get The Balance Right, you'd never have thought it as the time. And I think it's has probably got the band scratching their heads about that.
Dave Gahan: To be honest, answering your question, I have no idea what people like about it. It never really did it for us.
Daniel Miller: It was another one of those interim singles, you know. I think, by the time we got to do Construction Time Again, they had moved on, and it didn't really fit on the album.
Martin Gore: That and It's Called A Heart were the only times where we felt pressured to make a single when we didn't necessarily have material. Again, if you go back and change history, we may not be around today if we hadn't released that single at that point, so whoever was pressurising us to put a single out was probably right.
Alan Wilder: Construction Time Again was a lyric from Pipeline, I believe. And it just seemed to stand out as a good line to sort of sum up what was going on at the time with the group and how it came after A Broken Frame, which was some kind of comment on Vince leaving, and I think Construction Time Again was some kind of comment on the group coming back together and rebuilding, so it seems to suggest this kind of optimistic feeling that everyone had.
Martyn Atkins: The thing is, they're very interesting in [terms of] time and music, because both the way the sound was developing and the technology, and the way the band was developing, they really did go in tango.
Dave Henderson: There was a lot of interest in that area of what was going on, and was it "Are they gonna jump on the bandwagon?" Well actually, no, they're probably driving it.
Neil Ferris: Construction Time Again was absolutely the changing point. When I first heard it, it was like a relief, and I went "Pfff, everything I've said about the band is true, people are gonna believe me now. This is the album that's gonna do it." And it did: it got a lot of people excited, [it got] a lot of people into the band.
Daniel Miller: It was a momentum: the band wanted to get into the studio and do records and move on, and Construction Time Again was a massive, sonic change for the band. We felt we were boundaries definitely, there's no question about that. Not just about the sounds, but it's all about the contexts of how you use them - a popband using those kind of sounds, and nobody had really done that.
Dave Gahan: It was our first combined effort, including Alan that sounded like the real sort of Depeche Mode sound was starting to emerge.
Alan Wilder: I tell ya, I felt like a new member for quite a long time, for many years, really. And, yeah, it did require some diplomacy to try and put my ideas forward without appearing to be too pushy or wanting to take over.
Andy Fletcher: Alan coming into the studio gave us a whole new... Because he is such a fantastic musician, so it meant we could do more.
Martin Gore: He became a very important part of the band, because he was a classically trained musician. None of us were.
Dave Gahan: See, Alan was able to take an idea and exxagerate it and bring some musicianship to it, experiment with different chords, really sort of help us to grow.
Martin Gore: I quite like the fact that he was there, because he was like almost having a teacher checking your work before it goes out.
Alan Wilder: I think that was the first record where you could say that we actually did sit down before we started and really deciding how we were going to utilise the technology that was coming in at that time and really try to do something that was a big step forward from what had gone before. A lot of that was down to bringing in Gareth Jones.
Dave Gahan: Well, Gareth brought an awful lot of energy. He just brought all this enthusiasm to the recording process.
Martin Gore: Gareth is very technical and I think he helped a lot with the sampling. I mean, he was really enthusiastic. It's difficult to - I think it's still to this day - I think it's difficult for Gareth to sit still for more than, like, 20 seconds.
Alan Wilder: I can remember specifically meeting up at Mute offices with Gareth, the first time we met him. He was incredibly excited by the whole prospect of sort of going to record together, and it rubbed off on all of us.
Gareth Jones: What I knew about the band was not very much, but what I knew, I didn't think I really liked. They were on the radio, for a start-off, and I wasn't listening to much music that was on the radio. So, for me, that was like a problem. They was like a popband, that's what I thought about them, a bit kinda lightweight. I missed out on the chance to meet the band initially when they came down to the studio, because of my perception of their reputation. But my mentor and older colleague John Foxx came to me, and kinda had a private word. He said, "Look Gareth, these guys are really interesting, Daniel Miller has done Warm Leatherette". John bought that when it came out and came into the studio when we were making Metamatic and that was kind mindblowing. He said, "Look, that's the guy who made Warm Leatherette, it's really interesting label, get arse down there and meet them! They're looking for an engineer!", basically. So, I was kind of grumbling for a bit, but I thought, "Well, you're probably right." And was the start of a lot set of friendships and creative work.
