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GAHAN NO LONGER IN SUCH A HURRY.

Byline: Phillip Zonkel Staff Writer

It's been a long way back for Dave Gahan.

The 41-year-old Depeche Mode singer remembers the band's 1993-94 ``Devotional'' tour, in which he says he was lost in a haze of drug abuse. But that wasn't the bottom. In August 1995, two months after 13-year Depeche Mode veteran Alan Wilder left the band, Gahan attempted suicide. Nine months later, he overdosed on a speedball (a cocaine-heroin mix) and flatlined for two minutes.

Shortly thereafter, Gahan entered a detox program.

The singer, who plays at the Wiltern Theatre on Monday and Tuesday supporting his new solo CD, ``Paper Monsters,'' says he's no longer a slave to bingeing, although it took a while.

``A couple of years after I stopped using drugs and drinking, it was horrible,'' says Gahan, calling from San Antonio, one of the stops on his solo tour. `I'd go to dinner with a bunch of friends, and they'd be drinking. I'd be looking at that half-empty bottle of wine on the table and trying to figure out why nobody was finishing it. ... Fortunately, in the last five years or so, that went away.''

Gahan has now channeled those demons into ``Paper Monsters.'' Marking his debut as a songwriter (he co-wrote the 10 tracks with multi-instrumentalist Knox Chandler), the disc is a canvas of autobiographical reflections set against a backdrop of Depeche Mode textures, as well as twisted electronica and swampy blues-rock.

Gahan uses ballads to confess the agonies and ecstasies of failed relationships and long-term love and the heartbreaking euphoria of fatherhood. His 4-year-old daughter, Stella Rose, is the subject of ``Stay.'' He also has two sons, Jimmy, 11, and Jack, 15.

``When I'm singing about things that are hopeful in my life, I'm honestly singing about them. I have so much to be grateful for,'' says Gahan, who also admits he's not always a shiny, happy person.

``I can be pretty mean and nasty at the drop of a hat,'' he says. ``I'm still working on a better balance with that stuff. I know I'm getting somewhere. It's like two steps forward, one step back.''

Gahan says the seeds for a lot of that anger were planted while growing up in Essex, England.

``My mom raised four kids on her own. She tried to do the best. My father left home when I was very young,'' Gahan says. ``When I was, like, 11, I had two younger brothers; I had to take care of (stuff). It was kind of weird.

``It was that usual adolescent stuff. I thought it was all my mom's fault. I was angry and resentful,'' he says. ``I guess I've carried some of that through.''

Frustration led Gahan to record the solo disc. Since its 1981 debut, Depeche Mode has found mega-platinum success with a formula of sensual, synthesizer-based grooves layered with guitar chords and drum machine arrangements. Gahan, however, thought the band was resting on its laurels.

``During the making of `Exciter' (the band's last CD), sometimes I felt a bit frustrated that there was a lack of experimentation,'' Gahan said, which led him to explore things on his own.

At this time, Depeche Mode's future isn't clear.

``I know I'm definitely going to keep moving forward when it comes to writing songs, working with different people,'' Gahan says. ``If Martin (Gore, the band's lyricist/keyboardist) wants to come along with that and we want to call it Depeche Mode, that's fine.''

A spokesman for Gore had no comment.

Still Gahan says he's proud of everything that's happened with the band. ``I wouldn't even be doing (`Paper Monsters') if it wasn't for Depeche.''

DAVE GAHAN

Where: Wiltern Theatre, 3790 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles.

When: 9:15 p.m. Monday and Tuesday.

Tickets: $45.50. Monday is sold out. Call (213) 488-3232 or go to tickmaster.com

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 24, 2003
Words:644
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