DM without Alan



It is said that the true reason you left Depeche Mode was because Dave and you had emotional problems and he said that you weren’t the kid of his dreams, so you decided to give it up and forget him. I’d like to know if this is true or not.

Don’t be daft. I’ve been asked all sorts of questions about why I left the Mode and people have come up with a multitude of different theories but I think yours is the most bizarre yet. I’m not quite sure how to interpret your suggestion but I can assure you that it was nothing like this.

Once you left Depeche Mode, why didn’t you join Erasure to make music remixes similar to ‘Unsound Methods’ but with Andy Bell’s voice? 🙂

That’s a bit like leaving the cast of ‘The Fast Show’ to go and appear on ‘Cannon and Ball’.

Now, 3 years after leaving DM, what do you think about when looking back at your 14 years in the group? Do the good times count more than the tensions that evolved during the last years of your involvement, resulting in your departure?

Yes, I’d say they do. My decision to leave wasn’t as a direct result of tensions anyway – they didn’t help but it was more fundamental than that. As I’ve always said, I consider myself privileged to have seen the world and gained so many rewards from my time in the group, something that only a few people are lucky enough to ever experience or achieve.

Is there anyone you’ve lost touch with since leaving DM and do you miss any of the crowd you use to hang out with in your DM recording / touring days?

The key people are still around like Daniel, Johnny Kessler, J.D. etc… I speak to Flood occasionally and I still keep in touch with Daryl Bamonte and Johnny. I spoke to Andy Franks quite recently too. I haven’t seen Anton for ages but I got a nice message from him the other day.

How did Martin and Andy react when you announced you were leaving the band, and did Dave ever contact you about it?

Martin shook my hand and looked a bit embarrassed and Fletch got quite defensive and seemed to take it rather personally – I don’t really understand why since I wasn’t casting aspersions against anyone. I didn’t hear back directly from Dave but he did send Hep and I a huge bunch of flowers when Paris was born and we saw him on a couple of occasions quite soon after. I’m sure he understands exactly why I left and he has been nothing but a perfect gentleman regarding the whole situation.

In the months / days leading up to your final decision to leave Depeche, did you confide in any of the other members about leaving or did you simply drop the bombshell with David, Martin and Fletch unaware?

I called a meeting at our office to tell Martin and Fletch and then I sent a fax to Dave in L.A. which, after having tried to contact him several times by ‘phone, was the only way I could let him know. I don’t think any of them were aware that it was coming and even if they were, I don’t think they thought I’d actually go through with it.

Although you released a press statement to explain your departure, will you ever tell us the TRUTH about why you left?

Everything I have said about the reasons for my departure has been truthful. Why would I lie? That said, I don’t believe one should air all one’s dirty laundry in public and I have no wish to elaborate further on this forum. I’m sure a good biography will be written one day which may give further insight into the group dynamics.

What were your real reasons for leaving Depeche Mode?

The reason I made a statement when I left the group was to try to summarize succinctly in my own words some of the reasons for my departure, rather than have the press speculate and inevitably draw the wrong conclusions. The other advantage of a statement is that it’s a good way to close the lid on something. I have no wish to elaborate further on what was said in it, suffice to say that things are never as straight forward as they appear from the outside. The overriding reason for my departure, above all else, is that for the last few years I hadn’t been enjoying life in the group enough to warrant sticking with it, especially given that I didn’t feel there was anything more I could personally achieve within its boundaries. I have to say that I never had any doubts that it was the right thing to do at the right time for me, and I am now happier than ever both in my personal and musical life. My involvement with Depeche has been good to me and I am grateful for the position it has left me in. Some of the things that have been said are disappointing but I have no problems with the other members of the group. Life is too short to bear grudges and my dignity would never allow me to resort to petty squabblings in public. The other members of the group and I have resolved any outstanding legal matters.

When you left, did you think that it was the end of DM – not because of your leaving but due to other well-known reasons?

It is commonly thought that I left the band due to Dave’s obvious problems but this was not the case. I did think however, that DM continuing was down to whether or not Dave could sort himself out and, at the time, things were pretty bleak.

Have you ever had any regrets about leaving?

In the immortal words of a great woman – “Je ne regret rien”…

Are you angry with Dave, Mart and Fletch? Are you still friends and do you still have contact with them?

I’ve never been angry with the remaining members of DM – this is an assumption that has been made after some of the press for ‘Ultra’. I continue to have a good friendship with Dave and as I still have some business involvement with Depeche Mode and will continue to do so in the future, it is important that we all remain on good terms.

