2015-03-31 - The Interview People (Germany) - Martin Gore interview
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CREDITLINE: Peter Reynolds / The Interview People
LENGTH: 4,454 words
Summary: Releasing his 2nd solo-album "MG" in late April, Depeche Mode-mastermind Martin Gore invites us to a rare f2f conversation at the Four Seasons hotel in his beloved Californian hometown of Santa Barbara. Topics of the nearly 40 minute-conversation are his passion for sci-fi movies, instrumental music and soundtracks, his gear packed home studio, his disapproval of EDM, Simon Cowell and modern pop music as well as the current state of affairs with Depeche Mode.
Q: Martin, why another solo album? And why “MG” - referencing “VCMG”, your collaboration with Vince Clarke from 2012?
A: I really decided to make a solo instrumental album because after the “Delta Machine”-project, I had four or five instrumentals left over that we didn’t use because we had too many songs - even for the deluxe edition. So, it was either just discard them or find a home for them. So Christoffer Berg it was initially, who we were working with on the “Delta Machine”-project, said: “Have you thought about just writing a whole instrumental album? I think it could be quite an interesting project.” And I thought: “Mmmm, that is something interesting and something very different.” It’ll be something completely different to the VCMG-project, because that was a pure techno record. And so the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of doing something that was purely instrumental but more kind of filmic.
Q: But you spend so much time in the studio there´s got to be lots of stuff in your archives that you haven’t had a chance to release yet, or?
A: There’s not that much stuff, no. When I’m working on even the instrumentals, when I was working on them last year, yeah, sometimes I spend like a couple of weeks working on a track and then decide that I don’t really like it. So, then I do just get rid of it, and that does happen but I don’t have tons of stuff that’s like sitting around in a vault somewhere.
Q: See, I thought: “He’s in the studio like 5 days a week. There’s got to be plenty of stuff”, you know?
A: Yeah, no. I mean there’s 16 tracks on the album, there’s another couple of tracks that we did for extra bonus things - I don’t know exactly even where they’re going to come out, but it was one of those things where I had to like say: “OK, now it’s time to stop.” Because it is fun like creating these instrumental pieces, and I felt like I could have gone on forever doing it, but at some point I’ve got to go back to writing songs.
Q: Is “MG” like pleasing your inner John Williams?
Q: …because it’s got something very atmospheric, futuristic and cinematic about it.
A: I realized at an early stage during the making of the album that there was a kind of theme that was kind of futuristic or Sci-Fi going on. And I quite liked that. So you know, I think I’ve kind of like, honed in on that, or homed in on that area.
Q: Are you a big Sci-Fi fan?
A: Not a huge Sci-Fi fan, but of course I like the classics. I mean, I love “Blade Runner”, I love the “Blade Runner”-soundtrack. I really liked the Geoff Barrow album that came out like it must be - it was probably 2013, I think, which was an imaginary Judge Dredd-soundtrack called “Drokk”. And I’ve got a 12 year old son and it’s been quite fun getting him in watching some of the classic Sci-Fi-films. So, I’ve been watching recently things like “Terminator” and “Blade Runner” and “Total Recall”. But yeah, that’s just purely coincidence, that’s nothing to do with the making of the album.
Q: But would that be something for the future: To concentrate on scoring movies at one point?
A: It would have to be a lucky coincidence that the right film came along at the right time. Because the way the band works, we work in generally four year cycles. So, we finish a tour, we usually either take a break or go into doing something like a solo project. And then it’s back to writing and then recording. And then when the album’s released we go on tour. And so the right film would have to come along just at that moment where we’ve finished a tour and then it could possibly work. But if it came along at any of the other points it’s like, yeah, just too difficult to fit it in.
Q: Unless you break that cycle for a change.
A: I suppose. I suppose that could work, but it’s a cycle that we’ve got into that kind of works. I mean, it won’t always be four years. I mean, who knows? The next album may not be out for five years. Maybe it will never come out! You know, there’s never a guarantee of anything.
