An Interview with Andy McCluskey of OMD (Orchestral Maneouvres in the Dark)

An Interview with Andy McCluskey of OMD (Orchestral Maneouvres in the Dark)

Last year, Ross and I attended the Rewind Festival South, which took place in Henley-on-Thames. You may recall that we recorded a number of interviews and you will find them all if you search on the Entertainment category on my blog.

I have been asked to interview some of the acts in the lead up to this years Rewind Festivals; Rewind Festival Scotland from 24th to 26th July, Rewind North from 7th to 8th August and Rewind Festival South from 21st to 23rd August.

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I recently had the pleasure of talking to Andy McCluskey of OMD – or, to give them their full title, Orchestral Maneouvres in the Dark. Two of my favourite songs from the ’80s were ‘Enola Gay’ and ‘If You Leave’ – which really made the film ‘Pretty in Pink’ for me. He is a singer, songwriter and record producer and is regarded as a pioneer of electronic music. OMD are headlining all three Rewind Festivals –  Scotland on Sunday 26th July, North on Sunday 9th August and South on Saturday 22nd August.

You last performed at Rewind in 2012. What did you enjoy most about your performance?

We love playing on stage and we knew that people were there to have a party! We were the last band on that weekend and we wanted to close the show with a real bang. It was interesting because I think we exceeded some people’s expectations. Despite being a touring band for almost 36 years it is remarkable how many people seem to think we will probably be boring because we play synthesizers! Hopefully we went out there and shocked them into realising that we weren’t just that.

What did you think about the whole Rewind event?

It was all really positive. It was a lovely afternoon, the audience were wonderful and we also got to see a few people we hadn’t seen for a few years – I can clearly remember Paul and I standing with Tony Hadley backstage watching Adam Ant! It really re-enforces the understanding that, for every generation, that stage you go through between childhood and adulthood is so important. It is where you essentially define yourself. We have all done it with clothes, hair and most of all the music. That soundtrack for that journey becomes ingrained in you and will always be the music to your most important time. To be able to be a part of that is an honour and to be able to share that in this type of party atmosphere is just wonderful.

How do you find today’s audience compares to that from the ’80s?

Older, slightly over weight and less hair! What is interesting is that in this post-modern era, is that there is now a whole group of people from the last 10-15 years who don’t have an era and as a result they have a broad pick and mix mentality towards music. It is amazing how many younger people come along. Plus, people in their forties and fifties are bringing their kids to Rewind. When we were young we wouldn’t have been seen dead at a concert with our parents!

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Which of your songs is the one you love to perform live?

I think you have to enjoy playing the songs that you know are big hits. As soon as you start to play, there is a frisson of recognition through the audience and they start to go nuts. The dilemma is when you know you are going to play all your hits – because that is the reaction you get to all of them! But if you twist my rubber arm, I would have to say ‘Enola Gay’. When the drum machine starts up everyone starts to go crazy and you know it’s going to go well.

Which other acts are you looking forward to seeing this year?

When you are on last, you tend to find that the people who have been on earlier will scoot before others turn up. We have played a gig with Kim Wilde before and she is brilliant. We have also played with ABC – they are wonderful live and Martin Fry has an amazing voice. I haven’t seen Belinda Carlisle for twenty years so I hope she sticks around and Billy Ocean has some fantastic hits. The great thing about Rewind is it is all killer and no filler. No one goes up there and doesn’t play their hits.

What have you been doing since the ’80s?

The original line up of OMD fell apart at the end of the eighties. Once a band splits up then you are a long time separated – as Zayn from One Direction is about to find out! But I carried on in the nineties and made 3 more albums. In 1996, I felt like I was banging my head against a brick wall with grunge and brit pop. Then my son was born and I felt it was time to give up. Being in a band is a very selfish thing and I think if there had been wives and families then we may have split up so I am glad with how it worked out. I was conceited enough to think that I could still write songs,so I created a band known as Atomic Kitten. I co-wrote their first album which had 6 top ten songs on it including ‘Whole Again’. It was an interesting journey, very exciting – I didn’t have a clue what I was doing but the girls trusted me, as did their parents. Then my contract was ripped up by their manager and the record company and I had to leave them to their own devices. How foolish of me to think I knew the music industry after 19 years of being in my own band!

Finally, which of your songs would you class as a ‘hidden gem’ and recommend that people go and listen to?

Paul and I seldom agree on anything but we both agree that our favourite lesser known song by us is called ‘The Romance of the Telescope’. It is very moody!


You can see Andy McCluskey with OMD headlining at all three Rewind Festivals this year. You can order tickets from the Rewind website. Also find them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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20 Comments

  1. April 18, 2015 / 12:28 pm

    Atomic Kitten is new news to me too! I shall look forward to your Rewind reports! 🙂 x

  2. April 16, 2015 / 4:39 pm

    Gosh, I had no idea Andy helped form Atomic Kitten and write their songs… The music industry is so ruthless, isn’t it! Thanks for educating, Vic, great interview. #pocolo

    • April 21, 2015 / 9:20 am

      I know! I was really surprised when he explained this to me. Thank you 🙂 x

  3. April 12, 2015 / 9:57 am

    Good interview. I don’t know this band but it’s a ‘wow’ learning that they’ve been going on about 36yrs; they must be doing something right. So true about the comment on the importance of different stages from childhood to adulthood. I haven’t been to a festival before but it sounds like fun. #PoCoLo
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  4. April 10, 2015 / 8:39 pm

    Great interview! Thanks for hosting again! 🙂

  5. April 10, 2015 / 7:28 pm

    Great interview! I don’t know who they are…but I am a baby after all 😉 can’t believe they helped form Atomic Kitten!!! It’s true what they say….I wouldn’t be seen dead at a concert with my mummy!! I’m too street. Thanks for hosting #PoCoLo
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  6. April 10, 2015 / 12:25 pm

    Fab interview and so interesting to learn more about Andy McCluskey – I never realised that he created Atomic Kitten and co-wrote their first album.
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  7. April 10, 2015 / 9:54 am

    I love OMD in college and so are my classmates!!! What an awesome interview!!!! I will be very very starstruck if this is me =)
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  8. April 10, 2015 / 7:16 am

    I loved OMD in the 80s and they were the main reason I went to Rewind in 2012. Still brilliant, they were amazing, I’ll be humming their songs all day now. #pocolo

  9. April 10, 2015 / 6:40 am

    Great interview – I do like OMD’s music – they provided a soundtrack to my younger years.

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