From No1 Magazine, May 11th 1985
PRIVATE LIVES - THE DEPECHE MODE STORY
An exlusive series by Max Bell
Photos by John Stoddart

PART 2
MARTIN GORE
THE DECADENT BOY

In the second part of our exclusive Depeche Mode series Martin Gore talks about his steady progression from milkmaid to bank clerk to popstar in leather mini skirt.

"I'm 23 I think. I was born in London but raised as a kid in Dagenham where Dad was a Ford's worker and Mum was a telephonist at the car factory. I've got two teenage sisters. I led a normal childhood. family life was stable, nothing too traumatic occurred.

I remember I was a very good boy until the age of five when I went through a phase of beating up other children. One day my mother caught me putting a brick over another child's head. My father was furious. He told me never ever to hit anyone else again. I'm glad I got such a talking to, it made me very passive and harmless. I went to a general comprehensive - Nicholas, in Basildon - where I played cricket for the school team.

My interest in Germany started when I went on school exhange trips to Schleswig-Holstein. I found German a boring subject but I enjoyed staying on a farm. Country life is alright in small doses. I liked milking the cows.

 


POP APPEAL

Interest in pop music stemmed from a couple of things. Firstly, I was heavily into the teen mag Disco 45. I had hundreds of them and used to read all the song words. I can still remember all those lyric though I haven't  got a good memory for anything else.

About that time, 13, I had a crush on 'Donna' by 10cc.

A friend taugh me a few guitar chords and we started to write songs. Obviously, looking back they were awful but I was proud of them then.

I didn't have many pop heroes but I nearly joined Gar Glitter's fan club. The glamour of earl 70s pop appealed. Although I refrained from becoming a member I did hunt high and low for his version of 'Baby Please Don't Go' Ė it's terrible but it made me want to be a pop star.

I did all that posing in front of the mirror bit.

After that I went through a big Bryan Ferry phase, had all his solo albums and pictures of him in his tuxedo plastered over my wall.

My only pop gero today is Jonathan Richman because he has such a warm rapport with and audience.

I did suffer from a suburban outlook. I didn't go to a gig until I was 17! I'd hardly even been to London which was half an hour away from Basildon by train.

 


A CLERICAL CAREER

I got French and German A-levels (failed maths) and then had to make a decision about the future, which shocked me greatly.

I didnít have the necessary motivation to do much, like going to university. I didnít want to leave school. I felt secure there.

If all this fell through I could see myself studying. I certainly wouldnít go back to bank work.

Aah, the bank. My first job. I worked at the NatWest clearing house in the City for a year and a half on grade one. It was mindcrushingly dull but my lack of imagination and confidence meant I couldnít see an alternative.

Languages were what I wanted to work with but translation jobs were hard to find.

 


COMPOSITION OF SOUND

I was still writing songs and saved up enough money to buy a Yamaha 5 synthesiser. It cost £200.

Me, Andy Flecther and Vince Clarke started mucking about together. Vince was a local kid who lived minutes away, Andy I knew from going along to Boys Brigade and church.

I went strictly as an observer. Maybe he thought he could convert me.

Robert Marlow mixed sound for us. . . we were called Composition of Sound.

The name Depeche Mode came from Dave much later. He was doing fashion design and window display and used the magazine Depeche Mode as reference. It means hurried fashion or fashion dispatch. I like the sound of that.

The further we got into the pop world the more I changed. It was like a Before and After advert. Before, I was quiet, introverted, conscientious. I was a long-haired hippy like everyone else. Afterwards I realised I could do something other people might like.

BLACK LEATHER

I bought my first leather jacket when I was 18. Iíve developed a love for black leather which is hypocritical, like Alan, Iím a vegetarian Ė for moral and health reasons.

Black leather is striking and simple. Itís only for the image but Iíd also like a motor bike. Couldnít pull it off though.

Maybe this leather fetish springs from seeing an old Marlon Brando movie, called The Fugitive Kind, where he wore a snakeskin outfit that was pretty cool.

Cars I hate, theyíre immoral.

 


KINKY HABITS

When people ask me what my interests are today I canít think of much. I was never into politics Ė a dubious profession Ė too much power, not enough principle.

People imagine Iíve got kinky habits but my worst vice is video games. Well, I have got a few others but youíd be far too interested in them.

I have a very loud laugh when I get going. Humour is important to me, itís in a lot what the group does. But not conventional humour: that bores me. Situation comedy leaves me cold.

An average day for me might start by getting up at midday and composing on my guitar, sampling sounds until eight.

Iím not a great musician. None of us is except Alan. My interest is in melody lines and lyrics.

I collect records. I like stuff on the At Atak label and mainstream alternatives like Joy Division and The Ramones. Of the New Romantics I admired what Boy George did.

Sexual barriers are silly. My girlfriend and I swap clothes, make-up, anything. So what? Itís a shock though to read in a magazine like Bravo that I walk around dressed as a woman. Theyíll invent anything.

As well as George Iíve liked Soft Cell and Marc And The Mambas. Metal music people like Neubaten have good ideas, some of which we may nick, but I canít listen to them. Kraftwerk yes, they have instant melody.

Sixties pop is good, The Beach Boys, even doo-wop. Simple harmony vocal stuff.

 


BACK IN BERLIN

Depeche used the futurist tag to break into pop mainstream. It fitted us, all that suburban self-expression. Now we do what we do without desperate media measures. Weíve kept out of the national press since 1981 so I donít think we can achieve Duran-type success.

Itís so easy to become massive in the UK and then to disappear. On the other hand we didnít promote ourselves in Europe much and weíre very popular.

I moved to Berlin because the 24-hour aspects of city life suit me. Iím happy to stay out all night. Is that decadent?

I havenít been able to spend much time in my Berlin flat yet but itís close enough so that I can be back in Basildon in two hours.

One thing that does annoy me. My mum threw out all my Disco 45s a few years ago. Iíve never forgiven her for that."

Picture: "Martin wonders how he manages to keep that face sponge balanced on his forehead."

© BEYOND words 2003 - 2005