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 10th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Mod | 2 Comments »

INTERVIEW WITH KEITH CLARINGBOLD 2008

(The Introverts)

Editor’s note: This is the first in-depth interview from a member of the Introverts. Hopefully I will be publishing Greg Noyes’s interview over the next few days, who provides a slightly different take and different information. Both Keith’s and Greg’s interviews make fascinating reading.

Q. Can you briefly tell the story of the evolution of the Introverts?

I guess I’m in an unusual position as I went from watching The Introverts to playing with the Introverts. To really go back to the beginning and tie all the threads together, I’d have to go back to mid 1979 when the local version of Rolling Stone magazine let you place classifieds for musicians. I placed one and out of that ad met Trevor Conomy and Eric Efstratiadis. We formed a band with myself on guitar, Trevor on bass, Eric singing and Mark Stinson – later of The Electric Pandas – on drums.

This band was called Go Set and did stacks of Ramones songs, Rezillos, Clash, some 60s songs, a Dr Feelgood cover and even an Elvis song. We recorded a four song demo at Basilisk studios in Hurstville and played 2 gigs at French’s in Darlinghurst before the band fizzled out.

I never saw Subversion but I met Greg Noyes, Chris Vaughan and Martin Fabok late 1979/early 1980 and Subversion had split by that time. I met them through Glenn Mabbott, Glyn Williams and Andrew Vaughan who I had met earlier at The Sussex in the days when The Klerks played on Friday nights in the main bar. This all overlaps into the forming of the original Sets, which is another story… [see previous interview]

In between Subversion and The Fine Tuners was a brief line up known as Teenage Victims, which was Greg on drums, Andrew on guitar, Glenn on vocals and Glynn on bass. Glenn, Glynn and Andrew went on to form The Coathangers which is yet another story…

Subsequently, Greg formed The Fine Tuners which was himself on vocals, Steve Piltz on guitar, Chris Vaughan on bass and Kris Svensen on drums. This was the first line up that I saw at the Royal Standard Hotel and The Sussex. They played some 60s covers, Destination Venus by The Rezillos and Just What I Needed by The Cars among others. Even then, it was obvious how great a voice Greg had. The punk/new wave scene had lots of shouters but as soon as you heard Greg, you thought wow!

According to my 1980 gig diary (!), it was around April 1980 that The Fine Tuners became The Introverts. The first line up was the same as the Fine Tuners but shortly after that, Chris Vaughan moved to guitar and Trevor Conomy came in on bass. Since Go Set, Trevor had been in a band called The Bland, where he was with Brad and Keiren Fitzpatrick, later of Division 4….

Around this time, The Introverts’ sound had changed a bit. The new wave songs were ditched for a lot more 60s covers and Trevor also started bringing in some original tunes like ‘Europe’, ‘She’ll Be Mine’ and ‘The One for Me’. This line up was very popular and it was they, rather than The Sets, who had the idea of playing in the back room at The Sussex. They also had regular work as a support act at the Rock Garden, Brownies Paddington Green and other salubrious venues.

In late 1980, the Sunnyboys’ manager expressed interest in managing The Introverts but nothing came of it. The band was having managerial issues at the time and dropped their manager, prompting the sudden appearance on a wall in Albion Street of the graffiti “Stuart Coupe fucks the Introverts”. There were issues within the band too and Pete Timmerman – later of John Kennedy’s Love Gone Wrong and The Widdershins replaced Chris Svensen for a couple of shows. This line up decided to call it a day in Feb 1981and Chris returned for that show.

Late in 1981, Greg formed The Silhouettes with Scott Matheson – ex Riptides – and others. They did a lot of soul songs, some of Scott’s songs that he brought from The Riptides and I think Greg had written ‘Stumbling and Falling’ by this time.

In 1982, Greg, Trevor and I got together with Greg’s cousin Dave Barber on drums and started rehearsing. Greg had written some songs, Trevor had his songs that The Introverts used to do and I’d written some songs, so we had 12 originals and some good covers.

We started gigging May/June 1982, supporting some guys called Le Hoodoo Gurus and The Crackajacks at The Governor’s Pleasure. After several good gigs, mostly supporting The Riptides and Spy vs Spy, we recorded all 12 of our original songs at Kent St, Studios.

We played a great show with Hoodoo Gurus and Spy vs Spy at The Trade Union in August 1982 and it was one of our best, if not the best. Alas, one week later, after playing at The Kardomah Café/Exit Club, our van was stolen from outside the venue with all of our gear in it.

The Allniters, Spy Vs Spy and The Riptides played a benefit gig on our behalf which was very kind but that theft seemed to suck the spirit out of the band. We added John Hoey – ex Thought Criminals, later Died Pretty – on keyboards and had Harry Della of The Rock Circuit managing us but that didn’t work out. Trevor left, Steve Piltz came in to replace him but John took one look at Steve and left!

This was early 1983 and as no-one was writing any new songs, we added more covers to our repertoire which was probably a mistake. I did notice in 1983 that we seemed to get our mod following back. I was never sure why this was but it might go back to a falling out between The Sets and The Introverts in late 1980 for reasons that are lost in the mists of time.

We also had new management in the form of Richard Lawson, the drummer from the Lime Spiders. He was able to get us on some bills that were different for us, such as the legendary swamp stomps! Greg also set us up to play a Friday night residency at the St George Budapest Soccer club in Mortdale…a long way from the inner city but it was good practice.

