Depeche Mode finishes new album, reveals new songs
"We’ve completed the record," the band’s frontman, Dave Gahan, told Pop & Hiss on Thursday via phone from New York. "There might be a couple of bits and pieces we’ve got to clean up, but I feel really good about the fact that we’re finished," he continued. "I think we’ve made a great record."
Gahan said the as-yet-untitled album, slated for release this coming spring, will have about 12 tracks.
"We’ve been spoiled for choice with this one because we recorded more songs for this record than we ever had for any [other] record," he said. "Maybe I’m old school or whatever but once you start going over 12 songs, I think it becomes a little weird."
Gahan confirmed the 2009 disc, which will be the first for EMI in the U.S. (the band has been releasing albums for Warner Music Group in North America for much of its career), will contain the tracks "Wrong" and "Peace," snippets of which have been circulating the Web. Gahan, however, clarified that the actual title of "Peace" is "Peace Will Come to Me."
Additionally, he unveiled the titles of three more new tracks -- "Hole to Feed," "Comeback" and "In Chains," all co-written by Gahan -- that are likely set for inclusion on the album. Gahan added that the recording sessions, which took place over the last several months in New York and Santa Barbara, were productive and that he and the act's principal songwriter, Martin Gore, are working well together.
"We have about 18 songs," he said, even hinting that the band will release a special EP or online-only add-on with the extra material next year.
But Gahan stressed that the EMI release will be just that — a proper record that doesn’t run too long.
Said Gahan: "I’ve been listening to the current play list, and I’m always still thinking of an album like Side 1, and Side 2. It’s like when you see a movie or something, and it goes over two hours and you’re like 'OK, I get it.' "
So what will the new material sound like? Rolling Stone last month ran an "In the Studio" featuring the band, on which Gore was quoted saying the set has a "spiritual" feel.
"I know what [Martin] means by that, but if anyone’s thinking that the record will have a Gospel feel, it couldn’t be further from that," Gahan said. "I feel like [the record] is [about] looking outside and a yearning for somehow coming together. The world is changing. Watching Obama getting elected was great. We watched it on TV in Santa Barbara and I get goosebumps thinking about that still. It’s going to take a long time, but I think some of that same feeling, that sentiment [of hope] is in the work."
And though the band is increasingly fond of using guitars, the new disc may see a return to the Depeche Mode's original analog synth roots -- at least on a few tracks.
"Martin’s got this new fetish which is basically buying gear on EBay," Gahan said. "He must have bought up half of the analog equipment around the world. We’ve got all these old drum machines from the 1970s, and even some of the stuff that we used in the '80s as well, like old Moogs and Arps."
As an example, Gahan noted that one of the new album's stars is a piece of gear dubbed "The Colonel" - a vintage 1970s-era Steiner Parker synthesizer. It's an instrument, said Gahan, "that makes crazy noises. We found it really inspiring and used it in a lot of things [on the new record]."
Depeche Mode announced portions of its 2009 "Tour of the Universe" earlier this year and is set to reveal U.S. dates in the coming weeks. Depeche Mode has maintained a strong fan base in the L.A.-area, thanks to such famed concerts as the 1988 Rose Bowl sellout captured in the film "Depeche Mode 101." The band last played Southern California in 2006 at the Coachella music & arts festival.
"We had a great time on stage that night," Gahan gushed. "It was one of those gigs where you just feel like you’re floating on air. I was singing great, the atmosphere was great, everything was right. It was very special."
While Depeche Mode’s famously devoted fans await new music and tour dates, they have been busy bemoaning the fact that the band’s music has turned up in a Hilary Duff song. Her "Reach Out" heavily samples the band’s "Personal Jesus."
"I don’t know what I think about it.... It’s a little weird," laughed Gahan. "I think it was something that Martin didn’t really have any choice over, they kind of did it anyway. But, you know, it is what it is. Look, my daughter loves it. You know what she said to me? 'But it’s not the same, Dad.' "
- Charlie Amter
Photo: Depeche Mode earlier this year announces its 2009 tour. Credit: Miguel Villagran / Associated Press