MODEL CITIZENS - Shift The Blame (1979)
New Wave,No Wave
01 Shift The Blame
02 Animal Instincts
03 I Am Honest
04 You Are What You Wear
Link to download:
You can find every info (pics,interviews etc.) about Model Citizens on my Myspace site:
"...Another challenge many bands on the CB's/Max's circuit seemed to welcome and rise to: how much art they could incorporate into their songs and still be considered a 'rock band,' albeit one that nightclubbers could appreciate as a leftfield rejuvenation of the familiar. At one extreme, some stuck to keeping it more or less traditional; others turned their backs on rock-as-we-know-it and pushed the envelope far into the abstract, resulting in the No Wave stream of bands like Mars, DNA and Lydia Lunch's maiden voyage of sonic intolerance, Teenage Jesus. Then there was a handful - like the Model Citizens and Come On - that did a damn good job of walking the Art/Rock slackrope.
Not much is known about either group, really; it's as if - like so many on the circuit - they materialized out of the subway grates, fully formed, ready to take on New York clubland. The Model Citizens' recorded legacy - a 1979 EP on art/punk pioneer John Cale's short-lived Spy imprint - does at least include a rather stylish group portrait: three Gordon Gekkos in training, decked out in high Wall Street, flanking two young ladies who look like they'd just come from a Roxy Music album cover audition. Young Republican though the outward appearance might have been, however, the music of the Model Citizens was anything but. For one thing, it seemed to delight in energetically spasmodic time signatures that would have surely given Zappa pause. Furthering the FZ parallels, one of their lead instruments was the marimba, played with a gusto that echoed the work of legendary Mothers percussionist Ruth Underwood.
Basically, the Model Citizens took the oddball, oddly arranged (dare I say progressive?) strategies of a select few - Zappa, Gong perhaps, most certainly Phillip Glass - and distilled them into something leaner, spikier, more anxious and intense. It was a sensibility right in tune with that of other musical absurdists of the time - the Akron/Clevo axis of DEVO, Ubu and Tin Huey, the ascendant B-52's.
In fact, one could make a case for Gloria Richards and Eugenie Diserio (the Citizens' female faction) being the darker, neurotic response to Kate and Cindy's Martian Beach Party proselytizing. The opening cut on the EP, "Shift The Blame", finds Gloria and Genie in a hyperactive snit over some verbal faux pas, their voices rising from a trill to a shriek ("People don't know what to think... just say what you mean!"), while the music alternates between a lurching funk and a sort of New Wave take on the Can-Can. The pair's other star turn, the equally frenetic "Animal Instincts", has them milking Yoko Ono's infamous ululations for all the sex and violence they're worth - proof that the 52 Girls weren't the only ones worshipping at the then languishing altar of Mrs. Lennon. Yet another vocal gambit distinguishes the other EP track of note, "You Are What You Wear": a muffled, Gregorian mumbling courtesy the entire group - foreshadowing a similar device used by (ripped off by?) Lou Reed on "The Bells" - that peels off into individual turns over hacksaw guitar, funhouse organ, a now-silky-now-jagged rhythm bed, and of course the omnipresent marimba.
With this EP would soon follow the inevitable split into other minor club attractions, some of whom even got to record themselves: the Dance, 2 Yous. The most notable of these offshoots must surely have been Polyrock, in Hey-Presto time taken under the wing of acknowledged hero Phillip Glass, and whose first LP (of three) for RCA featured such early 80's rock-disco floor fillers as "#7" and "Your Dragging Feet." In an amusing turn of events, in the '90's, Polyrock would also find themselves characters in the parallel universe of Bruce Sterling's amazing piece of speculative rock and roll fiction, "Dori Bangs." " http://www.furious.com/PERFECT/cbgbsunknowns.html
"I saw these guys at CBGB's in '79, opening for John Cale, who produced this EP. I loved them from the very first. Don't know where you can get their stuff, if you can. What I'm playng is a wretched, buzzy transfer from the original vinyl single. Like so many local bands from the era, nothing has yet surfaced digitally. Once I get a decent transfer (the vinyl's in pretty good shape) if anyone wants to hear them I'll send out copies. You can really hear Cale's influence -- and David Byrne's, by the way, just out of the zeitgeist of downtown NYC 1979."
