BAUHAUS TALES: An Interview with OMD

“This album only exists because we think it’s good enough to exist as a collection of songs…”

With the forthcoming launch of OMD’s latest album Bauhaus Staircase, it seemed the perfect opportunity to speak to both Paul Humphreys and Andy McCluskey. In the latest issue of Blitzed, the pair discuss their latest work in detail and in this brief excerpt expand on the challenges and rewards of recording the new album.

“We were nervous that it wasn’t going to be good enough” remarks Andy McCluskey. “If it wasn’t for COVID, there wouldn’t be an album. I was just so damn bored that I went and sat in my programming room and started work.”

I was stuck in France at that time, Andy was stuck in Liverpool” adds Paul Humphreys, “Neither of us could move. It’s the first album that we really haven’t spent much time in in a room together. So that added its own problems, because we do prefer to work together in a room, where one of us throws an idea out into the room and we just bat it around all day and see where we go with it.”

As with any new musical venture, there’s also the challenge of drawing from the well of inspiration; finding themes and ideas that can provide the impetus to craft good songs. Luckily, OMD were not starting off from a completely clean slate. The album includes 2019’s ‘Don’t Go’, a well-crafted slice of electropop with a bittersweet lyrical narrative that was released outside of a proper studio album. “We didn’t want it to be an orphan, like ‘If You Leave’” comments McCluskey on its inclusion.

Of course, Bauhaus Staircase is an album that comes with some pressure, not only because of the earnest wish that listeners will view it as a good album but, as Andy McCluskey said to Blitzed in 2022, it’s very likely that this will be the final OMD album. Putting the question to the pair, surely this decision must come with some emotional weight?

“I said to myself, before COVID, that I wasn’t going to sit in my programming room for hours and days and weeks and months and years trying to mine myself for ideas” offers McCluskey, “I mean this album is going to come out two weeks after our 45th anniversary. When we reformed, Paul always said we didn’t want to make an album just because we had a new logo for the tour T-shirt. And it’s true, this album only exists because we think it’s good enough to exist as a collection of songs.”

Paul Humphreys concurs: “We’ve kind of reached the point where we’re in our 60s now. It’s an awful lot of work to make an album. We don’t just throw an album together. We work on it, work on it and work on it and change it and change it. Hours and days and weeks and years end up being dedicated to the cause. If we make an album every five years, I’ll be 68. Do I still want to spend a few more years of my 60s in the studio making a new record?”

As with any new release, there’s jitters about how the new material will be received and whether it will be a worthy successor to the band’s impressive catalogue, a legacy which stretches back over four decades peppered with hits. But as an album, Bauhaus Staircase emerges as possibly a strong contender as the best post-reformation release the band have served up. Album title track (and lead single) ‘Bauhaus Staircase’ is an unashamedly zippy electronic pop effort that offers up a glorious celebration of art and culture. ‘Look at You Now’ presents an elegiac outing peppered with subtle choral effects and the anthemic ‘Kleptocracy’ shows off a dynamic OMD matched with some politically-weighted lyrics that pack a real punch. Ultimately, as the Blitzed review in the new issue can testify, Bauhaus Staircase is a surprisingly emotional album that has a warmth and humanity lurking at the heart of its electronic foundations. 

Read the full OMD interview in the latest issue of Blitzed:

Bauhaus Staircase is released 27 October via 100%
OMD will be touring in 2024. Tickets on sale from 22 September (pre-sale from the 20 September):
Photo by Alex Lake.