From scooters to ski pants, from white lipstick to winkle pickers, STARK RAVING MOD! is a celebration of the 60s-revival Mod subculture in 1980s Australia.

Posted: November 9th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Mod | 1 Comment »

Interview with Keith Claringbold 2008

(The Sets Mark 1)

Q. What did you think of the local punk/new wave scene around 1979–80?

I can only speak for myself but I thought that those two years were the peak of the punk/new wave scene in Sydney. You had such a variety of acts to see that sprang from the ‘Detroit’ strain or the ‘UK punk’ strain  that seemed to be the sources of most bands.

There were also a lot of interesting acts visiting from other states which added yet more variety to the scene. More and more venues were opening up, record labels were appearing and small inroads were being made into the suburban markets.

I’d started in 1979 as a suburban oik who thought that Mi Sex and The Angels were the bee’s knees. Seeing the likes of the Lipstick Killers and The Thought Criminals made me understand what was REALLY going on…then the blinkers came off! By the end of the year, I’d been in two bands, inspired by the example of the bands I was seeing and that whole DIY ethos.

1980 saw even more diversity with the mod and ska scenes beginning, the appearance of GREAT bands like The Riptides and The Sunnyboys.  I saw 120 (count em!) gigs that year…says it all really!

Q. According to a local mod fanzine of the time, Sets 1 and the Sydney Mod scene came about from people being bored with the punk scene. Would you say that was your attitude at the time?

No, that wasn’t really my attitude at the time but as I mentioned earlier, there was a definite lull at the end of 1979 with bands breaking up or taking a break. I certainly think it WAS the case for Phil and Stuart though.
Q. What did the Sets 1 play. Was it mainly 60s/80s mod covers? Did you have any particular inspirations?

We had a mixture…Phil had written about 5 originals, I had written one and we covered The Who – quite a bit! –  and Secret Affair. We did ‘In The City’ by The Jam too

Q. Did any of the Sets 1 consider themselves mods? Or did any become mods later?

Phil and Stuart definitely did consider themselves mods, even at our first meeting.

Q. Where was your first Sets gig? Where did you mostly play after that? Which other bands did you play with/most enjoy playing with?

The first Sets gig was at the Royal Standard Hotel and the next was at The Sussex – of course! – supporting The Klerks, one Friday night. We played at the Sussex most times and there were a couple of shows at the Royal Standard. We enjoyed playing with everyone…most often it was The Klerks, The Coathangers or The Fine Tuners on the bill as well and we all got along really well.

Q. Can you tell about the vibe of the fledgling Mod scene at the Royal Standard and Sussex?

It was great, great fun. Of course in those days, we were playing at the side of the main bar, not in the Sussex Pit so it was nice being sandwiched between the bar and the gents!…very handy! I don’t really know how word spread about The Sets but the crowd grew quite a bit  fairly quickly. I’d have to give credit to Gary and Don Hosie for a lot of that.

Q. Is it true you guys played with a large target backdrop and Stuart Hooper smashed his drum kit after playing ‘My Generation’ 4 times?

I don’t recall us using a target backdrop. That sounds a bit lavish and we couldn’t have afforded that, unless one was donated. Haha, maybe we didn’t play ‘My Generation’ 4 times – 3 times for sure but that was due to the demands of drunken mods. I don’t recall Stuart smashing his kit, though he was very Rat Scabies in his drumming style.

Q. The Sets 1 were a short-lived band. Would you say the Sets 1 were one of the first bands that the early mods rallied around, or would that come later when the Hosie Brothers joined the reformed Sets?

Well, there WERE no other expressly mod bands prior to Sets 1 so, yes, I would say we were the first band the mods rallied around. Gary and Don did really take the mod scene to new heights, though, as I said earlier.

Q. When the Sets 1 broke up, did any of the members form new bands or merge with other  bands?

Phil and Stuart stayed as the core of the next line up of The Sets. I formed a band called Pedestrians with Glenn Mabbot (ex-Coathangers) on vocals, my brother Dave on bass, my now sister in law Glad on keyboards and a drummer whose name eludes me, that played one gig in the Sussex pit. I was being artsy fartsy, so that band did Gang of  Four, Human League and Pere Ubu songs as well as some of my own.
Q. Can you tell us a bit about the Go Set.

The Go Set was my first band. They came about from me placing an ad in the local version of Rolling Stone for like minded musicians…and Eric and Trevor answered it! We rehearsed a few times, all covers, no orginals, lots of Ramones, Clash, Rezillos and choice garage band 60s songs. We recorded a 4 track demo at Basilisk studio and played 2 gigs at French’s and that was that. Eric and I have remained friends for 30 years and I was in The Introverts with Trevor later on.

Q. In your opinion who were the ‘stars’/’standout musicians and performers of the 60s-influenced/mod Australian music scene?

Well, Greg Noyes was the ‘voice’ for me…no-one came close to him, not many still do.

Martin Fabok from The Allniters was a great guitarist but often The Allniters’ material didn’t allow him to stretch out. Most of the musicians I admired weren’t in the mod scene. The Riptides and Sunnyboys,

again, spring to mind as excellent musicians.


Phil Robinson; Bass and backing vocals

Stuart Hooper; Drums

Keith Claringbold; guitar and lead vocals

(Keith Claringbold, interviewed by Ariana Klepac and Winston Posters, 2008)

(Stay tuned for a more in-depth interview from Keith about The Introverts)

  • Roo64

    Keith giving the finger…..shocking stuff!