It’s amazing, how the accident rules the world. My paths crossed with Lilian, when we joined the 'Setlist Relay Project' at Home Forum. We did common relays in Berlin, both Dusseldorf’s and Warsaw. At that time I still didn’t know that Lilian is that Lilian who writes the depeche MODE’s online biography at depechemodebiographie.de. I have learnt this very fast and then the story went quite fast. I was surpirsed, that nobody heart about Lilians' effort and book. Very quickly I’ve decided to send her few questions… oh btw and we’ve made a history by accident. First ever interview at MODE2Joy blog. Accidents happen…
[MODE2Joy]: How did everything start? How did you become the depeche MODE fan?
[Lilian]: I got to know dM when I was a child and was given a cassette of Speak & Spell as a birthday or Christmas present in 1981. (My birthday is in November, so I can’t remember whether it was birthday or Christmas.) I liked them a while because it was music my parents weren’t listen to. 😉 (I grew up with 1970s Rock, Blues and stuff like that, Leonard Cohen, Donovan, Manfred Mann, ELO…) I noticed what they were doing afterwards, Everything Counts, People Are People, but the interest was low in the average. I became a real fan with Black Celebration and Music for the Masses, although I’ve to say that I understood Music for the Masses much better when re-discovering them later. And I followed them along until Devotional. I left them with Alan, didn’t think they would “survive”, and there were many essential things in my personal life at the time that were more important than a band. I was completely away from them for a long time, didn’t notice what they were doing after Alan had left the band.
[M2J]: What was your depeche MODE moment? Song, clip, concert?
[L]: I still feel connected with Music for the Masses, its still my favorite album of theirs, and with Devotional as well. The most impressive concert I’d been to myself was in Manchester, England, in December 1993. It was a great concert, but the lad who was with me was shocked by Dave’s appearance. When we went home he kept saying, 'He’s on drugs, isn’t he? He’s gonna die, isn’t he?'
A great moment, of course, was Alan’s appearance at the RAH. Unfortunately, I wasn’t there personally, but I never thought it would happen to see them together on a stage again.
[M2J]: What pushed you to start the website and to run the online biography?
[L]: I 'came back' to them when they released the song Lilian on their album Playing the Angel in 2005. Not that I liked the song that much, (the opposite is the case), but I had got curious about what had happened to this band I used to like, who had now released a song with my name as the title.
I discovered the now no longer functional website sacredDM.net* that offered a large collection of articles about the band through the years. I started to read them and tried to find answers to questions like, 'Why did Alan really leave the band?', 'Why is this band popular with a large group of people, but is nevertheless misinterpreted, misunderstood or even ignored by large sections of the general music business?', and 'How and why did the band change from a certain point onwards, without being bothered by the fact that some of their more critical fans don’t like everything they are doing and releasing today?’…
[M2J]: That’s funny, but same year as you started I closed my first MODEontheROAD website and quit trading concerts. When I first saw sacredDM.net* it was obvious for me, that this website was fully loaded of plenty of depeche MODE goodies. My first impression was to download whole website to my archives, because I was afraid, that sacredDM.net* will disappear. I was right… after few years.
*(links are not to the live working website but to the 'waybackmachine' museum)
[L]: …What I had noted down for my own interest soon developed into a very long, detailed biography. I told some people about it, and they wanted to read it. At first, I sent the file, attached to E-mails. But when I got more and more requests I decided to publish it on a website, so I wouldn’t be bothered by requests about sending the file.
[M2J]: You said few minutes ago, that one of your main factors to write the biography was to answer the question: 'Why Alan did left the band?' I know that the answer wasn’t easy but official statement was quite clear. I think…
[L]: My main interest to write the biography was to find an answer to the question why Alan had left the band. Alan answered the question hundreds of times but always a bit different. That seems to lead to that almost every dM-fan has its own theory about it. When I asked this question in the fan survey that I carried out for depechemodebiographie.de I got 26 different answers! Some of them were orientated by things Alan said, some were orientated by rumours or suggestions by the remaining band members, some were own theories. Not even people who are close to him are sure about. So Steve Lyon said that he didn’t understand why Alan left although Alan told him much earlier.
