“Barrel of a Gun” is Depeche Mode’s thirty-first UK single, released on February 3, 1997 (January 28 in the US), and the first single from the band’s ninth studio album Ultra. “Barrel of a Gun” came after some difficult times for the band and its members. Musician Alan Wilder left the band in 1995, and lead singer David Gahan nearly died while in the throes of heroin addiction. Martin Gore had a string of seizures, and Andrew Fletcher had some emotional problems of his own. In mid-1996, Gore tried to get Gahan and Fletcher interested in recording new Depeche Mode material by writing a few songs and seeing if anybody was interested in continuing after that. It worked, and the band were back together, except now a trio again for the first time since 1982’s A Broken Frame. “Barrel of a Gun” brings back the industrial music sound, and is one of the band’s darkest songs. Gore wasn’t sure if it was going to be a big hit, so he was reluctant to recommend this song as the first single, but when he eventually did, it turned out the rest of band, Daniel Miller, and producer Tim Simenon agreed. It reached number 4 in the UK chart in 1997, which at the time was their highest chart position jointly with “People Are People”, released in 1984. Since then, “Precious” has also reached number 4 in the UK, in 2005. The B-side is a 7+ minute instrumental called “Painkiller”, which reflects the new dirty-electronic, vaguely rock angle of the band. A condensed (2+ minute) version shows up as a hidden track on the Ultra album as “Junior Painkiller”. The music video for “Barrel of a Gun” is directed by Anton Corbijn, DM’s long-time visual collaborator. It features Gahan singing with his eyes closed, with eyeballs drawn on his eyelids to make it seem like they are open. The video was shot in Morocco.