Depeche Mode’s Martin Gore shares ‘Howler’ video and tells us about his monkey-inspired EP

The legend tells NME about getting a chimp to do his artwork, and what's next for Depeche Mode

Depeche Mode‘s Martin Gore has shared the video for new single ‘Howler’, as well as explaining to NME how monkeys came to inspire his new EP – even going as far as having a chimp do the artwork.

Following on from ‘Mandrill’, the song is taken from Gore’s upcoming five-track instrumental EP ‘The Third Chimpanzee’, which is set for release tomorrow (January 29). Now, it comes with striking visuals from director NYSU (famed for working with the likes Bastille, New Order, Wild Beasts) and is in keeping with the primal themes of his new music.

“I’m very fortunate – I feel very privileged that I can just stay at home and isolate,” Gore told NME. “I have a studio so I can work, and that’s my sanctuary. I started the first track ‘Howler’ before the coronavirus pandemic first hit. Then as we went into lockdown, I felt a bit stifled creatively in a lyrical sense. I don’t know if that’s because there’s very little stimulus going in because I’m not going anywhere or doing anything, but I always feel like I can sit down and write something musically. I thought it was a good time to carry on with the theme and do an instrumental EP.”

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He continued: “I called the first track ‘Howler’ because I re-synthesized some vocals and it came back sounding quite monkey-like. I used to go down to Costa Rica quite a lot and you hear the howler monkeys all the time down there.

“As a solo artist, I’ve never put anything out like this. It has got some kind of primal power. There was something in ‘Howler’ from day one that had a power to it and felt really important to carry through. Carrying on the theme, I landed on the track ‘Mandrill’. They don’t all sound like monkeys but there’s something monkey-like about them. I named them all after monkeys and remembered a book I read in the ‘90s called The Third Champanzee, in which Jared Diamond talks about human evolution. I like the idea of blurring the line between monkeys and humans. I took it a little further by getting a monkey to do the artwork.”

For the striking artwork, Gore called upon the services of a monkey named Pockets Warhol from Toronto.

“I remember hearing that monkeys can paint, so I thought that would be the perfect link (no pun intended) to finish off the project,” said Gore. “I went on a Googling frenzy and discovered a monkey called Pockets Warhol, who is from a sanctuary near Toronto. I sent them an email explaining who I was and what I was doing and had no idea what the response would be, but they were really into it.

“Pockets ended up doing five pieces of art for me, with some on white canvases and some of black canvases. My only brief was that I chose the colours that were on his palette.”

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Since completing the EP, Gore has been “working on another project with a friend”. He wouldn’t reveal any more details than that, and also said that it could be a while before we hear more new music from Depeche Mode.

“These days, when I decide to write instrumentals, in the back of mind I’m thinking that they’re really for me,” said Gore. “We’ve put out a lot of instrumentals as a band before, but we tend not to these days. Dave [Gahan, frontman] writes as well so we end up with a plethora of songs. The instrumentals don’t get used on the Depeche albums any more.”

He added: “Even though the vaccine is being rolled out and the world will hopefully return to normal at some point this year, it’s still a little bit up in the air. No one really knows when anything will be kind of normal, so we haven’t really planned or talked about anything. I’ve got a few things that I’ve written for the band, but I imagine we’ve got quite a few months to go until we’d even consider doing anything.”

Back in November Depeche Mode were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, with actress Charlize Theron speaking in praise of the band to mark the honour. They released the Anton Corbijn-directed live concert film SPiRiTs In The Forest last year, documenting the tour for their last album ‘Spirit’ (from 2017).

Gore releases ‘The Third Chimpanzee’ EP on Friday January 29.

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