Q+A  :  DEPECHE MODE  :  TOURING - life on the road / different venues and cities


What do you think of DM touring without you? Do you think it will be as good as previous tours since you prepared the live show?

I think considering everything that has occurred during the last few years, they are very brave to go out on the road again - not because of my leaving but because the excesses of the 'Devotional' tour took their toll on everyone and I doubt the remaining members will want to repeat them. That said, I have no idea what the show's going to be like.

Will you attend a DM show on their forthcoming tour?

I'm not sure. I think I would feel a bit weird being there.

Is it true that you and Martin were about to crash whilst in an aeroplane during the 'Devotional' tour?

Martin and I were on a flight from Dallas to the Caribbean when after 20 minutes or so, there was a loud bang and I think all the oxygen masks came down. It was some kind of pressurisation problem. There was a fair amount of panic and the air-hostesses, tearfully embracing one another, didn't exactly inspire confidence. The pilot had to turn around and we sat through a hair-raising 20 minutes as the plane tried to make it back to Dallas. Later on, we were reliably informed that had we been at our proper cruising altitude, this would have been a major incident. We ended up getting blind drunk in the airport, eventually hiring a private plane at great expense and woke up in the sunshine of the West Indies with a headache.

I was wondering if you used to personally set-up and tear down the keyboards etc. for the DM shows. I find that if I let someone else do it, there are always problems and I ultimately end up doing it myself. Did you ever experience the same problems?

I've done my fair share of humping gear over the years but without meaning to sound arrogant, at DM's level, one doesn't set up ones own gear. One has a crew of a couple of hundred people to take care of that kind of thing.... ;-)

DM visited Ireland on every tour, up to and including 'Black Celebration' but then not again until the 'Devotional' tour. Was there any particular reason for not coming here during the 'Masses' and 'World Violation' tours, considering DM have a fairly solid following in Ireland. And can you think of any reason why they aren't coming here on the 'Ultra' tour?

I obviously cannot speak for DM's upcoming tour. As for the others, I can't think why Ireland was not included - I can only assume it was a logistical problem, perhaps the venues couldn't hold the production, something like that.

My boyfriend and I were watching 'Devotional' last night and though the performance is haunting indeed and quite powerful, it really made us cringe to see the way Dave carried on. I mean, stage diving?! What goes through your mind when you look back at him during that period of time?

It's hard to say. Looking back with the aid of hindsight, there are good and bad elements of the any stage show and we were all responsible for them. I think Dave had a very demanding job to go out there every night and engage the audience so it would be unfair to criticise him for a particular move, no matter how much of a rock cliché it was.

I think that one of the main reasons why DM haven't played in Poland since '85 is that you weren't satisfied with the amount of records sold here (due to pirate activity) - am I right? Or has any Pole got under your skin?

I know this is the second time you have asked this question but I assure you that I have no problem with Poland or the Polish people, nor do I think the rest of DM do. As I said when I last answered this, we didn't play in your country for logistical reasons not because of some hidden agenda.

How did DM's backing vocalists Hildia and Samantha handle the problems during the second leg of the 'Devotional' tour? Did they know what was going on and how did they react?

The myth that has been building up around the second U.S. leg of the 'Devotional' tour seems to be now fully out of control. It wasn't really any more 'rock 'n' roll' than other DM tours over the years - everyone had their own little 'on tour' world which existed alongside a fully professionally run live show. I'm sure Sam and Hildia had their own routines which would have been completely different from my own or anybody else's and, quite often, our paths would not even cross apart from the 2 hours on stage. (yes, we did socialise as well)

What made OMD one of the crappiest support bands ever!?

McClusky rates himself a bit too highly for my liking which is always dangerous if you're languishing in the 'where are they now' file. We bowled them all out for 10 runs in the DM vs. OMD cricket match - and I got McClusky's wicket....laugh....

The years from 1988 - 1990 looked very 'American' to me and we (the fans in Europe) were very disappointed during this time. Was this a decision of the record companies to promote DM in the states or was it yours? And if so, why?

The band had toured constantly in America and battled against a radio-play brick wall for many years until suddenly things started to happen. We hadn't forgotten about Europe (we played many concerts there), it's just that it was an important and exciting time for us in the U.S. and we wanted to concentrate on this territory.

