Thursday, September 13, 2012

Interview: Justin Sullivan & Ceri Monger (NEW MODEL ARMY)

   Post-punk/ alternative rock band founded in 1980, New Model Army have a rich history so far and more to be written! Constantly clashing with the authorities and ongoing numerous line-up changes, their fountain of energy has always been bottomless! After finally seeing them at Peninsula Festival this year, playdeadnation had the honor to talk about the band in detail with singer and founding member Justin Sullivan and bassist Ceri Monger!

pdn: Greetings, Justin! What was it that led to founding New Model Army in the first place? Also, how did the whole musical activity start for you, personally?
Justin: Hi, Laura. When I was growing up, music saved my soul! It made sense of the World when the voices of grown-ups, logic and words alone did not. I think we started the band simply for the joy of playing! Not much has changed in that respect. 

pdn: NMA had some obstacles because of the political and humanitarian subjects. Were they difficult to overcome? Please tell me a bit about this.
Justin: We've had a few issues over the years with authorities. We weren't allowed into America for a long time and have had a few dramas like that. It is to be expected, though, that if you say and do things that 'power' does not like they will censure or hurt you. I have lots of respect for Pussy Riot for pushing at authority (and respect for that fearlessness of youth) but I am not surprised at the jail sentence and neither should they be. You can tell how much Authorities feel threatened exactly by how much they react.

pdn: Seems like you've toured with more than five members pretty often. Why was that, was it for diversity, small changes in the 'recipe'?
Justin: There is no 'recipe' - just a sense of making music that is 'true' and has real emotional content. The various changes over the years have been good for this with each new member bringing a new energy and then moving on when they felt it was time.

pdn: Your fans, people that can truly feel the meaning of your music are collectively called 'The Family', is that right? Some believe it's an elite of some sort, gang, club, sect and whatnot. To shed some light on the not very well-informed, how would you briefly describe this Family and how does it manifest, if such?
Justin: This 'family' is a loose group of people for all different countries that have been brought together by the band. They may see us often or may never be able to see us and they come from all different walks of life, different opinions, different everything. It's not a 'gang'. Anyone who feels that strange special bond with this music is already a member. 

pdn: What do you think about the direction music industry in general is heading nowadays? Since you've been around for quite some time, do you happen to sense that music today should be more exigent?
Justin: I'm afraid I don't understand the word exigent. But as for where the music industry is heading, I don't really have any idea. Even though, since the sudden death of our long-time manager three years ago, we have been managing ourselves, I don't find it difficult to separate 'music' from 'the music industry'. Beyond the need for us have places to live and food on the table I don't really care about the industry - only about the music.

pdn: Three decades of existence in 2010 - Congratulations! Any plans for the near future regarding tours, new material?
Justin: Thank you. We're currently hard at work on a new album - something a bit different - for release in early 2013. 

pdn: Ceri, please tell me, how long have you been a NMA fan, and what did joining the band feel like?
Ceri: I've been into NMA for a long time, since I was a child basically. A friend of my family introduced them to my brother I think and I heard them through him. The music was right up my street and I really loved the passion and emotions you get from listening to NMA. Joining the band felt incredibly surreal but in the most comfortable way possible, great vibes from the start!

pdn: Which were your favourite venues so far with NMA?
Ceri: One of the great things about being in NMA is that, there's a huge variety in the gigs we play. Having just joined the band in April, i've only played the festivals over the summer and a few warm up shows, and the different types of venues and festivals we've played has been great, each one a different experience. There's obviously a few gigs that stand out for me for personal reasons, my first show with the band at The Robin 2 in Bilston, playing in NMA's hometown of Bradford and playing Beautiful Days festival, i've always loved that festival and been going there nearly every year so, to play there was amazing.

pdn: Were you involved in any other bands/projects? If so, do you still keep contact with them, know what they are up to at the moment?
Ceri: I was in a metal band called Dark Era before I joined NMA. Unfortunately I felt it was best that I left them though. They're a great band and really deserve all the success in the world and I thought it would be unfair to hold them back from being away a lot with NMA. They were all really supportive of me and understood so, I definatly thank them for that! I stay in touch with them yeah, my brother is their drummer so obviously i'm very close with him and i've been friends with the other guys for years too so it's all good. Since I left they've been concentrating on writing an album that they should be recording soon! 

pdn: What were your main influences growing up (musically, personally), and practically growing into the world of music?
Ceri: Music has been my passion since I was very young, it's always been what i've worked towards doing for the rest of my life. I was brought up on a lot of Irish and Scottish folk music. My parents were really into the folk scene and took me to lots of folk festivals and ceilidhs, I would join in with the sessions and loved the feeling of playing alongside other musicians. I then got into metal and grunge, I was still quite young but really connected with that stuff. I'm a big fan of 90's metal, I do like and listen to more modern metal too but, the bands that came out of the 90's are definatly the ones that stand out for me! I like a lot of different styles of music really and I could spend days listing the bands and musicians that have influenced me in one way or another!

pdn: If NMA were to share the stage with any band(s) in the world and you'd have to name them, who would you choose?
Ceri:  Haha, wow, another one I could probably spend days listing! To name a few....Machine Head, Biohazard, Rammstein, Fear Factory, Tool....If we're including bands that have now split up then also, Pitchshifter, Sikth, Strapping Young Lad, Nine Inch Nails, Type O Negative....the list could go on and on!

pdn: What is your favourite part in belonging to a band? Live shows, studio sessions, afterparties?:P
Ceri: They're all great in their own ways! Playing live is the most amazing adrenaline rush you can get I think, simple as that. I also love recording and writing and just being creative in general musically, I find so much satisfaction in sitting down, writing something, recording it, and coming away proud of it. I love how a basic idea can evolve into a song, and I enjoy hearing how other peoples influences on a song can take it into a whole different direction. And I like socialising and meeting new people so, it's nice to go and hang out and have a few drinks with people who have stuck around after a gig!

pdn: Thank you kindly for your time and patience! Any words you would like to add for your friends, fans, Family?
Justin: Good Luck... Keep faith! 
Ceri: Not a problem! I should say a big thank you to everyone for welcoming me with such open arms since I joined! Everyone has been so kind to me, I know it's going to be a hell of a ride haha!

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