Living as a Mod in the 21st Century

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Most - What Timeless Mod Music Sounds Like

To those of you that still have any doubt that Mod is global, think again. Some of the best bands around these days come from every corner of the globe. Case in point, the Swedish band The Most. With their energetic mix of good ol' Beat and Power Pop and drawing their inspiration from Blues, Jazz and RnB, they are guaranteed not to disappoint.

Parka Avenue had the distinct pleasure to interview Frans Perris and Magnus Kolberg. Aside from being witty and having a great sense of humour, they both skillfully assume the guitar and vocal duties of the band.

The Most on tour in London
You have strong Sixties influences. How do you incorporate that sound and make it new and contemporary? 

Magnus: We never really listened to Mod revival bands of the late 70s. To us Mod music evolved and developed in the late 50s and early 60s. We just pick up from there I guess. I prefer the term timeless to contemporary. 

Frans: I think the music leading up to the 60s is very interesting; old blues, RnB, Soul, Bluegrass, Jazz, Music Hall, etc. The creativity of 60s bands is something we can relate to, finding our own sound. 70s Punk was our skiffle though, learning chords and such. What is contemporary? Everything is tied up in its time, popular today, gone tomorrow. If something old sounds good today, it’s probably because it is just that, so who cares?!

What is your song making process like?

Frans: We try different ideas, sketches if you like. If something works, we build around that. We always record as much live as possible with drums, bass and guitars. 

Magnus: Any member has the power of veto at any given time of the songwriting-production process.

Sweden is not necessarily known as a bastion of Mod culture. Tell us about the band's path and growth. How did you manage to become one of the scene's leading bands? 

Magnus: We got together in the late 90s. Some quick line-up changes and then Mats, aka Slim, and Marcus Holmberg stayed on. All four of us share a love for 60s Beat music and thus heading in the same direction. Our first release was in 2004 on a compilation for the label Garageland but we had been doing gigs for a while already. 

Frans: Sweden has always been very popular for touring bands. They all came here in the 60s. Bands like The Who, Small Faces, Rolling Stones, Kinks, Beatles, etc. Maybe that’s also why many of them had Swedish girlfriends…ha ha. Sweden had its own big Mod scene in the 60s with fine bands like  The Tages, who once backed Chuck Berry. Tages also, on one occasion in 1966, lent their Gibson SG to a certain guitar smashing Pete Townshend, that in itself is bravery….ha ha.

In the 21st Century, the Mod scene seems to have exploded internationally with bands like The Riots from Moscow, French Boutik from Paris, RAF from Portland, The Strypes from Cavan, Ireland and you guys from Umeå, Sweden. How do you feel to be part of a worldwide movement? 

Magnus: Fantastic! All the bands are really supporting each other and we have toured and played with our mates French Boutik a lot now. Salut mes amis! 

Frans: It feels amazing! Like a big family. We grew up with the same music as everyone else. I went to school in the UK and in the US as a youngster. Being half Italian I never thought of having to stay in one country. We’re all in this together.

In May 2013, you released your first full length album Auto-Destructive Art and played the famous Cavern Club in Liverpool. What was that experience like? 

Magnus: It is amazing to perform on that stage! Lots of mojo in the air. 

Frans: Being from a small town ourselves we absolutely love Liverpool and all the wonderful people we met there. Liverpool has such a history, heavily bombed during WWII, trading port, its own stew ...oh, and of course The Beatles. 

Tell us more about your album. 

Magnus: It’s got some nice tunes…

Frans: Rushed!! I was in the Army. The mixing console blew up, ended up using a crappy one. Recorded over some very hot summer days, drummer Mats only in his drawers! You wouldn’t want to know. Yes, it has its moments. 

Clothes and style are an integral part of being a Mod. Every photo I've seen of the band, you guys exude cool, going from a very classic dark suit to psychedelic, colourful late 60s garments. How important is your overall look? 

Magnus: I feel that everything is important. The sound, the look, the whole package. It helps us focus in these days of ”standard-musician-roadie-style-fashion”. Have fun! 

Frans: Yeah, clothes are fun, wear them! I think John Lydon said that. The old Bluesmen dressed up to entertain. I also like the style of early 60s bands like The Yardbirds, the Stones, Pretty Things, Them and The Small Faces when they were all searching for a look but didn’t quite have it together. 

Photo by Roger Degerman 
Since we're starting a new year. Tell us about a found memory of 2014 as a band.

Magnus: Playing The Cavern for the second time. Hanging out with Ian Barrett in Manchester. Playing in Paris. Playing in London. Touring Sweden with French Boutik. Fracturing my right collar bone… oops, sorry not that!

Frans: Performing at the Purple Weekend in Spain. It was bass player Martin’s second gig with us. When he saw the venue, a huge stadium, his face turned white as a sheet of paper…ha ha. We played it cool. We do this every time. 

What's in store for The Most in 2015? 

Magnus: We will play in London for The March of the Mods, (March 8th Fiddle’s Elbow). We have a full length album out sometime soon. Maybe some new videos too. 

