Depeche Mode Perform Resistance Anthem ‘Where’s the Revolution’ on Jimmy Fallon

Depeche Mode performed the song “Where’s The Revolution” last night on Jimmy Fallon, which is from their forthcoming album Spirit, out March 17. It’s the band’s first full length in four years.

Speaking to Rolling Stone, singer Dave Gahan said of the release: “I wouldn’t call this a political album, because I don’t listen to music in a political way. But it’s definitely about humanity, and our place in that.” Depeche had recently hit back at the bizarre accusation from Richard Spencer that they were the official band of the alt-right – with Gahan actually accusing Donald Trump of “promoting fear” and being “cruel and heartless.”

The Tonight Show performance was nothing less than stunning.

Is Wendy Bevan the New Siouxsie Sioux? BlackBook Premieres New EP ‘Sweet Dedication’

“Burn down the houses where once I lay dreaming,” Wendy Bevan hauntedly implores on her strikingly evocative new single “Sweet Dedication.” The shadowy Brit beauty (who’s also appeared in the alt theatre production Sleep No More) cites a particularly lugubrious cast of influences, including Depeche Mode, Suicide and The Cure.

And the song—produced by Nouvelle Vague’s Marc Collin—resulted from a read of Aleister Crowley’s brilliantly sinister Book Of Lies. It’s part of the eponymous EP, released Friday though Kwaidan Records/K7 Records. It will also appear on her debut album, Rose and Thorn, due this autumn.

Like her forebears, she has a gift for funereally romantic imagery. And the track’s minimalist rhythms, spooky organ breaks and echo-drenched guitars hit all the most sublime gothic notes. But it’s her astonishingly eerie ability to channel Siouxsie Sioux that is most startling, rising far above so many pale imitators.

Indeed, in a most Sioux-like turn of phrase, Bevan despairs, “I drank all night and danced with doubt / She never forgives.” Pray for her.

Listen to the BlackBook premiere of her three song EP, below:

Death Rattle, ‘Fortress’ EP : The Preview

So it’s funny: when a press release lands in your inbox declaring some band the heir to The Knife, Sleigh Bells, Depeche Mode, Massive Attack, Portishead, Zola Jesus, Fever Ray, and Nine Inch Nails, you’re going to be skeptical. But also, admit it: your curiosity is piqued by the boldness (if not the long-windedness) of such claims.

Such is the case with Death Rattle, a duo who have one goth-pop EP, HE&I, under their belts. Another, Fortress, is on the way. And you know what? They may not be The Knife, but they’ll certainly do the trick. Check out a YouTube sampler of everything you’ve got coming to you:

Promising, no? If you want to hear a full song, though, check out “The Blows” below. Lot of rhyming in that sentence, sorry. You can download this track for free, by the way.

Follow Miles Klee on Twitter.

Let Depeche Mode Take You to ‘Heaven’ With Their New Single

If you’re a Depeche Mode fan, I’m sure you’ve been eagerly counting down the days until the release of their much-awaited 13th studio album, Delta Machine (due out March 26th). Recorded in Santa Barbara, CA, the album’s first single "Heaven" was said to make its radio debut tomorrow but to many a sonic delight, the world premiere happened this morning by KROQ Los Angeles hosts Kevin & Bean.

According to chief songwriter Martin Gore, the new album harkens back to some of their classic sounds, saying "it’s got a bit of a feel of Violator on some of the songs and a feel of Songs of Faith and Devotion on other songs…It’s a bit of a hybrid of those two for me." It’s been four years since the release of their last album, Sounds of the Universe and in an announcement Gore mentioned that writing this album was "incredibly daunting as I wanted the sound of this collection to be very modern. I want people to feel good about listening to this record, to get some kind of peace. It’s just got something magical about it."

Head over to KROQ to take a listen to "Heaven."

