The Hollywood Models are possibly one of the most peculiar acts in sunny Melbourne right now. Somewhere between a post-punk and a pop group, the six members occupy the skins of characters with in-depth, complex and often tragic back stories. This formula is of course served with a strong sense of humour and irony, the characters themselves representing highly exaggerated traits. There’s the Centrelink bum, the beatnik who missed the boat, the well-meaning dad, the bitter son of an immigrant, the scientist and the skier. A loveable bunch of oddball inventions, The Hollywood Models embrace their characters in promotional material, their videos, and their stage show. Not to be written of as a ‘joke band,’ The Hollywood Models boast impressive musical and songwriting skills, and their line up includes members of outstanding local acts like the Listen Records associated Shag Planet and subversive Melbourne powerhouse Chelsea Bleach.
At the launch of their first single ‘Fare Evade’, The Hollywood Models staged a haphazard rock opera which included disappointed parents and a surprise wedding with an officiator in tow. Led by the blunt and unappealing, if well-meaning bogan Filth Pit, the group’s characters are constantly in play, even when they partake in interviews, as I discovered. Ahead of the launch of their hilarious, bombastic and vibrant Double A-Side single The Party Life/Adult Party Life at Bar Open later this month, I sat down with a couple of members of The Hollywood Models – or rather, the characters they embody – and after learning about their dense back-stories, partook in an intense, revealing and hard-hitting interview.
I begun by asking lead vocalist Filth Pitt about the band’s first single ‘Fare Evade’. Reliant on the Newstart government allowance, and currently embroiled in his seventh university course, Filth has some pretty strong opinions on fare evasion. “I feel many people look past the hidden benefits of the faulty Myki system. Fare evading is more than just saving money, it provides that adrenaline rush that money can’t buy. And when you get busted, why not treat that ‘pulling a runner’ as a chance to prove to yourself that you can do it, just like breaking that PB during your exercise regime. I heard they’re scrapping the on the spot fine which sucks because it takes away the full experience that the Myki system can provide on the daily grind.” I followed Filth up by quizzing him as to whether his opinion on fare evading was at all based on his sheer inability to top up his Myki, and he insisted, “No, I can’t afford to top up, but that’s irrelevant!”.
The video for The Hollywood Models first single ‘Fare Evade’ features Filth on a Tinder date as its initial premise, so I enquired as to whether he had any advice when using the popular dating app. He starts by telling me his favourite opening line, which he describes as “flawless – you’re the plastic powerade bottle to my hose and cone-piece. But if I’m two things and you’re just one, maybe you could be the hole I’m looking for?” He goes on to tell me that he actually uses Tinder in a somewhat non-traditional way . “I don’t necessarily use Tinder for the same reasons other people might. It’s all about cutting corners and utilising Tinder as an ultimate life hack: ask to roll as many darts as possible because you get paid ‘tomorrow’, say you don’t usually drink so they offer to share theirs with you while you subtly sip from your flask, pull a runner while your date powders their nose in the bathroom post-meal. The list goes on.”
The bands newest member, drummer Kev The Kid, is perhaps their most tragic. His backstory is full of intrigue, conspiracy, loss and redemption. His tumultuous life thus far involved him coming to Australia as a boy, only for his father to perish in a construction accident at a young age. Kev took up a job at the very same construction company with an ulterior motive, determined to prove that the company was responsible for his fathers untimely death. At least, those are the rumours. I asked Kev to clear up some of that innuendo, and he didn’t take my question very lightly. “Well bloody hell mate, you don’t hold back on the personal questions do you? My publicist told me the media would be confrontational, but shit. Bringing up the death of my old man and throwing wild accusations about sabotaging construction companies in the one breath. Just where do you get off? I refuse to talk about the murder of my father or address these lofty questions about what happened at my old job.” He calmed down a bit when I asked him about his friend and mentor Skip McCarthy, with whom Kev learned to channel his unbridled aggression through playing drums. “If it weren’t for Skip I’d probably still be spending my days bashing on the top of bin lids and smashing durries on the streets of Brisbane. Sometimes I still feel so pissed off. But I learned a lot during all the shit times, I wouldn’t be the fella I am today if it weren’t for the hardship.” He went on to say “It helped me get more resourceful ya know? And Skip helped me turn that into something valuable, into something that could earn me some dosh and make people happy.I feel like I’m a better person these days, not as shitty. But seriously man f*** you.” Utterly charming.
