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: January 25th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Mod | 2 Comments »

Interview with Glyn Williams

(The Coathangers) 2009

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

I first got interested in punk after buying Anarchy in the UK on the intitial EMI pressing and then sought out like-sounding bands in Australia, picking up I’m Stranded by the Saints, Radio Birdman, Psycho Surgeons, Horizontal Action and You’re So Boring by the Rocks. I found it all exciting and as a result of the influence of Andrew Vaughan (Sets, Stupidity) found myself playing bass. Venues like The Grand, Stagedoor and Garibaldis became the places to hang out, along with key record shops like Record Plant, Phantom and White Light.

Q. Would you say there was a crossover between punk and the 80s Mod revival scene?

I think a substantial number of the 80s Mods came from the punk scene but the two were not necessarily compatible. Those that drifted towards Mod were more attracted to the RnB side of punk, alongside The Jam and The Jolt.

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

I was introduced to it all via Don Hosie and these included The Who, Small Faces, Action, Dr Feelgood, Tamla Motown and Nine Below Zero.

Q. How did and when did the Coathangers form and who was in the band?

The band formed out of a school band called Dave Vomit and the Dilated Pupils. Glenn Mabbott (who came up with the name) was vocals, Andrew Vaughan guitar, myself on bass and Steve Duncan on drums. Steve auditioned for us and only got the gig because his wife looked like Debbie Harry! We only survived 12 gigs but released a cassette called Emanations from a Wardrobe. Andy and I then formed Donna and the Daydreams playing songs like Frustration by the Purple Hearts and Heatwave by Martha and the Vandellas. That lasted only a short while and I then formed The Original Sound with Paul Berwick, who went on to Happy Hate-Me-Nots, and Stuart Hooper ex Sets.

Q. What was the connection between the Coathangers and the early Mod scene?

Andrew Vaughan’s parents owned the Royal Standard Hotel so we had a gig whenever we wanted. Andy and I started going to The Sussex to see the XL Capris and The Klerks and that’s where we met the Hosie Bros and Steve Dettre who I ended up running the fanzine Shake n Shout with.

Q. What did the Coathangers play? Was it mainly 60s covers as well as some new wave faves?

50% were originals with a mix of Modern Lovers, The Ramones and Stooges.

Q. Where was your first Coathangers gig? Which other bands (if any) did you play with?

I think it was around November 1979 supporting The Thought Criminals, Pop Mechanix and another band at The Stage Door Tavern. Along the way other bands that played with us at The Royal Standard included The Sets, Introverts, Trans Love Energies and The Particles.

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

It was just exciting to be part of it but I don’t think you realised at the time the way it grew and developed. It was just where you wanted to be. Didn’t want to be anywhere else!

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

Unfortunately I never actually played at The Sussex except to get on stage with The Sets and do a bit of dancing!

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

I just loved being out with a large group of people that you got to know listening to some fantastic music.

Q. You and Belinda Green often go-go danced on stage with the Sets to the point where you became almost part of the band. How did this come about? Did you take time to go off and learn 60s go-go dance moves?

Got the moves from watching Beach Party movies actually and then modified them. When the stages were big enough then we would become part of the The Sets and in fact toured Melbourne as part of the act. It all basically ended when Gary Hosie said there were too many egos on one stage! I tended to agree with him. Personally, I just found it a great way to meet girls.

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?

I don’t think it really had any impact on Australian music. While there were a number of great singles released, sales were not really huge. Something’s Happening by Stupidity, for instance, sold 1250 copies and was the fifth biggest independent selling single in 1983.

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

People like the Hosie Brothers, Rob Griffiths (Little Murders) and Mark Alchin (Clones) but from a communication point of view then Steve Dettre was a major influence with newsletters and Shake n Shout. The key label was probably Fabian Byrne’s Method Records. Other bands that had that Mod/garage feel that I loved were The Sunnyboys and Flaming Hands – basically anyone that released a single on Phantom records, the greatest Australian label ever!!!

TRIVIA QUESTIONS

Favourite contemporary Mod band: Really into Swedish garage at the moment such as Caesars and Hives but also Greenhornes, Black Hollies. Very excited that The Godfathers are back together. In the 80s it was Stupidity, The Sets, Little Murders, Prisoners, Makin’ Time, The Jam, Dexys etc

Favourite contemporary Mod song: Geno (Dexys Midnight Runners) and anything The Sets and Stupidity did in the 80s, along with the bands listed above

Favourite sixties Mod band/sounds: The Action, Tamla Motown records, The Who

Favourite sixties Mod song/s: I’ll Keep on Holding On, The Action; Competition Aint Nothin, Little Carl Carlton; It’s Torture, Maxine Brown

Favourite Mod singer/s (sixties or contemporary): Gary Hosie (Sets), Rob Griffiths (Little Murders), Mark Alchin (Clones/Reasons Why), Graham Day (Prisoners, Prime Movers, Planet, Solarflares and The Gaolers)

Favourite Mod album (sixties or contemporary): Shake and Shout compilation on Survival Records, Ultimate Action (The Action) or anything by The Dentists or Prisoners.

Favourite Mod wardrobe item or Mod accessory: Got to be my Parka!

Favourite Mod nightspot (for leisure, not gigging): Lismore, Sussex, Alibi, Stranded, Arthurs and Don Hosie’s house!


Posted: December 12th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Mod | 2 Comments »

INTERVIEW WITH GREG NOYES

(THE INTROVERTS)

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

Well, the original Introverts were Chris Vaughan on guitar, Trevor Conomy on bass, Kris Svendsen on drums and myself on vocals. This was the Sussex Hotel lineup in 1980. The band held a Tuesday night residency at the Sussex Hotel for the best part of 1980 under the guidance of manager, Sandra Glennan (God bless her). In order to break further afield, the band decided to accept an offer to be managed by Stuart Coupe and Roger Grierson’s Green Records label and although there were lots of recording promises, none eventuated. The original Introverts were always strongly supported by the Sussex Hotel Mods but disbanded due to constant rhythm section disagreements. Trevor Conomy was the main songwriter in the band and Chris and myself worked on the covers that we felt were needed to appease our audience. The band fell apart due to Trevor and Kris continuously bitching at each other.