Erasure’s Vince Clarke Speaks About His New VCMG Collaboration With Depeche Mode’s Martin Gore

That Vince Clarke left Depeche Mode before they achieved massive international superstardom has hardly left him with a scarred psyche. He went on to immediate and not inconsiderable success with Yazoo (called Yaz in the U.S.), and then hooked up with Andy Bell to form one of the most massive dance pop acts in history; indeed, Erasure has sold more than 25 million records. (Depeche have sold more than 100 million, but who’s counting?)

Clarke reformed Yazoo for a feverishly lauded reunion tour in 2008, clearly a nostalgic journey. But his recent reconnection with old Depeche Mode chum Martin Gore now sees them revisiting the futurist impulses of their youth. To wit, their austere, groovalicious new techno album Ssss, under the acronym VCMG (get it?), manages to strike a perfect pose between icy, laboratory precision, and smoldering sexuality.

Clarke explains, “I had not much knowledge of minimal techno music; but I was asked to do a remix for Plastikman. Then someone introduced me to the website Beatport, and I was completely amazed at the sounds people were using. I thought it was really exciting, and that’s what kind of ignited it.”

He points out that he and his former band mate had remained on affable terms since the split from Depeche all those years ago. And Gore, who was legendary in his appetite for all night dance clubbing, had trawled the best techno dens from New York to Berlin — so needed little convincing to agree to the immediately-headline-grabbing collaboration. They began swapping files electronically (they were never in the same room together), and an EP, Spock, emerged in late 2011 to rapturous acclaim.

Ssss, released this week on Mute Records, is their debut full length; it’s an exceedingly au courant and utterly exhilarating collection of stark electro dance music. Opener “Lowly” mixes industrial muscle with considerable sexual charge and a beat that should be packing dancefloors from London to Ibiza (a band-approved fan video is like some gothic Helmut Newton photo shoot come to life), while the edifyingly titled “Windup Robot” harkens back to the Depeche classic “Behind The Wheel.” Slinky but thunderous tracks like “Single Blip” and “Flux” will also thrill fans of La Mode’s more muscular electronic work. Throughout, embellishments are renounced in favor of the primacy of the beat, the sleek tunes all underpinned by a floor shaking wallop.

Not that anyone would have been expecting them to be trotting out guitars and trumpets. But it was a truly bold move, Clarke and Gore dispensing with their venerated pop hooks — especially as they were already working without the sensual croons of Andy Bell and Dave Gahan that have graced so many of their biggest hits.

“I love pop music,” insists Clarke. “This was just something different to try out. Usually when you write a pop song, you give it an emotional pitch by using a lyric or chord change. But with techno dance music, the emotion comes from building up and up and up. And there are no rules, there’s not any sound you can’t use.”

The newly minted minimal techno mavens have no plans to tour the record. But Clarke hints that he and Gore will likely embark on a series of DJ gigs, before returning to the embrace of Erasure and Depeche Mode, respectively — with both bands planning to record new albums this year.

Clearly, they’ve got the balance right.

Depeche Mode Remade, Remodeled

It’s hard to imagine how shocking four guys with nothing but synthesizers and experimental haircuts was back when Depeche Mode first emerged in the early 80’s. But Dave Gahan, Martin Gore, Andrew Fletcher, and Vince Clarke veritably launched the synth-pop revolution by devising a middle ground between Kraftwerk’s gleaming, Teutonic minimalism and Giorgio Morodor’s oversexed futuro-disco. Now, as yet another generation of buzz-worthy acts – Austra, Cold Cave, CLAPS – clamor to worship at their sonic altar, Remixes 2: 81-11, being released June 6 by the electro godfathers, is another stunning reminder that while many will imitate, all are doomed to stumble in Depeche Mode’s footsteps.

As Gahan recently told BlackBook, “Coming out of punk, we knew we weren’t going to blag our way through guitar, bass and drums. But we could just plug in our synthesizers, and play all these little clubs in London. At the time, it was not considered ‘real’ music.”

