“To me this album was our finest hour…”
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.
What do you recall about the original inspirations for Architecture & Morality?
Architecture & Morality was a culmination of everything we had learned to that point about song writing and about sound textures. It was as if the two albums prior to it were leading and directing us towards this piece of work. To me this album was our finest hour. Together, and separately, Andy and I have written some really good songs – before and after this album – but in terms of an album, this ‘collection’ of our songs hang together the most successfully for me. ‘Souvenir’ was the first song written for the album and I think that the discovery of mixing choral sounds with electronics, set the tone for the other pieces that followed.
The textural sounds and inspiration came mainly from our discovery of a wonderful machine call a Mellotron. This provided the sound beds and the atmospheres for the pieces and added together with our natural – and Eno-inspired – desire to experiment, made this a quite unique piece of work. At this moment in our career, we were going from strength to strength with each single and album becoming more and more successful providing us with a kind of naive arrogance making us think that we could do no wrong. This attitude can be very dangerous as we discovered to our detriment on the follow-up to this album, Dazzle Ships.
However, for A&M it gave us the confidence to make beautiful choral and textural pieces at a time when others were at the other end of the spectrum making dance/pop music. The fact that it opposed the current trends, turned out to be its ultimate strength.
Did you think that the finished album differed greatly from any original ideas you had when first writing songs for the album?
I think that in the end, the ideas were taken further and to another level during the recording of it. I think that the recording process for this album was the most relaxed and least self conscious of all the records we made and I think that is reflected completely in the recording.
Did you have any sense that Architecture & Morality was going to be so successful?
As I said earlier, we had a kind of naive arrogance at that point, and with ‘Souvenir’ being such a huge hit, whilst we were still in the studio finishing the album, it did give us an inkling that it might do quite well. However I don’t think that any of us ‘really’ had even dreamt that it would be anywhere near as successful as it turned out to be.
How do you feel about the album today? Do you think that it stands up to the test of time?
I think if someone who had never heard of OMD were to ask me to play an example of what we were all about, then this album would be first one that I would play.
‘Souvenir’ was the first OMD single that you sang lead vocals on. How did you feel about taking centre-stage?
When ‘Souvenir’ was such a huge hit I, all of a sudden, had to go on TV shows and take centre stage as the lead singer, which was a role at that time that I wasn’t altogether comfortable with! Although I don’t think I did it so badly, for me, Andy was our lead singer and that was just fine with me!
Original interview by Paul Browne 2003
Revised text 10th February 2014