‘Presence of God’ is really that understanding that sometimes when you step out of your own shoes and just open your ears and listen to what’s going on around you, you get answers to the questions you were asking.
Certain songs like ‘Enjoy the Silence’ – to me, it always fits anywhere. There’s something about that song that’s really timeless, and I never get bored or feel like I have to muster something up.
Depeche Mode have never got over their teenage awkwardness with each other. We’re still like that. Mates but not mates. That awkwardness is there, only now we have families and kids.
Growing up in a band is weird – you get stuck hanging on to what it is you think you are. But what I took into Depeche was that punk ethic, that you don’t have to be accomplished to be a musician. If you’ve got ideas, you can do this.
I always played around with writing songs, but when you’re spending a lot of time in bars, you have a lot of big ideas, but you don’t do much with them.
I definitely have a dark side of me that can be pretty vicious… as we all do.
I do use texting as a great way to communicate quickly, but I don’t Twitter or anything.
I go to a very visual place when I’m singing. It’s very cinematic and I get this feeling of space. I love when music does that.
I go to see some big shows of other bands, and I feel like I’m so bombarded and over-stimulated that I lose interest in the music. There has to be light and shade, and less stimulating moments. There has to be an arc to the show.
I had a few brushes with death, where I nearly chose to go. The final one in 1996 did it for me. I suddenly had that feeling that I wasn’t indestructible. There was no big white light experience, I just felt this complete blackness and a huge voice inside me saying, ‘This is not right.’
I have a very addictive personality, so I’m even careful about wanting more of anything than I need – even chocolate.
I have to feel the audience. I enjoy that feeling of community. There’s something sort of spiritual about it in a lot of ways. It’s like we’re all doing this together.
I often find myself on my knees praying to something or someone to not be in control.
I really believe that the more distractions and fixes I remove from my life, the better I’ll feel about myself. The biggest of those is Depeche Mode. It’s the one marriage that survived, but I’m not sure it works – for me, anyway. Jumping on a plane to go somewhere else and be told how wonderful I am doesn’t feel good any more.
I still hold on to the idea that a record can really change the way I feel.
I think there’s a great strength in having the courage and also having the support to do what you want to do when you’re an artist in any way, shape or form.
I’m a little jaded when it comes to certain kinds of music. I’m much more drawn to a vocalist than what’s going on musically. A singer like Nick Cave or Mark Lanegan, his voice draws me in. If you go back to Johnny Cash or Billie Holiday, they tell a story with their voice. You don’t have to believe the story, but you feel connected to it.
If you ask me who the members of the Rolling Stones or Led Zep or the Clash were, I’d be able to tell you every member. But I couldn’t name a single member of Arctic Monkeys.
If you stick around long enough, you’re going to become fashionable eventually.
In the early to mid-’90s, everywhere I turned, someone had died. It wasn’t just people in bands. It was the people I was hanging out with. At some point, I thought, ‘I may be heading down that road.’
It takes a long time to find your own voice. Along the way, you imitate all the things that influence you – in my case Johnny Cash, Bowie, John Lydon.
Joy comes from places you least expect it. It’s usually the simple things, like watching my son play basketball or going through Central Park when the blossoms are blooming.
L.A. is always great. There’s something special about L.A. And New York, for me, because it’s home. There’s nothing quite like walking onstage at Madison Square Garden.
Like every New Yorker, I have a love/hate relationship with the city. There are times it’s overbearing, but when I’m away even for a little while, I can’t wait to get home. I am a New Yorker.
Making a record with ‘Depeche Mode’ is not a simple process. It’s quite complicated and long. We have the luxury of time. I’m not sure that’s such a good thing when you’re being creative.
The possibilities are endless now, with performing, getting your music online, getting your own website and getting your music out there. I think that’s very cool and amazing.
The whole ‘serious artist’ thing is very damaging. The powers that be will steer you towards your own demise. One thing I’ve learned is that it’s not very glamourous, and my problems are no different from anybody else’s.
There has to be an interaction of musicians on stage. Otherwise I feel too alone up there. When performing is really good, when it really works, maybe once every 15 shows, it’s very special, and you realize that’s why you do it.
There isn’t an amount of money you could offer me to do reality TV. I would rather get my job back on the building site. Or I could own a construction business. Maybe I could retire to my house in Long Island and take up painting, like Captain Beefheart. A crazy recluse: I like that idea.
There’s that side of me that wants to be the loving, caring father, and there’s the other side of me that’s just a dirty animal. If I don’t let that out, I go nuts.
To go on the road and see people sing my own lyrics back to me is just fantastic.
To me, it’s always been a challenge to look for the light: to look for those spaces in your heart where there is hope and faith and try to embrace that rather than crush it. I’ve spent so many years trying to crush those feelings of hope, and I certainly succeeded for quite a while.
When I was growing up in the early ’70s and really getting into music, waiting outside the record store for that 45, waiting for a single from The Dead, The Clash, David Bowie, or T-Rex or something to be there. There was something about that that was so special.
When I’m with the wife, and we’re having a romantic night, I occasionally think about a glass of red wine, but I’ll order a sparkling water. I’d like the wine, but it wouldn’t end with one glass, so I don’t even go there.
You’re only going to get surface with me. It takes me ages to warm up to people.
You’ve got to put interesting people around you; you’ve got to work with people who are gonna inspire you to take the songs you’ve written into a completely different direction, because there’s nothing more boring than going to the studio and predictably knowing what is going to happen.