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Mods - The New Religion by Paul 'Smiler' Anderson

Mods Jacket 

Published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the famous ‘Mods Vs Rockers’ riots of 1964; Mods: The New Religion is everything you need to know about the real Mod scene. We chatted to the book's creator, Paul 'Smiler' Anderson, about music, style and what's up next.

When did you begin working on The New Religion? What inspired you to create the book?

I first thought about writing a book back in 2002. I did some research on bands local to me in Reading like The Moquettes and did newspaper appeals for Mods. I then decided to write a book on 60s original Mods and started that back in 2005. But ideas, changes and photos were still coming in right up until the end of December 2013, just before it had to be sent to be printed. The book now though is exactly as I imagined it...twelve years ago! The inspiration to me was the fact that the only book really dedicated to 60s Mods was written in 1979 by Richard Barnes with the help of Johnny Moke (original Mod) and nothing had really been released since. In 1964 there had been a book called 'Generation X' written by Charles Hamblett and Jane Deverson that was a cross the board social study of opinions and quotes from young teenagers talking about their views on Marriage, sex, religion, politics, class etc. It included some great quotes from Mods of the period. Another book that was influential was from 1984 called 'Days In The Life' which was a collection of interviews conducted by Jonathan Green with various people from subcultures of the 60s including Mods, Hippies etc. I just thought all I want is a book that just chats to Mods including the ones who were there at the very start in the late 1950s.

How many of your own personal experiences play into the book?

Seeing as I wasn't born until 1965 it was impossible for any of my own personal experiences to be included in the book. However the fact that I have spent over 30 years reading and talking about the original 60s period does reflect in the book I think. I have nothing but admiration for the originators of the culture and I hope that passion shows through.

In your opinion, which three tracks define the Mod era:

That is a tough call! But I think I would choose:

'Ain't Love Good, Ain't Love Proud' - Tony Clarke

'Madness' - Prince Buster

'I'll Keep Holding On' - The Marvelettes

But then I could easily have put in a blues record like 'My Babe' by Little Walter or 'I'm The Face' by the High Numbers as it was the first record to be actually written and aimed at the Mod audience.

What part did the Fred Perry Shirt play in the history of Mod?

Fred Perry was really some of the first 'leisure wear' that teenagers embraced as a fashion. In a world that is now full of tacky tracksuits and sportswear is a common sight it seems hard to believe that Mods were the first to embrace the Fred Perry Shirt to be worn casually, although they could also be worn under jackets also. Mods were the first to wear training shoes, cycling shoes, bowling shoes and cycle shirts as a form of fashion statement but the Fred Perry shirt worn at the start of the 60s was seen as ground breaking.

Who would you describe as today’s Mod heroes? Are there any new faces you think are important?

The whole idea of heroes to Mods is a kind of alien concept as many would not want to be seen to acknowledge any individual publicly.  That said, many Mods do hold people in high esteem. Steve Marriott of The Small Faces is often cited as an inspiration to many whilst since the revival Paul Weller has often been held in high esteem and in more recent years people such as Miles Kane and Bradley Wiggins have become high profile Mods. It is such a personal view though and very hard to get any one person as an overall Mod hero.

Finally, what’s next for you? Are you working on any future projects?

Life is harder now I have my little boy and also holding down a full time job so my time for writing has definitely got shorter. Mod is my most passionate subject so I always feel that would come into anything I write. I am also fascinated by the subject of the 1984 miner's strike so may use that as a basis for a fictional piece. I'd also love to write for music based magazines such as Mojo but find many of these type of affairs hard to gain a foothold in. Whatever happens I think I will always be inspired to write.

'Mods - The New Religion' is published by Omnibus Press. Available now.

About the author:

PAUL ‘SMILER’ ANDERSON has been in love with the Mod way of life since 1979. He has been involved in organising numerous events since the Eighties, as well as publishing fanzines and running club nights. As a major record collector, Paul has been a  DJ at Mod events both in the UK and Europe for over 25 years. With co-author Damian Jones, Paul has also written Circles: The Strange Story of The Fleur De Lys and compiled Acid Jazz’s Rare Mod compilation albums and EPs. In 2011, Paul and Damian presented the biggest-ever exhibition devoted to Sixties Mod,  entitled Reading Steady Go! Other than his family and friends, Paul lists his greatest loves as clothes, records, scooters and West Ham United Football Club.