In Cologne '93 I saw some of the funniest mistakes ever made by Dave and the usual two encores were cancelled. Was this because Dave couldn't go on with the gig because of alcohol or drug-problems, and did it happen often on the tour?

You'll have to forgive me if I don't remember that particular show. There was never an occasion during the 'Devotional' tour when we didn't complete a show other than forced situations such as a bomb scare or an unsafe building, for example. As for encores, we almost always played them unless the crowd response didn't warrant one.

At concerts (DM or otherwise), T-shirts and other merchandise is sold. Does the band commission a company to make it and if I wanted to sell my product to them what process would I have to go through? Do I have to contact Warner or Mute or Depeche Mode?

In the past we used a professional merchandising company called Bravado who would pay an advance for the exclusive right to provide products (on our approval) for either retail and / or tour. They would receive a commission. I've no idea what DM's current deal is - I suggest contacting the Depeche Mode management office.

I'm going to see DM in concert, can you tell me a way to get aftershow passes? It's on my 28th birthday so it could be really great for the first time to be one of the lucky ones to get backstage.

You're asking the wrong person, I'm afraid. In case you hadn't noticed, I'm not a member of DM anymore. Try the DM office or Mute.

I heard a rumour that you are coming to Moscow with Depeche Mode in September. I do not believe it. Is it true?


Hep, how much did you know about DM (and especially Alan) before you met them during the 'Devotional' Tour? What did you think about their music, lyrics, image etc.? Had you thought about Alan as your 'man' then?

Of course I remembered DM from my youth but I'd never bought a record or knew anything about the band. In fact, in some ways I had a twisted prejudice against them when we first went out as support because of my experiences working in a record shop in Southern California during 1989 / 90. We never seemed to sell anything but The Cure's 'Disintegration' and "that '101' thing" and when the Wherehouse riot occurred, the shop was beseeched by fans all clambering for T-shirts. As an example of DM's obvious influence, when I heard the show for the first time, I found I was strangely familiar with the songs and lyrics. I first talked to Alan on the second night of our support leg which was also his birthday - I had no idea who he was or what he did - we used to wind each other up a lot after the show and he'd ask me to go out to clubs etc.. It was about 3 days into the tour that I realised he was the bloke to played the drums. We became pretty inseparable from that point.

Was the shiny 'Terminator 2' outfit you wore on the last tour your idea and is it true your wardrobe once got stolen at a concert?

A selection of outfits were designed and made (with my input) by a specialist designer for use throughout the tour. Whilst on the road, each band member had a large flight-case wardrobe that would contain this stage gear and usually the majority of one's personal clothing. During our stay in South Africa, my entire wardrobe was stolen overnight, and considering the building was securely locked and patrolled by guards, we concluded that it must have been an 'inside job'. I lost about £10,000 worth of clothing, some very personal bits and pieces and of course most of my stage outfits which had to be re-made. The only consolation was a nice, fat insurance cheque and the excuse to go out and spend, spend, spend......

We heard that DM played a spontaneous gig of 'SOFAD' songs in a Hamburg bar before its release. True or not?

Sort of. Not really a gig but more of a drunken sing-song which I believe did include renditions of a couple of the new songs, amongst a load of others. It was quite a common thing for myself and Martin to take over the piano in hotel bars.

I always find it weird that the 'Devotional' tour began in Lille. Why?

It was a good venue for pre-production rehearsals and wasn't so huge to be considered risky - given that first night performances are bound to be a bit nervous and problematic.

When DM toured, I got the chance to go backstage a few times but most of the time only Fletch and Mart were there. So where were you and Dave?

I was often around after the show although I liked to spend a bit of time having a shower and relaxing with a greyhound (not in the biblical sense of course) before going into the hospitality area. Dave tended to stay in his dressing room but sometimes he'd be around.

About how long is the time span, typically, from when the last lights come up at the last encore of the last gig on a tour, until your head hits your own pillow at Rancho Wilder?

