Recoil is a musical project created in 1986 by former Depeche Mode member Alan Wilder, who began the project as a a solo venture while still in the band as an outlet for his experimental, less pop-oriented compositions. In 1995, Recoil became his primary musical enterprise.
Sound Observations With Alan Wilder of Recoil
By David Moye
For many composers, songs are created from a title, or a lyrical idea or melody.
Not Alan Wilder, though.
The former keyboardist of Depeche Mode says composing like the weather. It all starts with atmosphere.
“My songs evolve from a sound experience,” he said. “I start with a bed of sound and work from it. Sometimes, I get an idea from a sample or a loop. Then I start to research which vocalist might be available and after they add words or vocals, I start a structure after that.
“Atmosphere is very important. I’m always building up some kind of picture.”
Interesting that Wilder uses the word “picture,” because even though Recoil has been a project of his for 15-or-so years, his current tour – which stops at Anthology on Oct. 23 – is his first under the Recoil banner.
That’s because a Recoil show is not exactly a concert – it’s a multi-media extravaganza.
“I’ve wanted to tour, but technology has finally caught up,” he said. “Ten years ago, it cost a fortune to make high-definition films like the ones we show during the show. Now, it’s much easier.
“I’m lucky in that I’ve managed to rope in a bunch of people to work for free because they like what I do.”
They do. Especially in southern California where Depeche Mode has had a big audience since 1983; an audience that has followed Wilder even though he left the band in the mid-90s.
It still shocks him that So Cal has such a big fan base for him.
“I am surprised,” he admitted. “Depeche Mode came to America on the heels of what were labeled as alternative bands in the U.S., like Pet Shop Boys, but were actually considered pop acts in England.
“We did a lot of touring in the U.S., but radio wasn’t playing us. Still, we were getting 20,000 people to a show and, finally, people called their radio stations and demanded they play us and that’s what caused us to break out in the early 1990s.
“That success is pinpointed in Los Angeles and San Diego. Of course, when you have 20,000 people showing up at an in-store event, that’s a good sign.”
Just like Wilder’s music has presented new sounds to the world, the Recoil show would offer a new experience for Anthology.
“We’ve played sit-down places on this tour, but it’s when the audience can move,” he said.