Balmy August London days symbolise the approach of the next Soldier On gig. We’re counting down to Sunday, August, 23rd, and our return to Camden for an outdoor gig in a place we feel right at home.
The Mod movement has it’s roots in London. Mod culture was the first truly English Rhythm and Blues phenomenon and grew out of the city in the late 1950′s. The Mod sound was characterised by slick, uptempo music, hard guitars and drums with pop harmonies as well as soul. It’s inspired us individually and as a band and we’re happy to be taking our sound back to iconic Camden.
Gathered in London’s coffee bars, open into the early hours, early Mods were inspired by modern jazz and Rhythm and Blues.
Bo Diddley, Miles Davis and Muddy Waters were followed by The Who, The Kinks and The Small Faces as the Mod sound developed. Dance halls playing Mod music emerged as the culture grew across England, then the wider world. By the mid-sixties Londoners made weekend trip to the dance halls of Margate and Yarmouth.
This first generation of Mods were post-war teens and the subculture was born into a brave, new and modern world. Rebellion was afforded this generation and rebel they did – through the Mod lifestyle: gigs, records, clothes and pills.
For the first time wages didn’t have to be handed over to mum and dad. Working class teens began to own their look. Alongside dance halls and coffee bars, boutiques emerged across London, new styles were copied at home and army surplus stores offered affordable clobber.
1950′s Beatnik and Teddy Boy styles paved the way for the Mod look. Beatnik black turtle necks and Teddy Boy dandy suits inspired sharply tailored suits: thin lapels and thinner ties over rich, dark mohair V-necks.
Influenced by French and Italian fashion Mod style integrated abstracted, pop art style British flags and RAF badges. Fresh European style juxtaposed the rough Americanised attire of rockers. It was fully embraced.
Another iconic Mod symbol came from Europe – the scooter. Practical, affordable and easier to park than a car, Vespas and Lambrettas could be bought on hire purchase and customised with mirrors and lamps. London’s Mods could travel home from dance halls far later than public transport allowed.
Riding scooters demanded that sharp clothes be protected: military style parkas, now synonymous with Mods, were practical and affordable.
Camden’s musical reputation has grown ever since the Irish moved into the area in the 30′s, bringing their traditional music.
Irishman Bill Fuller opened the doors of the Buffalo Club in 1930 and it’s notoriety grew with his transatlantic management and promotion company which drew in bands from Joe Loss to The Sex Pistols and Oasis. The now iconic venue has been the Electric Ballroom since ’78.
In October ’66 Chalk Farm, Camden hosted England’s first major Rock and Roll gig when Pink Floyd and the Soft Machine played The Roundhouse, a converted railway shed. More legends followed over the years: Hendrix, The Doors, Cream and many more.
Recording studios, gig venues, shops and stalls catering to the subcultures of the music world gather in this corner of the world beside the people who create and promote music. Camden now is a rich, creative environment where musical minds gather.
One Camden gem is Modfather – whose offerings are clothes that celebrate the Mod era in every incarnation and we’re happy to be playing there this weekend. Owned by father and son Mario and Dan Warner it offers British street style fashion from the Chalk Farm/ Roundhouse end of Camden stables and ships internationally through their website. They offer clothing from Lambretta, Trojan and Merc as well as vintage mod threads.