Has the media always had trouble telling you apart from Fletch? In a recent article about DM, it stated that drummer Alan Fletcher left the band following a nervous breakdown, and Fletch is referred to as Ian Wilder.

I think it’s a mixture of innocent mistakes from some publications and deliberate tactics from tabloid journalists. I’m not the sort of person that pushes myself forward and as the media tends to focus on the songwriter and / or vocalist in a band, it’s not surprising that they don’t know who I am. There’s no excuse however. It just shows how little research some of these so-called journalists do.

Speaking of media inaccuracies, from listening to your point of view now, it seems that they blew your split with DM completely out of proportion. Given their penchant for sensationalising, do you believe all of Martin’s or Fletch’s printed descriptions of the break-up?

I recognise how easy it is to ‘go with the flow’ in an interview and say things you perhaps don’t really mean. I also understand how journalists can either misunderstand or deliberately twist peoples words, so no, I don’t take too much notice of everything that was said.

I really like ‘Violator’ and ‘SOFAD’ – one can easily hear how Martin Gore’s melodies and your samples and studio work, work together. That’s why I don’t love ‘Ultra’ and all the songs from this era. Was there any possibility (or is there at the moment) for you to do the producer’s job for Depeche Mode? I believe you could have made ‘Ultra’ better than Mr. Bomb The Bass.

I left DM because I wanted to work with other people so producing them as an outside producer would really defeat the purpose. There is no chance that they would ask me anyway.

Did you enjoy your time throughout your DM years? From the answers I’ve seen, you give the impression you didn’t.

For the most part, I did. There were obviously boring moments like waiting about in airports etc., which reminds me: When Charlie Watts was asked how it felt to be a member of the Rolling Stones for such a long time (25 years) his reply was “I’ve only actually spent 5 years in the Rolling Stones, and 20 years hanging about…” – that just about sums it up.

In 1989, someone asked you what you thought you’d be doing in ten years time and you said “hopefully making music without compromise and enjoying a relaxed, happy and comfortable existence”. Did you know already that you wouldn’t be in DM for10 more years?

Well I didn’t plan to leave DM in 1989 if that’s what you mean but by the same token, I never expected to remain in a band all my life. There’s something quite sad about being in a ‘pop’ group when you hit middle age.

Now that you have left DM, who will produce the backing tracks of their forthcoming tour and do you think they will use some of your own backing tracks?

I would think it unlikely that they would use any of the old backing tracks but I really can’t speak for their current touring plans.

Do you have any say in further DM releases? I don’t mean future stuff but past material, for example the Singles ’86-98′, or any re-released rarities.

Just as I receive royalties from any recordings I was involved in, I have certain rights regarding their release. For example, I have to be reasonably consulted regarding issues of marketing and artwork etc. – most importantly, I am entitled to fair representation.

How did Mute and Dan Miller react to your leaving DM? Were they supportive from the start and was it at all awkward from that angle for you to leave the band?

I wouldn’t say it was ever awkward. I think Dan felt my leaving was on the cards and was perhaps a little sad to see it happen, but very understanding and always totally supportive of the Recoil project.

‘Bong’ (the DM magazine) didn’t even mention your latest project. Don’t you think this is unfair? In my opinion it’s open discrimination after all those things you have done for DM. They should pay respect for you.

I suppose the difference is that I was, and still am by default, somewhat involved with DM and it is therefore relevant that I should include not only my history with the group, but also (for example) news of the upcoming singles project, on the Recoil website. None of the three remaining members of DM have been in any way involved in the Recoil project, so I assume they wouldn’t consider news of it relevant on the Bong website or in the magazine.

Do you think you might have stayed with DM if things were different? What would have made you stay and what would you have changed to stay?

It’s very unlikely I would have stayed much longer in DM because I never wanted to be in a pop group ALL my life – somehow it seems a bit juvenile to be caught up in the pop circuit at the age of nearly 40. As you get older, you don’t want to be tied to just one group of people or one activity.

Could you roughly explain how you made up the “account” when you left DM. Do you still get a percentage of merchandise and record sales, or did you receive a cheque like fired executives normally do?

As I’ve said before, leaving the band does not stop me receiving a 25% share of royalties from record sales of all the work I was involved in – that means everything from ‘Construction Time Again’ through to ‘SOFAD’ and the new singles compilation. I will continue to earn for as long as the records keep selling. Do you think of me as a fired executive?