Interview:
Martin Gore

All Gore

Founder Depeche Mode member Martin Gore finally followed up his covers ep "Counterfeit" recently with another batch of reworkings of obscure tracks by mainly well known bands. Given the Gore treatment this time around are Nick Cave, The Velvet Underground, John Lennon and...David Essex! The man himself spoke about his choices and what made him decide to go down this road in the first place.

AD: Why have you decided to record a covers album rather than your own material?

MG: I like the idea of doing cover versions. I think it's always interesting when people from bands, or songwriters, cover songs, because it shows people some of their influences. When I was younger, I used to really like some of the Bryan Ferry covers records and that gave me some insight into what inspired him. It also helped me to discover a lot of music that I wasn't aware of and so I liked the idea of covers albums anyway. I didn't want to write anything for this album because I think that while I'm part of Depeche Mode it's not right for me to use my own songs, as I am the main sonwriter for the band and I'm not particularly prolific. So I think it creates a conflict of interest, you know - what songs would I use for me, and what would I use for the band. It just doesn't seem right.

AD: Ok, fair point. So how did you go about recording the songs on the album?

MG: I imagined it would be quite easy recording a covers album, because once I'd chosen the songs, it seemed like it would just be a question then of recording them. But I don't really like doing straight cover versions. It's often a case of trying to re-invent the songs; taking them in different directions. Obviously, they still have to work, they still have to have some spirit of the original, something that you like about the original still has to be there in the new invented version, and that's sometimes not the easiest thing.

AD: Would you describethis album as a kind of homage to your idols?

MG: Well, some of the artists on the record would be my idols, people that have maybe shaped the way I work; the way I write songs. There are obviously thousands of songs that I like, but I was surprised how few actually made it onto a shortlist of songs that I wanted to cover for this record. I think I tend to like songs that are very emotional; they strike a chord with me emotionally somehow and I can't quite explain that, and I think that somehow gives them a thread, even though they come from really diverse areas of music. I think there's some sort of solitude and loneliness about the songs which I'm always drawn to.

AD: "Stardust" is the first single off this album. What appealed to you about this song?

MG: Firstly, it was just a song from my youth. I wasn't ever a massive David Essex fan, but I liked a few of his tracks and "Stardust" was one of them, and probably my favourite one. It's also from the film "Stardust" which is about the demise of a rock star and how he gets heavily involved in drugs, which was pointed out to me had some kind of parallels with Depeche Mode, but that's not the reason why I chose it. It's a good emotional song and I think it does sum up, somehow, the loneliness of being a rock star at times. You know, of course, it's a great job, but it's a very strange job, it's very weird.

AD: Do you live the life of a rock star at home then?

MG: I think I lead two totally separate lives. There are times when I have to slip into rock star mode and, the majority of the time I'm at home with my family and nobody particularly knows who I am. I play football three times a week and for the first six months, nobody in my team even knew who I was and that's quite nice.

AD: Where did you record "Counterfeit 2"?

MG: I've just got a really small studio set up at home. It's not like a big, old fashioned recording studio, it's just like a home set-up. I think it's important for me to do that, because I like the idea of working at home so that I still have some kind of family life. If I had spent seven or eight months of last year in a studio working stupid studio hours, then I wouldn't have seen my family for that whole period.

AD: What's happening with Depeche Mode?

MG: We've left it that we'll be talking at the end of the year, once these projects are out of our systems (Dave Gahan has also released a solo album), and we'll work on some kind of time plan on when to get back into the studio and when we'd like to have an album released.

AD: Would you say there was a similarity in style between your solo album and a Depeche Mode one?

MG: I think there is some connection between the last Depeche Mode album "Exciter" and this one. They're both very electronic and I think I've been influenced quite a lot by the music I've listened to over the last four years, which has mainly been a lot of underground electronic music, quite minimal stuff; so I think there is a thread between those two records.

AD: Are you planning a solo tour for this album?

MG: I'm planning to do just a few dates, you know, keep it small. I don't like the idea of going out on a huge tour, it doesn't seem right. I think the whole album is quite intimate and I can't imagine having a big production around it. I think it should be something very sort of personal and intimate and small, you know, not too many dates.

AD: As you are normally on stage with the rest of the band, is it going to be daunting being the focus of the whole show?

MG: Well, I won't be just on stage on my own, I will have a couple of people with me. But yeah, I will be the focal point for however long I decide to play for and you know...half of me likes that idea and half of me doesn't, but once the adrenaline kicks in, I'll probably really enjoy it.


Martin Gore's "Counterfeit 2" album is out now in all good record stores (i.e. the woman behind the counter in the CDs section of your local Asda has probably never heard of him).

Transcript by Tone E - thanks to Pomona for the use of this interview

 

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