Portrait: Anton Corbijn
The loss of Andy Fletcher in 2022 robbed Depeche Mode of their Mr Dependable and posed big questions about their future. In this extract from MOJO’s exclusive cover feature, Dave Gahan reflects on the role Fletcher played in the group and how his passing ultimately brought him and Martin Gore closer together...
Dave Gahan refers to Andy Fletcher as “the Captain of the ship”. James Ford, the producer of the band’s new LP Memento Mori and Depeche Mode’s previous album, 2017’s Spirit, calls him “the rudder”. Mute boss Daniel Miller describes him as the “positive pessimist” who kept the others grounded, especially early on.
“It’s still not quite real that he’s gone,” says Gahan. “You work with somebody like this for over 40 years. You know everything about each other. And nothing really. It’s a weird, weird relationship, people in bands…”
Gahan says he soon realised that it was Gore who would be most in need of support (“I felt a sort of protectiveness”). And also that Gore’s loss of Fletcher would require Gore and Gahan to look at their own relationship – a relationship that had not always benefited from Fletcher’s well-meaning intercessions.
“Martin had lost his champion – someone who would always fight for Martin,” says Gahan. “If there was ever a disagreement over a song or a part, Fletch would sit me down and it would be, ‘Fing is, Dave… Martin and I have been talking and…’ I mean, that got really old. Why won’t Martin tell me himself? And that’s where we kind of got to on the last record.”
Sessions for Spirit, says Gahan, were marred by tensions of this sort. To the extent that James Ford, on his first job for the band, was forced to draw a line.
“In the end James was kind of, ‘I’ve had enough of this! I want everyone out of studio. I just want Martin and Dave to sit in here and we’re going to talk about this.’ Fletch did not like that. He literally had to get manhandled out of the studio by our manager. I mean, kicking and screaming. ‘I’m in the band! Why aren’t I in this conversation?’”
So Gahan and Gore had it out, minus Fletcher, and in the process realised their issues were more wide-ranging than they’d thought.
Fletch’s presence forced Martin and I to compete.
“We had these unspoken things. Martin was like, ‘Well, you get this and you can walk on stage and everybody goes nuts. And I write the songs.’”
Gahan – who has contributed songs since 2005’s Playing The Angel – took up the gauntlet.
“How many songs can I have then?”
“Well if there’s 12 you can have four at the most.”
“Fine! Now I know, right? So I won’t bother writing 10!”
It seems a bitter irony that despite all his years devoted to keeping Depeche Mode together, a by-product of Andy Fletcher’s passing might be better relations between Martin Gore and Dave Gahan.
“I think Fletch’s presence forced Martin and I to… maybe this is the wrong word, but compete,” reflects Gahan. “And it created a certain atmosphere of being a bit spiky. So Martin and I have had to find a different way. We had to find a way of communicating, becoming friends.”
Becoming friends, after 40-odd years in a band together?
“Sounds weird, I know.”
“We had to really decide, do we carry on?” Read MOJO’s exclusive cover feature with Depeche Mode in full!
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