In 1981, Chris and myself teamed up with Scott Mathieson (ex-Riptides), drummer Hans Bos (ex-Golden Earring) and saxophonist Bruce Leyland to form the Pop Hearts. We didn’t play any of Trevor’s songs. Instead I revamped my half a dozen songs that Trevor wasn’t interseted in and Scott provided the rest from his Riptides days. We still played covers but because we had Bruce on sax we drew most of them from Motown. We weren’t interested in playing the Motown covers in their original style. Instead we sped them up and gave them a hard rock edge. We were rather successful with this approach and didn’t lose any of our original Introverts audience. We recorded some songs but personal problems saw the band disband by the end of the year. Chris was in his last year of uni and decided that he’d had enough. Bye bye, Chris.

Trevor came back on the scene and we decided to revamp The Introverts Mk II. This time my songs were added to the play list and we recruited Keith Claringbold (ex-Sets guitarist) on bass. Trevor played guitar and Dave Barber came in on drums. Dave was my cousin and was actually too young to play in the venues but we sorted that out in our own way. You can hear our live recordings courtesy of Inner City Sound thanks to Keith Claringbold, who I’d always admired for his sincerity and ‘Mod’ focus. If I was ever asked if there was a ‘face’ in the Sydney scene, Keith would get my vote, next to Phil Robinson (who I lived with for 5 years) and Stuart Hooper (one of the nicest guys you could ever meet). These guys were the original Sets who started the whole Sydney Mod scene at the Sussex Hotel, no matter what anyone else says. Hats off to you, guys, love your work!

But I digress. The WORST thing that ever happened to this lineup was that we had all of our gear stolen from outside Sgt Peppers Nightclub in Kings Cross one night. A benefit concert was held at Sydney Trade Union Club courtesy of the Riptides, Spy vs Spy and the Allniters. None of this would have happened without Stuart and Roger’s doing. Within three days we were back playing our usual spots and we had new guitars and amps. But Trevor became adamant that we should get a keyboard player onboard. I always wanted the band to be guitar-based. Filling out the sound took away from the notion that ‘less was more’. So after much shitfighting we recruited John Hoey (former X-Men, later Died Pretty) and even though I knew that John was an exceptional keyboard player, I never agreed that he added any spark to the four piece lineup. As far as I was concerned, he was just another mouth to feed. Then the rot really set in. Both John and Trevor started to run with the line that Stuart and Roger were no good for the band and if we wanted to ‘go places’ we needed better management. John had previously been involved with the Della brothers so a meeting was arranged with Danny Della at his plush Bondi offices. I was gobsmacked and couldn’t believe the bullshit that was being served up to us. John and Trevor sold our souls and I felt nothing but remorse from that day on. Stuart and Roger were such good friends of mine; we’d worked together for years and I could never get over the fact that, after the benefit gig, we basically screwed them. And no matter what I said, it didn’t matter. I just couldn’t look those guys in the face anymore: I was so distraught.

Trevor became increasingly erratic over the next year and finally pulled the plug. I saw it coming and enlisted an old friend of mine, Steve Piltz, to learn Trevor’s guitar lines before everything was totally fucked. John packed up his keyboard and walked out of our first rehearsal before Steve had even played one chord. We were back to being a four-piece guitar band and took a four week residency at the St GeorgeBudapest Soccer Club. Richard Lawson from the Lime Spiders decided to look after the band’s gigs and we started supporting the Scientists and reaffirmed our Sydney Trade Union Club connections. We still maintained a Mod following even though our sound took on a harder edge with Steve in the band. This lineup recorded our only single, ‘Girl On Page Three’, a song penned by Keith Claringbold, backed with ‘Standard Days’, my own composition. Unfortunately, Steve wasn’t convinced of his abilities and internal disagreements prompted his decision to quit on the eve of a Melbourne tour supporting the Hoodoo Gurus. Our final gig was our single launch at the Sydney Trade Union Club and ‘Girl On Page Three’ reached number two on the Sydney Independent Records Chart without any further hype.

Months later I received a phone call from Mushroom Records saying they liked the single and wanted the band to come to Melbourne to record an album but I said no without contacting any of the other members. When the single was released in 1983, our record company Method Records called the Introverts ‘Sydney’s Premier Mod Band’ but I never subscribed to the media push…and I guess I never will. That pretty much sums up my viewpoint on the whole mess. To those who felt they got burnt…I’m fucking sorry. Enough said.

Q. Was the Introverts your first foray into sixties music as a band?

No. Chris and myself had earlier played with Subversion (not the same pricks who fucked people over in the late 80s), which was strictly a ‘Velvet Underground’ tribute band from the time I left school in 1977 to the time I left Teachers College in 1979. We played once a month, every full moon or thereabouts, at the Royal Standard Hotel on the corner of Castlereagh and Bathurst Sts, Sydney. The band consisted of Lionel O’Neil on rhythm guitar, Christine O’Neil on drums, Martin Fabok (later in The Allniters) on lead guitar, Chris on bass and Leanne Fallone and myself sharing the vocals. There were no Mods on the scene, only inner-city punks, drug addicts and assorted crazies. One night, a rep from Suicide Records turned up to offer us a spot on a compilation album (which was later released as ‘Lethal Weapons’) but as we didn’t really play original songs and the band had no recording experience, we didn’t meet his criteria. His loss, and, from the subsequent reviews, I’m glad we weren’t a part of it.

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

I grew up in the 60s and I always liked 60s stuff. I liked the avant-gardeism of the Fluxus, John Cage and the Velvets. I liked the Pop Art of Lichtenstein and Warhol. I guess I liked anything that had ‘free spirit’ and I liked the concept of experimentation. But I was always aware that you couldn’t alienate your audience. You always had to give them something they could relate to. After all, they kept you fed.

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?

We were there when it started. We helped create the mindset. Whether we were successful or not really boiled down to whether we could maintain the audience…which we did. Fashion was big. It set us apart from the other bands on the Sydney music scene. Punks wore PVC bike jackets, t-shirts and jeans. Mods wore tonic suits, button-down collared shirts or Fred Perrys. It felt good to be well dressed and it made you stand out in a crowd.

Q. Where was your first gig? Which other bands (if any) did you play with?

The Royal Standard Hotel with Jump Vision and The Coathangers.

