Friday, 7 October 2022

A MOMENTO-OUS WEEK - AND MUCH MORI TO COME

 


It's been quite a week.

Last Thursday (29th September), Halo - The Story Behind Depeche Mode's Classic Album Violator, the book I have written with Kevin May finally came out. It was a surreal day which was spent receiving lots of good luck messages from around the globe and seeing photographs of the book actually in people's hands. It was a real thing at last and the day was a remarkable experience. Thank you to everyone who asked about it, shared info and bought the book. You are all lovely. Kevin and I can't thank you enough.


One of the most surprising things about the book has been the requests for a signed copy. It's not something I've ever bothered with so I suppose I didn't think anyone else would. Loads of people have got in touch about one which is superb though the limited stock Kevin and I have only went so far. Rough Trade advertised the book on their social media and promised signed copies. When they told us they'd sold 51 and needed 100 in total, that presented something of an issue as we didn't have anywhere near that may books. We also live around 400 miles apart so that meant we couldn't just pop next door to sign things. There was only one thing for it - a trip to Newcastle....


Kevin and his daughter Ella had gone to Newcastle to have a look at the University so I headed down from Glasgow. We met up in a pub, signed 30 books plus 100 bookplates for Rough Trade, posed for Ella to take the first official author photo and then we went our separate ways. 

Oddly, no-one in the pub batted an eyelid. If this had been Glasgow, we'd still be there answering questions now.

Becky from our Publishers got in touch on Monday to confirm that sales since release had already exceeded 1000. By this point, everything seemed surreal really.

Then this happened:


Here we go again then.

Seeing Martin and Dave at the press conference was cool though it delivered far less than it promised really. That said, hearing them talk about Andy then and in the subsequent interviews released since was genuinely moving. We'll all miss his presence on the tour, but not as much as Martin and Dave will.

Memento Mori will be out in March next year and we will all then start heading around Europe and the US taking in the gigs. It's been fun watching the various stresses, strains and joys people have gone through over the last few days and I'm really looking forward to my Dublin, London and Berlin trips next Summer. It seems there will be a further leg or two to follow so I imagine those three are only the start as far as my next tour is concerned.

The Depeche Mode machine has started up again the but this time agains the personal background of having released a book about the band. That has made the week even more unusual as Kevin and I find ourselves in a Depeche spotlight of our own making just when the band return. 

What's next then? Well, more book promotion with apologies to those already bombarded with it on social media and the preparation of tour plans.  Until this week, Kevin and I were regularly asked what the next book will be. That has temporarily changed to questions about whether or not I will replicate the Global Spirit Tour Project on this blog and a lot of people have already very kindly volunteered for the role of reviewer.

On the basis that a review project has to be easier than another book, it's time to say yes. The Memento Mori Tour Project will start next March.

What have I done.....

To order Halo, go here for a list of all online worldwide retailers:

Tuesday, 4 October 2022

DEPECHE MODE ANNOUNCE NEW ALBUM AND TOUR

 


After a few weeks of speculation culminating in a frankly frenzied 24 hours when Clash magazine went a day too early with an online article, Depeche Mode have now confirmed some details about their new album and the tour in support of it.

This afternoon in Berlin, Martin and Dave appeared at a press conference moderated by Barbara Charone. Sadly, she didn't do a very good job of it but we got plenty of new information anyway.

It opened with video of various pieces of equipment and Martin and Dave bobbing about in the studio with what appeared to be two new pieces of music soundtracking it. The first was a very electronic track with layers of processed Gore sounds swarming over it. Very nice. The second was a new song featuring the lyrics "Heaven's dreaming" and, I think, "We all end up ghosts" sung by Dave. The music was a combination of the usual Martin guitar twang and very poppy electronics.

When the boys appeared, they both looked and sounded fairly sad as you would expect. They mentioned Andy of course, talking about how much they miss him and how they keep expecting to see him. Martin mentioned walking past the hotel bar in Berlin when they arrived in the city and looking in there fully imagining he would see Andy there with a beer.  It must be very hard for them to do this without him.

The album is called Memento Mori and will come out in late March 2023. They didn't use the word "produced" but talked about James Ford being involved so we can I think presume he has produced it once again. They have recorded at Martin's studio in Santa Barbara and at Rick Rubin's studio albeit without his involvement. The band will now return to New York to finish the album.

The album was planned and started before Fletch died and that includes its title which Martin selected.

The tour dates have been announced too and most go on sale at the end of this week - check depechemode.com for details.

