Producer James Ford on working with Depeche Mode for Spirit: “A lot of it felt like marriage guidance counselling”
James Ford has worked on records for Arctic Monkeys, Blur, Gorillaz, Florence + The Machine, and many more.
Image: Jan Woitas / picture alliance via Getty Images
Producer James Ford has reflected on the tension of working with Depeche Mode for their 2017 record, Spirit.
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When a band has been together as long as Depeche Mode has, it’s often not always sunshine and rainbows. The electronic outfit have definitely had their share of challenges throughout their career, which began back in the 1980s. In 2013, Martin Gore revealed that they rarely kept in touch after touring to deal with their turbulent inner relationships.
Their most recent record, Memento Mori, was released earlier this year, and saw the band continue as a duo, with Gore accompanied by Dave Gahan following the sudden passing of keyboardist Andy Fletcher last year.
In a new interview with NME, Ford reflected on some of his best and worst memories from his respected production career. One band in particular – Depeche Mode of course – was mentioned twice, for holding one of his favourite career memories, but also one of his most difficult.
“My favourite memory was working on the last record [2023’s Memento Mori] which was weird to make because we’d all signed on and heard the demos and unfortunately, Andy Fletcher [keyboardist] passed away unexpectedly which was a big shock for everyone involved,” Ford explains.
“I wasn’t expecting the record to happen, but Martin and Dave [Gahan] thought the best thing to do was to carry on making the record. It was a very bittersweet, interesting experience. In the light of a brush with mortality, Martin and Dave were repairing their often-fractious relationship and it felt like long lost brothers. They were catching up and reminiscing and talking directly to each other – they even wrote a song together.”
Then, when speaking on the album which has been his hardest to produce, Ford says: “The hardest was probably the  Depeche Mode album Spirit because everyone was in a horrible place, the mood was strange, people weren’t getting on, and a lot of it felt like marriage guidance counselling to stop the whole thing falling off the rails and the band splitting up. It was pretty grim.”
Depeche Mode are currently touring, and you can get tickets at DepecheMode.com.
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