Off stage at about 11.30, couple of vodkas, a chicken leg, a shower and unwind until 1a.m., hospitality until 2.30, back to hotel 3am, go to a club or end-of- tour party 'till 5 or 6, carry on at the hotel till 7,8,9, 10 am or longer. Fall asleep on the sofa, wake up fully clothed, crawl into bed. Get up later that afternoon feeling like death and realise I haven't even started packing and I've got 20 minutes before I have to leave for the airport. Carry on sleeping on the plane until a hostess tells me I'm on British soil. Hang about shivering while waiting an eternity for my luggage. Talk rubbish to an English cab driver until he drops me at my front door. Find a pile of letters, a broken boiler, half a pint of rancid milk in the fridge and a note telling me to go to the shops. Go to bed.

When you went on tour and you took a support band with you, were these bands from Mute too, or where did you find them?

Daniel always tried to encourage Mute bands for obvious reasons but we would consider anyone who seemed to vaguely fit the bill. As always, everybody had different opinions as to who was most suitable. I must admit, it wasn't something that I felt very strongly about so Martin or Dave usually had final say.

When DM was planning to go on tour, where did you have your rehearsal sessions? Does Mute have a rehearsal place in London? And how were these sessions?

We rehearsed at Nomis studios in Shepherds Bush, London. Mute doesn't have it's own rehearsal space. Much like any other band, we would convene for about 2-3 weeks before going off for maybe a week of full production rehearsals in a proper venue.

During the 'Some Great Reward' tour, you had a hitting pad which had the word 'Pus' written on it. What's the message behind this?

Ha! No idea. I do remember it though. Probably something to do with Daryl Bamonte..

What is it like being on tour? Is it interesting or does it get boring after a while? And do "stars" really get treated so special on tour? I mean that they really have nothing else to worry about except their music for instance?

Well, at whatever level you tour - from a new band starting out to a big act like Depeche Mode - there are pressures. It's exciting to be able to visit so many different places and meet new people but constant travelling and hotel life can get you down. Obviously the social side of things is great - clubs and restaurants want you to frequent their establishments and will lay everything on for you. The downside of this kind of treatment is that it's very easy to get carried away and lose track of reality...... and it's very true that life on the road is like living in a bubble. As far as the shows go, it can get boring playing the same things night after night which is why variation in the stage show can be so important and as for having nothing to worry about, just because you're 8000 miles from home, doesn't mean that you don't have to pay your bills etc. and keep a check on family life.

I was wondering which UK Arena was your favourite place to play?

Reactions outside of London were usually best. Birmingham or Manchester. From my point of view, standing crowds were better.

Any tips on getting backstage at a DM concert?

Dress up as a female for a start. As a bloke, you've got no chance.

Having read the first articles about the new tour, it seems that it's more hysterical than ever - fans "attacking" airports and hotels etc. Are you surprised about this success or is it only because it's a great singles tour?

I don't think it's down to the kind of tour, it's simply that Depeche Mode have always had a particularly devoted fanbase and are playing for the first time in places like Russia and Eastern Europe where they're very popular. These places don't get to see their favourite bands too often, so the reaction to DM is not surprising.

DM toured Australia twice but why did you never go to New Zealand when you have so many fans there?

The reason for not playing in certain places was usually because of production problems regarding venues etc. This is probably the case for New Zealand.

What do you think of Las Vegas? You played there on my birthday in 1994. Was it a good show?

It's one of the cheesiest places I've been. We stayed at the Luxor hotel in '94 - tacky or what. I don't remember the gig really although I've got a feeling it wasn't very good for some reason. I seem to remember the venue had a theatrical feel to it. After the show, the whole DM entourage stayed in the casino and gambled except Hep and I who went out to a club called the Shark Bar or something.

What do you think of DM's new promotion - if you buy the CD then you can buy the seats?

Seems like a good idea in principle. It doesn't seem to have gone all that smoothly though.

What was your reaction when you saw more then 70,000 people at the Rosebowl in '88 or when there were 20,000 at the Wherehouse signing?

Both these occasions were obviously high-points in my career and both somewhat unexpected in their turnout. The Rosebowl performance wasn't actually one of our best, due to monitoring problems, but it certainly gave us a lot of credibility back in Europe where nobody could quite believe our popularity in the States.

Do you recall Dave fainting sometime during the summer tour '94? What are your thoughts and what really did happen?

I don't think anything like this ever happened.

What hotel did or do you normally stay in when you're in Los Angeles?