Clarke would shortly leave the band, replaced by Alan Wilder, who also eventually departed, in 1995, in the wake of the depravity parade that was the Devotional Tour — marked by Gahan’s heroin addiction, Gore’s reputed alcoholic seizures, and Fletcher’s total nervous breakdown. The fact that both Clarke and Wilder are featured remixers on this ambitious new collection (available as one CD or three) says much about everyone’s desire to leave all the acrimonies where they belong: in the turbulent past.

Unlike most such projects, which tend to be exercises in self-indulgent naval gazing, R2: 81-11 finds the majority of collaborators not piling on the superfluities, but rather stripping the tracks down to the bone. Some of the highlights: Dan The Automator turns “Only When I Lose Myself” into an eerie bit of dub-noir; in the hands of Digitalism, “Never Let Me Down Again” becomes a raw, ferocious, robotic screecher; and Clarke’s unimaginably brilliant reconstruction of “Behind The Wheel” results in a new dancefloor classic that is part house, part trance, and yet almost militaristic in its icy electro-precision. The “guest list” is a veritable international who’s who, from Peter Bjorn & John to Royksopp to M83 to Tim Simenon, and massive chart toppers like “Personal Jesus” and “Strangelove” are countered by the inclusion of such fascinating curiosities as “Puppets” and “Tora! Tora! Tora!.”

It’s often said that if you asked several people to each write a paragraph about you, you might be shocked and surprised to find out what you have learned about yourself from the exercise. R2: 81-11, rather than some soulless, bank-account-padding roll call of hip, seems instead to be a genuine attempt by the estimable talents enlisted to plunge even deeper into a many-faceted Depeche Mode collective psyche and musical quintessence, which is often lazily pegged as overarchingly doomy, in order to find something new still lurking beneath the surface.

“I’ve never quite understood why people think our music is just so depressing,” Gahan also confided.

Indeed, at points haunting, harrowing, sexy, romantic, hopeful, anguished, fragile and exhilarating, R2: 81-11 is an awesome testament to the monumental scope and influence of one of the greatest bands in history.

Reach out and touch faith…again.

Depeche Mode Tour Still on Ice

Get well soon, Dave. Depeche Mode fans take note: This week, the band is still on hiatus from their global tour due to Dave Gahan’s extreme case of gastroenteritis (complicated by the removal of a tumor). Poor guy. Woe to the legions of fans who anticipated Depeche Mode’s stadium-sized European shows. Dates were cancelled the last few weeks in May when Gahan’s illness manifested; however the new cancellations hit this first week in June due to his longer-than-expected recovery. Per a statement from the band, “The Leipzig show on June 8th will be the first concert following Dave’s recovery.”

I just hope Dave will be rested up and ready to go later on this summer when the band plans to perform at Madison Square Garden, August 3 and 4, in New York City. Depeche Mode’s music left a profound mark on me as a teenager and shaped my opinion of incredible music — setting a benchmark for all future sounds. Usually reserved and collected, I couldn’t help but gush in front of Andy “Fletch” Fletcher when I finally met him for the first time last year. Martin Gore DJed at Hiro ballroom, and before Martin took to the stage, Fletch had to hear an earful of my teenage-angst stories and how much his music meant to me. I promise, Fletch, this summer at your August shows, I’ll keep my mouth shut and let you do the talking.

Unholy Alliance: The Killers’ Brandon Flowers & Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan

 

Depeche Mode makes self-destruction sound like falling through the clouds. One needs only revisit the morbid, deviant pleasures of “Master and Servant,” “Fly on the Windscreen,” “Blasphemous Rumours” or “Barrel of a Gun” for a glimpse into the harrowing worldviews of Dave Gahan, Martin Gore and Andrew Fletcher, who have spun a penchant for both futurism and perversion into sales of more than 90 million.

