Depeche Mode announces a tour in 2023 and a new album ‘Memento Mori’. Very moved, Dave Gahan and Martin Gore pay tribute to Andy Fletcher, who died suddenly last May
At the height of the pandemic, members of Depeche Mode found themselves having to make sense of this global pandemic while trying to appreciate life in every moment. These two themes kept coming back when the frontman Dave Gahan and singer and multi-instrumentalist Martin Gore wrote the lyrics for what would become their 15th album. They embraced this idea by calling the album Memento Mori.
” The translation [de « Memento Mori »] is “Remember that you must die”explains Gahan by telephone from Berlin, a few days before the group’s press conference on Tuesday, announcing Memento Mori. “A lot of the songs remind us that our life is fleeting and we have to make the most of it – in a positive way”. Martin Gore says he first heard this Latin phrase from a friend. “I thought it was a great album title for songs that had already been written”he said.
The origin of this expression dates back to Greco-Roman times when a slave stood next to a victorious Roman general during his triumph to remind him of his mortal condition and that he therefore had to remain humble. This idea of humility appealed to Gahan very much.
It’s one of the few times the band chose an album title while recording and kept it to the end. The album, which the producers james ford and Marta Salogni end in London, should be released next spring, while the tour Memento Mori will debut in North American theaters, beginning in Sacramento on March 23 and a move to Madison Square Garden on April 14, 2023.
But before they can hit the studio, the title takes on a much bigger meaning for Gahan and Gore. On May 26, Andy “Fletch” Fletcher, who co-founded Depeche Mode and played synthesizers and bass in the band since 1980, died suddenly of an aortic dissection. Did they question the title after Fletch’s death? “I think it cemented him, if not more,” said Gore. “Obviously everyone is going to think all the songs were written shortly after Andy died”continues Gore. “But everything was planned and ready to go. Sadly, Andy passed away when he was really looking forward to starting working with us. So I like the idea of ’Memento Mori’ in a more positive way, in the sense of ‘Live every day and make the most of your time here’”.
“It’s the first time we’ve done something like this without Fletch”said Gahan. “All the songs were already written before Fletch died, but when something happens, an event like this in your life, the songs change: They take on different shapes and have different meanings when you sing them. I think when I was singing some of the songs I was thinking about all kinds of things, but for sure Fletch came up in my mind a lot of times. »
“We are not going to replace Fletch, there is no reason to do so”says singer Dave Gahan. “It would be impossible”
Even today, the two musicians continue to make sense of their comrade’s absence. “We don’t always have the opportunity to say goodbye”, Gahan said. “With that, it was just one of those things where all of a sudden, Martin and I are sitting in a pew in a church together, and Fletch is gone, just like that.”
“It’s obviously very hard to lose your closest friend”said Gore. “Andy was there with me long before the band and I feel like he was in the trenches with me the whole time. So it’s very hard. » But Gore thinks his companion would have liked Depeche Mode to continue. “He has always been considered the cement of the group”he said. “It would have been unthinkable for him to think that his death would have caused the end of the group”.
Today, Gahan and Gore feel his loss more deeply. Fletch, who had a great tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, used to joke that while Gahan and Gore’s roles were well defined – Gahan was obviously the vocalist while Gore wrote the majority of songs – his job was to “hang out” with them. But the two musicians say he was much more important to Depeche Mode than he thought. “When we were in the studio with Martin, we laughed and often happy memories of Fletch came back to us. We missed him a lot”explains Gahan
“We realized more after his death that he played a huge role in the band”said Gore. “Dave and I aren’t anti-social, but we’re not super-social people, whereas Andy was. If we had to do something, [Fletch] would go there and start chatting with everyone, and Dave and I could hide in a corner. Even though we’ve been together for 40 years, Dave and I have grown a lot closer since Andy died, because we had to. Whereas before, Andy was, as I said, the cement between us. It was he who brought us together, it was he who made the connection. »
Gahan and Gore didn’t see each other face to face to work on the album until last July. The singer believes that if Fletch was working on the album, he would have joked: “Can we stop talking about death? “. “I missed it in the studio”says the singer, “and I know that is the case for Martin too. It felt like he was always there with us. »
The band opened the Berlin event this afternoon with a short video teaser showing close-ups of music equipment in the studio against a background of music, unmistakably Depeche Modien. The soundtrack is made up of a haunting synthesizer bass line and a lyrical melody. Eventually, the camera pulls out to show the musicians together in the studio. Finally Gahan’s voice comes in and he sings, “We know we will be ghosts again”. (We know we’ll be ghosts again)
Neither Gahan nor Gore are ready to tell us more about the song titles of Memento Mori — days before the Berlin event, they’re not even quite sure of the final titles — but they say the structure of the album as a whole formed naturally. “For me, it has a cinematic quality”said Gahan. It takes you on a bit of a journey, starting with a place where we say to ourselves, “This is my world”, and ending with “How do I make the most of it?” “. The music, Gahan said, seems melancholy but it is also braided with hope and joy. »
The album will likely feature 12 songs, some of which will be kept as bonus tracks for a deluxe edition.
In addition to finishing the album, the group is looking for a way to get back on stage without one of its founding members. “We’re not going to replace Fletch; there is no reason to replace Fletch,” Gahan said. “It would be impossible. There was only one Fletch, that’s for sure. » Gahan and Gore therefore work with the multi-instrumentalist peter gordeno and the drummer Christian Eigner, who have been touring members of Depeche Mode since the late 90s, on how to keep the show going and incorporate new music. (The band’s longtime collaborator, filmmaker and photographer Anton Corbijn, is already working with the band on the tour look). Contrary to some rumors circulating on social networks, the producer Rick Rubin is not the party.
When asked in Berlin if the band were going to pay tribute to Fletch on the tour, Gahan replied that the band was still thinking but had chosen some of Fletch’s favorite Depeche Mode songs. “He will be present in spirit, I am sure, to judge us”he said with a laugh.
In another lighthearted moment, a reporter asked if the band would ever consider doing an “unplugged” tour. “We can’t really do it because we’re an electronic band”, Gahan replied with a laugh. Gore adds jokingly: “We can try with electric generators or something else. »
In a more serious moment, when asked how they see the role of music in the midst of war in Ukraine, Gahan replies: “We were talking with Martin recently about what it’s like for us to make and play music and bring joy and a sense of unity to a world in turmoil. It’s weird sometimes to be able to do that but to get on stage and make people happy, we’re proud of that! ”
In an unusual move for Depeche Mode, the band will begin their tour Memento Mori in North America rather than Europe. “I can’t remember the last time we started in America, if ever we did”said Gore. “I’m sure we did it at some point, but it felt like something different to do”.
42 dates for 41 cities have been announced. The European stage will begin on May 16. Among the venues where the group will perform next year are Madison Square Garden, the United Center in Chicago, Twickenham Stadium. For France : the Matmut Stadium in Bordeaux on May 31, the Pierre Mauroy Stadium in Lille on June 22, the Stade de France on June 24 and the Groupama Stadium in Lyon on July 4.
Until then, they will move on as they continue to mourn the death of their friend and bandmate. “It was very strange to come to Berlin and walk into a hotel where we have been with Andy many times, and see the bar where we had often seen him sitting”said Gore. “It was a bit of a reality check. Everything we do from now on is different, so we just have to put our heads down and do the best we can. »
Kory Grow & Alma ROTA
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