Wednesday, August 13, 2014

MODELS - article from UK magazine 24th October 1981

Article from page 28 of SNDSNP 24-10-1981

Please feel free to send any amendments to me at wjames@ccsaust.com. The original photo of the article is attached, but the watermarks obscure some sentences, and my eyes aren't what they used to be...

Article follows - 

It's not surprising that no-one's heard of the Models, this Melbourne band is so fiercely independent that they're even a mystery to native Australians. "Most people can't quite suss out what's going on" quips keyboardist Andrew Duffield.

Formed in 1978, the Models have seen two line-up changes, a near fatal split in 1979, and have achieved cult status in their home town largely through the sheer innovative, quirky quality of their work and fiercely fought for independence, which has kept a cackle of major labels at arm's length. They've gigged extensively - "up to five nights a week for two or three years" - supporting Dr Feelgood, the Stranglers, and the Police, they've produced and financed two singles, an album and a six track EP, yet as far as the rest of the world is concerned, the Models haven't even happened.

I caught them quite by accident several weeks ago, having staggered into Dingwalls far too early one night to see Doll by Doll. As soon as they launched themselves into a superb version of "Telstar" it was pretty obvious that they were new only to the London scene.

Driving rhythms, fine pop melodies, distinctively powerful electronics and an edgy guitar may be familiar enough ingredients but in a unique shake-up in the highly original material and vocals to match, marked the Models out from the chaff. (NB: suspect line after 'ingredients' not quite correct). Songs like "Pate Pedestrians", 'Man O' Action" and "Subterranean Fist Truck" whizzed over my head. I was hooked. Some elementary detective work and a couple of weeks later I managed to corner the elusive buggers locked away in the wilds of Little Chalfont just two days before they were due to leave the Farmyard Studios where A&M had installed them to cut an album.

Bassist Mark Ferrie had disappeared to London, leaving Sean Kelly, Andrew Duffield and Kiwi drummer Buster Stiggs to take turns at the inquisition. After five weeks concentrated work, the Models were smashed.

"We think it's electronic music with soul" opined Andrew.

<unidentified line> Get Down electronic music.
(NB: can anyone help identify this line?)

"We can border between being a really good band or an absolutely dire band, which I think is a winning combination... in Australia, we've always managed to maintain some charisma by our inconsistency".

Smashed but serious, the Models simply refuse to be controlled. "We were really careful about the way we negotiated with A&M", he continued. "The band is into the idea of working for itself and having its ideas translated properly by the record company".

Perversely, doing it their own way for so long has meant some difficulties in re-adjusting to the luxurious excesses afforded by a major (record) company.

"When we recorded the first album", he continued, "we were paying for it before it was picked up by Mushroom Records. And so we had to work live to pay the bills. It meant we were doing live gigs and then going into the studio from midnight to dawn. And, having access to the studio for a non-stop period is slightly unique in that we've all the freedom in the world, and perhaps", he added with a smile, "too much".

That first album, the ridiculously titled "AlphaBravoCharlieDeltaEchoFoxtrotGolf", was felt by the band to be a pretty awful record. It's far from perfect but it demonstrates what a unique force the band can muster. What it fails to deliver, it promises.

"It's ours though, in the sense that we made the balls-ups on it rather than a producer", explained Andrew.

Their cult status in Australia seems to stem from the fact that they don't get played in the national AM stations but reach the large student audience glued to the local FM stations. With many bands releasing independent singles, the Models planned a little higher - for an independent record.
(NB: this line may not be correct)

"We thought that'd be a suitably different thing to do", laughed Andrew.

When someone sitting opposite you articulates his thoughts in off-key English between sips of Fosters, it's not hard to forget that he is essentially foreign. A fact which Andrew was well aware of.

"We are sensitive about the fact that we're Australian", he protested. "it's not an unusual thing, particularly when you read about other Australian bands that have attempted to break through. There's a very humble attitude in Australia towards England as far as where its head is at musically. We expected to be really quite intimidated by the place, or at least I did, and I'm not, because I think we can hold our own. It's probably because we've had the opportunity to play a lot more than most local bands here have.

"One of the unusual things in Australia, which I think is an asset, is that we get both American and English music on exactly the same level. So we treat them totally on the same plane and we're able to look a lot more objectively at things that are happening than you can. English music is so categorised and we just can't afford those kind of liberties. We don't like to restrict ourselves anyway, so we try to take the best of both worlds".

It's striking that A&M seem to be treated the Models fragile talent with previous care, bringing them half-way across the world to the best facilities and operatives, a fact viewed by Sean Kelly with healthy disrespect. "Contracts", said Sean, "always have things in them like ...'as we agree to to all this for you, we have the right to tell you where to perform...' and stuff like that, which I find really interesting. Because if A&M put a whole load of money into recording an album they naturally want a group to tour... back it up. And if someone was to say 'Well no that's not what I want to do' they'd say 'ah but look, clause blahblahblah says that you have to do it'. Then it would become good fun because I would just say 'Well I'm not going to. And what can you really do about it?'. And there's nothing they can do".

"I'm not saying that what I would do... that's just what I think of contracts. In fact there's nothing they can do because I care too much about the fact that the songs are recorded. Because in a sense a song's immortal, just like the Psalms of David".

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