almost impossible to reconcile that the group who shared their first single
with Boys Next Door would go on to become a pop band with a national No.1
single five years later.
While Boys Next Door
survived their entry into the world of record companies intact, their
Suicide Label contemporaries didn't, and the Models was formed in 1978 out of the remnants of Melbourne
neo-punk groups Teenage Radio Stars (Sean Kelly and Pierre Voltaire) and
JAB (Janis Freidenfelds and Ash Wednesday). After just a few gigs Voltaire
was replaced by Carlton musician Mark Ferrie, and when Ash Wednesday left
for solo projects, he was replaced by electronic-oriented Andrew Duffield.
It's that band which captured a quick and willing following and shared a
single with Boys Next Door which was given away at gigs. But the Models
weren't happy musically, were not getting on personally, and announced
their break-up in November 1979.
spread to Vanda and Young (ex-Easybeats, songwriters, producers of AC/DC)
who invited the group to record some demos in their studios. It was enough
to encourage the Models to reform, and over 1200 fans turned up for the
comeback performance at the Crystal Ballroom. After a national tour of
Australia with the Ramones and Midnight Oil, a bidding war broke out
amongst record companies for the Models' signature. To guarantee creative
control they chose to finance the sessions for their first album
themselves, before signing to Mushroom. The band refused to let the company
release a single from the pioneering electropop
During a February 1981 tour
with Police the President of A&M records saw the band and offered them
an international record contract. Replacing drummer Janis Freidenfelds with
Buster Siggs they set to work recording demos to send to an English
producer. The group was so pleased with the results those demos were
released as a mini-album 'Cut Lunch' in July. The English sessions
comprised the October album 'Local &/Or General', still casting the
Models in that experimental XTC advent guard pop category.
During 1982 the band went through line-up changes
which slowly but dramatically changed the Models into a completely
different and more accessible band. Sean Kelly had brought in his former
Teenage Radio Stars pal James Freud, who in the meantime had successfully
fronted the group Berlin. Barton Price joined on drums. Duffield quit and
rejoined. Revitalized, the Models recorded 'The Pleasure Of Your Company'
and its breakthrough single 'I Hear Motion' with producer Nick Launey,
putting more emphasis on their rhythm section and the pop accessibility of
next couple of singles failed to chart, Sean Kelly for one was convinced
that the band was finished and was in the process of rehearsing a new band
and a new set of songs when Mushroom informed the Models an American
producer, Reggie Lucas was being flown in at great expense to produce the
next single. 'Big On Love' gave the band another hit, and probably saved
their career. Again.
stage also, INXS' manager Chris Murphy stepped into the picture. INXS were
fans and encouraged him to take the Models on too, Murphy wanted the band
to stop mucking around and go for the big hit records. Andrew Duffield
thought they were being asked to sell out and said so publicly. He was
replaced by Roger Mason, formerly of James Freud's Berlin. By then the band
had also added sax player James Valentine. It was this group which recorded
'Out Of Mind Out Of
Sight' (YouTube) and its glam rock influenced title single, a number
one record in Australia in August 1985. As Murphy wanted, The Models had
turned into pop stars. With their single also charting in the US the group
flew to London to record another album. 'Models Media' would be their last.
was nothing really wrong with the album, it just didn't take the music
anywhere new, and the band which was always fragile internally just
imploded. But it was a slow death. 'Models Media' was released in December
1986. In September 1987 they released a version of the Beatles 'Oh
Darling', their final single. The band's break-up was not made official
until June 1991, following a tour to cover various debts.
Freud went on to a solo career, while Sean Kelly turned up as part of
Absent Friends with Wendy Matthews. In November 2000 James and Sean united
the Models for a round of live performances. Various versions of Models then
reforming for short tours, in 2006, and again in September 2008 to
celebrate the band's 30th anniversary.