Depeche Mode have some of the most devoted fans in the world. Turner prize winner Jeremy Deller and music video director Nick Abrahams decided to document the unbridled fanaticism that the band from Basildon have induced in their devotees, from Dave Day in St Petersberg to families of Dave look-a-likes in Germany, they discovered some bizarre, and truly touching stories. Rather than a film about a band, this film is about human obsession and music’s ability to bind people, despite their surroundings.
Why did Mute approach you to make this documentary as a duo?
JD - Because we are brilliant film makers
NA - I think Mute only wanted me but Jeremy jumped on the bandwagon.... no, Mute were looking for someone to make a film about Depeche Mode, and we had the idea of doing a film about the fans rather than the band itself, which I think must have appealed to Mute as the band wouldn’t be hassled by a film crew and they would still get an interesting film. I don't think us working together as a duo was that relevant, Jeremy is well known for collaborating with a wide variety of people, and film making generally is a collaborative process so it didn’t bother me.
How did you locate the fans?
NA - We located the devotees via the internet mainly. We were overwhelmed by people sending in their stories as we had deliberately kept our brief quite wide, asking for stories of what the band meant to people. We then had to narrow it down to the stories we would investigate further.
Were there any fans which you met yet did not include? If so for what reason?
NA - There are lots of out takes. Lots and lots. When the film makes it onto DvD (hopefully in the spring), I would guess at least another hour of those will make it onto the disk. The film itself purely has stories about fans. But some of the other interviews included an expert talking about the phenomena of fandom, and a Russian cultural expert talking about Depeche in relation to Russian pop music. Also some of the key guys from the Detroit techno scene, such as Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson, giving some idea of the influence of DM on their town. The film itself just includes the stories which moved or interested us the most.
Some of the fan material is quite personal and revealing- particularly the family who's home videos were show, were they all happy to have it exposed to such a wide and potentially critical audience?
JD - They make it to be seen, they have their tongues in their cheeks.
Did you approach any members of the band for interviews?
NA - Nope!
Has the band seen the film? If so what do they think of it?
NA - They all had to give the film the thumbs up before we could show it. Martin asked for one date in the film to be corrected as it was wrong but otherwise the band didnt ask for any changes.
It seems for many of the fans you spoke to equate Depeche Mode to a freedom which they were not always allowed. What do you think it was about this band which drew so many Eastern Europeans who were living in heavily restricted societies to their music?
JD - It's good tuneful music that is slightly anguished, also it is easier to bootleg electronic music, its clearer sounding than rock music , also they looked good, a bit macho but a bit camp too.
NA - When Jeremy says it's easily bootlegable, I think he means that you have to remember that almost all the music was passed around was on bootleg cassettes. Thus Jeremy's theory that it reproduced well on the tapes due to its clear, electronic nature .. married to strong harmonies and lyrics.
Many of Depeche Mode's lyrics are quite spiritual - do you think that this quasi religious lyrical content explains the extremity of their fans devotion?
JD - Yes especially in Mexico.
To win two tickets to a London screening at the Clapham Picture house at 7pm on December 1st, including a Q&A with directors, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the name of the town that Depeche Mode come from in the subject heading.
For more information about the one night only screenings of the Posters Came From The Walls on December 1st go to: www.theposterscamefromthewalls.com.