We met up with Boston-based band Model/Actriz the day before their first official tour. Members Jack Wetmore, Ruben Radlauer, Austin Corona, and Cole Haden stood in a marginally sketchy stairway on the UCLA campus and gave us their thoughts on touring, the new album, music-making, and Pitbull.
Full unedited Q&A below. All photos courtesy of Cameron Pagett.
When did you guys meet?
Cole: September of 2015 at a show in Boston and it was Dent. Austin got a concussion and that was the first instance of us meeting.
Did you guys meet with the intention of starting a band?
Cole: No, way after.
Ruben: We barely even talked about our names.
Cole: That was just our getting acquainted with each other.
Ruben: It was the first time we were all in a room together.
When did the band come together after that?
Jack: Probably May.
Austin: It was earlier.
Ruben: We started working on it in December or January after that, but not really in a real way.
Jack: We started writing stuff and me and Reuben got together in December and started writing. Then Cole came into the picture in March.
Cole: And we recorded stuff and played our first show in May.
Have you guys always been on the same page when it comes to music?
Reuben: I guess. Sort of, yeah. I mean, I think we all came from different places and backgrounds, but as far as the band is concerned we’ve usually always written everything kind of by all working together in a room with no idea what we’re doing and then it’s formed into something.
Do you think differences in your varying tastes came out while you were making music? Do some of you have preferences that others don’t?
Austin: Yeah, definitely.
Cole: Their vocabulary and their music library of everything they’re ever listened to in their brain is a lot different than mine. They’re always talking about things sounding too metal and I never know what that means. So that’s just a difference between our backgrounds. I was a theatre kid in high school so I’m just always tapping into that sort of, creating of…
Something more theatrical maybe?
Cole: Yeah. Definitely tapping into the theatricality. Or like trying to blend theatricality with really authentic emotions and bringing that to the band. But I think we all….
Reuben: We’re just busy not trying to sound like metal.
Cole: Yeah, we’re just not trying to sound like metal.
Austin: Also like, me Reuben and Jack all come from heavier bands in the past, so that also has a pretty big influence. It’s not like a metal background.
Reuben: It’s like punk.
Austin: Yeah, more like punk-ish background. It’s more natural to play loud and more kind of raw, I guess, rather than playing slower more melodic stuff.
Do you guys try to avoid being too punk in your music? Do you have to tone it down for Model/Actriz specifically?
Jack: We definitely try to avoid as many cliches as possible.
Reuben: All the rock tropes are not really what we want to be.
Jack: It’s really easy to fall into punk.
Austin: Just like bar chords.
Reuben: Chords in general.
Austin: Chords in general we try to avoid.
Jack: So we try to mimic dance music. Like techno, house. He really loves house, I really love techno.
Reuben: I made EDM in high school.
Jack: He likes dubstep.
I love you people.
Austin: I like Pitbull.
Jack: Pitbull is our main influence, I think.
Reuben: He’s our interview influence, definitely. Pitbull interviews are so sick.
Austin: He’s always so steezed out for everything he does. White suit, open chest hair.
“Pitbull is our main influence, I think.” -Jack Wetmore
So the next Model/Actriz show then?
Cole: All of us in white suits. When we can afford to get really good white suits, that’ll be the first thing we put our money towards.
I’ll look out for it. Do you guys have any guilty pleasures? You already said Pitbull.
Austin: That’s not guilty. I could think of a way guiltier one.
Cole: I’m not guilty. One of my dreams has always been to profess my love of Kylie Minogue in an interview so you can write this down. Unapologetically, I love Kylie Minogue.
Jack: Shouts out to Kylie Minogue.
Cole: I always sneak her into the playlist if I’m in control of the aux.
“You can write this down. Unapologetically, I love Kylie Minogue.” -Cole Haden
Do you make music collaboratively or do you work on your parts separately?
Cole: Always collaboratively.
Reuben: We’ve tried to do it other ways. Whenever we try without all of us there it’s like, hitting our heads against a wall. It just doesn’t work without all parts.
Who writes the lyrics? Do you think there are any lyrics that require any explanation?
Reuben: That’s all Cole.
Austin: All Cole.
Cole: That’s all me. I don’t think any of them require an explanation. I think that it’s what you make of it.
Do you guys have any muses or sources of inspiration for you music?
Cole: No inspiration.
Jack: Zero inspiration.
Cole: We’re totally original.
Reuben: I feel like there’s nothing we try to, other than what (Jack) said the other day about Death Grips.
Jack: We really enjoy the attitudes of a lot of artists, like Death Grips, the way they go about their business and do their shit.
Cole: I’d say that there are so many words in Death Grips songs that if i need like, some words to pull from, that’s the first place I go.
So you have like a hat of all of the words cut up and you just draw one?
Cole: I just draw one and it’s usually “fuck” because that’s one of the most popular ones. Death Grips is good.
How did you guys decide on the name Model/Actriz?
Jack: Stole it from a friend of ours. My friend who has zero musical talent was like, “Let’s start a band called Model/Actriz and I was like, “For sure, learn how to play the guitar, let’s go,” and he never did, and I was like, “Hey, do you mind if i use that name?”
