ARCHITECTURE & MORALITY INTERVIEW : MAL HOLMES

In 1981 OMD released what has largely been regarded as their most definitive album release. Architecture & Morality brought OMD both public and critical appraisal augmented by the success of the singles ‘Souvenir’, ‘Joan Of Arc’ and ‘Maid Of Orleans’.

The album was subsequently reissued in 2003 and featured a remastered version of the original album alongside bonus tracks, sleeve notes, photos and restored artwork. As part of the reissue process, Paul Browne interviewed the band to ask about their thoughts about the album then and now.


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What do you recall about the Architecture & Morality sessions?

I really enjoyed the album. I think for me it’s still one of the strongest albums. Dave Hughes had left by then. On Organisation and Architecture & Morality really it was Andy, Paul and me. There was no other second guy underneath, it was three of us doing it: Andy and Paul writing the tunes obviously.

We brought this guy Mike [Douglas] in to do some sessions to replace Martin, but it still felt like three of us were the core unit. It was clear then that there were great songs on there:’Maid Of Orleans’, ‘Souvenir’ and stuff like that.

The use of drums on the album appears to be very experimental at times. What were your feelings on this unconventional approach?

On Organisation we used real drums. With Architecture & Morality I sort of was able to let my hair down a little bit more and we could get a little bit more experimental with sounds on drum parts.

So again it was a really great experience. The band was going from strength to strength – we’d just come out of great hits like ‘Enola Gay’. We were still going in the right direction musically. There was still a really good vibe in the studio and stuff. We were a good little unit, going on the pop star music wave, if you like, not knowing where we were headed. But yeah, musically it was a very fulfilling album to be involved in.

How do you feel about the album today? Do you think it stands up to the test of time?

I think it stands up. I think out of all the albums there, Architecture & Morality sort of does it. I mean I love Crush, that’s a great album as well. But really, for me, through the contentment that we had in the band as well, I think everybody was at one with everyone at the time as well.

I think it’s probably the one that defines an OMD album for me. The first one is really unique and original, but what was done on Architecture & Morality was steps forward in the right direction. So yeah that’s the one really.

I remember also walking into a pub in West Kirby and sitting down and having a beer and there’s people on the table next to me, didn’t know I was in OMD or anything like that, they just started talking about this album that they’d bought, saying it was fantastic and you’ve got to get it and they said it was by Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark and it’s called Architecture & Morality. These people were sitting right next to me! (laughs). So it was quite sane to hear somebody completely impartial just chatting about it in a pub.


Original interview by Paul Browne 2003
Revised text 10th February 2014