“It’s a really good, fresh album…”

Originally released in 1980, OMD’s debut album Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark featured some of the most iconic OMD songs, including ‘Electricity’, ‘Bunker Soldiers’ and ‘Messages’. The sleeve design (by Peter Saville and Ben Kelly) for the album was built around a die-cut concept that also marked it out as an instant design classic.

In 2003 the album was reissued featuring remastered tracks taken from the original master tapes for the album. The reissue also boasted bonus tracks along with sleeve notes, photos and restored artwork. As part of the process of penning the sleeve notes, Paul Browne interviewed the band to collect their thoughts on Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark as an album then and now.

What are your feelings about the songs that feature on Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark?

It’s a really good, fresh album. It’s a long time since I’ve heard it but yeah very exciting and very different.

What songs stand out for you on the album?

Well, ‘Almost’ is an all-time favourite. It just still sends shivers up my spine. I never got sick of playing that one live either. It was always really good and really powerful. And ‘Red Frame/White Light’.

Whose suggestion was it to use sax on ‘Mystereality’?

Andy and I were just having a mess around in my bedroom at the time, I don’t know if OMD had actually started then. It just when he wanted to break away from The Id and try and do stuff, with Paul, on their own.

It was just a mess around as I say, in my bedroom on my gear and I’d not long been playing the saxophone. So we constructed the song and I played the saxophone along with it the same as with any other instrument that we had at hand. It was at the very beginning anyway. It was probably one of the first songs.

It’s long been established that early OMD concerts used backing tapes. How involved were you with early live OMD performances?

I played at a lot of those gigs, way before Dave Hughes was involved. I used to come on and just do ‘Mystereality’. I was at college in Sheffield at the time so I couldn’t do everything, but I used to come home and when I was at home I’d do the gigs.

Original interview by Paul Browne 2003
Revised text 22nd February 2020