Why Dave Gahan Wanted His Metallica Cover to Be ‘Very Cinematic’
Dave Gahan has remained especially busy during the pandemic lockdowns, recording a new album, getting inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with Depeche Mode and even finding the time to cover Metallica.
The song is an ambient, stripped-down version of "Nothing Else Matters," one of a dozen takes on the song included on the Metallica Blacklist compilation, sitting alongside renditions by Chris Stapleton, Darius Rucker, Roxette and Miley Cyrus' all-star consortium with Elton John, Metallica's own Robert Trujillo, Yo-Yo Ma and the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Chad Smith.
"That was weird and came about in a weird way," says Gahan, who released a covers album of his own, Imposter, with his side project the Soulsavers, last month. "Deep when we were in lockdown, I actually went into my little studio in the city with a friend to record [the Metallica cover] - that was a little strange, too, wearing masks and being in a room like that and not to be able to see someone’s face. But I enjoyed doing it."
The singer further admits he "wanted to go in a very cinematic sort of place" with the cover, purposely trying to create a version of the song that strayed from the original.
"I listened to some of the other versions; I'm not gonna name any names, but I think they may have been going down the wrong road, like trying to out-rock Metallica," Gahan confesses. "There were some fun performances, but I was, like, you can't get louder and harder than Metallica, so don't try."
Listen to Dave Gahan's Version of Metallica's 'Nothing Else Matters'
Gahan and Depeche Mode bandmates Martin Gore and Andy Fletcher meanwhile were fully intending to perform at the 2020 Rock Hall inductions, having done a world tour earlier in the year. But when the ceremony became a virtual special for HBO, the trio pivoted and made their acceptance with a group Zoom call that was refreshingly irreverent and intimate.
"We found it quite comedic, to be honest," Gahan recalls. "It was kind of perfect. We've been friends, we've known each other for a long time. We were teenagers when we started doing it and how quickly when the three of us are in a room together, even on Zoom, we just start to take the piss out of each other. I realized it was like this family I've been part of for many, many years, and I felt really proud of that.
Listen to Dave Gahan's Version of Bob Dylan's 'Not Dark Yet'
"And, of course, how weird for us to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame - maybe a little thorn in their side. It was definitely needed. It was about time a band like ourselves, like Depeche Mode, was in there."
Gahan and the Soulsavers recorded Imposter during November 2019 at Rick Rubin's Shangri-La Studios in Malibu, covering songs by Bob Dylan, Neil Young, PJ Harvey, Cat Power, Mark Lanegan and Charlie Chaplin, among others. The group presented the songs onstage last weekend in London, and Gahan is hoping for more dates in the new year. He predicts that Depeche Mode will "probably get together at some point, I should imagine, next year and see what we feel like doing." In the meantime, a limited-edition box set of Depeche Mode 101, the documentary and live album capturing the band's 1988 Pasadena Rose Bowl concert, was also recently released.
"It's quite a collection of work," Gahan acknowledges. "It made me realize, even without knowing it, that it's the people we worked with over the years - Flood and Daniel Miller and Gareth Jones - these people steer you in a very creative direction. That's one of the really amazing things about Depeche Mode is we never really fit into any particular genre, so I hope if we do something, that we continue down that path of exploring different ways to record a song."