Models were formed in 1978 and developed from an
environment of numerous Punk and New Wave bands, two of which were Teenage Radio
Stars which included singer and guitarist Sean Kelly and bass guitarist Peter
Sutcliffe (aka Pierre Voltaire); and JAB which included Ash Wednesday on
keyboards, Sutcliffe on Bass and Janis Friedenfelds (aka Johnny Crash) on drums and
percussion. They were more pop influenced than the earlier Punk bands and had a
wider appeal. The initial version of the group did not stay together for long
as Sutcliffe was soon replaced on bass guitar by Mark Ferrie (ex-Myriad), then
in August 1979, Wednesday was replaced by Andrew Duffield, formerly of 'Little Band' Whirlywirld on keyboards. Their first release in October 1979 was a give-away, shared
single, 'Early Morning Brain (It's Not Quite the Same as Sobriety)'
backed with The Boys Next Door's 'Scatterbrain'. Friction within the
band led to their break-up in November 1979, however ex-The Easybeats members, Harry Vanda
and George Young, who were now record producers and songwriters, asked Models
to cut some demos – so they reformed at the end of December 1979. Their second
single, 'Owe You Nothing' appeared in August 1980. Both singles were
released on independent labels and did not chart on the Top 40 Australian
singles chart according to the Kent Music Report.
Models' early style was a spiky, distinctive blend of New Wave, glam rock, dub and pop: which included Kelly's strangled singing voice, Duffield's virtuoso synthesizer performances (he used the EMS Synthi AKS), and the band's cryptic, slightly gruesome, lyrics which were mostly written or co-written by Kelly. Between 1980–82 Models performed extensively both locally and interstate, supporting bands such as the Ramones, The B-52's, XTC, The Vapors and Midnight Oil on national tours. Rather than signing immediately to a record compnay, the group financed the recording of their first album to guarantee creative control, and in November 1980 released their first album, 'Alphabravocharliedeltaechofoxtrotgolf'. They then signed to Mushroom Records and, as a sign of its respect for the band, the label agreed not to release any singles from the album, which peaked at No. 43 on the Australian Kent Music Report Albums Chart.
Early in 1981, following a support slot for The Police, the group signed an international deal with A&M Records. Friedenfelds was replaced on drums by Mark Hough (aka Buster Stiggs) from New Zealand band The Swingers before recording commenced on their international label release. Friedenfields went on to play with Sacred Cowboys, Beasts of Bourbon, The Slaughtermen and Tombstone Hands. In June, the demo sessions for the new album so impressed the band that they were released as a 10" album, 'Cut Lunch', which were produced by Tony Cohen and Models except one by Split Enz keyboard player Eddie Rayner. 'Cut Lunch' peaked at No. 37 on the albums chart and at No. 38 on the singles chart. In October, their second full-length album 'Local &/or General' was released. It had been recorded in the United Kingdom with Stephen Tayler producing and peaked at No. 30. Both albums helped widen their audience nationally, thanks to regular radio exposure on Triple J in Sydney, as well as national TV exposure through their innovative music videos on programs such as pop music show Countdown.
During 1982, further line-up
changes occurred with Ferrie and Hough leaving early in the year. Ferrie went
on to form Sacred Cowboys with Garry Gray and Terry Doolan, and
Hough became a graphic artist, art director and designer.
James Freud (ex-Teenage Radio Stars with Sean Kelly, James Freud & Berlin) joined the band
on bass guitar and vocals, with John Rowell on guitar and Graham Scott on drums
Rowell and Scott left Models in May 1982, with Duffield following.
drummer, Barton Price (ex-Crocodiles, Sardine v) joined on drums, and the band recorded a single 'On', which was produced by veteran rocker, Lobby Loyde, and released in August.
It had no mainstream chart success, but peaked at No. 1 on the independent
Gus Till (ex-Beargarden) briefly joined on keyboards until
Duffield rejoined in December. Models officially lasted until 1988 with several more line-up changes and several mainstream hits under their belt. They are one of the major success stories to emerge from from the early Melbourne Punk scene.
Models line-up included: Sean Kelly – Vocals/Guitar/Clarinet, Janis Friedenfelds aka Johnny Crash – Drums/Percussion, Peter Sutcliffe aka Pierre Voltaire – Bass, Ash Wednesday – Keyboards, Mark Ferrie – Bass, Andrew Duffield – Keyboards, Mark Hough aka Buster Stiggs – Drums, James Freud – Vocals/Bass, John Rowell – Guitar , Graham Scott – Drums, Barton Price – Drums , Gus Till – Keyboards.
Models - Early Morning Brain.mp3
- Main Image - Models 1982/83 - Courtesy Retro Universe
- Background Image - 'Early Morning Brain' single 1979 - Source required
- Sean Kelly 1979 - Photo by Anne Jordan
- Johnny Crash 1979 - Photo by Anne Jordan
- 'Early Morning Brain' single sleeve - Courtesy of Timothy Hughes
- Models line-up mid 1980 - Courtesy Retro Universe
- Models line-up mid early 1981 - Courtesy Retro Universe
- 'Alphabravocharliedeltaechofoxtrotgolf' album cover - Courtesy Retro Universe
- 'Local &/or General' album cover - Courtesy Retro Universe
- Sean Kelly, Gus Till , James Freud, Barton Price 1982 - Photos by Debra Mineely
- MP3 Track -'Early Morning Brain' 1979 - Crystal Ballroom Records (Kelly)
- McFarlane, Ian (1999): The Encyclopedia of Australian Rock & Pop, pp.423-424: Allen & Unwin