10 Surprising Facts About Depeche Mode

L to R: Depeche Mode members Martin Gore, Dave Gahan, Alan Wilder, and Andrew Fletcher in Berlin in July 1984.
L to R: Depeche Mode members Martin Gore, Dave Gahan, Alan Wilder, and Andrew Fletcher in Berlin in July 1984.
Michael Putland/Getty Images

Few bands inspire faith and devotion like Depeche Mode. Over a career spanning four decades, the boys from Basildon, England, have redefined what electronic music can look and sound like. With albums like 1987’s Music for the Masses and 1990’s blockbuster Violator, Depeche Mode forged a dark, sexy, mature synth-pop sound that has rocked stadiums across the globe. The 2019 documentary Spirits in the Forest shows just how deep a mark the band has left on diehard fans. For relative newcomers, here are 10 things you might now know about Depeche Mode.

1. Depeche Mode got their name from a French fashion magazine.

The name Depeche Mode carries a mysterious air of artsy European sophistication. But it’s not as exotic as you may think. Lead singer Dave Gahan cribbed the moniker from a French fashion magazine. Many fans believe Depeche Mode translates to “fast fashion,” but it’s apparently closer to "fashion news" or "fashion update."

2. Martin Gore got in the band because he owned the right gear.

Photo of Depeche Mode's Martin Gore in West Berlin in July 1984.
Martin Gore of Depeche Mode photographed in West Berlin in July 1984.
Michael Putland/Getty Images

There was a simple reason Vince Clark tapped Martin Gore to join Composition of Sound, the group that would become Depeche Mode: Gore owned a Yamaha CS5 synthesizer. “That’s why we got him in—because he had a synth, not for any other reason; certainly not for his outgoing personality!” Clarke said.

3. Depeche Mode underwent a major lineup change after their first album.

The original Depeche Mode lineup featured Dave Gahan, Martin Gore, Andy Fletcher, and Vince Clarke, the group’s primary songwriter. Clarke penned nine of the 11 songs on 1981's Speak & Spell, the band's debut album, including the international hit “Just Can’t Get Enough.” Clarke quit that same year, leaving Gore to carry the songwriting burden.

4. Vince Clarke had a pretty good second (and third) act.

After leaving Depeche Mode in 1981, Clarke teamed up with powerhouse singer Alison Moyet to form Yazoo (or Yaz, as they were known in America). That soulful synth-pop duo released two albums and scored three top 5 hits in the UK including “Only You,” a song Clarke reportedly offered to Depeche Mode. In 1985, Clarke linked up with Andy Bell to form Erasure, an electronic duo that has scored 35 top 40 hits in the UK as of 2019. In America, Erasure is best known for the late '80s hits "Chains of Love" and "A Little Respect."

5. It took America a long time to catch on to Depeche Mode.

Depeche Mode scored a number of U.S. dance hits in the early ‘80s, but it wasn’t until 1985’s “People Are People” that mainstream American audiences finally warmed to these leather-clad synth-popsters. The anthemic plea for tolerance reached #13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and remained the band's biggest American pop hit until “Personal Jesus” in 1989.

6. Everyone in Depeche Mode has a specific job—sort of.

Photo of Depeche Mode's Andy Fletcher, Martin Gore, David Gahan, and Alan Wilder backstage at Madison Square Garden in 1987.
L to R: Depeche Mode's Andy Fletcher, Martin Gore, David Gahan, and Alan Wilder backstage at Madison Square Garden in 1987.
Michel Delsol/Getty Images

In the 1989 documentary 101, keyboardist Andy Fletcher sums up the band like this: “Martin’s the songwriter, Alan’s the good musician, Dave’s the vocalist, and I bum around.” Fletcher may have been selling himself short—he apparently handles a lot of behind-the-scenes managerial duties—but from 1982 through 1995, that was the basic division of labor. Martin Gore wrote the songs, classically trained keyboardist Alan Wilder helped to shape them, and Dave Gahan sang them. Since Wilder’s departure in 1995, Depeche Mode has essentially been a trio, and beginning with 2005’s Playing the Angel, Gahan has co-written three songs per album.

