The latest updates in our Welsh Mod blog
Time it was and what a time it was
Geoff Nicholas, original mod from Nantyglo in Blaenau in the South Wales valleys recalls some of the excitement of being a teenager in the early 60s and why the music he heard changed everything for him – from the way he dressed down to his mode of transport. He was 19 when he was able to buy his first scooter.
“1960 saw me turn 13. An important time in anyone’s life. A time when I discovered dances and girls. The music of rock and roll was interesting, but this had echoes of teddy boys, and they were not the image I saw myself in.
Waiting for the music chart show on a Sunday night was the highlight of the week. New music EVERY week.
“It’s hard to describe what it’s like to hear some of these sounds for the first time when you are 15 and NEVER heard it before. Song writers of the day were our age and put into song lyrics exactly what we were feeling. The pains of youth expressed through the medium of music that we danced to.
“Waiting for the music chart show on a Sunday night was the highlight of the week. New music EVERY week. It was through this music and the association with boys in my school with similar tastes that I became a ‘mod’.”
It’s all too beautiful
Pledging has now closed and we have exceeded our target. A big thank you to all of you who have pledged and helped us bring this book to life
The work starts in earnest now with trips planned to North, West and Mid Wales to show off this stunning country and also the Welsh take on this fascinating subculture that has touched so many of our lives.
We'll update the blog regularly with interviews and photos and I encourage you to get in touch to share your own memories of mod in Wales. I hope to use a number of your old pics (with permission) in the book to create a sense of then and now.
But I don’t want the book to just be about nostalgia and neither should it be as Mod is about looking forward.
Thank you again.
Ilford Palais and other stories
Paul Macnamara (above right), who ran the fanzine ‘One Way World’ remembers the gigs that were the highlights of his mod revival years
“The summer of 79 and the mod revival explosion was in full flow all around the country. In every big town and city you would see a swarm of green Parkas boosted further with the release of Quadrophenia. Cardiff was no different, my older brother had already embraced the scene some months earlier so it was only natural for me to take the same route.
“By 82 I had left school and with money in my pocket I was off to my first gig, and what a gig, The Jam ( Port Talbot ). By now I had really been bitten by the mod bug and for me the place to be was London where you had a choice of events on any given night.
A book on the Welsh mod scene is well overdue but it can only happen with your support. Please pledge and lets get this thing off the ground.
“The Ilford Palais Mod Alldayers and catching my favourite bands at the legendary 100 Club were probably the highlights for me. Back home along with two old friends we started our own fanzine 1 Way World which we sold mainly at gigs at the now sadly long gone New Ocean Club.
“Into the early 90s and the scene had gone underground , numbers had dwindled and events were few and far between until Britpop arrived and gave the scene a much needed boost.
“2017 and it's great to see some old faces return to the scene and if the packed house at Porthcawls Modfest this summer is a sign the future looks good. A book on the Welsh mod scene is well overdue but it can only happen with your support. Please pledge and lets get this thing off the ground.”
A moment in time
Adrian Holder lead singer with top Mod Revival band The Moment shares his memories of coming down to Wales to play.
“Being a member of The Moment during the mid 80s meant I got to travel all over Europe with my guitar. There were, of course, many special times associated with playing countless gigs. One of the highlights was that we had the pleasure of meeting the most wonderfully diverse cross section of promoters, audiences and individuals.
“Over that time, we developed a special relationship with a select few and one such place was Cardiff. From our very first visit we became aware of the unique flavour of the South Wales mod scene. Travelling across the country, from east to west, in the back of a transit van, can be a testing environment for anyone but each time we approached Cardiff there was a notable lifting of the bands collective spirit.
The mods of South Wales never disappointed. There were some real characters about and, although there was the feeling that anything might and probably would happen, the band knew they were in safe hands.
“We hoped that each gig would be even better than the previous one and the mods of South Wales never disappointed. There were some real characters about and, although there was the feeling that anything might and probably would happen, the band knew they were in safe hands. We had been warned, by local mods, not to visit certain parts of the city but I never once felt threatened there, perhaps I might have been a little naive at the time. Some of our most memorable UK gigs were those we played in Cardiff/South Wales.
