Exclusive interview with Alan Wilder

Here is our exclusive HOME interview with Alan Wilder. This time he answers the questions asked by you, the fans. Enjoy!

Has your recent involvement in the DM album re-issues given you any new appreciation or insight into them or in fact your time in the band overall? Was this involvement something you were asked to do or did you volunteer?

I wouldn’t say I gained any great new insight into the records themselves. The listening experience brought back a lot of memories however. Certain individual sounds, when exposed, sparked off a recollection of how they were recorded which in turn would remind me of conversations and how we were relating to each other during different DM periods.

The concept was to get each producer(s) to act as consultant for the albums they were involved in. I was asked as consultant and also because I was the only one with access to certain sounds which hadn’t been recorded to tape at the original sessions. I had kept everything on back-up DAT tapes for the purposes of putting together live versions.

Also, with the benefit of hindsight, are there any songs or albums you now like more (or less) than when they were originally recorded?

A few but not many. Perhaps something like ‘Rush’ seems to have improved with age. Generally, I feel now the same way I felt at the time. Some I love, some I hate:)

How does your contact with the Depeche Mode-factory work these days considering re-releases etc etc and with current band members?

There is little contact with the ‘factory’ as you put it. I mean, I don’t need direct contact with the other band members for consultancy issues or royalty issues. I deal directly with Mute over matters such as label copy for re-issues for example. There were one or two minor band discussions which needed agreement over the singles package (part 2) a few years back. I have e-mail contact with Dave on a pure social basis.

Why didn’t you participate in the DVD version of the ‘101’ film. Was the film that bad you think?

I was asked (in fact I was begged) to take part but just didn’t feel it would be any good. I hated the idea of sitting in a viewing room together watching it and making stupid comments – to be recorded for a commentary. It seemd to me that Mute were just trying find anything quickly to use as an extra rather than come up with a really good idea.

As for the film, I feel it works on one level and captures a moment in time in quite a funny way but it could have been so much more. I don’t blame Pennebaker – he just made a film about what he saw – but the band could have contributed more, added some depth.

This one isn’t strictly speaking about just Depeche Mode, but I have a feeling the reply will be: Name 3 songs you regret getting involved in!

‘It’s Called A Heart’, ‘Pleasure, Little Treasure’, ‘But Not Tonight’.

What was the last DM album or song you listened to and when?

‘Rush’ – Amyl Nitrate mix – because Hep likes it at the moment and keeps playing it.

When you left Depeche, you cited a lack of acknowledgment and appreciation within the band. Was there a single event that was the final straw? You can tell us – hardly anyone reads this site. Wink

No single event. It was an accumulative thing which peaked during the making of SOFAD. I was very unhappy at that time and vowed during those recording sessions that I never wanted to go through that experience again. The band was in a mess, no enthusiasm, drug problems, apathy, tension and arguments. It didn’t help all trying to live together at the same time!

Which “post Alan” DM song would you have liked to have worked on?

Probably ‘Home’ – although Tim Simenon did a pretty good job anyway. I really like the string arrangement and the song itself, both lyrically and melodically. I think Martin based the verse around ‘Lucy In The Sky’ (verse). Check the chord structure.

If you could re-live a DM moment again what would you choose ?

That’s tough – on a creative level, there are those special moments when you know you’ve done something good. For example, when we nailed ‘In Your Room’ (which had been tough) by effectively stitching together three working versions and making one. Everybody sat back, listened through and collectively said.. wow, yes that’s it. But really I would just like to re-live some of the great after show parties!!

Tell us about the footage you shot over the years ?

Well much of it is very personal and may never be seen – lots of being stupid in the studio during the Berlin period and plenty of tour stuff at airports, hotels, driving into gigs, fans screaming – and sound-checks where everyone looks miserable and cold. I also have funny stuff from trips to Japan and other strange places. I haven’t watched the footage for many many years.

We understand you think DM quality control is lacking – but would you agree with a retrospective box set containing demos etc etc being released.

No I wouldn’t. That’s a classic case of not controlling quality. Demos are exactly what they say they are, a demonstration for those working on the music to hear the song in a very basic undeveloped way. They were never intended for public consumption and that is how it should stay (well until I’m long dead anyway:)

Aren’t you sick and tired of being asked about DM?!


Of all your Recoil albums so far, which is your favorite? Which album would you recommend someone new to your music to start with? What are your impressions from each Recoil album? If you prefer one specially, the most difficult one, etc.

I don’t have a favourite. I guess I would recommend either the most recent or maybe ‘Unsound Methods’ for a first time listener. The general feeling is that ‘Liquid’ is a bit more left field and maybe more ‘difficult’ although I like it just as much as ‘UM’ or ‘subHuman’. The albums before these such as ‘Hydrology’ and ‘Bloodline’ for me are not fully developed although I like quite a lot of the stuff on ‘Bloodline’. I think by the time DM had finished ‘Violator’ and ‘SOFAD’, my production skills were much more finely honed.

