(Photo by Travis Shinn, interview by our correspondent János Janurik) You might think that appearing as a warm-up act in front of a cult band that is popular all over the world is one of the best things in life, and that you have a bit of a stake in the success of the concert evening. But in reality, Depeche Mode’s support acts don’t always have it easy, although the band has actually always had a good hand for its support acts. Some of them managed to endear themselves to Depeche Mode fans and even won fans for their own music projects. Others, however, had a hard time getting away from possibly being pelted with bottles on stage by the exuberant and impatient fans.
This spring, at the tour opener of the current “Memento Mori World Tour” in North America, the stage belonged to the females. At the first 9 concerts in the USA and Canada, Welsh musician and producer Kelly Lee Owens performed for American audiences as the support act for Depeche Mode on their first concert tour without Andy Fletcher. On the last night of the first leg of the world tour, fans were able to see singer Dave Gahan’s daughter live for the first time at the legendary Madison Square Garden. The proud dad watched Stella-Rose’s performance secretly in the company of his bandmate, Martin Gore.
Fans in Europe are still considered fanatics, which means that Depeche Mode’s supporting bands have to pull their socks up if they want to get the desired appreciation, i.e. a friendly applause, up on stage.
The concert series opens in Amsterdam with a performance by Cold Cave, a dark wave project led by Wesley Eisold, who has already been a guest in Germany. This time he and his companions will play only one Germany concert in Leipzig, the remaining shows will take place in the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden and Slovakia. Our editor, Janos Janurik will see him live in Bratislava and contacted him to give an interview for us.
SL: You have just completed live performances in Whitby (TOMORROW’S GHOSTS FESTIVAL) and in London (O2 Academy Islington). How did these concerts go?
CC: That’s right. London was the last show we played and both in the UK were lovely for us. Great connection.
SL: The great artists of the Dark Wave movement, which have also inspired you, also came mainly from England, just think of bands like Joy Division, The Cure, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Cult or The Sisters of Mercy, who have founded their own music genres. Was this noticeable in the reaction of the British audience? What kind of feedback did you get on those two nights?
CC: That’s a part of our appeal but another part of it is the lyrical and sentimental aspects of this. Sometimes it feels like genre is irrelevant. I’m a child of the 80’s so that’s what I love… which all works in LA too.
SL: Depeche Mode, whose dark songs from the 80s, such as “Blasphemous Rumours” or the whole “Black Celebration” LP also found favour in the dark wave environment, have had to struggle for years with the problem that they have not achieved the recognition they deserve in their own country. People in the UK still don’t seem to forgive them for not being the charming synth-pop boy band they once were at the beginning of their career. In America, on the other hand, where rock music – such as Bruce Springsteen’s live performances – still moves the biggest crowds, Depeche Mode have enjoyed cult status practically since their legendary Rose Bowl – “101” – concert. How do you see it as a musician? You come from the USA, but your music has more of a European character. Are there big differences in terms of the fanbase on the two sides of the Atlantic?
CC: If music is meant to transcend then it usually does. I find the people at our shows similar around the world. It’s really very international to me. DM’s reign around most of the world makes sense to me. They’re the best at what they do. I can’t complain. I put out my own music. No management or label help. Not much press. Don’t follow the rules. And still going.
SL: Wesley, you’re from Los Angeles. Many people first think of the endless coastline and surfing when they think of this city. Of course, there’s also Jim Morrison, who had a big influence on dark wave artists with the psychedelic rock band, The Doors. How did you discover this style of music? Who are your big favourites? How did you get involved in the LA music scene?
CC: I’m from nowhere. I grew up moving every year and have only been in LA for a decade which is five times longer than I lived anywhere else. That said The Doors were a first love of mine even though I was on the opposite side of the country. When you grow up trying to patch an endless void you just find this music or it finds you. I’m not involved in the LA scene. I don’t think that way. I grew up in punk & hardcore and stopped being concerned with scenes in my early twenties. I like my own scene. It’s an island I built for me and anyone who wants to come visit.
SL: Speaking of Jim Morrison, you’re also into poetry. How do you decide whether the lines you put together in your head become a poem or a song lyric?
CC: Good question. It’s really just where my interest is at when it appears. Sometimes they get used for both.
SL: A mutual friend of ours who also lives in Los Angeles is an active participant and supporter of the dark culture scene there, along with his wife. How did you meet Douglas McCarthy? Have you worked together on any projects?
CC: Amy, my partner, knows Douglas from Detroit. We then toured together ten years ago around the county for a month. I don’t think we’ve made music together but I care about him deeply and he’s always been there for us.
SL: Douglas has opened for Depeche Mode several times with his bands Nitzer Ebb and Black Line, as well as solo, and is also close friends with the band members. Has he recommended you as a possible support band for Depeche Mode’s current tour?
CC: I don’t think so.
SL: A musical collaborator of yours, Bryan Black aka Black Asteroid has also done remixes for Depeche Mode and with another project called Motor he has even released a joint single with Martin Gore called “Man Made Machine”. Please tell us a bit about your joint project!
CC: I met him in Paris 2013 at a Rick Owens runway show. We hit it off and I ended up singing on a few of his tracks. Even did it live a few times. Love his work.
SL: Are you a fan of Depeche Mode yourself? If so, when did you hear them for the first time? Do you have a favourite song or album by them? Have you seen them live? When and where?
CC: Of course! Hard to pick but maybe “It’s No Good”. Amy has seen them I think almost twenty times starting in mid 80’s.
SL: You are going to perform with Cold Cave on five nights (actually six, because in Amsterdam there is also a second show) before Depeche Mode as a support act at big outdoor / stadium concerts. You are also going to do a Germany gig in Leipzig at the legendary Festwiese. When was the last time you were on tour in Germany? What memories do you have of those concerts?
CC: It’s been a few years since a tour. I went to high school in Stuttgart and always love being there. One of the greatest countries. Definitely looking forward to Leipzig. We were there last in 2019 and the year before that with the Jesus and Mary Chain.
SL: I’m going to see your live performance in Bratislava. My 13-year-old daughter is also going to be there, she is also a big fan of synth pop and really likes her dad’s favourite bands. You also have an 8-year-old son. Has he already shown an interest in music? What does he think of your musical works?
CC: He lives and breathes it so far. Often joining us live for a song too. We are both lucky they are down for our music! He’s a great focus group for of a song is good or not.
SL: Your partner, Amy Lee, plays synthesizer alongside you. Which musicians are going to accompany you at the concerts with Depeche Mode?
CC: Amy Lee, Ryan McMahon and Anthony Anzaldo.
SL: Which song or album of Cold Cave would you recommend to those who don’t know your work yet? By the way, are you working on anything new right now?
CC: Always working! Hard to choose. My music really follows my immediate mood so would depend upon that. Maybe “Glory”.
SL: Thanks for the answers and hopefully you will gain many new fans for Cold Cave thanks to the shows together with Depeche Mode!
CC: Thank you! It’s a dream to support Depeche.
Cold Cave “Memento Mori” shows with Depeche Mode:
- Amsterdam (16./18.5.)
- Antwerpen (20.5.)
- Stockholm (23.5.)
- Leipzig (26.5.)
- Bratislava (28.5.)
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