Celebrate 30 Years of New Model Army with an Exclusive C-Notes Q&A

No, thats not Metallica
  • No, that's not Metallica

New Model Army is one of the best post-punk outfits Great Britain has ever produced. Led by the larger-than-life Justin Sullivan, the English rock band has been playing politically-tinged rock anthems for three decades, a journey that goes from 1984’s Vengeance to 2009’s Today Is a Good Day. Settling in on 30 years of artful, aggressive rock & roll, NMA is planning a number of summer shows for its 30th anniversary. Alas, there will be only two shows in the U.S. and both are in New York City, but since NMA is one of the few rock bands whose balls are as big as its visions, we decided to ask Sullivan a few questions to get his insights on the tour, the band’s latest album, and our future membership in New Model Army. —Keith Gribbins

Hey, happy 30 years New Model Army! There aren’t many bands with such longevity. So congrats — we’re big fans. It looks like you have a slew of 30 Anniversary shows playing (mostly) all over Europe this summer. Tell us about the tour.

We’re doing various festivals through the summer (including Glastonbury) — pretty much as normal. When it comes to the Anniversary shows, we’re doing a series of two-night stands. The format of the shows will be two sets on each night — the first starting acoustically and building up over 50 minutes or so. Then a short 20-minute break before another full-on set of up to 100 minutes. The following evening we will do the same but with 100 percent different material. Our promise is to play at least four songs from each of the 13 studio albums — not in any in chronological order. It’s possible that we may also feature guest appearances from one or two friends and former members on some nights, but nothing is fixed at this point. We hope also to include a display of at least a small part of the New Model Army “One Tribe” Exhibition of original artwork and memorabilia — depending on the nature and geography of the venue and other “logistics.”

Alas, I see you’re only playing one show in the States — The Bellhouse in Brooklyn, N.Y. (Sept 3 & 4). Hmmm…..How can we convince you to perhaps play Cleveland, Ohio? We’ve been waving the NMA flag here since my buddy’s big brother let us borrow a cassette of The Ghost of Cain. Why aren’t you touring America more (still having visa problems)?
It’s just going to be the weekend in Brooklyn. We still have visas from the Today Is A Good Day tour but they run out a couple of days after Brooklyn. U.S. working visas are really expensive and we’re never sure if we’re going to get them anyway given our various visa problems in the past. All I can say is that it’s a one-off and will never happen again so, for anyone that ever loved the band, these will be the shows to get to. And it does already look like there’s going to be quite a gathering from people all over the states (and beyond).

You’re also touring on the heels of 2009s Today Is a Good Day — another awesomely raucous set of NMA’s anthemic politically-tinged punk rock. This is your 13th studio album — is that right? At this point can the band just whip up a 12-song set of fists-in-the-air rock hymns in a weekend? How do you challenge yourselves?
Actually it was written in a month and recorded in 12 days. We went through that thre years in a studio phase in the mid-‘90s. Never again. It was written in the wake of the Wall Street Crash, and in autumn, which is when I always feel most creative…

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