OMD singer talks fame in America, middle age and being back on the road

Posted on 11 Oct 2011 at 11:24am

With O.M.D. back in full swing, singer Andy McCluskey just wants to maintain his dignity

Paul Humphreys, left, and Andy McCluskey, return to Dallas after a triumphant stop at the Granada earlier this year.

With a handful of hits in the ’80s, British pop band Orchestral Manouevres in the Dark, or simply OMD, charmed with wispy romantic tunes such as “Dreamin’,” “So in Love” and “Tesla Girls.” Then the John Hughes penned-film Pretty in Pink hit theaters featuring “If You Leave” which put OMD on the map and into A-list territory. By the end of the decade, they dissipated and it’s taken them two decades to get back on the proverbial horse.

“The overall idea of us making another go was that we were alive and kicking and relevant,” singer and co-founder Andy McCluskey says. “It was down to a simple criteria: were we motivated to write music like the way we’re used to expressing or were we motivated because we’re a sad bunch of middle-aged men. We hoped we’re the former and not the latter.”

McCluskey keeps a sharp sense of humor about his sort of comeback position as well as a lackadaisical approach to being on the road. The band quietly released its latest album History of Modern last year and followed up quickly with a tour. But both have received critical acclaim and while the band may not be breaking Gaga records, the veteran band is if figuring out what to do with its resurgence.

That is if there is anything to do with it. When they blew up with “Leave,” the band fell into a trap.  The hit added pressure to their next release as well as practically bankrupting the band paying off people helping them get to the top. With that sudden rush of fame, the band imploded.

More after the jump.

“We tried to break in America, but America broke us,” he says. “We sold eight million albums by the end of the decade but we were losing money. We had emptied our creative well and turned into the type of band we hated. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It bit us on the ass really, but I’m proud of our music. That’s life.”

Fame isn’t much on McCluskey’s mind these days. Pulling the original band together again, he felt inspired to say something in Modern. They weren’t persuaded by reunion tours or nostalgic kitsch, but by pure artistic expression. And if they sound a lot like they used to, it’s on purpose.

“We have songs about history and the universe ending, relationships forming,” he says. “People recognize we have our own style. To those that it appeals to, its powerful for them.”

The band returns to Dallas playing the House of Blues Tuesday. They played earlier this year at the Granada Theater and that performance set the bar high for the rest of their live dates.

“That was the best show of the tour so far,” he admits. “The question is — will we still be as good? You know, going back out on the road, we weren’t sure what to expect, but it’s been this voyage of discovery. There’s nothing worse than seeing a band you’re used to be sad up there. We still want to have some dignity after the tour.”

McCluskey and company may call themselves sad northern English boys, but he snickers with delight talking about the band’s current run. When OMD resonates with a listener, even if it’s one of the band’s older hits, for McCluskey, it’s the best reward. He says that will never change, just like touring hasn’t.

“We’ve really enjoyed being on the road,” he says. “When you get in your 50s, it’s daunting to get back on a sleeper bus. The one thing that hasn’t change about it is all the drugs. Only know they’re sleeping pills and painkillers.”

House of Blues, 2200 N. Lamar St. at 8 p.m. $25–$45. HouseofBlues.com.

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