THE FOUNDING MEMBERS OF MODEL CITIZENS WERE:
Steve Alexander - guitar, vocals
Eugenie Diserio - farfisa, vocals
Tomek Lamprecht - guitar, vocals
Gloria Richards - marimba, vocals
THEY WERE JOINED BY:
Billy Robertson - bass
Bob Medici - drums
"Model Citizens" EP, 1978, produced by John Cale, Spy Records
Carnegie Hall, NYC, "The First Concert of the '80s", 1979
Cotton Club, Harlem, NYC, 1979
Max's Kansas City, NYC, many times, 1978-79
CBGB, NYC, many times, 1978-79
Hurrah's, NYC, many times, 1979
Steven Alexander & Eugenie Diserio went on to form The Dance - released
one EP, Dance For Your Dinner, 1980, GoGo Records (Dist. by Rough Trade);
two LPs, In Lust and Soul Force, 1981 & 1982, Statik UK Records.
Alexander & Diserio also produced & composed music for Chandra
"Transportation" EP, 1980, GoGo Records.
Steven Alexander is now a painter and an art professor living and working
in eastern Pennsylvania. See http://stevenalexanderstudio.blogspot.com
Eugenie Diserio (http://www.genieeasy.com) the founder of Internet site Astronet, which provides horoscopes, taro readings and other astrological entertainment via Internet; photo ,and made large amounts of money as a .com entrepreneur, and
retired to Connecticut.
Tomek Lamprecht & Gloria Richards went on to form 2Yous. No recordings.
Billy Robertson went on to form Polyrock, releasing several LPs on RCA Records, one produced by Philip Glass. Recently living in Europe and stop playing music.Bob Medici went on to play drums for many successful touring bands,
including Lou Reed and John Campbell. http://www.eggchairmusic.com/contact.html
Few months ago STEVE ALEXANDER was so kind to reply my questios,you can read his answers below:
How did you get the idea to found Model Citizens?
Why did you choose this name?
What was the "philosophy" of the band?
"We started Model Citizens as a sort of Performance Art project. The fourof us had just finished our MFA degrees as Columbia, and were very involved in the international contemporary art scene, but were looking for a more direct interaction with the audience, as well as a form of expression that was more visceral and a bit less cerebral (and more fun).
There was beginning to be some interesting cross-fertilization between the NY artists and the Downtown musicians (Patti Smith, Television, Talking Heads, Ramones). It was a very intersting & exciting time in NYC. So Tomek & I both had guitars from our garage band days, and we started playing together, making these sort of abstract sound-scapes, and Eugenie & Gloria began writing words that they chanted with the "music".
The whole process was quite envigorating, and we quickly decided to make it a project. But
we weren't interested in just being a band -- it was more like a concept, the idea being to create a parody of punk rock while still tapping into it's energy and intensity. Thus the name Model Citizens -- instead of ripped T-shirts, we dressed in business suits, and looked like very proper dorks. But on stage we sort of freaked out, and made music that was loud,
fast, and very dissonant."
Some people compare your music to Devo and Talking Heads.
What is your opinion on it?
"There's no doubt Talking Heads were an early inspiration, but they were much less "tongue-in-cheek". David Byrne came to many of our shows, and even served as Guest DJ at one of our gigs at Hurrah's. Model Citizens were in full swing when we heard the first Devo record, and we all loved their concept.
Some of our contemporaries in the NY Underground who we respected were DNA, Contortions, Klaus Nomi, Suicide. But maybe the most important influence on Model Citizens music was Captain Beefheart.
When we were starting Model Citizens, we were also inspired by what was happening in the art world -- particularly the early performances of Laurie Anderson at a small space called the Kitchen, as she began her explorations of multi-media musical narratives. Also, Philip Glass was doing informal loft concerts with his electric keyboard ensemble where the audience just sat or reclined on the floor while waves of high volume sound washed through them. So we were exploring some similar ideas, but wanted to bring it into the rock clubs where more people had access to it, and where it could feed on rock & roll energy.