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

Sydney Trade Union Club was my personal favourite because it really suited the volume that we played at. Like we were SO much louder than the headline acts. It was just over the top and the PA systems they’d had were full-on triple three ways, the sort of thing you use for an outdoor venue. There was no holding back and our sound guys were paid to take it to the limit. The Introverts always pushed the PA to the max. That was the irony in the name. Like, The Who held the record for the loudest rock band ever and we wanted to go that one notch higher.

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

Hot and steamy. Very hard nosed, non-stop dancing. Deafening, full-on Mod. Power-pop. Guitars thrashing, ringing in the ears type of stuff. It was THE place to be and what a great place it was.

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.

The Royal Standard Hotel was run by Chris and Andrew Vaughan’s family. The ‘faces’ referred to in the song were actually old school friends from Peakhurst looking for something new and vibrant. You couldn’t get that in the suburbs – you had to go to the city. There was always a certain mystique about the inner city and you couldn’t get more ‘inner city’ than the Royal Standard pub. I used Pete Meaden’s term ‘faces’ to give the audience a sense of belonging, not to set up one person up above another. Everyone was a ‘face’ if you gave support. I guess that’s where I wrote more as a communist than an elitist.

Video clip: Standard Days, The Introverts

Video clip: Watching the World, The Introverts

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?

No, the Mods always had new recruits. It is a well organised club. There are always social events on the calendar. Mods are mobile. They have their scooters. It’s like a bike club without the leathers.

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

Most definitely. Dave and Keith joined the Amazing Woolloomooloosers, I went on to play with the In Crowd. I still perform with my mates from those days. We call ourselves the Sussex Allstars…and why not? I’ve always been a muso first and a Mod second. The Mods know damn well that I have the utmost respect for them and wouldn’t let them down.

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

It’s always been about the music and the fashion; there’s no getting away from that. What I dislike is the same with anything, and that’s not being true to yourself and your friends. I may not see a lot of the old faces these days but when I do, we always have a good laugh reminiscing about old times.

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

Performing in Hyde Park, Sydney back in 1981 with the original band and seeing the Sussex Mods down the front, lapping it all up.

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

I remember Paul Berwick from the Happy Hate Me Nots asking Trevor if he could use his guitar in the Sussex pit one night. Trev said that was OK as long as he didn’t do a ‘Pete Townshend’ on it. It was a Gibson SG that had just been refretted. Paul was on his best behaviour right up until the last song when he grabbed the mic stand and ran it up and down the neck, in true Sussex style. The crowd went mad and Trev went off his nut at Paul straight after their gig, which I thought was really fucked of him ‘cause the Hate Me Nots had played a blinder. So I intervened and said to Trev, ‘Fuck mate, it’s only a fucking SG. It’s not like it’s a fucking Rickenbacker.’ That got Paul off the hook and I gladly took the rest of Trev’s abuse.

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

We toured Melbourne once in 1983 and were made very welcome by the Mod contingent there.

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?

My personal belief is that Australian Mod Music is still alive and kicking in every venue around the country but the majority of punters wouldn’t know it if they fell over it.

TRIVIA QUESTIONS

Favourite contemporary Mod band: The Jam

Favourite contemporary Mod song: In the City

Favourite sixties Mod band: The Creation

Favourite sixties Mod song: Making Time

Favourite Mod singer: Roger Daltrey

Favourite Mod album: Secret Affair – Glory Boys

Favourite Mod wardrobe item or Mod accessory: Lambretta cufflinks

Favourite Mod nightspot (for leisure, not gigging): My studio


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

INTERVIEW WITH BRAD FITZPATRICK

(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.

TRIVIA QUESTIONS

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


Posted: November 21st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Mod | No Comments »

Interview with Phil Robinson 2008

(The Sets)

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

Well the punk era was great and gave music a much needed injection but by 1980 it was really running out of steam. Many of the original bands had broken up or had diversified. One of the great things punk did was give people like myself the confidence to perform live without having to be an accomplished musician.

Q. Would you say there was a crossover between punk and the 80s Mod revival scenes, or how did they differ back then?

There was crossover in the sense that some punks became Mods and were heavily involved. Others didn’t become Mods but appreciated the energy of the music whilst others didn’t like it all and thought it was contrived.

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. You were an ex Grand Hotel punk – would you say that was your attitude at the time?

Yes I would agree with that. However the bands that I saw at the Grand Hotel were great. I was very young and I was totally was enthralled by it all. Bands like The Last Words had a lasting influence on me.

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

Well Stuart Hooper returned from a holiday in the UK (he was Welsh) and experienced the Mod thing happening. I guess it was late 1979 and he brought back a heap of records and clothes and it started from there. Of the newer bands The Jam and Secret Affair influenced me and it introduced me to sixties music in a big way for the first time keeping in mind I was only just 16.

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

Yes Stuart and myself did. Keith didn’t but he was heavily into the music.

Q. Most people consider you and Stuart Hooper to be the first Sydney Mods? Is this correct?

I believe so. There may have been one or two others that were starting to get interested in it around the same time but we were not aware of them.

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 did that happen more when the Hosie brothers, Andy Vaughan and new drummer Fitzy joined the reformed band?

Well both. The Sets 1 attracted a few like minded people by accident really. I cant even remember the reason that the Hosies and co first came but it was the beginning. It really started in force when the Hosie brothers, Andy Vaughan and Mark Fitzgerald joined the band. Quadrophenia was released and this brought publicity and more and more people started turning up and the scene just grew and grew.

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 gig was at The Royal Standard Hotel (Andy Vaughan’s dad was the publican but we didn’t know Andy then). The pub closed after a few gigs there and we then mainly played at The Sussex by ourselves and lovely old Stella, the landlady, was full of encouragement for us. After the band was joined by the other guys we branched out to other venues. We weren’t very good initially but people admired our guts to get up and have a go and really gave us great support.

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

It was very exciting and bit heady for a 16-17 year old. There was lots happening and the energy was amazing. There were a lot of creative people but generally a lot of nice people who just wanted to have fun. There were so many people to talk to about music, clothes and life in general it was great and you just didn’t want the nights to end.

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

It was incredible playing there when it was packed. It was a sauna even in winter but no one seemed to mind I certainly don’t think that feeling was ever captured at larger venues.

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

This is all true of the Sets 1. My dad helped me paint the backdrop on one of his old paint drop sheets. We did play those songs, albeit quite badly, and Stuart did smash his drum kit.

Q. For many Sydney Mods at the time, the reformed Sets really hit a nerve, and was the most popular band of the Sydney Mod revival scene. What was the secret to the Sets’ success?