7. Depeche Mode sold out the Rose Bowl before a lot of people knew who they were.

On June 18, 1988, Depeche Mode wrapped up their Music for the Masses Tour with sold-out performance at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. Paid attendance was 60,453. It was a major moment in the band’s career, especially since they’d only scored one Top 40 hit in America up to that point. Much of Depeche Mode's popularity in Southern California was due to KROQ, the pioneering L.A. radio station that championed alternative music in the ‘80s. Filmmaker D. A. Pennebaker, who famously documented Bob Dylan in the ‘60s, captured the concert for the 1989 documentary 101.

8. Depeche Mode's signature song was inspired by Elvis and his missus.

“Personal Jesus” isn’t Depeche Mode’s biggest American hit. That would be “Enjoy the Silence,” also off the Violator album. But thanks to covers by Johnny Cash and Marilyn Manson, “Personal Jesus” is arguably their most famous. Gore’s lyrics were inspired by Priscilla Presley’s 1985 memoir Elvis and Me. “It’s about how Elvis was her man and her mentor and how often that happens in love relationships; how everybody’s heart is like a god in some way,” Gore told SPIN. “We play these god-like parts for people but no one is perfect, and that’s not a very balanced view of someone, is it?”

9. Dave Gahan nearly became a rock ‘n’ roll casualty.

In the mid-’90s, Dave Gahan became enamored of the burgeoning alternative rock scene in L.A. He grew his hair long and developed a serious drug problem that nearly claimed his life on more than one occasion. In 1995, he attempted suicide by slashing his wrists, and the following year, he overdosed on a speedball—cocaine and heroin—at the Sunset Marquis Hotel. His heart stopped for two minutes, and he felt his soul leave his body. Fortunately, the courts allowed him to pick drug treatment over jail, and he’s been clean ever since.

10. Depeche Mode are huge in Eastern Europe.

Photo of Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode performing at Brooklyn's Barclays Center on June 6, 2018
Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode performs at Brooklyn's Barclays Center on June 6, 2018.
Taylor Hill/Getty Images

From their first shows in Hungary and Poland in 1985, Depeche Mode has enjoyed a special relationship with Eastern Europe. Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, when it was illegal to own Western music, fans behind the Iron Curtain somehow got their hands on Depeche Mode tapes and even copied the band’s fashions. According to some, the appeal lies in the melancholic, industrial nature of Depeche Mode’s music. The fact that it was banned made it all the more enticing to young people beginning to question authority. Eastern Europe’s love affair with The Mode continues to this day: One of the six superfans profiled in 2019’s Spirit In the Forest hails from Romania.

Wayfair’s Fourth of July Clearance Sale Takes Up to 60 Percent Off Grills and Outdoor Furniture

Wayfair/Weber
Wayfair/Weber

This Fourth of July, Wayfair is making sure you can turn your backyard into an oasis while keeping your bank account intact with a clearance sale that features savings of up to 60 percent on essentials like chairs, hammocks, games, and grills. Take a look at some of the highlights below.

Outdoor Furniture

Brisbane bench from Wayfair
Brisbane/Wayfair

- Jericho 9-Foot Market Umbrella $92 (Save 15 percent)
- Woodstock Patio Chairs (Set of Two) $310 (Save 54 percent)
- Brisbane Wooden Storage Bench $243 (Save 62 percent)
- Kordell Nine-Piece Rattan Sectional Seating Group with Cushions $1800 (Save 27 percent)
- Nelsonville 12-Piece Multiple Chairs Seating Group $1860 (Save 56 percent)
- Collingswood Three-Piece Seating Group with Cushions $410 (Save 33 percent)