Also, I forgot to mention another important band at that time -- Pere Ubu, like DEvo from Akron, Ohio, but more abstract and textured musically - we felt a great affinity with them."
Why didnt you released more songs?
Why did you split up?
One of my friend told he heard about other unreleased recors
(demos/live).Where could i get them?
"The one Model Citizens record, even though it's produced by John Cale, does not even come close to the intensity of the music -- it sounds like a toy version of the band. The live band was much more dense, dark, and dissonant -- really more like rhythmic noise, and very loud. There were probably many live recordings made of Model Citizens -- definitely at CBGB, where they recorded everything -- live videos made by Paul Tschinkel for his Inner Tube cable tv show, and a beautiful film of a live show at Hurrah, made by a filmmaker named Peter Frank. I have no idea where any of these things are.
After the release of our EP, we were intensely courted by Warner Bros. Records, and were about to sign an insanely large record deal when something happened at the label to cause the deal to fall through. At that point Eugenie & I took it as a sign that it was time to do something else. The "performance project" had taken on a life of its own, but was never intended to be a long term project.
I also remembered that a video of an early performance at CBGB and many photographs were done by a guy named Bill Bonano. But I haven't heard from him since."
Who designed the covers of the Ep?
"The music and visuals of Model Citizens were all a collaboration among the four of us. But if I remember right, the EP cover was mostly designed by Tomek who had a job working in a design studio at the time. He and Gloria took the cover photo while walking in Central Park one day."
You mentioned that you and Tomek played in garage bands before
formed Model Citizens.What were they called?
"Tomek & I met in Graduate School at Columbia U. where we were studying painting. The only thing I know about his musical past is that he had a guitar and knew how to play rock n roll licks. So he must have played in bands in his teenage years in Poland where he grew up. I played first drums and then guitar in many garage bands from 1965 on. I think the first band I had was called The Pursuers of Time (I was 12 years old). Later I played acoustic music solo, but nothing too serious. I was much more dedicated to painting."
How did you write the songs in Model Citizens?
How did you select the songs for the album and how many songs have
you written actually?
"The writing process in Model Citizens was very collaborative. Although sometimes one of us would come in with a complete song, usually it would be just a riff or a musical or lyrical idea, and the band would then go to work fleshing it out. Usually songs were complete chaos for a long time, then everyone would settle into their various parts and the song would come together. I don't remember how we chose the songs for the EP -- but they were not necessarily our best songs. We probably wrote about 30 or more songs. Usually whomever wrote the lyrics did the lead vocal, so we each sang lead on a fairly equal number of songs."
who was your audience? And who did you want to reach?
"Our audience was New York Downtown artists, musicians, performers, as well as just New Yorkers who were interested in the cutting edge of art and music at the time. The record exec at Warner Brothers (Bob Krasnow - the same guy who signed Devo and Captain Beefheart) thought we could reach a mass audience --- but I don't know -- the music was pretty "out there"."
What are your memories of your first and last concerts with Model
Which concert did you enjoy most?
"Our first public appearance was at CBGB at their Monday Audition Night. We rocked --- the CBGB sound man came up to us after the set and said "hold on to your hats, you guys are going to be huge". That was very exciting, and the live audience was very envigorating -- especially for a bunch of painters. I don't remember much about our last show, but I think it was at Max's Kansas City on a double bill with the Contortions. You have to understand that the entire life of Model Citizens was about one year -- and that was almost 30 years ago. I do know that the music we were writing at the end was quite different from the EP --- more stretched out rhythmic grooves, more music and less vocals, still quite dissonant, but highly
Some questions about the clubs you mentioned:
What differences were there between the clubs, e.g was the audience
Which one was the best for you and why?
Which bands did you play with?
Was there a competition among the bands,or did you help each other?
Did you have friends from other bands?
"When we started there were really just 2 clubs for this sort of music --CBGB and Max's -- both GREAT rock n roll clubs -- down and dirty, very small and grungy with great sound systems. Everybody went to these two clubs -- on any night you might see Joey Ramone, David Byrne, Elvis Costello, David Bowie, Frank Zappa, Mick Jagger, plus lots of artists and writers etc.
