Interview

Producer Dave Bascombe on Depeche Mode’s ‘Music For The Masses’

Dave Bascombe talks to SDE about the recording of the album

As engineer, mixer, co-producer or producer, Dave Bascombe has his name on the credits of many fine albums, including those by artists such as Tears For Fears, It’s Immaterial, Danny Wilson, Oleta Adams and Erasure.

In 1987, he worked on Depeche Mode‘s sixth album Music For The Masses as engineer and co-producer. With the recently issued 12″ Singles vinyl box sets of Music For The Masses and Black Celebration, SDE got in touch with Dave to ask him about the recording of the album…

SuperDeluxeEdition: How did you get involved with this record in the first place?

Dave Bascombe: I am not exactly sure… but I was obviously approached via management and I think it was David Gahan who liked what he heard, with the Tears for Fears stuff, particularly ‘Shout’, I think, so he was the one that probably suggested me. I went and had a meeting with them and we got on pretty well so that was it really. It’s pretty straight forward.

SDE: Daniel Miller had been working with them up until this point and I think there was a feeling after the previous record that they’d all sort of had enough of each other, just wanted to do something else…

DB: I think so, yeah. Daniel loves being in the studio, but he had a business to run and he probably had enough of the endless process. I think he felt it was time for a change but obviously that was before my time so I’m only speculating. Everyone needs a change.

SDE: Because they were quite a big band and certainly they were having lots of pop singles at that time, you must have been well aware of what they were up to.

DB: Yeah, I loved them, I was very chuffed to get the call. I was actually signed up to do another album in Australia, which was the only time I’ve ever had to cancel, because obviously this was something which was much better for me. I was a big fan. I’d kind of gone off them a little bit in their sort of industrial phase… banging bits of metal and stuff left me a little bit cold. So, I was quite glad we started moving away from that a little bit on Music for the Masses.

SDE: Before you take a job do you kind of sit down and have a chat, and get a feel for whether they want to go in any specific direction or…

DB: I wasn’t the sole producer, so it wasn’t like we had to have a huge talk about that. It was a co-production with Alan [Wilder], mainly, so they had very much their set ways of working and I didn’t steam in there and try and change all that particularly. So, no, we just had a chat about people who we liked and I think Fletch [Andy Fletcher] asked me a couple of technical things and that was it really.  I think it was just to see if we got on, mainly.

SDE: Where did this come in the timeline for you in terms of things that you’d worked on, because obviously there was Tears for Fears, It’s Immaterial, stuff like that. What had you done just before you did this one?

DB: I honestly can’t remember what I was doing just before it. It’s too far back to remember [laughs]. I was doing bits of production and bits of mixing.

SDE: And because they weren’t a traditional ‘band’, was there some similarity with Tears for Fears?

DB: Oh certainly, yeah… I mean that was the period as well where we were all really into the same sort of….not anti-rock but… the whole of the early ’80s for me was a fantastically exciting time with the technology and I really embraced all of it. So, yeah, we definitely were on the same page as that and searching for different ways of doing things, different sounds.

I mean, they were obviously a lot more experimental than – not obviously – but they certainly were more experimental than Tears for Fears or anything else I’d done, really.  And there were some funny unwritten rules which took a bit of getting used to – when I hear ‘rules’ I think “oh come on!”.

So, one was ‘no high hats’ – some of these rules went out the window later on – ‘no presets’,  ‘no chords’, although we broke that a couple of times… and I think, actually, a lot of those things were shared with Vince Clarke – obviously, I worked with Erasure later on – so that probably came from early Depeche days and of course a lot of it’s in the Kraftwerk way of doing things.

SDE: So, when you say ‘no chords’, what you mean is that they didn’t want synth pad-type chords?

DB: Exactly, yeah. So, if we did do a chord it would be layered out of various monophonic parts. So, that was all interesting and sometimes you might think you’re giving yourself a hard time for the sake of it, it did certainly give them a unique sound and a unique approach.

And one of the first things we did when we got to Paris was go around just making loads of samples. I’d never done that before. I thought you usually made samples as and when required but no we went round, the first few days just going round and bashing snare drums or bits of percussion and whatever we could find and sampling them for later use, so that was quite interesting.

SDE: And would you do those samples on a portable DAT recorder or something like that?

DB: No, no, it was all just long cables. We were in a great studio [Studio Guillaume Tell]

SDE: So you weren’t going outside for the samples, then?

DB: We didn’t do anything outside on that, no, I think all that kind of going to junk yards and bashing things was… they’d done all that. We dug out a few of their old samples and I brought a lot of mine as well, which were more in the vein of just regular snare drums and kicks, although I did use, there’s one interesting sound which is used as a high hat on, I think ‘Nothing’, or maybe a few things, which is a pneumatic coach door shutting. Anyway, we did swap a few things around like that.  I had an Emulator II [sampler/keyboard], we’d swap discs and so on.



