OnlineRock Blog

27 November 2011

Original Members of Depeche Mode Reunite to Form VCMG

By Tomi Mendel

Martin Gore and Vince Clarke, two of the original members of Depeche Mode, are making music together for the first time in thirty years, according to Mute Records. Christening themselves VCMG, the pair plan to release a number of EPs followed by a full-length album in a techno-oriented style. Clarke first emailed Gore about the collaboration a year ago, feeling that his former band-mate would be a great partner for a project inspired by “minimal dance music.” 

Martin Gore and Vince Clarke, founding members of Depeche Mode.

All of the songs were created via back-and-forth email exchanges of recorded files. These two men go way back, having recorded Depeche Mode’s synth-pop classic of a debut album, Speak & Spell, together in 1981. Despite the group’s early successes, Clarke, who was the band’s primary songwriter at the time, decided to leave later that year and form a new group, Yazoo. Gore took over the reigns, and his songwriting helped propel Depeche Mode to even greater fame.

The biggest Depeche Mode song from the Vince Clarke-era.

Under Gore’s watch, they grew to be one of the few British synth-pop bands to cross the Atlantic Ocean and capture the attention of American audiences. More impressively, they managed the difficult task of appealing to rock as well as electronica fans, and songs like “Personal Jesus” and “Enjoy The Silence” remain alternative radio staples even to this day. Much of this success is due to their willingness to experiment with different genres, from the grunge-influenced 1993 single “I Feel You” to the dreamy folk-electronica of the Exciter album. Furthermore, the dark, dreary songs of the mid 1980s meshed perfectly with the industrial rock of the era. All these factors contributed to the band’s incredible worldwide success with many different kinds of music lovers.

Depeche Mode - Music - More Music Videos 
They didn’t get the memo about the flannel.

Meanwhile, Clarke’s post-Depeche Mode output has been equally fruitful as the primary songwriter for Yazoo (also known as “Yaz” in the USA) and Erasure. Although they never achieved the fame of Depeche Mode, both groups were successful in their own right, particularly in their native United Kingdom. Unlike his former band, Clarke stayed close to the electronic dance template of Speak & Spell, and he managed to top the U.S. Dance charts multiple times with both of his groups. 

Yazoo in particular, boasting wonderfully bluesy vocals courtesy of singer Alison Moyet, has built a lasting legacy, with their songs earning new fans through exposure in many movies and ads, including Napoleon Dynamite and Can’t Hardly Wait. They were also cool enough to earn a name-drop in LCD Soundsystem’s seminal ode to hipsterism, “Losing My Edge.” “I hear you're buying a synthesizer and an arpeggiator and are throwing your computer out the window because you want to make something real,” quips singer James Murphy, “you want to make a Yaz record.”

Reunited once again, Vince Clarke and Martin Gore of Depeche Mode form VCMG.

Both men have received their share of critical acclaim and financial success, but neither has had a hit in several years. Whether they are able to recapture the magic on these new recordings remains to be seen. However, given the nature of VCMG’s music, striking a chord with the general public on the level of their previous collaboration seems unlikely. The first EP, entitled Spock, will be available in December, with the full-length currently scheduled for next spring. 

While the pair’s description of their new work as “techno” will probably not immediately pique the interest of most classic Depeche Mode fans, it will be interesting to see what they can come up with after all these years. It is always nice to see old friends getting along again, and hopefully this reunion will bring some good music with it as well.


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