Most of the time with the Mode we used to stay at the 'Sunset Marquis'. The last time I was in L.A., I stayed at the Nikko in Beverley Hills.

I was not able to go to the 'Violation' show at Dodgers Stadium but many people said that it was not good because of the sound (the stadium, not DM) and it was hard to see. What are your thoughts on this venue?

It was alright from my point of view.

What was your favourite place to play when in Los Angeles?

The Forum

What happened to you in South Africa in '94?

I've answered this, it's in the archives. You'll have to go and find it yourself because it's too painful a story to recount... ;-)

How did it feel to have a laser inserted into your member? Did the South African nurse have a nice uniform?

Well, as you know Mr. Bamonte, I was asleep during the operation although if you've ever thought about how it would feel to urinate pins and needles, then you can imagine what the after-effects felt like. One's member requires a couple of weeks recovery time before being fully functional again so the attire of the South African nurse was largely irrelevant.

I've been a music fan most of my life but living in Scotland is a complete nightmare as very few bands notice us up here. Why didn't Depeche ever play dates here?

We did play in Scotland for many years. Then suddenly there didn't seem to be a decent venue that would take the production etc.. I realise that's no excuse.

When a big band like DM goes on tour, do the actual band members receive a weekly brown envelope containing their wages or did the four of you have to wait until the tour was over before you divided up the loot?

With a touring business as large as ours, it can take anything up to two years to tie up all the accounts, pay taxes and make a proper financial distribution of profits to the directors. Just like any other business in fact.

Who's idea was it to advertise the Crystal Palace show in 1993 as "The only UK show" and then hit us punters on the way out with flyers advertising *four* additional UK shows in December? If I'd have known you were playing Dublin later that year I wouldn't have bothered. Mind you, the Dublin show was pretty pale in comparison to Crystal Palace - Dave seemed a bit worn out.

Sorry to have wasted your time Conor. I don't know who's idea it was.

Do you have any specific memories of the Crystal Palace show?

I remember the aftershow party very well ;-)

Did you enjoy your time in Argentina during the 1994 'Devotional' tour?

I had a good time.

I find it interesting that bands like U2 and the Stones seem to mount more and more aggressive and lengthy tours with each album release. Any thoughts on how they have been able to keep it together?

Touring is big business. Merchandising alone can earn a small fortune so the financial benefits of a long tour are very enticing - the longer you keep a production on the road, the easier it becomes to create a healthy profit margin. But of course, we've all seen how lengthy touring can take it's toll on individuals.

Was there any tension during the recording of 'Violator' and/or the 'World Violation' tour which carried over into the 'SOFAD' recording/tour?

Tension is a normal state at certain times for any band and we were no exception to that.

How did Jonathan Kessler go from accountant to spiritual adviser?

He became more and more involved in the coordination of the tours and his skills go way beyond pure financial organization. As his tour negotiations invariably involved talking to record companies and promoters, it was for him, a natural progression towards management. He is the kind of manager who does not get involved in the musical or artistic aspects of the band but rather excels at public relations and people management.

For the 'Devotional' tour, DM had an 'on-the-road' psychiatrist. Was this person used often and did you ever use him/her?

I think everybody went to see him at one stage apart from Dave.

I know you might not be in a position to answer this question but this 'Singles' tour seems more like Depeche Mode's 'Farewell' tour. What's your opinion on this?

Who knows? - I certainly don't.

Is it true that someone was inside your piano in Indianapolis (last gig of the Devotional tour)? Any funny memories about that special gig?

Jez Webb - the guitar tech. - emerged, to my surprise, from the shell of the piano during 'Somebody' I think. This is a typical last-date-of-the-tour prank as has become tradition amongst the rock 'n' roll touring fraternity. We also experienced tour managers-turned-backing vocalists in drag (Andy Franks etc.). Other favourites include talcum powder on the drum skins, Mrs. Mop coming on with a broom to sweep the stage during Dave's finest moment and exposed arses at the side of the stage...ooh, how we laughed.

You said the best DM support bands were Nitzer ebb, Primal Scream, The The and Blancmange. When did Blancmange open for DM and what about Front 242 - didn't you like their music and what do you think about their come back?