What are your motivations when you start a new record? Do you have a fairly solid idea of where you want it to go, or is that something that develops in the process of recording?

I have no ideas or motivations. It’s a real problem for me to get started on something new. It seems such a daunting prospect knowing that I am so far away from the end and not having the focus of songs written up front. This is exactly the situation I am in at the moment and, frankly, I’m struggling. But once I get past that hurdle, things usually start flowing again.

Are you working on anything new at the moment?

As above.

Over the past year or so, you’ve been doing a lot of grassroots type stuff with Recoil, promoting ‘subHuman’, meeting as many fans as possible! What are the advantages/drawbacks of this – both personally and professionally?

It gives me a chance to meet people and be sociable, given that I’m mostly locked away and quite unsociable. I’m often accused of being grumpy, even by my close friends. It is something I am trying to change about myself. Going on promo trips forces me to engage with people and that’s good for me. Professionally, I just try to do whatever is needed to help promote the music (apart from play live). Sometimes it has a small effect but it is difficult to acquire really meaningful press & promo these days. There are so few outlets for more eclectic, left-field projects like Recoil.

Alan, could you please ask Hep to kick your butt from the sofa more frequently? We might have more of your creativity often… Wink

Don’t worry – I can assure you she’s been kicking me hard recently… I’ll be in the gutter soon if she carries on.

Xbox 360, PS3 or Wii? Pick your favorite damn it!

Never used any – although Wii sounds like it could be fun.


  • Anthony Somers


    Not all of the questions that were sent have been answered. I guess poor Alan is fed up with the idea of being confronted with his past of DM over and over. But still much respect to that guy. Without him, DM probably wouldn't have the success they've known for years and still have. Alan, the musical magician, peace man ;-)!!!

  • Marco aka Treasure


    Very nice and interesting Q&A!

  • conkan


    Great read! Love the last question :-)

  • Condemned


    Appreciate that Alan answered so many DM questions...usually these things tend to be very "polite" and more about his current projects with only a question or two relating to DM. Very nice!

  • Nacho


    What are your motivations when you start a new record? Do you have a fairly solid idea of where you want it to go, or is that something that develops in the process of recording? I have no ideas or motivations. It’s a real problem for me to get started on something new. It seems such a daunting prospect knowing that I am so far away from the end and not having the focus of songs written up front. This is exactly the situation I am in at the moment and, frankly, I’m struggling. But once I get past that hurdle, things usually start flowing again. yes!!! that's my question but better structurated. My falt, my english is that bad Thaxs guys for the inteview, it's great!! N.

  • Francis Cave


    The first two questions Alan responded to were mine! Cool!! Thanks Mr W!

  • Mute013


    Great Interview. It's a shame that Alan still seems so down about his time in DM. I think the fans know how much he gave to the band, and I still think it took until Playing the Angel for DM to make an Album rather than a collection of songs. Alan if you are reading this, I do find some of your Recoil tracks hard to get into, but don't let that stop you.

  • bongino


    Alan, thanks for your patience answering those questions.It was fun.

  • D1a31o


    nice! too bad so many questions about DM! but still nice to read! carry on Hep!

  • midigirl


    I appreciate the interesting read from Alan. He did contribute quite a bit about dM, which I'm sure has a lot to do with the fact he was doing an interview for a dM website. ;) Best part of the interview: finding out he is indeed working on new stuff. It may be tiring starting out, but once he finds that creative energy, he will give us an amazing album. Looking forward to it very much!

  • Almeida


    I seriously think that he needs to do just like Nine Inch Nails is doing. He sounds a lot upset with the failing of old music industry standards of selling records.



    Great read!

  • jim


    it's really a shame that alan still seems bitter after all these years. perhaps it's the fact that the band is still successful without him and he's unable to bury the hatchet at this point.

  • Clare


    The band is still successful, but they're not half the band they were we AW was behind the wheel

  • Glen


    I couldn’t disagree more!

  • Juha


    The band has never really reached the same levels after Alan left. After that there´s a few good tracks rather than entire albums that have stood out as good ones, surprisingly most of them by Dave. But Alan was much too important for DM than they ever realised. Having said that I still like DM but can´t appreciate the Recoil albums. It was the mix of the group and what each individual brought to the table that made them reach the hights they did! But Dave´s Hourglass album has some cracking good tracks on it!

  • bird


    i dont think he was bitter at all really. and of course DM isnt as good without alan. PTA is the best album they released..ultra isnt bad too i guess really but AW's statement upon departure has proven itself. quality control in DM. haha he was being nice about that. the dynamic range on PTA isnt the greatest and daves new album its awful! a current trend in music, its too bad alan though..he knows what hes doing... :)

  • Diana


    Nice interview. really enjoyed reading it. Alan seems a bit bitter about DM but he might have his reasons...he sees everything from a different point of view than us. Indeed DM had something magic when Alan was in it...but what can we do? Enjoy what we still have :)

  • zoomzoom


    I appreciate Alan´s attitude towards the "101"-DVD topic very much. But I´d really be keen on listening how certain DM-demos developed into released songs.