Alan Wilder: There was a lot of fear that we were gonna be forgotten just around the corner and that we just had to do everything. You know what it's like when you're young, you can take a heavy workload.
Gareth Jones: There was no corner-cutting, there was no "Oh, who cares, let's just shove it out, we've done enough, whatever", there was no question that we were gonna leave the studio until we had made the record that we wanted to make. One of the things I really wanted to do, and I think that's why our first meeting had hit it off, was I wanted to try and help toughen their sound up a bit.
Daniel Miler: I think that's one of the things we were trying to go for, I think of a different kind of spatial feel for the records, and a bit of a harder sound.
Gareth Jones: And one of the ways we did that was by playing all the synthesizers through amplifiers in acoustic spaces, and recording the sound of the space as well as the sound of the synthesizer.
Dave Gahan: We go out sampling, like on construction sites, and recording things.
Gareth Jones: I bought a Stellavox, which is like a classic, analogue, very high-quality, portable battery-operated tape recorder.
Dave Gahan: He was really into experimenting with different microphones, and try and recording in different places.
Gareth Jones: And, we'd all run off with drum sticks and hammers.
Alan Wilder: And just hit every piece of metal and piping and fence that we could find, recorded the trains going past, and then we went back into the studio and started building our songs using these found sounds.
Gareth Jones: The excitement of us of the sampling was that the very fact that you could take any sound and set and make it play in rhythms and melodies.
Alan Wilder: Pipeline springs to mind immediately because that's a track that uses nearly all of the sounds that we found in Shoreditch, all the pipes and the fences being hit, and it's quite radical from that point of view. It doesn't sound radical these days, but at that time, there were not many people doing that kind of thing.
Daniel Miller: We took the samples back to the studio and put them into the sampler and started to manipulate them, and then realised that if we're gonna take the concept to the end, we should record Martin in that space as well. So that's what we did: we made up a backing track using all the samples, took that down, played that back to Martin on one machine, and recorded him with another machine singing in this old building site. It was right by a railway, so that's where all those railway train sounds come from.
Gareth Jones: When we mixed Pipeline as well, we didn't use any artificial equalisation or reverberation or anything, it was like a bit of an audiophile concept. When we came to mixing, we just thought it sounded really good without additional stuff piled on it. So I suggested, "Let's just try and make it work with the balance only."
Daniel Miller: Pipeline is a conceptual piece. For a band in that stage of their career, I thought it was a really great thing to do, and the fact that they wanted to do it, that we managed to do it, and that it worked, I think that was really quite a good achievement.
Dave Henderson: Although that was a very commercial album, there were songs that had much greater width to them, much greater depth as well, so here's a real audio treat where you're getting a much bigger sound and something that's quite dynamic.
Daniel Miller: Usually the messing about with sampling, a lot of things were accidents, really, they didn't really meant to being there. Like the sound at the beginning of Everything Counts, that kind of scraping sound, that was just a complete fluke. Like two sounds being transposed or something. We didn't really know how ot use equipment. We run the sequencer and it started and it made that sound. We thought, "Wow, that sounds great!"
Neil Ferris: I thought that Everything Counts, for me, it wasn't just a great record, a great song, or a great... It was the sound shape and they way that they have made the record. It just took Depeche into another area.
Jürgen Kramar: Everything Counts is one of those real highlights in their single collection. It's got this easy hook, even for folks who don't speak fluently. In Germany, "everything counts", everybody knows what it means. Everything Counts was a smash there.
Alan Wilder: As we recorded it, we realised it was quite strong and lyrically a bit of a move forward and it seemed to be obvious that we should go for that as a single. And it was received very well, probably better than we expected it to be.
Andy Fletcher: That really put us back on the map, in Britain particularly, and it was starting to do really well in other countries with Everything Counts and that was a real turnaround for us.