Did he mind?
Jack: He was like, “Sure, go ahead.”
Did someone specifically design your logo and was there any intention behind making it upside down on your last run of hoodies?
Jack: Me and Reuben designed the logo.
Reuben: It’s just Arial bold.
Jack: We accidentally put it the wrong way on the screen when we were printing shirts for the first time and we were like, “You know, this looks kind of sick,” so we kept it.
Reuben: There are only two shirts that are forward.
Do you guys each have a favorite Model/Actriz song individually?
Reuben: We probably all have the same one I would guess, without knowing what everyone is going to say. One, two….
Cole: No I can’t say it on a count. I really like playing Liar. I get into the rhythm of it really hard.
Jack: Matador is the most fun to play.
Reuben: I’d say probably new faces is the one I feel like I connect with.
Austin: My favorite song is easily Pimp, because that song reminds me of so much music I used to listen to in middle school. It reminds me of a mixture of The Cramps with like, honestly, a little bit of Dead Kennedys too. That song reminds me of a lot of the old punk shit I used to listen to and play awhile ago. So playing that song is a lot of fun for me.
How and when did you get signed to Danger Collective?
Reuben: They’re just our friends from… I was in a band that was on Danger and it was one of the first, or maybe the third cassette release they did when they just started out, so I got really close with all those guys. I started a music collective called Lost Dog, which no longer exists, but we did shows with Danger also. I’ve just known them for awhile, and they offered to put out a cassette and they’re great.
Who organized the tour?
Reuben: That was Orchin. Orchin pretty much organized the tour and and we kind of hopped on.
Cole: We filled in some blanks. We threw on a Delaware show because that’s where I’m from so, play for my parents and my grandparents and we’ll see, friends at home.
Jack: And some East Coast randoms.
Cole: Because we’re on the East Coast quite a bit.
Where you’re from?
Cole: Where we’re from-ish.
Reuben: Where we started I guess.
Cole: Where we formed. The womb is Boston.
How do you think your music has developed? In what way is “No” different from your past EP’s like Ava and 100 Euros?
Cole: That No is, I feel like, the first two EP’s were us being very experimental. I think “No” is the first complete statement of introducing our sound. What its culminated to in the last year. I think we’ve…
Jack: Just refined in a way.
Austin: More mature.
Reuben: It got more mechanical I think, in sounds and textures.
Cole: There’s gotta be a better way to put this.
Austin: It kind of matured though I feel like.
“It got more mechanical I think, in sounds and textures.” -Reuben Radlauer
In what way has the sound physically changed?
Cole: I think we got even more comfortable playing with dynamics and creating space. Would you say that?
Jack: We’ve gotten more imaginative with what we do with our sound. In terms of before it was more of just like, “Okay, what the fuck are we going to do?” We have so much room to do what we want, and then now after a year it’s been more like we have this wood block but we’re slowly sanding it down, making it more in what way we want it to be.
Do you feel like you have to live up to the expectation of Model/Actriz now? With the album? Since people are expecting something good every time since it’s been good?
Cole: I think that’s just the expectation we have for ourselves. We just enjoy what we’re doing and I feel like we would be disappointing ourselves as a band if we were performing at any less than 100 percent. Even if people weren’t, I don’t know. We don’t feel comfortable putting out anything that we don’t have a 100 percent conviction in doing and i think that it has a lot to do with how it’s received.
Austin: When we write songs too, it’s pretty picky. We spend a decent amount of time working out all the parts and making sure it’s very appropriate for each section. If something’s a little not what we’re wanting, we’ll either change it up entirely or work on that for a really long time until it’s super tight and fits the song really well. I don’t know, i feel like as far as maturity, as far as the sound is developed too, a lot of the older EP’s were more like… I mean, also with like the space it was recorded it, it was kind of more lo-fi. It was more just in a practice room just seeing what… I didn’t record on the other EP’s but it seemed like in a practice-room-type deal. The more punk side of things rather than the experimental kind of like what the sound actually is now.
Reuben: I think it’s more rooted in electronic now and before it was more rooted in sort of punk.
How would you say the music scene differs in Spain, Boston, and LA? Where do you think your music is best received?
Reuben: That’s really tough.
Reuben: It’s perceived really differently everywhere.
Austin: Boston receives very well because a lot of it is our friends. They’re really hyped that, I mean they really like this music, but a lot of our friends like going to the shows to get buck.
Reuben: It’s a very small scene.
Jack: Everyone knows each other.
Austin: In LA, when we play here, it’s also been received really well. People know more Reuben and Jack but us like playing in LA and not knowing a lot of people there, and seeing how they receive it, it’s really cool too. It’s similar to Boston, we just don’t know the people.
Reuben: People are more confused in LA for a little bit. In Boston we only play places where people know us so they know what to expect, where in LA often times people have no idea who we are. And it’s just kind of like… probably kind of abrasive and confusing at first when someone’s up in your face and there are noises coming out of Jack’s guitar and stuff.
