Audacy host Kevan Kenney got a chance to talk this week with Dave Gahan, frontman of U.K. synthpop icons Depeche Mode about their current Memento Mori era and more.
LISTEN NOW: Depeche Mode talks with Kevan Kenney
In the midst of their first U.S. dates in almost five years, Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan joined Audacy's Kevan Kenney at the KROQ studios in Los Angeles, first reminiscing about visiting the now 'World Famous KROQ' in the '80s when it was just "a small little station, but it was a very important small, little station," that supported the band from day one.
"The time thing is really strange," Dave admits, "because when you play songs, yes, that you made together when I was 18 years old, like a song like 'Just Can't Get Enough' for instance, it immediately transports you back to memories from that time. Certainly, when you're performing it on stage, and you get new memories as well because the audience has grown quite a bit since those days. But... there's a weird memory recall of time, places, people, things you were going through, things you were going through with other people, what was happening in the world... All kinds of stuff happens."
"There are definitely songs, I would say, from the late '80s through the '90s that have become sort of staples in our set that we will do that there's still parts of some of those songs that live in me, if that makes sense. Some of the newer ones," he explains, "you're trying to find a new place to stand in those songs and that have to work alongside ones that sometimes you recorded 40 years ago, or 20 years ago."
"For me, when I'm building a set," Dave continues, "it has to take myself and everybody else that's listening in the audience on some kind of journey through time. That's what it is with songs, and songs have carried me through my life and they still do -- certain singers, certain songs. Albums in particular; I was playing a Joy Division album the other day that just transported me back to that time, going to see that band in fact in the late '70s in small clubs, small theaters, ballrooms in London and remembering how dumbfounded and stopped in my tracks I was seeing Joy Division perform and watching Ian [Curtis] do his thing on stage... those are the kinds of things that inspired me to believe that maybe I could also do that."
Over four decades now, the band has always very specifically been 'Depeche Mode,' a kind of "weird," Dave admits, they have fully leaned into since their inception. "We're OK with that now," he adds. "We weren't OK with that, probably... you know when you're younger you feel different all the time and you don't fit. That's why I listened to music like Joy Division, I connected with that. A lot of other people were like, 'It sounds really depressing.' But I made a connection with that and I think people have done that with our music over the years."
"We stayed true to what life is," he continues. "Songs represent life, and I think people identify with that. Its ups and downs, its highs and lows, and the reality of it being sometimes really cruel and hard but also really joyful and surprising. It's all those things sometimes within a day, isn't it? We all know that. I think some of us wear it heavier than others, but music has always been a thing that has been able to explain to me where I'm or what I'm doing, or what it is I'm feeling."
The creation of the band's fifteenth studio album, with the passing of longtime friend and bandmember Andy Fletcher so fresh on their minds, became a way for Gahan and Martin Gore to still feel his presence while coming to terms with and accepting a fate that we all will eventually have to face. "It's gonna come to all of us at some point... I think when I was a little bit younger I was afraid of the idea of dying," Dave says, "but I don't fear it anymore. If I did have any fear about it, it would just be that the people that I loved around me were OK with that and went on and didn't spend too much time mourning that. Death's a weird thing but it's real, and it's part of life. So, 'Memento Mori,' which directly translated is 'Remember that you must die,' it's also a reminder that you must live."
Listen to Kevan Kenney's full talk with Dave Gahan above, and stay tuned for more conversations with your favorite artists right here on Audacy.
Depeche Mode will be on the road well into December, while the band's fifteenth studio album, Memento Mori, just arrived in March of 2023. For a complete list of tour dates and to grab your tickets, click HERE.
Listen to Depeche Mode Radio and more on the free Audacy app
Follow more of your favorite music on Audacy's New Wave Mix Tape, 90s and Chill, Alterna 00s, IndustriALT, Alt Now, Rockternative, Drivin' Alt, and ALT Roots stations -- plus check out our talent-hosted Kevan Kenney's Music Discovery, Megan Holiday's My So Called '90s Playlist, and Scott Lowe on the Go's Post Modern Music Box.
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