So, I've been listening to a great online radio station lately called We Are The Mods
. Don't let the name throw you... it's not a show dedicated to the Quadrophenia
soundtrack! It's actually a fun 2-hour mix of music (some you'll like, some you might not) and rants about Mod stuff, hosted by DJ Warren Peace. Well, the show got me thinking about something: technology... namely, the internet. The internet and the Mod thing.
Some of you might be too young to remember life before the internet. Heck, in MY time, I had to march through the concrete landscapes of La Puente, CA, rain or snow, to make it to my local library and find whatever music or sociology section existed there. I'd go straight for a book's index and look up 'mod,' 'The Who,' 'The Jam,' or 'ska.' Rarely did I find anything, but if I found even a nugget of information, I'd file it away. This was my 'google' search back then. Things got easier in college thanks to the larger libraries of books, newspapers, and magazines. (Anyone else remember microfiche
But in my second year of college, I was introduced to something that would change my life FOREVER. An email address
. And with that, access to something I had never heard of before: the internet
. Now, this was back before actual webpages with GIFs. When I first started using the internet, all that was available to me were text-based newsgroups. Things like alt.music.thesmiths
. Unfortunately, there was no alt.subculture.mods
... until a woman named Lisa Gerson created the Modslist
(click the link for the skeletal remains of the first major online Mod group
For the first time, thanks to this list, you were able to communicate with Mods across the country and across the world via email group messages. Not many people were on this thing at first, but over time, it grew. It's where I met some great people with whom I still keep in contact today. (Leave a comment if any of you out there remember the ol' Modslist!) Of course, there is always the negative side to internet communications and soon the Modslist became an arena for online fighting. I ain't gonna lie... when britpop hit big and people started joining the list in droves, I spent more time arguing over whether britpop was really 'Mod' (I didn't think it was) than actually studying for classes.
But as the Modslist grew, old subscribers dropped off while new ones joined. Soon, other online forums started popping up. You had Yahoo groups catering to scooter scenes, music scenes, and local Mod scenes. (Anyone else remember Bespoke, What's Shakin'
, or Mod Veterans
?) You also had new websites popping up which catered to regional Mod scenes. There were sites coming out of Chicago, New York, Italy, Germany, the UK, and Spain.
By this time, I was out of college and working on websites with friends. In an effort to help spread the 'Mod message,' while mastering Flash technology at the same time, we created a fictional 1960s cartoon group called The Huggabaloos.
We wanted to make sixties stuff accessible to people, with the idea that there would be kids out there turning on to the site and turning on to Mod culture. We featured record reviews, animated pieces
, and games
. It was a fun time as we tried pushing the boundaries of web design while pushing forward our own Mod interests.
Around this same time, a few important sites emerged: Uppers
, New Untouchables
, and Modculture
. Each of these tried to cater to all aspects of Mod life, but Richard Karström's Uppers website really went for the world-wide angle. There were record reviews
, club night galleries
, and general news items from all over
. Contributors from the UK, the US, etc. helped build this site into a great source of information. It used to be my first go-to for anything Mod-related.
The New Untouchables site was something that really needed to happen. These are the guys that kept 'the faith' going through the lean years and beyond the britpop years. Chances are, if there's a giant Mod event going on, these guys are involved somehow. From Le Beat Bespoke to the Mousetrap, the New Untouchables are the movers and shakers. Jason Ringgold was the man behind the original website (now designed by pip! pip!
), which added in great design and functionality. This site worked to spread the news on their happenings and create a forum for people to share news and information.
And then there's David Walker's Modculture site. If I remember correctly, it started out a little clunky and seemed to concentrate, at the time, on more British happenings. It didn't seem to be updated as often as I would have liked and I tended to forget about it from time to time. But eventually, it went through an overhaul and now stands as one of the best stops in the Mod interwebhood.
They are on top of everything, from Mod news in general
to music news
to book releases
to info on new clothing
. It's filled with fantastic interviews
, well-written articles
, and great galleries
. Modculture has gotten so big, it's spawned various sister sites, including Retro To Go
and His Knibs
. And if you like their Facebook page
, you'll get daily updates on current news stories.
And this really does lead us to today's online Mod landscape. In addition to Modculture, you now have Stephen Hughes's The Mod Generation
site. I joined this quite some time ago and, quite honestly, forgot all about it until about a year ago. I was working on a blog entry on white socks
, and in a google search, I happened to find out that this very subject was already being discussed... on The Mod Generation!
And that's not all... Mods from the 1960s to today were on the MG forums
talking about everything, from the history of the culture to happenings today! 1960s Mods were contributing interesting articles
and correcting various myths
that have existed since the '60s. In addition to their forums and articles, I think the most interesting contribution coming from The Mod Generation is its "Weekly Paper
," a one-stop shop for any news worth knowing about that you may have missed. Of course, much like Modculture, The Mod Generation also has a strong Facebook presence
updating members daily with news stories, links to outside blog posts, and music clips.
And let's not even get into how social websites have affected the Mod thing... okay, let's get into it. First, there was Friendster. People logged in, said nice things about their friends, and uploaded profile photos. It was a neat time.
Then, along came MySpace. All of a sudden, people had the ability to alter their personal pages and, in effect, create
their own personas. By adding photos of op-art designs, Twiggy, and The Small Faces, and uploading profile pics of themselves with a sexy pout and a Who Poster in the background, people could show the whole wide world that they were MOD
! Heck, based on MySpace itself, you'd think a whole Mod revival was happening online!