Then came the new "Dance-Rock" clubs -- Hurrah's and the Mudd Club --slicker, with a DJ playing tunes between bands, and a dance floor in front of the stage instead of tables. Both types had their advantages -- I think the early rock clubs were a much more intense experience -- for the band and the audience -- very confrontational.
We played double bills with -- DNA, Suicide, Contortions, Klaus Nomi -- the best of the younger NYers. There was very little communication and much competition among bands."
How did you meet John Cale,and how did he become your producer?
How did you work together and were you free to do what you wanted?
"John Cale approached us about recording on his Spy label. It was a greeeat honor to work with him -- basically, we just recorded live in the studio -- the only overdub I remember was the swirling sound in the bridge of You Are What You Wear, which John added ( and we were
not happy with --- that bridge was supposed to be jerky &; disjointed, but his part made it smooth)."
Thank you for your time Steve!
Tomek Lamprecht interview:
"It's somewhat disconcerting and at the same time gratifying to hear that there is still some interest in a project we've done some 30-some years ago. I read your interview with Steve and it seems that his account is quite considerate and accurate. There are, of course, some things I would describe differently, but that would be expected given the time and personal intensity of four young hungry egos, exposure and nature of involvement. The following are some augmentations.
Gloria and I always saw the Model Citizens as an art performance project. It was really meant as a a more-or-less one time show. We didn’t have much expectations pass being able to get four artists up on a stage in an edgy, non-art context to communicate some ideas. Increasingly, this context seemed to some of us diluted with Model Citizens trajectory of deeper dive into the commercial rock/pop/record industry. We started the band because we wanted to take art outside of the predictable and confining limits of the fine art world. We saw the politics of that world as highly hypocritical and myopic. We saw them as antithesis of all the high values, theory and philosophical ideals that we tried to aspire to and claim. We were quite modernistic theory driven and idealistic. Our starting a band with four painters — only a couple of them able to play instruments — meant taking what we thought essential in art and potentially sticking it into mass media context with total deliberateness, abandon and conviction. (BTW: although we have agreed to always share the credit for all the work the majority of music was written by me, some by Steve with Gloria and Eugenie occasionally writing some lyrics.) In the end, and given the relative notoriety we’ve reached, a fork in the road occurred; we could either become more of a commercial entity as some of the subsequent offshoots of the bad had, or we could pursue the art aspect further which is what we originally intended and were ultimately interested in. Some of us chose the former. Gloria and I thought it was more interesting and important to do the latter. And so we formed 2Yous.
This was a multimedia art performance project. The music was mostly a vehicle and was not meant to be the focus but rather a time devise that would give the underlying structure to the duration and energy of the performance. There are many recordings of the soundtracks, none of them released. The music was tightly composed for the performance. We didn’t use musicians and introduced pre-recorded tape (arguably before the now common application among many commercial performers) as accompaniment to the live instruments we played. The music was a build of one continuous piece, a symphony, not a collection of songs and it was mostly instrumental. It was not easy, it was funk and counter-pantually based, and only inferentially ‘pop’. The performance comprised of film, slide projections and video. We performed it in commercial venues, just like the Model Citizens, but increasingly in alternate art/performance spaces like Kitchen in New York and and on our European tours, in places like Mazzo, Amsterdam, New Morning, Geneva and Kunsthale in Basel.
At the end of 1982 I reached a point in which I felt I needed to do things on my own and outside of collaborations. At the end of that year I went on a European tour of my first solo performance piece called “Departure Syndrome”. It was pretty much along the same lines as my project with 2Yous. After coming back to New York I was offered to make a record of the soundtrack of that performance with a small English label (I forget their name), I think an offshoot of CBS records. Apparently their release of the band Simple Minds delayed the release of my album and I negotiated to get the funds from them to release it under my own label ATL Records. My first solo album called TOMEK was released in the spring of 1983. It was the first record recorded with the use of the sampling, digital sound generator computer Fairlight CMI — the first system of that kind in the world. I played all instruments on the recording except for wonderful Michael Gallasso on violin and Rico Espinett on conga.
