As usual in these times, we meet Justin Sullivan via video link at his home in Bradford, UK. Sirens are blaring in the background, Sullivan is relaxed, if slightly annoyed by the forced break his band has been given due to the pandemic. At least he used the time creatively and recorded a quiet, very personal album.
eclipsed: When we talked about the last New Model Army album "From Here" in 2019, you put special emphasis on the song "The Weather", which deals with the fact that man and nature are inextricably linked, so that, for example, climate change synchronously leads to a growing heating of the minds. Do you feel vindicated by the emergence of the coronavirus?
Justin Sullivan: No. It's a virus, period. What sensible thing am I supposed to have to say on the subject? Viruses are everywhere in nature, they stick to trees, they infect us humans, they always have. And now we're dealing with a virus that's dangerous to us. I hope we can defeat it. Whether the decisions of our governments on how to deal with it are right is another matter. But it is and remains a damn virus.
eclipsed: And how does this virus affect you as a band?
Sullivan: I would say it's another typical New Model Army story where everything goes wrong (laughs). We had planned our big anniversary tour for fall 2020, but we had to postpone it, and we had so much planned! But well, we'll adapt, maybe we can already play open airs in England in summer, but for Europe I see black for now.
eclipsed: Now, after all, you used the first months of the pandemic and the lockdown to record your second solo album titled "Surrounded" 17 years after "Navigating By The Stars" (2003). But you don't sing about the pandemic, you tell stories ..
Sullivan: Yes, that's how it is. But I'm always telling stories, of course, sometimes they're about me, sometimes they're not. But on this album I've probably become more personal than ever before, there's a lot of my biography in there - a lot of memories. A song like "1975" is actually about how I hitchhiked across the US when I was 19, or "Sao Paulo" is about experiences I had in Brazil. That's really me in those songs. Of course, a lot of the songs I've written in my career are about me, but on this album, a lot of it's completely unveiled.