Black Celebration just came out and Chris Heath (Smash Hits reporter)
came to Alan's place for an interview...
Here we go... (the intro)
Smash Hits 1986.
..... you know, when the alarm doesn't go off and you've got a cold and
your radio's conked out and the gerbil's chewed the corner off the duvet
and you've got a horrible "spot" on your nose and it's raining and the
only thing on TV is That's Life and some Smash Hits journalist in a
disgusting "sweater" called Chris Heath has come round to interview YOU...?
That's how Depeche Mode feel...
We're pretty horrible today," grunts Martin Gore, morosely. He's sipping
a cup of tea in Alan Wilder's kitchen and he's feeling rather grumpy.
Depeche Mode have spent the last four months locked away in a Berlin studio,
they've got just over two weeks to rehearse their "live set" before setting
out on a five months tour and Martin has spent the last week in bed with flu.
The last thing he feels like doing right now is having a nice jolly chat
with Smash Hits. Yes, Martin Gore is feeling rather grumpy - but, he muses,
"Are we ever that cheerful?" Well, it has to be admitted that Depeche Mode's
new LP "Black Celebration", is rather depressing and that Martin writes lots
of songs about how relationships with girlfriends and so on are the only
consolation for the general rottenness of the rest of life etc. But is the
pop star life really all that terrible?
"Well," says Martin gloomily, "it's a lot better than most jobs. But what
I do when I write songs is often to draw upon past experiences like when I
worked in a bank for a year and a half dealing with standing orders - that
was total boredom."
Cool! He is in a cheerful mood. Maybe there's someone a bit chirpier in
one of the other rooms. Let's have a peek...
Alan's in the sitting room putting on a copy of the new PiL album. "I've
just bought a new record player," he murmurs, "so I've been playing a lot
of records recently." And does he jump around the room waving his arms
about to them?
"No I don't 'jump around the room waving my arms about'," he answers
sternly. "Sometimes I just get on with whatever else I'm doing and
sometimes I just sit down and listen." Oh dear. It doesn't seem as if
he's a bundle of joy either. Shouldn't a successful pop star like him be
a bit happier about life? Not necessarily. "Even in our business-
'the glamorous pop world'," he explains "you still get into a boring
routine." And you also, he moans, get strangers wandering round the house.
"I think private lives should stay private," he grumbles.
Oooh. He's in a very prickly mood. Better talk to someone else...
Andy Fletcher is over by the window fixing up a birthday party for
a mate in the pub tonight. How might he be feeling today? "We've all been
ill with flu," says Andy. "Me and Dave weren't too bad but Alan and Martin
are vegetarians and they don't do as well."
Fletch reckons that eating lots of "red blood" is the way to keep the
doctor away - he confesses to eating no vegetables whatsoever and claims
that most illness is "psychological anyway".
"Like," he explains, "since I've been self-employed in this band I've
never been properly ill, but before whenever I was working I used to get
colds and I'd hope they got worse so that I could have time off work..."
Phew! At least he's not saying lots of depressing things... "The new
album," he pipes, "it's not sort of bouncy-bouncy Madonna, is it?"
Uh-oh. I think he's started... "We were really fed up that 'Stripped'
didn't do better," he sighs. "It gets a bit boring... it was a million
times better than the last single... I'd rather it didn't get in the
charts at all..."
Here he goes. . .
"When Martin stops writing good songs," he whispers sadly,"we'll fade
as well. We know he's a good songwriter and at the moment with the
quality of songs he's writing we can't really fail. But when he stops
writing good songs..."
Yes, Andy's gone all grim now too, and the only place left to shelter is
the garden where Dave Gahan's wandering about. Let's just hope he's
feeling a bit more chipper.
"Black Celebration," he whispers, "yeah it's a pretty heavy title.
It's got nothing to do with black magic like most people seem to think -
it's actually about how most people in life don't have anything to celebrate.
They go to work every day and then go down the pub and drown their sorrows.
That's what it's about - celebrating the end of another black day. I think
it's tragic that you have to compensate by just getting drunk, though I don't
think there's anything unnatural about it. After all we do it all the time."
He bounces over to a decrepit old rocking horse in the corner of the
garden, inspects it and turns away unimpressed.
"I never had a rocking horse," he confesses. "I had Action Men, about six
of them. And my sister had a Sindy doll. I'd set up my camp in my bedroom
and she'd set up her camp in hers and I used to take her out. My Action Man
would go round in his jeep and knock on her door and then Sindy would come
out in my jeep. We'd play for hours. Sindy had a horse and I had a jeep and
a tank - all the he-man stuff.
"I learnt a lot about girls," he laughs, "chat up lines like 'heeey, I'll
come pick you up later in my tank'. It was much better than Subutteo
(football "game" where all the players fall over all the time) - I should
imagine Fletch plays that - that was a bit stupid. It took hours. I liked
action - taking Sindy out. I learnt a lot more from Action Men than I learnt
from all of school."
Not that they teach you anything at school to prepare you for the strange
trials of being a pop star - being interrogated when you're feeling a bit
grumpy, being chased down the street by fans and getting some very strange
things indeed chucked at you when you step on a stage...
"Yeah"' laughs Dave. "In America we get everything thrown at us - bras,
suspender belts, knickers and even shoes. After one concert we had about
40 shoes on stage and there were no pairs! Imagine all those people hopping
Hopping home? Sounds like a grand idea to me. Toodle-oo!