While performing the music with a band in NY clubs I also started another project with classical violinist and composer Michael Galasso and great dancer/choreographer Frank Conversano called “Before Religion”. This was musically classical piece that was a tight collaboration between three of us. The piece was a fusion of live music performance— violin and my double-neck guitar/base — and choreography. We premiered it at the Kitchen and performed it also in various clubs and alternate spaces. I remember there was a video made of one of the performances at Danceteria, a club in Chelsea.
In the same year I was approached by some producers and staff of the A&R Studios in Manhattan and asked to record some ‘hit songs’. The main A&R studio on the corner of 53rd and 6th (I think...) was the last studio designed to accommodate full orchestras for movie soundtracks recordings. Rolling Stones’ Sticky Fingers and a lot of Steely Dan records were produced there. It was a phenomenal place, unfortunately erased and replaced by Marriott Hotel (or something like it) in 1985 or so. In any case, I wrote some songs and, then, having some money to spend on production, proceeded to hire a few prominent and quite fantastic New York session musicians to execute them. The result was my other solo album called “Love & Hate” also released under ATL label.
After middle 80’s I kept recording in my own studio on 17th street but switched gears to producing, what I called ‘music poems’ that were ‘narrowcast’ and done mostly for individuals rather than a mass audience. There is a library of the unreleased material somewhere in a storage. At that time I also went back to producing ‘real estate art’, i.e. paintings, sculpture, installations, other objects that took physical space. I also taught in various art schools from Parsons School of Art and Design to Baruch College, Savannah School of Art and Design, SVA and others. I curated shows, shoed my art and ran my book design business.
In the middle of the 90’s I got increasingly involved with advertising. It was something I always did peripherally and sporadically, but it became more interesting to me as an idea of artist's active participation in the core of society. It seemed more interesting to do than being traditionally locked in the ghetto of the fine arts world. In 2000 I transferred my base from NY to San Francisco after the largest advertising agency in US, Grey Global Group asked me to open, build and head operations for them there (more info about that at: http://www.thomaslamprecht.com
). After several years and some other key involvements I am presently gigging as the VP, Executive Creative Director at the Hacker Group in Seattle (http://www.hackergroup.com).
Some side notes:
After I decided to depart from 2Yous I lost all contact with my former partner Gloria Richards. As it follows, I also lost all records, including any recordings and visual materials. If anyone, I think she would have them but I have no contact info for her. Steve may be a better source for that, and if not, Eugenie. It was nice to hear something of Steve. Since about 1982 I had no contact with any former Model Citizens barring running into some of them on the street many years ago.
Thank you so much for your interest. I hope this info is of some value."
Rob Medici interview:
"Thank you for the email, I am wondering how in the world anyone would hear about the Model Citizens thirty years after the fact, let alone in Hungary, but this is the internet age, so I guess anything is possible...
I am happy to talk about my musical life after the Model Citizens and I will try to give you something here, but it might be best for you to ask specific questions if you have them.
The thing that comes to mind first is how hard we worked as a group and how fast things happened for the band as far as the scene in New York was at the time. I moved to New York in August of 1978. Gloria Richards was a very good friend of mine when we were both teenagers in Portland Oregon. She ended up in New York attending Columbia University, where she met Tomek, Steve and Eugenie, the four of them moved into two gigantic lofts in Harlem, very close to Columbia U. on 129th Street and Broadway. She basically called me out of the blue and asked if I wanted to come to New York to join their band. Obviously I said yes. The first show we did was at a Ukrainian meeting hall near Max’s Kansas City called the Marc Ballroom. This was in September of 1978. Interestingly, the last time I was in that neighborhood, maybe five years ago, the Marc Ballroom was still there. Anyway, at this first show there were two other bands, The Dots, which I recorded with a year later, and another band from Long Island, I don’t remember their name. Other than that, there were maybe three paying customers in the audience. The following shows at Max’s and CBGB were well attended and word about the Model Citizens traveled very fast....
You asked about my life after the Model Citizens...