Well we were just people that were part of the early scene who played in a band. The Hosies were great organisers and this was a key factor and we also wrote a lot of our own songs about the local scene that the Mods could relate to. We became a reasonable band musically and had lots of energy with Don and Gary Hosie as frontmen so I guess we provided good entertainment.

Q. For Some reason the Sets and the Mod revival were unpopular with many rock writers. Did you feel this was disappointing?

No not really. They were always going to stick to the mainstream acts like Cold Chisel etc.

Q. The Sets 2 were in many ways more than a band to the Mods. It could be said the Sets and the Sydney Mod scene were almost totally connected at the time leading up to the Melbourne Mod invasion tour easter long weekend 1981. At the Peak of the Sets’ popularity with the Mods, some Mods had a fall out with the sets, resulting in a split in the scene. How did this change the direction of the band (if it did)?

Absolutely! Easter 81 was the end for me. This great scene we had was split in two and I knew it would never be the same again.  Some of the Mods thought that the Sets were over controlling the scene on the other hand this control had got the scene to where it was. There were valid points to both sides but the Hosies were my friends – Gary still is, and you stick with your friends. After Melbourne I think Gary thought stuff it, let’s play to other people and got Rob Turner to join the band who was a great guitar player. Not too long after that I joined the Cockroaches. The Mod secne went on for a long time after I moved on and I’m glad a lot of people got enjoyment from it and other bands emerged and built followings in their own right.

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

Those early days at the Sussex Hotel for sure and watching the scene grow from a few people into hundreds.

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

I spent 7 years with the Cockroaches. The Sets went on for quite a while after I left and Fitzy played in a popular southern shire band, Just Lust, Gary Hosie with the Mustard Club and Malpractice and Don with Stupidy. Rob Turner still earns a living from music.

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

Well it had an impact. Spy Vs Spy and The Allniters were a couple of the bands to come out of the Sussex and gained a fair national following and record sales but I don’t think that’s what it was all about. It was more for the enjoyment of the people involved and not trying to leave a lasting impression on the mainstream rock n roll scene

Q. Do you have a yarn about a good (or bad) moment from your time with the Sydney Mods and the early 80s scene?

There were many highlights and my experiences from that time are generally happy ones. The low point for me was the bus trip back from Melbourne after Easter 81.  One disappointment is that the Sets didn’t leave a good recording and only the ill-fated ‘Love Ain’t What It Used to Be’ single.

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

There were many talented people and a host of amazing characters but without doubt in my mind the standout was Don Hosie. No one, and I mean no one, could galvanise the scene like Don did. The enormous crowd at his funeral was the last great gathering of people from that time and a testament to this.

(Phil Robinson interviewed by Ariana Klepac 2008)


Posted: November 18th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Mod | No Comments »

INTERVIEW WITH Kevin Raccani 2009

(The Go)

Q. The Go were a post-Sussex Hotel band. Could you give us a brief history of the band.

I believe the foundations of the Go were laid when the remnants of Rohan, Nick and Graham’s band, the Klues, joined up with Andy and Paul. I joined the band slightly later when Paul decided to leave. A number of members came and went, like Ed and Matt playing drums, James replacing Nick on bass, and Dave taking over lead guitar duties from Rohan. The band split after a couple of years of great gigs.

Q. Was The Go your first foray into sixties music as a band?

It was. I had always liked that style of music and I had always sung, much to the annoyance of people around me, but The Go was the first real band that I’d joined.

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

I had grown up with a dad that played trumpet and most of my older siblings either played an instrument or owned a burgeoning record collection, so I had a great exposure to wide range of music. I listened to a lot of Tamla stuff, a little blue beat and a lot of rock, but I loved what I heard from the Who and had a good friend from school that said that I’d be a Mod before I knew it. I avidly read the NME, and loved all the 70s English bands such as Elvis Costello, Stiff , Two Tone and the like. I realised that Mod music would align with what I was already into, but there were so many new bands that I’d not heard of that were in the Mod-Powerpop bracket that I was introduced to after becoming a Sydney Mod.

Q. What do you say to the statement ‘The Go were a Mod cover band just playing to the Mod scene’?

The simple answer would be ‘yeah’ and ‘so what’ (ha ha). We did do a lot of covers, but we did write quite a few originals, too. Our treatment of songs, like ‘Unchain My Heart’ and ‘Monkey’, were not mainstream, so we weren’t copying original treatments parrot-fashion. I was happy playing to the scene, belting out songs that our friends knew and would enjoy. They came to know the original songs we played, too. Had we been ‘discovered’ that would’ve been grand, but being able to entertain friends was the coolest thing about The Go.

Q. Did the Go play any of their own material and was it about being a Mod in any way?

Rohan, Nick, Andy and I all wrote songs for the band. The songs were either written in Mod-tones or about Mod in some way.

Q. Looking back do you think the band needed two lead singers?

I think that our voices complemented each other quite well, just as the songs we sang lead on were songs that supported our different vocal timbres – and it was easier to load the gear with the extra pair of hands (ha ha). Maybe you could ask some of the audience?

Q. Did any band members consider themselves Mods, or did you just like the sixties fashion?

Well, I can only speak for myself really and probably Graham, the band’s original drummer, who was a friend of Rohan and Nick’s. I don’t think he was a Mod, Paul was, I definitely was, and I think most of the subsequent members that came along were, too.

Q. 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 was into Mod before I knew of the Sydney Mod Scene, living in Fairfield NSW, which was tough, especially riding around on a GP200. I found the Sydney Mods later and joined the Go quite a while after that. I think most of the other band members heard about openings in the line up through the scene, so it was granted that the guys were joining from the scene and were already Mods. (Put it this way, I don’t remember the Go advertising when guys left the band.) Graham was the original drummer when Rohan and Nick had formed the Klues. He was a cool guy and didn’t convert to Mod.

Q. Where was your first Mod gig? Which other bands (if any) did you play with?

I don’t recall, actually. Possibly, the Cellar at Newtown, but I’m not sure. I didn’t play with other bands, which I am regretting as I get older.

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

I loved playing at level 1 of the Trade Union Club because the band was on eye level with the crowd. There was a lot of interaction between the band and the crowd because of that. When we toured Melbourne and played to Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney Mods that was an absolute highlight. Singing to a sea of Mods is a memory I’ll take to the grave. There seemed to be hundreds of Mods in the venue and to have them cheering and dancing to our music was fabulous. It was the highest I have ever been.

