By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Oct 22, 2002 at 5:57 AM

Milwaukee musician Matt Sims has been around a long time. From his days with local ska outfit The Pacers to his days touring the country as the boisterous frontman and sometimes bass player with Citizen King, Sims has made Milwaukee home.

His older brother, who played guitar with the likes of Curtis Mayfield, Barry White and Giorgio Moroder introduced Sims to music, and had a huge and diverse record collection, from which Sims gained a wide-ranging musical education.

For more than a year, Sims has been out in Los Angeles, where he put music aside for a year and worked as a fashion model. But the lure of music proved too much and Sims is back on wax with a new disc as Mount Sims.

"Ultra Sex" is a risqué techno set that brings to mind the lyrics of Prince and the rigid sequencing of Depeche Mode's earliest records. The disc was released first in Germany on the respected International Dee Jay Gigolo Records and Sims has spent much of the year performing in Germany, Spain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Japan. Recently, after Emperor Norton Records issued "Ultra Sex" in the U.S., he's been performing in New York and Los Angeles.

We recently asked Sims about Mount Sims, "Ultra Sex," Milwaukee and more.

OMC: Interested observers have noted that you've been out of the public eye for a while, although we hear you were -- and maybe still are -- working as a model. Bring us up to date on what you were doing before the Mount Sims project.

MS: Modeling for a company called JPA , dj-ing and becoming a homosexual.

OMC: How did this record come about?

MS: It made me. I didn't make it.

OMC: What's on your turntable these days?

MS: The Rolling Stones and Joy Division and My Robot Friend.

OMC: Are those records affecting the music you're making at the moment? The album is quite a departure from your previous projects.

MS: No, not really to both of those statements. While writing I don't listen to anything. I go on an aural vacation. I'm more influenced by visual arts. This is way more about what I see as opposed to doing something lame like some direct interpretation of the music that I hear. If you actually research the music that I was doing before the previous band that I was with, you'll find out that these groups like The Pacers and Electric Company and Gravity were nothing more than New Wave bands. My very first band was actually a Joy Division cover band ... I was 13. With a guy named Josh Modell.

OMC: The record seems to be blowing up big in Europe before in the U.S., why do you think that is? Are American listeners still a little too conservative?

{INSERT_RELATED}

MS: Yes, America is a new country. Europe is old, with way more culture. There are other reasons however for America's conservatism. If you look at America's history and direct your attention to where the industrial revolution left mid-America, it is possible to still see a system of institutional devices (government, family and social ethic) that respond to art as a taboo. If you're not burning your hands off in some factory, working for some retirement fund, having children to divert your attention from the fact that your life sucks and you're starting to look and act like your father (even if you are a woman), or fighting a war so that you can buy gas for $1.29 rather than $1.32 to motor yourself to the can plant, then you're not a responsible young American. Art is left for fags, DJs and the occasional kid who breaks out of the mold.

OMC: Do you get back to Milwaukee at all these days? Are you planning to come here to perform?

MS: Yes, (but) not to perform.

OMC: Do you maintain contact with any of your former cohorts?

MS: No.

OMC: What's your next move?

MS: New York.

OMC: Do you have any words of wisdom for the folks back home in Brew City?

MS: Try not to look like your fathers.

For more information, you can visit Mount Sims on the Web at www.emperornorton.com.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.