I put Alan’s answers, suggestions of the remaining band members, and theories of fans together, trying to draw a conclusion.
As Alan’s leaving was a kind of leitmotif for this biography he is prominently mentioned, but it’s not a Alan Wilder biography, and it’s not all about problems, or the „dark sides” of the band. I’m tired of the drug stories. They are mentioned of course, but my main interest was the „band chemistry” itself with all their different facets.
[M2J]: After so many years I have learnt that this band has 2 faces, on one hand official versions or even some semi official versions and I think some biographies, which I did read in the past, reached that level. There are stories like drug addiction, official version of Alan leaving, alcoholism, relations between the members, but only on some certain level. On the other hand plenty of things which even Alan won’t tell you even after 18 years. Sometimes you have a feeling that there were something more or different but you are not able to find out what it is… in some cases Alan never left the band he only stopped studio, live and commercial activity, but he is still… benefits, shareholding depeche MODE project in general.
[M2J]: OK! Now you are about to release the biography in print. How did it happen?
[L]: I was asked about it several times. This biography is strongly influenced by the people who read it. People sent in a lot of feedback right from the start. I received (and still receive) many e-mails with questions, ideas, criticisms, requests – concerning the biography itself and regarding the layout of the website.
And there were many people asking for a print edition or an E-book edition because they didn’t like reading so much text on a computer screen.
I had refused to do so for a long time. To run a non-commercial website is one thing, to have it in print and sell it is something completely different. I didn’t want to be one of those people who make money with the name depeche MODE. Another reason for being against it was that the concept had always been to run a website you could update every day if necessary.
On the other hand, this biography has grown by the interest and suggestions of the readers, and they had asked for a print edition.
Nowadays there are a lot more possibilities to publish something than a few years back. It’s possible to publish a book without lots of payments in advance, so I decided to fulfil this wish.
Now everyone can decide if, where and how to read it – on a computer screen, on an E-book reader or as a printed book on their sofa.
[M2J]: Do you think odd that, fans of depeche MODE are doing a lot of things which should come from the band. I’m talking about TV Archives project? Your biography? But also many small projects like mulitcams from almost every concert, cataloging every record vide depmod.com. Now even Alan and webmaster of the official site is using theirs output.
[L]: This is a difficult question. I think it depends a lot on the devotion of the fans. They are doing stuff they would like to have, they are interested in.
I think it’s a question of being connected. The band is quite old-fashioned at that point. When you look at other bands, there’s much more communication with the fans. But that’s how they are, and maybe it’s a reason why we like them so much. 😉 You never get closer to some certain points.
The band probably also thinks that they are releasing enough. I think it’s a question of communication. They are quite bad at that point. Instead of reacting on requests they prefer to say nothing.
There are requests which repeat regularly, like the one for a DVD of Worldviolation. Why not saying, 'There isn’t any good material'., or if there’s material you can work with saying, 'There will be a release some day?'
I tried to get interviews with the band. They didn’t react on any requests. I don’t think it would have been difficult to ask someone of the record company to write a short notice that they aren’t interested in. Whoever I talked to from record company or management was excited first and willing to help but then, after they had talked to the band, turned silent, as if they were told not to communicate with me. Why not saying, 'We don’t like that project. Tell her, we are not interested.'? It would have saved a lot of time because no answer can mean a lot while a 'no, thanks' tells you everything you need to know.
So there are only interviews with Alan, Gareth Jones and Steve Lyon.
[M2J]: Holding the test print book in my hands it’s hard to pass away the feeling that this is very intensive and full of information and effort book. Did you have any other problems apart no answers from band members or some band crew? Which part was the most difficult to you?