Blancmange toured with Depeche in the very early years, between '80 and '82. We also had Matt Fretton as a support act around that time. Front 242 were ok. As for their comeback, I didn't know they'd gone away.

Back in 1993, a Mute band called Parallax opened for DM in Lieven. I was told that one member of that group was the son of your ex-wife. Is it true? Have they released any complete album and are they still releasing material?

The singer of Parallax, Jason, is my ex-stepson. Parallax released some singles on Mute before changing their name to 'Hoodwink' who also released one or two more. They never got around to completing there debut album and are no longer on the label.

Why did DM tour twice in the U.S.A. and only once in Europe during the last tour?

The second leg took in outdoor venues (sheds) which attract a summer crowd and are very different to the indoor arena shows..

I'm a little embittered that DM never again visited my sad city of Nashville, TN after the 'MFTM' tour! Did the whole lame country music vibe here scare you guys that badly?

The one and only Nashville concert we ever played, was well received but had the lowest turnout of any show on the whole tour. I suppose this was the reason why it wasn't high on our agenda to return. It's not the local DM fans' fault, it's just that Nashville seems to have such a one-dimensional music scene.

Okay, Dave's been in several fights (and been busted), Mart has stripped in public (and been busted), Fletch is Fletch (and skipped a tour) - what is Alan Wilder's most embarrassing tour moment? Come on, you can tell US....

Oh, I've had my fair share but I'm not willing to divulge the sordid details....;-)

On 1/7/98 you answered to Giuntia Tonino about your funny memories from the 'Devotional' Tour. What did you mean by 'Dave's finest moment'?

I was actually asked about funny memories from the last show of the tour and my reference to Dave's finest moment was used hypothetically. I simply meant that at an important or perhaps dramatic point in the show, someone dressed as a cleaner came on stage and started sweeping the floor.

Did you and the others (in Depeche) take care with your appearance before going on stage? Was this your own choice if it was the case?

Yes, the stage outfits were down to individual choice and in my case, Paula Bradley and later Karen Dusenbury, designed and made them. Each band member had a travelling wardrobe and a wardrobe person was responsible for making sure everybody's stage gear was washed and ready to wear etc.

How did you travel with DM? Did you all go in the same plane? Weren't there times when you met up separately?

On the more recent tours we hired a private plane to take us around both Europe and the U.S. There were odd occasions where someone may have chosen to drive instead of fly (myself for example) although distances and time restrictions didn't usually allow for this.

In an interview I saw that it was your suggestion to extend the 'Devotional' Tour (Exotic Tour). Was it because you wanted to feel the atmosphere for the last time?

Actually, Dave also wanted to do another leg and the others didn't object at the time. I didn't think about it being the last time for me as I didn't decide to leave the band until 18 months later.

Do you remember why you guys cancelled the Ottawa show of the 'Violator' tour?

I think there was a risk of asbestos poisoning from the building and the crew weren't allowed to work - something like that.

Do you recall who was responsible for selecting the Apex keyboard stands from Ultimate Support Systems during the DM tours? Can you tell us your opinion on them?

What are you, head of sales Tom?

Myself and two of my friends ended up hanging out with you during the 'SOFAD' 1994 leg, mostly in Atlanta. One of my mates Debs, or your 'special friend' enjoyed exchanging insults with you although the psychotic banter got too much for her, I guess. I was just wondering if you have any recollection of us?

Obviously I've known sooooo many "special friends" over the years that they all merge into one scantilly-clad, drooling and dribbling mass. Ahh, the mammaries. Actually yes, I do remember you........by the way, did you have to stay in the cells overnight? ;-)

When preparing for a tour did you, Martin and Andy get to pick where you'd be on the stage (or at least which side)?

Being short with a bizarre appearance, Martin always seemed to look better in the middle. I always chose the position nearest the monitor desk for communication with the sound engineer.

Is it true that DM already planned to integrate video footage into the 'Black Celebration' show? If yes, do you remember why this idea got rejected?

I don't think we ever intended film on that tour.

On this tour, it appears that DM are using samplers as 'back up'. In your days it was tape. Is that because the technique wasn't fully developed for you to use samplers that way?

No, it was possible, but our view at the time was that tape was more reliable.

Do you miss being in front of an audience?

Me, lovey, without an audience? Unthinkable dahling! Just show me the stage and I'll be there..........

