When you’re at a Depeche Mode concert take a moment to let the experience sink in. For you’re not just watching a very popular band, you’re watching the world’s most successful electronic band of all-time. Depeche Mode has sold more than 100 million albums worldwide and hundreds of thousands of Depeche Mode tickets. As of 2011, they’ve charted 48 singles and seen 12 of their albums peaked inside the top ten in UK. They have not only achieved immense commercial success but they’ve inspired generations with their provocative songwriting, innovated use of sampling, and unique recording methods. The diverse list of artists that consider Depeche Mode an inspiration include Rammstein, Shakira, Linkin Park, and Coldplay.
Named after a French fashion magazine, Depeche Mode formed in 1980 in Essex, England. The original lineup consisted of lead vocalist Dave Gahan, and keyboardists Martin Gore, Andy Fletcher, and Vince Clarke. Clarke left Depeche Mode in 1981, after the release of the band’s debut album. He would go on to form Erasure with Andy Bell. Alan Wilder replaced Clarke and remained in the lineup until 1995. The band now launches Depeche Mode tours as a trio consisting of Gahan, Gore, and Fletcher.
Depeche Mode released their first single, “Dreaming of Me,” in 1980 and their first album, Speak & Spell in 1981. The album featured bouncy pop songs like “New Life” and “Just Can’t Get Enough.” Clarke left the fold after the release of Speak & Spell claiming he didn’t like the direction the band was taking. With Clarke gone, Gore took over the primary songwriting duties. Wilder auditioned for Clarke’s vacant spot and finally received the job in early 1982. Once onboard, Wilder helped develop the band’s distinct and indelible sound but left in 1995 feeling underutilized and disrespected. At the time of Wilder’s departure, Gore was experiences seizures and Gahan’s heroin addiction was spiraling out of control. In fact, not long after Wilder left the group Gahan nearly overdosed.
The band released their most successful album, Violator, in March of 1990. The album, produced by the band and Flood, contained the songs “Personal Jesus,” “Enjoy the Silence,” “Policy of Truth,” and “World In My Eyes.” Violator was also the first Depeche Mode album to crack the top 10 on the Billboard 200; it reached number seven. The album established Depeche Mode as international superstars.
Despite being an electronic band, their live shows are highly regarded and greatly anticipated. Like major rock acts, Depeche Mode can sell out any arena in the world.