NEXT year will mark Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark’s fortieth birthday – and no-one is more surprised by that than founder Andy McCluskey.

Andy originally formed OMD with Paul Humphreys in 1978, thinking one gig would be the limit of their ambitions.

“We’ve been a 40 year rolling accident,” he chuckles, ahead of a return to Glasgow on Sunday to play at the Royal Concert Hall.

“It’s actually 50 years since Paul and I met, when he came to my school. We never had any intention of being in a band, it was a hobby. Even our mates thought we were rubbish. Then one day we’d been seeing bands at this Liverpool club called Eric’s, and thought we’d get up and play weird stuff.

“It was free for members on Thursday, so we got up onstage and that was going to be it. And then we got offered another gig, and another, and a record, and then we got an album deal. It’s been good times and difficult times, but we’ve been blessed, and had a remarkable journey.”

It is also a journey that’s not finished yet. This year saw the duo release their 13th record, The Punishment of Luxury, which charted in the top five and is themed around topics such as emotional honesty and how modern society is too in thrall to marketing and consumerism.

“It’s a record about learning to read yourself and manage your emotions,” says Andy.

“Robot Man has universally been misunderstood as a song about robots having no feelings, but actually it’s about me. It’s about having years as children where we protect ourselves, and develop these cognitive distortions to cope. What tend to happen decades down the road is that the coping mechanisms have become the problem, and you have to take your armour off.

“I have learned some very powerful life lessons in the past few years, and I’m glad I have, but they were born out of pain. I always say that that the greatest songs in the world are sad songs, because when you are happy you’re busy being euphoric, or in love, or enjoying life. You’re too busy enjoying it! It’s only when you are miserable and lonely that you want to pour your soul out.”

One of those life lessons came when the band’s drummer, Malcolm Holmes, collapsed onstage at a gig in Toronto. His heart literally stopped during the incident, and while he has since made a full recovery he can no longer play drums for the band.

“It was absolutely a wake up moment,” says Andy.

“To see a guy who’s been a friend and who you’ve shared some of the best moments of your life with, to see him actually die, because his heart stopped for three minutes, that was terrifying.

“The day after it happened we all went to see Malcolm in hospital. The doctor says ‘oh, we’re so pleased you’re here – we don’t know Mr Holmes but when your heart stops, it can cause brain damage.’ Before anyone could say anything, Malcolm goes ‘I’m a drummer, how can you tell?’ We were like, he’s fine! He was dead yesterday and now he’s telling jokes!”

An incident like that has obviously given Andy an increased focus on what really matters in life. That perspective is needed more than ever in today’s world, dominated by new technology, social media and endless comparisons to other people’s lives.

“Most people in the Western world are materially better off than ever, but we’re unhappier,” says Andy, returning to a theme of The Punishment of Luxury.

“We worry about what the neighbours will think if your car is too old, or that our kids will think they’re not loved because they haven’t got a new Xbox. It’s all rubbish.

“Most people spent every waking hour trying to put food on the table and keep a roof above their head. Now we have loads of time to sit about worrying about other stuff and marketing men are using that against us.”

Something that is always a pleasure, however, is a gig in Glasgow. Andy’s dad was originally from Glasgow, and he regularly took his son back to the city on holiday, watching Celtic and going to Shawfield to see dog racing. That fondness carried over into Andy’s gigging career.

“I’ve always had a soft spot for Glasgow,” he adds.

“We have done some wonderful, wonderful gigs, like at the Apollo and the Barrowland. The Royal Concert Hall is a stunning venue too.”

OMD, Sunday, Royal Concert Hall, £37, 7pm