Did you ever get caught short on stage?

No, but I did hear about Iggy Pop, some speed cut with laxative and the improvised use of the on-stage mixing console flight case. The roadies were bunged an extra bonus after that show.

From all your DM touring, which stage set was your favourite?

The 'World Violation' stage was great when the films were there and I also loved the 7 screens on the 'Devotional' tour although I wasn't so keen on the four abstract shapes at the back of the set.

Something which I am terribly interested in as a current student of Tourism:

How did you travel during the 'Devotional' tour in Europe - did you have a private jet or did you use several airlines? How did you check in - first class or did you get the VIP treatment? Are you a member of a flying club to collect lots of miles? Have you ever experienced that there are sometimes incompetent employees on the other side of the check in counters?

During the 'Devotional' tour, for internal flights in USA and Europe, we hired a private plane (which held approx. 15 passengers) . We took commercial flights for International or long haul journeys. For South America, we chartered a plane to carry both band entourage, crew and gear. The best thing about having a private plane for the majority of flights (in the U.S. for example) was that your car could just drive straight up to the plane on the tarmac and when you landed at the other end, there would again be a car waiting. I must say though, we had one ot two hairy experiences during the tour and where possible, I'd opt to drive to a city in order to avoid having to leave the ground.

During commercial flights, the band would generally fly business class (sometimes upgraded by the airline to First) and we'd usually check-in in the normal manner. There were sometimes considerations such as what size welcoming party would be present at the airport on arrival. For example, Japan and Germany could be pretty hectic with lots of fans waiting to meet you and in those cases we might suggest to the airline that they warn security at the destination.

Since the end of the tour, I've tried to fly as few times as possible (even though I have a healthy collection of air miles) because I really find the whole experience daunting, not to mention extremely tedious. All that messing about with checking-in, passports, security, waiting to board, waiting to take off, reclaiming baggage, customs, waiting for taxis....... and the flight itself.

How did Margaret become a member of the DM crew during the 'SOFAD' Tour? Did you call her or did she ask you to get that job?

I'm not quite sure. I think she approached Johnny or a third party mentioned her name.

What was your reaction when you saw Dave stage dive back in '93? Did he tell everybody he was going to or was it a spur of the moment thing?

He never announced that he was intending to do it but you could see the idea brewing in his mind over the course of several gigs so it was no surprise when he went for it.

I have always wanted to know how much it costs to book somewhere like Wembley Arena for a night. Do you know what the cost was when you last played there (December 1993, 'Devotional' Tour)?

I couldn't tell you off hand. I'd have to ask Jonathan.

A friend of mine told me back in 1993 how she was asked to come backstage after the show in Houston, October. From there she began to lay out a lavish story, not sparing any details of how she, a few other people and the band went out to clubs, and back to a hotel where she claimed to have had a vodka-shot contest with you and won. Considering the fact that we, being in high school, tended to fabricate big endings to small stories to impress our friends, and you not recalling many small incidents throughout the years of touring, would you have any recollection of this? Or is she just pulling my leg?

I'm surprised your leg is still attached to your body, it's been tugged so hard. Actually most of it could be true, apart from the 'winning the vodka drinking contest' which could not ;-)

Who was the person that took a map in their hands before a DM tour and chose cities (venues) to play concerts in? I ask this because I'd like to know who was responsible for not visiting Poland since '85.

The tours were planned by ourselves, our agent and Jonathan. Between us all, (taking into account many factors) we would decide which countries and cities to play and when. Once we had a general plan, the specific routing would be optimised, again depending on travel times, venue availability, local promoter advice, record release dates and other logistical considerations etc. As I have said in answer to this very same question many times, DM did not miss out Poland for any sinister reasons - we had no personal problems with the country or the fans.

Let me also know, please, if there were, as far as you remember, AT LEAST any plans to play here during these years?

I really don't know Robert. More often than not, those people blessed with the very stressful job of actually arguing with unreasonable promoters, arranging the world-wide transport of tons of gear and booking hotels for an entourage of 15 and a crew of 100 etc., wouldn't bother the band members with specifics of the places we couldn't play. As far as I can recall, part of the reason we were absent in Poland, was that there was never a venue that could accommodate the Depeche Mode production adequately.