Q: What’s it like to write without lyrics, especially as you are known to love to play with words? Does that mean you had to come up with even more atmospheric or more visual sounds?
A: It’s obviously something that’s completely different. Because when you’re writing songs with lyrics the most important things are the lyrics and the vocal melody and the vocal. And if you’re not including any of those elements in a piece of music, then it’s a completely different beast, because you’ve got like this area that would have been taken up with the whole vocal that’s blank. And then you’ve just got to like keep people’s interest with other things happening. And I think I said in the press release I’m really aware of the power of words and it’s been something that’s been very important to me over the years, but I’m also really aware of the power of music and instrumental music can be very powerful as well.
Q: In this case the instrumentals are either very harsh or pretty mellow. And they cover the entire emotional spectrum, don´t they? They are all over the place, it seems.
A: One of the things I really liked about doing this was keeping it as diverse as possible. You know, I think there really is a wide range of styles of instrumentals on the record. And maybe there’s one or two that may fit into like a kind of overall general area. But it is very eclectic.
Q: Now, with a track like “Elk” did you have that specific animal in mind or did the title come later, once the track was done?
A: Well, for me there are reasons why I’ve named each track. But they’re not so obvious for other people. And it’s like music in general, really. I think it’s really that one of the great things is like when you listen to the piece, and then you see a title, it just takes you off into like your imagination.
Q: Could you reveal what you had in mind when writing “Blade” for example?
A: Well, I think it’s the same as talking about songs. I just don’t like taking the mystery away, because the reason why I named the songs the way I do, will be ultimately far more banal than someone’s imagination.
Q: And “Europa Hymn”?
A: Well, same thing.
Q: That could be a Kraftwerk title, couldn’t it?
A: (both laugh)
Q: So, as opposed to Mr. Cameron, are you pro-European Union?
A: (laughs) You know, I am pro-European Union.
Q: What about that heavy subwoofer sound in “Trysting”? How did you come up with that?
A: I’m not sure exactly which sound you’re talking about, but does it just come in a few times? Is it just like a bass line that comes in… oh, at the beginning? Yeah, I mean - individual sounds, you know, I can’t really remember exactly how I made every individual sound, but overall I would say that 80% of the sounds came from Eurorack modular system.
Q: So what do you use these days, what does your studio look like? How high tech are you?
A: I still have a lot of old vintage stuff around, but a lot of my studio is taken up with a Eurorack system, which is quite big. And then I have quite a big dotcom system, which is kind of like like Moog format, E-mu. And there’s like quite a few manufacturers that make modules in that format as well.
Q: Are you still looking for old vintage stuff on eBay or has that changed over the years?
A: I think that generally speaking I have most of the old vintage keyboards that I want now. I’m not sort of hunting and hunting for pieces.
Q: Cause that requires a lot of space, doesn't it?
A: It’s true that my studio is really full and at some point I have to, you know, not be looking for big huge old vintage things. You know, I can convince myself that it’s OK to keep buying little modules for my Eurorack system, even though even that’s madness because four or five of them take up quite a bit of space in my rack.
Q: Are you familiar with Devo's studio?
Q: They own that green building that looks like a spaceship, near Sunset Plaza in LA. And they’ve got all these old vintage keyboards in the basement, 1930s, 1940s stuff. Like giant machines that are totally out of tune and they just use them to create crazy sounds. (both laugh)
A: Yeah, I’ve never gone that far back. (chuckles)
Q: How come you went straight into the studio after such an extensive tour? Weren't you in need of a proper holiday?
A: Well, I had this idea in my head, and I enjoy going to the studio. That’s one of the things that keeps me motivated. So, as soon as I got back and got over jet lag, then I just felt like going back to work.
Q: With touring being a more laid back and enjoyable experience these days or is it still as exhausting as it used to be?
