OMD return at perfect time

In the mid-1980s, British synth-pop band Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, better known as OMD, were at the height of their success.

They'd finally broken onto the United States scene, after American director John Hughes featured their song, If You Leave, in his 1985 cult flick Pretty In Pink.

However, little did founding members Paul Humphreys and Andy McCluskey know that, just a few years later, they'd find themselves at the lowest point in their lives.

"We were exhausted at the end of the 1980s, to be honest," Humphreys, 52, told my paper from his home in London recently.

"(The relationship between) Andy and me became like a stale marriage where there was no sex any more... We just got fed up with each other," he said candidly.

The duo were former schoolmates who formed the outfit in Liverpool in 1978. They decided to go their separate ways in 1989, with McCluskey, now 52, continuing as a solo act under the OMD name and Humphreys starting a new band, The Listening Pool.

The band reformed in 2007, with original members including saxophonist Martin Cooper, 53, and drummer Malcolm Holmes, 51.

The outfit, which have had hits like Enola Gay (1980) and Locomotion (1984), will play their first Singapore show later this month as part of Esplanade's Mosaic Music Festival.

Of their decision to give OMD another shot, Humphreys, who plays the keyboard and sings, said: "We had plans to do only a few gigs, not a new album... But, then, we realised we had some really good musical ideas... We started to like what we were doing again."

Clearly, the man - who has lived with his partner, Claudia Brucken, from German synth-pop outfit, Propaganda, in London for 15 years - isn't exaggerating.

Their latest album, 2010's History Of Modern, has received positive critical acclaim for recapturing OMD's trademark sound, but with modern production values.

And the next record is already in the works, with five songs recorded, Humphreys revealed. It is likely to be released next year.

He added that making a "big comeback" in the midst of a New Wave revival - many bands, such as The Killers and The xx, cite OMD as influences - felt like "it was part of a masterplan".

"The timing was perfect," he enthused. "We came back, we are doing what we love, and the best part? We are cool again!"

Catch OMD next Saturday at the Esplanade Theatre at 9pm. Tickets from $40 to $150 are available from Sistic (www.sistic.com.sg or tel: 6348-5555).


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