The Quietus: Basildon Bond – Depeche Mode & the Essex New Town

Three decades on from the release of their debut album, Sophia Deboick argues that it’s time that Depeche Mode’s home town of Basildon honoured its most famous sons

In the years since the release of their debut album, released 30 years ago next month, Depeche Mode’s roots in the Essex New Town of Basildon – a part of England that nobody talks about and which lacks the cachet of Joy Division’s Manchester, The Human League’s Sheffield, or OMD’s Liverpool – has been a persistent focus of derision. With Basildon principally known for gloomy urban blight and the beer boy / Essex girl stereotype, the band have found that even those sections of the music press that have not been openly hostile to them over the last three decades have still regularly referred to them as ‘four Walters from Basildon’, representative of the ‘cult of the diamond geezer’. But with an impressive new book by ex-NME journalist Simon Spence (Just Can’t Get Enough: The Making of Depeche Mode, Jawbone Press) shedding new light on the part that their hometown played in moulding a band that would go on to sell over 100 million albums, and with a recent themed weekend in the town showing that ‘Bas’ is still the epicentre of the international cult that surrounds Depeche Mode, the place of Basildon in the band’s folklore ought to be reassessed…

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Photo: Helen Gray