#MEX Music Exchange Interview South Africa

#MusicExchange: OMD makes a comeback with Bauhaus Staircase

After the recent announcement of their new studio album, Bauhaus Staircase, synth pioneers Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark (OMD) reveal details of their return to the stage, with the band taking to the globe next year with South Africa tour dates in toe.
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Across February and March 2024, OMD will play 22 dates across the UK and Ireland, including their biggest ever London headline show at London’s O2 Arena. Then in April the band confirms South Africa tour dates for Cape Town (18 April 2024) and Joburg (20 April 2024) as part of the ‘Greatest Hits Tour’.

OMD frontman Andy McCluskey says of the South African leg of the tour: “It’s been far too long since we played live in South Africa!, so we are really excited to be coming to do concerts in April 2024!”

OMD have created a landmark album worthy of their finest work. Having made one of their most universally acclaimed albums last time out, when 2017’s The Punishment Of Luxury returned Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys to the Top Five for the first time since 1991’s Sugar Tax, the duo have somehow managed to better it.

Welcome to Bauhaus Staircase, both OMD’s most explicitly political record and the crowning achievement of their desire to be both Stockhausen and Abba.

McCluskey agrees, explaining: “We’ve worked hard to rebuild ourselves since reforming, and we’re in a wonderful position where we’re cooler than we’ve been for a long time. We wouldn’t forgive ourselves if we released an album where fans said: ‘Oh no, this is the one where they’re a pastiche of themselves.’ If Bauhaus Staircase is to be our last album, we’re going out with a strong statement.”

The new album sees the band’s most explicitly political record and the crowning achievement of their desire to be both Stockhausen and Abba - born from the impetus to kickstart new explorations during lockdown. A broad, electronic, sonic masterpiece that lyrically tackles the topics of the future, it was predominantly written, recorded, and mixed by both McCluskey & Paul Humphreys (who has recently become a second-time father).

Bauhaus Staircase remains unmistakably the work of a duo who are still perfectly in sync 45 years after their first gig at legendary Liverpool club Eric’s.

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In an exclusive interview, I chatted with lead singer Andy McCluskey...

What is your purpose?

To enjoy life and bring enjoyment to others. We are accidents of evolution; therefore, we have no "purpose." Just make the journey as beautiful as it can be.

What does music mean to you?

Music has dominated my life for as long as I can remember. It has given me some highs and occasionally lows. It is how I converse with my own feelings and deepest thoughts.

My music is about...

Mirroring my thoughts and feelings to the best of my ability so that I can examine and resonate with them in a way that cannot be achieved by any other form of expression.

What is your motto?

Nothing good happens after 10pm unless I am still onstage or in bed with the woman that I adore.

Fame is about...

Nonsense. Don't chase it! Don't crave it! It will harm and hurt you. It is an impostor, even when accidentally achieved by being true to yourself.

Retirement will happen when...

I can no longer perform on stage, or people stop buying tickets. Hopefully, not for some time.

I don't do...

Too many things in one day that will piss me off! Ha-ha.

I would love to co-write with?

Paul Humphreys, but he's usually unavailable.

Where do you go for inspiration to create?

Art galleries and museums. And inside my own head!

What is the most enjoyable aspect of your work?

When someone is kind enough to share with you that your music means something deeply personal to them. That is the greatest blessing and honour.

The song you must do during every show?

Enola Gay, that was easy.

Any funny moments on stage?

I am always amused when Paul gets underwear thrown at him. The items have gotten larger with the passage of time!

My heroes are...

Kraftwerk, Muhammed Ali, Bowie, Eno, Martin Luther King, JMW Turner and Nelson Mandela.

My style icon is...

Have you seen the way that I dress? Probably Roy Orbison. Always in black.

Which living person do you admire most, and why?

Ralf Hutter from Kraftwerk, because his music changed my life in 1975.

What is your most treasured possession?

My health.

It's your round, what are you drinking?

Laphroaig Islay Single Malt Whiskey. It's too peaty for most people. So, I will be able to drink everyone else's as well! Ha.

Dream gig to do?

Wembley Stadium in London. But it will never happen.

What makes you stand out?

My idiosyncratic dancing on stage!

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Any nicknames?

I used to be called Hucko at school when I was a kid. I am sure that the rest of the band has some for me that they use behind my back!

If you were not a musician, what would you do?

I had plans to do a fine art degree. I took a gap year, and the band started. I always thought that I would go back to art.

Pick five words to describe yourself.

Driven, energetic, dependable, compassionate, and kind.

5 must have songs on your Spotify playlist...

Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Trans Europe Express by Kraftwerk
Heroes by David Bowie
I'll find My Own Way Home by Jon and Vangelis
Love by Lana Del Rey

Greatest movie ever made?

Blade Runner by Ridley Scott.

What book are you reading?

Dresden by Sinclair McKay. It details the bombing of the city in February 1945.

What song changed your life?

Autobahn by Kraftwerk.

I heard this in the summer of 1975, just as I turned 16 years old. It prompted me to see the band at the Liverpool Empire on 11 September 1975. I was sat in seat Q36. It was the first day of the rest of my life.

Who do you love?

My three children. Charlotte, James and Ava.

What is your favorite word?

"However" is the word that I seem to use the most. The word that I love using the most is "juxtaposition". I have adored that word ever since I discovered it. Possibly because it sums me up!

Top of your bucket list?

A cruise down the Nile. I love rivers and history. I need to do this.

Your greatest achievement?

I honestly don't know. Maybe it hasn't happened yet. I think that it is better to look forward than backward. Though I will admit to being proud of many things in my life.

What do you complain about most often?

People who promise to do something then don't do it. That is so frustrating and frankly rude.

What is your biggest fear?

Being stabbed and bleeding slowly to death.

Happiness is…

The first hour after I come off stage. The feeling of euphoria and exhaustion.

On stage, I tend to...

Dance like I am in a shamanistic trance. I just can't help myself.

The best life lesson you have learned?

If you are too scared to take the armor off, you can't reach out, and no one can reach in.

What has been your favourite journey so far?

I travelled right across China by train in 1994 with my father. I had always promised him that we would do it. He had worked on steam trains when he was a young man (they still had some in China in the 90s), and he was a communist when he was young.

Do you do charity work, and if you do – what do you do?

I am a trustee for the National Museums Liverpool. It is my way of trying to give something back to the institutions that inspired and educated me when I was a teenager.

Wishes and dreams?

If I have a personal wish or a dream, I tend to try to make it happen. Right now, I am happy that my desire to play again in South Africa will finally be achieved in April 2024.

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About Martin Myers

Co-owner at Triple M Entertainment, founder Music Exchange, manager Sipho Hotstix Mabuse
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