Daniel Miller: It's a great pop song, Everything Counts, it's got some very unusual pop noises in it. But it's a pop song, and it's very different from anything they've ever done before, sonically. We did all the recording for it at The Garden. And then we had to go to Sarm East Studios, because we needed to make multi-track copies, safety copies, to go to Berlin. And Sarm was quite an expensive, quite cutting-edge studio, and I remember the assistant, who was working there, who helped us do the copies, saying - well we thought we made a good record, quite an interesting record - and he was just saying, "I've never heard anything like this before, this is amazing." He was raving about it. He was just a kid, but you suddenly think, "Oh, maybe there's something more that we've got than we thought here." We were constantly trying to explore new sounds. And certainly, some of the songs really lent themselves to that, some of the lyrics really lent themselves to it. But although the lyrics were written generally before we started sampling, using sampling, I think it was a good kind of coincidence that those two things happened at the same time.
Neil Ferris: I think there was huge pressure on Martin, because here he was effectively delivering a second album, in a very short space of time, and because the band were being hugely successful, there is all that kind of usual worry of the second album syndrome. This is actually the band's third album, but it's Martin second album.
Daniel Miller: The full weight of Martin's kind of responsibility as a songwriter he probably felt more doing the writing for Construction Time Again, so naturally, there's more... Plus the band had a bit more experience, they had been around the world, pretty much, by then.
Alan Wilder: Lyrically, that album sort of stands out from the others, having quite a different slant. Most of Martin's songs are very personal they're not, they're kind of more outward-looking, and I think that came from suddenly being exposed to the world.
Dave Henderson: I think at that time, people were saying, "Well what's going on? We can't be all sweetness and light and parties and..." I mean, maybe it were just people who were becoming aware of the social conditions.
Chris Carr: Dave had already found their voice and had a public that were listening to them. Now the press suddenly realised, "Okay", and they were given their blessing. "You're okay now, we're gonna put you on the front cover. It matters."
Dave Henderson: We had to go beyond the haircut, there had to be more substance and more credibility to what we were writing about. If the people didn't tell us a story, we had to make up - we didn't really make something up. There had to be an angle, and to be honest, I think in those days, NME and Sounds and Melody Maker wrote about a load of rubbish bands, just because they thought it's a good story.
Daryl Bamonte: I recall a journalist, I think he was from the NME, called X Moore, and he said, "Right, Construction Time Again is basically the labour party manifesto, isn't it?" And I don't think they've actually really thought of the political angle.
Dave Gahan: All the subject matter was worldly. I think Martin was writing outside of himself. And, you know, teenagers growing up, bad government, and all that stuff, was suddenly... So yeah, this guy was really into it, and I think we were all a bit scared of him, to be honest.
Daniel Miller: To get X Moore to write about them, if you knew what the NME was like at that time, it's obvious that they're being put in that context. A lot of the lyrics are political, so we are open to an interpretation in that way.
Alan Wilder: When you look back, you can see there is a sort of overall picture and things. Now, how much of that was really Martin's intention to write a collection of songs that all pretty much said the same thing or whether it was just a sort of coincidence that that's how he was feeling?
Gareth Jones: "Grabbing hands grabs all the can", on the lead single of the album: there's clearly some kind of element about business. He was writing, in some way, about money and business.
Andy Fletcher: It's all part of a process where we were starting to grow up and starting to challenge what we had done previously.
Martin Gore: We were getting a bit older and more worldly. We had even been to Asia, and were becoming more aware of the world as a whole. Everything you do during that period reflects the songwriting.
Alan Wilder: I felt at the time that I should be contributing songs. I never felt a natural songwriter, and I never found it easy to come up with words, but I thought, "Well, here I am in a group, surely I should be contributing some songs."
Andy Fletcher: Like, for instance, since Speak And Spell, Martin had been the junior writer, we just said, "Al, if you wanna write some songs, write some songs."
Gareth Jones: On Broken Frame, Martin wrote everything, I believe, so that was obviously a big thing for the group, suddenly to have the "new boy", if you like, to write some songs. But it didn't really mean much to me. I just approached the whole thing as a whole body of work.
Martin Gore: He probably heard some of my demos first and then got a general theme, maybe, and came up with those two songs.
Alan Wilder: And those two songs seem to be the best ones I had come up with, and so it was agreed that we should record those two.
Martin Gore: It definitely helped. I mean, that was two less songs I needed to write for that album.