It's great to see them back and I really hope the album is a cracker. I'm pleased that they have finished off the plans they made when Andy was still alive as not only will the album and tour be a tribute to the great man but it will also allow fans to get together and properly celebrate his life. I'm looking forward to doing that and I look forward to meeting up with you all at a few gigs next summer.

Welcome back Depeche Mode.

Wednesday, 27 July 2022

HALO - THE STORY BEHIND DEPECHE MODE'S CLASSIC ALBUM VIOLATOR. NEW PUBLICATION DATE 29th SEPTEMBER 2022

 




A quick update from David and Kevin on the release of Halo:

As Depeche Mode fans will acknowledge, it’s been a sad and unsettling time over the last few months, especially for the family and friends of keyboardist and founding member Andy ‘Fletch’ Fletcher, who passed away suddenly in May.

We were in the process of working through the final edits of ‘Halo’ when the news emerged that week – a massive high for us, which turned very quickly into a shocking and very sad low.

The story behind Depeche Mode’s classic album Violator doesn’t change as a result of Fletch’s untimely death (in fact, many parts in our book that feature him have a certain poignancy now) but we wanted to ensure we respectively give some distance between the grieving among family, friends, the band and fans with the book’s release.

As we write this post, we are also reading proofs from our publisher and getting excited once again about its release.

‘Halo’ will be available from all the usual online retail outlets from Thursday, September 29, via Grosvenor House Publishing in paperback and e-book.

We’re expecting a final pre-order date almost any time soon and a full list of retailers, too. We’ll share that information ASAP!

Tuesday, 28 June 2022

A LITTLE LOVE - EXCITER THE 12" SINGLES BOXSET

 


On 13th June 2022, the next instalment of the Depeche Mode 12" Singles boxsets arrived with the Exciter era edition landing with a satisfying thud on doormats all over the world. What extras would we get this time? Would there be stickers? Would they bother including Easy Tiger? Read on....


Before we get into it all, as this is the first Depeche Mode thing I've written since Fletch passed away, I couldn't go on without mentioning him. I've held off writing this because it didn't feel right and to be honest it still doesn't really. However, if I have brought one thing to the world, it's Depeche Mode related reviews that annoy people, so it is time to start talking about the band again. I've no idea if Andy ever read the nonsense this blog trots out, but if he did, I hope he enjoyed it. Rest in peace Fletch.



As with the previous boxsets, this one comes in a thick cardboard box with artwork based on the album art as you can see.


The back of the box contains the tracklisting. What's that noise you hear? Well that's the Pedantry Klaxon. It is sounding because there are timing errors on the back. On the newly formed L12BONG32, a new 12" stuffed full of Freelove remixes more of which presently, the third track on side A, Josh Wink Vocal Interpretation, previously only available on a promo 12" is listed as having a running time of 8 minutes 51 seconds. It is in fact 8 minutes 43 seconds long. Also, the first track on Side B, the Deep Dish Freedom Remix of Freelove is shown as being 11 minutes 25 seconds long when it is in fact 11 minutes 45 seconds long. This is EXACTLY the sort of thing you expect on here - admit it.


There is also the usual photo menu piece of paper thing that accompanies these releases. I imagine it has a name but I have no idea what it is.


The first 12" in the box is 12BONG30, Dream On. 


It contains the same three tracks as the original 12" and you can read all about them and everything else Dream On related in my in-depth review of the single here - http://almostpredictablealmost1.blogspot.com/2021/09/depeche-mode-singles-1981-to-2021-part.html


The Ultra 12" Singles Boxset introduced us to the concept of new L12 12" singles and the Exciter box follows that trend. We get an L12 for Dream On and it is unsurprisingly called L12BONG30. As there is no 12" single to replicate, it cleverly replicates the outer and inner sleeves of LCDBONG30.


It's a very nice concept but it's unfortunately flawed and that flaw repeats itself on all the new 12" singles in this box. The new inner sleeves are too thin meaning that the heavyweight 12" inside them causes the edges to tear. There is just now tear on my Dream On sleeve but there are two on each of the new I Feel Loved and Freelove 12" singles. I know of quite a few other fans who have experienced the same thing. It is a pity as these new 12" singles are well thought out and rather lovely things.


L12BONG30 is a 7 track record. Side A features Dream On (Single Version), Easy Tiger (Full Version), the sadly inevitable Easy Tiger (Bertrand Burgalat & A.S. Dragon Version) and Dream On (Dave Clark Acoustic Version).


Side B features three remixes of Dream On: Octagon Man Mix, Octagon Man Dub and Kid 606 Mix. The Octagon Man Dub was previously only available on a promo 12" for entirely understandable reasons.


