entry for 'Models'
Formed in 1978
Original line-up: Sean Kelly (guitar, vocals;
ex-Teenage Radio Stars), Ash Wednesday (synthesiser; ex-JAB),
Pierre Voltaire , aka Mr Pierre, bass; ex-Teenage Radio Stars,
JAB), Johnny Crash, drums; ex-JAB)
Albums: Alphabravocharliedeltaechofoxtrotgolf (Mushroom/Festival,
1980), Cut Lunch (10-inch mini- album, Mushroom/Festival, 1981),
Local &/or General (Mushroom/Festival, 1981), The Pleasure
of Your Company . . . (Mushroom/Festival, 1983), Out of Mind Out
of Sight (Mushroom/Festival, 1985), Models' Media (Mushroom/Festival,
1986), Models' Collection (compilation, Mushroom/Festival, 1993),
Models Melbourne (Shock, 2001).
Alongside The Boys Next Door/The Birthday Party, Models were one
of the first Melbourne bands to rise out of the ashes of that
city's hothouse punk/new wave explosion of the late 1970s with
a clear vision and wider appeal. While The Birthday Party was
hell-bent on kicking down the established parameters of rock music,
Models were more clearly pop-oriented, and eventually reaped the
benefits of their vision.
band came together in August 1978 when Sean Kelly joined up with
the remnants of JAB: Ash Wednesday, Pierre Voltaire and Johnny
Crash. Voltaire was quickly replaced by Mark Ferrie (ex-Carrl
Myriad Band, Leisuremasters). Wednesday left the band in August
1979 to be replaced by Andrew Duffield (ex-Whirlywirld). Many
of the band's early live classics like `Body Shop', `Whisper Through
the Wall', `Years Ago', `The Other People Incident' and `Brave
New World' did not see release on record. The new line-up issued
two independent, gig giveaway singles, `Early Morning Brain (It's
Not Quite the Same as Sobriety)' (shared with The Boys Next Door's
`Scatterbrain' on the flip side, October 1979) and `Owe You Nothing'/`Progressive
Office Pools' (August 1980). The band actually broke up in November
1979, but resumed touring after a successful reunion gig on New
Year's Eve 1979. Models undertook an exhaustive schedule of local
gigs and interstate tours, with support slots to international
visitors like The B52s, The Vapours, The Ramones, XTC and Magazine.
mid-1980, the band's off-beat pop sound and live popularity had
attracted the attention of several major record companies. Mushroom
Records eventually signed Models and issued the band's independently
recorded debut album Alphabravocharliedeltaechofoxtrotgolf in
November 1980. The band refused to issue a single from the album,
but Mushroom put out `Two People Per Sq Km'/`Uncontrollable Boy
(I'm Just an)', `Young Rodents' as a promotional only 12-inch
EP which was sent to radio stations. 1981 commenced with the departure
of drummer Crash, who joined Sacred Cowboys. Ex-Swingers member
Buster Stiggs joined in time for a national tour support slot
to The Police. Derek Green, vice-president of A&M Records
(home to The Police) was so impressed with Models that he offered
the band an international deal.
flew to the UK and recorded the album Local &/or General at
Farmyard Studios with producer Steve Tayler. Local &/or General
(October 1981) reached #32 on the national chart, and produced
the single `Local &/or General'/`Telstar' (November). Prior
to leaving for the UK, the band recorded demos at Richmond Records
with producer Tony Cohen. The tracks combined spontaneous experimentation
with economic arrangements and turned out so well that Mushroom
issued them as the 10-inch mini-album Cut Lunch in July. Buoyed
by the whimsical pop tune `Two Cabs to the Toucan', Cut Lunch
sold well enough to register #32 on the national chart.
series of line-up changes plagued the band throughout 1982. First
Stiggs and Ferrie quit to be replaced by Graham Scott (drums),
John Rowell (guitar, both ex-Curse) and James Freud (bass). Freud
had already enjoyed a relatively successful solo career as leader
of James Freud and the Radio Stars and James Freud and Berlin.
`Modern Girl' had been a #12 national hit for Freud in August
1980, and the album Breaking Silence had sold well. Freud brought
a great deal of commercial pop savvy and confidence into the band.
Scott and Rowell both left in May, closely followed by long-term
member Duffield. Kelly and Freud then recruited New Zealand-born
Barton Price (ex-Crocodiles, Sardine v) to fill the drum spot.
In the meantime, Mark Ferrie had issued a remixed version of `Unhappy'
(from the Local &/or General album) as a solo single backed
with `The Ton' (May 1982).
band's next single, `On'/`The Whole Story' (August 1982) was produced
by Lobby Loyde. It reached #1 on the independent charts and was
accompanied by a bizarre video produced by the Rich Kids. Gus
Till (keyboards; ex-Ears, Beargarden) joined Models briefly toward
the end of 1982, but by December a revitalised Duffield had rejoined.
