Andrew Fletcher (Depeche Mode)

English keyboard player Andrew Fletcher was born 8 July 1961. He, along with Vince Clarke, was a founding member of the electronic band Depeche Mode. They were founded In the late 1970s, after Fletcher and schoolmate Vince Clarke formed the short-lived band No Romance in China, in which Fletcher played bass guitar. In 1980, Fletcher met Martin Gore at the Van Gogh Pub on Paycocke Road in Basildon. With Clarke, the trio, now all on synthesizer, formed another group called Composition of Sound. Clarke served as chief songwriter and also provided lead vocals until singer Dave Gahan was recruited into the band later that year, after which they adopted the name Depeche Mode at Gahan’s suggestion. Clarke left the group in late 1981, shortly after the release of their debut album Speak & Spell. Their 1982 follow-up album, A Broken Frame, was recorded as a trio, with Gore taking over primary songwriting duties. Musician & producer Alan Wilder joined the band in late 1982 the group continued as a quartet until Wilder’s departure in 1995.

Since then, the core trio of Gahan, Gore and Fletcher have remained active, most recently with the release of their 2017 album Spirit and ensuing world tour. Fletcher’s role within Depeche Mode has often been a topic of speculation. In early incarnations of the band, he played (electric and later synth) bass. As the band evolved after Vince Clarke’s departure in 1981, Fletcher’s role changed as each of the band members took to the areas that suited them and benefitted the band collectively. In a key scene in D.A. Pennebaker’s 1989 documentary film about the band, Fletcher clarifies these roles: “Martin’s the songwriter, Alan’s the good musician, Dave’s the vocalist, and I bum around.” In his review of 2005’s Playing the Angel, long after Wilder’s departure from the band, Rolling Stone writer Gavin Edwards riffed upon Fletcher’s statement with the opening line: “Depeche Mode’s unique division of labor has been long established, with each of the three remaining members having a distinct role: Martin Gore writes the songs, Dave Gahan sings them and Andy Fletcher shows up for photo shoots and cashes the checks.” Fletcher is the only member of the band (past and present) who has not received a songwriting credit.

Fletcher, however, always has and continues to play a critical role within the band and has also handled many of the band’s business, legal, and other non-musical interests over the years. In the EPK for Songs of Faith and Devotion, he discussed being genuinely interested in many of the business aspects of the music industry that other performing musicians shy away from, and as such, he took over a lot of the business management aspects of the band including acting as the band’s “spokesperson”. He is also said to be the member who is the mediator and the one that “brings the band together”. Fletcher mediated between Gahan and Gore during their dispute following 2001’s Exciter album and tour over future songwriting duties within Depeche Mode. In the studio and during live shows, Fletcher does contribute a variety of supporting synthesizer parts, including bass parts, pads, strings and drone sounds, and various sample. However, he is notably the only member of Depeche Mode who does not sing. Although he can be seen singing in videos of Depeche’s past live performances, usually Fletcher’s vocals were either mixed very low or heard only through his own stage monitors. However Fletcher’s supporting vocals can be heard in some form or another on the majority of all Depeche Mode albums released since 1981.

Andy Fletcher may have also released a “solo album” entitled Toast Hawaii (named after Fletcher’s favourite dish in Hansa Studio’s cafeteria) was recorded in Berlin during the Some Great Reward sessions. all the songs on the “album” are cover songs on which Fletcher sings lead vocals. The “album” allegedly features Alan Wilder and/or Martin Gore on piano, with an album cover photo by Wilder. However this “solo album” is almost certainly an in-joke, although it is not entirely unlikely that during studio “downtime” from serious work, a diversion could have been making humorous recordings.

In 2002, Fletcher launched his own record label, a Mute Records imprint called Toast Hawaii (again named for the dish) and signed the band CLIEИT. He coordinated the recording of their eponymous 2003 debut and 2004’s City and also produced “extended remixes” for their subsequent singles “Price of Love,” “Rock and Roll Machine,” “Here and Now,” “In It for the Money,” “Radio” and “Pornography” (featuring Carl Barât of The Libertines. CLIEИT left the label in 2006 and no further activity with the Toast Hawaii label has occurred or been announced to date.Fletcher began touring as a DJ. to support CLIEИT’s live shows. Currently, when he is on hiatus from Depeche Mode, Fletcher plays occasional festivals and club gigs in Europe, Asia, South America and “places where Depeche Mode haven’t visited or been able to visit” and is known to include various exclusive Depeche remixes in his sets. A notable DJ set of Fletcher’s from 2011 in Warsaw has been widely bootlegged. In 2015, Fletcher also embarked on a small tour of European clubs.

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