An Interview with Daniel Cassús of Depeche Mode's SPIRITS in the Forest (Part 5 of 5)

Kevin Keating
Depeche Mode's David Gahan @ SAP Center - Oct. 17th, 2017 (Photo: Kevin Keating)
Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan @ SAP Center - Oct. 17th, 2017 (Photo: Kevin Keating)
Depeche Mode's last appearance here in the Bay Area was back on the 2017/2018 Global Spirit Tour during which they played both the Oakland Arena and SAP Center in San Jose in October 2017. During that tour, Depeche Mode set out to create a new type of concert film to document not the live concert experience, but instead, a selection of fans and their relationship to the music of Depeche Mode. Through the deeply emotional stories of six special Depeche Mode fans, the film shows not only how and why the band’s popularity and relevance has continued to grow over the course of their career, but provides a unique look into music’s incredible power to build communities, enable people to overcome adversity, and create connections across the boundaries of language, location, gender, age, and circumstance. Artfully shot and expertly directed by Anton Corbijn, Depeche Mode: SPIRITS in the Forest weaves together exhilarating musical performances, filmed at the final shows of the Global Spirit Tour in Berlin’s famed Waldbühne (“Forest Stage”), with intimate documentary footage filmed in the fans’ hometowns across the globe.

To celebrate the release of Depeche Mode: SPIRITS in the Forest and the band's recent induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, SF Bay Area Concerts teamed with Columbia Records to offer four of the Bay Area's top Depeche Mode fans the chance to interview 5 of the SPIRITS featured in the film in this 5-part series. We'll post a new part of the series every two weeks leading up to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Saturday, May 2nd periodically leading up to the Blu-Ray release on June 26th! (Ed. note: We had every intention to release these every two weeks until the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The R&R HoF induction has been postponed to later this year.)

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 (below)

Our lucky Bay Area Depeche Mode fans included:

Anne C. (Petaluma)
Jason E. (Fremont)
Nolan E. (Sacramento)
Vince F. (Cupertino)

Our fifth part features Daniel Cassús from Berlin Germany & Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Jason E: While I was watching the film in the theater and it came to the part where you were being introduced for the first time, I was really intrigued to discover that you were a Brasilero living in Berlin. I have traveled to Brasil probably 20 times and visited different areas, including the opportunity to explore your home city of Rio. Over the years, I have made a lot of friends down there (so far no really huge dM fans). In fact, one of my friends moved to Berlin a few years ago and I immediately thought that was such a strange coincidence as you were telling your story. Berlin and Germany as a whole are completely different worlds from Brasil, but for any dM fan, Germany is exactly the place you want to be when the band is touring. dM has so much history in Germany and the impact the band had on the country, the fanbase and how the country even shaped their music is incredible. One of my personal dM bucket list items that I have not done yet is to see them in concert in Germany (as well as other parts of the world like South America). I have traveled all over the US to see the band, but seeing them in Germany gives me something to do in the future. I know the whole amazing experience of being part of the film and attending the concert in Berlin would already check off many boxes in any dM fan's bucket list, but do you have some of your own dM bucket list items that you still want to fulfill in the future? It may not be some big achievement but perhaps something more special or personal to your life or rather very simple but there just hasn't been the right opportunity to make it happen. Also, very curious to hear what things from Brasil you miss the most being in Berlin? Muito obrigado!

Daniel Cassús: Hello Jason. First of all, thank you for your care to drop some Portuguese in your question. Yes, life in Germany is indeed a different reality from Brazil. A little bit like you, I have also visited Berlin a few too many times. It’s so unique and captivating. The “it’s not Germany” saying makes quite a lot of sense. Eventually, I decided to move on with my career in Berlin (of course, DM was one factor). And yes, watching DM live in Germany is quite intense. I went to Munich in 2013 and Leipzig in 2017, both were the first German shows of their respective tours. But to answer your question, I confess the whole process that led to the film (including making the film) is hard to top. I’m also not an avid collector, so there isn’t any rare item I’d like to have. I’d say having a relaxed chat with the band for no more than 30 minutes is on my bucket list. I’ve had opportunities to just shake hands with Martin or spend a few minutes with Fletch (enough to get an autograph and a picture), but we didn’t meet the band during the making of the film (Martin dropped to say hi and thanks). I’m not talking about the usually awkward meet & greet, it was just a chat about some technical curiosities, life on the road, and life in general because they’re human beings like us. While being respectful of their privacy and of their families, I’d probably talk about pets, dealing with jet lag, ask what they’ve been listening to, and, of course, soccer/football! Sorry, Dave, I know you don’t follow that. I know they don’t hang out together very much when they’re not working in the studio or playing live, so it’s almost like waiting for an alignment of all the planets to have access to a moment like this.

What do I miss from Brazil? The price of a steak, the way all 4 seasons are more or less the same compared to Berlin (where it feels like 4 different planets during one year), and, of course, my family and friends. Once again, thank you very much! And you’re welcome! De nada!

Nolan E: I’m a bit “top 5 list” guy. What are your top 5 Depeche Mode songs and why?

Daniel Cassús: Oh boy… these types of lists are like having to choose your favorite child. It’s an ever changing list, but today I’d say: “The Sun and the Rainfall”, “Strangelove” (single version), “Stjärna”, “Insight”, and “Alone”. Aside from “Strangelove”, all of the others have this melancholic feel to it and that is one of the core cornerstones of what we can define as “the Depeche Mode sound”. They’re so eclectic that it’s hard to narrow down these cornerstones very accurately. “Strangelove” was a huge hit in Brazil at the time. It does bring me back to my childhood and what I’d listen to in my dad’s car. Now, ask me tomorrow, and the list will be totally different.

