Not content to simply explore and challenge musical boundaries over the course of an entire album, The Model School takes listeners on amazing musical adventures within the space of each song. Musical styles are blended here to perfect effect and with stunning fluidity, creating combinations previously thought unimaginable. The Model School makes everything seem possible.
With their debut album, ‘Alarm Clock Radiation’ released in July 2006, The Model School show that the old rules no longer apply. Clearly defined musical styles no longer need to be mutually exclusive.
‘Sweet Tooth’ mixes styles with ease, creating a wonderfully unique blend of experimental pop and electronica. With its rich and heavily laden vocals, it builds to an elegantly simple chorus. Great lyrics and an intriguing melody ensure this song catches in your mind. ‘One Way Ticket’ is a beautifully paced song with a country folksy feel. The direct lyrics are delivered with heartfelt emotion and paint a wonderfully real picture of life.
‘Heart Shaped Song’ has a raw and genuine sound. The vocal performance is delivered with perfect restraint and convincingly conveys delicate emotion and deeply felt vulnerability. With its poetic lyrics, this is a beautiful slow-paced dreamy little song. ‘Into My Arms Again’ brings together shades of acoustic, pop, folk and country. This song is pure emotion, telling a story with its lyrics and with its music.
The Model School offers a fascinating conglomeration of styles which are applied to a diverse range of subjects, often resulting in music which sounds like it should be from another world. However rather than creating something unattainable, they have a genuine ability to take this uniqueness and translate it into something beautiful, something honest, and something real. If this is the kind of stuff that they teach at this school, then sign me up for lessons!
I recently caught up with the man behind The Model School, the multi-talented Brendan Wixted to discuss musical styles, influences and the future.
TS: Did you grow up in a musical household?
BW: No, no-one in my family actively played music – but there was always music of some kind playing in the house … early on it was mostly Beatles and other 60’s stuff.
TS: Which of your songs means the most to you and why?
BW: Thats really hard – what do they say, songs are like children, you have to love them all! If I had to pick one on the album I’d say One Way Ticket because it represented a breakthrough for me in songwriting – and it seems to have a feeling to it that is what I aim for when I write any song…that is its hard to define why the song is good or likeable. Alarm Clock Radiation would be a close second, but hey, I did say I’d pick one!
TS: Your album contains such a diversity of styles, and your lyrics pay respect to a whole host of subjects. Does this reflect the diversity of your own musical tastes?
BW: Yeah, it reflects that but also the fact that the album had a long gestation period … so i ended up choosing the best songs regardless of them being quite different. I think the album hangs together ok but maybe next time I’d possibly sharpen my focus a bit. Having said that I do like the fact that its a bit all over the place stylistically. My musical tastes are fairly varied although the common denominator is usually melody … I’m a sucker for a good one! My favourite artists would be Elliott Smith and Tom Waits at the moment.
TS: How has life changed for you since the release of your debut album?
BW: Well, personally it took a great weight off my shoulders in terms of my first musical step – I’m really excited now to see what I come up with next as I really have no idea!
TS: You seem to have gone to great lengths to maintain control over all aspects of the creative process. Is it then hard for you to stop tinkering with your songs?
BW: Its really hard – but I’m really happy once I decide that’s it, I can walk away from a song. It’s so easy to get too caught up in everything and lose sight of what you were aiming for. I think I’d like to work with more people in the future, but mainly on a producing/engineering level … I’d be happy to relinquish some of the knob twiddling!!
TS: Who would be your dream artist to perform with and why?
BW: If you mean as support band then I’d have to say The Flaming Lips – it just looks like so much fun when they play live! If you mean actually play live with another band I’d happily sit in for a jam with Beck or the Eels … again more people who really make the live show a fun experience.
TS: How would you describe your music to other people?
BW: I usually say folk-rock with some modern trappings … and then maybe ramble on about the songs being the most important thing.
TS: What is the next step for you? More recording, more touring, or a well earned rest?
BW: I don’t think I can rest I just get too uptight! I’ve started getting demo’s together for the next thing, whether that’s an EP or album I’m not sure yet. Next year I’m hoping to see more of Australia with my band.
TS: How do you choose what your CD cover artwork will be?
BW: Good question – if you asked me a year or two ago I would have said that I definitely would not be on the cover … I was thinking something a bit more cut and paste to suit some of the music. But after I had some photos done and the idea was floated to use the green leafy background as a theme I thought it’d be interesting to present something almost 70’s singer/songwriter in look … but full credit must go to Jenny the photographer and Carl for his graphic arts work…I merely agreed with their great ideas!
TS: Dog or a cat person?
BW: Definitely a cat person. Being chased home from school by dogs turned me off them for life!