MUDKISS FANZINE

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WE ARE OLD, WE ARE YOUNG, WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER - INTERVIEW WITH JUSTIN SULLIVAN (NEW MODEL ARMY) BY CHINNERS

New Model Army this year celebrate their 30th Anniversary and there is certainly no sign of them hanging up their guitars, the band have just completed a 90 date tour promoting their latest album 'Today Is a Good Day' which Mudkiss reviewed when it was 1st released and claimed it to be their best album since the legendary 'Thunder & Consolation'. The band have suffered their fair share of success and tragedies and founder member singer Justin Sullivan was happy to talk to us just before the last date of their tour. We were invited on to the New Model Army tour bus while it was parked up outside The Brook in Southampton on a very wet Wednesday afternoon:

CHINNERS: Hello Justin, thanks for giving up your time and agreeing to talk to us at Mudkiss.

JUSTIN: I always have plenty of time on the road

CHINNERS: Don't you ever get bored?

JUSTIN: I never get bored; there is always so much to do?

CHINNERS: You’ve been on the road for over 90 dates on this current tour, are you looking forward to going home tomorrow?

JUSTIN: Yes, I am really looking forward to be going home to Bradford, however after a couple of weeks at home I get restless, I have always liked traveling, even before I was in a band I travelled a lot.

CHINNERS: New Model Army has now been around for 30 years what would you put this down to?

JUSTIN: Moving forward and not focusing on the past, there has always been a great deal of pride in the band and all who work for us and within 'the family' there is a great deal of respect. We do what we want to do rather being told what to do, for example when The Levellers were coming out of our shadow and just making it big we could have carried on that 'Folk Rock' band wagon, we changed direction bringing out 'The Love of Hopeless Causes' which was not a commercial success, it was what wanted to do at that time. 

CHINNERS: The band has had their fair share of tragedy and successes, what’s the best and worse thing about being in New Model Army?

JUSTIN: We lost Robert (Heaton) our drummer in 2004 who died of cancer and just before Christmas 2008 I got a phone call to say that our Manager Tommy Tee had died suddenly. This was a huge shock for all of us as Tommy had just set up our own company to produce and market our own merchandise and music; he had done so much for the band. I have taken a lot of this work on now and it takes up so much of my time. The loyally is this band is great, if one of us has a band show or something isn't working for us,  I don't say anything as I know we will try harder next time to make it work.

CHINNERS: When New Model Army go out on tour its a way of life for your fans who take holidays from work to follow you around on many dates on each tour, what do you put this down to?

JUSTIN: It's sort of tribal, the fans regenerate, a different bunch of fans are following us now than followed us say 20 years ago. There are some on this tour who have even hired their own tour bus so they drive it along to every show. I was on a flight going to a show in Turkey and sat next to an Irish girl, she had a high powered job, she had seen us millions of times, I asked her why she kept coming to see our gigs, she said that she got to meet lots of like minded great people within the New Model Army fan community, travel to interesting places and see her favourite band all at the same time. I have never told any one from the stage what to do, if they want to clap sing along, it's up to them. I look from the stage to see the evolvement of the audience, I look into their eyes which is the window of their soul, I just try to make a connection, there is nothing worse than seeing nothing in peoples eyes.

CHINNERS: Where do you get you musical influences from?

JUSTIN: My favorite album is 'Quadrophenia' by The Who, Pete Townsend wrote that it was recorded with everyone in the studio not really knowing what the other was doing and when it was bought together it sounded brilliant. Before I was even in a band and I went to see the punk band called The Lurkers who really inspired me to be in a band, I also like Northern Soul. I really love drums, I start most of my song writing process with a drum beat, not a guitar like a lots of bands, I then bring in the bass, with an R+B feel and  at times I have to hold back our guitar player Marshall which is not always easy. I do write some songs on an acoustic guitar sometimes though.

CHINNERS: Have any plans for any live gigs for the 30th Anniversary in September?

JUSTIN: We are planning a tour of major cities in September and playing a Friday and a Saturday night in each venue, we are planning on doing a different set every night playing a least 4 songs from each album, which is quite a challenge as we have 12 studio albums and lots of b-side to draw from.

CHINNERS: So I expect you will have to do a lot of rehearsals?

JUSTIN: It should be ok for the current tour we had a set of 50 songs of which we can draw from. We have played most of our songs at one time or another; we have not played 'Firework Night' though for various reasons.

CHINNERS: Thank you so much for all your time it’s been great speaking to you. I was a little nervous to be honest as you look such an angry aggressive front man on-stage and I’ve found you a totally a different person to speak to. I’ve seen you so many times in concert and you deliver some songs in an aggressive way. I remember seeing you at a Festival in Germany in 1991 and you’re were standing on the edge of the stage in front of 50,000 people, banging your guitar on the ground and kicking the edge of the stage, giving the crowd one of your stares.

JUSTIN: I have got starry eyes, the stage is a place where I can get rid of all my dark stuff, we all carry dark stuff around and all my aggression comes out in my performance, which is the right way to do it.

Sound Check 'Wired'

'High'
 

Interview/photos/videos by Dave Chinery (Chinners)