Depeche Mode
United Kingdom
Music group
Originally a product of Britain's new romantic movement, Depeche Mode went on to become the quintessential electro-pop band of the 1980s; one of the first acts to establish a musical identity based completely around the use of synthesizers, the group began their existence as a bouncy dance-pop outfit but gradually developed a darker, more dramatic sound which ultimately positioned them as one of the most successful alternative bands of their era.

The roots of Depeche Mode date back to 1976, when Basildon, England-based keyboardists Vince Clarke and Andrew Fletcher first teamed to form the group No Romance in China. The band proved short-lived, and by 1979 Clarke had formed French Look, another duo featuring guitarist/keyboardist Martin L. Gore; Fletcher soon signed on, and the group rechristened itself Composition of Sound. Initially, Clarke handled vocal chores, but in 1980 singer David Gahan was brought in to complete the lineup; after one final name change to Depeche Mode, the quartet jettisoned all instruments excluding their synthesizers, honing a slick, techno-based sound to showcase Clarke's catchy melodies.

Composition of Sound was formed in 1980 in Basildon, Essex, by guitarist/vocalists Andy Fletcher and Martin Gore and keyboardist Vince Clarke. After recruiting David Gahan, the group abandoned their guitars for synthesizers, changed the band's name, and became an all-electronic band entitled Depeche Mode.

For this unusual approach, Depeche Mode earned a loyal London following, and within a year of their formation, were signed to Mute Records. Depeche Mode's first single "Dreaming of Me" was a minor U.K. hit. It was followed by "New Life", which climbed to No.11, and by "Just Can't Get Enough", which cracked the British Top Ten. Speak & Spell, Depeche Mode's debut album, was released in November of 1981.

Just as Depeche Mode appeared poised for a major commercial breakthrough, however, principal songwriter Clarke abruptly exited to form Yazoo with singer Alison Moyet, leaving the group's future in grave doubt.

As Gore grabbed the band's songwriting reins, the remaining trio recruited keyboardist Alan Wilder to fill the technological void created by Clarke's departure(Though Wilder wasn't officially part of the band until 1983, when he debuted on Construction Time Again); while 1982's A Broken Frame deviated only slightly from Depeche Mode's earlier work, Gore's ominous songs grew more assured and sophisticated by the time of 1983's Construction Time Again. Some Great Reward, issued the following year, was their artistic and commercial breakthrough, as Gore's dark, kinky preoccupations with spiritual doubt ("Blasphemous Rumours") and psychosexual manipulation ("Master and Servant") came to the fore; the egalitarian single "People Are People" was a major hit on both sides of the Atlantic, and typified the music's turn toward more industrial textures.

1986's atmospheric Black Celebration continued the trend toward grim melancholy, and further established the group as a major commercial force. After the superb single "Strangelove," Depeche Mode issued 1987's Music for the Masses; a subsequent sold-out tour yielded the 1989 double live set 101, as well as a concert film directed by the legendary D.A. Pennebaker. Still, despite an enormous fan base, the group was considered very much an underground cult phenomenon prior to the release of 1990's Violator, a Top Ten smash which spawned the hits "Enjoy the Silence," "Policy of Truth," and "Personal Jesus."

With the alternative music boom of the early '90s, Depeche Mode emerged as one of the world's most successful acts, and their 1993 LP Songs of Faith & Devotion entered the charts in the number one slot.

However, at the peak of their success, the group began to unravel.

In 1993, after a three year period between albums, Depeche Mode released "Songs of Faith and Devotion", a much more rock oriented approach to their music. This would be the first Mode album that would utilize live drums, as well as outside musicians.

On June 1st/1995, keyboardist/drummer Alan Wilder decided to leave Depeche Mode, stating unsatisfactory internal working conditions as the reason why he left the band. Fletch, Martin, and Dave continued on as Depeche Mode and they completed recording a new album with producer Tim Simenon in London.

After a four-year layoff, Depeche Mode - continuing on as a trio - released another succesfull album, "Ultra", in 1997, followed by several compilation albums and DVD's: "Videos 1986-1998", "Free Love", "One Night In Paris".

The album gained platinum status in Spain, Sweden, Germany, France, and the UK, along with gold status in Italy, Hong Kong, and Canada. Deciding not to tour in support of 'Ultra', Depeche Mode spent from November of 1996 to July 1997 promoting the album, giving over 250 interviews, along with playing live on various television shows in Europe and the US. Other promotional appearances included playing live on 'The Tonight Show with Jay Leno' on May 15/97, as well as answering questions on a live Internet broadcast from the House of Blues.

Along with this, Depeche Mode unveiled their own website, The band conducted two album launch parties, one at Adrenaline Village in Battersea on April 10/97, and the other at the Shrine Expo Hall in Los Angeles on May 16/97. The band played the same song set for both shows, consisting of four tracks from Ultra (Barrel of a Gun, It's No Good, Useless, and Home), along with Never Let Me Down Again.

In September of 1998, Depeche Mode returned to the studio to work on a few new tracks, which were to be included on the 2 disc singles compilation "The Singles 86>98". Containing the new track "Only When I Lose Myself", the compilation also included 20 other tracks, consisting of all the bands releases from Black Celebration to 1997's Ultra. Deciding not to pass up another opportunity to tour, and the fact that all band members were now ready to take up touring again, Depeche Mode embarked on an extensive 4 month tour of Europe and North America, their first in five years. This tour marked the first time that the band have ever played live to audiences in Latvia, Estonia, and Russia, ending their 18 year wait for the band to play a concert in their countries.

The setlist heavily consisted of the band's singles from 1986 to 1998, but also included a few old surprises, like Somebody and Just Can't Get Enough. The tour marked a few firsts for the band, not only did they played for the first time in Russia, but the band also performed at the "1998 KROQ Almost Acoustic X-mas" in Los Angeles, and on the "Late Night With David Letterman Show" in November. After ending their tour in Anaheim on December 22, 1998, Depeche Mode are currently working on a new album with producer Mark Bell, and we should be expecting a release sometime in the Spring of 2001.

2004 saw the release of volumes 4 to 6 of the "Singles Box" compilation series, issued by Mute Records.
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