Depeche Mode – Enjoy The Silence

When I first heard Enjoy The Silence, this was the moment where I first fell in love with Depeche Mode.

 

I’m Here! Depeche Mode Bar, Riga, Latvia

I finally made it to Riga and what a beautiful city with 800 year old Gothic churches, medieval buildings in the Old Town and exquisite Art Nouveau buildings.  After travelling on the bus for four hours from Tallinn, Estonia to Riga, Latvia, I was in need of some Depeche Mode!  I was staying in Riga for two days where the main priority was to visit the Depeche Mode Bar https://www.facebook.com/dmbarriga which was only a 10 minute walk from my hotel situated in the Old Town.

Having to wait all day until the bar opened at 6.00 pm was excruciating to say the least!  I had previously navigated on a map the quickest route to the bar whilst also dodging the hordes of tourist standing around looking lost.  Once arriving at the bar, I just had to take a photo while listening to the thumping beat of Depeche Mode drifting out through the window.
DM Bar, Riga Latvia

Walking through the front door, down the stairs into the cellar bar, I was greeted with the recognisable red and black décor, Violator roses scattered on the back wall, TV screens playing continuous Depeche Mode videos and memorabilia was strategically placed throughout the bar.  The Delta Machine symbols illuminated the bar with red lighting which was very cool and of course there was a small range of  DM Bar merchandise for sale.

2014-08-27 18.01.46

The most noticeable memorabilia when entering the bar was the large yellow car door with a “U” painted on it.  In Depeche Mode’s video “Useless” which is from their 1997 album Ultra, Dave Gahan, Martin L Gore and Andy Fletcher are driving a yellow car which has a large “U” on the side of it; “U” being for Ultra.  By the way, this is one of my favourite songs.  Aren’t they all, I hear you saying!  If you want to check out the awesome video click here: http://archives.depechemode.com/video/music_videos/47_useless.html

Useless Car door, Riga

Another nice touch were the over sized light bulbs scattered around the bar.  These light bulbs featured throughout Depeche Mode’s video “In Your Room” from their 1993 album “Songs of Faith and Devotion”.  If you want to see the video, check it out here: http://archives.depechemode.com/video/music_videos/42_in_your_room.html

2014-08-27 18.02.50

Visitors to the bar are encouraged to write something meaningful to them about Depeche Mode on one of the walls closest to the bar.  Of course I had to write a little something special and leave my mark in one of the coolest bars ever!

The DM Bar was opened early 2014 and is owned by a local guy who was very friendly and a massive Depeche Mode fan.  I would recommend anyone who is a Depeche Mode fan to check this bar out.  The drinks are reasonably priced; they serve snacks (hot chips / wedges), great music (of course!) and it’s just a cool little place to hang out for a few hours.

Next Stop: DM Baar, Tallinn, Estonia

The next stop on my travels was to visit the DM Baar in Tallinn, Estonia http://www.depechemode.ee/. Upon total amazement of discovering such a heavenly place, I just had to add this particular bar to my travel list. I made a point of planning my travels so that I was able to spend my birthday specifically at the DM Baar, relishing in the delight of listening to Depeche Mode while having a nice drink or three. I really couldn’t think of a pleasanter way to spend an evening. As Tallinn was at the tail end of my month long trip through Europe, I couldn’t wait to get there, but also knowing the fact that I would also be turning a year older didn’t really appeal too much.

I had booked an apartment in the Old Town ensuring it was close to the DM Baar; is a three minute walk close enough? The evening finally approached. I was so excited to finally be on my way. Walking down the narrow lane I looked up and the clouds parted, allowing a ray of sunlight to stream downwards and there it was… the DM Baar sign with the Violator rose. As I approached closer to the open doorway, I could hear Dave Gahan’s silky baritone voice amongst the electronic beat that is Depeche Mode.  OMG I couldn’t believe it, I was finally here! Of course I had to take a photo outside the bar as you can see below.

Outside DM BaarNow just a few facts about the DM Baar. The DM Baar was originally opened in 1999 by a devoted fan but it was in 2001 when on 27 August Depeche Mode members Martin L Gore, Andy Fletcher and Christian Eigner partied the night away in the DM Baar before their Tallinn concert. They also returned to the bar in 2006 during their “Touring the Angel” tour. There were photos capturing these most awesome moments which take on a shrine like ambiance on one of the walls in the bar. How cool is that?

