November 13th-15th saw the Louder Than Words Festival take place at the prestige of Manchester’s Palace Hotel. The annual music conference saw an array of speakers and content on the music business to writing and performing, as a weekend of artistic appreciation and celebration. Emily Schofield reports…
Saturday afternoon’s events saw a series of interesting discussion panels, Mods: Fashion, Music, and Popular Culture explored the history of Mod culture.
Taking us on a journey of fashion, music, scooters and identity, the panel entertained and informed. With anecdotes and insights on Britain’s arguably most popular sub-culture, we explored how the ceaseless style of the Mod still influences today’s contemporary world.
The discussion was presented by several Mod-moguls from across the decades…
Paul ‘Smiler’ Anderson was heavily involved in the Mod scene since its late 70s revival. As a promoter of Mod club nights and fanzines, having DJ’d at Mod rallies, Anderson has even staged a large Mod Exhibition Ready Steady Go at Reading Museum.
Rick Buckler came to the discussion as an original member of The Jam, which have been argued by some as the ‘ultimate Mod band’. With tales of growing up and forming The Jam with Paul Weller and Bruce Foxton, Buckler provided a fantastic insight into the Mod world.
Daniel Rachel writer of Isle of Noises: Conversations With Great British Songwriters (a Guardian Book Of The Year) and Simon Wells author of nine books with published works in The Guardian to The Times, added an analytical insight to the panel.
Anderson surprisingly divulges, how in their early stages, The Jam would strictly deny being a ‘Mod band’ – due to the violence, which the scene attracted. With violent tribal rivalry between Mods and Skinheads, Anderson explains how Paul Weller could see the violence that would often come with Mod culture and day, “I don’t want that at Jam gigs.”
Rachel was keen to discuss the rivalry of Mod culture between Two Tone and Rudeboy groups. It seems with Mod culture, once came conflict.
Discussion of the iconically claimed Mod film Quadrophenia, the group discuss how this Mod film based on a The Who album was strange for in 1979 The Who had become ‘an out and out rock band’. The genuine Mod group dismisses the film as stylistically wrong, as the films only cultural signifiers appear to be parkas, scooters and a beach fight.
Despite Quadrophenia’s lack of authenticity, the group discusses how the Mod revival left a lasting impression on music, continuing to sweep into 80s and 90s genres from Acid Jazz to Britpop.
The collective explore how the Mod revival was ‘a silent revolution’ and a ‘lets do it for ourselves’ attitude, as Mods added a punk influence to their counter-culture with the distribution of D-I-Y made fanzines.
As a writer concerned to know how much this culture has inspired the contemporary day, this The Wave writer asks How much do you feel a ‘Mod’ culture still exists in 2015?
The group discuss how Mod ‘still exists in diluted forms’. The panel agrees that Mod has become more of a ‘taste’ and ‘style’ in 2015 as fashion begins to cross over, than an actual ‘tribal’ sub-culture and movement.
“We are still using the iconography but there is not an exact movement,” says Rachel, “it will keep developing for different generations.”
With the ‘transience of social media’ the group argued the magic of Mod culture might have been lost, as the culture ‘doesn’t seem to have a label like it used to’.
As the Mod style continues through the likes of Pretty Green stores and Fred Perry collections, it could be argued Mod culture has become more of a fashion than a musical collective.
Words by Emily Schofield