Save It For The Campfire – Re-released.

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In 2006 Model Citizen was at a crossroads.

Led by guitarist / songwriter / producer Matt Patton (who you may know as the grinning visage holding down the low-notes for Drive-By Truckers) and the careening-yet-precise blasts of drummer Mike Gault, the Birmingham-by-way-of-Tuscaloosa, Alabama band came roaring into the 21st century with Born Tired and The Inner Fool – two collections of mod-influenced punk that had more in common with The Motor City than The Magic City. Not only could they kick out the jams, but Patton peppered his lyrics with subtle character studies that discreetly elevated Model Citizen’s songs a cut above their peers.

But each of the three years that separated The Inner Fool and the album that would prove to be both masterpiece and swan song, Save It For The Campfire, came with some extra gravity. In addition to keeping Model Citizen on the road and taking several stabs at recording a new record, Patton was increasing his profile – and that of Model Citizen — by becoming a ubiquitous bassist (and a very good one at that), playing with variety of Birmingham acts as well as the raucous electric blues musician, Paul “Wine” Jones, and The Dexateens – the legendary Tuscaloosa rockers who had just signed with Estrus Records and were making new fans in Europe and the U.K. Unfortunately, all that extra work didn’t translate into more attention for Model Citizen. Exhausted, and facing their 30s, the band thought about calling it day.

Still, the band were armed with enough good songs to make one more album – and if it was going to be the last, then they were going to make it count.

Along with new bassist, Randy Hughes, Model Citizen travelled to Nashville to record with their pal Lynn Bridges (The Dexateens, Lee Bains & The Glory Fires, Devendra Banhart), who had set up a studio in the basement of ex-pat Alabama punker Chet Weiss (The Immortal Lee County Killers, The Quadrajets). No longer content with merely capturing the sound of three-dudes-in-a-room, Patton and company decided to go for something that was both naturalistic and psychedelic rather than merely blown out.

“I had gotten massively into soul music by that time, and started collecting singles rather than LPs,” says Patton. “I was really trying to make these two-and-a-half, 3, 4 minute songs with bells and whistles – just things that pop. That was a new direction for me.”

The result is the kind of record Model Citizen had always dreamt of making. Save It For The Campfire slashes and grooves as hard as anything the band had done before, but the songs benefit from their well-earned swagger and a production that leaves plenty of room for atmosphere – be it the natural slap of that basement studio, a choir of backing vocals, pedal steel, layers of feedback, or a series of wild, sputtering amps running through the leslie of an old church organ. It’s a natural and inspired progression – and it sounds amazing whether your blasting it through big speakers or appreciating all the rich and detailed mix through a good pair of headphones.

That aforementioned gravity of the years leading into the recording of Save It For The Campfire can be heard in the songwriting as well. The words and the performances sound not only lived in, but haunted. From “Empty Room” to “Seen a Ghost,” these are songs with specters, demons, and mysterious light – all delivered with sinister purpose. “Before the Next Full Moon” is punk at its most paranormal – as if Sonic Youth absorbed a little more from CCR than an album title.

Still, in the end, the gravity proved victorious. Save it For The Campfire was released with little fanfare at home: the band never even played a record release show. An Italian label, Nicotine Records, took an interest in the band and released it overseas, and despite some good press – especially in the U.K. – the band were never able to cross the pond and capitalize on it (and the label folded soon after). So, not long after the record’s release, they band quietly brought things to a close – occasionally getting together for a few shows. Looking back, Patton and Gault have wish they would’ve done a few things differently but, ultimately, were happy to walk away as good friends still proud of what they accomplished.

And make no mistake: Save It For The Campfire is quite an accomplishment. Now, with this re-release from Keepin’ Up records, it’s a great time to discover (or rediscover) this would-be classic that should appeal to Rock and Roll fans of all stripes. And with the appearance of some recently discovered tapes, we may have not heard the last of Model Citizen.

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50 Years of The Upsidedown Plaza

On Saturday, December 1st Model Citizen will join in celebration of half a century of one of the south’s finest dive bars. I first descended the stairwell back in the summer of 1999 and almost immediately made a friend in longtime bar tender, Chris Thomas. I whiled away a lot of hours talking about rock n roll bands like the Quadrajets, Federation X, New York Dolls and the Ramones with Chris before finally working up the courage to ask if my band might play there sometime.

Although not surprised, my request was not met with an immediate yes. But, after some time Chris was able to talk owner, Jimbo Flemming, into giving us a chance. In the coming weeks we covered the joint with flyers and handbills and hoped for the best.

