By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Brent Meyer says Strangelove is more than a Depeche Mode tribute act.
“It’s a valentine to an artist whose body of work I, and we in the group collectively, adore,” says Meyer, the “Martin Gore of the band.”
“We wanted to honor their music by trying to recreate it with the same reverence and authenticity as a classical musician would approach a classical repertoire.”
Performing at the Rialto Theatre on Friday, August 23, Strangelove focuses on, what Meyer calls, “the peak years, which is about 1988 to 1993.” That includes “Violator” and some “Music for the Masses” tracks precisely covered to replicate an actual Depeche Mode concert. However, Strangelove still plays tracks through 2017’s “Spirit.”
“It keeps it fresh for us,” he says.
Meyer’s background is in tribute acts. He built and ran America’s largest tribute band agency, Music Zirconia, with a roster of 1,500 acts. He also worked as a producer/engineer for artists like Henry Rollins, Bowie collaborator Reeves Gabrels and Chic/Bowie/Power Station’s Tony Thompson.
“I’m very familiar with the process,” he says. “One thing about paying homage to Depeche Mode is not a lot of artists have the kind of breadth of catalog that Depeche Mode has, having done it for almost 40 years now.
“Most tribute groups, they’re stuck playing the same six songs that were hits. We can play two straight hours and not leave out big hits. That’s a wonderful problem.”
Meyer says he enjoys singing Depeche Mode’s song “Never Let Me Down,” its anthemic and bombastic closing number. Fans have supported Strangelove as has Gore, who has given Meyer sound and equipment advice. Alan Wilder, he says, sent original keyboard samples.
“It sounds exactly like you would hear on the album,” Meyer says. “It’s wonderful. Martin has spoken positively about us in print and in video interviews.”
Meyer hasn’t heard from singer Dave Gahan.
“Dave’s the elusive one,” he says. “For me, meeting Martin was definitely the end all, be all. He’s the engine behind everything.”
Strangelove’s Friday, August 23, show further explores the new wave era with opener Electric Duke: Tribute to David Bowie and This Charming Band: A Tribute to Morrissey and The Smiths.
“I actually orchestrated getting them on the bill,” Meyer says.
Fans, he adds, should enjoy an evening of alternative hits.
“Our fifth Beatle, so to speak, is our original video projection content,” he says. “It’s amazing.”