If Dave Gahan is the voice of Depeche Mode, and Martin Gore the brooding alternative icons' principal songwriter, then who is Andy Fletcher? According to a New York Times review of the group's recent Madison Square Garden show, "Fletch" is the guy who "merely stood behind his bay of keyboards, shaking his hips or grinning or both."
Over the phone from Santa Barbara, where Depeche was about to play the "homecoming date" of its Sounds of the Universe tour — Fletcher and Gore both relocated to Southern California from the UK several years ago; Gahan lives in New York — Fletcher says the Times reviewer's assessment is like the title of Sounds of the Universe's lead single: "Wrong."
"Sometimes I do shake my hips, and sometimes I grin, but I'm playing instruments the whole way through," he says. "So he's just wrong."
Duly noted, Fletch.
Chatter: With two such strong personalities in the band in Dave and Martin, do you ever feel like a third wheel?
Andrew Fletcher: I'm the strongest personality. I think they would argue that I was. Not onstage, but I know what you mean. When you've got two guys like that, you've got to have someone behind them. They could probably work as a duo, but I think they like the concept of a group. Right from the beginning, when Vince [Clarke, who left to form Yazoo and Erasure] and I started the band and recruited Martin and Dave, we've really been a strong unit.
C: Most Depeche Mode songs are very intimate in nature. Is it strange to perform them in front of such large crowds?
AF: It was quite strange when we used to perform "Blasphemous Rumors" and Dave was clapping at the chorus. But I think generally speaking, we choose songs that aren't necessarily so intimate. And Martin has been doing two or three songs by himself — then the concert does become intimate in a proper way.
C: How did things change for the band after the Rose Bowl concert filmed in Depeche Mode 101?
AF: Things didn't really change much after that. The big change was with [1990 LP] Violator becoming a smash hit. Obviously Dave got addicted to drugs on the album following that [1993's Songs of Faith and Devotion], and I had a nervous depression. It all became a bit too much for us, but we came through that and feel like we're stronger people. It's great to be in the band at the moment.
C: What's your personal favorite Depeche Mode song?
AF: I like [Violator's] "World in My Eyes," because I think it encapsulates what Depeche Mode is about. Great riff and production, and the words — one of the great achievements of Depeche Mode is that we're known all over the world, and when I play "World in My Eyes" live, that song really gets it across.
Sherwood Cryer, who co-founded legendary super-size Pasadena honky-tonk Gilley's and watched it rocket to worldwide fame in the wake of 1980's Urban Cowboy before a bitter falling-out with partner Mickey Gilley led to the club's demise, passed away August 14 at his Houston-area home. He was 83. Cryer, a native of the tiny East Texas town of Diboll, died from natural causes, abc13.com reported.
After serving in World War II, Cryer moved to Pasadena, where he worked as a welder at the Shell refinery and gradually acquired a string of convenience stores, beer joints and honky-tonks. One club on Spencer Highway, Shelly's, became Gilley's when Cryer and Mickey Gilley agreed to become partners in 1971.
The club and its mechanical bull became some of the Houston area's most famous landmarks, but behind the scenes Cryer's bare-knuckle business tactics — he allegedly pistol-whipped country singer Johnny Lee for singing Jimmy Buffet's "Why Don't We Get Drunk and Screw," for example — alienated many people, including Gilley.
The pair's partnership dissolved after a bitter 1987 lawsuit; the jury awarded Gilley $17 million. Cryer was allowed to keep his pre-partnership businesses, including G's Ice House in Deer Park, where he continued manufacturing mechanical bulls and remained ornery and unapologetic to the very end.
Vinal Edge Records
13171 Veterans Memorial Dr., 281-537-2575
1. Earth, Radio Live
2. Moving Sidewalks, Flash
3. Pelican, Ephemeral
4. Dinosaur Jr., Farm
5. Current 93, Aleph at Hallucinatory Mountain
6. Modest Mouse, No One's First, And You're Next
7. Moondog, Story of Moondog
8. Six Organs of Admittance, Luminous Night
9. Edward Ka-Spel, Painted Rivers of Regrets
10. Clutch, Strange Cousins from the West
KTRU, 91.7 FM
Top Albums, week of August 24
1. Various Artists, KTRU Local Live vol. 1
2. Wooden Shjips, Dos
3. Theo Angell, Tenebrae
4. Paradox, Called to Mind
5. Black Moth Super Rainbow, Eating Us
6. Various Artists, Well Hung
7. Casey Foubert & James McAlister, Volume 3: Music for Drums
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8. Various Artists, The Sexual Life of the Savages: Underground Post-Punk from São Paulo, Brasil
9. Various Artists, Nigeria '70: The DefinitiveStory of 1970s Funky Lagos
10. Elfin Saddle, Ringing for the Begin Again
(Lists compiled by Chris Gray)