Immediately after the Model Citizens broke up I was asked to join John Cale’s band. He was promoting the ‘Sabotage’ EP that he and Jane Friedman had put out on Spy Records before they recorded the Model Citizens EP and Dougie Bowne, the current drummer, was leaving the band.
I toured and recorded with John for over two years, including the A&M release in 1980 of ‘Honi Soit’ produced by Mike Thorne and recorded by Harvey Goldberg.
Also during this time Mike Thorne had me playing drums or marimba with people he was producing as diverse as ‘Holly and the Italians’, ‘Kit Hain’ and ‘Roger Daltry’.
After my time with Mr. Cale was up, I joined the Karla DeVito band and we worked together off and on for about two years as well. Also during this period I spent a lot of time working with great musicians of all types trying to put together something that someone in the record or management business would like to sign. Unfortunately the vast majority of that music was only heard in clubs, though much of it was quite good and could have found a larger audience given the chance.
I worked with many local bands in the period between ‘84 and ‘89, including a year spent working with Gloria Richards in ‘85 trying to see if the two of us could create something, however nothing more than two song demos were ever recorded. In late 1989 Lou Reed called me and invited me to tour with him to promote the ‘New York’ album. This tour which went all over the US, Canada and Europe lasted nearly eleven months. I was the drummer and featured vocalist and we played for audiences from between five thousand to nearly one hundred thousand people, and I was told that we sold out 94% of the shows. From what I understand, it is to this day, the most successful tour Lou has ever done. This tour and the videos we did placed me in the interesting historical position of being the only drummer, other than Maureen Tucker, to tour and record separately with the two main members of the Velvet Underground; John Cale and Lou Reed.
After the ‘New York’ tour I joined a local band called ‘The Outsider’ This featured Ian Ainsworth, Zonder Kennedy, the late Ivan Elias and myself. A great group of musicians with wonderful songs that no one in the music was really interested in. Zonder was my room mate at the time and he was also working with the late blues artist John Campbell (http://www.devilinmycloset.net/) who was recording for Electra Records under the guidance of Howard Thompson. I was asked to tour with John Campbell t
(http://www.devilinmycloset.net/john_campbell_band.htm) promote his album ‘Howling Mercy’ we had three bass players during this tour; Richard Cousins (Robert Cray), Jimmy Pettit (Joe Ely), and Tommy Shannon ( Stevie Ray Vaughn).
After seven months of amazing work touring the states and Europe, John died suddenly in his sleep at the age of 41. He was the best guitarist I have ever worked with, it was the best band I was ever in, period. Immediately after Johns tragic death, I was asked to record an independent record with John Ondrasik (ohttp://www.myspace.com/fiveforfighting).
This led to me touring and recording with Five For Fighting for nearly five years, releasing two records ‘Message For Albert’ and ‘America Town’. During this time Iwas also asked to record a couple of tracks on David Bowie’s record‘ Outside’, unfortunately I was not credited for this work. It was at this time as well that I started writing and performing my own songs on guitar around the local clubs and coffee houses in New York and LA. I moved to LA permanently in ‘95, getting a lot of session work as a drummer, writer and vocalist, working primarily with keyboardist / producer Jim Goodwin (John Cale, Sparks, The Call).
In early 2002, I was asked by my old friend Jim Goodwin to be the producer for his new company Eggchair Music (www.eggchairmusic.com). I took the job and started writing, drumming, playing all types of percussion and acoustic guitars, doing voice over and basically running the company. We concentrated on film trailers, sound design and network design packages, doing literally hundreds of pieces of music, working with everything from four piece rock bands, to 20 piece marching bands. Eggchair lasted six years and closed it’s doors for good just one month ago in Jan of ‘08. Jim and I are still writing partners, providing library cues for the ABC network and other Disney affiliates. I am still drumming for independent artists and writing solo material.
I hope this is the kind of thing you are looking for.
And please tell Steve Alexander, and anyone else from the band that Medici say’s hello from thirty years down the line.
Thank you for your interest in my ancient history, enjoy the pictures there are more where that came from..."
More info about Tomek:
More info about Robert Medici: