New Model Army played their first gig in Bradford on October 23rd 1980. Its founding members were Justin Sullivan, Stuart Morrow and Phil Tompkins. The threesome had already been together for a couple of years in a number of Bradford bands with other musicians and singers but in the Autumn of 1980, they decided to form a stripped-down three-piece, their music drawing on a wide collection of influences and fuelled by their passions for Punk Rock and Northern Soul. Within a few months drummer Phil Tomkins had left to be replaced by Rob Waddington. The band slowly built up a local following and created a unique style based on Justin's song-writing and Stuart's virtuosity on lead-bass.
They spent the next couple of years opening for several iconic bands including several visits to the Lyceum in London to open for Hawkwind who they had close relationship with.
Early in 1984, the producer of "The Tube", the most important live music show on TV, had seen NMA in concert and invited them to fill the ‘unknown' slot on the program. Having originally asked the band to perform their provocative anti-anthem, "Vengeance", the TV Company suddenly got cold feet about the song's lyrics minutes before broadcast and asked the band to change songs. It made no difference. Somehow twenty to thirty followers had managed to get into the TV studio and when NMA began with "Christian Militia" the crowd went wild and an electric atmosphere was transmitted around the country. Suddenly NMA were underground news. Their first mini-album, "Vengeance" knocked "The Smiths" from the top of the Independent Charts and the major record companies, who had rejected them less than two years earlier, were now begging to sign the band.
A truly legendary Yorkshire band with a huge fan base known as The Family return to The Willowman Festival as Saturday night headliners.