A: It can be very exhausting. Because we have quite a gruelling schedule I think. We were playing every other day on the tour, for a long period. And we were travelling on the days off. So, by the time you get into your new hotel, it’s like 6 o’clock in the evening and what do you do? Most of the time I just wanted to like stay in, get something to eat in my room and watch a film and go to bed. And then the next day would be a concert. So, when you’re doing that for months and months and months on end, it does get quite tiring.
Q: However, there was no diseases, no cancellations this time, was there?
A: No. But we did have cancellations because the whole Kiev thing kicked off, just as we were about to play there. And unfortunately we had to cancel Istanbul for the second time because there was a truck driver’s strike at the border. So, our trucks couldn’t get into Turkey.
Q: So you were hitting Ukraine in the midst of the revolution?
A: Right at the very beginning of it, when the government snipers had shot people. That was when we were due to go there just a few days later.
Q: And why this sort of like technical drawing for the artwork? What´s that knob for, if that’s a knob at all?
A: Yeah, it like represents a knob from a synthesizer.
Q: Which one would that be?
A: Any - it’s a generic. Generic knob.
Q: So you like to keep it minimal?
A: Yeah, I mean, I like the idea of it being quite indie-looking, the cover.
Q: And why Mute again? Was that an obvious choice for this project?
A: I think it is the obvious label, because we were big Mute fans before we signed to Mute in 1980. And it’s the electronic label - it is THE electronic label. You know, it’s been the one consistent thing - I mean obviously Mute have put out other stuff over the years, but started out as an electronic label and is mainly an electronic label, I would say.
Q: What about Depeche Mode? Are you back at Mute, too?
A: I think we’re, we don’t know what we’re doing at this point yet, because I think we’re once again out of a deal because we only did a one off album deal with Columbia last time. So, we will decide when we have to, I suppose.
Q: Say, what do you make of the whole EDM thing, of superstar DJs filling stadiums right now? How bizarre is that?
A: I find it a little bit weird. (laughs) But there are other things that are weirder I suppose…
Q: How do you mean?
A: In the world, you know, there’s a lot of stuff that goes on that’s just crazy. And the fact that DJs are filling huge stadiums or whatever is a bit weird, but I’ve come to accept it now.
Q: Didn’t you go to see at least one of them?
A: Oh, Deadmau5. I saw Deadmau5 in Santa Barbara a while ago, yeah. That was a while ago now, but yeah, I went with my daughter, yeah.
Q: It´s like electronic music has been taken hostage by the pop world. But maybe that’s just me getting old.
Q: So that development doesn't scare you at all?
A: What, DJ’s playing in…
Q: That sort of mainstream DJ-ism?
A: You know, it’s one of those things I haven’t really thought too much about. It doesn’t bother me. I mean, I think the state of pop music in itself is more - you know, I find myself being more and more distanced from…
Q: In the sense that you are missing something new, something innovative?
A: Yeah, I find it very hard - you know, I scour the internet looking for new, interesting music. And I think it’s about time there was something new that came along, something groundbreaking that was almost like a new genre or something. Feels like maybe we’ve run out of genres. (chuckles)
Q: Maybe it’s an age thing, but when people say “there´s this cool new band!”, and you listen to it, 9 out of 10 times it´s: “Jesus, I heard that before - 20 years ago!”
A: (laughs) Yeah!
Q: Like what’s so cool about it? Is it because they have a beard? Nobody’s reinventing the wheel, you know?
Q: Any idea why that is?
A: I don’t know, it’s one of those things that’s very hard to put your finger on. It’s, you know, have we exhausted music? Have we like tried every interesting avenue? I mean, there’s not that many electronic projects with trombone - we haven’t tried that. But how interesting is it? I don’t know.
Q: You know that D-flat attracts crocodiles?
Q: I just saw that on Animal Planet.
Q: I was a swamp in the South and they put a brass section on a pier and had them play D flat, and all these crocodiles jumped out the water.
A: And no other note. No, no other notes?
Q: No, just D flat - it’s like their “mating tone”.
Q: So all these crocodiles jump out the water and showing off how big they are ´cause they think there is a rivaling male.