The next single from Exciter was I Feel Loved, the only release from the Exciter era to have two 12" releases. 


12BONG31 is faithfully reproduced. The full review of that single from last year's blog nervous breakdown is here - http://almostpredictablealmost1.blogspot.com/2021/09/depeche-mode-singles-1981-to-2021-part_8.html


One joy of the 12" Singles series has been the attention to detail and there's a nice touch in this 12". The original had a sticker on the front telling you that it contained remixes by Danny Tenaglia and that sticker is neatly tucked inside the record here giving you the option to add it or keep it tucked away.


L12BONG31 turns up just as you would expect it to.


The label on the record is lovely as are all the Exciter era labels. I'm sure you agree.


The second new 12" in the box is XL12BONG31 which mirrors the inner and outer sleeves of LCDBONG31.


If you wanted a bigger picture of Dave's hand than you have on your CD single, you are in luck.


Side A features the single versions of I Feel Loved and Dirt.


Side B has two remixes of I Feel Loved: Extended Instrumental and Desert After Hours Dub. 


Freelove comes next and 12BONG32 turns up just as you would expect it to.


If you think this post goes into unnecessary depth, try the full single review where you will find all the tracklists for these releases - http://almostpredictablealmost1.blogspot.com/2021/09/depeche-mode-singles-1981-to-2021-part_15.html


This 12" contains another treat in the form of another sticker that you can apply should the mood take you.


The third and final new 12" in this box again looks to the LCD release for inspiration.


It is again a lovely thing but suffers from the thin paper/heavy 12" problem I mentioned earlier.


Side A contains three tracks - the glorious Freelove (Flood Mix), Zenstation and Freelove (Josh Wink Vocal Interpretation).


On Side B we have two remixes of Freelove which like the Josh Wink Vocal Interpretation were only previously available on promo 12" - Deep Dish Freedom Remix and Powder Productions Remix.


The final 12" in the box is the Goodnight Lovers 12", 12BONG33.


The original release was available on red vinyl and black vinyl as you can read about in alarming depth in my single review - http://almostpredictablealmost1.blogspot.com/2021/09/depeche-mode-singles-1981-to-2021-part_15.html 

If you ordered the single from Mute Bank in 2002, you got a poster with the record. The original poster looks like this:


As you can see, it's a lovely thing. This boxset gives his another treat by including a reproduction of the poster in the Goodnight Lovers 12" but there is a slight problem. See if you can spot it:


Have you seen it? Yes, that's right. The release date is a year out. Having gone to the wonderful length of including poster, it's a shame to see this error.


As ever, we have a reproduction promo poster, this time for Dream On.


And finally, we have a download card. I have no idea what one would actually download music to these days but it's nice to have the option.

Like the previous boxsets, this one is lovingly put together and the work that has gone into making it sound and look good is superb. The poster mistake can be forgiven I think but it's a shame that the lovely new 12" inner sleeves are easily damaged by the heavy 12" singles. 

At some point soon we will no doubt get news about the Playing The Angel 12" Singles box and that will be interesting. There were 9 official 12" singles plus a few promos so it's bound to be a big one. When that comes along, I'll open it and post pictures here so you don't have to.

Tuesday, 31 May 2022

ANDY FLETCHER - A TRIBUTE

 


When the news about Andy Fletcher's death broke last Thursday, it is fair to say that every Depeche Mode fan was left stunned. For all of us, the last few days have had a shadow over them as we come to terms with this. Memories have been shared on social media, friends have got in touch with each other to see if they're ok and tributes have poured in from the numerous people Andy's life touched. It is not often that someone is universally considered to be a good guy. Fletch was one of those people.

Look at all the band and music industry types who have offered their condolences or tributes for example. While Dave and Martin may be the members of the band with the higher profiles, Andy's role, often understated by many, was obviously a key one, not only in Depeche Mode but also in the way he advised and nurtured other artists and young acts. When Kevin May and I interviewed people for Halo, every person we spoke to talked fondly of Fletch from his key role in the production process, where his input and comments were vital, to talking to and being there for support bands on the tour.

There is no getting away from the fact that without Andy Depeche Mode would almost certainly have ended years ago. When asked what he did during a radio interview seen in 101, he famously said "I bum around" but he did much more than that. As Martin's best friend, he was vital in keeping everything together, a crucial mediating voice in the band especially in the post Wilder years where Dave started pushing for more songwriting involvement.  He had the best job in the world; he was the biggest Depeche Mode fan there is and he got to be part of the band. 

