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OMD to perform in Cambridge


Andy McCluskey, founding member of the legendary Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, talks to the Cambridge Independent.


Starting out as two school friends who made music as a hobby, Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys came together on the Wirral in Merseyside in 1978.

The reason for their union was essentially to pay homage to their musical heroes, German electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk.

Eschewing the ubiquitous guitar-based music of the day, Andy and Paul - the former on bass and vocals, the latter on keyboards and vocals - ploughed ahead with their innovative and highly experimental sound, adding keyboardist/saxophonist Martin Cooper and drummer Malcolm Holmes to the core line-up in 1980.

After various changes in personnel and a 10-year period of inactivity, during which time Andy founded, and acted as chief songwriter for, popular girl band Atomic Kitten, the classic line-up of OMD - Andy, Paul, Martin and Mal - reformed in 2006.

Today, Malcolm is no longer involved due to health issues, though the others continue to tour and record with Stuart Kershaw, who previously worked with the band in the 90s.

The new album, out now, is called The Punishment of Luxury and is the 13th studio album OMD have created since launching their self-titled debut in 1980.

Their extensive back catalogue includes classic hits like Enola Gay, Souvenir, Secret, Tesla Girls, Sailing on the Seven Seas and Pandora's Box (It's a Long, Long Way). Expect to hear a selection of old and new when OMD visit the Corn Exchange on November 3.

Andy said of the new record:"We like to think that we've taken our time to make a good album. We're in a fortunate position where it's rather nice being in Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark.

"We get talked about in very kind terms as being influential, in terms of musical history, so the important thing is to not blow it!"

Andy acknowledges that his band's"intellectually challenging, but very catchy and melodic electronic pop musichas influenced a number of acts, including a certain 'little ol' band from Texas' better known for heavy blues-rock and beards.

"We didn't realise until somebody said 'I was reading a book about ZZ Top and they said that they credited you with their dance moves after they saw you on [long-running BBC music show] The Old Grey Whistle Test in 1980'.

"And it was confirmed in the '90s when I bumped into the band in a hotel in Paris and we had a chat about it - that was certainly one of the more bizarre influences!"

Andy, who is perhaps as well known among fans for his energetic on-stage dancing as he is for his musical talents, added:"Not only did we influence them with my dance moves, but they decided to go electronic in the '80s and had their biggest hits when they started to use electronic drums and sequencers on the Eliminator album. If only we'd been on a royalty!"

Andy and Paul have had their artistic differences in the past, and Paul left OMD in 1989.

"I think these days we are very close because we don't work every single day,said Andy."We're not all living in each other's pockets so we have the opportunity to come together, to enjoy our moments - we've been playing together now for a long, long time."

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark will be appearing at Cambridge Corn Exchange on Friday, November 3.

Tickets: £37.75.

Box office: 01223 357851 or cambridgelivetrust.co.uk.

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