New Model Army - Biography

This band's profile is 'invisible', meaning that it's much less prominent on the site - either because it's incomplete, or maybe doesn't entirely fit MS format.


New Model Army's earliest material on their debut album Vengeance (1984) could probably with some justification be regarded as modern punk, albeit more melodic than the works of many of their classic counterparts.

Through the years, however, New Model Army have experimented with a great number of musical styles and nurtured numerous different inspirations. As a rock band they generally stand out of the crowd having a greater emphasis on the rhythm section, which often contains references to R&B. Their music is often regarded as intense, angry, and powerful, some might even say militant. However their repertoire is much wider and more subtle than that and also includes quieter, more emotive and softer material often performed acoustically. Thus it would be inaccurate to simply classify them as any of these genres. Rather one should recognise them for what they really are: a very versatile underground cult rock band with many different musical roots. They have toured and recorded constantly for over 26 years and continue to do so and are considered a seminal influence by many contemporary younger rock bands.

Their lyrics are always very poetic, but still manage to express political and humanitarian messages. Songs like "51st State" (lyrics written by Ashley Cartwright of 'The Shakes'[1]) 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 deeper truths explored in New Model Army's lyrics stem from lyricist Justin Sullivan's deeply religious (Quaker) and literary upbringing.

Lyrically Justin Sullivan has had a very close relationship with British artist, novelist, and poet Joolz Denby, who is often credited as a consultant or Muse and sometimes even co-writer. 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 is entitled with some accuracy 'One Family, One Tribe - The art & Artefacts Of New Model Army', and is unique in its presentation of the art of a working rock band.

As a music group, New Model Army also stand out because they tend to see themselves as an organisation rather than a business as the name of their homepage,

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 an extremely 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 tour with more than five band members.

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 Justin 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 and keyboards, Danny Thompson on double bass, and Mark Feltham on harmonica.

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. As the band themselves say: "Although there is nothing new within the packages they have been very sympathetically re-packed and remastered and do sound very, very good."

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 canceled when they were denied visas by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

In 2004 their one-time drummer and founding member, Robert Heaton, died of pancreatic cancer.

One of their other members, Ricky Warwick went on to form The Almighty.