Living as a Mod in the 21st Century

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Modzine: A Mod Revival Legacy

Before you had blogs like this one, you had Mod zines. Dedicated Modernists from across the globe spent countless hours, researching, writing, interviewing, editing, distributing and sharing their views of a Mod Mod World. They touched on every aspect of the scene: music, clothes, scooters, event reviews, scene gossip and more. Some lasted only a couple of issues while others had a run of a few years.

You want a look inside the mind of a teenage Mod of that era? You can't find a better way. By revisiting some of them, you realize that some things have changed while others are set in stone. Today, I celebrate these well dressed DIY pioneers by presenting to you a few of their creations and revealing a few nuggets found buried within the pages, bad grammar, poor spelling and all.

Sometimes I find it hard maintaining a blog. A quick look at these and you soon discover that I have it easy. Usually written on an old fashion typewriter and assembled by hand, they were a labor of love. Friends, this is part of our collective Mod heritage.

Get Smart - Issue 6 - March 1984 - Sydney Australia

The zine that will tell you all you need to know about the Mod scene in the land down under. It tackles a wide variety of subjects and is full of photos. I love hearing about bands that you never heard of and that were only influential locally but predicted to be the next The Jam.

It has the Parka Avenue stamp of approval for:

Three articles on the global Mod scene, the Irish, the French and the German, in a column called News Of The World.

Favorite quote:

"After a tiresome day of riding around in the rain for hours... I don't care what happens now, just as long as my pipe doesn't drop off!"

You learn something new every day:

Northern Soul fave - Tainted Love - Gloria James

Things that will never change:

"The most driven scooter in Bamberg is the P80X Vespa, but I don't like it, as it looks too modern."

Life After '66 - Issue 3 - 1984 - Leicester UK

This is your typical black and white stapled mid-eighties zine. Rants, album reviews, style advice. It's all there.

Top read:

A two page article entitled Muddy Waters - The Father Of Electric Blues.

Favorite quotes:

"This magazine was put together with all the skill and finesse of a Taxidermist stuffing a chicken. But without the sage and onion."

(In the Letters section) "Don't be scared off by other youths, who know next week the new trend might be eutnanasia?!"

Worth a second look:

The one page article on collars.

Things that will never change:

"So instead of following others create something new, it is far better to be a shepard than one of his flock"

Out In The Street - Issue 3 - 1985 - Rotherham UK

This is your classic 22-page, black and white Mod zine, centred mainly around music. It's a bit of a strenuous read since it's written without a single paragraph.

Wish I would have been there moment:

"The Prisoners came on to mass cheering, this was what I had been waiting for [...]"

Favorite quote:

In an article about the band Studio '68: "They then kicked out the bassist 'cos they didn't like his haircut!"

Remember those?

The band profile with a series of cheesy questions.

Things that will never change:

From page 1

Results of "Out In the Street" Charts!

Fave 5 Sixties Bands / Artists !

1, The Small Faces.
2, The Action.
3, Otis Redding.
4, The Who.
5, The Creation.

The Hipster - Issue 3 - 1985 - Coventry UK

Today, the word "Hipster" has a whole different connotation and Mods usually stand clear of that label. Back during the Mod Revival days, it was a whole different story. Even during the sixties, being hip was the equivalent of being cool. This zine has all the elements of being just that. Printed on glossy paper, it has a very professional look and the content reflects the high standards.

I managed to track down Andy Clarke, the editor of The Hipster and I asked him if he would tell us about his experience at the helm of the mag. This is what he had to say:
"We started The Hipster as there was nothing else quite like it at the time. We were from Coventry and called ourselves the Hip Citizens and were all into the 60s more than any of the revival stuff. I worked as a paste up artist on local papers so had access to a pro studio which was something else that set us apart in terms of production standards. Mod is all about one upmanship after all! We did three issues and each improved on the last in terms of style and content.
We bagged some great interviews with people like Jimmy James who'd been at the heart of the 60s London scene as well as original mods from the Coventry area who gave us some fascinating insights. It was hard work as it had to fit around day jobs and social stuff but worth the effort. We started issue four but I decided to move to London part way through so it never got printed. I still have the artwork which included a four page interview with Jimmy Smith. The guy was a gent and invited my star struck 19 year old self to have dinner with him and his wife at his fancy London hotel. He was fascinated that all these years later there was another audience of well dressed kids lapping up his music. I got all my LPs signed and thirty years on, still treasure them.
Running the mag got us noticed and we connected with like minded people not just in the UK, but continental Europe, the U.S. and Japan where we even had mods getting us deals sorted for shops in their countries to stock it. This is all before the Internet and all done with phone calls and hand written letters. I still make my living designing magazines although it's corporate and nowhere near as much fun as The Hipster. Some of the writing and design is frankly awful but I'm really proud of what we did back then. Editions were even featured in a style exhibition at the V&A museum which was a great honour. I'll sign off saying to young mods of today that are reading this in the same way I used to sign off my editorials: Keep looking, keep moving, stay cool!"
Favorite quote:

From the interview with Fiona Werrell, a French Mod from Lyon:

"Everyone should bring new ideas to the scene, something to make us stand out from the others, this is what Mod should be in my opinion. Within the Mod world each Mod should stand out as an individual."

Things that will never change:

What about scooters, you've got one haven't you?

Andy Farley - 19: I have but it's a bust at the moment, it should be on the road soon, if not, I'll get another one, I'd really like a GS.

Must read:

The Jimmy James interview on page 27

This is just a small sample of zines to hit the streets during the Mod Revival.  I have many more I will feature in futur posts, all with their own unique twist.