Music For The Masses has recently been reissued as a 12-inch vinyl box

SDE: Who chose the Paris studio; was that the band?

DB: That was before my time. I think probably the band – they loved going away. They’d done Berlin [Hansa], I think they’d done at least two albums there so…

SDE: I was going to say that, because Hansa in Berlin sounded like a really cool place to record, did you ever work there?

DB: No, I never did and I really wished, in a way, we’d done Music For The Masses there. I’ve had lots of lovely experiences, [but] I never actually went to Hansa. However, we had a fantastic time in Paris, I mean we had a great time and worked bloody hard but went out clubbing every night. We were the same age, and it was fun. It was hard work but fun. So, yeah, we got on very well and it was a really enjoyable album to do.

SDE: What was the studio routine? Would it be a late morning early afternoon start?

DB: I can’t remember the hours we were doing but I think it was probably midday to midnight, maybe a bit more. And I think it was summer [actually, likely to be around spring ’87) and the studio was all black and it got me down after a while. It was like going into work out of the sunshine got really oppressive because it was pretty intense. I mean we were doing seven days a week, long hours. But at least we did go out, it wasn’t all work; we did actually have a bit of fun at the end of the day.

SDE: I noticed on the credits you produced and engineered the record. I mean that sounds like a reasonable amount to take on. Why did you do that?

DB: Well, I was co-producer. That was common, you know, I think it still is. The engineer will be a co-producer as well. If I had taken on the whole production role I might used another engineer. It was the crossover between production and engineering that they wanted.

SDE: When you started the album, how finished were the songs? Were there demos etc.

DB: That was an interesting process which I found was a bit strange – and I presume this is historical and they’ve probably done it when they were working with Daniel – but Martin would have demos, which were fairly basic – obviously no-one had the facilities to do much more at the time – and then Alan would take them and basically work on them at home, his and rearrange them, and I’d go over occasionally and chuck a few suggestions in, but I found that quite odd.

I’m pretty sure that they changed that afterwards and I think with Violator they went straight from Martin’s demos into the studio. Martin was never very involved in the production, I was thinking about this the other day, and I never knew exactly why. I think he probably found the process pretty intense and boring, and it certainly was boring a lot of the time, but I think he felt that it had been taken away from him a little bit, because that was the way it was done; the demos were this very rough outline and then they would be polished up… and Alan had a vision on that. But I thought sometimes that they were in danger of losing some of the essence of what Martin was doing and I think maybe that’s why he kept a bit out of it, you know.

Often, if Martin wasn’t happy it would usually be Fletch who would speak up for him, he’d had a word with Fletch because he didn’t want a confrontation – not that there was any confrontation, but there were obviously a few things…

SDE: That’s really interesting though, because you would think that the originator of the song would have an iron-like grip on how it was going to sound… at least that would be the usual situation.

DB: Absolutely. Sometimes I felt he wasn’t completely happy with how things were turning out but that was just the way it was. Obviously when it was Daniel [Miller] and Gareth [Jones] and Alan [Wilder] all working together he must have found it quite hard, I’m imagining the situation, I don’t know, but I imagine he would be battling against those three, and if they saw it a different way it would be quite tough. He was used to being in that role.

I’m sure later on, well I’m absolutely positive now, that he’s very much part of it. I think it’s healthier really but anyway that’s just the way it was and Alan had a great vision for it all as well.  Someone needed to steer the thing so that’s the way it went.

SDE: Obviously Music For The Masses opens with ‘Never Let Me Down Again’ which is this quite a monumental sounding track.

DB: That’s the one that hit me when I first heard that demo, I thought that’s just fantastic. My sole contribution, well not my sole contribution – this is before we got to Paris, we were round at Alan’s house – and I said ‘right, I want to use ‘When The Levee Breaks’ [Led Zeppelin] drums on this.’ I know that it’s been used 10 billion times now, but they were still quite new then and I’d always loved those drum sounds and as I say they weren’t a cliched thing then, so I suggested using them for the main kick and snare. But I actually loved that track, still do.

SDE: And the funny thing about that song was that it wasn’t a massive hit in the pop charts, but it became kind of an anthemic number, in the live environment, in particular.

DB: Yeah, yeah. It’s a shame it wasn’t a bit of a hit but, yeah, there wasn’t any particularly big hits off that album

SDE: I know they ended up having a few hits again with Violator but they almost deliberately moved away from having to have bit catchy pop singles, almost like they’d lost interest in doing that….

DB: Well, I don’t think you actually lose interest in it [laughs] I think it’s just the way it goes. I don’t think anybody doesn’t want a hit but… well I think it’s fair to say that album was a bit of a transitional album.