Gahan & Co. have spent a career crafting a theater of cruelty for the masses, and if the masses didn’t always quite grasp the concepts—like, why does Gore always seem to be on stage in quasi-bondage gear?—they were lured by the colossal hooks and the seething sexuality, and they devoured it all like piranhas. The Killers, looming large among Depeche Mode’s numerous acolytes, are a peculiar case. Since rocketing to fame with their explosive 2004 debut Hot Fuss, they’ve craftily mated the outré glitz of Duran Duran with the visceral earnestness of U2, all the while reaching for nothing short of the megastardom of both those bands.

Adorable and grandiose, Killers frontman Brandon Flowers maintains a contradiction that matches any to which Depeche Mode can lay claim: he is a resolute Mormon, a religion not exactly known for turning out glamorous rock ’n’ rollers. Gahan’s only significant rival in the rock-star-as-Christ-figure stakes is probably Bono. But while Dublin’s finest unwaveringly professes his faith in the only Son of God, Gahan, especially in the lyrics to the deliciously blaspheming “Personal Jesus” (“Someone to hear your prayers / Someone who cares”), has offered himself up as an earthly substitute, a heresy you surely won’t find any of his worshipping public objecting to, no matter their religious affiliations.

Appropriately, Gahan nearly saw to his own heroin-fueled crucifixion back in the 1990s and literally rose from the dead in the back of a Los Angeles ambulance. Flowers, for all his cockiness and swagger, has been a model of responsible behavior. At just 27 years of age, he’s happily married and a father (he doesn’t go anywhere near drugs, as you might have guessed).

 

Dave Gahan 2009

 

Both bands are brandishing new records. The Killers’ third, Day & Age, was released last November to critical acclaim. With its stylistic ambition, sweeping atmospherics and grand lyrical gestures (Brandon took some heat for awkward philosophizing—“Are we human / Or are we dancer”—on the otherwise resplendently majestic hit single “Human”), the Killers sound like a band just a few rungs from superstardom.

The members of Depeche Mode, on the other hand, have dispensed with the rulebook. Virtually nothing on the enthralling new Sounds of the Universe relies on recycling their past. The thundering rhythms and industrial fervor of “Hole To Feed” come across like the soundtrack to some futuristic cannibal ritual; “Little Soul” appears almost like a gospel tune lost inside of a nightmare dreamscape; “In Sympathy” is what Kraftwerk might sound like if they’d stop all the calculating and get a little sleazy. Gahan’s singing increasingly exhibits a raw, bluesy sexuality, and is perhaps more fiery and captivating than ever. Meeting up with BlackBook on a recent winter evening, Gahan was his usual charming and charismatic self, while Brandon, accompanied by Killers guitarist Dave Keuning, was, understandably, a little starstruck.

Depeche Mode were very much outsiders in the beginning. But the Killers found fame almost instantly. Brandon, how has fame affected the band, personally and artistically?

BRANDON FLOWERS  I’m still struggling to identify any effects. I feel exactly the same. Maybe because it happened so quickly for us, I haven’t had much time to understand it. It’s all about just putting out our next record. We’ve got the fire burning, and we just go with it.
DAVE GAHAN  In the beginning, it was really about doing the work, and the rest had been thrust upon us. I certainly ran with it and had some fun… and then didn’t, really. Being a rock star, playing that game, was fun for a couple of years out in Los Angeles. But after a while, being the celebrity sitting in the corner of the club wore a little thin. I live in New York now, where I walk around and don’t really get bothered. I like it here. My day is pretty normal. That whole idea of fame being something that’s going to fulfill you… I just don’t get that.

Brandon, how have you been influenced by Depeche Mode?

BF  Before I ever thought of myself as a musician, I was personally affected by Depeche Mode. Some Great Reward and Songs of Faith and Devotion shaped me as an individual before I even wrote a song. So they mean a lot to me… [laughs]. God, this is surreal.

It’s interesting that you bring up Songs of Faith and Devotion. I’ve always seen Depeche Mode’s work as being about exploring guilt, perversity and sexuality as a reaction to society’s ideas about religion and morality.