Models then hit their commercial stride with the release of the
album The Pleasure of Your Company . . . (October 1983) which
rose to #12 on the national chart (#6 in Melbourne). Producer
Nick Launay (Public Image Ltd, Birthday Party, Midnight Oil) placed
a greater emphasis on the rhythm section to provide a more flexible,
band was being referred to as a `crossover' act and certainly
sold more records than the other two best-known unconventional
Melbourne bands of the day, The Birthday Party and Hunters &
Collectors. The ebullient `I Hear Motion'/`No Talking' (September
1983) single reached #16 nationally (#10 in Melbourne) during
October. Hot on the heels of the album's success, Models scored
the prestigious support slot to David Bowie's Serious Moonlight
tour of Australia. Oddly enough, the band's next three singles,
`No Shoulders No Head'/`A Rainy Day' (December 1983), `God Bless
America'/`Watch Your Mouth' (April 1984) and `Big on Love'/`Preacher
from the Black Lagoon' (produced by American Reggie Lucas; October
1984), failed to chart convincingly. `Big on Love' was the most
successful when it peaked at #21 in December. 1984 ended with
the recruitment of sax player James Valentine and the departure
of Duffield in controversial circumstances. His place was taken
by ex-Berlin member Roger Mason. Duffield issued a solo album,
Ten Happy Fingers, on his own Retrograde label in 1988. Wendy
Matthews joined Models as back-up vocalist and her input added
significantly to the band's sound.
saw the band attain its commercial zenith with the release of
the Out of Mind Out of Sight album (#2 on the national chart in
September). The single `Barbados'/`Tropic of Cancer' also made
#2 nationally (March 1985). `Barbados' was a reggae-tinged pop
ballad written by Duffield and sung by Freud, and despite its
sunny title was a morbid tale of alcoholism and impending suicide.
The video, directed by Richard Lowenstein, was influenced by The
Deer Hunter and several scenes had to be edited out in order for
it to be aired on prime-time television.
band's next single, `Out of Mind Out of Sight'/`Seeing is Believing'
(July 1985) shot to #1 on the national chart during August, establishing
Models as certified pop stars. The song was written and sung by
Freud, and was an energetic distillation of his glam-pop roots
and the band's brassy R&B predilections. It was the only Australian-recorded
single to attain #1 status during 1985. The band's next two singles,
`Cold Fever'/`Another Rainy Day' (October) and Kelly's reflective
`King of Kings'/ `Down in the Garden', `Out of Mind' (live) (Dec-ember),
were minor hits. In 1986 Models flew to the UK to record Models'
Media with producers Julian Mendelsohn and Mark Opitz, at Trevor
Horn's state-of-the-art Sarm West Studios in London. Meanwhile,
the Geffen label had released the `Out of Mind Out of Sight' single
in the USA (where it peaked at a respectable #36 in June), and
the band toured there during November as special guests of English
synth-pop band Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD).
Media came out in December 1986 and reached #12 at the start of
1987. Its three singles, the R&B flavoured `Evolution'/`Hell
to Breakfast' (August 1986), `Let's Kiss'/`A Man in a Boat' (November)
and `Hold on'/`Some Kind of Anger' (March 1987) reached #21, #27
and #21 respectively. `Evolution' was included on the soundtrack
to the American film Soul Man. Its inclusion was quite an honour
for a white, Australian rock band because the rest of the soundtrack
comprised black, American soul artists. In January, Models took
part in the monumental Australian Made tour across the country.
Also on the bill were Mental as Anything, The Triffids, I'm Talking,
The Saints, Divinyls, Jimmy Barnes and INXS. Models issued a version
of The Beatles' `Oh! Darling'/`Echoes in a Town Called Yamaha'
as a single in September 1987. It was not successful and proved
to be the band's final single. The Thank You Goodnight tour at
the start of 1988 was ostensibly run to cover debts and it was
obvious Models were on their last legs. The band's break-up was
not made official until June 1988.
initially went solo before forming the popular Absent Friends
with Duffield, Valentine, singer Wendy Matthews and INXS bassist
Garry Gary Beers. After Absent Friends split in 1990 (the band
was never designed to be a long-term venture), Kelly formed the
critically acclaimed R&B/soul/ funk outfit The Dukes which
lasted until 1994. Wendy Matthews has enjoyed a successful career
as a vocalist in her own right. James Valentine moved into television
work (as presenter of the ABC-TV's Afternoon Show and Racket)
and later radio broadcasting with the ABC's Radio National.
Freud relaunched his solo career in 1989 with the Bernard Edwards'
produced Step Into the Heat album. It was Mushroom's most expensive
album ever, but it was not successful. Freud then teamed up for
two years with Mental as Anything's Martin Plaza as dance pop
duo Beatfish. Mushroom issued the retrospective Models' Collection
in November 1993. That same month, Mushroom also reissued `I Hear
Motion' as a CD single which featured four remixes of the song
courtesy of techno-dance outfit Boxcar.
reissued Models’ biggest hit, ‘Out of Mind Out Of
Sight’, on CD single as part of the 25th anniversary celebrations
(April 1998). The CD featured the original single version with
bonus 12-inch dance remixes.
Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop / Ian McFarlane
under licence from Allen & Unwin Pty Ltd