SDE: The foundation for the success of Violator, in a way.

DB: Absolutely. I still love it in its own right, but I do think it, it does feel like a bit of a… [transitional album] when you know what’s coming next.

I mean the interesting thing… these demos, getting back to Martin’s demos again, Martin was very into glam rock amongst many other things, electronica and so on and his demos had a bit of that in them, that we lost a bit. I remember ‘Sacred’ had that sort of stomping Gary Glitter brass thing, and later on that became more realised… if you listen to ‘Personal Jesus’, it’s like a glam song. That was obviously because I think the demo vision got carried through a bit better.

SDE: Was there much guitar used in the studio. The Violator album became known as the one where ‘they’re bringing guitars into the mix’ but was there much guitars used on this album?

DB: I think this was pretty much their first time that they’d ever used guitar. So, certainly I remember Martin had his guitar, and it’s used quite a bit… the beginning of ‘Never Let Me Down’ for example…. what a wonderful, happy accident that was. It was supposed to start with the snare drum and then go straight in, but because of the nature of technology at the time, the guitar rift was played, then we sampled it into the Synclavier [early digital synthesizer/digital sampling system] and it just kicked off as soon as it got code at the beginning of the track and we all went ‘wow, that’s great’, so that was an accident.

So, that’s a guitar thing. And there’s bits and pieces of guitar, such as on [B-side] Pleasure Little Treasure. I mean it wasn’t such an up front thing, more instrumental, you know, and usually quite heavily treated.

SDE: Strangelove was a big-ish single. I mean, I think that actually was a bigger hit than Never Let Me Down Again but that did really well for them in America as well. You must have been pleased with how that turned out?

DB: Yeah, people often comment about the album version being different [to the single] and it’s shame really I think, because the original version was really good I thought, I really liked it.  It’s just Daniel [Miller] had done a remix that we really liked and, so we got a kind of hybrid and that went on the album.

SDE: Say that again about the versions… so the single version was different to the album version, but which one do you think is the best one, the album version?

DB: At the time I preferred the album version, now I think I prefer the single version.  They’ve both got merits.

SDE: The single version was the Daniel Miller remix, was it?

DB: No, no, the single was our original version. I think we’d obviously finished it much earlier than the rest of the album, to get it out, and maybe it’s just been knocking around for a while and they got a bit fed up with it and you know, you want to change things.

So, Daniel had done a 12-inch remix which has this kind of ‘half-time’ feel and so we made it that. That was actually one song where I know Martin, quite early on, was unhappy with the way it was going and we ended up… I think on his original demo, it had a fast bass line and then Alan had made it half time and I remember Martin not being happy with that.

And again, my contribution as a co-producer was just to say “well, why don’t you have both?” [laughs] and if you listen to the single version there are two bass lines going on there. Martin’s [original] was much faster and more urgent and then for the album version it became even more slow and lazy.

SDE: That’s really interesting. Let’s talk about some of the other tracks. ‘Sacred’ and ‘Little 15’ have almost like a soundtrack sort of John Barry-esque feel. There’s a fair amount of ‘space’ in those, isn’t there?

DB: I think that was Alan’s influence and in terms of the space, I mean I was into a lot of reverbs and things…  there’s a lot of reverb on that album which is ‘of the time’, but I suppose the cinematic thing was Alan. And the orchestral stuff, like in ‘Little 15’, there’s a lot of orchestral samples in there that we spent ages working on and that was definitely Alan, [he’s] definitely the reason for that.

SDE: I’ve always loved the B-side ‘Agent Orange’, the instrumental…

DB: That’s fantastic isn’t it?  I love that.

SDE: Yeah… that’s very cinematic isn’t it?

DB: Yeah. Well that particularly had loads of space in it and I was thinking about that the other day. I was going through some tracks, it’s one of those that was so good [you think] that it should go on the album but it is merely a B-side. That’s what makes B-sides great, they can be that empty and sparse.

SDE: What about ‘Behind the Wheel’? That was the third single, of course.

DB: Yeah, it’s funny. I never really got ‘Behind the Wheel’. I know it’s a lot of people’s… well not favourite, but certainly it is iconic, but I never quite understood it to be honest. I just didn’t get it really. I like it but it’s not one of my favourites.

SDE: And ‘I Want You Now’.  It’s got the heavy breathing and all that stuff.

DB: Yeah, it’s great that one. Well, the breathing, the two samples, originally were sampled from a porn film. They were really lo-fi. Then it was Fashion Week when we were in Paris which terrible, you know [laughs] so models turned up at the studio and we got them to do the samples, just to get it a bit more hi-fi!

SDE: How long were you in the studio for, because I know you went from Paris and then came back to London for a bit didn’t you?