DG  The three subjects that you mentioned and that Depeche Mode write about are the keys to wanting to be a part of something, and wanting to be able to be intimate, and ultimately having some sense of peace within yourself. For me, I can’t get that from somebody or something else. You have to feel it within, that there’s something that the universe is offering; but we often seem unable to grasp it.

Brandon, there also seems to be a search for moral and spiritual grounding in your songs.

BF  It’s been a constant struggle for me. Growing up in Las Vegas really prepared me for this. There’s so much that goes on there that is taboo everywhere else, and it finds its way into our songs. I’m trying to come to terms with the reality that I’m a believer, and I’m getting more comfortable with it as I get older. Sometimes it’s a weird contradiction with what I do, I know.
DG  Not really. It takes a lot of courage nowadays to actually come out and say that. I think we all want to believe in something.

The lyrics to the songs “Kingdom” and “Miracles” on your solo record Hourglass deal directly with the struggles of being a non-believer.

DG  Yeah, it’s a constant search for hope and faith that there is a higher power that has a better eye on things—because, obviously, we’re not doing a very good job of it.

image

Well, the Killers’ “Are we human?” is a big, poignant, existential question.

DG  Through music, you’re able to express that, whether lyrically or atmospherically. I hear it in the landscape of the Killers’ songs; I can hear the search.

I think it was Wagner who said that if you want to find God, look for Him in music.

BF  They say that making your own music can be the closest thing to a religious experience. When I do go to church, the hymns are what always suck me in. I can be having a day of doubt, but as soon as I hear the right gospel song, it’s over. There’s no more doubt.

Dave, you were a part of destroying everything that the music industry had become comfortable with. It was punk, it was electronic music and the bands did it. Now, technology is changing things for the bands, rather than the bands being in control of the revolution. How are you both dealing with it?

BF  I’m paranoid all the time because of YouTube [laughs]. But the great thing about technology is that it allows you to make an amazing sounding record in your kitchen.

You could argue that Daniel Miller took the first step down that road. He said that a guy, alone with his synthesizer, was the most punk thing ever. And he made this incredible club hit, “Warm Leatherette,” as the Normal, with just himself and his machine.

DG  Yeah, that was pretty radical at the time. We had that as our template for the kind of music we wanted to make. Coming out of punk, we knew we weren’t going to blag our way through guitar, bass and drums. But we could just plug our three synthesizers into a PA, and we could play all these little clubs in London. At the time, it was not considered “real” music.

Brandon, you’ve derided the lack of ambition from the general music culture, and with the latest Killers record, you seem to be reaching for grandiosity. U2 had The Unforgettable Fire and Depeche Mode came out with Music for the Masses. Are you consciously preparing for that next step?

BF  Well, in talking about all the blandness, I think it’s a fear of just going for it. All the bands I grew up listening to, they went for it. Now, we’re finally feeling comfortable enough, and we’re not going to be afraid of it.
DG  That’s right. You have to go out there and embrace it. We just made another record that was produced by Ben Hillier, and he said to me that he’s never worked with a vocalist who works as hard as I do. But a lot of discipline goes into maintaining any kind of ongoing success and ongoing growth. It’s not something you just pull out of the air. You have to believe in what you’re doing.

What do you want to give people with your music?

BF  There’s never been a song that we put out that I don’t want to sing. It’s inevitable that someone else is going to feel that same feeling that I have, that transcendence. For instance, no matter how dark a Depeche Mode song might be, there was always something uplifting about it.
DG  I’ve never quite understood why people think our music is so depressing. We’re making music that relates to life. I could be singing about hiding away within myself, but the music takes you to a higher place. It’s that human contradiction. There is a lot of black comedy in our music that I don’t think people really get.
BF  The last song on Black Celebration, “But Not Tonight”… [sighs heavily in adoration]. The line, “My eyes have been so red I’ve been mistaken for dead / But not tonight.” Those are the moments I’m talking about—in all the dark, there’s optimism.
DG  That’s life, and it’s why people relate to it.