w/ Hella, The Seconds
Sat May 18
It's not what you think. By calling themselves "Ex-Models," the NYC quartet isn't baring its teeth, ironically or otherwise, at the fashion pantheon, and they're no sons of John Casablancas. Rather, Ex-Models are braniac rockers, referring, in name and nature, to mathematical philosophy. They even titled their last record, Other Mathematics, in accordance with these leanings.
"Oooh, fancy," you may think to yourself. And yet, it doesn't stop there. Ex-Models play fiery-as-fuck, fuzzy punk rock that shivers and jitters as much as it struts, with punchy melodies skewered by explosive rhythms and agitated yelps. But what are they singing about? "I think we draw a lot lyrically from late 20th century continental philosophers, like Baudrillard and Guy Debord," notes frontman Shahin Motia. "We basically sat down and we were like, 'Oh, I got an idea. We can write songs about poststructuralist theory and make it sound like Baudrillard put to music! We will be called Ex-Models, and we'll arrange the songs to reflect French philosophy from the late 20th century.'"
Liberal arts colleges should consider putting Ex-Models in their curriculum; not only do they get krunk with the Fraunch, but they rock so hard, the kids will start picking up Society of the Spectacle like hotcakes. However, Shahin is mindful of the responsibility that accompanies pairing such rock-damaging punk with intellectual ideas: "For the most part," he begins, "most of the songs use those ideas not to force ideology on the audience but mostly to explain why well, to explain why we can't get laid, basically."
Right! Now there's something everybody can relate to. But that's the beauty of Ex-Models; they are so frigging smart, and such a great band, that they unite the people via their far-reaching appeal. It's evident in their music. Says Shahyar Motia, guitarist and brother of Shahin, "Musically, we kind of wanted to do something that was steeped in late '70s post-punk and early '80s new wave, but we wanted to make it unique. We had a vague idea of what it was going to sound like in terms of structure, but then we were like, 'Hey, let's try to deliver as much quality song in the briefest amount of time." And that they do, with an intense, minimalist foisting of super rock riffs onto hot loads of rhythm (played by Jake Fiedler and new bassist Zach, who also plays in The Seconds). Their songs often sound as if they're going to spiral out of control, so that if you were going to dance to their music, the most fitting choreography would be to merely twitch, tensing your body and perhaps ending up seizure-like on the ground.
But, like all good bands, Ex-Models are always evolving and improving upon their sound. Other Mathematics was released almost a year ago now, and Shahin says they're not still playing the exact music as on their record. "Recently, we're more interested in completely freaking out. I think one thing that you can definitely hear on Other Mathematics is that those songs are a little bit on the cold side, approaching inhuman. Our interests now are a little more musical and a little less ideological. We haven't really figured out what that will mean lyrically, except for devolving into utter nonsense. I think we're drawing a little more heavily on a cross-section between James Brown and grindcore," he laughs. "And a little bit of Kraftwerk, as well." Judging from Ex-Models' blend of talent and intellectualism into a great, roiling mess of punk rock, the point where James Brown and grindcore meet is going to be one mind-humping latitude.