THE WILD BOY
Depeche Mode are part underground cult, part pop stars.
Despite their success they are still on Mute, a small independent
label, and they refuse to compromise with the music business.
The four individuals have stayed out of the glare of sensational
publicity that is normally focussed on pop stars.
But in our exlusive series they talk frankly about the forces
that have shaped their lives and music.
And they reveal a side of Depeche Mode that is often very
different from their clean-living public image...
"I was born in Chigwell but my parents divorced when
I was very young so mum moved the family - my sister Sue
and brothers Peter and Philip - to Basildon.
remarried and I always assumed my step-father was my real
dad. He died when I was seven.
I came home on one day and found this bloke at home who
turned out to be my father. I was very upset and we all
had a huge argument because I thought I should have been
I realised what a hard time mim had bringing us up.
help by getting into a lot of trouble. I wasn't good at
school (Bastaple). I couldn't do with being pushed aroud.
got categorised into grades so I resented the clever kids,
started bunking off, got into bother with the law. I was
suspended and ended up in juvenile court three times for
things like nicking motors, setting them alight and spraying
at sixteen, soon as possible. My qualifications in art and
technical drawing didn't seem much use.
friend was called Mark. We did everything together - got
into trouble together, pulled girls together, shared girlfriends.
through loads of jobs. In eight months I had twenty occupations
from Yardley's parfume factory to labouring Salisbury's
soft drink man.
bringing home good money, giving mum some, going down the
pub, pulling, being general wide boy.
I realised I had no career so I went for a job as apprentice
fitter with North Thames Gas. My probation officer told
me to be honest at the interview, say I had a criminal record
but I was a reformed character blah blah. Course I didn't
get the job because of that.
me a lot of confidence, having been trough so many IQ tests
and been shortlisted.
back and trashed the probation office.
pretty wild. I loved the excitement of nicking a motor,
screeching off and beeing chased by the police. Hiding behind
a wall with your heart beating gives you a real kick - will
they get you?
I got to Southend Art College. I liked art at school.
teacher was a nice geezer who let us smoke. After three
years I got the British Display Society Award which meant
I could get a job doing display in a big store.
was around the punk period, 1977. Good times. I enjoyed
college, I was designing clothes for mates, going off to
see Gen X and the Damned. I had original sex shop gear.
We used to stick labels on the outside and come down to
the gritty London clubs like Studio 21.
like John Lydon (The Sex Pistols) and George O'Dowd (Culture
Club) used to come to Southend. George came to model and
nick stuff. He got into trouble for that.
were flamboyant people, like Steven Linnard (now a successful
fashion desinger), a big change after my rough and ready
basildon mates. Rowdy but artistic.
of us hung out together all living for the weekend, saving
up for a bag of blues (pills), going without dinner all
week. We'd go to London all night, end up at some party
then catch the milk train from Liverpool Street to Billericay.
It was bloody long walk home!
bored with that, but for a while it was exciting. I had
a double life, mixing with the art school mob then going
home to Bas. I'd go to the pub wearing make up, but vos
I kneew the local beer boys, the spanners, I was OK.
Vince Clarke I met one day outside a pub in the city centre.
He looked up to me because he was a bit scared of the skins.
His friends stayed at home.
had a band, French Look, with Martin, Rob Marlowe and Rob
Marlowe who mixed sound for.
Vince started Composition of Sound with Andy and Martin.
The two groups fell out because both wanted Martin. Typically,
he couldn't make up his mind, being nice to everyone.
day Vince asked me if I wanted to sing at a rehearsal. I
was quite shy but it was something to do. That was the beginning
of Depeche Mode.
a residency at Crocs in Rayleigh as resident electronic
band, people came from London to see us. (Culture Club also
built up an early Crocs following.) Rusty Egan (club socialite
then Visage drummer) was one. He introduced us to Stevo
(Some Bizarre mentor) who was just a general nutter on the
group met Daniel Miller (of Mute Records) shortly after
our first Venue gig (New Romantic package night). He put
out our first single just after the Some Bizarre track.
Lots of companies were waving cheque books and promising
the earth but only Daniel was honest. He offered us points
(a share in the profits). We split everything fifty/fifty.
now we have no management deal and no contract. We pay our
own salaries and don't have aggressive marketing.
control is important to us and Mute. We've kept our grass
roots following. The fans are so hard core that singles
tend to chart quickly without hyping so we spend our money
on decent stage shows and recording.
not interested in image making. Depeche Mode has never idealised
group pictures on records. We prefer visuals and imagery.
Four blokes standing against a wall wearing nive suits doesn't
excite me. A look dates.
matured at our own pace. When we did 'Speak and Spell' we
were very young and naive. We got slaggered off for being
teeny bopper because we didn't care what was hip.
we knew we didn't have much to say, and the fans still stood
by us. We owe them a lot because they never were influenced
by the knockers, or by Vince leaving.
the group, our working class background keeps us fairly
level headed despite the stupid amounts of money to be made.
now the group is still going up so I'm very happy about
the future. Depeche Mode is a group which has good ideas
rather than being a great bunch of musicians first. We learn
all the time.
got other ambitions, like writing songs. I have tried -
but Martin is so good at that it would be silly to offer
the group something second rate.
practically lived together for five years, so you know immediately
when someone doesn't like what you're doing.
concentrate on the singing. I think I'm pretty good at that."