Music for Models describes itself as “a band that can play all occasions or events.” It certainly has earned that description, since the group has been longtime staple in Northeast Pennsylvania, accumulating years of music experience, and every member is a full-time performing musician.

What do you remember about the first time you performed in public?
Marko Marcinko: I started playing music at a very young age, and then professionally at 14 years old. I remember performing in front of family and friends, and it always being so much fun to play music with others or solo.
Steve Kurilla: I joined band in fifth grade. Studied throughout school, started jamming in garage bands with my friends and got gigs in local coffee shops. I went to college for music education and played with several symphonies and choral groups.

How did you guys meet?
SK: After going to school for music education and classical percussion, I decided I wanted to gig as a working musician, so I figured I should learn how to play drum set. I began studying with Marko Marcinko for a couple years, and he eventually started using me on various gigs. We’ve been through a couple vocalists, guitarists, bass players, and I’ve tried to quit, but he won’t let me.

How did you guys come up with your name?
MM: It developed out of the thought process that music is for everyone and anyone who enjoys it. A model is defined as a person with a role either to promote, display or advertise commercial products (notably fashion clothing), or to serve as a visual aide for people who are creating works of art or to pose for photography. Or, a model citizen.

What is the process like for writing your music?
MM: Everyone in the band writes original music and creates spontaneously while soloing or recreating an arrangement of a cover tune or jazz standards that we perform. Many of the songs we do reflect what we enjoy playing as individual musicians and what sounds best with our vocalist Tara Michelle (former back up singer with John Legend, Lauryn Hill, Elton John and numerous studio recordings). We play many of the standard cover songs that get the crowd up and dancing, but also play some unexpected gems.

Who has influenced you over the years?
SK: I like listening to a lot of different music. Classical, jazz, folk, rock, pop, blues and artists such as: Bob Dylan, Stravinsky, Talking Heads, Max Roach, Miles Davis, Johnny Cash, Bach, Led Zeppelin, Mozart, the Beatles. I enjoy storytellers in music, improvisational music. Any instrument can tell a story.

How have you changed as a musician over the years?
SK: I’d like to think I’ve learned to listen better. Ninety-five percent of drumming is not about soloing or doing anything flashy. It’s about making the music feel good. It took me several years to figure that out. So much of drumming looks like it’s just bashing away on a drum set, I’ve come to appreciate playing quietly, playing with brushes and even my hands. Acoustic gigs are often my favorite, because there’s a whole other level of musicality that can happen when the volume is at a whisper. Playing loudly is fun, too, when it’s appropriate. I just don’t like to feel like I’m playing football when I sit behind my drum set. But on the flip side of that, it’s also surreal when I’m playing with a band and I realize everything’s out of control; it’s too loud, it’s too fast, and then I look at the guitarist and he smiles and turns up his amp. Everyone in the place is dancing and sweat is pouring off my face on to my drums and cymbals. That’s one of those moments when everything is right with the world.

How has the NEPA music scene changed over the years?
MM: It has grown with many more young performers and better music education for those up-and-coming musicians. However, there has always been a good amount of creative musicians that played in cover bands, wedding groups, jazz quartets, blues bands, original singer songwriters, rock groups, country bands and so on. So, each generation offers their own spin and brand on what they are doing. This is why it never gets old in NEPA. We are lucky!

What are some of your favorite memories as a musician?
SK: Every time I sit down behind my drums I try to make it something special. It’s my own little yoga studio or meditation mat. If I’m in the right frame of mind, everything feels great and life’s problems wash away. Like anything else, sometimes you have to fake it, and on those gigs, it’s only okay. But when everything is cool and I’ve got my head on straight, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be than sitting behind my drum set.

What is the biggest challenge?
MM: Being consistent with each performance, and, of course, booking gigs.

What are your future goals for the band?
MM: Play great music. Perform as often as possible, and share our talents with so many wonderful music fans.
— samantha stanich

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