D ave Gahan would love to be on the road with Soulsavers, the British production duo with whom he's just-released the album "The Light the Dead See." But there's the matter of this other band that he's in...
Gahan is currently ensconced in New York with bandmates Martin Gore and Andy Fletcher, working on Depeche Mode's next album there after doing "a chunk of work as well out in California." Gahan tells Billboard.com that the group is "maybe a quarter of a way into working up a record" to follow 2009's "Sounds of the Universe," with Ben Hillier producing and Christoffer Berg (The Knife, Fever Ray) assisting.
"We've got more songs than we've ever had to work on at this stage," Gahan says. "Martin's been very prolific, written some great songs. I've got a bunch of tunes as well that we're working on that are really starting to develop into something cool. I'm excited about where this one's going; I think it's going to be a more direct record, a punchier record. That's all I can say at this point; with Depeche Mode, anything can change through the course of making a record."
That, of course, means a timetable is irrelevant. "It's a long process," Gahan acknowledges. "We're probably not finished til the end of the year, and we're talking about touring next year. But right now it's like a science lab here. We're working in two rooms at the moment, just full of electronics and guitars and everybody's getting very creative. It's like a laboratory."
Working with Soulsavers, however, was equally fulfilling for Gahan. He initially met the duo -- which had previously used guest vocalist such as Mark Lanegan, Gibby Haynes, Mike Patton, Jason Pierce and others -- through a mutual friend, bassist Martyn LeNoble, and then became friendly with Rich Machin and Ian Glover when Soulsavers opened for Depeche Mode during its last tour. "Rich and I got to talking about the writing process and how we wrote, and we realized it wasn't that different from each other," Gahan recalls. "He said, 'Can I send you some ideas, maybe, and see if we have something going on...I didn't think anything would come of it, but he did indeed send me something and I immediately felt inspired by it."
It took about a year, however, for Gahan, Machin and Glover to pull the trigger on a full-scale project. "There was no real plan," Machin notes. "It worked so easily and so quickly that we probably had five or six songs, half the record before we even had that conversation -- 'What the f*** are we actually doing here? Are we actually making a record? Well, I guess we are.' There was a very instant kind of chemistry, which is pretty rare. It would have been almost rude not to continue."
With Gahan reimmersed in Depeche Mode and Soulsavers moving on to a film soundtrack, live dates to support "The Light the Dead See" seem unlikely. But both parties intend to continue the Gahan-Soulsavers tandem; Machin, in fact, reports that "we've already started writing a couple of songs...that could possibly be the best stuff we've done yet. I'm sure there will at least be a second record," and Gahan is certainly on board with that.
"I don't want to jinx it, because it really came along in a really unplanned way," he says with a laugh. "We're looking a couple of years down the line here, but I am absolutely open to the idea that I think there's going to be a lot more stuff that we do together. It was so good it would be a shame to stop at just this one thing."