Here's How Depeche Mode Got Their Name

Some band name origins can be relatively easy to parse: take Fleetwood Mac (formed by Mick Fleetwood and John McVie) or Bon Jovi (named for, well, John Bongiovi). However, other musical artists tend to lean toward more etymologically ambiguous names, such as Aerosmith or Duran Duran. Depeche Mode is no exception to the second category: although its name derives from modern French, there has been an existing layer of controversy surrounding how the six-piece group got its name.

Formed in Basildon, Essex, in 1980 by founding members Vincent Clarke and Andy Fletcher (who at first aimed to start a Cure-influenced group), the groundbreaking techno-pop band quickly became one of the most powerful forces in the New Wave movement. Yet, the band didn't take up its infamous name until after guitarist/keyboardist/songwriter Martin Gore joined in Spring 1980, as Rapid City Journal reports.

Before Gore joined what would become Depeche Mode, Gore was in a musical group called The French Look. It was the same trend of French-inspired namesakes that followed the budding band to success.

News flash!

Upon the introduction of Dave Gahan into the band, the musical outfit became fully-formed and began to play to small audiences at school in May 1980. It was Gahan's idea to name the new lineup after a French magazine, Dépêche mode (which roughly translates to "Fashion News") drawing inspiration from its progressive sound with the influence of French fashion, according to Eight Eighty Nine. It was pure coincidence that Gahan picked up a copy of the magazine for reference for one of his own designs when the name clicked.

While the literal French-to-English translation "fashion news" or "fashion dispatch", the band thought up a slightly more nuanced meaning post-translation. "It means hurried fashion or fashion dispatch. I like the sound of that," Gore told one magazine in 1985, citing the "fast" nature of the band's projects and sprawling interests. 

"The further we got into the pop world the more I changed. It was like a Before and After advert. Before, I was quiet, introverted, conscientious. I was a long-haired hippy like everyone else. Afterwards I realised I could do something other people might like."