Last month, white supremacist Richard Spencer described Depeche Mode as “the official band of the alt-right” outside the Conservative Political Action Conference. Spencer, who describes himself as a “lifelong Depeche Mode fan”, later said that the comment was a joke, but Depeche Mode themselves weren’t happy with even jokingly being described as “official”, denouncing his statement as “ridiculous” and emphasising that “Depeche Mode has no ties to Richard Spencer or the alt-right and does not support the alt-right movement.”
In a new interview with Billboard, Depeche Mode singer Dave Gahan has taken the comments one step further: “What’s dangerous about someone like Richard Spencer is, first of all, he’s a cunt – and he’s a very educated cunt, and that’s the scariest kind of all.” Gahan – who has long held left-wing beliefs – says elsewhere in the interview that his son Jimmy explained to him that Spencer had a dedicated following and therefore deserved a response to ensure that Depeche Mode’s music doesn’t become associated with Neo-Nazism. “People read shit... they interpret it as being real,” Gahan adds.
Gahan’s use of the word “educated” refers to Spencer’s background in academia, at The American Conservative magazine, in his co-founding of the Alternative Right webzine and movement, and his presidency of the National Policy Institute think tank, and his determination to turn ethno-nationalist ideas and into government policy. Still, as Spencer and his fringe ideas have been increasingly brought into the mainstream, it’s also brought a level of scrutiny and a lot of backlash – it must feel pretty bad to have your favourite band tell you they hate you.