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

Definitely. There was a steady erosion in Mod values in my opinion, and people were going to see bands that weren’t exactly M.O.D. Leather jackets started creeping into the scene and it started to lose its value to me, but hey, whatever floats your boat.

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

Yes, Andy started a couple of things with James, as far as I know. I am not sure about all the other guys, but I believe that Dave went into giving music lessons after playing the George Harrison part in a Beatles tribute band.

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

The camaraderie with the lads would be top of the list, and being a part of something unified in fun that at the same time was separate from the mainstream was also a special part of it. The fact that you immediately had something in common with someone in a Harrington and French crew cut isn’t a common thing. I realised that a lot of us had come into the scene from outer suburbs with these mutual interests and in the main, we all fitted together.

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

Playing Melbourne aside, it would have to be every gig in front of the Sydney Mods really.

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

I couldn’t really pick one out of all the years of bands, scooter runs, fights and fun. I remember my 21st birthday night out, as Mike Landers led me and about thirty other riders down King Street in double file, and the entire street gaped as we rode by.

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?

If you know your bands and musos, Mod-oriented bands form quite a list within the Australian music industry. They may not have been Mod bands themselves or wanted to play exclusively to Mods, but having some Mods attending their gigs would certainly have bolstered their audience. Mod seems to cycle every 20 years with like bands enjoying some success in recent years, too. They don’t appear as sharp as we were, but they appear dedicated to some style at least.

Q. The Trade Union Club on level one was a late Mod hang in the mid 80s. Could you describe what the vibe was like back then?

Andy and I were on the Board of Directors of the Sydney trade Union Club with a couple of other young guys, and a number of old farts. Sure, we weren’t solely responsible for support of the music industry, but I’ve just taken a walk through my Modrabelia and the gigs that we helped to arrange there, were a who’s-who of Australian acts. They had an additional outlet for their music that they may not have had if it wasn’t for our efforts. A number of Mod bands had gigs there and some of them enjoyed a residency where they were seen, not only by Mods, but the wider Sydney youth. Remember, it was often three floors of pure entertainment.

BAND MEMBERS

Vocals: Kevin Raccani, Andy Chase, Paul Ruby

Guitar: Rohan de Meyrick, Dave Woods

Bass: Nick Samios, James Robinson

Drums: Graham Day, Ed Codsi

TRIVIA QUESTIONS

Favourite eighties Mod band: So many greats, but Secret Affair and The Chords stand out. I had a large blue beat collection that was enjoyed at home, but never really while I was out.

Favourite eighties Mod song: Secret Affair’s ‘One Day in Your Life’

Favourite sixties Mod band: The Who

Favourite sixties Mod song: ‘The Kids Are Alright’

Favourite Mod singer: I always liked Ian Page’s voice

Favourite Mod album: The ‘Who the Fuck’ bootleg

Favourite Mod wardrobe item or Mod accessory: The suits, ties, collar and tie pins, and my GP200

Favourite Mod nightspot (for leisure, not gigging): The gig room at Strawberry Hills when The Introverts were laying it down, and the sweat was running down the walls.


Posted: November 17th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Mod | No Comments »

Interview with Joe Genua 2008

(Division 4)

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

I was attending UNSW and I had just started to learn to play the drums. It was the height of punk and I wanted to play in a band. Kieren Fitzpatrick had placed an ad on the university notice board and I answered it.

Q. Was Division 4 your first foray into mod/sixties music?

Yes it was. I was vaguely aware of 60s music – not particularly mod, but in general, but i did know the Small Faces and The Who. My background was more glam. I used to love The Sweet.

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

Well to get into punk meant you picked up on the 60s references so again particularly The Small Faces and The Who. Then of course more contemporary for the time was The Jam which I really got into. So one thing leads to another and when you have a voracious appetite to discover you go on an endless search. Punk was sort of petering out when Division 4 started to get together and the mod movement was gaining notice. Like most young people you want a sense of belonging particularly when you set yourself up out of the mainstream therefore mod, and the inspiration and creativity of the music, drew me into being one. Well at least I thought I was one, LOL!

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?

No in total honesty when we started we weren’t mods and of course we weren’t the first mod band either. That kudos belongs to The Sets. However becoming friends with our audience and getting inspiration from them and of course wanting to play for them we merged into the scene and became part of it. I cannot speak for the others but I considered myself a mod, yes.

Q. Where was your first mod gig? Which other bands (if any) did you play with?

The first mod gig we did was The Sussex Hotel in the city. I think it was 1979. It wasn’t our first gig – that was in a hall in Darlinghurst – but it must have been our second or third, I’m not sure. We supported The Sets at that gig at The Sussex.

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

I used to love The Mosman Hotel also The Governor’s Pleasure and The San Miguel stand out. It was a combination of good memories and a good vibe at each of the gigs. Time plays funny things with your memory but I remember one night we played as headliner at The Strawberry Hills in Surry Hills then rushed down to play The Strand Nightclub in the city. I think the first was great and the second was a disaster or it could have been the other way round, LOL.

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

Raw, electric, alive. You knew you were at the start of something. It was really underground and the room was tiny but shit it was great.

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?

Yes naturally there was. At the start it was more friendly and people and bands were more cohesive and supportive. Later on egos got involved and there were separate camps and it fragmented. I went on to greatness of course but I don’t know about the rest, LOL.

Q. Can you tell us about your interactions with Steve Marriott and how that all came about?

It is one of the highlights of my life. I was cultural affairs officer (no jokes please) at UNSW for The Students Union. I put on gigs at the Uni. I heard Steve was touring so I organised an interview which we did at Selinas. As the interview was finishing I asked him if he would produce our next single which was going to be ‘Watcha Gonna Do About It’. Never worked out of course.

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

Being tribal appealed to me, the friendships, and of course the music. Music is everything to me. I got into the fashion as well and it’s always been an influence on me, in its approach if not its look.

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

Meeting Brad, Kieren, Mark and Ian.

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?

Playing at The Electric Ballroom and posing, LOL.

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?

Well by definition the mod scene of 79-82 was influenced by the original mod scene. The scene of 79-82 also had its influence on Britpop in my view as well. In an Australian context yes it has its influences.

