The reunion of Vince Clarke and Martin Gore on record for the first time since Depeche Mode's debut album in 1981 -- for VCMG's "Ssss," dropping March 13 -- was "a bolt out of the blue," according to Gore.
"I got an e-mail from Vince -- I wasn't aware he even had my e-mail address -- just saying, 'I'm thinking about making a techno album. Are you interested in collaborating?' " Gore tells Billboard.com. "It was as simple as that, straight to the point. He said, 'No deadlines, no pressure.' So I just responded, 'Sounds like fun. Let's do it.'"
VCMG's "Single Blip"
Clarke, whose interest in minimalist techno started with a 2010 remix for Plastikman, says he was already several tracks into the album when he decided "it might be interested to get Martin involved as a collaborator." The duo created the resulting 10-track album without ever meeting or even speaking over the phone -- though they visited with each other prior to the project when they each played at the Short Circuit presents Mute festival in London. "It was just passing files to each other over the Internet, one after the other," Clarke recalls. "We actually didn't get to meet personally until the project was finished." And even that meeting, Gore says, was over the phone.
"We didn't have a conversation until the album was virtually finished -- and that was out of necessity because we needed to discuss things like what we were going to call ourselves, possible album titles and artwork," Gore remembers. "So we had a conference call... and that was the first time we heard each other's voices during the whole project. think a lot of people work that way now, but it's not something I've ever done before for a whole project."
Clarke credits Gore with coming up with "Ssss's" album title, and Gore says it was inspired by his cohort. "There were quite a few tracks that Vince said to met ah were called 'Hiss,' kind of that white noisey sound -- and there was usually a hiss on every track," explains Gore, who recruited Clarke to put his spin on "Behind the Wheel" for Depeche Mode's "Remixes 2: 81-11" collection last year. "There where so many tracks he just called 'Hiss' that it reminded me of a snake and inspired that as a title."
VCMG previewed the album with an EP for the tracks "Spock" and and will do the same on Feb. 28 for "Single Blip," featuring remixes by Byetone and Mathew Johnson. Live work for VCMG seems unlikely, however, as Gore plans to start recording Depeche Mode's next album in March, most likely for a 2013 release. "So far all we've done is have a meeting," he says. "We've listened to all the songs and are happy with the way it's going. Everybody's in a positive frame of mind...but it's too early to talk about it."
Clarke, meanwhile, plans on "getting back to writing classic songs" for Erasure. "We'll just do writing this year and see where that goes," Clarke says. "There's no release scheduled or release date being discussed. It's just for the joy of writing, really."
And any future for VCMG is similarly up in the air. "I'd love to do some more," Clarke says. "I really enjoyed doing it and working with Martin; we kind of see things in a similar way as far as sound is concerned, so I'd love for something to happen in the future." Gore, meanwhile, adds that "the timing was just so perfect this time. I got that e-mail from Vince when I was on a break from the band. That doesn't happen very often. If our schedules allow for it in the future, maybe we will get around to making another one. Obviously we haven't had that conversation yet."