  • Brenda


    Alan is a great musician but we can't give him ALL the credit for DM's success. It goes both ways. DM is not the same w/o AW and vice versa. They were a GREAT combo all together. But I sill love them the same :)

  • Morne Van Zyl


    Depeche Mode is still good and the best, but they were a stronger band with Alan like Violator which is for me still there best Album. All the tracks were good where with the latest albums: Its No Good and Precious are actually the real DM hits lets hope the next album will be just as great.For me Violator still remains untouchable.

  • fernando


    Hola soy de Argentina y uno de los tantos que fuimos a ver el unico show acá. Soy fanatico del grupo. Me encantó live en milan. Espero que vengan por Argentina, son los Nro 1.Gracias espero comentarios.

  • fatboy


    alan is not in depeche any more he is making obscure blues electronica... woke up this morning.. bleep crash bang woman was dead catchy number

  • Simon


    What's wrong with "But Not Tonight"?

  • Kill


    Alan is over rated. Martin and David are Dpeche Mode. That is why he got upset and left. He knew he wasn't crap.

  • Glen


    Alan crap? Wow...

  • jonnte65


    The first album without Alan W. ULTRA. Is one of DM:s best I think!

  • dj.Ereck ((Home of the Breakbeat))


    it will be a number 1 top-chart on the list if alan wilder get together with depeche mode !!

  • Jeff


    Alan gave his contributions to the band and helped create some wonderful songs. I'd love to see Alan and DM bury the hatchet but may not happen for a long time...if ever. The first album without Alan was indeed Ultra and had about 7 great tracks on it....without Alan. Recoil is crap...I have to agree with Fatboy and Kill. He is nothing without DM, but DM have moved on. I am however glad that Dave and Alan still e-mail each other and keep in touch.

  • Alan1


    I wish one of the questions had been, "Would you ever consider working in the studio again with DM?" It wouldn't be the same atmosphere like it was during SOFAD. Alan might be surprised at how much fun he would have with Dave, Martin, & Andy if he just allowed himself to let bygones be bygones. Funny, regarding his comments about not wanting demos to be distributed commercially, since word is he donated some of the demos that are showing up on the deluxe edition of Sounds Of The Universe. I agree that it's nice to hear he still has contact with Dave via e-mail. The man contributed such great talent and production value with Depeche Mode, which is what some fans feel has been missing from later DM releases. I wish the powers that be could find a way to bring everyone back together, kind of like what was done for 80s bands like Berlin & ABC. Wishful thinking I suppose.

  • Miro


    It's funny how you can see the difference between band members and you can get some basic idea how different is their way of thinking. - Fletcher insists on putting old demos as a deluxe boxset for Sounds Of The Universe. - Wilder thinks that it's a lack of quality control. However, I must admit as fan, that I've been waiting for those demos out of pure curiosity. I just wanted to hear what was the difference between the original submitted songs and between the final studio work. Which in the case with Songs Of Faith And Devotion is mostly done by Alan and Flood. The final production of Judas for example can easily be compared to a Recoil song, rather than post Wilder - DM. You can also notice how true is a comment that Alan made while he was in the band. That Martin will be happy just to release the tracks close to the demo stage, which is the case with some of the post Alan DM songs. I'm also pretty sure that both sides are quite happy with the fact that they don't work together anymore. That's why I don't think that they will ever work again. Although I still keep some hopes about Dave bagging Alan to produce some of his solo work :) With the last 3 albums you can clearly notice the absence of Alan Wilder in the studio and in the band.

  • dj.Ereck (home of the breakbeat)


    i will like to see alan getting back together with depeche mode. REALLY!

  • dj.Ereck


    does alan has a website for the funs to visit and check the new song tracs, and videos,ect,?

  • dj.Ereck


    when is alan going to be on a concert tour i will like to see the Recoil band here, in san jose,ca.

  • Diana Diaz


    The demos are interesting and they show a great deal of tinkering between the demo stage and the final cut. I think DM was changing and even with Alan, it would have changed. I like the stronger guitar work that Martin has been turning out. Sounds of the Universe was brilliant. Different than what you have heard in the past though it used some of the older sounds. Also Alan wasn't doing as much on keyboards in the 90s as compared to before. I have to say the only album I have issues with is Playing the Angel--haha though the first two albums are full of chessy sweetness.

  • Diana Diaz


    Also, some bands are BETTER in the demo stage, as with Echo & the Bunnymen. That was the real band as opposed to the over-tinkered version that came out in 1987. Depeche Mode got better between demo and studio recording.