This article about the making of Depeche Mode’s Songs of Faith and Devotion is published in Classic Pop magazine. Please that all (c) are with Classic Pop magazine and its author Rik Flynn.
Following up the enormous success of Violator almost broke Depeche Mode. But despite Dave Gahan’s heroin addiction and inter-band fighting, with Songs Of Faith And Devotion they eventually created a dark masterpiece…
“I struggled and struggled and struggled and struggled with it… it was like pulling teeth.” So said producer Flood of the arduous sessions that eventually churned out Songs Of Faith And Devotion, Depeche Mode’s eighth studio album.
While most groups have their off days, this particular venture was clearly a trial of biblical proportions – and one that would see tempers fray, time wasted and one core member up sticks for good.
At the close of the World Violation Tour in support of their last album, Violator, Depeche Mode were a band at the height of their powers. A triumphant cavalcade of 11 articulated lorries and 100 stage crew had helped them reach the ears of well over a million fans in various stadiums around the globe.
The album won triple platinum status and cemented the group as major-league stars. Understandably, the four human beings at the centre of the maelstrom had been run ragged by the whole affair.
Almost two years later, when Martin Gore, Dave Gahan, Alan Wilder and Andy Fletcher reconvened in a London bar shortly before they were due to kick-start the whole process all over again, circumstances had changed considerably. For one, they faced a wall of intimidating proportions with the need to follow up – or even equal – the success of Violator.
Not only had the musical climate shifted considerably with the scuzzy guitars of grunge cranked up in their absence but, far more importantly, here stood four altered souls who’d barely crossed paths since emerging from the tour bus.
Read the full article and stories behind each of the tracks, such as:
Walking In My Shoes
With human frailty and judgement as its principal themes, this brooding second single is widely considered one of Martin Gore’s finest creations. “It was constructed using an unusual method for us, i.e. jamming together,” explained Alan Wilder. “Martin played the guitar, I played bass and we ran a rhythm machine – this was just to get the basic feel for the track – and after much trial and error, the chorus bassline and guitar pattern fell into place.”
Flood and Wilder then constructed the main riff, before adding loops, string arrangements and various studio trickery. The single made No.14 in the UK.
In your room
For the album’s final single, and unsure if this would be his last with the group, Anton Corbijn chose to survey his own portfolio with the band over the years, via references to imagery from Strangelove, I Feel You, Walking In My Shoes, Halo, Enjoy The Silence, Personal Jesus, Condemnation and Never Let Me Down Again. Scenes of partial nudity and bondage meant the video appeared after hours on US MTV, which led to a lack of sales in America. It is also the last video to feature Alan Wilder, who left the group soon after.