Depeche Mode's Violator: 'I think it still stands as their best work and I'm pretty sure even the band would agree with that'
- Fiona Shepherd
- 19 March 2020
30 years after the release of the band's iconic album, David McElroy and Kevin May discuss their new book which charts the background, making and aftermath of the album and tour
Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix at the Monterey Pop festival, David Bowie performing 'Starman' on Top of the Pops, The Smiths' 'This Charming Man' in session on the John Peel show – all cultural epiphanies for entire generations of music fans. For Castle Douglas teenager David McElroy, hearing Depeche Mode's 'Enjoy the Silence' on radio was the moment where everything fell into place and a lifelong love of the Basildon band took root.
Thirty years later, with many of their albums, concerts and his own DM blog Almost Predictable. Almost under his belt, 'Enjoy the Silence' is still his favourite Depeche Mode track from his favourite Depeche Mode album, Violator.
'It was a gateway to Depeche Mode at the time but I do genuinely think it's an album that was innovative and well ahead of its time,' he says. 'It turned the band from an accidental stadium band to a deliberate stadium-filling band on the World Violationtour. I think it still stands as their best work and I'm pretty sure even the band would agree with that.'
Violator's supremacy in the band's catalogue is an opinion shared by many fans – and non-fans – of the band, including journalist Kevin May, with whom McElroy has teamed up to complete Halo, a book charting the background, making and aftermath of the album and tour.
'Songs of Faith and Devotion came along three years later with drink and drugs which we're not really paying attention to because that's had plenty of airtime,' says McElroy. 'But there's a mystery to Violator still, partly because it came out a few years before people were starting to regularly film things at gigs. It was a huge tour but there was no official live footage or album, so unless you were there, you didn't see it.'
Depeche Mode are known for playing their cards close to their chest. Unsurprisingly to May and McElroy, they declined to contribute to Halo so the authors have sought out new angles, interviewing associated players such as Danish pedal steel guitarist Nils Tuxen, the first session musician to contribute to a DM album, and the actresses who appeared in Anton Corbijn's iconic videos for the band.
Throughout March, McElroy is marking the album's 30th anniversary with a daily blog on his site, featuring guest contributions, some of which will appear in the book, due to be published this summer by Grosvenor House.
'One day I'm sure there will be a Depeche Mode-authored book,' says McElroy. 'Until then, people have to put up with me and Kevin.'
Find out more about the book at halotheviolatorbook.com/halo.