Jumping into the already vibrant Melbourne Music scene in the late 70s and early 80s, Models, often referred to as ‘The Models’, definitely did things their own way. Through many member changes and resulting slight changes in style, they quickly made a name for themselves on the Australian live scene sharing the spotlight of the time with the likes of Midnight Oil and Hunters and Collectors as well as many touring international acts. Best known for hits such as ‘Barbados’ and ‘Out of Mind, Out of Sight’, Models has continued to sporadically perform live including some recent gigs performing the album Local and/or General in full. 2016 continues this trend with another string of shows right across the country continuing the Models’ legacy.
Models seem to have never really stopped playing live in some shape or form. How did this recent tour come to fruition?
It’s almost like an annual event. We’ve been playing around this time of year at the Flying Saucer club in Elsternwick. It’s run by Mark Burchett, who’s a Models fan from back in the day, and possibly if it weren’t for the Models he wouldn’t be involved in music! He’s a huge fan and suggested this year, why don’t you do two nights – first night play Local and/or General and the second Pleasure of Your Company. We agreed to that. It seemed like a good plan and then David Williams, who heads up a company called Tom Bowler and tours various international and national acts (and also a Models fan from back in the day), he got wind of the idea and asked us if we’d be interested in doing some other shows around the country and we said ‘yes, make it so!’
The two nights at the Flying Saucer Club playing albums in their entirety – is that an easy thing to do?
Sometimes the way an album is sequenced isn’t the way you’d plan a gig, but it can work. We have actually done this once before many years ago at The Espy and it was a pretty good experience. You know, there were tracks that we’d never actually played live. There were things that maybe we’d just cooked up in the studio and that in the early frantic days was more spacious and open and you wouldn’t necessarily play live. We’ve discovered that you can find new dimensions in your live performance.
In terms of set lists for the rest of the gigs, you’d have plenty to choose from. Have you had to go back and learn some old songs?
Yeah. For example the Pleasure of Your Company album, I wasn’t in the band at that stage. So I’m really getting to go deep on that album. There was a lot of labouring over the sound. I think the producer Nick Launay had a big hand in the way that it sounded. So for now it would be really difficult for a 4-piece band to reproduce everything that’s on there. We’re not getting extra musicians or sequenced tracks so if anything we’re reducing those down to what the original song is. It’s a bit like playing with the Rock Wiz orchestra which is just three of us! You have to really just pick out the things that count.
You’ve mentioned before that Models weren’t really sure what they were doing, they just did it and it sounded good..
There is a sound that Sean (Kelly), Andrew (Duffield) and myself when we play together it just happens. We can’t do it any other way. That was a result of years of relentless gigging and it’s great. I’m pretty sure back then I wouldn’t have thought that I’d be playing some of these songs at the age I am now. You know when I first got together with the band in a rehearsal room and they’d done maybe a handful of gigs, I was playing around town with Johnny Crash who was playing drums with them and sort of said ‘come on down for a jam’, and you could tell within the first few notes that it was a coherent band and that more or less set the template for it.
Where did your sound come from then? A lot of music these days seems to be fully preconceived?
There was no particular style we were trying to portray, everyone had something they brought to the mix but it worked. I’m not sure how much that happens these days – the history. It seems more like ‘we want a bit of this, with a slice of that and a little this on the side’ whereas in a lot of ways we were charting unknown waters for us.
You’ve been involved in a lot of bands/styles/ areas of the music industry throughout your career. Is that an intentional decision? Or has it just happened?
I always try and put my best foot forward and do my best for whatever gig I’ve got and hopefully that gets noticed and creates new opportunities. There are certain players that I often play with, Andrew [Pendlebury of The Sports, Stephen Cummings and The Mercurials] I’ve been playing with since 1976 at the station ho tel in Prahran. We’re like brothers really, we just sit down and start playing. And I really have the same kind of relationship with Sean and Andrew too. We just sit down and start playing and it sounds like the Models.
Models will be playing at the Croxton Bandroom in Melbourne on January 29, and the Wool Exchange in Geelong on January 30.