Self-reliant sophistipop sextet Model Village have just released their latest EP ‘Burger Party’ on the POST/POP label. It’s the teaser for their new album which will follow this Autumn and surely expand the audience for the bright and breezy boy/girl jangle pop, so as you can imagine we are dead excited to introduce you to them to you, with an interview and the premiere of their brand new video ‘Back Together’ which is the lead track off that very same EP.
“Following hot on the heels of 2014 releases, ‘You Chose These Woes’ and ‘You Are Now Leaving The Future’ EP, the group have continued seamlessly in their quest to unite all forms of pop music with new vocalist Lily Somerville. Recorded both with regular collaborator Sam Inglis in the Northamptonshire countryside and with Mark Jasper at East London punk hit factory Sound Savers, ‘Burger Party’ tips a musical hat to everyone from the Housemartins to Make-Up; Tracy Chapman to The Band.”
Hi, Model Village! Tell us a bit about yourselves? Where are you from and who is in the band?
LILY: I’m Lily. I sing and play an electric ukulele, and I live in Middlesex. Not the kind of ukulele like what you get in the Barclaycard ads. just to clarify. Dan (bass & vox) and Ian (axe & vox) are mad science lads from Cambridge. Piers (axe) lives in Catford and has a cat. Kenny (keys) is kind of omniscient. He lives between London and Cambridge. And Kev (drums) lives in Istanbul because… yeah. I guess we like making things difficult.
DAN: Kev is still in Stockwell, at the time of writing, but he will indeed be in Turkey very soon. While bored the other day, I tried to figure out our average location and it turned out to be a golf course just outside Watton-at-Stone, very near to the excellently named village of Nasty. Originally, half of us are from the West Country and the other half are from East Anglia so every rehearsal is a recreation of Bad Boy vs. Death Row circa 1995.
IAN: Mark Blay from Fuzzy Lights/Violet Woods played drums on two tracks on the EP, though, as Kev was then in Korea, hating it. Kev enjoys travelling the world at inopportune moments for the band; it’s great!
You’ve got an EP out right now called ‘Burger Party’. It’s great! But the big question is, why that name?
LILY: Thanks very much, you’re very kind! I guess the name ‘Burger Party’ started out as a joke, but it also wound up Dan a treat so it sort of stuck. Long story short: our previous drummer Mark said he had attended a ‘burger party’ the weekend before and we thought that was weirdly specific. I started using it as a holding title for the next release and it kind of stuck.
IAN: It’s a terrible excuse for a name, in that it was genuinely a terrible excuse proffered by a member of the band for not doing a show. It stuck in the mind much as I hoped the actual burgers would stick in the throat of the particular band member
Is it right that most members of the band are also in other bands? Which ones?
LILY: Everyone else is far more talented than I am. I do odd bits and pieces, but nothing with any consistency or commitment. I’m singing backing for Peter Matthew Bauer at EOTR in September. That’ll be pretty rad.
DAN: That did use to be the case, but we’ve all calmed it down a bit. Piers plays with Slowgun, and I’m in Fuzzy Lights, but both of those bands have been pretty quiet recently. That’s about it right now, I think. I’d rather not be Cream because Eric Clapton’s a bit of a racist, Ginger Baker seems to be a massive arsehole, and Jack Bruce is dead.
IAN: Well, are we not all, in some way, members of that loose collective called the human race? And in another more mundane sense, yes we are all a bit free with our instruments, sticking them hither and yon in bands of varying degrees of competence, success and shamefulness. I’m not sure how active we all are right now, but a bunch of us just featured on Kenny’s amazing solo record ‘The Constant’ which is like a ‘Now That’s What I Call Music’ album from 1985 that he wrote and recorded himself! Also, Piers’ band Slowgun are festing again this summer through their O Genesis connections, and I think Lily is singing back up with Peter Bauer when he tours later this year.
You’ve just recorded a new album. Tell us about it! How similar is it to the last album?
LILY: Yes! We have a new album called ‘Healing Centre’ which is out in September so that’s going to be ace. I’m especially excited about it because it’s the first album with me on it (narcissism: check). I’ve been with Model Village for three years now and – up until recently – I haven’t had anything to give my mum! In terms of sound, I’d say it’s probably a bit funkier than the last record, and it’s got some mad synth. I think that description is pretty accurate.
DAN: The new record is with the pressing company, and should be coming out in October, depending on when we can actually get our hands on the discs. It’s a bit more upbeat and groovy than previous efforts – I think we were trying to hit that sweet spot between Steely Dan, Orange Juice and the music from Grease.
You recorded it on a boat right? How and Why? How did it affect the recording?
LILY: Embarrassingly, I have a weird hip so I actually needed help on and off the boat. I still fell over a couple of times, too. It was only really noticeable when the tide was up, but when other boats went by and everything wobbled it was well boaty.
DAN: We recorded most of our previous album there, and we got on well with Ben who runs the studio so it seemed like a good idea to return there. He has a zero-tolerance policy on Ugg boots, which is something I can buy into.
What bands do you listen to yourself and what do you think of the current state of the music industry?
