Like many fans of the band, I fell under Depeche Mode’s spell the moment I heard the song “Somebody.” I was so enamored with the lyrics that I typed them out and kept them hidden in my room like a love letter.
I’ll be the first to admit that my early recordings can be derivative. My 1994 debut album Sketches in Grey features a song called “Subterranean” that bears an uncomfortable resemblance to Depeche Mode’s “See You.” By the time I finished recording my fourth album in 2001, I was confident I’d found my own voice.
The world thought otherwise.
File sharing service Napster was massively popular, allowing anyone to download virtually any song for free. Several leaked tracks from Depeche Mode’s upcoming Exciter album spread like wildfire. Some were clearly fake, but others sounded like the real deal. That was obviously Martin Gore singing “Ponytail Girl.”
Or so I was told by multiple users when I tried to set the record straight. The song was in fact leaked, not from Exciter, but from my album Life’s Fairytale. Even though depechemode.com clearly stated that “Ponytail Girl” was not a Depeche Mode song, it appeared on countless fan sites and bootleg CDs.
A couple of years later, I was invited to record a cover version of “I Want You Now” for a Depeche Mode tribute out of the UK. When it became clear that the tribute was never going to be released, I set out to create what you see before you: a set of songs and interludes that flow together like a proper Depeche Mode album.
Rather than cover “Personal Jesus” or “Enjoy the Silence” for the thousandth time, I focused on what I considered unappreciated gems. The inclusion of “Ponytail Girl” served to connect the album with the rest of my catalog, in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way.
The 2003 release of Color Theory presents Depeche Mode was the biggest success of my career up to that point. I sold every last copy. Demand was high for a second pressing, or better yet, a second volume!
But I had my own stories to tell, and the last thing I wanted was to become known as a cover artist.
Seventeen years and five albums later, I don’t think there’s much risk of that! It was a joy to revisit the songs that defined my youth, and to add three more to the set.
Brian Hazard, Color Theory