This year marks Depeche Mode’s first visit to SXSW. There may be thousands of bands here, but when an artist of that caliber comes to town, everyone gets really excited. Jason Bentley was asked to do a Q&A with the band — their first major interview about their new album to a standing room only audience — and it was almost absurd to be walking through the Convention Center into a back room with arguably one of the most successful bands of all time. They were in great spirits and were excited to talk about “Delta Machine”, their 13th album together.
A few quick tidbits:
Singer Dave Gahan called himself an “overpaid stripper” when asked about how he delivers night after night. He says he’s a “ball of anxiety” and let’s loose once he gets on stage.
Jason mentioned meeting Dave in 1997 when he was a “hot mess”. The now sober singer says he has few memories of that time and credited the support of family and friends for pulling him out of it. He says his life has gotten progressively better over the last 15 years and he’s really enjoying being a dad and a husband. Martin Gore then joked that he not only survived but still has his hair. (The band — Andy Fletcher especially — agreed that a sense of humor is key to staying together this long)
The band joked about how there are really only a few topics to write songs about — love, religion and death, with Gore quipping that they are closest to the latter.
The music business isn’t easy for anyone, even a band at their level. Dave said playing live is “the only thing that makes sense out of all of it”. He also called the stage “a sacred place” and says whatever issues the band may have (I mean, they have been together over 30 years!!) get left behind once they walk out.
Their first single “Heaven” was about the 4th song written for the record. Martin Gore says that’s about the time they know an album is coming together. He also said its a mix of blues and electronica ala “Personal Jesus”.
It’s always a little scary to meet your heroes and, for me personally, this was an instance where they did nothing but make me love them more. They were lovely people and I’m really looking forward to hearing the new album like everyone else (and seeing them live later tonight)
More from KCRW at SXSW.