When on previous tours or out and about with DM, how did everyone pay for things?

Even us pathetic rock stars are capable of walking to, and even using the local banking facilities on occasion, or alternatively we could stumble downstairs from our hotel rooms and shout at the receptionist. Failing that, one could order a boy to bring money to the room thus negating the need to actually get dressed. The only remaining stumbling block is the boring task of moving across the room to open the door, then again they usually have pass keys so one can invariably shout..."cm'in....give me the cash!!"...

At the Crystal Palace gig with the Sisters of Mercy, did the two bands have much to do with each other. I remember Andrew Eldritch saying to the crowd "enjoy the puppet show" at the end of their set - just curious as to what went on backstage.

Nothing went on backstage - we didn't see Eldritch or his band. Where's his puppet show now? 'The Dog and Duck' - Luton?

Did you feel sorry for Dub Syndicate at that show as they didn't go down at all well with the crowd (if I recall, Marxman didn't go down much better either).

I didn't watch any of the support bands.

When DM were on tour, who chose the tapes that were played after the doors opened and before DM started their live show? I'm asking because I found most of the stuff pretty crap apart from the current tour where they play some Trip-Hop.

There was a selection of about 5 or 6 compilation tapes which were rotated from night to night. I made 2, Martin made a couple I think and the sound crew provided the others.

I mean, what did you / DM do on tour when someone (especially Dave) suddenly came down with some awful virus? Was the entire show axed?

Shows have been axed due to viruses but we would normally soldier on - the show MUST go on, darling!

Are you aware of a new German Depeche Mode book called 'Tour Backstage Report'? Is it an official book?

No. I've never heard of it.

Have you ever flown in a helicopter? Did you enjoy it or did it make you sick?

Yes, on a couple of occasions. We flew into New York once which was quite exciting and obviously much faster than going by car. I don't think I'd like to do it again though - I like to keep my feet firmly on the ground these days.

Why doesn't anyone ever say anything about the freak rainstorm that occurred at the Rose Bowl, during 'Blasphemous Rumours'? I mean, it was June in Southern California. Rain doesn't happen at that time of year but it did as Dave was singing "...Then came the rain...". Divine intervention or great FX?

We had a word with 'im upstairs.

Did any celebraties ever attend a DM show? I've read about The Cure and U2 but was there anyone else of interest or perhaps someone who the public would be surprised was a closet DM fan ? ;-)

Here's a few......Steffi Graf, Stuart Pearce, Neil Tennant, Billy something from ZZ Top, Public Image, Geena Davies, Kraftwerk. Doesn't automatically mean they're a fan or course ;-)

Do you have a problem with fans recording live shows and going backstage taking pictures for their own personal use? I never understood why you don't like it. What does it do to the sales of Mode?

It doesn't affect sales and I don't have a problem with fans doing these things although to be fair, it is sometimes difficult for a local security person to differentiate between a 'fan' and a bootlegger with more devious intentions. As an example, it wasn't unusual to come across unofficial merchandisers outside a gig selling T-shirts showing live images taken during the previous night's show! From a band's point of view that's pretty annoying because not only are these products invariably of very poor quality but fans may think that we were responsible for them.

Where did you get the power to go on stage every night and do a good show even though you hadn't had enough sleep?

Oh, it wasn't so tough. Many people would give their limbs to have the opportunity. You can't just decide to have a night off just because you feel a bit tired and once on stage, a natural adrenaline rush would always see you through.

Do you know what happened to the older stage sets for example from 'Black Celebration' or the huge 'Devotional' tour curtain? Where are they now?

I've no idea - they're probably languishing in some dockside cargo hold along with Black Sabbath's stonehenge stage set.....

Someone told me that the reason you only played in Athens once in 1985 was because someone threw iron poles on the stage. Is that true?

Er... no, but I do remember the festival we played there. Culture Club got bottled off stage and there was a full scale riot out on the streets - I don't know why. I have it all on video though. Luckily, we went down really well but it was a strange day. If I remember rightly, Dave also got punched in the face the next day while out shopping. Aggressive bastards, aren't they?

I was curious as to how much the band's entourage during the road trips has grown over the years. Can you give me a rough idea as to how big your sets were during your first tour with the band, compared to 1993 -1994? How many trucks of equipment were driven from one city to the next?