“The audience always made us feel welcome and appreciated, which made enduring the long journey from Haverhill more than worthwhile. There didn't seem to be a lot of spare money around at that time and therefore, we had to sleep on more floors than I care to remember but, if I had the chance, I would gladly do it all again. So, cheers to the Welsh mod scene and thank you for some very special moments.”
Their latest album ‘The Only Truth is Music’ is available from www.infenzo.co.uk
‘Pride and permanence’ –
growing up with mod in Wales
Boy, it didn’t get any more difficult than being an out-of-work young mod in Wales during the Thatcherite 1980s. Yes, you did bump into like-minded – and identically dressed – stylish souls in Wren’s Wine Bar, Windsor Road, Neath, but the majority of the bitter-drinking, rugby-supporting locals just thought we were odd-looking bods, who were both out of place, and out of time. Saying that, you got used to the hard stares, and the snide comments and just lived for the moment when a local ‘Face’ would give you a nod of approval, and – looking you up and down – mutter the words “Tidy, mun”.
An extract from Peter Hughes Jachimiak's contribution to Welsh Mod: Our Story on his time as a young mod growing up in Neath.
Peter is now a senior lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies at University of South Wales. His research and writing involves a wide-ranging examination of both the experiencing and remembering of the 1960s and 1970s.
He is both a regular contributor to Subbaculture zine and a reviewer for the monthly music magazine, Vive Le Rock!, and has a chapter in Pam Thurschwell’s forthcoming book, Quadrophenia and (Mod)ern Culture.
His own book: Remembering the Cultural Geographies of a Childhood Home is primarily about author's memories of living in his own Welsh childhood home during the 1970s which acts as a context for examining the cultural remnants of the past and how they relate to the here-and-now.
A very good year
The Jam’s new 1977 box set covering the band’s first eventful recording year over four CDs and one DVD reviewed by Claire Mahoney for Modculture
What do we remember about 1977? Well, Red Rum won The National for the third time, the Queen celebrated her Silver Jubilee, Marc Bolan died in a car crash and The Sex Pistols released ‘Never Mind the Bollocks’. But it was also the year The Jam began their recording career with Polydor and this five-disc box set by Universal Music celebrates the 40th anniversary of this defining moment.
Jumping on the back of the punk juggernaut, it was obvious The Jam were determined to plough their own musical furrow. For starters, they were wearing suits and ties and their lyrics already suggested that they had an agenda that wasn’t just about rebellion and throwing bottles of piss around.
In with the old
Can reproduction clothing based on an original 1960s look ever match up to the real deal? Claire Mahoney for mod website Modculture
The original modernists of the early 60s were preoccupied with the now. They were forward facing in every way. Their clothes, their music and their attitude was totally confident in the idea that what was new was not only cool, but essential. There was no looking back.
This places those of us who refer to ourselves as mods or modernists in a bit of a quandary. We are after all, by definition talking about a movement that was excited about the future. Yet since the 80s many of us have been in love with the past. Modernism’s slightly ambivalent attitude towards any other decade that isn’t the 60s is one that has fuelled many a debate among the cappuccino classes. But there is one word that that is so much a part of the language of fashion today that it flies in the face of everything that modernism once stood for – and that word is ‘vintage’.
What is it about Cathy McGowan?
Nicknamed ‘Queen of the Mods’, what was it about Cathy McGowan that made her so effortlessly hip and cool? An article from Claire Mahoney's regular mod fashion series for New Untouchables
Twiggy said she regarded Cathy McGowan as an icon. “I’d sit and drool over her clothes. She was a heroine to us because she was one of us,” she said. Perhaps that was it – McGowan wasn’t too glamorous and she certainly wasn’t just eye candy. She knew and loved the music she presented on the TV show, Ready Steady Go and responded to it with the same youthful enthusiasm at the show’s television audience.