Tuesday, April 22, 2014

MODELS - howlspace web page

An archive of the original Howlspace page on Australian band MODELS

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It's almost impossible to reconcile that the group who shared their first single with Boys Next Door would go on to become a pop band with a national No.1 single five years later.

While Boys Next Door survived their entry into the world of record companies intact, their Suicide Label contemporaries didn't, and the Models was formed in 1978 out of the remnants of Melbourne neo-punk groups Teenage Radio Stars (Sean Kelly and Pierre Voltaire) and JAB (Janis Freidenfelds and Ash Wednesday). After just a few gigs Voltaire was replaced by Carlton musician Mark Ferrie, and when Ash Wednesday left for solo projects, he was replaced by electronic-oriented Andrew Duffield. It's that band which captured a quick and willing following and shared a single with Boys Next Door which was given away at gigs. But the Models weren't happy musically, were not getting on personally, and announced their break-up in November 1979.

Word had spread to Vanda and Young (ex-Easybeats, songwriters, producers of AC/DC) who invited the group to record some demos in their studios. It was enough to encourage the Models to reform, and over 1200 fans turned up for the comeback performance at the Crystal Ballroom. After a national tour of Australia with the Ramones and Midnight Oil, a bidding war broke out amongst record companies for the Models' signature. To guarantee creative control they chose to finance the sessions for their first album themselves, before signing to Mushroom. The band refused to let the company release a single from the pioneering electropop 'AlphaBravoCharlieDeltaEchoFoxtrotGolf'.

During a February 1981 tour with Police the President of A&M records saw the band and offered them an international record contract. Replacing drummer Janis Freidenfelds with Buster Siggs they set to work recording demos to send to an English producer. The group was so pleased with the results those demos were released as a mini-album 'Cut Lunch' in July. The English sessions comprised the October album 'Local &/Or General', still casting the Models in that experimental XTC advent guard pop category.

During 1982 the band went through line-up changes which slowly but dramatically changed the Models into a completely different and more accessible band. Sean Kelly had brought in his former Teenage Radio Stars pal James Freud, who in the meantime had successfully fronted the group Berlin. Barton Price joined on drums. Duffield quit and re-joined. Revitalized, the Models recorded 'The Pleasure Of Your Company' and its breakthrough single 'I Hear Motion' with producer Nick Launay, putting more emphasis on their rhythm section and the pop accessibility of their songs.

When the next couple of singles failed to chart, Sean Kelly for one was convinced that the band was finished and was in the process of rehearsing a new band and a new set of songs when Mushroom informed the Models an American producer, Reggie Lucas was being flown in at great expense to produce the next single. 'Big On Love' gave the band another hit, and probably saved their career. Again.

At this stage also, INXS' manager Chris Murphy stepped into the picture. INXS were fans and encouraged him to take the Models on too, Murphy wanted the band to stop mucking around and go for the big hit records. Andrew Duffield thought they were being asked to sell out and said so publicly. He was replaced by Roger Mason, formerly of James Freud's Berlin. By then the band had also added sax player James Valentine. It was this group which recorded 'Out Of Mind Out Of Sight' and its glam rock influenced title single, a number one record in Australia in August 1985. As Murphy wanted, The Models had turned into pop stars. With their single also charting in the US the group flew to London to record another album. 'Models Media' would be their last.

There was nothing really wrong with the album, it just didn't take the music anywhere new, and the band which was always fragile internally just imploded. But it was a slow death. 'Models Media' was released in December 1986. In September 1987 they released a version of the Beatles 'Oh Darling', their final single. The band's break-up was not made official until June 1991, following a tour to cover various debts.

James Freud went on to a solo career, while Sean Kelly turned up as part of Absent Friends with Wendy Matthews. In November 2000 James and Sean united the Models for a round of live performances.

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