Personally and professionally, synth-pop survivors Depeche Mode are on sturdier footing than ever as they near their 30th anniversary, as well as the April 21 release of their new album, "Sounds of the Universe."
"Sometimes you have to pinch yourself, because we've had our rough moments in the past," keyboardist Andy Fletcher tells Billboard. "It's nice to be at this stage of our careers and be making good records and getting along well."
"Universe" is led by the three-minute, hard-edged single "Wrong," which Fletcher calls an antidote to "bubble-gum pop" inappropriate "for where we are in society at this moment."
Frontman David Gahan spells primary songwriter Martin Gore on tracks like "Hole to Feed," based on a Bo Diddley beat, while Gore takes the mic on the ballad "Jezebel." Other songs include the midtempo stomper "Peace" and the rhythm-driven "Fragile Tension."
"We think this album has got quality. And we recorded a lot of extra tracks which will be on a deluxe version," Fletcher says of the follow-up to 2005's "Playing the Angel," the band's first album since extending its longterm deal with EMI to include North America.
Depeche Mode begins an international stadium tour May 10 in Tel Aviv; North American dates are taking shape for August and September.
"In some ways, what's bizarre is that we're actually playing to more people now than even at the height of our chart success with 'Violator,'" Fletcher says. "I think it's down to different generations listening to Depeche Mode. We've been going for nearly 30 years, and it has just grown and grown and grown."