March 1993: Depeche Mode Release SONGS OF FAITH AND DEVOTION

Monday, March 22, 2021

By 1992, the members of Depeche Mode were international superstars. The little synth-pop band from Basildon, England, had risen up the ranks on a singular style of electronic angst and shadowy sexuality into a band big enough to fill arenas across America. After the pinnacle that was the Violator album and subsequent tour, Dave Gahan and company were ready to take on any challenge to maintain their lofty perch in the musical pecking order. Even Nirvana and grunge.

Depeche Mode released the band's eighth studio album, Songs of Faith and Devotion on March 22, 1993, in their native UK. The album dropped in America on the following day. Recorded in a Spanish villa with producer Flood, the LP had been preceded by lead single, "I Feel You." The track's raw, bluesy edge and aggressive guitar riff felt like a direct response to the grunge explosion, and a direct hit on the band's two biggest platforms: alternative rock radio and dance clubs. While a #1 track in countries around the globe, the tune only peaked at #37 on the Hot 100 for the week of March 13, 1993. The #1 song in America that week: "Informer" by Snow.

Songs of Faith and Devotion roared up the album chart, slamming into #1 on the Billboard 200 for the week of April 10, 1993. It still stands as Depeche Mode's only #1 album in America.

Releasing follow-up singles "Walking in My Shoes," "Condemnation" and "In Your Room," Depeche Mode's infamous Devotional Tour touched down in North America in the fall of 1993. The band's hard-partying ways had hit such an apex than even legendary road animals Primal Scream were shocked at Depeche Mode's touring decadence.

"The LP itself is really good... what was bad was the huge tour afterwards," Depeche Mode's Andy Fletcher told Uncut in 2016. "The whole period was a bit of a horror. I had a breakdown before the tour so it was tough for me. At the end, I finally said I can't do it and left. I lucked out there, as I missed the notorious Primal Scream shows."

When the Devotional Tour hit Denver's McNichols Sports Arena on November 2, 1993, with a night off before playing in Salt Lake City on November 4, Depeche Mode finally ran afoul of the law. Martin Gore was arrested in his hotel room for having a wild party.

"The night before I got arrested, I had a party in my room and there were about 50 people and it was really loud," Martin Gore explained to the magazine Pavement in 1997 (via DMLive). "The night of the arrest, it was me and a friend and the music was really quiet. They rang me and asked me to turn it down, so I turned it off. Next thing I know there's complete silence and the police knocked on the door. I stupidly opened it. They burst in, threw me on the bed and handcuffed me. There was no music whatsoever playing. I think they were out to get me for the night before."

The Devotional Tour ended in December 1993, and it marked the end of an era for Depeche Mode. In 1995, longtime member Alan Wilder announced he was leaving the band. In 1996, singer Dave Gahan suffered a drug overdose, his heart stopping for two whole minutes before he's revived. The stress and pressure of maintaining a worldwide sensation had taken its toll. Depeche Mode as the world once knew it was over.