Grills and Accessories

Dyna-Glo electric smoker.
Dyna-Glo/Wayfair

- Spirit® II E-310 Gas Grill $479 (Save 17 percent)
- Portable Three-Burner Propane Gas Grill $104 (Save 20 percent)
- Digital Bluetooth Electric Smoker $224 (Save 25 percent)
- Cuisinart Grilling Tool Set $38 (Save 5 percent)

Outdoor games

American flag cornhole game.
GoSports

- American Flag Cornhole Board $57 (Save 19 percent)
- Giant Four in a Row Game $30 (Save 6 percent)
- Giant Jenga Game $119 (Save 30 percent)

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

18 Cool Facts About Beavis and Butt-head

MTV
MTV

On March 8, 1993, Beavis and Butt-head made its debut on MTV—to the delight of young viewers, and the annoyance of their parents. While some people considered it the end of the civilized world, TIME Magazine critic Kurt Andersen lauded its irreverence, writing that it “may be the bravest show ever run on national television.”

From its original 200-episode run to the books (yes, plural), movie, and soundtrack it inspired—plus its brief return in 2011—Beavis and Butt-head has not lost any of its original charm. With the recent announcement that the series is coming back for two new seasons on Comedy Central, here are some things you might not have known about Mike Judge's animated headbangers.

1. Beavis and Butt-head got their start on Liquid Television.

Mike Judge went from teaching himself animation and playing bass for Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets to having one of his cartoons played on MTV’s animation showcase program Liquid Television in one year’s time. Cartoon short Milton, the origin of the character from his live-action cult classic Office Space, appeared in a 1991 episode. In 1992, Beavis and Butt-head made their loud, violent first impression in his short Frog Baseball. MTV then paid Judge for the rights to the two characters and ordered 65 four-minute cartoons.

2. MTV pulled Beavis and Butt-head from the air shortly after it premiered.

Shortly after greenlighting Beavis and Butt-head, MTV had to halt production. Not because of any controversy, but because Judge and his animation staff couldn’t keep up with the demand for new material, forcing MTV to stop airing the show entirely two weeks after it premiered. It made its return more than six weeks later on May 17th with “Scientific Stuff” and “Good Credit.”

3. Mike Judge improvised most of the dialogue during the music videos.


Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Judge voiced virtually all of the characters on the show and was one of just a handful of people who made up the writing staff. He opted to add to his workload by winging it when it came to Beavis and Butt-head's taste-making opinions on music. Time was saved on the animation for the music video commentaries by having an editor take footage from earlier episodes and sync it up with new mouth positions.

4. Beavis and Butt-head were named after kids that lived in Mike Judge's neighborhood.

Bobby Beavis was “kind of an athletic kid” that lived three blocks from Judge while he was in college, and not similar to the character with the Metallica shirt christened with his surname. There was also a 12-year-old who called himself “Iron Butt” (because he claimed to never get injured from a kick to the posterior) who had a friend called “Butt-head.”

5. All references to fire were permanently removed from Beavis and Butt-head after the show was blamed for a child's death.

In October 1993, a 5-year-old boy set fire to his Ohio home, which killed his 2-year-old sister. Their mother claimed Beavis’s fire-making and blatant spoken love of arson were responsible. MTV’s quick response was to only air the show after 10:30 p.m. and to wipe all fire references from all of the previous episodes—only fans who taped the offending episodes on their VCRs have proof that the word was ever uttered. “Fire” was banned for the rest of the series’ original run, but it was allowed again in 2011.

6. A senator referred to Beavis and Butt-head as "Buffcoat and Beaver."

Soon after the fatal fire accident, Senator Ernest "Fritz" Hollings, a Democrat from South Carolina, spoke at a Senate hearing as chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. Hollings attempted to argue that TV broadcasters needed to be forced to clamp down on their offensive programming and used the most controversial show at the time as a specific example ... or at least he tried to.

