Masters Of The Universe


By Michael Martin

You were playing with the ideas of sexual ambiguity at a time when pop stars who were actually gay were dancing around the issue or denying it.
We didn't feel like it was harming our career at all. I wasn't doing it for shock value. I was just playing with it, enjoying it. I look back at some of the outfits, and I laugh now. We saw some pictures recently and were laughing because I had on like a knee-length leather dress. I remember underneath it, I was wearing stockings and suspenders, and I was going on TV like that. It seemed like fun at the time, and I didn't think too much about the consequences. I think it some ways it was a little bit groundbreaking. It did help some people deal with their identities.

Do you have more male or female disciples?
I would say fifty-fifty. I think I get more males come up to me saying, "You and your music have changed my life." That's what I hear so much.

These days, every guitar band is taking their turn at the electropop you pioneered -- what do you think of The Killers, Franz Ferdinand, et. al.?
I like them, and MGMT. I think the stuff they do is great. It's always really flattering. We seem to have influenced many different genres of music: someone you don't expect very much, like Kanye West. It's nice.

What electronic music do you like now?
I DJ about two or three times a year, and I listen to a lot of dance music. My favorite artist at the moment is somebody called Rekorder. I think there's a lot of good electronic dance music that's being made. Personally, I think the majority of the challenging and interesting stuff is coming out of Europe. This may sound sacrilegious over here, but the American dance scene has been stuck in a time warp for the past 20 years. It doesn't seem to move. The whole house scene seems to be the prevalent one.

According to your press release, you overcame differences with Dave Gahan to make the new album. What were they?
For me, there weren't really any big issues. I think Dave did a lot of talking at the time of his solo project about me being the dictator and not allowing him to be creative and put his ideas forward. A lot of that really was talk, because the first time he really seriously presented demos for inclusion on an album was "Playing the Angel," and we got three of them on there. The only other time he came forward with an idea was one very, very basic idea, which was him singing on his own on a beach. That was for the "Ultra" project. We didn't feel like it was a perfect song and didn't know what to do with it. That was a tension, I suppose, but I didn't feel a big tension between us. The band at the moment is the best it's ever been. The recording was a joy. We were a bit depressed when the recording sessions came to an end; we were having such fun.

Did you literally kiss and make up?
Oh, I don't think we had really big issues. We didn't really need to.

Send a letter to the editor about this article.