Daniel Miller: I can't remember when I had the initial sleeve design conversation with Brian, but I'm sure it was at a point where we were already making the record, so I'm sure that the sound of the record informed that discussion.
Alan Wilder: Presumably they kind of listened to what Martin was trying to write about at the time and applied their own ideas to that, which is why you get this kind of socialist look to that early artwork that goes around Construction Time Again and the singles.
Martyn Atkins: The kind of political look of the things was more fashion than a specific statement. If you look back, you'll see a lot of those kind of elements creeping in, of both fascist and communistic kind of iconography. It was exciting looking stuff. And I think that nobody had really plundered it to market an everyday product like a record.
Brian Griffin: I would have worked on it, but I kind of laid claim to the idea that it has to be a combined effort, which it was. But anyway, they said, "We want a worker with a sledgehammer on top of a mountain." I went, "Hmm, right, right, well okay." So what happened was that - again, Stuart Graham was my assistant at the time - flew with me to Switzerland, with now his brother who was an ex-Royal Marine as our assistant. Perfect physique, perfect fitness, to carry all the gear and a real sledgehammer. And, being as keen as mustard a way off, we were the first off the plane, through passport control, and I went down and I remember coming down some steps with Stuart and his brother, and the carousel was below and the police were over near the customs area, and the first thing off the plane was the sledgehammer in the plastic bag. And it banged, crashed, onto the stainless steel of the carousel. I looked across to the police, and the police started walking across. And then they could not believe we had brought a sledgehammer to Switzerland, because they were just, "Can't you just, coming out of the airport, [go] to a hardware store and just get it?" But we were determined to take our own, a real worn one, not a brand new one. And, we did. We got through okay, it was a bit of a laugh, or whatever. And then we set off to the Matterhorn. We took the cable car, and then we had to walk even higher after that so we could get the Matterhorn in the distance. And it's interesting, because I was one of the photographers prior to photoshop, and because of the construction of the image, especially the album cover, it looks like you could have put the Matterhorn in later, and people do comment on that. But it's not at all. We were actually up there. And that is the assistant's brother, ex-Royal Marine, with his sledgehammer. And I never thought any of it being politically powerful or about work or about workers or anything.
Andy Fletcher: In those days especially, we used to really, really work on the singles a lot more. We used to, in advance, we'd be picking out a track and then it would be really, really... with Daniel, and being very focused on it. Too focused, to be honest.
Daniel Miller: Oh, we were very focused on chart positions. Because, they really meant something much more even than they do today. It meant something if you were in the top 10 in the UK, actually. Things happen because of that.
Neil Ferris in 1983: The thing is, there's a difference between people playing your records on the radio and being involved and really getting behind you. That's very important. And you also know the difference between this record and the last record, because the reviews were raving about the last one. It's fine; with Peter Powell, he suddenly started really raving about your record, which he didn't ever do before.
Daniel Miller in 1983: (...) single now?
Neil Ferris in 1983: And Then, Dan.
Dave Gahan in 1983: Huh? Huh? Huh?
Neil Ferris in 1983: Told You So.
Andy Fletcher in 1983: Told You So I think is...
Daniel Miller in 1983: Do you think it will go -
Andy Fletcher in 1983: Can I decide?
Daniel Miller in 1983: Can you guarantee where it will go, Neil?
Neil Ferris in 1983: I can't guarantee anything, but I think it's top 5.
Neil Ferris: Daniel always came to me with a fait accompli. And I think, a part of the reason in terms of choosing singles, I think a part of the reason for that was because he always knew I'd have a opinion, and I would always want to kind of voice my opinion and kind of worry about what we should do and what we shouldn't do. So if he came to me and said, "Right, this is what we're doing", and then I had a view, then it would be easier to discuss it and try and work it out. If it was like, "We have these choices, Neil", I think I would just cause more confusion, because I would get in the middle of it, and it would be difficult for everyone.
Chris Carr: Neil felt that he had to perform. I think it was feeding the beast, feeling awake, "We're gonna be successful, I want more platinum records", etcetera, etcetera. (to the camera:) Hello, Neil. Ballbreaker. (laughs)
Andy Fletcher: I think Love In Itself was one of our strongest singles, but we didn't really have much option. There were really good tracks on the album, but not particularly singles.
