Mal Holmes OMD Drummer – Biography



If you’re going to have a biography you might as well write it yourself before someone else writes their version of it for you.

There’s certainly some things I’ve seen written about OMD that are not the way I remember them. But hey … what would I know.




I was born in Birkenhead, a ferry ride across the Mersey from Liverpool. I have early memories of cobbled back alleys, ship building at Camel Lairds and a hard working dad who grafted for all of the family. When I was 10 years old I didn’t know much about the borrowed drum kit my brother had got his hands on, but I figured out how to set it up. Playing it looked like it was going to be easy. It wasn’t, but the rhythm bug had got me and didn’t let me go.


Biscuit Tins

Eventually the borrowed kit had to go back to it’s rightful owner, leaving me with my mums knittings needles for sticks, 2 biscuit tins for drums and their lids for cymbals. They sounded great (to me anyway!) as I hammered away to Macguiness Flint in the front living room.

It was some time after I got the OK to sell my ‘Chopper’ pedal bike and spend the 30 quid I got for it on my very own real drum kit. An Ajax kit with Ringo Stars autograph on the floor tom or so the guy that flogged it to me and my dad said.


Becoming OMDs Drummer

OMD - Top Of The PopsEventually the drums opened up the wacky world of pop and my dreams became reality. Although Andy, Paul and I had been making making music together for sometime, I joined OMD shortly after they signed their recording contract.

I was never actually signed to the record label myself so I sat in a sort of no-mans land between ‘Featured Member’ and ‘Session Musician’ (industry names not mine). Depending on which way the wind was blowing I could be either/or.

Over time I saw many managers, labels, agents, accountants, promoters and road crew come and go, each viewing me in their own way. It was often frustrating I must admit. Some I enjoyed working with some I didn’t.


However, over the years I’ve put my drumming stamp on a massive catalog of OMD songs and have many memories of working with my great friends in the band. I’ve also had the pleasure of working with the worlds best record producers and engineers. Hopefully I learnt a little from them.

I’ve lost count of how many tracks, how many gigs and how many TV shows I’ve performed on travelling the globe. OMD has been a huge part of my life.


Other Adventures

For many years I’ve also managed to work with talented new artists. I put a record company together. Helped build the odd recording studio, written music for TV, Film & Animation, developed a digital music company and had the incredible rewarding experience of teaching drums and the in’s and out’s of the music industry in schools and colleges. Each of these are story in themselves.


Toronto 2013

Merv (Drum Tech), Gavin (Monitors) , Bill (Protools & Keyboard Nonsense), Mart (Mart), Brooke (Lights) and me. Munchin' out in Mexico City.

Munchin’ out with the crew in Mexico City.

There must be a couple of angels keeping a close eye on me. They’ve had to pop down on more than one occasion to get me out of trouble and pull me from the abyss whilst I’ve been OMD drummer.

In July 2013, whilst playing live in Toronto with OMD, I came face to face with my own mortality….. again. It was a night I won’t forget, the hottest gig I’ve ever played. It was 45-50 degrees on a stage that night with no air movement.

I put everything I had into the performance but unfortunately my heart couldn’t handle it and it stopped just before the end of the show. I don’t remember much. However what the ambulance driver said to my great friend and band mate Martin Cooper I’ll never forget.

After the Toronto Fire Dept paramedics gave me CPR and hit me with their defibrillator and amazingly restarted my heart and brought me back to life, Martin was sat in the ambulance and the driver turned to him and said … “The stars where aligned for him tonight”. I’ll never forget that. I know how lucky I am to be writing this.


New Musical Adventures

USPM LogoOver time I have continued to make a steady recovery but decided to put my OMD drummer drumsticks to one side. Maybe one day I’ll knock a few drums for OMD live again. I’m going to say ‘Never Say Never’ on that one.

I’m currently working with a variety of bands, artists  and a music production company. You can check out what I do on the Services page.


Getting On With It

It’s only a brief biog and probably doesn’t tell you much. I should really list all my career highs and lows and the ton of hits I’ve played on etc etc, but fortunately I’ve got a life to be getting on with so that’s what I’m going to do. 🙂