OMD’s Andy McCluskey speaks about new album History of Modern, Meols Park and life as an “accidental popstar”
OMD fans have a German television show to thank for the release of the band’s new album this week.
But if it wasn’t for a certain park in a corner of west Wirral, the synth-pop pioneers might never have formed.
The pivotal moment came when Paul Humphreys saw Andy McCluskey walking across Meols Park, clutching his new bass guitar.
Paul asked him to join a friend’s band and, although Andy jokes that it was a “hobby that got out of hand”, the rest is musical History
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark became one of the biggest selling bands of the 1980s, with a string of hit albums and singles like Enola Gay and Joan of Arc.
But by the late 90s the band found itself out of favour and it all came to an end.
In the years that followed Andy, now 51, enjoyed success behind the scenes in the recording studio.
Then out of the blue came a request for OMD to perform on a German television show in 2005.
Andy told Liveguide: “We were beginning to get people asking us about television and concerts.
“Then we got a request and – I don’t even know why – I phoned up Paul and said ‘fancy going to Cologne for the weekend?’
“We had a great time so we decided to take the next step.”
In 2007, the original early-’80s OMD line-up of Paul, Andy, Malcolm Holmes and Martin Cooper toured ‘Architecture and Morality’ in the UK and Germany to considerable acclaim.
But the thrill of playing the old songs was eventually replaced by a hunger for new material.
The new album, History
of Modern – the band’s first for 14 years – is vibrant contemporary pop with a return to OMD’s electronic roots.
“It’s quite bizarre, I’m running around pretending to be a pop star,” admits the musician.
“We looked at our History
and decided the unique sound of the band was formed in the first four albums
“But it was important to make a record that had the production values of 2010 and we were keen not to just do a retro-pastiche of ourselves.
“We’re in a very fortunate position and there are a lot of young bands name-checking us.
“I was joking with Paul the other day that 30 years ago we thought we’d try to change the world so maybe we did, but not in the way we expected!”
The return of OMD seemed unthinkable during the Brit-pop era.
But with music coming full circle to embrace electro-pop, The XX, Brandon Flowers of The Killers and LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy have cited OMD as an influence.
Andy said: “When we first started we were trying very hard to fight against what we saw as rock ‘n’ roll cliches.
“So we were very disappointed when rock and roll made a comeback with bands like Oasis!”
The upcoming tour will stay true to OMD’s roots and mix the classic hits with tracks from History
Although Andy is enjoying having new music to play, he believes strongly that they have an obligation to the fans to play the classics.
And he laughs that the band would “get lynched” if they didn’t play Enola Gay.
The promotional whirlwind surrounding the album saw OMD interviewed by magazines, newspapers and on breakfast television last week and more appearances are lined up in Germany and Spain.
Andy said: “No-one is more surprised than I am to be doing this. My son told me all his mates think I’m cool because I was on Soccer AM!
“We really were accidental pop stars. Paul wanted to be an electronics engineer and I wanted to be an archaeologist.
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