Things mellowed out a bit thanks to Facebook, but even here, Mod exploded all over the social landscape. MySpace Mods migrated over. New Mod social groups popped up on the site, many of them mediocre, but some of them fantastic (like my favorite, Original Modernists 1959-1966
, which features actual, original modernists
from this period). Many people, in fact, have used Facebook to change their names in an effort to ensure people knew what they were about (for instance, instead of my for-realz name, I could just re-name myself Mod Carlos
... yeah!). On Facebook, you could like your favorite bands, your favorite record labels, or even your favorite blogs (hint! hint!
Speaking of blogs, well, I'm sure you know how those have grown over the last several years. If not, peek on over at the right-hand side of this page... yeah, see that list there? Just a handful of recently updated blogs worth your time!
In addition to blogs, websites, and forums, you have Mod radio stations and podcasts. Frankly, I didn't explore these much before. I mean, why would I when I have music at home to listen to and an iPod to keep me busy at the gym. But then, I realized some of these stations were good with hooking me up to new sounds. Plus, I'm always a fan of theme shows. That's how I got turned on to Mr. Suave and his podcast
Then, there's the actual 24-hour-a-day Mod radio site, Mod Radio UK
. This site
includes revolving DJs (like Captain Stax
), new and old music, and cool promos, including one by Chico Hamilton who, honest to God, declares himself to be an original Mod in the promo!
But, my favorite online show now is the one that spurred me to think about this entry: We Are the Mods
. At first, I was a little hesitant. I think you all know my viewpoint toward Mod cliches. I saw the Facebook page for this station and was faced with targets, Quadrophenia images, and Pete Townsend keeping it real
. But this site was recommended to me by Gabriela of French Boutik
, and one thing I know... you don't question Gabriela's tastes. So, I logged on to the We Are The Mods
show... and was floored! In addition to a good mix of musical styles, you have a host who isn't afraid to speak his mind (and if you thought I had strong opinions... wait 'til you hear this guy!) and who works to get people thinking about this whole Mod subculture. That's what makes the show... the music (which is very varied) and the charisma of the host. That's what we needed... someone who's excited about this stuff and willing to call out the bunk side of it when necessary. Trust me, it's worth your time!
Lately though, the host, DJ Warren Peace, has been talking about the idea of this whole Mod thing dying without some sort of new revival to keep it going. I've mentioned before that this Mod thing seems to be going through a revival
every couple of years since britpop first hit. If it wasn't before, it's definitely in the mainstream consciousness now, thanks to the Olympics
. But, over the years, I've heard others share the 'fear' of Mods dying out (because, y'know, global warming, poverty, and terrorism aren't fear-inducing enough.) In the past, I've been told I need to help build the 'scene' or work to get more people into this thing. Sometimes, I still hear that.
But here's the thing... I'm much older now and 'scene' stuff doesn't really interest me. Helping to grow a 'scene' isn't on my to-do list. I know what I like, and I've
loved this stuff since I first got into it. I'm lucky in that many of my friends still really love this stuff too, without the need of a 'scene.'
Now, if there are kids out there discovering the Mod thing for the first time today, more power to them! Personally, though, I don't want to be the creepy old Mod guy hanging out with a bunch of 19-year-old kids trying to help them 'keep the faith'. That's not my role. It's up to them to forge their own ways. Don't get me wrong... if I'm djing a club and there's a bunch of young mod kids out there dancing, I'd be stoked. But I'm not going to go up to them afterwards and say, "Hey gang, let's hang out and get our mod on
Ew. See, I had my time. I had my youth. When I was younger, I hung out with people around my own age and we did these things on our terms. We didn't have a lot of clubs at the time, but we had each other. We hung out and turned ourselves on to music and discussed clothing. Some of my friends spent time and money on their scooters, in addition to
slick clothing. Now though, we're all older and at different phases of our lives. Some of us have families of our own, some don't. But for me and my friends, this stuff still excites us! Families and jobs didn't kill the Mod thing for us.
Now, though, it's the younger kids' turns to form their own little scenes. Some will last, some won't. Some of these young mod kids will stick with it and evolve, trading in their parkas and Jam pins for sharper, more detailed clothing. Some will veer off into other looks/scenes/whatever, and might
retain a love for their Mod past (while others put it down). Others will drop out completely (and maybe come back in their 40s, looking to continue where they left off at age 20). And this will go on and on for years to come, much as it has been going on for years past.
Think about this... I started using the internet in around 1993. Since then, as mentioned above, we've had new websites, blogs, online radio stations, social media pages, etc. Kids born in 1993 are now (oh-my-god-why-am-i-aging-myself-like-this?) 19 years old! They've grown up with the internet and don't know life without it. If they get into the Mod thing, the internet is going to be their main source of info. Sure, it'll be easy for them to find what they need in a matter of minutes and become insta-Mods in a short period of time. People my age went through a longer process, but probably gained a better appreciation of it all, after all the hard work. Some kids today will get into it after a Wikipedia search, a download of the top 25 Mod hits, and a purchase of a Pretty Green shirt. Some will drop out to follow their next fancy. But others will really stick with it and use the information to explore more and push themselves to learn more. And this will continue on...
Mod is never going to die. And you know why?
THE INTERNET EXISTS.