Depeche Mode are one of the more important bands to emerge from the prolific decade of the 1980s. Their razor-sharp cutting edge always had them ahead of their peers. Now, we’re revisiting some recently unearthed demos from a time before they were even known as Depeche Mode – and they’re as honed as ever.
Before the band became Depeche Mode, one of the moodiest and most avant-garde acts the decade ever produced, they were known as Composition of Sound. Here, we have the new wave/minimalist punk band and their first demo tapes for your listening pleasure.
While one of the demos featured Vince Clarke on vocals with Andy Fletcher on bass and Martin L. Gore on synthesisers, a second demo tape would be unearthed which welcomed the arrival of Dave Gahan into the band. This tape, recorded in 1980, was the critical moment just before the band would rebrand themselves as Depeche Mode.
Vince Clarke and Andy Fletcher had been playing together since their Cure-influenced band No Romance in China, back in 1977. They then formed CoS with Gore, who had previously only played the guitar in an acoustic act. In 1980, the band would then recruit Dave Gahan after they had heard him sing David Bowie song ‘Heroes’ in a jam session.
By the time of this demo, the band had almost entirely given up on guitars, something Clarke notes was influenced by seeing Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, as such, the tape offers a brief view into the future of the band and their wide-ranging influence on the music industry.
Three songs are featured on the recording. ‘Ice Machine’, the first track, was later released as the B-side for ‘Dreaming of Me’, the band’s first artistic watermark with their record label Mute. The other two tracks, ‘Radio News’ and ‘Photographic’, would not be released to the wider public but would go on to set the standards of Depeche Mode’s sound for decades to come.
Listen below to Depeche Mode’s earliest demos… before they were even Depeche Mode.