From West London to the world, the British Mod phenomenon

Meynell, Anthony ORCID: (2020) From West London to the world, the British Mod phenomenon. In: 15th IASPM UK and Ireland Biennial Conference: London Calling, 19-31 Jun 2020, London.

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This paper, presented at the 15th IASPM UK and Ireland Biennial Conference: London Calling, held at University of West London, discusses the transcultural impact of the 1979 UK Mod Revival subculture.

2019 witnessed the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Mod Revival that was celebrated around the world, in festivals, concert tours, exhibitions and a wealth of publications. While the subculture takes its musical influences and style silhouette from the original 1960s British pop-culture mod era, The Who, Small Faces, soul and ska etc., it was this later 1979 Mod Revival, spearheaded and inspired by The Jam, that revisited the 1960s multicultural influences, and kick started a neo mod phenomenon, an amalgam of mod style, punk narratives, fanzines, d-i-y record labels and club culture, which has continued to evolve creating a broad church of shared
interests that have been adapted globally, creating unexpected hybrids.

While most bands never make it above cult following status, continued association with the emblematic visual identity has allowed many to cultivate enduring careers as performing musicians, live and on record, joined by waves of new bands following the same path while updating influences and regenerating audiences. Indeed, even The Who and Paul Weller (The Jam) retain close association with mod iconography, while Kenney Jones (The Small Faces/The Who) headlines 2020s London Mods Mayday concerts, the festival originally celebrating the recording of a 1979 live album of neo mod bands.

This paper traces the influence from the 1960s, discusses the 1979 phenomenon, the impact of the film Quadrophenia, the global spread through the 1980s, the influence on 1990s Britpop, and considers later examples from around the world. I describe how separation from mainstream channels has encouraged promoters, musicians and labels to create a platform that has sustained a globally recognisable branded subculture that embraces festivals, labels, publishing, and fashion becoming a self-supporting community, encompassing every level from professional virtuoso to dilettante covers bands. This niche marketing combined with direct-to-fan engagement experience typifies the approach developed by other thriving subcultures, now adopted by many major label music businesses.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: Arts > Cultural history
Depositing User: Anthony Meynell
Date Deposited: 17 Nov 2022 16:48
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2022 10:47


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