Frans: We will probably implode and die, who knows.

Well, we certainly don't want Frans' predictions to come true. To keep up to date with what faith has in store for them and news of their forthcoming doom and demise, head over to The Most Facebook page. And to put your hands on their music, head over here right now!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

I AM a Mod

For the first time since I started this blog, five years ago, I had to scrap a post and start over. The one I just fed to the paper shredder was meant to celebrate the 5th year anniversary of this wonderful adventure. It was pompous, self congratulatory and it simply wasn't me. You could argue that it was very "Mod" though.

Instead, what I should be doing, is simply thank all you loyal readers for your continuous support. Many of you are also an integral part of Parka Avenue's success and you should be acknowledged.

First, the We Are The Mods radio show. Warren Peace might be vilified for his views but I rarely met somebody as passionate about the scene and as supportive of all my endeavours. I love doing my Vintage Vinyl From The Vault segment and I hope to continue to introduce you to many more unknown 45s from my collection. I haven't run out yet! Penny Lane, co-host with Warren on We Are The Mods, is just as important. Her own show, Punks in Parkas, has been on the air for 10 years! She works tirelessly and her positive attitude is contagious.

The Mod Generation website is, in my opinion, by far the best resource to keep you abreast of everything that is happening in the Modern World. It's always a source of pride whenever one of my posts is featured on their online magazine Mod Scene Weekly.

I want to thank my friend DJ Lee Modern and DJ ParkLife for handing me over the reigns of my city's longest running weekly Mod night, The Mod Club. Currently in it's 8th year, I hope I'm a good steward of its legacy. Our new location, the Bar de Courcelle, is simply fantastic. I couldn't ask for better management and a more dynamic staff. I love these guys! That place is truly like a second home. It's packed every Saturday and the atmosphere is second to none. I only have one complaint. It needs more Mods!

My crew of regular guest DJs are like family. Napoleon 67 and DJ Shado are like brothers. They are true Mods in every sense of the word and have impeccable taste. Then, we have my Soul brother (in spirit and in music) DJ Ben Shulman. I owe half of my record collection to this guy. He's my record pimp and an encyclopedia of knowledge when it comes to Soul music. And he's only 21! Put us on stage together and we are the Sam & Dave of DJs. If any of you are visiting Montreal and want to spent a great Saturday night, get in touch with me and you'll get VIP treatment.

Speaking of DJs, I need to express my gratitude to all of you out there that had me over or have extended an invitation to guest DJ in your city. Ty Jesso and Sean Quinn at Soulelujah in Boston, Mike and Teddy at the TNT night in Washington, Garry at the Mod Club in Ottawa, Rob Fearless at Save Your Soul in Baltimore, Eric at the High Rollers Weekend in Las Vegas, Tom at the Secret Soul Club in Cleveland and Sir Eric Colin at MODchicago.

Enough with the love fest. Let's get serious for a minute. There's a reason why I entitled this post "I AM a Mod". That's because I am and I'm proud of it. I'm tired of people saying things like "I used to be a Mod" or "I affiliate myself with the movement but I'm not really one". Better yet "I don't like labels" or "I see myself as one but I don't like to call myself one". Stop that! You're either a Mod or you're not. There's no grey area. I've NEVER heard a Skinhead say: "I'm sort of a Skin." With them, it's clear as day. There's no ambiguity. There's no such thing as a part-time Skin.

Now, I don't expect my vision of Mod to be your own. That's what's great about being a Mod. It's a movement of self-expression and individuality. And don't let others dictate what the definition of Mod is for you. Not even me! But for Mod's sake, proclame it and stand proud!

I'm also tired of people complaining about the state of the contemporary Mod scene. We all know someone like that. "It was better back then", "The scene here is nothing like (insert part of the world here) !" or "They're are no good Mod / Soul / 60s night in the city" are comments I hear too often. Stop whining and do something about it! Get involved! The scene is only as good as the people that are part of it.

Write your own blog. Play in a band. If you don't know how to play an instrument, book a band and organize a night. Don't have time? Go out and see a local band. Visit your local record shop. Start a podcast. Put a scooter rally together. Too big of an undertaking? Support the nearest one. Join a scooter club. Start your own scooter club. Simply call your mates and go out for a scooter ride. Wear a suit. Put some effort in what you're wearing. But please, I beg you, stop bitching!

I don't have all the answers. But at least I try. Who knew that a 43 year old Mod from Montreal, Canada would write these words 5 years after he had started. English is not even my native tongue! If you have followed this blog for a number of years, you know one thing, I'll never dictate what Mod is or what it is supposed to be. You can make up your own mind about that. I aim to inspire, motivate and ignite passion.

So, my fellow Modernists, adorn proudly your finest suit, straddle that Lambretta and head for the nearest dance floor. Invade it and stake a claim to it. "I AM A MOD!" is your new war cry and I'm right beside you chanting it. "I am a Mod! I am a Mod! I AM... I AM... I AM A MOD!"