Band Members

Kieren Fitzpatrick, Brad Fitzpatrick, Joe Genua, Ian Schofield, Mark Jago, Anthony Howell-Smith, John Salway

TRIVIA QUESTIONS

Favourite sixties mod bands: Small Faces, The Creation, The Action, The Who

Favourite sixties mod songs: Don’t Burst My Bubble (Small Faces), I Can See For Miles (The Who)

Favourite mod singers (sixties or contemporary): Reggie King, Steve Marriott

Favourite mod album: The Small Faces

Favourite mod wardrobe item or mod accessory: 3 button jacket, cravat

Favourite mod nightspot (for leisure, not gigging): When you gigged you had no leisure, LOL, but I do remember Talking Tables at Newtown.

(Joe interviewed by Winston Posters and Ariana Klepac, 2008)


Posted: November 14th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Mod | No Comments »

Interview with Gary Hosie 2010

(The Sets)

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

Don and I got into the punk thing in late 77/early 78 when a mate of ours, Matt Dickson, returned from the UK with a stack of vinyl – early punk stuff but also Graham Parker and Dr Feelgood. We loved it all and got right into it, the music the clothes, the idea of a ‘movement’. We always said though, wouldn’t it be great if it was ‘mod’?

Q. Would you say there was a crossover between punk and the 80s mod revival scenes, and how did they differ back then?

There was. A lot of people who were taken by punk moved into mod for similar reasons. Many were creative people. There was an interest in something ‘new’ and again, the togetherness of a movement or gang. The music was more appealing in the long term. Punk should have been a short, sharp, shock but it went on too long. Musically, for me, its appeal was relatively short lived and only occasionally would I now listen to that stuff. The RnB stuff never goes away though.

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

We were kids in England when the mods and rockers thing was in full swing. We would see it on the news and ask mum and dad if they were mods or rockers. They used to say ‘mods’ but of course, they were neither. My uncle had a nice red and white Lambretta and I have a photo of myself sitting on it 62 or 63.

I was always loved the album Quadrophenia, the music the sleeve, everything and again there was that feeling of ‘If only…’ When we started to read about what was happening in the UK and thenstumbled on The Sets at the Sussex with 2 very mod looking blokes in the band, well, we were IN! We were already dressing that way but did not really have it down pat until we did some research!

As for influences, mine were The Who, both musically and visually, Dr Feelgood, Graham Parker, Thin Lizzy and Mott the Hoople. My contribution was mainly lyrics. Andy was the main songwriter and his songs dictated the sound of the band more than I did. Phil as well. They were both influenced by the 60s but obviously affected by the punk sound, too. There was a strong Buzzcocks influence on the earlier material.

Q. When you first joined the Sets how long had you been a mod for? Or were the two events simultaneous?

We saw the original Sets very early on and were already well on our way. By the time we reformed The Sets we were in it up to our necks!

Q. The original Sets broke up in mid 1980. Can you briefly fill us in how the reformed Sets came together? Who was in the band at that time?

Donald and I were looking to form the ultimate mod band and we hooked up with Andy Vaughan and then Phil Robinson and Stuart Hooper. Donald wanted to call it the 5 Hip Young Men. (It sounds like a boy group now.) Eventually we thought, why not the Sets? (In retrospect I am glad of that now. It would have been embarrassing doing the Powerhouse as the 5 Hip Young Men!) A few people probably would have been busted doing the graffiti as well!

Q. What kind of music did the Sets play? What was the percentage of covers versus originals, and did you introduce more and more originals as you went on?

The first gig had 3 or 4 covers out of 10 or 12 songs. There was a strong punkish influence as we had all only recently been through it. We didn’t want it to be a ‘60s’ band. We felt it had to be ‘modern’ to be ‘mod’ but we had that influence as well. We grew up with 60s music. The ratio didn’t change significantly. We never wanted to be a covers band.

Q. Was the Sets your first band?

Yes, it was.

Q. Many Sets songs were about the mod scene, e.g., Life on a  LI. Besides the music, do you think this was one of the main reasons that the band had such a big local mod following compared to other mod bands of the time?

For a start we quickly assumed a leadership role with mods because we were organizing parties at Duntroon Ave and helping out some of the bands when there were no gigs and mobilizing people to go to gigs when there were. The idea of forming a band hadn’t really entered our heads so we were trying to create a scene not a following. The bands and of course the participants were the beneficiaries not us!

This was before we reformed the Sets so people looked up to us already. People respected us. Don had a following before we were in the Sets, more so than some of the bands! When the band started, people had reasons beyond the music to follow us. The parties, the camaraderie, the inclusion and the protection. No other band offered that. Some bands resented that they were ‘better’ than us but we had the following.

Also, there weren’t really any other mod bands, just bands we liked. They weren’t mod bands, although some had a mod in them. They liked the scene but they didn’t say they were mod bands though. The question arises, what is a mod band? Listening to people now, there seem to have been a lot more ‘mod’ bands around then than I remember!

I think that is important because most of the bands that are referred to as mod bands in the Sydney scene were not considered or even referred to themselves as mod bands at the time. It wasn’t a good career move and most were hoping for a career. Now, with the internet it is convenient.

Because we were blatantly mod it was only natural that the mods would gravitate towards us.

The Sets members were mods, our songs were about mod and we came out in media interviews and openly stated we were a mod band (career suicide!). No one else did that. The Go were the closest thing but they never broke out of a small circle of gigs and a small scene. They were preaching to the converted whereas we led the way.

We also had the advantage of starting when the movement was in full swing in the UK so people were reading about it in the press and this created a lot of interest. Some of the later bands didn’t have the benefit of that because the New Romantic thing took over.

Q. Would you say that the Sets were the first significant mod band of the 80s in Australia and why?

I go back to the previous point. There are not a lot to choose from. We were the most influential in terms of building a large following and growing the mod movement. We were the most interviewed, the most loved and the most hated. We had imitators and the members went on to form or join other bands that also did pretty well – Stupidity, The Mustard Club and the Cockroaches, which says something about the talents of those involved.

If you don’t count the Allniters as a mod band, and for a while I think they were, we were the biggest crowd pullers and played the most headlining gigs in major venues. We were the most mod.

Stupidity also pulled big crowds and headlined all over the place, so even after the Sets were gone, our influence carried on through Don and Andy’s participation in that band.