While the last few days have been overwhelmingly sad for all of us Depeche fans, it's impossible to imagine how Andy's family, Martin, Dave and everyone associated with the band must be feeling. The fans are all mourning the loss of someone who has been part of our lives from the moment we first got into the band but those close to Andy have lost something much more than that. 

I was determined not to make this post go on and on about how sad I am and how sad all Depeche fans are because what we are all feeling is inconsequential compared to the feelings of people who actually knew Andy. Instead, let's end on a few Fletch highlights. These are some of my favourites but there are of course many, many more. Rest in peace Fletch - you were a one off.

Firstly, 3 from 101 though there are many more to choose from:

1. Fletch tries his hand at guitar playing
The scene in Nashville where Martin and Andy visit a guitar shop is superb. Andy picks up an acoustic and strums a few bars. "Impressive," you think, "I didn't know Andy had it in him." Then Martin arrives, plays what appears to be several tunes at once and Fletch heads back to the transport outside. For God's sake Martin, stop showing off.




2. "People are people so why should it seem....."
"Well, you got three of the words right."

3. "I'm Andy Fletcher from Depeche Mode and you're listening to the alternative dance party from hell"

From elsewhere:

1. Andy drinks a cocktail in the Just Can't Get Enough video - seriously, how happy does he look? That was a man who knew he was about to give up the day job and spend his life doing something much more fun.

2. Fletch gets his kit off, Rock Werchter, 7th July 2013

Anything Dave can do, Fletch can do better. Or something.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

3. The Fletch dance.

You know the one - clap, grab your mic, wave, walk around the keyboard and repeat. See 101 and The World We Live In and Live in Hamburg. For later years, see The Fletch Arm Lift. 

There are of course many, many more examples. Fletch brought a sense of humour to Depeche Mode and that was crucial as it offered a counterpoint to the other sides of the band. He brought so much more to the band too of course and that's what we are all missing today and will continue to miss for a very long time.

Thanks for everything Andy. 



Thursday, 26 May 2022

ANDREW "FLETCH" FLETCHER 8 JULY 1961 TO 26 MAY 2022

 


I'm writing this in a dazed state having just heard the horrible news about Fletch. Most if not all of you will be feeling the same just now. It's beyond shocking and impossible to comprehend for now. The band's official announcement was made earlier this evening:


All of my thoughts are with Andy's family at what must be a terrible time for them.

Thank you for everything Fletch. Everyone from every corner of the Depeche Mode world will miss you terribly.



Saturday, 19 March 2022

HALO - THE STORY BEHIND DEPECHE MODE'S CLASSIC ALBUM VIOLATOR: PUBLICATION DATE AUGUST 2022

 



Halo - The Story Behind Depeche Mode’s Classic Album Violator will be published in  August 5, 2022.

The book is an oral history of the career-defining album and era for electronic pioneers Depeche Mode, stretching from August 1989 upon the release of the first single Personal Jesus to November 1990 and the end of the World Violation Tour.

Written and published by Kevin May and David McElroy in association with UK-based Grosvenor House Publishing, Halo features interviews with those who had key roles during the making of Violator and the subsequent tour.

David and Kevin also hear from those involved in the iconic artwork of the album and its single releases, videos, publicity and other figures associated with the band before, during and after Violator’s release in March 1990.

Each of the book’s eight chapters includes a first-hand account of the era from fans (“Devotees,” as they came to be known), exclusive photographs and a detailed timeline of an extraordinary period in the British band’s history.

Those sharing their stories include Francois Kevorkian, Steve Lyon, Andy Franks, Roberto Baldi, Pino Pischetola, Nils Tuxen, Paul Kendall, Richard Bell, Richard Smith, Pam Heffer, Angela Shelton, Gareth Jones, Neil Ferris, Bruce Kirkland, Billie Ray Martin and many more.

Halo will be available in paperback print and e-book formats.

Pre-order details and a list of online retail outlets where Halo will be available will be shared ahead of the August publication date.



David and Kevin, commenting on the release of Halo, remark: “We’re both thrilled and excited to be releasing Halo. We’ve tracked down and interviewed a wide range of figures involved in this remarkable era for Depeche Mode, from engineers and musicians in the studio at the time, to publicists, support bands, designers and even extras from some of the videos.

This oral history is for fans and general music lovers who are curious about how a masterpiece was created. It’s an opportunity to learn first-hand from many of those involved in the making of Violator, in their own words, how this seminal album was made, marketed, toured and the impact it had on music and fans.

This book has been a long time in the making, delayed by life, injury, a pandemic, work and all sorts, so we’re extremely grateful to those who have given us their patience to complete proceedings!”

Stay tuned for more details.


L-R David, Kevin