Interview with Justin Sillivan from NEW MODEL ARMY
Interview was originally taken for website www.mountainrock.lt
A traditional question for an artist who comes to Lithuania. What do you know about this country? Justin was in Vilnius as a solo artist some years ago – what are your impressions?
Flat farmlands, dollar hungry traffic cops, alcohol, wild audiences, pirogi, empty roads, nostalgia for some mythical bygone age, musical roulette, the quiet of night.
Are you interested in countries you are touring – nature, culture, drinking habits of the population? Do you devote some time for exploring the said habits?
Yes and yes when we have the time…
Could you tell more about the music you’ll play in Kaunas? What are your expectations of the show?
We never decide exactly what we’re going to play until 10 minutes before the gig. It’ll be New Model Army music – which is to say thunderous, dark, strange, redemptive, cathartic and as loud as we’re allowed to be. Expectations – none except every time we play we try to make the earth and everything on it move. Sometimes it doesn’t but sometimes it does.
Politics or music – what is more important to you? Do you still consider rock’n’roll a means to spread the social message?
Our music always came first. But politics (meaning the issues of power) is a part of everyday life and has always been a part of culture/music etc. Yes I think rock’n'roll is a wonderful form of communication. It doesn’t change people’s minds but it makes people feel strengthened by a sense of unity with other people who feel the same way about the world – like it’s always better to go on a demonstration and know that you’re not alone rather than stay home in despair and throw things at the TV.
What’s your take on the current elections in Britain? And what do you think about the two-party system situation in Britain – do you find it undemocratic?
It’s not surprising that with a currently buoyant economy, low unemployment etc that the current government stayed in power. The cut majority was the result of the unpopularity of the War in Iraq and the fact that no one actually likes or believes Tony Blair. Also, most people still haven’t forgotten how the last Conservative government destroyed the country’s public services (schools, hospitals, trains etc). However capitalist economies are cyclical, the current boom is fuelled only by debt, and I think there is big trouble round the corner. As for democracy, all versions are pretty inperfect but they’re still better than the alternatives.
What bands would you consider your peers in music? Who are your favourite singers/guitarists?
The Who, Jimi Hendrix, Queens Of The Stoneage, The Ruts, The Temptations, Noir Desir… how long a list do you want?
It seems that your early sound was a cross between hard rock and post punk – really hard rocking rhythm section combined with post punk or sometimes even folk guitars. What were your general musical influences back then?
Just like today, anything and everything. Obviously we were influenced by Punk Rock but we were also very much into Northern Soul (’60s and ’70s American Soul music from Detroit/Chicago). That’s where the emphasis on rhythm section comes from.
What about nowadays – are you still getting influenced by other bands? What do you think about the current music?
We’re influenced by everything around us… And currently? Well, there’s always plenty of good music out there and there’s also always plenty of cheap copies made for money. If you’re looking for beauty and inspiration, that’s what you’ll find. If you’re looking to be cynical and dissatisfied, likewise.
Is the touring very tiresome? Does it influence the relations between the band members?
We haven’t done a huge amount of touring in the last few years, but personally I still love it after 25 years on the road. I still think it’s romantic to eat bad food at 3am in some forgotten part of a forgotten town. I love hotel rooms. I love looking out of the window as the miles go by. As for band members, it’s the only time we spend together; it makes us closer.
What are the nearest creative plans?
We’ve just finished our ninth studio album for release later this summer and we’ll be doing a few festivals before a full tour of Europe, America and beyond in the autumn/winter.
Are you a football fan only or do you care about other sports? Do you know Arvydas Sabonis or Sarunas Jasikevicius? They are well known Lithuanian basketball players.
No, but when a country lies mostly quite low and sea levels are rising it is good to have tall people.