Finally one evening in the summer of 2000 we hauled our gear to town and schemed our way inside the parking garage for load in. This is the moment we were all to meet Mr. John “J.D.” Dill. J.D. didn’t seem too thrilled with our coming in and making all of that racket and I don’t blame him. He expressed that he had paying customers who, “don’t want to hear that shit!”, and asked that we at least, “Turn down the drums!” Although the feeling was unlikely mutual, Mr. Dill became endeared to our band. I enjoyed J.D.’s plain talk and dry humor greatly over the course of the years to follow.

Sometime before the show started we all met “Kim The Famous Bar Tender”. Kim was our host for the evening. Kim treated us to some stories about his days playing rock n roll and before the night was finished we became familiar with the phrase, “Give it up for the jukebox! It sounds just like a band!!!” I think I still have a few of his business cards lying around somewhere!

We formally invite everyone to come celebrate 50 years of the Plaza this weekend. The bar is hosting music both Friday and Saturday nights. The shows will include familiar Birmingham acts like Dirty Lungs and Banditos as well as some of our best up-and-comers like Grandaddy Ghost Legs. We’ll raise a glass to Mr. Flemming and remember J.D., Gordon and others that have gone before us. Hope to see you there!!

Matt-MC

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Halloween 2012: Model Citizen releases Evil Wing digital single, supports Diamond Rugs at Workplay.

Press release, October 31, 2012:
Long before he contributed his first snaking, gospel-rooted bassline to Southern musical luminaries like the Drive-By Truckers, Dexateens, Paul “Wine” Jones, Candi Staton and countless others, Matt Patton was fronting the Alabama garage-punk progenitors Model Citizen, writing bombastic songs of heartache, confusion and exuberance. For nearly 15 years, Patton, longtime drummer Mike Gaut and a series of bass players have been quietly slashing and burning a smoldering path through the pine woods, blazing a trail for the likes of The Alabama Shakes, Taylor Hollingsworth and countless others who dare to fuse punk rock’s abandon and cool with the native stomping soul of Alabama. The Evil Wing digital single features the first recordings released by Model Citizen in six years.

The A-side, “Evil Wing,” laments the darkness hidden within those who rule over us and, perhaps, those we hold dear. As Patton’s guitar thrashes against Gaut and bassist Ronnie Lee Gipson’s Mississippi Hill Country beat, his soft drawl reverberates with fear and boldness: “I like the way you spread your evil wings.” The B-side, “Gimme Little Sign,” was a 1967 Top 10 hit for Louisiana’s Latin Soulman, Brenton Wood. Model Citizen’s creeping, ramshackle rendition sharpens the spooky, psychedelic edge that made the original so cool. As Patton intones and the guitars buzz, the begging lyrics take on a more desperate, paranoid lilt than ever before. This isn’t just a man in love; it’s a man at the end of his rope.

Evil Wing was recorded and co-produced by Lynn Bridges at Dial Back Sound in Water Valley, Mississippi, with additional mixing and technical assistance provided by Bronson Tew at Dial Back Sound. The tracks were mastered for the digital format by Winn McElroy at his studio in Water Valley, Mississippi. Artwork was provided by Brad Reed, a graphic designer and longtime friend of the band in Birmingham, Alabama. (He added lots of lightning bolts so your folks would think you’re a Satanist!)
Catch Model Citizen live tonight, supporting Diamond Rugs at Workplay Theater in Birmingham, AL. Doors at 8PM.

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Christmas show, Birds of Prey mp3

Birds of Prey was written on the spot one night at 600 Studios in Tuscaloosa. I believe we were doing some additional tracking there following the Inner Fool sessions. The song was eventually recorded at the Sweatbox in Austin, TX and produced by Tim Kerr in 2003. Craig Gates was on bass and backing vocals. We used the track as our contribution to the landmark Birmingham compilation Low Dose Exposure (Skybucket Records) in 2004. This version features the whole band and differs from the solo version we ended up using on Save It for the Campfire a couple of years later.

I believe I was inspired by some of the material Elliott and John of the Dexateens had been writing for the Red Dust Rising LP as it is decidedly more country skronk than anything I had written previously. Birds of Prey is essentially about a couple of friends who passed on around that time.

As for year ending announcements Model Citizen will be playing a special holiday show at Bottletree in Birmingham on Friday, December 23. The show will be put on by the Friday On My Mind DJ’s. These kids consistently put on the best dance night in Birmingham with their mix of 1960’s and 70’s soul and funk, all spun on vinyl. In honor of their invitation we’ll play a set of 1960’s rock n roll. It’s unbelievably hard not to spill the beans on our song choices, but you’ll have to show up and see. Jody Nelson of the great Through the Sparks will be helping us out with some keys and additional guitar badassery. There may be some other guests as well. We hope to see you there!!

Birds Of Prey mp3

Please visit our Bandcamp music page for a high quality download of the song.

