Ipswich: OMD’s Andy McCluskey interviewed
- Credit: ©Thomas Oxley Photography
Following their triumphant return with the album History of Modern in 2010 and a massively successful world tour, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark are back on the road in support of latest release English Electric.
“Obviously we’re an English electronic band but, yes, I think the fact the company English Electric used to design locomotives, jet aircraft and computers, that effectively they used to design the future but now they’ve gone, they’re in the past.... there’s a great big, clunking metaphor in there somewhere,” laughs Andy McCluskey as we discuss the new album.
More electro than ever, yet still unmistakably OMD with soaring melodies and lyrical hooks fans have come to expect over the years, Andy, Paul Humphreys, Malcolm Holmes and Martin Cooper have reunited for a string of shows commemorating the band’s 35th anniversary.
“We love getting back together again; the jokes haven’t changed, they’re just as bad as they were,” he laughs.
“It’s quite a bizarre world, being in a band. From the age of 19-30 basically there was four of us who had a shared but strange experience in this odd bubble very few other people get to experience, we have this shared history of a strange circumstance we all enjoyed.
“There’s a real sense of community as well because we all grew up very close together, we were all playing in bands together from teenage years so it goes back a long way.”
Andy hopes the new album will go down well with fans.
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“It was interesting a few years ago when we reformed and played a couple of tours; it was great and everybody was excited to hear us again but then it dawned on us ‘oh is this it, are we now a tribute band to our ourselves, is this what we’re going to do for the rest of our lives’,” he laughs.
“So we took the dangerous and difficult decision to dare to make a new album and that was two albums ago. The History of Modern was very well received and English Electric, seems to have been even better received - we got our highest album chart position in about 25 years.
“It’s very rewarding, we worked hard on it. The last few years electronic music has become very fashionable and bands have been name checking us as an influence. It was quite cool to be OMD so the last thing we want to do is undo our cred by making bad music.
“While I don’t always believe reviews, I think when they’re all that good it tends to suggest you’ve done something right,” he laughs.
Their 12th album to date, it’s a 12-track letter to technology, space, love and a grand return to form for a band whose 1980 hit Enola Gay occupied the world’s stage at last year’s Olympics opening ceremony.
Highlights include the Atomic Ranch, which pokes fun at convention with computerised voices; Kissing The Machine, which was composed in collaboration with early influence Kraftwerk member Karl Bartos and the uplifting first single Metroland.
Second single, Dresden, is out on May 27.
“It follows in the great OMD tradition of a soaring pop melody over a driving bass capped with a melancholy lyric,” says Andy.
“It’s a powerful song. You know... we knew Metroland would struggle to get a lot of radio play because quite a lot of radio stations are fairly conservative these days so we released it really as putting a marker down, re-establishing ourselves with our electronic heritage.
“Dresden was always the one the radio pluggers wanted in the first place,” he laughs, “so we’ve put them out of their misery now, it’s a strong song, it’s got loads of energy and it’s very nice that its getting so well received.”
The single has been remixed by ex-Ultravox man John Foxx, who’s supporting OMD on the tour.
“It’s very very cool. He’s really stripped it down to a kind of analogue synth sound. We were very excited when we found out he could play with us. He’s somebody else who has a long heritage of electronic music and doing something interesting; but he’s still going forward and making new music and still getting great reviews so it’s an honour to have him come and play with us.”
Fans at the Ipswich Regent on May 2 can expect a mix of new material and lots of the hits like Enola Gay, Souvenir, Joan of Arc and Sailing on the Seven Seas.
“When we tour we strike a balance, we’re not daft enough to think we’re just going to go on stage and play all the new songs. We will play some, that’s good they’re well received and people who have bought the album will know them but you know we have a nice problem, we’ve got 15 hit singles and we feel obliged to play most of them,” laughs Andy.
“We had an absolutely cracking concert there two-and-a-half years ago. It was a really energetic full on gig and a full on crowd and that’s what we’ll be looking forward to again.
“Some people will say aren’t you bored (playing them), we’re like ‘no, the songs have been really good to us’. We’re really fortunate, those songs are many people’s favourite memories and they tell us ‘I danced to this song at my high school prom’ or ‘this song got me through a bad time in my life’ or ‘it reminds me of my wife’.
“When somebody’s gracious enough to share the fact something you did that was three minutes long has been ingrained into their heart and their soul, that means a lot and you don’t mess around with those memories.
“They’re our good memories and the audience’s good memories and we’ll play them exactly like they sound on the record - except just a lot louder,” he laughs.