Neil Ferris: It didn't perform as well, one of the reasons could be that people were buying the album, which, if that was what was happening, then that's fine.
Martin Gore: Love In Itself was a very strange single anyway, I mean, I don't think it was a great choice as a pop hit. It's quite slow and it's quite odd.
Jürgen Kramar: It definitely was, sort of really, but people were so hungry for new stuff from Depeche Mode, you know, that they didn't mind it, that they accepted whatever single which came out at that time, all mixes, and... you know. So it wasn't a particular problem.
Alan Wilder: Something that comes through on that record is a genuine enthusiasm an excitement. That's why I like the album. We were getting on well, it was my first chance to record an album with them, and we had this new person in the studio so he [Gareth] was kind of pushing everbody to impress, Daniel included, and I think that it was a brand new team, a feeling that it was a brand new team working and we were gonna do something to push us forward.
Daniel Miller: It was definitely like that. I mean, Neil had been the radio promotions guy since day 1, Dan had been the angent, there were others involved as well, Chris Carr. There were only like 3 or 4 people working at Mute at the time. This was the team we'd built, by default or by chance, that had been very, very effective. And yeah, I was very lucky to be around those people, yeah definitely. I got a lot of advice. Because, I was just like seat-of-the-pants completely for me, I didn't have a clue of what I was doing.
Chris Carr: That's the first album that I really kind of... "Um, yeah, okay, I get it. They seem to be a band with purpose."
Daniel Miller: They're quite in their own category by 1983. I don't think people were admittingly comparing them to anybody at that point, or grouping them with anybody. People recognised a big step forward, and recognised that they'd grown - that Martin had grown a lot since A Broken Frame or the nature of what A Broken Frame was about at the time in the history of the band. And this was kind of... I don't wanna say it was Martin's first proper album, as a writer, but it was probably the first fully formed album as a writer.
Neil Ferris: The album I presumed when I first heard it, was gonna be like one of those seminal albums that people look back on and get very excited about. I'm not sure that people, when they look back on Depeche Mode, actually say that now, because I think possibly Violator becomes THE album. But, I think it was a very big changing point.
Dave Henderson: They were producing something musically that was quite different, but melodic and accessible. People were saying they got two good songwriters in the band, and Martin was becoming a writer of note, and Dave seemed to be developing a personality on stage.
Andy Franks: He was always somebody who liked being in the limelight, and liked being sort of out there.
Dan Silver: Dave didn't need any encouragement, because not only was he a good singer, he was also a great dancer. Kids loved that about him, especially the girls, I mean, he used to shake his hips and a lot of girls would scream, and that's just the way it was.
Derrick May: You can't erase your history when it comes to a particular artist or a particular group that you like. You can't just turn off. That was a part of my youth, that was a very important part of my musical growth. Indirectly, subconsciously, Depeche Mode had an impact on how I made music. I didn't copy them, I didn't replicate them, I didn't attempt to be like them, in any form or fashion, neither did Juan Atkins or anybody else from Detroit. But they did have an impact, like it or not. It is a fact.
Andy Franks: The perception of the band in different places were changing because they as people were changing. When they first stanted, as you see from some of the very early photos, they were dressed in a fashionable style or whatever.
Daryl Bamonte: New Romantic, it was called.
Andy Franks: New Romantic.
Daryl Bamonte: I coined that phrase.
Andy Franks: Did you?
Daryl Bamonte: Yeah.
Andy Franks: Well done.
Chris Carr: Everthing was growing, scenes were happening, and Depeche Mode had their own agenda and scene. The Basildon horde multiplied and became the Birmingham hordes, became the Geordie hordes, became everything, into the Depeche horde, and it couldn't be ignored.
Alan Wilder in 1983: Well this is it, this is the end of the tour, the last night in Hammersmith. And we're all a bit knackered, but it's been a successful tour. The least amount of keyboard problems we've ever had, and all in all a great success. Cheers.


[Sleeve notes, scanned by me and transcribed into text using OCR:]




Depeche Mode’s third album broke new ground in a number of ways. It was the first to feature Alan Wilder as a full member and the first time we worked with Gareth Jones, the studio engineer who soon became a close friend and remains a collaborator on a number of projects. It was also the first time we started to experiment with sampling.
