Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (better known as OMD) reformed in 2007, but it took the lineup of Andy McCluskey, Paul Humphreys, Martin Cooper and Malcolm Holmes four years to make it to the States. Why the delay? “We were struggling to get promoters to take the chance on us,” McCluskey tells Rolling Stone.
The four-year delay proved to be worth the wait, though. Following a successful spring tour, OMD are back for their second round of dates in the States. And those same promoters had no problem admitting their mistake. “Once they saw the reviews and the fact that we’d been selling out, promoters were lining up to beg us to come and play,” McCluskey says, laughing. “We certainly changed a few minds and that was fantastic.”
Promoters haven’t been the only ones pleasantly surprised. “Standing on stage every night you can clearly see this sort of dawning appreciation on people’s faces cause they’d either never seen us before or they hadn’t seen us in like 25 years and they’re standing there going, ‘I hope they’re not shit, I hope they’re not shit. They’re not shit, they’re great. In fact, they’re fucking brilliant. Great, I’m glad I came,'” he says.
For OMD this whole second run has been full of surprises, from the success of the tour to the reception to the new album, History Of Modern. “The new album situation is an interesting one. As it turned out it’s been very well received and it’s sold much better than we’d ever anticipated,” he says.
But McCluskey recognizes that for a band known for Eighties hits like “If You Leave” and “Enola Gay,” bringing new tunes to the stage is tricky because that’s not what fans are paying to see. “It’s kind of dangerous to play new material, especially if it isn’t very good. We were conceited enough to think that we made a good album and judging from the feedback it would appear others agree with us,” he says.
Instead of just serving though as that five minutes where fans stream to the bathrooms and the beer lines the new material is fitting in McCluskey believes and even bolstering the show. “We’ve got particularly two tracks, ‘History Of Modern Part 1’ and ‘Sister Marie’ [stream above] that fit into our set and actually invigorate the songs around them,” he says. “They get received by the audience as though they were like hit singles from 30 years ago, even though they’re brand new.”
That the old and new material stand side by side on stage is exactly what OMD had in mind. “We have a palette of sounds, which we created for ourselves. It’s our own Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark musical language. We wanted to speak in that language again, but we didn’t want to make it sound like it had been produced in 1981,” he says. “So [we wanted] to strike a balance between our sound, but our sound for the new millennium.”