Depeche Mode frontman Dave Gahan, who is no stranger to collaborative projects, has joined up with a new collective called Humanist for a moody new song called “Shock Collar.”
In the video, he pleads that he “never lied,” in his signature croon, singing amid swirling guitars and electro drums as strobes flash red and blue around him. The song will appear on the first album by Humanist, due out February 21st.
Humanist is a new project by Rob Marshall, who plays guitar with Exit Calm and previously wrote two albums with Mark Lanegan: Gargoyle and Somebody’s Knocking. His other guests on the record include Lanegan, Ride’s Mark Gardner, Ron Sexsmith and Unkle’s Joel Cadbury, among others. Gahan and Marshall filmed the song’s video in New York and used the song’s imagery of halos and light as guideposts.
“It was a pleasure to be asked to be a part of Rob’s Humanist project,” Gahan said in a statement. “Mark Lanegan asked me, and I liked the idea immediately. It’s a beast! I went for the vocal, with the visual of driving fast on an empty highway. We shot the video over a couple of days in New York, and it all came together.”
He got the idea for the project from watching The Living Room, a documentary about singer Gavin Clark, whose manager also used to look after Marshall. The day after he watched the film, he learned that Clark had died, making him want to write an album of songs about mortality. He then reached out to a dream list of singers and asked them to write their own melody and lyrics with just a track title and the music.
“I can sing a little, and I do sing on some of the tracks, and I’ve written some of the singing parts, too, but I’ve always preferred the art of collaboration,” Marshall said in a statement. “I guess that’s [from] being in bands your whole life. So I had this daft ‘wish list’ of vocalists I’d always loved, which I passed to my manager, along with some early demos. … To my surprise, nearly all of them said yes, and it was an enthusiastic yes too. I was blown away — I still am — to be working with some of my musical heroes”.
In the past few years, Gahan has kept busy with extracurricular activities. He was the sole guest on the last record by Soulsavers, Angels & Ghosts, and he teamed with Null and Void, a project by Depeche Mode songwriter Kurt Uenala, and Goldfrapp.
In 2015, when he was working with Soulsavers, Gahan spelled out what he gets out of a project like that that he didn’t from Depeche Mode in an interview with Rolling Stone. “I get a lot out of it,” he said. “I like working in different ways and developing ideas with somebody that’s willing to take some risks. I bring these experiences back to Depeche Mode. … The stuff I’m writing now, I think, is going to end up on a future Depeche record — it just feels like that — and I wouldn’t have been able to do it if I didn’t do this Soulsavers record.”