DB: Yeah, and then went to Denmark. I think it’s probably about six months but because it was on and off I really can’t remember. I think there were a fair few gaps. We went from Paris and then we went to Konk [studios in North London], to do vocals, I think… and bits and pieces. And then we went to Puk [studios in Denmark].

SDE: I don’t know if you ever sit back and rank your work but how pleased with the final results were you? Where do you think ‘Music For The Masses’ sits, in terms of other stuff you’ve worked on?

DB: Well, I get a lot of attention worldwide because they’ve got such a fantastic fan base.  It gets quoted at me a lot. I’d say it’s patchy. For me, there’s a few tracks, ‘Never Let Me Down’ certainly… ‘I Want You Now’, there’s a few really nice things on there but I don’t listen to the album particularly as a whole. I’ve only just listened today just because I knew you were calling. I’m pleasantly surprised when I hear it. I always find with the stuff from those days [it’s a case of] is how the hell did I do that?  I can’t remember what those reverbs were, or anything, you know… I was a different person back then, really.

I’d say half of it I’m really really pleased with, I reckon. I mean, ‘Sacred’ is a track that I always feel I didn’t quite get right and probably 10 years ago now there was a 5.1 surround remix done.

SDE: I’ve got that one, on the Super Audio CD

DB: And obviously we did stereo remixes as well…

SDE: So, were you involved in those sessions?

DB: Yeah, they had, I think it was Kevin Paul, he was the house engineer, He was really good, but I did it with him. So, we finally managed to get Sacred right.

SDE: So, on the stereo remix on this special edition you actually sneaked on a slightly different version of ‘Sacred’? 

DB: Well, yeah… it’s not, I mean it’s just a better balance, you know. Kevin was mixing it anyway so it’s going to sound different even though our aim was to recreate the original one but it’s impossible, and if it can sound better and still have the same emotional journey then that’s what you do. ‘Pimpf’ was another real favourite of mine.

SDE: That’s great

DB: I’m so pleased with that. I know that, that was the B-side to ‘Strangelove’ and then we were at Puk and they had gone off to do a video probably, they were away and I didn’t have anything to do so, I just remixed it for my own sake because I thought that I could get it better and it was a much better mix, and they all came back and agreed.

It wasn’t planned to go on the album originally. I think maybe because I’d done a better mix or whatever, and it’s such a strong track on the album [that they changed their mind]. But I do remember the tour and I saw them in Paris in some stadium and it is an incredible thing to open with. It was pretty scary actually, it was like a rally! You can imagine all sorts of dark things, you could use that for all sorts of various purposes but it was really powerful. That’s a great track. I do love the kind of… more experimental stuff. That’s Martin really, in his element, doing the vocals on that.

SDE: They did seem to balance being experimental but it never pulling it too far away from the mainstream where people could still enjoy it.

DB: Absolutely… well that’s, because, as I say, Martin has very broad tastes. He grew up listening to Gary Glitter, T Rex and Bowie obviously and then he was also into Kraftwerk so he’s got that kind of pop sensibility which gets filtered through electronica and Martin’s more weird tastes, and then Alan’s got his angle; everyone’s got their angles.

But they’ve got a good ear for pop but not and it gets filtered through ‘the rules’ which are there to make sure it sounds distinctive.

SDE: These ‘rules’, they weren’t written up on a blackboard anywhere it was just everyone knew them?

DB: No, no, no [laughs]. I mean, they don’t take themselves seriously at all, so it was all a bit tongue-in-cheek.  That’s what was so much fun, because they were very easy to work with at the same time.

SDE: And the remixes, the reason we’re talking about this is because they’ve got a 12-inch box set coming out. Did you get involved much?

DB: Yeah, we did do them. I know for ‘Never Let Me Down’ I did a couple.

SDE: There was an ‘Aggro Mix’ 

DB: Aggro mix, yeah, I play that occasionally. I’m quite proud of that. That’s apparently quite iconic and there’s another one as well [Split Mix] so generally I do a couple of jobs but they weren’t total re-workings, like it was keeping the same basic elements and just doing mutes and the occasional things. I know Alan added some stuff on the Aggro Mix, I think.

Sorry, but another one that pops into my head when I think of the album is ‘Nothing’ which no-one else seems to mention at all but I love that track. It’s one of the better sounding ones which is maybe why I like it, but it’s got this classic Martin lyric and it’s a good tune.

SDE: He is a brilliant lyricist, I really like his lyrics.

DB: Absolutely. I mean, an absolutely genius.

SDE: You were saying, maybe it’s a little bit patchy but I don’t really think there’s any weak song on the record.

DB: No. There is no filler in there at all. I didn’t really mean that, I was just in terms of…

SDE:  Do you mean the production or the way the things ended up sounding?

DB: I don’t know, I just think there’s just certain songs that I prefer and those are the ones I play. I mean ‘Little 15’ for example – it’s a great song – what am I talking about?! – but I wouldn’t play that. It’s not something I would think about putting on that often.