I don’t mean to sound arrogant but other bands were just bands, some were really good but they just played. The Sets were totally immersed in the movement and organizing the movement. We had a hand in Shake ‘n’ Shout (although Steve Dettre must take the major credit) which was a great fanzine and is now a sought-after artifact. So the fact that Sydney mod is remembered and respected and is mentioned in books and has books written about it has a lot to do with The Sets and Donald, in particular. There would barely be an article about Aussie mod that doesn’t mention Don, which is how it should be. Very few individuals get a mention. That alone is hugely significant. Our appeal and influence went beyond the music.

Q. Where was your first gig? Which other bands (if any) did you play with? Did you start off as a support act, and how long before you headlined?

Our first gig was at the Sussex in the Pit but I cannot remember whether we played on our own or as a support. I have no recollection!

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

I always enjoyed the Sussex. It was so close and sweaty. The Governor’s Pleasure was great too. We did a gig at the Paddington Town Hall – our first big gig away from the Sussex – 4 or 500 people. The place went mad. It was just unbelievable. The Manly Vale, too, was sensational, with over 800 people for us and the Allniters. We ran out of songs and Andy and I did ‘My Generation’ as a duo with Andy smashing the guitar!

Q. The Sets never tried to find that 60s sound like some other local bands. Was the Sets’ sound a bit of a mix of raw punk and mod?

Punk and RnB were the main influences, even more so after Andy saw Dr Feelgood for the first time. He immediately came back with some great RnB riffs that became ‘Turn the Other Cheek’ and ‘Why Don’t You Dance with Me’.

The mod bands of the time, like the Small Faces, I am sure thought of themselves as RnB bands, not pop bands or 60s bands. We thought of ourselves as an RnB band albeit with a punk influence.

Q. The Sets were in many ways more than a band to the mods. It could be said that the Sets and the Sydney mod scene were almost totally intertwined during the time leading up to Easter 1981. Can you tell us about some of the social activities that you, Don and the Sets organised – e.g.  Club of a 100 Faces, the Alibi Club, Le Vents at the Lismore Hotel, Midnight Mass, parties at your home at Duntroon Avenue etc.?

We wanted to make sure there were things for us to do, places to go, with music we wanted to dance to. This was really important because much about mod is about music and dancing. Some places worked well others not so well. Some we stopped when the owners got greedy. Usually we didn’t charge unless we had expenses. We put a lot of time and effort into those nights that often was taken for granted. People from outside of mod came along and loved it. It is arguable, but the Alibi Club may have been the first ‘Dance’ club in Sydney.

Q. For some reason, the Sets and the mod revival were unpopular with many rock writers. Did you find this disappointing or unfair?

Mod was the first youth movement to undergo a ‘revival’ so it was viewed as a nostalgia freak show (as one journalist noted). Not current. There was no political angle so it was seen as lacking substance in the way that punk was seen to have had substance because it was about rebellion, whereas mod was about having a good time. We saw that as important. Mod was about freedom and the clothes gave you the freedom to go for drinks at the Regent and then head off to a gig as well as hold down a job in an office, still wearing the clothes of your choice. If you were a punk with an office gig, really you were playing dress-ups on the weekend.

The abovementioned journalist also missed the point. This was no longer a trend but a lifestyle choice in the way that you have skinheads, metal heads or rockers. (It didn’t help that Donald was shagging a journalist’s girlfriend at the time and when they came out things got worse!) Too many bands had ties with journalists who wrote some pretty dishonest stuff to support their mates. Some of it involved being dishonest about The Sets.

Q. During the end of the Melbourne mod invasion tour in 1981, at the peak of the Sets’ popularity with the mods, some mods had a fall-out with the Sets, resulting in a split in the scene. How did this change the direction of the band?

Well, we were mighty pissed off to say the least. There were personality issues that affected people close to the band and that was part of it, but there was a bit of unrest from people who hoped to gain something from the split. We were keen to keep it together and grow. Splintering would only weaken the momentum.

I understand that some people didn’t like being in our shadow but without even the shadow they would have been nowhere, which is where some of them went after the split anyway.

The Sets were in a position to play big gigs in more areas and this took us away from the mod ‘haunts’. Some saw this as ‘selling-out’ but we saw it as a chance to tell the mod story and expand the movement. Maybe there was a chance to ‘crack it’, too! We felt we had the talent and the opportunity was presented so we ran with it. It’s only a sellout if you lose your values and we didn’t. I have to say though, it is easy not to sell out when you don’t get the opportunity!

Sadly, some people who should have had more sense went in what we considered the ‘wrong’ direction. Many came back to the fold when they discovered the alternative. In the end everyone lost to varying degrees.

We became even more Mod as a result, with the Meadenist thing, Midnight Mass, etc. The music we played became more diverse and probably more like the earliest Mods in the 60s in some respects.

It was also partly a generational thing. Someone referred to us as ‘sophisticated mods’. The younger ones coming in didn’t relate to us to the same degree. We had jobs, more money, better clothes and there was some snobbishness about ‘tickets’ etc. We were less interested in drugs or fighting.

I can understand some people feeling left out although I am pretty sure that didn’t emanate from the Sets directly. Don was accepting of everyone, and guys like Phil, Fitzy and Andy are the salt of the earth.

I am happy to say that with a few exceptions there is no lasting animosity and it is great when we all get together. We are all over or pushing 50 so it would be a shame if we couldn’t leave it behind after all this time!

Q. What new members joined the band after that?

Rob Turner joined to give us a lead guitar and then Phil left to join the Cockroaches. He wasn’t happy with the splitters so there was less reason for him to stay. We were upset but it was a good move for him. Keith Pickering replaced Phil and we felt the need to change drummers to better fit in with Keith and we asked Fitzy to leave. I have always regretted that, but Fitzy became a good drummer and I was happy to get him into the Mustard Club and enjoy playing with him now in Out of our Skulls and The Sets. We had a few drummers and I think musically it was a great period with our song writing was developing. People overlook the quality of the original Sets material, I think.

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

Donald was itching to form Stupidity whether the Sets broke up or not. I didn’t like the idea so I said lets call it a day. Rob and I had become the main songwriters by this time so we started putting the Mustard Club together.