PhotoGrid_1413082657788

I walked through the doorway and was greeted by red and black décor with the distinctive sound of the pounding beat of “Enjoy the Silence” from Depeche Mode’s 1990 Violator album and also one of my favourite songs! I almost, almost had a tear in my eye….

2014-08-23 22.22.55

The cocktail menu was quite extensive where each cocktail was named after a Depeche Mode song. I had to try a number of cocktails as it would have been extremely rude not to. I would have to confirm my favourite were World in My Eyes, Dangerous, Blue Dress and Personal Jesus. Don’t ask me what was in them. They tasted great, end of.

PhotoGrid_1413084228641

There was a treasure trove of memorabilia on the walls and on the table tops such as signed posters, photos of the band, ticket stubs, album covers, lyric sheets and so on. For any Depeche Mode fan, this can only be described heavenly.

PhotoGrid_1413082735955

Even the toilets had “Mr Feathers” and “Mrs Feathers” images on the door which was a nice touch.  Sorry I don’t have the Mrs Feathers image.

Mr Feathers

For those who may not be aware of Mr Feathers, he featured on Depeche Mode’s 2005 album “Playing the Angel”.

PTAAll the while, there were a number of TV screens playing a continuous loop of Depeche Mode’s live concerts such as their epic 1988 performance at the Pasadena Rose Bowl, captured in D A Pennebaker’s film “101” or simply their “The Videos 86>98” featuring almost two dozen music videos. It really didn’t matter what they played, it was Depeche Mode, no explanation necessary.

Every now and then I managed to drag my eyes away from the TV screen to look around the bar only to find numerous patrons memorised, gazing at the TV screens with a small smile on their face; happy in the fact they were able to relax, have a cold drink while listening to one of the best bands in the world.

As you may have noticed in my previous post, I do like a little bit of merchandise! The DM Baar had a great range of mugs, key rings, t-shirts and DVD’s. I was lucky enough to have my sister (who lives in New Zealand) contact the bar and organised the barman to give me a couple of really cool mugs as a birthday present from her.  What a great sister!

PhotoGrid_1413085014186

The top picture is the front of the mug and the second picture is the back of the mug, but it is only when hot water is poured into the mug, the picture of Depeche Mode appears on the back of the mug. I thought that was pretty cool.

I spent three evenings at the DM Baar and believe me I didn’t want to leave! If you ever find yourself visiting Tallinn, then I would recommend the DM Baar even if you’re not a Depeche Mode fan as the atmosphere is friendly, with reasonably priced drinks and it’s just a little bit quirky.

See you next time when I’ll post a piece on the DM Bar, Riga, Latvia.

Hansa Studios, Berlin

As you may have noticed, I haven’t written my blog for just over one year… I know it’s really terrible; I just wasn’t feeling too inspired.  Anyhoo I have decided to get back into it and here I am! Aren’t you just so excited to ‘read’ me!

Okay, so last month I was lucky enough to travel to Europe again to see a bit more of the place. There were a number of countries I specifically wanted to visit for the following reasons:

  1. Berlin, Germany. I visited Berlin back in 2004 and just loved it. The reason I wanted to go back a second time was to visit the legendary Hansa Studios located at Köthener Straße 38, 10963 Berlin which were founded in the 60’s not long after the Berlin wall was erected. Hansa Studios is especially known for the sound quality of recording in The Hall (aka The Big Hall by the Wall). Now some of you may know, I am a huge Depeche Mode fan and they recorded four albums (Construction Time Again (1983), Some Great Reward (1984), Shake the Disease from The Singles 81-85 (1985) and Black Celebration (1986). So of course I had an awesome reason to visit.
  2. Tallinn, Estonia. It was my plan to visit the Depeche Mode Baar in Tallinn. Yes, there is a bar dedicated solely to Depeche Mode.
  3. Riga, Latvia. See 2. above.

