New Model Army were always an act who offered important music, in their philosophy, in art’s universe. An old, consistent band with numerous releases and among the most appreciated names, ever in rock music. Earlier in summer they released their latest ‘Winter’ LP and started a huge tour, that’s going to continue in the next year, and due to a small break they found time to make an interview with us, that we are delighted to host. ’51st State’, ‘Vagabonds’, ‘Here Comes The War’, ‘My People’, ‘The Hunt’…and ultimately ‘Devil’, ‘Winter’ just to mention a few from the band’s endless catalog of important and successful songs.
Dear world, the man behind all these musings that we started to dance to in our teens, and we’ll never god-damn stop, Justin Sullivan…
Hello New Model Army and congratulations on ‘Winter’, an excellent release. What has been the feedback so far?
The feedback has been pretty amazing. I think people appreciated us making something which is the soundtrack to ‘now’.
Comparing to the previous ‘Between Wine And Blood’ what has changed in the sound and the procedure of composing, and in the studio work?
With ‘Between Dog And Wolf’ in 2012/13, we decided to really concentrate on recording using all the lessons learned through our many years. This began by going back to recording on tape and ending with finding the right person to mix. On ‘Between Wine And Blood’, we discovered a studio near us that uses tape run by Lee Smith and Jamie Lockhart. We did drums there but ‘built’ the songs and went back to Joe Barresi to mix as we had done so successfully on BDAW. With ‘Winter’, we decided to make most of the album there, playing live as a band in the small studio room and giving the album to Lee to mix. We set out to make the opposite of the previous two records – something very dry and intense and ‘live’.
Since 1994 you have been releasing your work through your own independent label Attack Attack, what led you in that decision, and also what are the benefits or any issues deriving from it?
The benefits are simple – we are in control of all aspects of what we are doing. OK, money is tight but that’s generally true for all musical projects these days (unless they are related to commercial outlets such as games or advertising). It suits us well.
You are preparing to go on tour in a few days. Are you going alone or are there bands to support you? Are you going on a bigger tour, perhaps out of the continent in 2017?
The first two legs of the ‘Winter’ tour went extraordinarily well (in the UK and some of mainland Europe). This was partly because we are a very unified band right now playing absolutely in the way that we want and also perhaps because what’s happening around us in the World makes gigs like ours have extra significance and context.
Being a band since early 1980’s you have gained the people’s admiration and respect. What are really the band’s thoughts and plans towards such a dedicated core of fans?
We’re grateful for the support of everyone that buys albums and comes to shows of course, because it allows us to keep doing the thing we love and believe in. But it’s not a ‘fixed’ group of people. It’s actually a huge number of individuals from all different walks of life with different ‘needs’ from the music, some coming to their umpteenth concert, some just discovering us for the first time.
The lyrics in your songs were always stinging on politicians and politics in general, on society’s misconstructions and hopes, the life of the working class; we’d like you to share a few thoughts and facts about it with us.
It’s a mistake to believe that we’re a ‘political’ band or that we have a particular agenda. We just write about all kinds of different things from all kinds of different points of view – even sometimes points of view we don’t agree with (‘One Of The Chosen’, ‘My People’ etc).
What is your point of view on Europe becoming a fortress, while the financial terms have become even harsher for the people in the whole of the continent?
In 1987 we wrote ‘Higher Wall’ – what’s happening now with the mass movement of people was easily predictable but it has been accelerated by the policies of Western governments to allow unfettered plundering capitalism free reign across the World together with nonsensical acts of war – such as the invasion and chaotic aftermath in Iraq.
In your lyrics you speak of war, injustice and freedom. Where is the turning point for societies to change into a more equitable model of coexistence? Could you spare a few words about Brexit (if you like)?
Common sense? Basically we are all on the planet together. If we allow and encourage unlimited competition and conflict between people, the result is fear and insecurity. This is seized upon as the perfect way for demagogues (who promise a return to ‘the good old days’ but have no means to deliver it) to seize power.
Fabric club lost its license due to a very bad incident. On the other hand, many nightclubs and live clubs have been shut down in recent years. What do you say?
It’s a great pity but it is partly the result of everyone choosing to live their social lives online rather than wanting to join with other people in public spaces.
Back to music again. What kinds of music are you listening to at present? Would you share a few names or genres with us?
My taste is completely eclectic – and all the members of NMA come from different musical backgrounds and different tastes. There is lots of great music being made in all kinds of genres. The best stuff often remains hidden from the mainstream, commercial media (this has always been the case). In all the countries bordering the Sahara there is a lot happening, centred in Mali as different folk cultures collide (always the seeds for the most creative music) so I’ve been listening to a lot of that (Bombino, Hindi Zahra and many more).
What makes a really good song—either it’s yours or another band’s?
Ah, the $100000 question. Who knows the answer? Not me. I guess a combination of simplicity and chance!
Thank you very much for this interview, you may add anything you like.
Sorry it took so long to get back to you! 😉
Photo credits: Trust A Fox