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Depeche Mode co-founder David Gahan wants us to remember: 'Memento Mori'

David Gahan of Depeche Mode.
Anton Corbijn
Courtesy of the artist
David Gahan of Depeche Mode.

"Everything feels different. Everything that we've been doing."

That's how Depeche Mode singer and songwriter Dave Gahan sums up life for his band since the death of founding keyboardist Andy "Fletch" Fletcher in 2022. Gahan and co-founder Martin Gore forged ahead on their latest album without him; it's called Memento Mori. Roughly translated from Latin, it means: "Remember, one day you will die."

It's a theme that runs throughout the album. "Mortality, death, you know, and living! It's about living here now with what we have," Gahan told NPR's Leila Fadel.

While Fletch didn't live to hear this new music, Gahan says the album's lead single, "Ghosts Again," would have been a favorite. "A classic: sort of melancholy/joyous moments of Depeche Mode writing, where you kind of hit that nerve of both things. You feel the joy in the melody, but there's a foreboding in the lyric and the way it's sung."

Gahan wrote three of the songs on the album – a big change from Martin Gore's usual domination of those duties. But they came to an understanding while making their previous record, 2017's Spirit.

"I wouldn't say we came to blows," Gahan said, "but we came close. You know, the gauntlet was laid down and it was like, 'Hey, look, I write songs too, and I want as much attention with those songs as you get.' "

Gahan struggled with the idea of making another Depeche Mode album, and says the song "Speak To Me" was partially an imagined conversation he had with a "larger force" about that question. "Because I felt really torn between jumping into making another Depeche Mode record or, as I had been for the last couple of years for the first time in my life, home with friends and family and my animals. And just living a life and really enjoying that."

Now that they've planned a lengthy tour to support Memento Mori, Gahan says he and Gore haven't talked about continuing Depeche Mode beyond it. "We really kind of don't do that."

He says the exhaustion that sets in during a long tour sometimes makes the decision for him. "Always when it ends, I walk away from it feeling, I'm done now, you know? That's it. I did my job."

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Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.
Phil Harrell
Phil Harrell is a producer with Morning Edition, NPR's award-winning newsmagazine. He has been at NPR since 1999.