SDE: But the thing is, in the flow of a record it works quite nicely I think, you know, rather than picking out individual songs.

DB: Absolutely…

SDE: What I loved about this album when I first heard was the light and shade I suppose.  ‘Never Let Me Down’, ‘Little 15’ etc.

DB: I mean there are great songs and there is enough there to keep it working as a whole thing, in the good old days of listening to an album… it’s totally worked on that level.

SDE: I still do that Dave – don’t you!? [laughs]

DB: No. I’ve got to be honest… well very occasionally I will, but usually some old favourite, you know, from way back. I mean, very rarely listen to a whole album.

SDE: What have you got at home rigged up, have you got a streaming set-up?

DB: Yeah, it’s streaming. I’ve got a home studio now so I listen to stuff mostly in there, but otherwise it’s just in the car or on my phone. I don’t even need the earphones. I just listen to it on my phone speaker.

SDE: I hope you don’t sit on the bus with your phone annoying other people? [laughs]

DB: [laughs]. Buses? I remember buses, yeah.

SDE: Was there ever any discussions about you maybe doing the next record?

DB: Yeah, Fletch said they wanted me to do it, but I was off to do Tears for Fears [The Seeds of Love album] so basically, I had two years out of my life, whether I would have actually got to do it… I know certainly Fletch asked me to do it and the 101 Tour, I was supposed to be doing too, but I was otherwise engaged.


Thanks to Dave Bascombe who was talking to Paul Sinclair for SDE.


The 12-inch singles box sets for both Music For The Masses and Black Celebration are out now. The SDE shop has some well-priced stock of the excellent SACD+DVD deluxe of Music For The Masses which includes the 5.1 surround mix and new stereo mix that Dave worked on back in 2006. It’s a great package that includes a documentary and some bonus tracks in 5.1 too.

Compare prices and pre-order

Depeche Mode

Music For The Masses - The 12-inch singles

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Compare prices and pre-order

Depeche Mode

Black Celebration - The 12-inch singles

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Black Celebration: The 12″ Singles

Stripped
A1 Stripped (Highland Mix)
A2 But Not Tonight (Extended Remix)
B1 Breathing In Fumes
B2 Fly On The Windscreen (Quiet Mix)
B3 Black Day

A Question of Lust #1
A1 A Question Of Lust
A2 Christmas Island (Extended)
B1 People Are People (Live)
B2 It Doesn’t Matter Two (Instrumental)
B3 A Question Of Lust (Minimal)

A Question of Lust #2
A1 A Question Of Lust
A2 Christmas Island
B1 If You Want (Live)
B2 Shame (Live)
B3 Blasphemous Rumours (Live)

A Question of Time # 1
A Question Of Time (Extended Remix)
B1 Black Celebration (Live)
B2 Something To Do (Live)Mixed By – Gareth Jones
B3 Stripped (Live)Mixed By – Gareth Jones

A Question of Time #2
A Question Of Time (New Town Mix) 6:50
A2A Question Of Time (Live Remix) 4:21
B1 Black Celebration (Black Tulip Mix) 6:36
B2 More Than A Party (Live Remix)Remix 5:12

Music For The Masses: The 12″ Singles

Strangelove #1
A Strangelove (Maxi-Mix)
B1 Strangelove (Midi-Mix)
B2 Fpmip

Strangelove #2
A1 Strangelove (Blind Mix)
A2 Pimpf
B1 Strangelove (Pain Mix)
B2 Agent Orange

Never Let Me Down Again #1
A Never Let Me Down Again (Split Mix)
B1 Pleasure, Little Treasure (Glitter Mix)
B2 Never Let Me Down Again (Aggro Mix)

Never Let Me Down Again #2
A Never Let Me Down Again (Tsangarides Mix)
B1 Pleasure, Little Treasure (Join Mix)
B2To Have And To Hold (Spanish Taster)

Behind The Wheel #1
A Behind The Wheel (Remixed By Shep Pettibone)
B Route 66 (Remixed By The Beatmasters)

Behind The Wheel #2
A Behind The Wheel (Beatmasters Mix)
B Route 66 (Casualty Mix)

Little 15
A Little 15
B1 Stjarna
B2 Sonata Nº 14 In C#M “Moonlight Sonata”

 

 

59 responses to Producer Dave Bascombe on Depeche Mode’s ‘Music For The Masses’

  1. Brad says:

    Fascinating interview. Bravo.
    Loved this band right up to Songs of Faith and Devotion, but now I understand why post that album they became so crap…. Alan Wilder left!