Q. What recordings did the Sets make?

We only released one record and it was a disappointment. We had struggled to capture the live sound and energy for the first 3 song choices and ended up settling on ‘Love aint what it used to be’ and due to a lack of cash used a live recording from a gig at North Sydney Boys High of ‘Life on a LI’ as the B side. When the record was pressed we were reasonably happy until it was sent to the radio stations which were of course mono in those days. Due to a technical problem that I don’t understand, when the song is played in mono, the vocals totally disappear! It couldn’t be played on radio! We were devastated! We have a number of live recordings and some unreleased demos but that is all.

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

I loved the music and the dancing most of all. I also liked clothes. The best thing was the ‘gang’ thing, the feeling you had with a group of like-minded people. It was always great to turn up to a place with a group of scooters and great looking boys and girls dismounting and striding in, whether it was a gig, a party or the Paddington markets. I loved it all.

I didn’t like drugs and the behaviour it created. It was part of the reason for the split I suspect. There was too much of it going on and that leads to problems.

Q. In your opinion, do you think that the Australian 80s mod scene was a flash in the pan or has it had any lasting influence on Australian music and pop culture?

I don’t really think it had much of an ongoing influence. If the mod thing rises again it will do so out of interest in the 60s mod scene and the bands and it will emanate from England. We were part of the mod story but I don’t think we influenced much in the long term, although in the short term perhaps.

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

Other than the Sets you mean? Well, obviously on an individual level Donald was the standout personality and qualifies as a ‘star’ but he was much more than that. He was a one off and no one comes close. As far as bands go, well the early Introverts had their moments and I really liked Chris Vaughan as a player and he looked good on stage. The Little Murders were probably the best band in musical terms and they had good songs and vinyl. The Alniters always had guys that were mods at heart and they were very successful. The Go were solid and ‘of and for’ the scene which I respect them for. Rohan de Meyrick was great, he should have been in the Sets if he had been old enough!

Q. Could you give us a general rundown on your musical activities after the Sets during the 80s.

Well the Mustard Club came straight after the Sets. We wanted it to be powerful and passionate, with great songs and great musicianship. A step up that would prove we were more than a cult band. It would cover a wider range of influences. We were still into RnB but wanted do something more.

I remember saying to someone ‘We don’t want the mods to come and see us because they think we are a mod band. come and see us if you like us’. This was reported as ‘We don’t want the mods to come and see us’ so we didn’t get the level of interest we had hoped for, whereas Stupidity picked up the Mods, even the ‘splitters’ and of course they had the party scene around Don as an added bonus.

The scene was dominated by either ‘fun’ bands or Joy Division type stuff. The original MC weren’t fun but neither is the Who, Stone Roses, Arctic Monkeys and most of the greats. They are exciting, powerful, and moving. That is what we wanted. A lot of people who saw the band loved it but the party scene was better with the Stupids so they went there.

We have some excellent live recordings of the early Mustard Club and when I play it to people now they are blown away by how good it is. Eventually we lost confidence and started to go more ‘fun’ and after a few line up changes we moved towards RnB and then became a heavy version of the Sets when Donald joined. I really enjoyed the band with Don in it but musically it was not as satisfying as the early version. The crowds were bigger though!

I formed Gary Hosie’s Bullfighters after meeting Kydric Shaw (from The Agents) and getting excited about playing again. We wanted to play our more immediate influences, stuff like Graham Parker, Elvis Costello, that sort of thing as well as some originals. I loved that band; it really pushed me to get better. The interesting thing was that in the early discotheques at the Lismore and places, some people didn’t think we should play the likes of Graham Parker and Nick Lowe, even Dr Feelgood because they weren’t mod, it didn’t have the ‘label’. We saw it as great, soulful RnB. Let’s face it, Sam Cook wasn’t a mod either. Later I read that GP, Nick Lowe and the Feelgoods had all been mods! Looking at some of the earlier questions, you have to ask, what is a ‘mod’ band?

Don and I later formed the Perennials playing mainly our originals, and Kings for a Day which was ‘the best of New Wave’ with songs by the Pretenders, Ian Dury, Godfathers and more. Good fun!

TRIVIA QUESTIONS

Favourite contemporary mod band: Secret Affair – Great voice and good songs, they went beyond ‘fun’

Favourite contemporary mod song/s: ‘Frustration’ by Purple Hearts without doubt, followed by ‘I’m Not Free but I’m Cheap’. Also, ‘Soul Time’ by Graham Parker ‘Graduating from a Lambretta to a Triumph Herald car’. Great stuff. I went from a Lammie to a Triumph 2500 TC! On a personal level I still love ‘The Rest of My Life begins today’ (Mustard Club) and ‘Why Don’t you Dance with Me?’ (The Sets).

Favourite sixties mod band: Well they weren’t a mod band but the Mods liked them – The Who of course!

Favourite sixties mod song: My Generation

Favourite mod singer (sixties or contemporary): Roger Daltrey and Graham Parker

Favourite mod album (sixties or contemporary): The first Who album is a cracker!

Favourite mod wardrobe item or mod accessory: I love a good boating blazer!

Favourite mod nightspot (for leisure, not gigging): You couldn’t beat Duntroon Ave really! The Hip Hop Club was good, too

BAND MEMBERS

Vocals: lead Gary Hosie, backing Don Hosie

Lead guitar: Andy Vaughan, Rob Turner, Chris Vaughan

Bass guitar: Phil Robinson, Keith Pickering

Drums: Stuart Hooper, John Voulgourakis, Mark Fitzgerald, Hans Boss, Phil Manzil, even Steve Dettre for one gig!

(Gary Hosie interviewed by Ariana Klepac, 2010)

MOD MELBOURNE INVASION 1981 • 30 YEAR REUNION GIG – THE SETS

Keep your diaries free on 16 April 2011 as there will be a REUNION GIG at Luna Park, celebrating 30 years since the Mod Melbourne Invasion of 1981, where Mods from around the country massed in the streets and clubs of Melbourne for a long weekend that will never be forgotten.


Posted: November 12th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Mod | No Comments »

MOD MELBOURNE INVASION 1981 • THIRTY YEAR REUNION GIG – THE SETS at Sonar, Luna Park, Sydney

Keep your diaries free on 16 April 2011 as there will be a REUNION GIG at Sonar, Luna Park, Sydney, celebrating 30 years since the Mod Melbourne Invasion of 1981, where Mods from around the country massed in the streets and clubs of Melbourne for a long weekend that will never be forgotten.


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)


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.

BAND MEMBERS

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)