Model Engine is one of Northern California's better known modern rock
bands. Since their start as Black Eyed Sceva (or Seagull, or Secua, or
Steven, or whatever) to the phenomenal debut album Way Before The Flood,
their brand of Toad the Wet Sprocket-ish sometimes folksy, always in your
face guitar pop has won millions of fans. So they lost a drummer this
summer, but at least they gained a new name... Brad McCarter, bassist for
Model Engine, tells all.
How did you get hooked up with Bruce Winters (sometimes member of Toad the Wet Sprocket) to produce your albums, and what is your relationship with Toad the Wet Sprocket?
Bruce Winter has been a friend for 5 or so years now. Black Eyed Sceva played a show with a Santa Barbara band called Wasted Tape (whose members were Bruce, our drummer Erik, and John Askew who played all over our new album) and got to know them because of our mutual respect for each other. Bruce produced the BES demo tape that got us signed. He is a fantastic guy who has good taste in music and in coffee. He is currently touring with Toad as a keyboard/guitar guy. As for Toad we have only interacted with Glenn in so much as he is one of Bruce's best friends. They were generous to let us rent their studio gear to record our album at very reasonable rates. We had also borrowed some stuff on our previous recordings.... That is the full extent of our relationship.
What led to the departure of Brent Nims and the subsequent arrival of Eric Herzog?
As for the departure of Brent, I should say that it was predominantly over a long brewing personal dispute.... People don't like to talk about the fact that band members don't always get along.... But that is reality.... Nothing is ever rosy in spite of what most magazine articles will tell you. You could say that it was an amicable departure, but that would not be entirely true. It was, I suppose, as amicable as a non-mutual band break up might be. I still live with Brent and get along well. In the end I am convinced that it was by far the best way to deal with our issues. And the most healthy thing for all three of us.
As to the arrival of Erik Herzog: He is a great drummer, a great musician/producer, etc, etc. We were very fortunate that he was currently bandless when we were drummerless. He has done great things for the way we write music. And has schooled us big-time on rock history and trivia.
What's the meaning of the name "Model Engine"?
There is no good meaning that can be construed out of Model Engine. We have tried to do so for all of the fans who insist that names must mean something. So ... Model Engine as a name is much like "The Beatles" or "Toad" or "The Doors".
Jeremy - where do you find the inspiration for your lyrics?
I would say that ultimately inspiration comes from God. He sustains our lives and therefore the things in them. Specifically songs on this record are inspired by books, people, relationships, bands, experiences, trips and travels, and all the things that happen to us. One song was inspired by Don Quixote. One by a trip to Germany. One by not having a Father. On our next album I'm certain this list will be quite different.
So far, my fave new song is "Scarred But Smarter" ... can you explain it some?
"Scarred but Smarter". I'm glad you like that tune. It was one of my favorites too. It is actually the first song that we ever wrote about a girlfriend type of relationship. Basically the song says it all, and is a really personal song, as you may have guessed. But a couple of key phrases to note: 1. Eight years! 2. Jester in the court of the queen of double speak. 3. It's that I still can feel that is good. 4. (probably the thesis sentence of this song): Bridging the gap between the one you think you can live with and the one you know you can't live without.
What's the most blatantly wrong pronunciation of "Sceva" you've heard?
The mispronunciations of BES are like the Lord's mercies. They are new every morning. Misspellings and misunderstandings are in a close second and third to the mispronunciations. The worst was Black Eyed Secua. (As though that was some how easier to understand than Sceva.) Skeva was the most common... But my favorite came from an employee at an amusement park who yelled to his fellow workers to come help unload "Black Eyed Seagull."
Do you think that Model Engine is a radical departure from Black Eyed Sceva?
In our outlook, yes, Model Engine is a big departure from Sceva. We write differently, function differently, are more healthy. In terms of the average listener will here I would not call it a "radical" departure. Jeremy is still writing the songs and he is still singing them. I am still doing backups and playing bass. The drums are noticabely different, and the way we have arranged and produced the songs. But "radical"? Probably not.
How did the band get started?
Originally the band started with Brent, Jer, and I all being in college. We were a local club playing band for at least two years before we even played a "Christian market" show... Then we got signed to 5MW about 2 and 1/2 years ago.
Jer: Firehose, Replacements, REM, Peter Case. Vigilantes of Love. Husker Du. Countless obscure hip bands that no one has ever heard of.
Brad: Rush, Uncle Tupelo, Crowded House. Countless 80's new wave bands including Duran Duran.
Erik: Everything that they play on your local Classic rock station. Rush, King's X. Cheap Trick. Zeppelin, Queen. Innumerable bands so long as they aren't country or rave.
Bands that we are all really into are Radiohead, Self, Jellyfish, The Grays, Wilco, Son Volt, Soundgarden...