The Godfather of Electro-pop

Former Depeche Mode and Erasure member Vince Clarke reunites with bandmate Alison Moyet this summer for a Yaz reunion tour. The straight man to some pretty gay acts tells us why he stopped singing, what broke Yazoo up, and why the future of electro-pop music may be monkey brains

BY Job Brother

June 19 2008 11:00 PM ET

Vince Clarke is truly the wizard behind the curtain. Starting in 1980 as a founding member of Depeche Mode, he went on to form three additional bands, two of them highly successful: Yaz (known as Yazoo outside the U.S.) and Erasure. Often in the shadow of his vocalists, he is nevertheless considered by many to be the godfather of electro-pop. Already on the highly anticipated reunion tour of Yaz (with singer Alison Moyet), he takes a break to chat with TheAdvocate.

Why did Yaz disband? We were together 18 months, and in that period of time we never really formed any personal relationship -- never got to know each other. There was a lack of communication, and when there were problems we didn't know how to express those feelings, so it all went awry.

How did that lack of camaraderie affect the songwriting process? Well, most of the songs were either mine or Alison’s. It’s not like we had a lot of time spent with a guitar and got to write tunes, although it’s something we do plan to do.

Who made the final decision to split up Yaz? Hmm…I think it was me who made the call. [Chuckles]

And what brought you back together? I heard that [Alison] was interested in doing something together, and myself -- I didn’t see that I had time. Then after the last Erasure tour, my partner Andy [Bell] suggested that we take a couple years off and try some side projects, just for something different, ’cause we’d been working nonstop. It coincided with the idea for a Yaz tour, plus the box set was coming out this year –- it all went together.

I’m glad it did. How has time changed your working relationship with Alison? It’s a lot, lot better. She’s got three kids, and I’ve got one. I think that says it all.

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