 

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Au Ras Au Ras debut full-length out now

I went to Dial Back Sound in Water Valley, MS a few months back to do a little bass work on this record. Tess Brunet is the songstress and visionary at the helm of Au Ras Au Ras. I first met Tess four or five years back when she drummed for the dark and powerful duo, Deadboy & Elephant Men. Tess had already made one pass through the studio with The Generationals in tow. I felt extremely lucky they left a few scraps as they are basically a two man wrecking crew both in and out of the studio.

Upon my arrival Tess wasted no time putting me in the mind of the songs and helping me get the charts together. When the red light came on I was taken aback at how the music and delivery were delicate yet brutal at the same time. I wasn’t quite sure how to put a feel on that. But, before I knew it we had three in the can.

Of the three bass lines I laid to tape only one survived. Tess bested me herself on one of the tracks and ultimately decided that another track didn’t need a bass after all. Oh Claire is all that survived of my playing. You can hear the whole record here!

 

 

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Guess who’s coming to practice? Model Citizen shows feature special guest bassist this weekend!

Who's on bass?

We have had more than our fair share of bass players over the years. There were those who went away mad and those who just went away. For the past three years or more our friend Justin Colburn of Lee Bains III & The Gloryfires has filled the position with masterful skill and authority. Turns out that Justin found himself double-booked for our road trip with 13 Ghosts this weekend. We decided to let him off the hook this one time and set out to find someone with the skill, the integrity and honestly, the available time to get the job done. We are happy to announce that we found that person in our friend David Hickox. You may have seen David before with his other bands like Plate Six, Broken Letters and currently, the excellent Gum Creek Killers.

 

David and Model Citizen go back a number of years together. Way back in 2002 we recorded The Inner Fool EP and put out a few hundred copies to sell at local shows. I had just found drummer Mike Gaut a couple of years prior and it took us till around this time to reign in a lineup and start playing a little farther from home.

Late in 2003 David approached me about the possibility of a release on his Bent Rail label. Since I had nothing new ready to go I suggested that we give The Inner Fool a proper release. I believe we had reached the bottom of the box as far as available copies were concerned and hadn’t barely gotten out of the southeast yet. Thankfully David agreed even though I know he would have preferred a full length release. The release, however, gave us our first coverage in national magazines like Punk Planet & Blender as well as national and some international websites. We have been eternally grateful and don’t know how to thank him for his agreement to help us out again by actually getting onstage with us!

Come see us this weekend:

8/25 The Blind Pig in Oxford, MS

8/26 Hey Joe’s in Cleveland, TN w/The Weeks

8/27 White Water Tavern in Little Rock, AR

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Hot August Nights, end of summer weekender with 13 Ghosts, August 25-27

Way back in 2005 13 Ghosts released a full-length record called Cicada. Among its many great songs there’s one called A Model Citizen Flip. If you read liner notes you’ll discover I actually played guitar on it. And, it’s a lasting reminder that our bands were to split the cost of a 7″ around this time. Sadly that didn’t happen cause we weren’t writing or recording much at the time and Brad from 13 Ghosts moved up to New York City of all places. But, their drummer Jason Lucia and I did paint a number of houses together back in the day. And, when Bradley came to his senses and moved back to Alabama I recruited him to play guitar for the Dexateens. Man! What a lot of great fun!

So we’re all very happy to have both of our bands on the road together next month for a lost weekend through Mississippi and Arkansas. The show dates are as follows:

8/25 The Blind Pig in Oxford, MS

8/26 Hey Joe’s in Cleveland, TN w/The Weeks

8/27 White Water Tavern in Little Rock, AR

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07/09/11: AHMEN Benefit at Egan’s in Tuscaloosa

We played a show benefiting the AHMEN charity this past weekend. Our friends Black Willis also participated. Together we raised about $500. AHMEN works to feed children living off of a dump site in Honduras. I was watching Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations one night and he visited this site. Seeing the horrific environment these kids are exposed to everyday sickened me. It shook ol Tony up badly as well. And, that’s not easy to do!

Check out links the links below to find out more about the AHMEN charity and see some photos of the event provided by DSmithImages.

http://www.honduranmissions.com/

http://localmusicphotos.blogs.tuscaloosanews.com/10263/model-citizen-070911/

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Song file: Syd Barrett’s “Wined and Dined” as covered by Matt Patton & Jody Nelson

My friend Jody Nelson of Birmingham based Through the Sparks helped me record this a few years back. We had toyed with the idea of putting out a tribute comp benefiting research and treatment for conditions such as the one that took Syd Barrett away. I was going through some tough times back then and I was itching to do something. I want to thank Jody for helping me create this. We agreed that it was one of the coolest things that we had ever recorded.

Wined and Dined — Patton

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We have a website!

Hi, We are Model Citizen. Download our albums for free. More soon!

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