We recorded the tracks for the single in July that year at Central Recorders with Tom Misner producing. Later that year we also travelled to Melbourne for a few shows. Once again, the line up fizzled out by the end of 1983, just before Mushroom Records, who had heard some of our tapes, rang to say they were interested in meeting with us.

We reformed early 1984 for 2 shows to support the single launch and these were the best and biggest crowds we ever had!

That was it till 2001 when we reformed in the 1982 incarnation to play the first Don Hosie memorial show at the Metro, which was a great night. We played another gig at Club 77 after that but that was the last show. There was an offer to play at Mods Mayday last year but it didn’t happen.

Q. What got you into the mod and 60s revival sound? What artists (old and contemporary) influenced you?

I’d read about the mod revival in NME and heard some of the songs. There was also the growing popularity of 2Tone Records. Then, meeting Phil Robinson and Stuart Hooper led to the forming of The Sets. The Who were a big influence of course, 60s soul too.

Q. Did any band members consider themselves mods, or did you just like the sixties fashion? Were any of the members mods before you got into mod music and before you met other Sydney mods, or did you merge into that scene once you started gigging around?

Greg was probably the most mod and we did like the sounds and styles of the sixties but not to the exclusion of other music. I think this might have been the source of some of the friction between The Sets and The Introverts. The Introverts weren’t “mod enough” and went their own way.

Q. What (if any) were your favourite venues to play and why? Does a particular gig stand out in your memory?

The Trade Union club was always good. Paddington Green. Southern Cross. A memorable night was in 1983 at The Bat and Ball hotel. It was just us this night. We turned up and it was wall to wall aggro skinheads. We decided to play our set, say nothing and make no eye contact. The skins were obviously waiting for the mods to arrive so they could fight them. After a while, the skins got bored and took off, only for the mods to arrive about five minutes later. A happy ending.

Q. Your single ‘Standard Days’ is obviously about the Royal Standard and the early mod movement. Could you give us a potted history of the start of the/early mod days from your perspective.

It started out as fun and was a bit of a joke at first. Certainly punk was on the nose, there was still the Detroit scene in Sydney but there was room for something else. We all wanted to be in bands-  that was the punk ideal at work-DIY, anyone can do it etc. It really only became a big scene when Gary and Don joined The Sets and made the Sussex mod central. They were great promoters for the whole scene and they stuck with it through thick and thin. Full credit to them for seeing the opportunity and taking it.

I was happy seeing all sorts of bands, The Riptides and Sunnyboys for example, and didn’t see a need to be exclusively mod in my tastes and I think others felt the same.

Q. Would you say there was a difference in the Sydney mod scene at the time when the Introverts started and the time you broke up?

The growth in the scene in that time was enormous. So many more bands, so many more venues for mod bands to play, so many people into that scene, the availability of clothes…this was the peak of the subcultures in Sydney.

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

In late 1984 I joined Dave Barber in The Amazing Woolloomoolosers. That lasted on and off from then to 2003! I played in my brother’s band Red Ochre in the early 90s. Greg has had multiple projects since then.

Q. What aspects of mod and the mod scene appealed to you, and which (if any) didn’t?

It was all good fun to begin with and no-one took it too seriously. This changed of course as more people got involved and there had to be ‘leaders’ and ‘faces’ and you had to do xyz to be a mod. Wasn’t this why people got sick of punk?

Q. What would you say was the highlight of your time with the Introverts?

Highlights would be: releasing the single and playing the shows to launch it, having Jonathan

Richman come up to us and say how much he liked us at a gig in Melbourne, The Trade Union gig August 1982.

Q. Do you have a yarn about a good (or bad) moment from your time with the Sydney mods?

I remember I was interviewed for some magazine and I was asked about being a mod band and I said something along the lines of, no we aren’t a mod band but we are happy to have the mods come and see us play. A mod fan, ‘Bovver’ (R.I.P.), got a bit upset about that.

Q. Did you ever play interstate? What was your reception there like? Were you embraced by the mods in the other states?

Yes we played a few gigs in Melbourne in 1983. Melbourne crowds then were a bit more artsy and wouldn’t dance, well not for us anyway! I remember not sleeping much, if at all!

Q. In your opinion, do you think that the Australian mod scene was a flash in the pan or has it had any lasting influence on Australian music and pop culture?

Hard to say. It has obviously had some influence as I still see young people dressed in the mod style on Vespas around the place. Bands like You Am I have a mod influence but you could argue that that comes more from the English original rather than any homegrown influence.

TRIVIA QUESTIONS

Favourite sixties mod band: The Small faces

Favourite sixties mod song: ‘Tin Soldier’

Favourite mod singer: Steve Marriott

Favourite mod album: ‘The Who Sings my Generation’

Favourite mod wardrobe item or mod accessory: Scooter!

Favourite mod nightspot (for leisure, not gigging): Back then, Pink’s Café, near the Sussex in Liverpool Street.

(Keith Claringbold interviewed by Ariana Klepac 2008)


  • Justinsheedy

    Fascinating stuff.
    Justin Sheedy.

  • http://www.figtreewordsandmusic.com Rich

    Wow I didnt realise you guys did so much before me