Recent rumours suggest that DM are thinking of using Gareth Jones and Flood as producers for their new album. Who did you find the most interesting person to work with on DM’s sound (apart from DM’s members ;-))? Is there anyone you regret not having worked with when in DM?
The best co-producers I worked with were Daniel Miller and Flood. I don’t really have any regrets. Maybe Eno would have been interesting.
Why is Flood named Flood, and what makes him a good producer?
Apparently, when plain old Mark Ellis served his apprenticeship as tape op. at his first studio, he acquired the nickname due to over eager tea-producing skills. As the producer took his last slurp, Flood would provide a fresh cup within seconds. His aptly named colleague, ‘Drought’ never saw the importance of this career-breaking move and hasn’t been heard of since. As for ‘Victim’….. I think he topped himself, poor chap.
What was the extent of your work with Steve Lyon? How well do you guys know each other?
Steve is a good friend and we’ve known each other since about 1990 when he was drafted in as a relief engineer during the ‘Violator’ sessions at the Church Studios in North London. He then engineered during the making of ‘Bloodline’ and ‘SOFAD’, for the compilation of the DM live sets, on Nitzer Ebb’s ‘Ebbhead’ album and the ‘Unsound Methods’ Recoil LP.
Who do you think you would be pleased to work with if you had to produce a record with an old Depeche Mode producer?
Is Jonathan Kessler still working for you or is he only the band manager?
Being still involved in the band by default (i.e.’Singles’ LP etc.), he does, in theory, also look after my interests. I don’t however have a management contract with Jonathan.
Do you think the DM sound would have ended up quite different without Dan Miller and Gareth Jones’ input during the early years?
I would like to know what are the actual tasks of a producer and of a sound engineer. In particular, what is the difference between the two and could a band like DM possibly do without them? In the case of Recoil, you seem to be all of these people.
A music producer is roughly the equivalent of the film director: someone who retains the overall vision of a record, who attempts to draw the very best from the raw material given to him by the artist and someone who usually has final say about how the finished product sounds. They come in different shapes and sizes: those that are very hands on (even playing some instruments) through to those who are completely unmusical but somehow have a great perspective.
The role of the engineer is to realise the producer’s / artists ideas from a technical point of view.
Producer: “I want the Peruvian nose flute sound to disappear off into the distance and then explode.
Engineer:”I know, I’ll try sending it through delay unit 163457B and then gate it to the bass drum distorted through a leslie cabinet using 3 D72 mics at varying distances.”
Producer:”Don’t get clever with me, sonny – if it sounds shit, I’ll dump it.”
Engineer:”Whatever you say, sir”
Producer:”That’s right”……………. “BOY! Make me a cup of tea and go out and buy me a can of tartan paint…… hoover the ceiling, while you’re at it….”
Who was the strangest producer that DM ever worked with? Were his tendencies of the “oh, he’s just an artist” timbre or instead leaking into mild schizophrenia?
Probably Francois Kervorkian (although Gareth Jones is definitely a one-off). Francois was quite loud and opinionated as well as being prone to mood swings for no apparent reason. I liked him though, and his methods. We never took him or his stroppiness too seriously and a healthy amount of piss taking would usually force a smile to his face. He looks something like the British athlete, Fatima Whitbread, so her poster ended up on the studio wall (much to his disgust). He liked to work long hours and is something of a perfectionist – again, something I admired. For him, it must have been as strange an experience to work with us as it was for us to work with him. I hope he looks back on it fondly.
What has Francois Kervorkian been up to lately? It seems like after ‘Violator’, he was never used again. Why is that? Also, is his background Armenian?
Not sure actually. We sort of kept in touch for a while but I haven’t spoken to him for a few years. I think he mixes a lot of dance projects from his studio in New York. He has French blood, I believe.
Can you tell me more about the ‘Node’ project?
I don’t know all that much. I think it was just a one-off LP produced by Flood, Ed Buller and someone else whose name I can’t remember. Sort of ambient electronic, more in the style of, say, Tangerine Dream rather than Aphex Twin. They did a ‘gig’ on the concourse of Paddington station which worked quite well actually, especially when the station announcer started speaking.
Who is Jo Bailey and what was her connection during ‘Violator’? I’ve heard that she was involved with the fan club and later with Mr. Dave Gahan.
Indeed, Jo used to run the DM info. service. I’m not sure what she’s up to these days – the last time we saw her was backstage at a Cure show about 3 years ago. Her sister, Alison, is married to long-time Mode friend and ex-tour manager, Daryl Bamonte.
Can you tell us a little about Flood. He seems to be a significant force in helping the development of your musical style and translating it into records.
Flood and I worked well together. Our styles complimented each other, i.e. my musical angle, his technical prowess. He was undoubtedly an important factor in the development of the ‘Violator’ and ‘S.O.F.A.D.’ albums.
Did Flood ever really piss you off? I have heard he can be a hard ass.
Flood’s never pissed me off – he’s all soft and cuddly. He used to be a bit of a lard arse but he’s slimmed down recently 😉
I remember a review that quoted U2’s ‘Achtung Baby’ as “out-Depeching” Depeche Mode. Later the reviewer said that ‘SOFAD’ was “out-Achtunging” U2. Do you feel that the actions of U2 and DM were ever in response to one another? Or is this just some Flood influence on both bands? Or neither?
I think it’s true to say that there were probably links (Flood being an obvious one) at that stage of our respective careers and perhaps a subconcious ‘tipping of the hat’ here and there.
What is Mark Stent like to work with? It really seems that he has a magic touch in mixing (from the old KLF days to even the Spice Girls). Ever consider bringing in additional mixers on the new LP ( I know you seem to want to do this next one completely solo)?
He knocks out his mixes very quickly (except when he’s down in the canteen, tucking into his full English breakfast – belch!) which I find a bit disconcerting, as I like to take my time. You’re right to say though, that he does seem to have his finger on the ‘hit’ button…he also wears a natty line in fisherman’s jumpers.
Why did Andy Franks leave the DM staff?
Franksie is a tour / production manager and is only involved in the touring activities of DM.
I have an anecdote about him: I met him in late 1992 and I knew you were finishing a new album, so I asked him if he could tell me the working title of this new album and his answer was ‘Achtung Baby 2’! So does this mean that he thought you were trying to sound like U2?
I think this was his famous west country wit…..
Whose idea was it to bring in Will Malone for’ One Caress’ and how much did you contribute?
Once we decided we wanted ‘real’ strings, there was only really one or two choices as to who should arrange them. Will Malone (who incidentally looks like ‘Cat Weasel’) arranged the strings for Massive Attack’s ‘Unfinished Sympathy’, a particular favourite of both myself and Martin. The strings were recorded at Olympic Studios in London, using a 28 piece sting section, to which Martin sang the vocal ‘live’ – thus equalling the fastest ever recording of any one DM track, the other being ‘Somebody’.
Who is P.K.? How do you know him/her? And does P.K. stand for anything?
P.K. is Paul Kendall, long time Mute engineer / sound designer and thoroughly nice bloke. Check out the June ’98 editorial in Report.
Why it was decided to change producers for ‘Music for the masses’? What role did David Bascombe play in making this album?
Of all the DM albums, ‘Music For The Masses’ was probably the most self-produced record. With all due respect, Dave Bascombe’s role was more as a good engineer rather than producer. It was at a period when the era of co-production with Dan Miller had run its course.
Do you like Tim Simenon’s ‘Bomb the bass’ stuff?
I don’t really know it very well – some of the early stuff was ok.
In an interview Martin said that Tim Simenon was suggested for ‘SOFAD’. Why didn’t the band choose him? And why was Flood chosen once again?
As far as I can remember, Flood was always first choice to co-produce ‘SOFAD’.
How did Jonathan Kessler go from accountant to spiritual adviser?
He became more and more involved in the coordination of the tours and his skills go way beyond pure financial organisation. As his tour negotiations invariably involved talking to record companies and promoters, it was a natural progression for him, to head towards management. He is the kind of manager who does not get involved in the musical or artistic aspects of the band, but rather excels at public relations and people management.
In ‘101’ there is a scene of Martin on guitar, Dave on harmonica and someone else singing ‘I Saw Her Standing There.’ Is that other person Daryl Bamonte?
Yes, if I remember correctly.
How long did it take Daryl Bamonte to learn Fletch’s keyboard parts when he took over during the second US leg of the ‘Devotional’ tour?
While everyone else was sunning themselves on the beach and enjoying a well-earned rest, Daryl and I spent a week cooped up in a hotel room in Hawaii where I taught him the entire set. He subsequently played it perfectly for the rest of the tour – pretty good eh, considering he’d hardly ever played a keyboard before in his life.
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.
Were you involved in any capacity with the recording of ‘A Broken Frame’? Did Daniel program that record and do you know who played the bluesy synth solo on the end of ‘Leave In Silence’?
I had nothing to do with this record. The programming sounds like a combination of Daniel and Martin. I believe the synth solo was actually a sequencer left on random play.
How did DM’s backing vocalists Hildia and Samantha handle the problems during the second leg of the ‘Devotional’ tour? Did they know what was going on and how did they react?
The myth that has been building up around the second U.S. leg of the ‘Devotional’ tour seems to be now fully out of control. It wasn’t really any more ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ than any other DM tour over the years – everyone had their own little ‘on tour’ world which existed alongside a fully professionally run live show. I’m sure Sam and Hildia had their own routines which would have been completely different from my own or anybody else’s and, quite often, our paths would not even cross apart from the 2 hours on stage. (yes, we did socialise as well)