In the latest instalment of our series assessing the impact of Depeche Mode through personal narratives, Texan techno savant, bandleader and, for the Düsseldorf leg of the Delta Machine Tour, Depeche Mode opening act, Matthew Dear talks about what it feels like to share a stage with band he first saw live in 1993. Photo by Thomas Fähnrich.
The first time our paths crossed officially was when I did a remix of “Heaven” from Delta Machine, but back in 2007 we saw them play in Detroit. We didn’t have any connections then, we were just fans. We ended up sitting pretty close to the stage, and right before they started playing they had their soundtrack music come on. The first track was from Audion, one of my other projects, and we just started looking at each other. We knew then that Martin was kind of a fan. It was always hovering, this idea that one day something could happen, and then the remix kicked it off. They asked us to open for them in Düsseldorf.
I think 90 percent of the people in the audience weren’t familiar with my work, but there were definitely one or two die-hard Depeche fans near the front going, “Aw yeah! I heard the remix this guy did for them”, so that’s good to hear. The way I look at it is that you shouldn’t get in the way; the fans are there to see Depeche Mode. This is their night to connect with their favorite band, and it’s my job to give them what Depeche Mode wanted me to say. By selecting me they’re telling the fans, “Check out this stuff that we like.” So we did a nice little set, played our hearts out, and hopefully got a few converts. You don’t want to offend anyone in a situation like that. I think it was one of the largest crowds we ever played for. We played in Kiev a few days ago and that was 42,000 tickets sold and that was amazing. It was an open stadium so it felt more festive, and the crowd was looser. I think the people in Germany are a bit more hardcore about Depeche Mode, whereas there I think they were just excited in general. The Germans were definitely more judgmental toward us, but in a good way. We had to earn their applause, and we fed off that.
It’s funny, actually, how big a piece of my career Depeche Mode are. My brother flew in from Texas for these two shows, and my first experience with the band was through him. He’s nine years older than I am; his first introduction to music was Yaz, and it sucked him up into the world of new wave. We were always kind of baffled how, growing up in East Texas, he got access to the kinds of music he did. He actually used to travel to record stores that were miles and miles away just to buy music and talk to the guys who worked there about new stuff. Music For the Masses was one of the first CDs I ever really got into. I was about eight at the time; I remember seeing that big cardboard box that all CDs used to come in back then, and the album cover became so iconic for me. I’d go into my brother’s room and grab all his maxi-CDs with all the remixes and just sit and play them. I loved it, loved anything with synthetic sounds actually.
Fast forward a few years. It’s 1993, I’m 14 years old and about to go to high school, and my brother decides that it’s time to go to a concert. So he takes me to see Depeche Mode on their Songs of Faith & Devotion tour. I was this wide-eyed kid in a huge amphitheater, surrounded by people and knowing all the words to the songs. It was a revelation. I’d started getting into making music, and as I sat there seeing it all I said to myself, “This is what I want to do.” Now I’m opening for Depeche Mode, which is mind-blowing. Now my brother is here, and it’s this perfect full-circle moment.
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