7. Prison officials in Oklahoma banned Beavis and Butt-head.

There were also documented reports of South Dakota schools outlawing Beavis and Butt-head-related clothing.

8. Marlon Brando was a Beavis and Butt-head fan.

According to Mike Judge, Johnny Depp told him that Depp and Marlon Brando would imitate Beavis and Butt-head, with Depp as Beavis and Brando as Butt-head. This occurred when the two worked together during 1994’s Don Juan DeMarco.

9. Matt Groening was a fan of Beavis and Butt-head, too.

The creator of The Simpsons claimed that he liked the show because it took “the heat off Bart Simpson being responsible for the downfall of western civilization.”

10. David Letterman was the voice of the Mötley Crüe roadie who might be Butt-head's father in Beavis and Butt-head Do America.

David Letterman was credited as Earl Hofert, which is actually the name of Letterman's uncle. Letterman was a fan of the show and had the Highland teens on The Late Show in 1996 to promote their movie.

11. Beavis almost said something too clever once.

In 1993, Judge told The New York Times that one of the big challenges of the show was to keep the two in character and, therefore, dumb. An original line had Beavis telling his classmates that they had “Beavis envy” because he received a school pass. It was cut because it almost made the 14-year-old with the underbite too smart. In 2011, Judge admitted to “cheating” and probably making them smarter than they are during the music video commentaries.

12. Daria was created with Janeane Garofalo and Darlene Connor in mind.

The character of Daria was created after then-MTV president Judy McGrath expressed concern about the show’s lack of smart or female characters. Garofalo and Sara Gilbert’s Roseanne character were the models for Daria Morgendorffer. Morgendorffer was the maiden name of the show writer David Felton's mother, and was deemed perfect for the new character.

13. It's Butt-head's house that you're usually seeing.


MTV

While it isn’t officially canon, Judge responded to a reporter’s assumption that the two were always at Butt-head’s abode by saying he “always imagined” that to be the case.

14. Beavis and Butt-head were featured on the cover of Rolling Stone—three times.

Their first appearance in 1993 ended up being the best-selling issue of the magazine that year.

15. Beavis and Butt-head starred in their own live-action Thanksgiving special with Kurt Loder.

The night before their (first) series finale, “Beavis and Butt-head Are Dead," MTV put Beavis and Butt-head in charge of broadcasting the Thanksgiving Day Parade, then later put them at a dinner table with the veteran MTV News broadcaster. The one-hour special only aired on television once.

16. Beavis and Butt-head ended due to creative burnout.

Toward the end of the show's original run, Judge was running on empty. "I actually wanted to stop a little sooner," Judge told the Los Angeles Times in 1997. "We've done over 200 episodes [since 1993]. After the second season, I thought, 'How are we gonna do this anymore?' I was completely burnt out. I got a second wind in season three, and again in season five. But I don't know, you do it as fast as you can, get it on the air as fast as you can, and there's never a break. I felt, like, why not retire before it gets too stale or whatever?"

17. Kanye West wanted to be on Beavis and Butt-head.

In contrast to the more innocent 1990s, Judge and his team had to get authorization from all of the parties involved in a music video to have it appear on Beavis and Butt-head when it returned in 2011. Kanye West wanted to have one of his videos featured on the show, but another credited songwriter on the undisclosed track declined immortality.

18. Beavis and Butt-head is coming back for today's generation.

In July 2020, The Hollywood Reporter announced that Beavis and Butt-head is coming back for two all-new seasons, this time to Comedy Central. Mike Judge will oversee the series yet again, but this time it will be geared toward a "whole new Gen Z world."

"We are thrilled to be working with Mike Judge and the great team at 3 Arts again as we double down on adult animation at Comedy Central," Chris McCarthy, president of ViacomCBS' entertainment and youth group, said. "Beavis and Butt-Head were a defining voice of a generation, and we can’t wait to watch as they navigate the treacherous waters of a world light-years from their own."

This story has been updated for 2020.