Nolan E: How did Depeche Mode “find” each of you for the film? Being in a tribute band that has viral videos, I understand, but where there other media events for the rest of you that caused similar popularity? What was your reaction when getting asked to be in the film? And how has it affected you since wrapping up the project?

Daniel Cassús: We were chosen from the pool of fans that participated in the Facebook Takeover of the band‘s page that ran through most of 2017 and early 2018. The choice of us six in particular seems to have come from the band and/or their management. Just like the email had said, I was going to be one of the first in the Takeover, and I’d get to attend the Telekom album release show. The email arrived when I was about to go to sleep (there is a time difference between PST and CET), so I went to bed totally hyped up. It actually started by them slowly teasing us. When the takeover ended, they asked us for some videos for their wrap up. They always ended each email with something like “there’s still more to come”. Until one month later this email comes with the subject: “Depeche Mode film opportunity”. By the description, it seemed like it would be just a small thing. So I accepted, of course. It had a vague description that it would be a documentary about the fans and asked about our availability for certain dates.

We only started to realize how big it was when we found each other out. We put our pieces together and it was clear this was not going to be just a 30 minute extra on their DVD. So regarding the film, the surprises came in pieces. We had no idea if it would feature the band, how much of the film would be focused on us, or us *with* the band, and if they were aware to avoid making another “101” (Nothing against 101, but DM is also about the unexpected). It was only when we saw the final cut that we finally knew the extent of it all, and that was just a few days before the theatrical screening.

I went quite discretely to the first night on Nov 21st. After the film was over, I stayed a bit longer to read the credits, and people around me started to realize it was me that they just saw on the screen. After taking a few pictures with them, I went straight to a party and it was even more intense. Everyone wanted a picture with me. I heard many people tell their stories of how the film reminded them of when Depeche Mode became a part of their lives. I think this in particular was one of the best reactions to the film that could have happened. Of course, the lady at the supermarket I go every week also recognized me. I found a great admiration for the entire crew of the film AND of the band as I watched them both wrap up their respective projects. The band’s crew, in particular, deserve their own documentary. They really become a family and that final show of the tour was very emotional for everyone. Maybe we could have that after the next tour?

Vince F: What is your favorite dM album, song and video and why?

Daniel Cassús: Oh my, these “favorite” questions are so tricky, because the answer is always changing. They have a considerable back catalog, but let’s get to it.

Favorite album: “Ultra”. It almost didn’t get finished. It consumed an absurd amount of time and money to produce and it didn’t have a tour of its own. The fact that death is a recurring theme also draws me to it.

Favorite song: “Insight”. An album with so much death around it finishes with a song about a rebirth or maybe a new venture into Hamlet’s “undiscovered country”. Either way, it ends in peace and the universal message about giving love. It can make me cry.

Favorite video is tough to narrow down to just one. “Enjoy the Silence” almost gets it for the simplicity of the concept (and the beautiful landscapes), but my #1 goes to “Walking In My Shoes”. There’s so much going on at the same time: Bosch, “The Name of The Rose” and a song about putting yourself in someone else’s place. It’s the mix of all things Depeche, plus a nod to Anton’s fellow Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch, whose works deal a lot with guilt.

Vince F: Who is your favorite member of dM (from current and previous lineups) and why?

Daniel Cassús: Favorite band member? The famous pink drummer bunny because he quit while he was ahead.

Vince F: 2020 is the 40th anniversary of dM, what might be your top three wishes for them in light of this major milestone and why?

Daniel Cassús: Top 3 wishes for 2020 for the band are health to them, their families, and friends, peace, and prosperity. This sounds like a birthday wish. Let me restart. Despite their 40th anniversary, this is supposed to be their “year off” to focus on other projects, but they are getting inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next May and, from what I read, Dave said they will attend and perform. We will likely get some Mode celebration with a bang in May.

I also remember an interview where Martin said he wants to enjoy being with his family during their time off and will not make any solo effort during the break. Aside from the eventual performance in May, I hope he has a great time with his family, because he seems to enjoy being a dad (and repopulating the Earth with people with good musical taste). I also hope he continues buying equipment, tweaking knobs, and pressing buttons to save some ideas just to have them ready to elaborate for when that itch brings them together for a follow up to “Spirit”. Finally, I wish that they remaster and release “Toast Hawaii” on 5.1. That is missing from my collection.

Vince F: Do you have a most beloved dM piece of merchandise? If so, what is it and why?

Daniel Cassús: The most beloved piece of DM merchandise I have is probably the leather jacket that was sold in only a few cities where they set up a pop-up store during the 2017 summer leg of the Global Spirit Tour. It makes me look very cool, without screaming “DEPECHE MODE” in your face. I already have enough shirts like that. In Berlin, it doesn’t really set you apart from others because it’s not hard to find another DM fan around you (although I think I will inevitably get recognized on the streets again).

SFBAC: Thanks for your time Daniel! And thank you for reading! Learn more about Daniel and his love of Depeche Mode in SPIRITS in the Forest -- now available on streaming services! And be sure to follow us across our social feeds for more pictures, concert announcements and news here: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

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