Obviously adding a fourth member is bound to change the dynamic in a band and Alan was a very different kind of person to the other three. He was musically educated, had been in other bands and was more middle clsas. He also had different tastes, although as time went on they all kind of merged. He and Dave bonded more in the early days, whilst Fletch and Martin were very close.
Alan was also very keen on working in the studio. He was a perfectionist, whereas the others did not have the same focus when it came to the finer details. He was s very good musician technically, wrote a couple of songs on the album, ‘Landscape is Changing’ and ‘Two Minute Warning’ and brought more of a sense of musicality. He had fairly strong opinions and became a part of the production team with Gareth and myself. Depeche Mode still had a fairly minimal style and didn’t want too much flowery playing but Alan definitely made a contribution to ‘Construction Time Again’.
We recorded the album in ‘The Garden’, John Foxx’s studio in Shoreditch, East London. This was long before it became ‘London’s Fashionable Shoredltch’; it was still London’s Grim Shoreditch. But, it had lots of great Indian restaurants. One of the memorable things about these sessions is that Martin, Alan and I all became vegetarians after being inspired by Gareth, and there was so much great vegetarian Indian food in the district that we just decided we would see what it was like. We stuck with it for some years afterwards and Martin still doesn’t eat meat.
The major technical advance on ‘Construction Time Again’ is that it was the first time we used sampling. Vince Clarke had already bought a Fairlight that he used on the first Yazoo album, Martin bought the first Emulator and I bought this ridiculous system called a Synclavier. We were not sampling from records, we just went out sampling from the world around us and recorded anything that made a sound. Martin brought in all these weird toy instruments and Eastern instruments and we started testing all the possibilities.
The track that epitomised this technique was ‘Pipeline’. The song was already there so we went out to a derelict building site in Shoreditch. We only used sounds from the building site for the backing track but to complete the concept we had to get Martin to sing in the same location. We had two tape recorders, one playing back the track so he could monitor it, and the other recording his vocals, it was right beside the railway line so if you listen tarefully you can hear trains going past and other random noises. For a band with their musical history, it was a very conceptual piece. It is not often appreciated just how much Depeche Mode push boundaries and experiment.
‘Construction Time Again’ has a harder, more metallic sound than previous albums. They were starting to listen to bands like Einsturzende Neubauten and Test Department and Martin in particular was really into bands like DAF and Der Plan. I was into a lot of that music anyway and had been working with Neubauten and although I didn’t want to impose that sound on them, they absorbed it naturally, obviously adapting it to their own world.
We went to Berlin to mix the album at the legendary Hansa Ton studio, which was right by The Wall. We were still on a pretty low budget and it was actually cheaper to record there than in London because of the exchange rate and the nature of Berlin at the time. Before the fall of the Wall, ordinary Germans didn’t really want to live in the city so the government offered all these incentives to encourage businesses to move there and recording studios were able to operate without paying tax. We could stay in a posh hotel, work in one of the most high tech studios in Europe and still pay less than we would making an album in London.
For us it was great because Berlin is a 24 hour city. We would finish work late and still be able to go out for a drink or go a club — it was so different from London. I knew a few people there and occasionally Blixa Bargeld from Neubauten and the Bad Seeds, or the guys from DAF would pop into the studio. Martin and Blixa got on very well and Depeche Mode were starting to become popular in Germany so there were already fans hanging around. At one point someone crossed out the street name outside the studio and called it ‘Depeche Mode Strasse’.
‘Everything Counts’ was the first single. It came out just before the album and did well, reaching number six in the British charts, It was very different to their previous hits and was a big step forward sonically, musically and lyrically. I remember NME did a big feature portraying the band as young Marxists after the journalist made the connection from the lyrics and the album sleeve which resembled a Soviet constructivist poster. It wasn’t really accurate — they were heartfelt lyrics but I don’t think the band ever aligned themselves with any political movement.
‘Construction Time Again’ marked another turning point for Depeche Mode as Martin moved to Berlin soon afterwards and I think this had an effect on his songwriting.
Daniel Miller
2017-06-30: Photobucket has disabled external image hosting, all scans will have to be re-uploaded on another site.