When Depeche Mode announced their return yesterday (October 11), the response from fans was enormous. The band held a press conference in Milan to unveil plans for their new album ‘Spirit’, released in early 2017, and its accompanying tour, which will see the band performing to 1.5m fans across 32 dates and in 21 countries starting May 2017.
1. ‘Spirit’ is produced by James Ford
For their last three albums, Depeche Mode have worked with Ben Hillier, who’s produced Graham Coxon and Villagers in recent years. Now they’ve switched it up by working with Simian Mobile Disco’s James Ford, who had a huge hand in Arctic Monkeys’ ‘AM’, drums and produces with The Last Shadow Puppets, and produced Haim’s debut, Foals’ ‘What Went Down’ and worked on all three of Florence + the Machine’s albums so far.
Frontman Dave Gahan said the experience was “different. We worked with Ben Hillier as a producer on the last few records and it was time for us to change that up. James came in fresh, he had no real agenda. He’s not just a great producer, he’s a great musician. So he was able to guide us. Martin had written some great songs and demoed them and I had too, so he was able to take those songs and take them to another level.” Sounds good to us.
2. The new album isn’t finished yet
So says keyboardist Andy Fletcher. “At the moment we haven’t finished the album, we’re still working on it, but it’s sounding very exciting. We’re very proud of it and we think it’s going to be as good as, or a lot better than, the last album – which we try to do all the time.”
Dave Gahan explained how serendipitous the process was: “There was one point during the recording when James Ford, the producer, discovered that there was a pedal steel guitar of Martin’s in the studio and I think he taught himself to play it within a day. And it found it’s way onto quite a few of the songs. There’s a chemistry that happens and you’re never sure really when you go back into the studio again, you don’t really know what’s going to happen. Music is magic, and when it all comes together, you feel it.”
3. ‘Spirit’ is for fans old and new
Martin Gore says, “We’ve always been very fortunate that somehow our music does appeal to young people as well as the people that have grown with us. We have no idea how that happens, we’re very fortunate that it does.”
4. Anton Corbijn will be doing boundary-pushing visuals for the Spirit Global Tour
Corbijn’s last big musical project was Arcade Fire’s ‘Reflektor’. He’s a renowned Dutch director and photographer (with many an NME cover to his name) who has worked with Depeche Mode for ages, including many of their videos. Martin explained, “We are meeting up with him in November and shooting some films. We don’t really know what those visuals are going to look like yet, so it’s still very early days.” Says Fletch: “We’re sure as well that it’s going to be as good or better than the last tour.”
Dave said Corbijn has already done some photography for their new stuff and is probably going to be doing one of their new videos. They’ve also been discussing ideas for album artwork, and how that will fit into the live visuals. “[Anton] wants to do something that is beyond what he’s done before. There are a lot of things you can do now with technology, even from when we did the last tour. So a lot of that will be incorporated as well”
5. They’re very excited about touring again
Dave said: “We’re alive and kicking here. We’re still making music together that we’re very proud of, and we still want to perform that music for you. Collectively we still believe that music is one of the only forms that brings people together.
6. The Depeche Mode tour will be extensive
They’ll be in North and possibly South America as well as Europe, but Martin says festival dates aren’t definite yet. “I think that’s still unsure. We haven’t announced the American tour, or South America, but you know, we just don’t know yet what they will be.” Glastonbury? Let’s wait and see…
7. The new tour’s setlists are still up for negotiation
Dave said that they’ll want to “experiment and do new songs”, so it sounds like there’ll be the majority of ‘Spirit’ in the new setlists. “That’s always a challenge and it’s exciting… we’ll find songs that work alongside those as well. I’m sure we’ll be doing all the favourites.”
But what he added later about the setlist made it sound like it might not vary hugely once the visuals are set up. “We usually rehearse a lot of songs and then once we’ve locked into the set that we want to do, it changes a little now and again,” he said. “If visuals are incorporated with certain songs, there’s a reason for that.
“There’s a reason that we’re putting on a show in a certain way and that we want people to see that like that, because there’s a performance that begins here. I think there’s room within the set to sometimes alternate some songs that feel that they’re in the same tempo possibly. It’s important that we feel that it’s to our strength.”