Reading the ‘Singles’ editorials, one finds that the most important instrument in the DM arsenal – sampler aside – was the flight case! Any particular brand you’d care to recommend?

‘Bulldog’ have had the monopoly on Flight case manufacture for as long as I can remember. Their particular casing materials make a damn good thud when one requires that ‘out of the ordinary’ percussion sound.

What was THE most bizarre instrument you had to play to “imitate the sounds” for the sake of music video or live TV?

Without doubt, the bicycle wheel and breeze block combination for TV performances of ‘Blasphemous Rumours’. The ironic thing was that it was at our own instigation!

Note from Hep: When I was sorting and categorising a huge trunk of DM memorabilia, I came across a very detailed diagram – drawn by Alan – to illustrate an elaborate percussion set-up, which included bits of scaffolding, a hammer and various other building site paraphernalia – silly bugger 😉

Have your abilities to play the “most important rock’n’roll instrument”- the flute, ever been used on a DM or Recoil song ? (What about the intro of ‘Behind The Wheel’ ?)

Well, technically speaking, we’re talking panpipe rather than flute on ‘Behind The Wheel’ but you could be forgiven for mistaking the peruvian nose-flute for our own western version. Apart from that, it is possible that a few flute samples are mixed into various DM tracks over the years.

How were the films on the ‘Devotional’ tour linked to sequences, with SMPTE time codes? Did you do all that or did Anton?

Yes, everything was linked. We provided a SMPTE feed from the tape machines to the film production crew to sync the films to. Anton doesn’t personally take care of that side.

What about songs like ‘Judas’ and ‘A Question Of Lust’ which shared the same video?

In the case of a regular song like ‘Judas’, the film ran using the code. When we played alternative songs, the same film ‘free-ran’. The images of the burning candles for ‘Judas’ were so slow moving that it didn’t matter.

How were sound banks set up on DM’s keyboards? Did you use SYSX dumps or did you push buttons?

The sounds were spread across the keyboard, sometimes using several different presets for different song sections. The Emax hard disc had enough memory to store all the banks of sounds for all the songs. Each preset ornew bank was loaded using a footswitch.

How did you get around the slow loading time when you used Emulator II’s?

It was a logistical exercise. The live versions were structured in such a way that everybody could load their sounds in time to be ready for their first keyboard part. Sometimes extended intros were programmed to cover this problem. Since it took about 30 seconds for each bank of sounds to load, it was often touch and go whether everyone would make it in time.

What kind of Vocoder was used on ‘It’s Called A Heart’, ‘Kaleid’ and ‘The Defector’? Whose voice was vocoded on the DM tracks (if I’m correct in assuming this is a vocoder effect)?

You know, Anton, I can’t honestly remember what effects were used on any of these sounds. We’re going back a few years here and my memory just doesn’t work as well as it used to (old git).

I read under editorial about how you were pretty fond of the synclavier even though it was a heavy mother. Did you ever considered using a Fairlight in your production or was the cost not worth the purchase. Speaking of the Fairlight, Jarre uses this and a lot of other stuff, do you ever growl when you see his listing of studio equipment and do you like his music/innovations?

We only used a Fairlight once at Puk – it was there anyway. We didn’t need to purchase one since we had Emulators and the Synclavier at our disposal. I couldn’t give a toss about Jarre’s studio equipment. “Oi, Jarre…..NO! I admire your use of fancy light shows on big walls but……”

I’m curious to know what the Roland product was that gave out during the ‘SOFAD’ backing tape programming sessions and what was the result of the lawsuit?

The name escapes me for the moment. After a long battle, they refunded the purchase price of the two machines. I can’t remember the exact price but it was a lot (possibly £20,000). The problem was that we had also invested in loads of Data Dat back-up equipment which became redundant. Also, at the last minute, we had to aquire two digital multitrack machines to take on the road instead – so we still lost out financially.

Which synth created the unsettling “delayed bass” sound at the end of ‘Blasphemous Rumours’? It was the one sound that got me into electronic instruments….

Arp 2600 I think.

What synths did you bring to DM back in 1981 or did you come into the band with nothing?

I had a minimoog and a wurlitzer electric piano at the time, neither of which we actually used in DM.

On the ‘SOFAD’ tour you used a different Emulator to Martin and Andy. I am curious as to why you did this and in how far it differed from Mart’s and Andy’s?

The difference in keyboards was due to the fact that my particular selection of musical parts required more physical keys on the keyboard than those parts that were played by Martin and Fletch.

Could you explain how you provided the Emulators with the software after ‘Black Celebration’?

The later Emulators had internal hard disks so we were able to store the whole set of sounds onto them without the need for floppies.

I was wondering if you used to personally set-up and tear down the keyboards etc. for the DM shows. I find that if I let someone else do it, there are always problems and I ultimately end up doing it myself. Did you ever experience the same problems?

I’ve done my fair share of humping gear over the years but without meaning to sound arrogant, at DM’s level, one doesn’t set up ones own gear. One has a crew of a couple of hundred people to take care of that kind of thing…. 😉

I know from watching ‘101’ that there were tape machines on the side of the stage. Who started them for each song and/or were there sequencers, and who was the master and slave?

The machines would be started by the keyboard tech., Wob Roberts, at the beginning of the set and were only stopped and re-started inbetween encores. There were two identical machines which ran in sync – one was purely a back-up to the other in case of breakdown.

I also noticed on the SOFTD, that the laserdisc sounds much more sonic, so it sounds like there was a sequencer sending all the information instead of tape.

Do you mean a laserdisc of ‘SOFAD’ Live? If so, there is no difference between the sound recording of that, compared to the recording on any other format.

Was the Minimoog used to make the basslines for ‘Halo’ and ‘World in My eyes’?

I think they were created using a combination of the Minimoog and Flood’s ARP.

Any chance of Recoil or DM showing up on DVD (Digital video disc)?

Yes I would think and hope so, once the format takes off.

I read and watched that in the tours ‘101’ – ‘SOFAD’, Depeche Mode used the E- II Turbo. Did this sampler have any advantage compared to the others in those days?

There were a few around that would have done a similar job but the Emax seemed to be more robust for on-the-road use.

I think you used an ARP synth on ‘Black Celebration’. Which one, the ‘Odyssey’?

It would have been Dan Miller’s Arp 2600.

On the ‘Devotional’ tour, you used two visible keyboards. What kind of machines were they?

They were E-max ll Turbos.

What experience do you have of the Kurzweil 2000? 

The only experience I’ve had of the Kurzweil was trying to figure out, with Hep via telephone, how to work one when I’d never seen one before – it wasn’t a very successful operation.

On the ‘Devotional’ Tour you played a conventional drumkit. Did DM ever consider dropping most of the drum machines and perhaps use an electronic drumkit which could produce the same sounds but was played by a drummer? And do you think it could have worked just as well?

Well, the main pleasure gained from drumming is the response you get from real drums and at the time a lot of the ‘SOFAD’ songs were recorded with real drums. To have played the older songs on an electronic drumkit would have been very difficult since many of the parts are unplayable (I’m thinking of the fast hi-hats etc.). I also don’t think it would have been as much fun. I did have a couple of electronic pads which were incorporated into the kit for triggering samples – ‘Personal Jesus’ for example. That’s the nearest we got.