Exhibition: Where Have All the Bootboys Gone?

The London College of Communication is proud to present a new exhibition called: Where Have All the Bootboys Gone? Skinhead Style and Graphic Subcultures. Running from Wednesday 23rd October to Saturday 2nd November, the exhibition explores the skinhead movement from it's 1960s British roots to contemporary global interpretations of the lifestyle.

 Where Have All The Bootboys Gone 1

The show focuses on visual manifestations of skinhead style, with items including clothing, graphic design, photography and publishing on display. Evolving from the 'hard mods' of the 1960s, original British skinheads were influenced by Ska, Rocksteady and Bluebeat music. The exhibition features covers from many of the D-I-Y fanzines developed by skins to share music and styles tips amongst their groups, which remained largely underground.

Where Have All The Bootboys Gone 2

Where Have All the Bootboys Gone? makes links to the cultural elements that surround the moment, exploring music genres, football, politics and class. By covering the full history of the subculture, the exhibition addresses the darker interpretations associated with the style, as well as 'Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice' or S.H.A.R.Ps. Speaking of the exhibition, Creative Director Russell Bestley says: "the (skinhead) subculture retains a strongly close-knit and largely underground identity, away from the cultural mainstream. This exhibition looks at the graphic language and visual communication of Skinhead identity, from its roots in the late 1960s to today”.

 To find out more, visit the LCC events page here.

Where Were You? by Garry O'Neill

Born and raised in Dublin, Garry O'Neill has always had an interest in his home city's local youth culture. Having collected Dublin street style photographs and memorabilia for several years, and noticing that there was little out there to document it; Garry set out to create a subcultural history of Dublin from the 1950s to the turn of the millennium. Teaming up with graphic designer and illustrator Niall McCormack, the pair spent over eighteen months collating hundreds of images to create Where Were You? Dublin Youth Culture & Street Style 1950 - 2000.

Where Were You? Cover Image

"The early seventies bootboy photos were probably the hardest to track down" remembers O'Neill. "I advertised around the city with posters and flyers for a couple of years. Most people were only too willing to help out as it was something that was going to, in some way, document their scene. It was difficult at first to track down good quality older material, like the fifties and sixties stuff, but it eventually turned up due to the length of time I spent looking for it."

 The Road House

Belvedere Boys Club - Mid 60s - photo contributed by Martin Coffey

Speaking of his own experiences with various street styles and groups, O'Neill says: "I liked and had lots of different clothes that are associated with one scene or another, but I’ve never wore them in any uniformed way. I loved punk, but I never felt like dressing up as a green hedgehog to convey that. You can be as anti-mainstream/establishment in a suit as you can in Doc Martens and studded leather jacket. Personally I liked the original suedehead scene from the early seventies, it was neat and stylish." The author's broad-minded approach is reflected in the book's content, which features images of groups ranging from mods, skins and teds to goths, new romantics, hippies and ravers.

60s Girls

Bray - Mid 60s - photo contributed by Brona Long

As O'Neill acknowledges in Where Were You? music and street tribes are indelibly linked. "Music was a huge influence, if you were into a certain kind of music; chances are you’d dress in a similar way to the groups or singers. The majority of the youth culture groups that we know, started on the back of some kind of music movement."

Parka Mods 1

O'Connell Street - Mid 80s - photo contributed by Dublin Opinion.

Noting the significance of the Fred Perry Shirt, O'Neill says: "it appears in the book in various photos - what started life as a sport shirt, has become a readily identifiable item of youth culture clothing around the globe, from the original mods and skinheads of the sixties to the football casuals of the 80s, the Britpop kids of the 90s and everything in-between. It’s an iconic piece of clothing in the same way as the steel-toe boot or the parka jacket."

Of the hundreds of personal images captured in the book, is there one that stands out for O'Neill?

"If I had to pick one, it would probably be the photo of the two lads on page 114. It’s from 1974 and they’re wearing crombie coats, pinstriped parallel trousers, polished George Webb type shoes, bowler hats and umbrellas; they almost look like two city gents. The look is certainly influenced by the Clockwork Orange film, more than any music movement."

Find out more about Where Were You? on the book's official website or Facebook page.

Images used with kind permission of Garry O'Neill. Published by HiTone Books, November 2011. Foreward by Steve Averill.