The new album seems a little darker and quirkier than previous work. Was there a general idea moving into the writing and recording sessions?
Not really. There never normally is, actually. Martin had been writing quite prolifically and Dave had been writing and it’s just sort of the way it went, really. It’s more down to the collection of songs that were written than a conscious effort to make it a bit darker.
It does sound like a coherent work, but now that you have Dave also in the creative process you now have two creative inputs rather than just Martin.
We have had it like that in the past, occasionally. Of course, right in the beginning of the band, Vince Clarke was our main writer. It’s good for Dave, because before he started writing, which was quite recently, he was a frontman who didn’t write the lyrics, and that’s is quite rare. There’s only someone like Roger Daltrey and a couple of other people I could think of where that occurs. I think him writing now has given him a lot more confidence and he feels included in the process a lot more.
I saw some of the studio footage that I believe you shot. What really got me was the speaker that you had resting over the floor tom that was sort of latched down with two drumsticks and had a shaker anchored against it. With all the progress and innovation, via synclaviers, synths, digital production, that’s still a very analog tone there.
It is quite analog. We still take the view that if we can sense a sound, how do we get that sound, and we will try any way possible to get that sound. It’s a bit of fun as well in the studio, because it can be a bit boring (laughs), as you can imagine. It makes it a bit funny.
This album was particularly more analog. It’s just a different way of getting a sound really. I think digital’s good as well, we use digital. I don’t know if you’ve read, but Martin’s got this obsession with buying vintage synthesizers on eBay. So every day one would arrive, you know. You get it out of the box and of course you get it up and you get a sound and there you are. On this session it was a bit unfair, I think digital got booted out a bit (laughs), because these amazing machines were coming in every day. And of course, that was inspiring.
There’s a growing feeling that music is turning back into a singles business, which for Depeche Mode, singles have always been a great strength for the band. Does it make sense for Depeche Mode to write albums anymore?
Well, we do it because we like doing it, for a start. We feel it’s a challenge and we actually had great fun making the last album, so yeah, on that basis, on a creative level it’s very important to release an album. I think you’re mainly talking about we’re going back to the days where singles were massive, so it’s more of an industry thing, isn’t it. It’s weird really, because we’re known as an albums band, but we’re also known, especially in Europe, as a big singles band. It doesn’t affect us too much.
I am interested in the way things are moving. Every time we record an album, everything’s moved so fast in those couple of years. It’s absolutely incredible. I’m sure by the time we record our next album, (laughs), heaven knows what’s happened. That’s a challenge as well.
We’re in a lucky position generally. We’ve been around a long time, we’ve got lots and lots of fans, so we can pretty much do what we want. But we do want to be seen as relevant and we do want to pick up new fans, so we just go with the flow really.
Depeche Mode perform at the Borgata in Atlantic City on Aug. 1 and Madison Square Garden on Aug. 3 and Aug. 4. depechemode.com for more information.