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Artist of the Week: Depeche Mode (Facts Format)

April 8, 2000

Rising from cult status through to being chart regulars and then conquering the world, Depeche Mode are one of the biggest bands on the planet.

Moreover, their pioneering work in the then-nascent area of synth-pop in the early 80s was to prove highly influential on the emerging techno and hip-hop scenes, while their subsequent work has left its mark on industrial rock and beyond.

Whether you’re a hardcore fan or hearing the band for the first time, here are ten facts about Depeche Mode…

Depeche Mode formed in Essex

Emerging from the club scene that had been inspired by the New Romantics, Depeche Mode formed in Basildon, Essex. Originally called Composition Of Sound and featuring members Vince Clarke, Martin Gore and Andy Fletcher, Depeche Mode were born after singer Dave Gahan joined the band.

Depeche Mode got their name from a French fashion mag

Taking their name from French fashion mag, Dépêche mode, Martin Gore later explained the moniker saying: “It means hurried fashion or fashion dispatch. I like the sound of that.”

Depeche Mode launched several careers

Having left Depeche Mode after the release of the band’s debut album, ‘Speak And Spell’, founder member Vince Clarke formed Yazoo with singer Alison Moyet. Fusing synth pop with blues and soul, they released two albums – ‘Upstairs At Eric’s’ and ‘You And Me Both’ – and a string of hits including ‘Only You’ before splitting.

Alison Moyet then enjoyed a successful solo career with the albums ‘Alf’, ‘Raindancing’ and others. Clarke then formed the enormously popular duo Erasure with singer Andy Bell who scored international hits ‘Oh L’amour’, ‘Sometimes’, ‘Chains of Love’ and many more. Vince Clarke and Martin Gore reunited in 2013 as VCMG to create the techno album, ‘Ssss’.

Depeche Mode are a hit machine

Over the course of their illustrious career, Depeche Mode have released 55 singles, and 35 of those have been gone Top 20 in the UK. Their biggest hits include ‘People Are People’ (1984), ‘Barrel Of A Gun’ (1997), ‘It’s No Good’ (1997) and ‘Precious’ (2005).

All 14 of their studio albums hit the Top 10 in the UK album charts with ‘Songs Of Faith And Devotion’ (1993) and ‘Ultra’ (1997) hitting the top slot. Elsewhere, ‘Some Great Reward’ (1984), ‘Black Celebration’ (1986), ‘Violator’ (1990), ‘Sounds Of The Universe’ (2009), ‘Delta Machine’ (2013) and ‘Spirit’ (2017) all went Top 5

Depeche Mode are an award-winning band

Over the years, Depeche Mode have bagged a number of prestigious awards. These include the Brit Award for Best British Single in 1991 (‘Enjoy The Silence’), MTV’s Best Group Award (2006), Q Magazine’s Innovation Award in 2002 and the Best Alternative Video for ‘Personal Jesus 2011’ at the UK Video Awards.

Martin Gore picked up the prestigious Ivor Novello Award for International Achievement in 1999.

Depeche Mode were elected to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2020.

‘Violator’ propelled the band into international stardom

Preceded by the singles ‘Personal Jesus’ and ‘Enjoy the Silence’, ‘Violator’ reached No.2 on the UK Albums Chart, and was the band’s first album to chart inside the top 10 of the Billboard 200, peaking at No 7.

Depeche Mode’s members all have specific roles

Speaking in the 1989 documentary ‘101’, Andy Fletcher revealed the band’s inner workings: “Martin’s the songwriter, Alan’s the good musician, Dave’s the vocalist, and I bum around.”

‘Personal Jesus’ was inspired by Elvis Presley

Martin Gore’s lyrics were inspired by Priscilla Presley’s 1985 memoir, ‘Elvis And Me’.

“It’s about how Elvis was her man and her mentor and how often that happens in love relationships; how everybody’s heart is like a god in some way,” explained Gore. “We play these god-like parts for people but no one is perfect, and that’s not a very balanced view of someone, is it?”

Artists love to cover Depeche Mode

For a band rooted in electronic music, their songs have proved incredibly flexible with cover versions including ‘Personal Jesus’ by Johnny Cash, ‘People Are People’ by A Perfect Circle, and ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’ by Erasure among others. Oh, and let’s not forget Susan Boyle’s idiosyncratic reading of ‘Enjoy The Silence’.

The secret of Depeche Mode’s longevity is infrequent contact

Speaking at a live Q&A at the 2013 South By Southwest, Martin Gore revealed: “We don’t keep in constant contact after a tour, we only speak to each other every four to six months.”