Soundtrack Of My Life: OMD’s Andy McCluskey

New wave pioneer, Kraftwerk changed his life

The first song I remember hearing

The Beatles – ‘Thank You Girl’

“It was the B-side of ‘From Me To You’. My mother had quite a cool collection of singles and she had quite a lot by The Beatles and The Kinks. I didn’t know the difference between an A-side and a B-side, I would just turn it over and play it, and I actually loved ‘Thank You Girl’ more than the A-side. It remains to this day the only Beatles cover that OMD have ever done, but it’s never been released. We did it in the style of late ‘70s OMD with really cheesy organs and white noise for drums.”

The first song I fell in love with


Kate Bush – ‘Wuthering Heights’

“My first girlfriend Julia Kneale, who was in my first band with me and Paul [Humphreys, keyboard], The ID, and wrote the words to ‘Julia’s Song’ which is on our first album – she was one of only three people I’ve ever fallen in love with. I can remember being in her bedroom in this maisonette that her mum had, she had a bedroom on the top floor that looked out across West Kirby where she lived on The Wirral where we grew up, and I remember that song playing. I was deeply in love with that girl and it was a very beautiful memory.”

The first album I bought

David Bowie – ‘The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars’

“I have a feeling that I bought that with the money I got for my 13th birthday because it came out in June [McCluskey’s birthday is on June 24]. Like the rest of the country, I had just seen David Bowie and The Spiders From Mars on Top Of The Pops the week before when [presenter] Dave Lee Travis said ‘get a load of this’. We’d seen glam, but British glam – Slade and The Sweet – were like builders in sequins. And there was Bowie looking like this androgynous lizard thing, that was a real wow factor.”

The first gig I went to


Cockney Rebel at Liverpool Stadium, 1975

“I would have been 15 – I was a bit of a late starter. It was at the boxing stadium and there was a fire, everybody had to evacuate. And then of course there was a rush to get back in and nobody was in their original seat. It was just a free-for-all. I remember [frontman] Steve Harley walked with a slight limp because he had polio as a child. And he played a lot of songs that were from the first album, which I didn’t know. But it was a great experience. I saw him play several times. The next time he played was the Liverpool Empire and another disaster happened – he fell into the orchestra pit and the band carried on!”

The song that reminds me of home

Ralph Vaughan Williams – ‘Fantasia On A Theme By Thomas Tallis’

“Vaughan Williams’ string arrangements are just glorious. I was introduced to him by a lady I dated 12 years ago who sent me ‘Lark Ascending’ and that kind of became our song. That song has too many personal memories for me to be comfortable with it now, but when I’m at home I listen almost exclusively to classical music. And Vaughan Williams is, by a mile, my favourite classical composer.”

The song I wish I’d written

Kraftwerk – ‘Autobahn’ 

“It changed my life. I went to see them on September 11, 1975, at the Liverpool Empire, and I sat in Q36. I remember it all because it really was the first day of the rest of my life. The single edit is quite bowdlerised because the song is actually 22 minutes long. They played the whole thing at the Empire and halfway through loads of people got up and left going ‘what the fuck’s this?’ It really was the future. Kraftwerk are the most important band in the history of popular music in the last almost 60 years – and anybody who disputes that is talking shite.”

The song I do at karaoke

Slade – ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’

“Fortunately, I only ever do karaoke at Christmas time when everybody comes round to my house. I cook a Christmas dinner and I manage to not poison them. After several glasses of wine and sherry and port, everybody does karaoke, including those who can sing and, more importantly, those who can’t. My brother in law’s usually dressed as an elf. Nobody else is allowed to do this one. That’s my song.”

The song I can’t get out of my head

The Human League – ‘Louise’

“When I’m out on my bike riding – that’s how I get fit, I can’t run and I can’t walk anymore because I’ve got no cartilage in my left knee but cycling is OK – I listen to compilation albums of my peers. Just curious. The last couple of weeks I’ve been listening to the Human League compilation album and I cannot for the life of me get out of my head the chorus tagline of this song: ‘As if they were still lovers‘.”

The song I can no longer listen to

OMD – ‘Stay (The Black Rose And The Universal Wheel)’

“What a pretentious title for a start – I listen to that now and I’m just like: ‘What fucking planet were we on?’. It’s got all these gratuitous chord changes because the intro was written in a key that was completely different to the verse, and it’s got all this programmed and real brass. Why is a synth band using brass? I’m horrified. I cannot listen to it. Not everything we did was gold and there is proof.”

The song that makes me want to dance

Cornershop – ‘Brimful Of Asha (Norman Cook Remix)’

“I can remember being somewhat inebriated in Chester when I was in a club with Stuart Kershaw, our drummer, and his wife. We were just dancing our faces off on the dancefloor, having the best time of our lives. You cannot not want to dance to that song, it’s just infectious.”

The song that makes me cry

Harry Nilsson – ‘Without You’

“It just happens to be the first single I ever bought as well. Not that axe-murder that fucking Mariah Carey did to it. That plaintive, haunting echoey piano chord on his voice as he starts and then the shift up the octave halfway through the first verse. And then the second chorus comes in, and the harmonies come in with it as well. His voice is so plaintive, so broken, so tearful, it’s stunning. Badfinger, who wrote it, sold their publishing rights to their manager because they were skint, and when Nilsson covered it and had a number one all around the world they didn’t get a fucking penny.”

The song I want played at my funeral

Joy Division – ‘Atmosphere’

“That song is the definition of melancholic beauty. I never, ever get tired of hearing it. We were on Factory Records [like Joy Division]. We played probably about 10 gigs with them. One of the greatest gigs we ever did was the gig that nobody came to. Zoo Records and Factory Records put on a festival in Leigh, between Manchester and Liverpool. They were expecting 5,000 people to turn up and I think 150 did. It was a bank holiday and the buses weren’t running, which didn’t help. The line-up was Joy Division, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, Echo And The Bunnymen, Teardrop Explodes and A Certain Ratio.”

OMD release their new album ‘Bauhaus Staircase’ on October 27 via 100% Records

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