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 26th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Mod | No Comments »


(Division 4)

Q. Can you briefly tell the story of the evolution of Division 4?

Kieren, myself and bass player Trevor Conomy (who would eventually Join the Introverts) and drummer Alan Hislop (later to form the Moffs) were in a punk band called The Bland playing Sex Pistols, Clash and some original songs, but mainly covers. This was at the tail end of the punk scene when it was getting stale and there was a real sense of something else about to happen in the air. I remember reading about the emerging English Mod scene in the pages of NME and Melody Maker and thinking how exciting it seemed, even though I hadn’t heard any of these bands at this stage.  Anyway The Bland ended up supporting the original 3-piece Sets twice at the Sussex Hotel in early 1980 (this was before Gary and Don Hosie were involved) and I remember thinking they looked dead cool and played some old Motown songs and a couple of Jam numbers. The next time we played with them I remember Gary Hosie in the audience asking if there were any musicians who wanted to be in a Mod band. It really looked like this was going to be the next wave, and as the punk band was splitting up, my brother Kieren put an ad up at UNSW asking for a drummer and that’s how we found Joe. He brought with him a mate who would become our first bass player: Antony Howell Smith the 3rd.

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

I had grown up listening to the Beatles and loved the inventive melodies and chord progressions, but by the time of the mid 70s the only thing being played on radio was either progressive rock (awful stuff like Genesis or Yes) or bubblegum (Leif Garret) and I couldn’t relate to any of it. Punk was great because anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of their instrument could bash out 3 chords, write their own (usually political/anarchist/leftist) songs and be in a band. The English Mod revival bands reminded me of stuff I used to listen to while growing up, like the Monkees but with more energy! As well as the Mod revival bands I was into the Small Faces, Who, Beatles and Yardbirds and was certainly listening to a lot of that around the formation of Division 4

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?

I know Joe considered himself a Mod and certainly Ian, our second bass player was a Mod, but I always considered myself a guitarist first and a Mod second!

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

San Miguel, The Civic, Bryants at Manly Vale, the Alibi Club (Talking Tables), Stagedoor Tavern, and last but not least the Sussex.

Q. What was the atmosphere like playing at the Sussex pit?

Electric, you couldn’t help but be carried away by it all.

Q. Would you say there was a difference in the Sydney Mod scene at the time when Division 4 started and the time you broke up?

When it started it seemed fresh and exiting but by the time Divi 4 finished in 1984 the scene was stale and being ripped apart by egos IMHO.

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

We all went on to form or play in other bands and with other people. For me Division 4 was the start of a musical journey that continues to this day.

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

Clothes, music, and scooters appealed, wankers and egos didn’t.

Q. What would you say was the highlight of your time with Division 4?

The friendships I formed and the fun times we had. I look back at that time with great fondness and whatever I did later on (touring Europe, playing with Rob Younger etc.) Division 4 will always have a special place in my heart. Your first band is like your fist love…you never forget her!

Q. Division 4 toured with the Sets to Melbourne on the Mod invasion weekend in Easter 81. What do you recall about that crazy weekend?

I didn’t sleep for 72 hours…must have been the coffee.

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

I think it was of ‘its  time’, but I don’t see it as having a lasting impact on Australian pop culture at this point in time. I could be wrong I suppose.


Favourite contemporary Mod band: Ocean Colour Scene

Favourite contemporary Mod song: Riverboat Song

Favourite sixties Mod band: Small Faces, Who, The Action

Favourite sixties Mod song: That’s too difficult!

Favourite Mod singer: That’s too easy…Steve Marriott

Favourite Mod album: My Generation

Favourite Mod wardrobe item or Mod accessory: Winkle Pickers

Favourite Mod nightspot (for leisure, not gigging): Sussex again