From No1 Magazine, May 18th 1985
PRIVATE LIVES - THE DEPECHE MODE STORY
An exlusive series by Max Bell
Photos by John Stoddart
THE BRIGADE BOY
Whatever you imagined about Depeche Mode, the truth is stranger and a lot more
interesting. After Dave Gahans tales of teenage rampage, and Martin Gores
perverse paradoxes, we come to Andy. . .
A founder member of Depeche, his quiet stage presence hides an even quieter nature: a
contrast to the fortright Gahan and Gore. But perhaps its unique combination of
characters that gives the Mode its strenght and unity. . .
"My parents were among the first to move to Basildon when it was still a very new
town in the early 60s.
Basildon is part of the South East urban sprawl which stretches to Southend. Its
been very badly designed. There are 200,000 people living there and only one cinema.
Theres nothing for young people to do despite the fact that Basildon has a huge
population of under 25-year-olds.
It also has terrible unemployment. My parents moved from Nottingham, where I was born,
so dad could work at Ca???es cigarette factory. He got ?a?d off.
I became involved in the church by accident when I was eight. Dad suggested I join the
Boys Brigade so I could play football. I stayed in BB until I was 18.
We had an active social life which revolved around the church seven days a week. My
parents arent religious, but I was. On Saturdays there was a BB coffee bar where
Id try to preach to the yobs.
Im no longer a practising Christian but it remains in the blood. I still feel
guilty about not going to church.
It wasnt all prayers and religion, which is very unfashionable topic these days.
There were also Christian pop festivals. U2 played at one a few years ago. Theyve
got a massive Christian following.
Me and Vince Clarke were into the preaching side trying to convert
non-believers. Vince was number three in the local hierarchy, although hes a total
Of course we got stick for our beliefs. The most embarrassing thing was attending
parades in Bas wearing full BB uniform. That period shaped my moral beliefs and attitudes.
I went to Nicholas Comprehensive and was in the same sixth form class as Martin Gore
and Alison Moyet. I took politics A-level and wanted to go to university.
Vince and I had a group when we were 16 called No Romance In China which tried to be
like The Cure. We were into their Imaginary Boys LP. Vince used to attempt to
sing like Robert Smith.
At that time we were going to a club called Van Gogh where Martin was playing in a
guitar duo called Norman And The Worms. Alisons group The Vandals were also
regulars. It was a good scene.
Martin, Vince and I teamed together and started rehearsing in Woodlands Youth Club. The
earliest songs like Photographic were written then.
Martin bought a synthesiser and we played a gig at Woodlands in front of an audience of
nine-year-olds. They loved the synths, which were a novelty then. The kids were onstage
twiddling the knobs while we played.
Depeche was completed when we nicked Dave. He knew the Southend social scene, which
enabled us to get gigs playing in front of 300 people. Our image was New Romantic,
post-Blitz kids with silly shirts.
I had a job at the same time. I was working as an insurance clerk for Sun Life and
being a regular commuter. It was well paid but it only quialified as an existence.
People at work didnt take my group seriously until Dreaming of Me got
into the charts followed by New Life. I was doing Top Of The Pops or
playing in, say, Leeds, and then working the next day. It got very awkward.
After having taken the mickey, my workmates were finally impressed when they saw our
publicity photos and the posters Id photo-copy in the office. When Dave got on the
cover of Sounds they were convinced.
We were raw but the songs were good. I heard an Italian bootleg of a very old Depeche
concert and it didnt sound bad at all.
Martin had been writing good songs since he was 14 but I didnt really know him
until I persuaded him to come to BB. I suppose I thought Id convert him. He came for
the singing and the atmosphere.
The song Blasphemous Rumours stems from our experiences then. There was a
prayer list of people who were sick in some way and youd pray for the person on top
of that list until they died.
When Martin first played me Blasphemous Rumours I was quite offended. I can
see why people would dislike it. It certainly verges on the offensive.
My private life away from music is simple and ordinary. I live with my girlfriend and
her mum on the outskirts of Basildon.
If I go out I do things like playing snooker or football or hang out with two friends
who are Djs. I go to see Chelsea when I can.
Im reading a lot at the moment, particulary books about Germany between the wars
and the rise of the Third Reich, the life of Hitler and his rise to power. Albert
Speers biography is fascinating.
Ive always been most interested in political history. We can learn a lot from the
rise of fascism. For instance, studying the Nazis teaches you that proportional
representation is extremely dangerous. Hitler came to power with a minority vote.
My own political beliefs are very confused. Im not totally socialist.
Im very patriotic, very pro-British. I know some people think thats wrong
but I cant help it. I dont believe we should give up our side of the nuclear
deterrent. If we surrendered our nuclear weapons, Britains stature would disappear.
Im a bit soldier at heart.
The Labour Party is weak now, it still lacks leadership but if I ever voted it
would be for Labour, even though some of my ideas are quite right-wing. I dont mind
Im a firm believer in the welfare state and the abolition of private schools so
you can see its difficult to describe me.
If youd asked me two years ago whether I wanted children Id said definitely
not, but the urge increases as you get older.
I dont believe in marriage, I think its a pointless institution. Havind
said that, Id probably get married anyway for conventional reasons. I am quite
My home life was always very happy and stable. I got on fine with my parents and my two
sisters and brother all younger than me.
Mum still worries like mad about me when Depeche are on tour. Not because she thinks
Id be a bad boy se knows I wouldnt but just in case I
didnt come home afterwards."