The Name “Depeche Mode”

In their 30-plus years together, Depeche Mode has sold more than 100 million records and is easily one of the most influential alt-rock bands of all time.  But what about that name? 

Where did it come from?  It certainly wasn’t their first choice.  In the beginning, they considered Composition of Sound. 

Then it was Peter Bonetti’s Boots (I have no idea who he was).  That was followed by The Lemon Peels, The Runny Smiles and the Glow Worms.  They even performed a couple of shows under the name The Scamps. 

It was singer Dave Gahan that stumbled on the phrase “depeche mode” when he was browsing through a magazine stand.  Depeche Mode is the name of a French fashion magazine—a name that can be translated as “fast fashion.” 

That sounded good, so they took it.  And the magazine never sued…

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

6 thoughts on “The Name “Depeche Mode”

  • May 7, 2012 at 7:36 pm
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    Peter Bonetti was a legendary Chelsea and England goalkeeper. Nicknamed the cat.

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  • February 23, 2013 at 6:54 pm
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    Interesting facts. How about the classic industrial group, KMFDM? There was a lot of people that thought it meant Kill Mother F&$@ing Depeche Mode! But I read on their album that it really means Keinhart Mein Fuhr Die Meinhart which means No Pity for the Majority in German. AC/DC was interpreted by some crazies in the 80s to mean, After Christ, Devil Comes! This was a time where crazy Christian groups were trying to expose the demonic influence in rock music. Interesting how band names are formed and interpreted or misinterpreted.

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  • July 7, 2013 at 12:26 am
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    I looked up the words depeche and mode (depeche mode) as just words and many sites came up that stated that depeche means 'dispatch (or update, message or news)', not 'fast'.

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  • July 7, 2013 at 12:44 am
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    'Keinhart Mein Fuhr Die Meinhart' does NOT mean 'No Pity For The Majority'. Actually it translates to a nonsensical sentence. 'No Pity For The Majority' translates to 'Kein Mitleid Für Die Mehrheit'.

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  • July 7, 2013 at 3:32 pm
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    Interesting side note. On KMFDM's newest album, on track 1, they directly reference the Kill MFing Depeche Mode thing.

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  • November 17, 2013 at 1:59 pm
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    In French, the usual meaning of "depeche" is "fast". But like someone else pointed, it also means "update" or "news" (as in a news coming in a press newsfeed from a press agency).

    Reply

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