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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Thirteen Years of Floor Model

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In 1999 drummer Dave Somerscales and guitarist Jeff Callesen were informed that a band had canceled a show at Quarters. They stopped into the Riverwest bar and made the case to management to give their hastily assembled two-piece act, Floor Model, a shot on the stage. Quarters' management agreed and the band's 13-year-long (and counting) history began.

Somerscales and Callesen have remained consistent members of the band since that first gig. After using three different bass players over the years and briefly returning to a two-piece lineup, the group got Mark E. Lee (also of Chop Top Toronados) to sign up to fill the vacant role.

"I told them I'd do it until they found someone else," Lee recalls. "It's been five years now, so it's been a long temp job."

Floor Model has developed a punk sound that is distinctly old school. They usually bust out a cover during each set, including songs written by 7 Seconds, Black Flag, The Ramones, Dead Kennedys and other punk pioneers.

In addition to the sound, the band captures some of the anti-authoritarian energy of the genre. Some of the local causes they've aligned themselves with via benefit shows include Occupy Riverwest and the effort to recall Scott Walker.

"We try to stay close to the punk-rock ethos—the songs are fun and we try to project that to the audience, but also we try to question what's going on in society and reflect that in some of the songs," Somerscales says.

Despite occasional political content, the band stops short of preaching too loudly to the choir.

"I don't like the term 'political band,'" Somerscales explains. "Everything is political. You get out of bed in the morning and it's political. But I think politics are still important in music; there's still a role for it."

The band's latest recording, Humiliation Payday, was released late last year and features songs with political angles ("Sell Me") as well as more lighthearted themes ("Roadkill").

Band members agree that their favorite show to date was their 10th anniversary party in 2009. In much the same way a married couple might celebrate a milestone, the trio set up an epic party at the Falcon Bowl.

"We went through a couple barrels, did it up with food, and had posters from the last 10 years on display around the back room," Callesen says. "We invited everyone we could think of—our family, kids and friends were all there."

This familial atmosphere is what has kept the band rocking along.

"I think the reason we're able to keep playing is we have the right attitude about it," Somerscales says. "We do it for fun and don't worry about the issue of whose songs we are going to play. We don't have that ego bullshit. We're not in it for the money, so we don't squabble about that."

And in another 13 years?

"We don't have any intention of stopping. It's too much fun," Callesen says.

"We'll still be playing. We'll have a 20th anniversary party," Somerscales says with a laugh, before reflecting further. "We've had folks in the band get married and have kids and their life changes, but the band keeps going. It's great."

Floor Model plays Circle-A Café on April 27 at 8 p.m. with The Hullmen.
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