DJ Badger:  The News and the Journal

Entry One Hundred Forty-Five.
Tuesday, 2011.09.20, 3:03 PM CST.

The Fall 2010 Chronicles, Part II:  Meeting Alan Wilder.
Current Mood:  Accomplished?  Sure.  Why not?
Current Scent:  None.

It may or may not be interesting to you to know that this Journal Entry, along with the previous one, have been typed out while in a courthouse awaiting a trial.  Not my trial, though.  As I type, I am doing jury duty, in the lower level of the Tulsa County Courthouse, serving along with 200 or so other potential jurors, waiting to be chosen for a case to help determine someone's fate.

I'd really rather not be called up.  I'd much rather sit here and update my site.

Alan Wilder (Right) and I.   Yep.  THE Alan Wilder.  Right there.  With me.

The gentleman standing with me in the picture above is Alan Charles Wilder.  A lot of you have no idea who this person is, nor why he's such a big deal to me.

Alan Wilder was a member of Depeche Mode (my favourite music group, whose work I've collected since 1987) from 1982 to 1995.  Martin Gore was (and still is) the primary songwriter, but Alan Wilder had a good hand in crafting how the songs actually sounded.  He was arguably the most talented musician in the group.  In fact, the Depeche Mode version of Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata," released as a B-side to "Little 15" back in 1988, was really just Alan Wilder's solo performance of the song.

(Incidentally, when I first discovered the world of "imported" singles back in late 1988, the German release of "Little 15" was the first imported DM 12" single that I ever purchased - and Wilder's version of "Moonlight Sonata" was one of the main reasons I chose it first.)

"Little 15," German 12" autographed by Alan Wilder.
The autograph reads:  "To Badger, best wishes, A Wilder."  I think.  :)

Back in the 1980s, Wilder decided to start releasing his own musical pieces under the solo project name of Recoil.  Although he continued (and has continued) to release Recoil albums, he didn't leave Depeche Mode until 1995, and he didn't actually tour as Recoil for another fifteen years after that.  By and large, with the possible exception of 1992's Bloodline (incidentally, my favourite Recoil album), his works were significantly more "experimental" in nature than Depeche Mode.

Last year, my old friend and DJ mentor Dave French (see previous Journal Entry) sent me a message via Facebook to let me know that Alan Wilder, as Recoil, was going to be performing at the Trees venue in Dallas on October 16th.  I was geeked, and my wife and I attended the show along with Dave and his girlfriend Lori.


The show began with Alan Wilder himself coming to the stage to welcome everyone, talk a bit about the Recoil project, and inform us of what we'd be experiencing during the show.

Alan Wilder's introduction

Wilder then introduced blues guitarist Joe Richardson, who had provided vocals and music for some of the tracks on Recoil's SubHuman album.  The Dallas Recoil show was one of the very few Recoil concerts (two?  three?) which included Richardson, so this was a really big deal.

I'm happy to report that Richardson was an impressive performer, and he even took the time to sit and talk about his experiences with Alan Wilder as well as a little of the history of blues music.  Although a lot of the crowd may have ben confused because they weren't expecting any blues to be played, Ricardson's set was fantastic.

Joe Richardson

The show continued with Architect, a one-man project of Daniel Myer.  I was somewhat excited about this, but wasn't familiar with Architect's work.

Dear.  Holy.  God.  Three things immediately became evident:

  • Architect likes to inject a lot of noise and stuttering into his work.  I'm very cool with that.
  • Architect likes to use a lot of bass.  Usually, I'm very cool with that as well.
  • Architect likes his set LOUD.  Not just normally loud.  Not just exceptionally loud.  UNBEARABLY loud.

Now, I know what you may be thinking:  "When did you turn into a crotchety old dude, Badger?"

I don't think you understand.  I don't mind some loud music.  This was insane.  Architect's set was cranked up SO loudly that it hurt.  That's not an exaggeration.  That's not just me trying to be dramatic.  The throbbing, stuttering bass was coming out so hard and SO FREAKING LOUDLY that it quite literally started giving me pain in my chest.

In all of my days going to concerts, I have never heard, nor have I felt, anything like what Architect was serving up.  That's not a compliment.  It was absolutely unreasonable.

A few minutes into Architect's performance, Lanna and I sought refuge outside.  Dave and Lori joined us, and a number of others did as well.  Eventually, I started hearing something familiar booming inside:  Architect was interweaving one of my favourite Kraftwerk songs, "Computerwelt," into his set!  I stepped inside, "just in case" he might have toned it down... but I didn't last long.  It was still painful, and I was still more than willing to head back outside.


After Architect's set mercifully came to a close, we all headed back inside for Recoil's set.

Alan Wilder was joined onstage by Paul Kendall (aka the producer "PK").  The set was phenomenal, with full screen shows accompanying each and every track.  Not only did the show include a number of Recoil standards that I'd been expecting (like "Strange Hours" and the spectacular "Prey"), there were many surprises in store.

For one thing, Joe Richardson came back onstage to provide live vocals and guitar.  That was pretty incredible.

Also, I had already known that Depeche Mode's "Never Let Me Down Again" was going to be incorporated into the set... but I had no idea that Wilder was going to work in a whole presentation of DM's "In Your Room" (utilizing the Apex and Jeep Rock mixes, with lots of nudity in the screen show, which I certainly didn't mind).  That was one of the high points of the show.

The encore, however, was especially stunning.  It included a mash-up of Recoil's gospel-based "Jezebel" (not to be confused with the rather weak 2009 Depeche Mode ballad of the same name), whose vocals were layered on top of an instrumental collage mainly built from one of my all-time DM favourites, "Walking in My Shoes."  WOW.

Wilder finished off the performance with a version of DM's "Personal Jesus," incorporating pieces of the rare Boys Noize Rework of the song and mixing in elements from Recoil's 1992 track, "Edge To Life."  It was a great way to end a remarkable set.


After the performance, lots of people stuck around while a DJ played a rather weak mixture of Depeche Mode and loosely-Depeche-Mode-related tracks.  Eventually, we all got to get in line to meet Alan Wilder himself.  It was quite entertaining chatting with the other fans, many of whom were quite inebriated by this point, and having discussions about things like which Depeche Mode albums were the best.

(Just so that you know:  The correct answers are Black Celebration, Violator, Songs of Faith and Devotion and Music for the MassesPlaying the Angel would probably round out my top five.  If anyone tells you that Exciter, A Broken Frame, or especially Sounds of the Universe are in any way examples of Depeche Mode's best work... then he/she is incorrect.)

When I finally got to meet Alan Wilder, he was delightful.  He couldn't chat for long due to the length of the line, but I told him that he was a big inspiration to me, and that his surprise appearance/performance with Depeche Mode at the 2010 Royal Albert Hall charity event really meant a lot to the fans.  Overall, I'm happy to report that he was extremely friendly and a pleasure to meet.

Plus, I now have autographed copies of the German "Little 15" single, the album Black Celebration (I have mentioned that it's Depeche Mode's best album, right?  Oh, yeah, I have...), and Recoil's Bloodline in my Depeche Mode collection.  I'm quite thrilled with that.

Overall, it was an incredible night - one that I won't soon forget.  Not only did I get to reunite with the man who taught me how to DJ after a span of almost 12 years, but I got to meet a world-renowned musician whose music had also served to influence me for well over two decades.

In fact, it was such an incredible night that I'm throwing in this picture again, just for good measure:

Hey, did I happen to mention that I MET Alan Wilder?

More soon!