Q: You grew up with the Bryan Ferrys, the Iggy Pops and the David Bowies of this world - people that were more than just music. They had a vision and an aesthetic. And the last artist who tried that was probably Lady Gaga. But with her there´s something missing, like her music can´t keep up with the rest of the package.
A: Yeah. There’s… I mean, fashion in general has not been a big part of music for a lot of bands - some bands obviously, but for a lot of bands now it’s more “dressed down”. People don’t look like Roxy Music anymore or David Bowie. You know, it’s true Lady Gaga does try (chuckles) but… yeah, that was always something that attracted me.
Q: The visual aspect?
A: Visuals, yeah. I’ve never wanted to go on stage in a pair of jeans and a T-shirt. It’s not very interesting.
Q: Do you know Dieter Bohlen?
Q: The guy from Modern Talking. Now he was making fun of your outfit at a German TV-show in the 80s, standing right behind you, thinking you won´t understand him. But you turned around and confronted him in perfect German.
Q: “Alles Geschmackssache” – “just a matter of taste”. Did that really happen? Or did he just make that up?
A: I can’t remember - probably. I don’t know, I’ve no idea.
Q: Must have been your black leather phase then. But see, you've chosen an outfit to go with the music, to give it a look. Just like your heroes, really.
A: Yeah, I mean, even on the last tour, you know, even today, I still get my stage clothes made and spend a bit of time and effort doing that with people.
Q: And music wise, what do you listen to these days?
A: Yeah, there’s still… I mean, some of the remixes that I’ve got done for this project are by interesting people. And I asked Andy Stott to do a remix, and I think he’s done a really fantastic job. And Christoffer Berg, who worked on the “Delta Machine”-album with us, did a remix for me and he’s done another really amazing remix.
Q: But there´s hardly any interesting pop artists out there, or?
A: Yeah… I mean, there are some things I like. I mean, maybe I’m going back in time a bit now, but you know EMA? The last EMA album I really liked. But, yeah, no, it’s tough. (chuckles)
Q: Are you glad you didn’t join the Gary Glitter fan club back in the 70s?
A: (laughs) Yeah, yeah.
Q: What made you say “I think somebody should shoot Simon Cowell”?
A: Because I believed it. Still believe it.
Q: His response was quite remarkable, wasn’t it? He called you “weirdo Gore” when to be weird is actually what pop music is all about, isn’t it?
Q: So he didn’t get it at all. And that goes back to what we just said - about people that embrace their weirdness and use it creatively.
A: Yes. Well, I mean I’ve got a lot of positive response from that comment. That’s all I would say about it. A lot of people seemed to agree with me. (chuckles)
Q: So we won’t see you on X-Factor any time soon? Even though it’s the biggest thing on TV right now, as far as music is concerned.
A: Yeah. Yes, yeah…
Q: Have you talked to Vince about a second VCMG-album?
A: No, because I decided to this project. And now it’s time for me to start thinking about writing songs again. And it’s not something that I will rule out and say I’ll never do again, but I think it was quite a nice one off project.
Q: Weren't you planning on some sets, too? Did you ever get to do them?
A: We didn’t, no. No. I mean, even with the promotion of this, it’s difficult to know what to do with this project. Cause DJing is not really, doesn’t seem to really fit in with the overall concept of this album.
Q: And if you would book like planetariums?
A (laughs): But it’s - yeah, I mean but I wouldn’t want to just go to a planetarium and put the album on.
Q: Well, you could do sort of a performance thing, couldn't you?
A: I can’t imagine performing live with this album, I think it would be extremely boring. Not that the tracks are boring, but it’s just not very visual, it’s not a visual thing to perform these tracks.
Q: Is there railroads nearby?
A: Yes, very close to here, yeah.
Q: Is that the one that goes down the coast?
A: Yeah, that goes on all through the night, if you stay here. Mm-hmm.
Q: Is that the next thing then - writing for the band?
A: I think that’ll be my next major, yeah, hurdle to cross to get started, yes.
