Camden Rocks preview: New Model Army

Camden Rocks will kick off on May 30 at over 20 venues around London’s NW1.

The line-up features headliners Bullet For My Valentine, While She Sleeps…And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead, Ginger Wildheart, Glen Matlock, The Dictators NYC, Heavens Basement, Black Spiders, Dinosaur Pile-Up, Richie Ramone, Feed The Rhino and more.

New Model Army’s Justin Sullivan tells TeamRock the secret of crafting a festival set from an extensive back catalogue and how to survive 35 years as a band…

It’s a remarkable 35 years since NMA played their first ever live gig: what drives you and this band on in 2015? “Trying to create something. This has always been the point; new ways of doing things, new things to write about, new musical ideas.”

Last year saw the release of Matt Reid’s brilliant documentary on NMA – ‘Between Dog and Wolf’: watching it back must have brought back some mixed emotions, as it’s such a powerful story. “It’s an interesting movie in that it caught some of the essence of the band and used the music very well but it is very concentrated on the past. If I’m honest, it all feels a little bit like a different life. We’re not too interested in the past or counting the scars along the way.”

Throughout your career, New Model Army have managed to retain an integrity which has often been at odds with the mainstream music world: do you see yourselves as “outsiders” and is that where you’re happiest? “Yes, I think that’s given us strength. We’ve never been interested in ‘success’ for its own sake, so in the end we have total artistic integrity and freedom. A bit of a bloody-minded attitude was one of the legacies of our early years and even the newer members who have come into the band share this.”

Your most recent studio album, 2013’s ‘Between Dog and Wolf’, received some of the best reviews of your career: are critics finally beginning to understand what this band is about? “Perhaps. I think people eventually begin to recognise that we’re still here and still creating interesting and strong music – and that we never cared what anyone thought about us.”

As one of the most experienced acts on the Camden Rocks bill, what the best piece of career advice you could pass along to the younger artists on the line-up? “Do it for its own sake, because you love it. Then you have nothing to lose. Listen to other people and learn as much as you can but never try to please anyone but yourselves.”

Given the huge catalogue of songs at your disposal, how do you go about putting together a set-list for a festival like Camden Rocks? “With difficulty and lots of discussion – but in the end something that flows and goes somewhere.”

Describe the current NMA mind-set in five words. “It’s all in the music.”

New Model Army play Camden’s Jazz Cafe on May 30 at 9.30pm. For full details and stage times, see the Camden Rocks official website.

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.