Having survived drugs, disease, infighting and '80s haircuts, Depeche Mode continues to build an electronic-rock body of work on the consistency level of U2. For 33 years, beginning with hits such as "Just Can't Get Enough" and "Personal Jesus," the band has hyper-polished its formula -- Dave Gahan's dark and plaintive vocals layered on top of songwriter Martin Gore's seesawing synthesizers. In a short phone conversation from a tour stop in Montreal, 52-year-old Gore covers the band's history, from its first days in March 1980 to this year's strong "Delta Machine" to two-hour, five-minute shows.
The band plays Barclays Center Friday and closes out the Jones Beach season on Sunday.
Depeche Mode has always had a blues element, but "Delta Machine" is especially explicit, given the title and lyrics about devils and soul-saving. Did you go back to your Blind Willie Johnson records before writing the songs?
If you look back over our last few records -- even though the last one was very analog-sounding and electronic, it still had elements of the blues. We'd been doing that, possibly, since the time of [1990's] 'Violator.' We wanted to draw your attention a bit more to it by calling it 'Delta Machine.' . . . We really liked the 'DM DM.' It's good for everything. Good for logos.
When you were making the last album, 2009's "Sounds of the Universe," you told Guitar Player: "I don't think we can play down the effect that the parcels arriving every day had on the record." How true is that for every Depeche Mode record -- shopping for new sounds and equipment?
It wasn't quite the same as 'Sounds of the Universe,' because I was really on a mad frenzy of just buying old synthesizers and drum machines. Whereas, this time, I got more into the modular aspect -- occasionally a new module would turn up, and it would be flavor-of-the-week.
Specializing in electronic music back then must have been expensive. How creative did you have to be to afford the gear?
I was the first one to actually buy a synthesizer, and it was a very cheap monophonic synthesizer, and I think it cost 300 pounds. We used to go to concerts on the train with our synthesizers in our suitcases. It wasn't really that difficult at all. We weren't like Emerson, Lake and Palmer. We didn't have huge rigs.
WHERE | WHEN
Friday night at 7:30 at Barclays Center, Brooklyn; Sunday at 6:30 p.m., Nikon at Jones Beach Theater, Wantagh
TICKETS Barclays, $49.50-$129.50; Jones Beach, $19.50-$186.75