Q: So once this album´s out the window for solo activities is officially closed or is Dave going to release some of his own music, too?
A: Well, the writing process is a long, takes a long time. It’ll probably be, you know, probably take a good year and Dave’s working at the moment with the Soulsavers again.
Q: Any idea how you´re going to approach the next album? Is there a concept or a strategy?
(management: Can we try and keep it to Martin?)
Q: Of course. As we talked about the Dieter Bohlen thing: How good is your German actually?
A: It’s not as good as it used to be, because I just don’t talk it anymore.
Q: But you must have been fluent at one point, or?
A: At one point I was much better because I used to hang out with Germans all the time. I lived in Europe, I lived in Berlin for a while. But that was a while ago now and it’s very, very rusty now.
Q: Is it true you spent time on a farm in Schleswig-Holstein?
A: When I was younger, yeah, on school exchange.
Q: So how was farm life in the northern parts of Germany?
A: I mean, it was fun, I liked going there, yeah.
Q: But you've never been tempted to started a farm over here in the States?
A (chuckles): It’s not my passion.
Q: Could you still speak, if you needed to? Do you understand everything?
A: I mean, I can still speak German, yeah, of course. But I’d just be rusty.
Q: How come you never got a driving license?
A: That was something that never really interested me. And around the time when - I don’t know. ´Cause maybe I should have started learning when I was like 17-18, but I didn’t. And then I moved to London, you know, after living in Berlin I moved to London. You know, in Berlin I didn’t really need to drive. London, didn’t really need to drive. But I think around 1990 I moved out sort of an hour from London into the countryside. If there was time when I maybe I should’ve started driving it would’ve been then, but it was still quite easy - there was local taxi services, there was a train into London that was quicker than driving. So I just never bothered.
Q: And over here? How do you get around?
A: My wife drives. And it’s not that difficult really to… I mean it’s only 10 minutes into town. You know, most days I’m working in the studio. I have a studio assistant who works with me who drives. And if we need to go and pick something up or go and get lunch then he’ll drive.
Q: How do you feel about Berlin these days? In what way has it changed?
A: Well, obviously I lived there when it was just a small little thing in the middle of East Germany. And now I see Berlin as like the - it’s so vibrant, it’s like the capital of Europe. I see it as the capital of Europe.
Q: You mean, for arts or as far as location goes?
A: Every time you go there, there’s constantly like building work going on. It’s like, just seems to be growing and growing. And then the arts - I mean it seems to be the centre for me of electronic music. So much stuff seems to come out of Berlin. Software. It’s like a lot of manufacturers there.
Q: So there’s something happening?
A: Yeah, I think so.
Q: Would you be tempted to go back one day?
A: I think it would be tough now after living here for so long. Just weather wise, you know, even being on tour in Berlin in the winter is like it’s just so cold.
Q: It’s very extreme. Last time you told me that your son is into rock music as well. Does he still have a band or is he approaching a career in music?
A: He’s not approaching a career, because he’s 12. But he’s still in a band, yeah.
Q: What’s your sort of career plan for him, if there is one?
A: He’s 12. I don’t have any plans for him yet.
Q: (chuckles) OK. So, I guess I’ll see you in two or three years, whenever the next Depeche Mode album is done.
Q: Any idea what sort of modules or sounds you want to try?
A: No, because I haven’t even thought about a concept or anything yet. So, I think that’s something that will hopefully come to some kind of fruition over the next 6 months to a year.
Q: Well, looking forward to it. If you change your mind about performing “MG”, let me know.
A: (chuckles) Well, I think that because it is quite filmic that there is maybe a chance that people will use it for that kind of thing. That maybe there’ll be some good syncs and things like that for it.
Q: Just like Moby, who sold the entire “Play”-album off to advertisement and film? That was a genius thing to do.
Q: So is your working day done?
A: No, I’ve got one more.
