dave Gahan can get enough anyway. The famous lead singer of the famous band Depeche Mode, who had world hits like “Enjoy the Silence”, “People Are People” or “Just Can’t Get Enough”, who hypnotizes crowded football stadiums like a hypercharismatic wizard; who narrowly escaped death on at least two occasions (attempted suicide in 1995, heroin-cocaine overdose, and two-minute cardiac arrest in 1996); who overcame cancer in 2009; who endured 42 years amid the long, mighty machinery Depeche Mode calls itself, and at one point stripped the hitherto sole songwriter Martin Gore the right to put his own songs on the albums – this Dave Gahan is still a little upset at times. For example, by asking a journalist, in this case mine.
The day before, I was in Berlin as one of the many journalists invited for a “special interview” with the band. Anyone who follows his path a little longer knows the procedure. Every four years, Depeche Mode invites you to a PR event where they announce an album and a tour, often at selected locations: in 2008 it was the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, in 2012 the cultural center Gaîté Lyrique in Paris and in 2016 the Teatro dell’Arte in Milan. In 2022, two years later, we are back in Berlin, in the Berliner Ensemble, where journalists from all over the world are queuing this Tuesday morning.
On another corner await the lucky sweepstakes winners, who are allowed to go to the theater, which is also a tradition: for the touchingly loyal Depeche Mode fans, even such a press event is a party. The ritual is somewhat reminiscent of gift-giving at Christmas, except that everyone here knows exactly what they’re going to get – and Santas are well paid for their gifts.
Most of the music is bullshit
It’s probably my first mistake that I start the zoom interview with Dave Gahan the next day with the lame joke that he will certainly remember our last conversation – ten years ago in Paris – (no response). My second mistake is the Santa Claus analogy, which he doesn’t understand. “We always have the same intentions when we make a record, we make it for ourselves,” he says after an awkward pause. And everything else, the expectations of the fans and everyone who makes money from Depeche Mode can be ignored? “It has to be like that,” says Gahan. “Most of the music you listen to is made for the industry to get you to buy. It’s bullshit, I can’t listen to it.” It should not be unwelcome that the artistic integrity of his own band is commercially so fabulously successful.
The hymns about strangeness and being lost are sung by thousands of people today. It is said that Depeche Mode celebrates the outsiders with their songs and concerts; does he still see himself as such? “Yes, of course. In every way.” Does that mean specifically? “I don’t have access to what I see on the news, what’s in the papers, what seems to interest most people,” he says. Which means a lot to him: “a very small circle of friends, my family, the music I like, movies and art, the beauty of the world and what life could be like.”
Three gray armchairs
On the stage of the Berliner Ensemble we switch back to the press conference, there are three gray upholstered armchairs and a table with water bottles; it looks more like a “literary quartet” than a music event. The moderator takes a seat, with Dave Gahan and Martin Gore in the other. Depeche Mode has only been made up of these two since Andy Fletcher died suddenly in May at age 60 from an aortic dissection. They’ve missed “Fletch,” Gore and Gahan assure. “He will be there in spirit,” Gahan says of the upcoming tour. “And rate us.”