  2. Gildas says:

    Very much enjoyed the insightful interview. Love Depeche Mode.BTW:Can anybody tell me what the difference is between the Tsangarides Mix and the album version of Never let Me Down Again? Apart from the slightly different intro they sound exactly the same.
    Has always bothered me why someone would do a remix without any significant changes to the original version. Any ideas?

  3. Cris says:

    Yet another superb interview Paul, you always manage to identify the most interesting persons to have as guests, pure class. Thank you so much.
    I am a fan of Dm of course but never got that deep into the history (or story) of the band, but reading this I guess I understand that the fans who believe Wilder was fundamental to their greatness are right… Of course for me just the fact he had the idea to transform a slow ballad into the dance romp that is Enjoy The Silence (and I do not think MLG can say anything against the song that alone could guarantee a considerable retirement pension to him and the whole band…) crowns hem as a genius, but it appears that he had a hand in everything even before that. And the results were exceptional and memorable.
    MLG’ s supposed frustration can be understandable, but solo albums are made for that. But since curiously on such occasions he chose to record cover versions, it seems that he is well aware of what it means selling millions thanks to Wilder’ s production and selling decidedly less with “minimalistic sketches of songs”, or even produced ballads or bluesy gospels.
    For me, the only subsequent albums strong enough to be compared to the band with Wilder are Ultra and Playing the Angel.
    Anyway whatever the production may be, in the end what is important is the song (see how good songs from the past sound today when sung with piano only during live concerts by Martin), even if the song itself may indeed be radically transformed in millions of groovy or less groovy versions. And that is DM’ s (MLG’ s) problem right now: in the last three albums he has totally run out of good and strong songs.

  4. DW says:

    Once again a great interview. Thank you for all your work.

  5. Tom from Germany says:

    MFTM is the sixth release of the vinyl boxes so far, without special press releases or statements from band, management or other people wich were involved. Paul, your interview with Dave is a real gem!
    I’m a big DM fan since 1985, so these behind the scences info were the ‘holy grail’ for me. Thanks a lot for your passion Paul!
    PS My mailadress will show you my proudness to be a fan :-)

  6. Nigel Day says:

    Where’s the Prefab Sprout stuff gone ?

    Hope there’s no problems

  7. -SG- says:

    This website is better than a magazine. I hope you kept talking to Mr. Bascombe about The Seeds of Love. This is a really interesting read, so often we get reissues of albums, but no context. When I first heard this album, I knew nothing about the producer, TFF was my favorite group and I was wondering if they would ever come out with another record, a friend was playing this album quietly in the background, I heard the opening song and thought, wow, there is something similar going on here, albeit, with a dark and more sexual twist, like TFF for adults only. This is a really entertaining read, about a great record, this type of interview would have been great if included with the disc. Thank you Paul for taking the time to present these stories to all of us.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Thanks! I did a massive series of interviews with Roland, Curt, Dave Bascombe, Chris Hughes, Oleta Adams, Nicky Holland and Dave Bates back in 2015 for the as-yet-unreleased Seeds of Love box set. It really does tell the entire story of the album ‘in their own words’ with an incredible amount of detail. Since this was commissioned by Universal Music, I can’t just publish them here on SDE, for obvious reasons. But when the reissue eventually happens I think you’ll enjoy it.

      • Chris Squires says:

        I cannot think of a release that has been more eagerly awaited among these pages. The frustrating thing is that we all know the work on “seeds” has been done, it would be almost easier to bear if it was all still at the ideas phase.

      • Marxisn't says:

        If the TFF Seeds of Love reissue set is going to happen for it’s 30th anniversary 25th September release. I’d expect we’ll hear something within a month.

  8. Enda Guinan says:

    While I’m no more than a casual fan of Depeche Mode, I really enjoy these interviews. Thanks for making them happen.

  9. Keith Ainsworth says:

    Great work Paul. I loved this album. I got the tape for Xmas that year and saw the tour at Wembley Arena in Jan 1988. Very interesting perspective from Dave Bascombe. Hope you talked more about Tears For Fears for a future article!

  10. Steve says:

    Great read. Thanks Paul :)

  11. Kevin Galliford says:

    Great interview Paul so well done. You really do ask the questions we the fans want to know that you never read about in the printed music media. It is a great album which still stands up & if anyone has’nt seen the documentary on the reissue it is well worth a watch, as are all the others. Personally for me now though, they have not been so good since Alan Wilder left. I don’t like or listen to anything since 1997 as much as the 1986-1997 period. I know AW was’nt involved in “Ultra” but for me that was their last great album. Get him back lads!!!!

  12. Kauwgompie says:

    Brilliant interview and brilliant record. Thanks Paul!! Violator always seems to be people’s favorite, it certainly had the most brilliant Depeche Mode single ever with Enjoy The Silence but I find Music For The Masses a much better album as a whole. Music For The Masses is beyond brilliant. Not a weak song, not even a weak moment.