Q: Are you actually aware of Helene Fischer? She has beaten you at the Echo Awards 2014 for “album of the year”…
A: Yeah, I mean I’ve heard the name, I mean - I think she has, she has a lot of dancers with her, doesn’t she, as well?
Q: She’s like biggest thing in Germany right now. It’s Schlager.
A: But she has a lot of dancers, as well, doesn’t she?
Q: It’s very choreographed, and extremely successful.
A: Yeah, yeah.
Q: Thank you very much.
A: Thank you.
2015-04-01 - Clash Music (UK) - Europa Hymn: Martin Gore Interviewedhttp://www.clashmusic.com/features/europa-hymn-martin-gore-interviewed
Europa Hymn: Martin Gore Interviewed
Depeche Mode on his enthralling solo album...
Let's first dispel one big myth about Depeche Mode's Martin Gore, who is on the cusp of releasing a surprise instrumental electronic album, simply titled 'MG': despite having written some of the darkest, most introspective and searching songs of the past thirty-odd years, he's not a grumpy, miserable soul at all.
"I think that there are quite a few people who think that," he sighs from his home in Santa Barbara, suggesting he gets accused of that way too often. With his soft Essex accent - more Theydon Bois than Basildon these days - he's just about the mostly gently-spoken member of a major rock band you'll ever come across, with absolutely no trace of misery about him in the slightest.
Gore also finds it hard to know where the notion that his songwriting is universally bleak comes from. "It's difficult for me to put my finger on that essence," he laughs, somewhat flummoxed. "I think it's just something that comes out when I try to write something. I don't even think all of the tracks on 'MG' are dark. You couldn't say that. Maybe it's something about the chord changes, but quite a few of the tracks on this aren't really about chord changes."
As if to underline the point that he's not a born misanthrope, Gore offers up this a timely insight. "I watched a feel-good film last night," he says, conjuring up improbable images of sweatpant-wearing Gore settling down with some popcorn and a good rom-com. "It's called 'Alive Inside', and it's about people with Alzheimer's and dementia and a guy's quest to bring music to them."
"It's amazing," he enthuses. "They put a pair of headphones on people and they're told by family members what kind of music they used to listen to, and they just immediately come to life and become lucid when they hear the music, just through that connection to the music. Apparently music has a way of getting into different parts of the brain."
Talk of movies brings us quickly round to 'MG', Gore's new album. Instead of crafting a third volume of his sporadic 'Counterfeit' series of covers albums, Gore decided to create an entirely instrumental electronic record. His vision was to craft an album that could be heard as a soundtrack to an imaginary movie. It's something that's been done many, many times over by others, but it never ceases to be the source of inspiration for electronic musicians, even if the results are often questionable.
Consisting of sixteen tracks, Gore's 'MG' bears some similarities - as a hypothetical soundtrack - with Cliff Martinez's actual score for 'Drive', containing lots of dark energy but also levity in melodies that tie this effortlessly back to Gore's work in Depeche Mode.
Depeche Mode were, at least initially, every bit the classic 1981 synth pop band; tidy, good-looking, well-groomed and capable of delivering a form of captivating electronic music that spoke to audiences in a way that made other contemporary bands seem a bit of a novelty. As the 1980s progressed, the Mode sound became fuller, richer, more considered and more stadium-friendly, culminating in 1990's seminal 'Violator', by which time they were justifiably one of the world's biggest bands.
But they were also by then far from a pure electronic band: 'Personal Jesus' was the band's first foray into a form of guitar-driven music that would become more pronounced on 1993's mind-meltingly unexpected 'Songs Of Faith And Devotion'.
Guitars have become such a prominent feature of Depeche Mode's albums that to hear Gore stepping away from his bluesy riffs to craft purely electronic music again is both a welcome surprise but also something of a shock; over time it's felt like the Mode have become a bit embarrassed by their roots, but Gore is keen to refute this notion. "I do go into the studio most days of the week and do something at least," he says. "It doesn't always necessarily end in a track or even the germ of a track, or half a track. I'll just go in there and play with a synth and make a few sounds. It's what I enjoy doing."