The whole project went through many different phases over the years. And some of them were quite extensive and exhausting. The basic biography itself, and every radical change of it, the English version, but also creating the website, etc. The print edition was another phase. It was an exhausting project in itself. I set myself a deadline. You have to because you will never get ready with such a big project when you think you have all the time in the world. The main problems were English editors, who disappeared out the blue, technical issues, keeping self-discipline (although I think I’m quite disciplined), and not being a total perfectionist and control freak (which I tend to be. ;))
Considering the whole project it’s difficult to say which were the moments of most effort or most anger at something which didn’t work. The photographer of the cover photos and pictures for the interior says I was most impatient at the subject index, and at uploading the interior hundreds of times at CreateSpace after discovering another mistake, or a technical issue. ;))
[M2J]: Many fans are doing bio’s of depeche MODE for theirs internal needs. What happened that your one will see the light of the day?
[L]: It was a “fast-selling item”, never meant to be popular, printed or whatever. It has just become bigger and bigger because people kept asking about topics, ways to read and other stuff.
[M2J]: How many language versions will you issue?
[L]: The original version is in German. Again, on requests of readers the international version in English was done after some years. Other languages aren’t planned yet, but you never know. 😉
[M2J]: You are not native speaker of English. Did you have any support in English during writing process?
[L]: It was astonishingly difficult to find an English editor. I wanted a British native speaker because the main point was to get it authentic. My English is not so bad that I wouldn’t be able to get a text right (after reading it a hundreds of times), but it won’t be authentic, not like a native speaker would write it. But it took a while to find someone. Unfortunately, he couldn’t edit the whole text but the most important passages at least. So probably there will be a few odd sentences here and there, but that’s what I meant with – don’t be such a control freak. 😉
[M2J]: If somebody would come and say. Hey I’d like issue your bio as hardcover book in my language? What would you say?
[L]: If she/he translates it and takes the costs and efforts of doing it, we can talk about it. 😉
[M2J]: Your bio of depeche MODE is one of many biographies released recently. Don’t you afraid that sooner or later we will come to the same situation like with tribute albums in the past. Over production of this format was that big, that now nobody cares about next tribute projects.
[L]: I’m aware of that there are many other biographies on the market. But my point was never to make money with it or to get popular or whatever.
I chose Amazon to publish the service editions because there aren’t any payments in advance and because the ordering, payment and shipping process in all parts of the world are easy to deal with. So there aren’t any risks. I’m able to offer what people asked for without being in a position to HAVE to sell something.
[M2J]: How do you find The Delta Machine Tour?
[L]: I haven’t been to a concert of this tour myself, but when doing relays for Home forum and talking to other fans and watching some videos and livestreams, I have to notice that this tour is much better than the last ones. Maybe their best since Devotional!
[M2J]: Are you the fan of studio or live aspect of depeche MODE activity?
[L]: Well, I’m definitely one of the 'old timers who want Alan back.' 😀 I like most of what they did between 1983 and 1993, including the fantastic live versions of the Exotic Tour (and I wish there would be a good release of World Violation Video), but I’ve some difficulties with some stuff they did and released after Alan’s leaving. I’m not very keen on some of the new live versions of old songs. So I’m more an album listener, and I still prefer Black Celebration, Music for the Masses, Violator and SOFAD, ahead of any other albums.
[M2J]: Please tell the readers of MODE2Joy blog, how they can grab your biography of depeche MODE, and where, apart from your website?
[L]: At the moment print and E-book editions are only available via Amazon. International version in English at Amazon.com. It’s also possible to order in Euro from every Amazon European shop. i.e. Amazon.de.
If there were lots of requests from readers from certain countries in which Amazon isn’t popular, we might think about an expanded distribution. This project has grown with and through its readers. So anything could happen – updates, special editions, editions in further languages, a calendar with pictures from the book … or nothing at all. It’s just a question of interest. Maybe this is the most special about this project – nothing was ever planned. It’s a „I would like to …”-project. 😉
[M2J]: Thank you Lilian and good luck with your biography of depeche MODE.