Underground Lovers
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Love Letter To A Record: Underground Lovers On Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark’s ‘Architecture and Morality’

Music Feeds’ Love Letter to a Record series asks artists to reflect on their relationship with the music they love and share stories about how it has influenced their lives. Here, Glenn Bennie and Vince Giarrusso from iconic Australian pop-rock band Underground Lovers open up about English electronic band Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark’s 1981 LP ‘Architecture and Morality’.

It comes as Underground Lovers are gearing up to embark on their ‘Dream it Down 30th Anniversary Tour’ to mark the 30th anniversary of their beloved album ‘Dream it Down’. The band will be joined by Australian rock band Youth Group for three dates in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane this July and August. Suss the details down below.

Underground Lovers’ Glenn Bennie and Vince Giarrusso: Love Letter To Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark’s Architecture and Morality

Everything we’ve ever created over our multi-decade existence in the music industry is as

a result of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and their 1981 album, Architecture and


From the programming of drum machine patterns to artwork aesthetics, all of our choices

have subconsciously come from the influence of this album. It pervaded our lives as

teenagers in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne back in 1981 and informed our approach

to music, art and life.

We were so fascinated with Architecture and Morality that we feverishly started our own

two-piece band (Montpelier) in an attempt to replicate the sounds of this record. With

our Roland TR606 Drum machine, Casio keyboard and Ibanez Blazer guitar, we tried, with

varying degrees of success, to create our own version of OMD in East Doncaster in 1981.

Soon after, when we left high school, we’d come under the spell of bands like The Reels,

Pel Mel, The Go-Betweens and Essendon Airport, but our earliest reference point for

inspiration, as a creative partnership, was definitely OMD and Architecture and Morality.

The first tracks to catch our attention were the singles ‘Souvenir’ (with its choral inspired

keyboards) and the dramatic ‘Joan of Arc’ and ‘Joan of Arc Maid of Orleans’. On

purchasing the album though, we discovered even greater depth. With the electro-punk

feel of the opening track, ‘The New Stone Age’, and more expansive tracks like

‘Sealand’, we were drawn in by the ticking drum machines, the gorgeous gothic synth

sounds, the emotive vocals and the array of mysterious industrial sounds and voices that

permeated the album.

The melodies on the album were irresistible and were an inspiration for our own writing.

Andy McCluskey sang most of the tracks on the album but Paul Humphrey sang on

‘Souvenir’, which prompted the idea for us to have a band with a mix of vocalists. I’m sure

it’s why we invited Philippa Nihill to join Underground Lovers in 1989, and why Glenn

sometimes made the odd appearance on vocals throughout the Underground Lovers’

earlier catalogue. The variety was intriguing and the nature of the ensemble was

appealing. At the time we were right into Brecht’s Epic Theatre, so that notion of actors

and singers as storytellers was pivotal. We initially wanted the focus to be on the song

and not the singer and that’s why so much 80’s and 90’s Australian rock rubbed us up the wrong way. We were artists of course, not rock and rollers. Ha ha!

What also drew us into Architecture and Morality was its structure and how tracks flowed

seamlessly from one into another. This is something that would stay with us and would be

a big focus for Underground Lovers albums. We spent a lot of time on the big picture

and how songs would fit in amongst others on an album.

The artwork for Architecture and Morality was also brilliant with its die-cut sleeve revealing the

architectural design on the inner panels. The influence of Peter Saville on the design was

obvious and we loved Joy Division and all of the Factory artwork at the time. It’s no

coincidence that we ended up using Other Rooms to do our own cover art in the late 90’s with

their influence and close association with Peter Saville and Factory Records.

The mix of pop and experimentation on Architecture and Morality is what really stuck with us

over the years and it was not until our first Underground Lovers album as a duo in 1999 (Cold

) that we ever really approximated something similar. On that album the two of us were

left to our own devices with a stack of analogue keyboards and drum machines to create a

record that ebbed and flowed through electro guitar/synth pop then on to more sprawling

cinematic explorations. We’d come close on Leaves me Blind in 1992 with its expansive quality

and blend of pop songs and experimental interludes. Again, with the album Dream it Down in

1994, the use of remixing took the songs and structure to another level and beyond the usual

90’s rock approach in Australia at the time. A lot of that was to do with our collaboration on the

album with our local experimental electronic heroes, David Chesworth and Robert Goodge

(Essendon Airport). They really understood where we were coming from and we were

privileged to have them on board.

Looking back now to 1981 and the influence of Architecture and Morality, there are very clear

musical moments in our own career that are a direct allusion to that album and to that time.

The record created a reference point for us, so if we ever strayed or lost our way artistically it

acted as a beacon to go back and find our musical roots again. In bands you work with a whole

range of people over a long period of time and you get pulled and pushed in different musical

directions, but Architecture and Morality has always been there for us to go back to in order to

get grounded again and reboot. We’ve had to do it a few times over the years and we’re doing

it again now in 2024.

We love Architecture and Morality and OMD. We can’t wait to see them play in Australia next

year. If they need a support act we are right here, ready and waiting with our Casio keyboard

and Roland 606.

Underground Lovers 2024 Australian Tour

  • Saturday, 27th July – Corner Hotel, Melbourne
  • Friday, 2nd August – Manning Bar, Sydney
  • Friday, 9th August – The Zoo, Brisbane

Tickets here

Further Reading

Underground Lovers Announce 2024 ‘Dream it Down 30th Anniversary Tour’

Underground Lovers Review – Love and Diffidence at ‘Leaves Me Blind’ Anniversary Show

Exclusives from Peking Duk, Ball Park Music, Ocean Alley and More For Record Store Day 2023

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