Welcome to the very first entry in what will become a regular feature here on PB+ – Producer’s Producer – where we ask an electronic music artist to name their ultimate producer and explain to us why they believe that person is so special.
And for the launch of this new series, we’ve managed to get some time with someone who is considered to very special in their own right… Andy McCluskey, the singer and bass guitarist from legendary electronic group Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. OMD were among the very first generation of British electronic groups, emerging from the New Wave era of the late seventies and becoming pop icons thanks to the fourth single, the timeless Enola Gay. What made OMD so special was their experimentation with sound and their unorthodox approach to the traditions that had been set within popular music – they were pop stars who still managed to play around with sounds and remained leftfield/experimental.
35 years after they formed, OMD are still working on music with their 12th album English Electric due for release very soon, as well as various tour dates around the world to support the album and celebrate their 35th anniversary.
PB+’s Marcus Barnes was granted some time with Andy to ask him all about his ultimate producer and here’s what he had to say…
“There was one choice, the man who was the producer/engineer who created the soundtrack to my early life – Conny Plank. The man did every Neu! album and the early Kraftwerk albums up to Autobahn… as far as I’m concerned the man is next to God in the pantheon of important people. It’s interesting that he was allowed carte blanche with Neu! who were quite happy to have tapes spun backwards and things invented in the studio.
I never worked with him, it would have been an interesting experience, although I suspect I never would have actually got anything recorded – we would sat there picking his brain for anecdotes about Kraftwerk, Neu! and Brian Eno… because he also producer Before and After Science with Eno, which was another soundtrack to my life. Into the eighties, because of what he’d done in the seventies (particularly with Kraftwerk and Neu!), you had people like Ultravox working with him – he produced most of Vienna. When Michael Rother left Neu! and essentially stopped being the the krautrock guitarist of choice and turned himself into Germany’s version of Mike Oldfield, Conny did Flammende Herzen, which sold millions, so he wasn’t just underground.
I’ve heard people talk about him being Germany’s answer to Lee ‘Scratch’Perry, there was a lot of stuff that was done on the fly, he was known to be a very pro-active mixer who would constantly be doing effects.. it’s entirely possible that it wouldn’t have worked out with us because Paul and I had a very clear idea of what we wanted to do before we made the finished record because we had our own studio in the first place. We had the Grampophone suite in Liverpool so, when we went in to make a record, we’d already half-recorded it anyway, so I think we might not have wanted somebody else to come in and say [in a German accent], “Oh, let’s put all these backward tape echoes on…”!
I would have loved to have spoken to him, but sadly he passed away in ’87. He might have turned us down anyway, he famously turned down Brian Eno who wanted him to work with U2 – he said, “I’m not working with that singer.”.. he might have said the same about me!
Conny Plank, is really THE MAN for me. He produced and engineered the soundtrack to my youth.”