Jack: On the East Coast we were playing more hardcore shows, well, not harcore shows. It was more abrasive. There are going to be mosh pits and shit. And here it’s way less. We find ourselves on weird bills, but that’s just the scene in LA. The people love shoegaze here.
Austin: There’s a lot more noise experimental shit over on the East Coast.
Cole: A lot darker.
Reuben: It’s sunny over here.
Austin: It’s warm, not cold. One difference.
“They’re really hyped that, I mean they really like this music, but a lot of our friends like going to the shows to get buck.” -Austin Corona
Reuben: Spain was cool
Jack: Spain was sick.
Reuben: Everyone was super nice. Everyone was just really passionate and loved music and there was almost no bullshit there.
Cole: The scene in Valencia was very small, so I think they were very embracing of a foreign band wanting to play out in that area. We met some really great people. Oscar Punk Records, Mascarpone Discos. We met them and they offered to release “No.” A little release in Spain, just right off the back. Really welcoming to our music. I feel like LA’s always been exciting for me to play in, just because I know less people maybe. In Boston I know more people, so here it seems a little more mysterious to me, and that makes it more exciting to play.
It’s more like a real audience, it seems, if you don’t know them.
Austin: Yeah totally.
Like they’re purely coming to see you, they’re choosing to be there rather than feeling obliged because they know you.
Austin: It’s the people who come for the music rather than coming for a friend. It’s a completely different experience. Seeing people talk to you after shows, people who are just like, “Oh yeah that was really tight,” or people who are like freaking out about how good the show was or whatever.
Cole: It’s much easier to be fearless in front of people who you don’t have a history with because you can be whoever you want and you know that that’s all that they know of you and you’re able to create something for them. First impressions are really cool.
Do you think that that’s one of the things you’re excited about for the tour?
Cole: Yeah. I’m really excited to see how we’re received in all these different places.
Austin: Especially the South. I can’t wait.
Cole: I feel like Austin’s pretty, I feel like if we were playing in somewhere like Mississippi….
Reuben: That would be gnarly.
That would be a life experience.
Austin: Minnesota or something.
The next tour?
Cole: I wanna be in a place where they chase us away.
Austin: I would love that.
Reuben: We’ve never actually been chased away or asked to stop, which is amazing considering some of the weird places we’ve played.
Have you had any bad or weird experiences playing shows?
In what way?
Reuben: No comment.
Cole: No comment.
“I wanna be in a place where they chase us away.” -Cole Haden
“I would love that.” -Austin Corona
Your tour officially kicked off last night, do you think it went well? Are you hoping to keep the same energy for the rest of the tour?
Reuben: It was really great.
Austin: Last night was sick. Last night was really cool. The bands, Furbus is really cool. Orchin is really tight. I never heard them actually, until last night, live, and it was super cool.
Are both of them touring with you?
Austin: No, not Furbus, just Orchin. They had this last minute DJ, I didn’t see any of it, apparently he whipped out…
Reuben: He was rattling chains on sheet metal with a contact mic.
Austin: He put a mic in a Ziploc bag and put it in his mouth. It was pretty crazy.
Jack: It was a cool show.
Would you consider this your first tour?
Austin: For sure.
Jack: First legit tour, for sure.
What struggles do you anticipate while touring?
Austin: My knees.
Jack: Two bands in one van.
Austin: My knee is gonna break.
Are you friends with the members of Orchin?
Reuben: One is a really good friend. The others we know.
Jack: They’re all acquaintances.
Reuben: They’re all super nice.
Cole: For now.
Jack: 30 days later.
You’re like, “Thanks! Bye forever!”
Cole: I have high hopes. I’m a pretty optimistic person in general actually so.
When does the tour end?
Cole: June 30th, is the last show in Phoenix.
Although it’s really far in the future, do you have post-tour plans? Are you heading back to Boston?
Cole: In the fall.
Reuben: We have a couple of LA shows planned after the tour.
Jack: Yeah, we got a handful of California shows for a good two weeks after tour and then we all meet back again to continue being on the East Coast and doing that shit.
Who the fuck cares about music?
“Retail is where it’s at.” -Jack Wetmore
Are you packing a bunch of glitter?
Cole: We’ll see. I’m like hoping there’s room for a suitcase for me. I’m like a diva, I can’t leave the house without a change of clothes and like, all my toiletries. So I’m going to have trouble packing light for this.
And not accumulating on the way as you find things you need.
Cole: That I NEED. Right. That’s the key word. Thrift stores are really big.
Reuben: That’s going to be our biggest problem, thrift stores.
Austin: Dude, yeah.
It’ll be a van of miscellaneous possessions you’ve accumulated.
Jack: We can start a thrift store.
Cole: The van’s going to be like, 40 percent chachkies all the time.
The Mobile Model/Actriz Thrift Store. Fuck the tour.
Cole: We’re just opening up a store.
Austin: The whole van is just going to smell like different peoples’ smells.
Who the fuck cares about music?
Jack: Retail is where it’s at.
You can check out Model/Actriz’s new EP and the rest of their music here.