So let’s start with Hansa Studios. Before leaving Australia, I found this great tour company, Berlin Music Tours (http://www.musictours-berlin.com/hansa-studio-tour) which specifically held tours at Hansa Studio. Luckily there was a tour available on one of the two days I had in Berlin. For me it was such a long day, waiting, waiting, and waiting for 4.00 pm to roll around. Upon arriving at the studio, we met Thilo who ran the tour, paid our 25 Euro (the more people in the group, the cost is less) and proceeded to commence the 2 hour tour (well, the tour actually went for 2 ½ hours, but believe me, no one was complaining!).

Here is a photo of me beside the Hansa Tonstudio sign in the main entrance way.

Hansa Studio

Our first port of call was the staircase which led to The Hall (aka The Big Hall by the Wall). Now, the staircase was a beautifully curve wooden staircase with rich red carpet and it is well known for this photo of Depeche Mode during their period at Hansa. I just love it how Dave Gahan just lies there draping his arm so delicately across the carpet.

DM Sexy

So I wanted to recreate this photo and I think I did a pretty good job don’t you think? Just a shame I left my camera on black and white mode instead of colour… oh well, you get what I was trying to do! Ha ha

???????????????????????????????

Anyway, enough of the silliness! So once we ascended the stairs, we arrived into The Hall and it was beautiful as you can see from the photo below.

The Hall

David Bowie, U2 and Depeche Mode loved the special acoustic of The Hall. Thilo mentioned the rumour was that Martin Gore had sung and recorded “Somebody” in this room naked and when he spoke to Alan Widler a few years later, Alan confirmed this was in fact a true story. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall that day!

From here, we headed upstairs again to Studio 1 and the Mix Room. In 2009, Depeche Mode rehearsed “Wrong” (from their 2009 album Sounds of the Universe) in Studio 1 for a TV appearance at the German ECHO AWARDS in Berlin. Apparently Dave Gahan had left a number of water bottles in the studio and the next day Thilo was taking a tour through and someone wanted to take the bottles Dave Gahan had used. I’m not sure how I feel about that as it seems a little too personal for my liking.

Studio 1 is connected to the Mix Room, so our group gathered around the Mixing Desk and Thilo talked about some of the songs recorded and mixed in this room by Depeche Mode. After a few minutes, “People Are People” which is from their 1984 album “Some Great Reward” is blasted out into the studio and OMG this was the part of the tour I had been looking forward to for months! Imagine you’re sitting in the small mixing room, while you’re looking out to Studio 1 picturing the band actually playing live to you, right there. Well, that was what I was imagining anyway! I almost, almost had a tear in my eye….

Next up on the playlist was “Black Celebration” which was recorded in The Hall downstairs as Depeche Mode wanted a big Cathedral type sound which The Hall provided extremely well. This is such a great song even 30 years later and it is one of my favourite. “Black Celebration” is from their fifth studio album “Black Celebration” released in 1986.

Thilo then described the recording of “Stripped” (not in taking off your clothes by the way) where at the beginning of the song the sound of an engine had been layered three times in order to make a thick sound. The engine sound was actually from Dave Gahan’s Porsche. If you’ve never heard the fireworks at the end of “Stripped”, don’t be surprised, unless you know they’re there, it is quite difficult to hear them but it was the small details which made the song. These fireworks were recorded over three days in a car park in the UK. “Stripped” was also off their “Black Celebration” album.

Unfortunately we were nearing the end of the tour with such sadness but Thilo informed us we had one more treat in store… Merchandise! There were Hansa mugs, t-shirts, tote bags and so on and of course I just had to buy something, so I purchased a Hansa Studio tote bag.

Hansa Tote

It was now time to say goodbye to Thilo and Hansa Studios. It was amazing to know I was in the two studios and mixing room where great artists had recorded their various albums. Thilo was also a Sound Engineer and a huge Depeche Mode fan since 1983. He was very informative and knowledgeable about the studio and all its various occupants.

If you ever find yourself in Berlin, I would recommend taking a Hansa Studio tour with Berlin Music Tours. You won’t regret it. BTW: Berlin Music Tours also do David Bowie Walking Tours.. how cool is that! 🙂

Next time… Depeche Mode Baar, Tallinn, Estonia.