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Q&A: Dave Gahan

From synth-pop to tattoos and long hair – was the Depeche Mode/Soulsavers man always a rock star in pop clothing?

Dave Gahan was once the very picture of cherubic innocence. Back in the early 80s, Depeche Mode were purveyors of bubbly synth-pop, but as the Essex boys’ music got heavier and more industrial, Gahan’s image got rockier and his lifestyle darker.

By the mid-90s he had attempted suicide and overdosed on a speedball at LA’s Sunset Marquis hotel, his heart stopping for two minutes.

Today, living in New York and newly healthy after having a tumour removed from his bladder in 2009, Gahan is both a true survivor and an unlikely influence on a generation of rock bands. The 53-year-old singer has now teamed up with British duo Soulsavers for a brooding new album, Angels & Ghosts, which he discusses in an accent that’s equal parts Basildon and Brooklyn. 

How far are you reaching back for inspiration on Angels & Ghosts? The lyrics suggest a degree of residual torment from your black period.

Now you put it like that, it does sound a bit grim! There’s definitely a lot of reflection when I start writing. I’ve been on this mortal coil for 50-plus years, and you start to have quite a lot to draw on.


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