LILY: I mean, I pretty much just listen to ‘You Can Call Me Al’ and ‘No Diggity’ on repeat. I’m not as musically literate as the other lads. And I like Sweet Baboo, Allo Darlin’, Rilo Kiley, Talking Heads, Of Montreal and Blondie. Those are some other bands I also like. On tour, we spent a lot of time listening to ABBA and Be Faithful by Fatman Scoop. I don’t know if this is the kind of establishment to admit that, though…
DAN: I’ve been playing the new Dick Diver LP a lot. My mate told me the other day that we reminded him of them, which I take to be a massive compliment. The “music industry” is as self-obsessed and depressing as ever, so it’s nice to remain on the outside of it.
IAN: I’ve managed to avoid the music industry very successfully over the years by adopting a number of coping strategies. Such as only listening to Radio 4 and scrunching my eyes up in the newsagents so I can only see the X-Men comics I buy for my son. As far as I can see when I go to shows to see my friends play, it seems ok! You know, instruments still work and people clap and dance sometimes. I guess I set a low bar. It’s certainly the case that there are still lots of excellent groups churning out solid work in the styles to which I am accustomed; e.g. The Wharves, Stealing Sheep, Cantaloupe, Bodyheat (who just put out a great mini album), Catenary Wires, Hey Colossus, Henry Blacker, Kogumaza, Hookworms, Grey Hairs, The Horse Loom, etc all in the UK, and on a larger scale Run The Jewels, St Vincent, Ex Hex, and The Julie Ruin are all fighting the good fight. Selling things does seem to be a bit tougher these days, but then I know that some bands I’m mates with can shift vinyl/t-shirts etc like nobody’s business. It seems to me that, as it ever was, going out and playing is still the gold standard for getting your music into people’s hands, and that the means of getting people interested in coming out to see you play is what’s shifting, from big organisations/personalities to a much more granular and piecemeal form of tastemaking. This is hardly news in the mid teens, it boils down to word of mouth/hit the road vs spend a shitload on PR and glossy promo. Both of which can be a shot in the dark.
You have released couple of things on cassette tape. What is the appeal of the format?
LILY: I think that everyone of a certain age has fond memories of taping songs off the radio. I guess nostalgia just brings a smile. Oh, and I won a Playstation off the Pepsi Chart back in the 90s once, mid-way through one of my epic radio-taping sessions. So yeah, only good things come from tapes.
DAN: I am still bitter about losing a box containing hundreds of cassettes about 10 years ago, so including Model Village in the gradual recreation of this collection is deeply pleasing. Ever since I moved to Cambridge there has been a mysterious defunct shop down a back street called Roll On Blank Tapes that holds great appeal to me. I’m hoping that the resurgence in cassettes will cause this landmark site to reopen.
IAN: I like the cost effective nature of it, it provides a physical object to attach significance (and download codes) to without bankrupting the artist/label/purchaser. Also for folks of a certain vintage, tapes have an extra layer of significance. The first time we heard most of the music we came to love was on these hissy plastic bundles of joy. That’s how tunes were spread around, copies of copies of stuff off the radio etc. I can still smell the Maxells and the Memorex (which autocorrects to memories). Then when we started bands the first thing you could get out to people were tapes, and that linked your expression to the world for the first time! These were important artefacts; I have given away my last two tape decks to friends and family who I knew wanted to dig back into the crates for some of the old analogue wealth, so I am down to one boom box in the house, but I keep my eye on freecycle. Jed from the POST/POP label, who releases our cassette material, has an incredible Nakamichi deck. In fact I’d wager that, that deck, along with his office full of vintage video games, is the reason we are label mates with The Prodigy and Daphne & Celeste. Their track is great, it was produced by Max Tundra who, by the way, is a stone cold genius and made one of my favourite albums of this century ‘Mastered by Guy at the Exchange’ which everyone should own.
You’re spread across the country between Cambridge and London. Do you rehearse via Skype?
LILY: Google Hangout* is our Internet communication platform of choice. But we mainly rehearse face to face, because we actually like each other and that. (*other technologies are available)
IAN: Model Village use and endorse Google Hangout video time wasting. Unfortunately, owing to the extreme levels of cat ownership amongst members. It swiftly degenerates into something resembling a particularly slow episode of that terrible E4 program about the Internet. So there’s no substitute for a good old fashioned 100 mile round trip to a windowless room on an industrial estate for a quick game of “spot the broken amp”, “cymbal or bin lid?” or “what’s that smell? Electrical burning or mould edition” 9.
Besides the album, what do Model Village have planned for the future?
LILY: I’m still waiting to do a Halloween gig where we can legitimately dress up as KISS. Ian selfishly has his birthday on Halloween, so that’s probably not going to happen any time soon though. I’d like to do another album. I think we’ve got another one in us. Piers has written a pretty sweet afrobeat-style song that the world needs to hear. I’d write a song or two for the next release myself, but I’m not sure how the other lads feel about rap breakdowns. Still feeling that one out.
DAN: We’ve got a couple of gigs in the pipeline, but need to sort some more. We toured mostly the North earlier this year, so we’ve committed to try and play a bunch of Southern dates before the year is out. Anyone who puts on gigs within about an hour of London should definitely drop us a line. Other than that, I’d like to do a split 7″ with Janelle Monae – how do we make that happen?
IAN: Slow march towards the grave, heat death of universe, more gigs, persuade Kenny to do his electro-pop album live.
You can buy Model Village’s new EP here: