- British electronic new wave band formed in 1980 from Basildon England. Members of the band are Dave Gahan (lead vocals), Andy Fletcher (keyboards, bass guitar, backing vocals) and Martin Gore (keyboards, guitar, backing vocals, songwriting).
- In 1977, schoolmates Fletcher and keyboard/vocalist Vince Clarke formed a band named No Romance In China. Meanwhile, Gore played in several bands. By March 1980, Fletcher, Clarke and Gore started a group called Composition of Sound. Soon after the band formed, Clarke watched the band Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark perform a show, inspiring him to focus on electronic new wave music. Keyboards were replaced by synthesizers. Gahan joined later that year, after Clarke saw him perform at a jam session. With Gahan’s arrival, the name of the group was changed to Depeche Mode, taken from the French magazine of the same name.
- Their first gig was at a secondary school that Gore and Fletcher had attended. They made a demo tape, hand delivering it to various record companies. Initially, they did not get any interest, but after a performance, the founder of an independent label that specialized in electronic music showed interest. Depeche Mode’s first single, Dreaming of Me, was released in early 1981 – it sneaked onto the UK chart. Encouraged, they recorded another single, New Life, and their debut album Speak & Spell was released in October 1981, which included the single Just Can’t Get Enough, their first to break into the top 10 in the UK. These songs also were getting some airplay at Dance Clubs in the U.S.
- Clarke grew tired of the band and left soon after the debut album was released. After placing an ad in the magazine Melody Maker, they hired Alan Wilder to replace Clarke. Between 1982 and 1987, they released 5 albums – 18 singles were in the top 30 in the UK, and they had their first success in the U.S. with People Are People in 1984.
- Their breakthrough occurred with 1990’s Violator album. Three singles reached the top 40 on the Hot 100 chart – Personal Jesus, Enjoy the Silence and Policy of Truth, with the latter 2 topping the Alternative Songs chart. The album ultimately was certified 3x platinum. Their follow-up album, Songs of Faith and Devotion was released in 1993, and it topped the Billboard album chart. Two singles topped the Alternative Songs chart – I Feel You and Walking In My Shoes. This album showed the influence of grunge music on the band – while still heavy on synthesizers, the band also used distorted guitars and drums.
- Wilder left the group in 1995, with the other members of the band dealing with drugs and depression. Gahan nearly died of an overdose in 1996, and landed in rehab. After he got out of rehab, the band remained a trio, and they recorded their final album of the decade, releasing Ultra in 1997. They decided not to tour to support the album, for fear that they could not physically go through a tour. The single It’s No Good made it to #4 on the Alternative Songs chart.
- Since 2000, Depeche Mode released 5 more studio albums, as well as 5 live albums and 5 compilation albums. Singles from these albums had success in Europe, but not so much in the U.S., though several have done well at Dance Clubs. They’ve continued to tour frequently – their most recent tour, called The Global Spirit Tour, ran for over a year between 2017 and 2018, and was the 18th tour of their career. In 2016, Billboard named them the 10th most successful Dance Club artist of all time. They were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2020.
- I’ve enjoyed the music of Depeche Mode over the years. I definitely was hooked in the 90s on their sound – when you heard a Depeche Mode song, you immediately knew it was them. In the 90s, when synthpop was losing popularity, they were one of the few synthpop bands that became more popular. Watch the video for their hit Enjoy the Silence.