We were always aware that 3 blokes stuck primarily behind keyboards would never really make for a dynamic show and to this day, much of the performance rests upon Dave's shoulders. Even in the early days, with a very simple line-up of keyboards and tape machine (which used to sit in the middle of the stage), we tried to incorporate background changes and unusual lighting. Inevitably, the production became more elaborate as the venue sizes increased and it was obvious that we needed to supplement the show with extra interest to really come across, hence the more elaborate stage sets and later, the film shows. The films enhanced the production to such an extent that it was impossible to remove the use of them once established. By the time of the 'World Violation' tour, we were taking 11 articulated lorries and a crew close to 100.

What was a typical day on the road like?

For a band member in the U.S. for example: Check out of hotel at 1 or 2pm, travel to local airfield, fly by private jet with immediate entourage (about 12 people) to next city. Arrive 4pm approx. Go straight to gig for sound check, back to hotel at 6pm, quick sauna / work out if there was time, leave for gig 7.45pm. On stage 8.30 / 9pm. Off stage 11pm, followed by hospitality and night on the town until the early hours.

I was reading the latest Q + A and one of the questions stated that your face had been used on the video screen at the singles show. If you had been consulted about this would you have given DM permission to do so?

It's not really a question of whether or not I'd have given permission (which I would), it's more about whether anyone thought to ask for it (which they didn't).

I have a Q Magazine interview with DM issued just before the 'Ultra' album and it mentions that Dave was using hard drugs during the recording of 'SOFAD'. Taking this into account (and the sensationalist stories concerning that tour), was the decision to tour the album ever questioned at the time? In your opinion, should it have been?

We had a couple of meetings where the question of Dave's drug usage was addressed. It was put to Dave that if he didn't clean up his act, we wouldn't make it through such a long tour. He agreed.

Just curious. A former colleague of mine, Mr. Simon Wilcox, claims that he used to be in a 'pop' band called Portion Control. Not happy with that, he also claims that they performed as opening act for DM in 1983 and you all played footie. Well, I suspect the wanker to be lying, coming from south London and being a QPR fan and all, but I wanted to make sure.

Mr Wilcox is indeed telling the truth. Don't remember any of Portion Control being QPR fans though.

Do you remember the concert in Antas Stadium in Oporto or the Alvalade Stadium in Lisbon?

I remember we had a mini-crisis in Lisbon because our sound engineer was in bed sick and somebody else had to operate the desk. They did a great job though and I remember the audience response was very good.

I am from Singapore and I understand that DM performed here during the 'Devotional' Tour. Were the band members given a hard time with the customs and immigration officers regarding narcotic issues, since we all know what was going on with Dave and his ill-habits at that time?

No, they managed to get us all the drugs we requested.

Was the band aware of the strict death penalty for people caught with drugs like heroin?

No I wasn't aware of that at all.

In last month's Q + A, you said that Dave and you wanted to do another leg after the 'Exotic' tour '94. Does this mean that Europe was next on your mind?

No, just USA because there are more areas to cover there and different types of shows (and audiences) depending on the time of year. For example, the first US leg was done in the winter months in indoor arena's, while the second was concentrated on outdoor summer venues, known as 'sheds'.

I am rather naive, but what part do drugs play in the life of a band on the road? I mean, could you have had fun without getting drunk? Don't you think that lots of fans will be disappointed reading Steve Malins DM Biography because it heavily highlights the presence of drugs? Are you for or against a complete openness regarding stories of DM members' habits like heavy drinking and drug addiction?

I don't really know how to answer your question Francois, suffice to say, we're talking about a rock and roll band, not the local church youth club. I would be a hypocrite to make any judgements on the social habits of my fellow band members, nor anyone else for that matter. How they conduct themselves is their own business. In turn, I don't expect people to moralise on my behaviour. I wouldn't worry about the fans being disappointed - if the Mode represents a little too much 'Drugs, sex and rock 'n' roll', there's always Cliff Richard.

Would it be possible for you to sign my Malins Biography?

Send it to the address below - I'll scrawl on it with my used needle.


Q+A  :  DEPECHE MODE  :  TOURING - life on the road / different venues and cities