- READ MORE: Depeche Mode interviewed: “Do the best you can – you don’t know if you’re going to be doing it again”
The synth-pop icons will this week release their long-awaited 15th album ‘Memento Mori’ – marking their first new material since the passing of founding member Andy Fletcher last year.
Four of the album’s tracks – with a further two set to be released later this year – feature songwriting credits from Butler. Speaking to NME as part of a recent interview, the band’s chief songwriter Martin Gore explained the significance of this being a “big first” for him.
“I’ve never written with anyone outside of the band in our history,” Gore told NME. “Richard reached out to me around April 2020, just texting to say ‘We should write some songs together’. I asked for ideas and he sent me a few lines, so I put those to music and we started sending them back and forth.
“We ended up writing seven songs. We didn’t like the first one, but the other six were so great that I thought it would be a bit of a waste to put them out as a side-project. They just wouldn’t get the same sort of exposure as they would if they were put out by Depeche.”
Gore also described how he’s “always liked Richard’s songwriting style”, with this creative spirit helping to get his own juices flowing for the new Depeche Mode record.
“He’s really great at coming up with ideas – especially during times when I wasn’t feeling particularly creative because there wasn’t a lot of stimulus coming in,” said Gore. “I was just sitting at home and he was prodding me and giving me ideas. That kept the wheels moving.”
Asked if he and Gahan ever considered asking Butler to become a full-time member of the band, Gore replied: “No, even when we finished the seven songs we were thinking that we’d put out a side project. He knew that when I asked if we could use the songs for Depeche, that it didn’t include him joining. What could he do? Be Bez? Not when Dave’s singing the songs!”
Frontman Dave Gahan meanwhile, described to NME his initial surprise at Butler’s involvement before falling for the quality of the music he had helped to pen.
“Martin sent me about six songs, and Richard Butler was singing on a few of them,” he recalled. “I was like, ‘…The fuck is this?’ Then Martin explained that during COVID he and Richard had written some songs together. I don’t care who wrote them, but they were some great songs.”
The frontman added: “One of them was [lead single] ‘Ghosts Again’, which I loved straight away. Straight away when I heard the demo, it was like when I first heard [classic 1990 single] ‘Enjoy The Silence’. I felt the melancholy and the joy at the same time. It was a special song and I wanted to sing it.”
Gahan meanwhile, has three songwriting credits on ‘Memento Mori’, which Gore described as some of his best work yet. “Dave’s writing gets better with each record we do,” Gore told NME, “and that’s interesting to see.”
Elsewhere in their NME interview, the band also discussed the emotional and practical impact of losing Fletcher and how it brought them closer together, as well as the success of ‘Never Let Me Down’ being featured in The Last Of Us, why they chose Kelly Lee Owens to join them on their US tour, their enduring influence, and how this album brought them back from the brink. Read it in full here.
Depeche Mode release ‘Memento Mori’ on March 24, the day after their world tour kicks off in Sacramento.