Kev has started working on a Hollywood Models side project, producing custom drum kits. I asked him to tell me a little bit more about this venture. “For the record, I’ve sold around 3,000 home kits in past couple of months. It’s been hard keeping up with the demand but I’ve moved the production side of it on a remote island where my cousins live. The place is called Phillip Island, you might have heard of it. Anyway, they recently staged a coup there and now rule over it with a brutal regime. They’ve managed to transition their whole economy from farming and tourism to ‘Kev the Kid Custom Drums’ production.”
The Hollywood Models have a song about living in a square house, which is based on the house that Filth bought with fellow Hollywood Model Svetlana Del Rey, the ski attire donning backing vocalist of the band. Their marriage and house purchase fell apart as quickly as they came together, and I asked Svetlana to shed a little more light on their whirlwind romance, and if perhaps the adult party life caught up with them. “Gosh we’ve been through so much – and yes, it’s all been quite abrupt and spontaneous. Something about the way he used to look at me always kept it fresh. His eyes would always light up the same way they did the first time I accepted his invitation to go to the greyhounds on our first date. I can still remember the sunshine in his eyes when I said “I do”. He was always so full of enthusiasm! We loved all the same things – gambling, drinking, dancing, singing. And of course therefore; partying. It’s been such a wild ride. But you’re so right – the adult party life started losing its novelty when the jokes about our marriage became unfunny, when the drinking became stale… we just got bitter. I never thought we, Filth and Svet – the unstoppable cookers, would fall apart. Thank god we both got out of that awful monochrome square house though!”
Easily the most fascinating member of The Hollywood Models is keyboardist Doctor Acorn. Although when I addressed him by this name, he quickly corrected me – “It’s Ego now. Doctor Ego to you. Make a note of it. “Doctor Acorn” was a long time ago. A really long time ago. A past better forgotten if you ask me. Now enough about him, more about me.” What makes Dr. Acorn/Ego such an interesting character is the disputed stories about how he came to be. The Hollywood Models told me that there are some who believe the doctor was born of a unicorn, others who say the enigmatic figure has existed since the dawn of time, and even some who suggest he is the product of a grad student experiment gone horribly wrong. I asked Dr. Ego about the nature of his mysterious existence and what the truth was. He explained “If I were to divulge to you the truth of my existence, your readers would tear themselves free from their screen, smash through the door and scream at the heavens an animalistic cry so foul that no other creature will have ever created such noise. I’ll give you one clue though. Having an extra arm or two makes playing those keyboards a breeze. But I’ll leave the rest of my history in a mystery, to spare you and your readers such a fate.”
After dealing with the personal questions, the band shared with me the story of their new Double A Side single, The Party Life/Adult Party Life.“The songs examine the challenges of living the party life through different stages of life. We feel it’s important never to forget the value of the party experience and the multifaceted beauty that comes with it.”
When it comes to The Hollywood Models, anything is possible within the world that they’ve created. The dense character mythology feeds the overarching story, and they somehow land between tongue in cheek and dead serious, if only for the quality of their music. These guys and girls are not just a joke, or any sort of gimmick. They’re a truly great band, with an enthralling story, that just happens to be comprised of characters who are so much larger than life that they do not exist.
You can catch The Hollywood Models when they launch their new double single, The Party Life/Adult Party Life, at Bar Open on the 11th of November.