New Model Army's earliest material on their debut album Vengeance
(1984) was described as "crusty-punk", albeit more melodic than the works of many of their classic counterparts.Their lyrics are often poetic, but express political and humanitarian messages. Songs like "51st State" (lyrics written by Ashley Cartwright of 'The Shakes') earned the band cult status in movements against American imperialism, but made it more difficult for the band to tour the US. The contradiction and search for truths explored in New Model Army's lyrics stem from lyricist Justin Sullivan's Quaker and literary upbringing.As a band New Model Army (NMA) had a close relationship with British artist, novelist, and poet Joolz Denby, who is often credited as a consultant or muse and sometimes even co-writer. Sullivan and Denby are long-term partners, and Denby was also the first manager of the band. She is also responsible for the characteristic artwork on their covers, merchandise, t-shirts etc. The Arts Council/Yorkshire Museums & Galleries international touring exhibition of Denby's artworks for NMA and their memorabilia entitled 'One Family, One Tribe - The Art & Artefacts Of New Model Army', is unique in its presentation of the art of a working rock band. NMA and Denby often appeared on the same bill when performing live.
The band was named after the English revolutionary army of Oliver Cromwell. Led by guitarist / vocalist, Justin Sullivan (who performed briefly under the name 'Slade the Leveller' in the early 1980s), the group has a loyal, global, multi-generational cult following called The Family. The band has also collaborated with electric violinist Ed Alleyne-Johnson, who worked with them on their Top 40 single "Vagabonds", and their albums Thunder & Consolation
(1989) and Impurity
(1990), as well as touring extensively with them for five years. New Model Army frequently toured with more than five band members.In November 1985, the British music magazine, NME
reported that the New Model Army had been refused work permits to the United States. This was because the US Immigration Department had said the band's work is of 'no artistic merit'. Nigel Morton, NMA's manager commented "If it's all down to the band's politics, it's a bit strange because Billy Bragg and Poison Girls, whose politics are exactly the same as New Model Army's, have all been allowed entry into the States recently. We've already appealed against the decision". In the magazine's December 1986 edition they stated that New Model Army had finally got permission to tour in the US. In January 1993, just six months after Sullivan was nearly accidentally electrocuted on stage, the band issued the single "Here Comes the War". The resultant controversy stemmed from its enclosed instructions of how to construct a nuclear device.The ex-New Model Army member, Ricky Warwick went on to form The Almighty in 1988. Former members Chris McLaughlin and Stuart Morrow played in the band Loud between 1989 and 1993.The group also tours as 'Justin Sullivan and Friends', which means a more acoustic set without some players (which ones varies), and is linked to Red Sky Coven, in which Sullivan also plays. In early 2003, Sullivan released Navigating by the Stars
, a solo album recorded with other band members and featuring Michael Dean on drums, Dean White on guitar, Danny Thompson on double bass, and Mark Feltham on harmonica.In 2004 their one-time drummer and founding member, Robert Heaton, died of pancreatic cancer.After a short tour at the end of 2004, the group returned to the studio to record their ninth studio album, Carnival
(2005). EMI has released four remastered earlier albums.The next studio album, High
, was released in the UK on 20 August 2007, and in North America on 4 September 2007. On 5 September 2007, their North American tour in support of High
was cancelled when they were denied visas by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.Today Is a Good Day
, was released in September 2009.The latest studio album, Between Dog and Wolf
was released in September 2013.On 3 and 4 December 2010, the band played two dates at the London Forum, celebrating their 30th anniversary, following dates throughout mainland Europe, Brazil and the United States.
- Justin Sullivan - Vocalist - born 8 April 1956, Jordans, Buckinghamshire, England
- Robert Heaton - Drummer - born Robert Charles Heaton, 6 July 1961, Knutsford, Cheshire; died of pancreatic cancer, 4 November 2004.
- Nelson - Bassist - born Peter Nelson, lives in Colchester; spent 22 years with the band.