  13. Tyrone says:

    Very enjoyable read. Cheers SDE

  14. Mad on Mode says:

    Too interview Paul, you teased out some good insight behind what is IMHO one of the best albums of the 80s – and for me better than Violator

    Keep up the great work with this site!

    Thanks
    P.s also loved the H17 interviews a while back….P&P got extended turntable time

  15. memoryboy says:

    Thank you Paul. Reading this brought me to tears at times and got me choked up, as I am very passionate and in love with these men and their music. ‘Never Let Me Down Again’ should have been a bigger hit. I think my favorite song on this album is ‘The Things You Said’, followed by ‘I Want You Now’. But every song is great here, the whole album is great. The “Split Mix” of ‘Never Let Me Down Again” is Epic! And all the remixes for ‘Strangelove’ are great, my favorite being “Maxi-Mix”. And the remix I love most for ‘Behind The Wheel’ is the “Shep Pettibone Remix”. Also epic. Also the 7″ mix for “Pleasure, Little Treasure” is one I play often. It’s an incredible album, and the B-sides are all amazing. I remember when this album was released and I asked a friend if she had heard it yet, and she said it was “amazing”. And we ended up going to the concert together. I was already obsessed with previous albums “Some Great Reward” and “Black Celebration” and so this album was yet another great achievement for them. Such an exciting time. And then the ‘101’ album following, it was all just so exciting. One of the great albums from the 1980’s, from begining to end.

  16. Graeme says:

    Great interview, Paul – one of the first that’s been about a band that I follow.

    One point, surely that’s a guitar riff, and not a guitar rift?

  17. Paul Foster says:

    Hi Paul , a question on your wording regarding the cd/dvd available that has “the new stereo mix that Dave Bascombe worked on back in 2006.” Is that referring to the remastered cd or the PCM stereo on the dvd disc?

    Thanks

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      The PCM stereo on the DVD. I’m pretty sure the CD is a remastered version of the original mix.

  18. kook says:

    Thank you for a superb and very enlightening interview. I always wondered why Bascombe was only with them for one album, given the sterling job he did (not that Flood’s production on the follow-up was too shabby…)

  19. Andres says:

    First the Michael Howe interview and now this! You’re on a roll.

  20. Tom Walsh says:

    Don’t want to sound like a sycophant but this website is the only music site I go to…fantastic yet again Paul.

  21. Marko says:

    To have and to hold is one of best Depeche mode songs!!

  22. Michael Fortin says:

    Great interview Paul. One of my favorite albums. Thanks!

  23. Gary Smith says:

    Great read, thank you Paul.

    From Black Celebration to Songs of faith and devotion this was THE golden era for Depeche.

    Music for the masses is just classic Depeche and if you want an introduction to the group you cannot go far wrong with this album.

  24. Rajiv says:

    Thanks fir another great interview. Great album and the associated tour was excellent.

  25. Dave H says:

    Talking about the 5.1 surround mix, I did come across this article about remixing Depeche Mode back catalogue being remixed.

    https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques/remixing-depeche-mode-surround

  26. Christopher Merritt says:

    Hi Paul – thanks for the great interview! Question – is the Music For the Masses SACD+DVD for sale in the shop PAL only? I assume the 5.1 on the SACD would play on a US Oppo, yes? Just wondering about the video.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      The DVD disc is ‘all region’ but is PAL which is likely to be problematic for those in the USA, I guess. The SACD will play fine on any machine that supports SACD. I know I would say this :) but the lossless hi-res surround mix alone is worth the price of admission.

  27. Normand says:

    An « interview booklet », Paul. Plea-ea-ease!

  28. Spiral Scar says:

    Fantastic interview! A lot of insightful Q&A that gives me a new depth of appreciation for an album I already love. Perhaps I’m not wording this well, but this interview “humanizes” this album, band and producer/engineer. I don’t feel like it demystifies the finished product but explains how a combination of brilliant creative minds and hard work can make something that is powerful and satisfying. Thirty two years on and it still sounds relevant. I always heard “Nothing” as a potential single, particularly in its album version. That three-song sorta-suite of “I Want You Now”/”To Have And To Hold”/”Nothing” is one of my absolute favorite DM moments. Sounds especially strong on a late-night drive (as does much of DM.)
    Thanks, Paul and Dave for the essential interview. Excellent reading with my wake-up coffee (at 11:30 a.m.)

  29. Otto says:

    Paul, you are killing it with the interviews. Again from a band I love and great to hear another perspective of the creation process. Thank you so very much.

  30. Giovanni says:

    I love those inside stories interviews. It would be cool if you had an option to film it and put it on youtube or somewhere.
    Anyway, a massive thanks for this!

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Going to try and do more filming… although this one was over the phone, so not possible anyway!

      • Giovanni says:

        Oh, didn’t know this interview was done over the phone :) It is still priceless for those of us who like to know more about that “how did it all happened and what was going on” staff, that rarely goes out to public ears :)

        Thanks again!

  31. Bridge says:

    Great job again Paul! I always look forward to your interviews and video posts. Another great read on my favorite band. Very enlightening. Keep up the invaluable work!

  32. Christian says:

    These in-depth interviews you do are setting the bars on what’s possible in this format, digging way deeper than the usual PR-talk and stretching the common tl;dr-format. Thanks alot!

    I read most of your previous interviews but this is the first that deals with a personal favourite of mine. MFTM is not patchy at all to my ears, it’s the last DM album I really like as I never grew accustomed to the guitars in their sound.

    I find it interesting that Dave Gahan doesn’t get a mention at all. Apparently, he wasn’t involved in the production process at all!?

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      He gets a mention at the beginning… “I think it was David Gahan who liked what he heard, with the Tears for Fears stuff, particularly ‘Shout’, I think, so he was the one that probably suggested me.” So it may well have been Dave who was responsible for them working with Bascombe.

      • Christian says:

        Oh, you’re right. That mention was way too far at the beginning of the text. My tl;dr-conditioned mind had no chance to remember this when I wrote my comment after reading the whole article ;-)

  33. Michael E. says:

    It’s very Clear that Alan had a big influence…! Sadly He is no longer with the Band.

    • Heraldo says:

      Alan was incredibly crucial to this period of the band.
      Sadly he eventually just couldn’t put up with Fletcher any more.
      One has huge talent and no ego, the other is the polar opposite.
      I’m sure you can work out which was which.

  34. John 79 says:

    What a brilliant and fascinating interview Paul,I’m a massive DM fan, especially that era and to hear that sort of inside account is so interesting, thanks for posting that Paul, really enjoyable.

  35. Jason says:

    Paul, You are doing all of us fans, a great service by talking to these integral people in order to illuminate what was going on in the past. It’s one of the best fly on the wall things I’ve come across in recent years, and you ask most of the questions most of us would want the answers to…The sign of a true fan. Thanks for all your hard work.

    FYI It’s Konk and not Conk…Otherwise, brilliant work!

  36. Alan Stewart says:

    This is a great read- really candid and informative. I’m off to listen to those remixes right now.

  37. Fady says:

    Thanks for another great interview Paul. I must admit I’m a little jealous that you get to speak to these iconic musical figures. Having always been a bit of a musical nerd I always got a kick out of reading the production notes on the album sleeves. So interviewing someone like Bascombe would have been right up my alley. :-)

    Bascombe also confirms what most hardcore fans thought: Wilder was absolutely crucial to their sound during their imperial phase and they haven’t been the same since. A shame really…

    As for MFTM, it’s up there with one of my favourite DM albums. From the amazing intro of Never Let Me Down Again to the way the percussion builds at the start of Behind The Wheel. Great songs and great production combined to magical effect.

    • Simon says:

      A lot of DM songs should be credited as,written by M Gore/A wilder.
      DM made a huge mistake when they stopped working with Alan Wilder and Flood and their albums since SOFAD suffer for it.

      • Behind The Wheel says:

        No, Alan didn’t deserve writing credits, and if you were to Ask Alan in person, he’d be first to admit he’s not a classic songwriter at all, but rather a producer/arranger.

        The proper credit Alan should have gotten was as producer instead of the vague term of the group’s name “Produced by Depeche Mode”.

        Also, the interview reaffirms the unfortunate place Martin was pushed into for too many years. Alan called it laziness, but Martin chose to avoid the production process as it had been to painful for him to witness how his own songs were reshaped by other people. For a songwriter, it’s really brutal.

        This issue became larger and larger, as Alan’s “appetite” became bigger with time, which resulted in more apathy on Martin’s side with all things production. But there were a few times when Martin woke up and tried to defend his creations – Judas for instance. But, even this legitimate fight of Martin, was not tolerable for Alan. He wanted complete control over songs which he didn’t create from the beginning.

        Recoil is Alan’s true dream, because there he set the rule for his collaborators, that he could break and rearrange the song whilst the other songwriter would have no say. I’d say this rule he originally tried to impose on Martin and DM was impractical and illogical by any account as there can never be symmetrical dynamic between a songwriter and producer, let alone producer dictating the songwriter what the final result would be.

        I wouldn’t be surprised that part of the struggle Alan was having with Recoil, didn’t end on the financial aspects, but also with the small pool of collaborators who would agree on such problematic conditions.

  38. Tracey says:

    Really enjoyed your interview, Paul. MFTM is one of my all-time favorite records. It was great reading about some of the behind-the-scenes details on how it was recorded. I can’t say enough great things about SDE and the efforts you put into it. Thanks Paul!

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