"I do like instrumental music, and I do like instrumental albums," he continues. "One of my favourite albums of all time is 'Selected Ambient Works' by Aphex Twin - I like the first volume more, and I especially like the more atmospheric tracks on that album. I also really love the Geoff Barrow 'Drokk' album. That was meant to be a very, very sci-fi soundtrack, but also wasn't really a soundtrack."
If deciding not to deliver a third 'Counterfeit' album comes as a surprise, so does the fact that 'MG' isn't a techno album. In the wake of 'Ssss', the 2012 minimal techno album with his old mucker and fellow Depeche Mode founder Vince Clarke as VCMG (from whence he decided to stick with his initials for this release), or his DJ sets, or the pre-show music that Gore has selected for Mode concerts, it would have been too easy for Gore to go on autopilot and deliver a straightforward 4/4 album.
Aside from just one track, though, 'MG' is nothing of the sort. It sees Gore switching from brooding, melodic electronica to dirty, stalking pieces; consequently, its biggest success is manipulating the listener by not operating in any preconceived way or allowing tracks to become connected stylistically. "I think it is very different from track to track," he reflects. "Maybe there are some similarities and there are maybe one or two tracks that you could say are in a similar vein, but they're not completely the same style. 'Brink' is the closest you get to being able to a kind of techno, but after that it gets quite hard to pigeonhole each track. I think it's nice to keep people on their toes and also to keep me on my toes, by doing different things."
'MG's other remarkable achievement is that it sounds exactly like how you expect a Martin Gore album to sound, only without the lyrics or singing that make his contribution to Depeche Mode so immediately arresting and instantly recognisable. "Music is important," he says. "Words are important but music is important too. I did approach this record more as a purist. I just couldn't imagine putting a guitar on it. That just didn't seem right. And a few people have asked me why I didn't put vocals on it, but again it just wasn't right for this project."
Instrumental music itself is not exactly alien in the Depeche Mode back catalogue. "There have been a lot of instrumentals released by the band over the years, going right back to the first album, 'Speak & Spell'," he recalls. "The track on the first album, 'Big Muff', was an uptempo, almost dance piece, and on the second album the instrumental was quite uptempo as well. We've done a lot of slow stuff too. In the early 1990s our Japanese label at the time released a boxset that included a whole disc of our instrumentals."
"Back in the day when singles came out there was quite often an instrumental as a B-side or when it got to CD as an extra track," he explains. "Every album up until the last one pretty much had some instrumental piece on it, whether it was an actual instrumental or an interlude."
The tracks that appear on 'MG', however, arose first and foremost from a much simpler place. "I think it's always nice to do something different and keep it interesting for yourself and for other people. When I was writing for the 'Delta Machine' project I had about four or five instrumentals written which we didn't use. We end up with such a huge batch of songs these days because Dave Gahan's now writing songs as well. We put quite a few tracks on the deluxe edition of the album, but even after that there were still tracks left over."
"So I had all these instrumentals without a home and that gave me the idea to continue in that vein and complete a whole instrumental album. I just thought that was a good concept, and something new for me, something I've never done."
Talk of Depeche Mode's last album inevitably brings us round to plans for the next stadium-bothering record from Gore's band, and in particular whether 'MG' offers any clues as to what a future Mode record might sound like. "We haven't even got as far as talking about any kind of concept or sound for the next Depeche Mode album," he insists, with one fell swoop crushing the dreams of legions of fans. "The most that we've done is talked to each other and talked to our manager about the possibility of a new Depeche Mode album, which we are all in favour of, but there's no timeline or anything. It's way too early to know anything about it just yet."
In the meantime, anyone looking to get their fix of the quintessential essence of Depeche Mode will just have to make do with the sixteen unpredictable tracks that comprise 'MG'. It may well be a venture into the unknown for Martin Gore, but for seasoned listeners it's just about the closest you'll get to looking inside at what makes him tick.
Words: Mat Smith
Photo Credit: Travis Shinn