Dave Gahan in Depeche Mode by Anton Corbijn
June 28, 2021
Depeche Mode by Anton Corbijn, also known as DM AC 81-18, is a book by TASCHEN, an art book publisher based in Germany, and features photographs, interviews, and written commentary by Anton Corbijn. The book was first released in November 2020 as a signed, numbered limited "XXL" edition for 900 USD. It was also released as a non-signed, non-limited "XL" edition on May 25, 2021 for 150 USD. This page showcases some of Dave's finest moments in the "XL" edition of the book, though these can also be found in the "XXL" edition, as well. The "XXL" edition is sold out, but you can still purchase the "XL" edition here from the TASCHEN website.
The caption says, "Anton holding on to Dave Marrakech, 1996"
Near the beginning of the book, there is an interview between Simon Bainbridge and Depeche Mode where the members are asked about Anton Corbijn's work with them, including which were among their favorites. Here are some snippets of Dave's responses below:What would you consider to be your (DM+AC) finest hour?
DG: The "Walking in My Shoes" video.
DG: "Behind the Wheel" — on the whole.
Fave album design
Bringing the "human element" to Depeche Mode
In an interview with Anton Corbijn, he talks about his handwriting on various Depeche Mode album artwork, and he says this: "Violator was my handwriting. Again, I felt that gave it all a bit more humanity, rather than the old sleeves, which are beautiful in their own way, but they were more stating the electronic music vibe for me. So, the handwriting brought in a bit more of a soulful and human element to the visuals." Compare this to how often Dave is described as bringing the "human element" to the songs, like on Songs of Faith and Devotion1, and later on Delta Machine, where Dave said this: "[Christoffer Berg] and Martin became like a sort of partnership, having fun and creating with their electronics. I think I brought in an element of soulfulness or a feeling of human vulnerability to this organized backdrop."2 In a nutshell, Anton brings the human element to DM's visuals and Dave brings it to their music.
Dave, the Essex boy and New York man
Dave seems to enjoy putting on a "tough" persona whenever posing in photographs with DM. While he may look menacing and unapproachable in some of those photos (think of the shoots during the Violator era, especially), in reality, he is just like the rest of us (albeit much richer and more famous). Anyway, here is Dave bringing his "tough" poses for the camera at two very different times- first, in 1988 when he was still living in England, and then 20 years later in 2008 when he was living in New York in the US.
Dave and little ones
As if in total contrast to the previous set of photos where Dave plays the "tough guy," one thing that strikes me is the way Dave is around children, and Anton also captured this beautifully in a few shots. The first is with an infant actor in the "A Question of Time" video, and the latter two are of him with his son, Jack, in 1988 and 1993, respectively.
Dave, the actor
Yes, Dave can act, too! Having appeared in numerous music videos as many different characters, he has shown a good amount of versatility as an actor. From serious to downright corny, Dave throws himself into every character role. In the middle image above, Anton writes, "After not doing any DM videos for about 8 years, I was asked to shoot 'Suffer Well', a song Dave had written. We shot it near the desert in an existing old film set that was one 'street' long. We altered the shopfronts and we shot a story there that was basically Dave's lifestory. Dave as the wayward son if you like. The Angel above is Dave's wife Jennifer. It was a very enjoyable video to make."
Dave, the showman
Of course, being a showman is Dave's forte. There have probably been millions of photos taken of him performing on stage over the past several decades, but we can agree that Anton Corbijn's shots are among the most stunning. For instance, I don't think I've ever seen a clearer photo of Dave doing the "Never Let Me Down Again" arm wave with the audience than the one above!
Dave, the...everything else
The caption on the leftmost image says, "Dave would also spend time painting when he wasn't recording." Here is proof that Dave wasn't just creative with his voice or on stage! He also liked to paint, and he did so quite a bit in the 1990s, especially during the recording of Songs of Faith and Devotion. Dave is also seen with guitars a lot, and he can actually play!
About the leftmost photo, Anton wrote, "I was interesting [sic] to observe his demeanor being photographed solo as opposed to being part of a gang. He was far more reflective solo, less the rockstar, though thankfully he still had the rockstar looks!!" The middle and rightmost photo are a few examples of Anton's art and iconography. The middle photo, in particular, shows off the cover art he did for both of Dave's solo albums. Most interesting is the "alternative" unused Paper Monsters logo. The image on the right is titled, "DAVE by ANTON", and with long hair and skinny limbs, it does seem to resemble Devotional Dave.
I feel like revealing the very last photo in the entire book is somewhat like revealing the ending of a novel, hence why I'm calling this a "spoiler alert." But I wanted to point out that in a book about Depeche Mode, I find it interesting that Anton chose Dave to be the subject of the very last photo in the whole book. And it happens to be the one above of Dave in 2007 while promoting his second solo album, Hourglass. Anton called this "a great last image for a book that spans decades...Time, where does it go!?"
- Dave Gahan — Depeche Mode & The Second Coming (2009)
- "An Intimate Conversation with Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan ", electronicbeats.net (October 19, 2015)