Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Three Stroke Productions speaks to Paul (Smiler) Anderson

Three Stroke Productions speaks to Paul (smiler) Anderson – original revival Mod, with an obsession for clothes, music, and football. Author of the Book 'The Fleur De Lys' and the upcoming
'Mods - The New Religion', which is out next year. He has DJ'd and organised various Mod events since 1985, and Co-compiled the 'Rare Mod' series of LP's and EP's for Acid Jazz records.
Let's hear what our man has to say?

When, and where did the whole Mod thing originally start for you?”
The Mod thing really started for me around September 1979 when I finally became a Mod after watching it flourish from a distance. I was 14 at the time so I was too young to have been a Punk but I loved New Wave and Punk music and through The Jam the Mod scene became more noticeable. I wasn't really very good in the early days ( cherry red loafers and grey socks!) but once I became a Mod I knew that it was going to stay with me forever.
1988, Katy Stephens hand made shirt, tailored trousers

“When you were out and about in the early 80's, what clubs were you going to during this period? What would be a typical weekend?"

As I was 14 and living in Reading (40 miles from London) there really wasn't anything more than our local youth club. I was always one of the youngest Mods it seemed, the older lot got scooters and went off to see bands such as Secret Affair, The Chords and other revival bands. As I got older I too got a scooter and went to bands. By the time I was 18 in 1983 a lot of the older Mods had become scooter boys. So clothing and music became more irrelevant to them as it was more about just having a scooters. I loved scooters and have owned at least one every year since 1982 but it was always clothes and music that took priority to me. So luckily I found a like minded soul in a guy called Richard Molyneux who rejected the local Reading scene in search of something different. In 1984 we went off to London one Saturday night to a club I'd read about called The Phoenix in Cavendish Square. It was fantastic and a million miles away from the local soul nights I had been to up until then (and never felt comfortable at). It was full of sharp suited kids dancing to old R&B, Beat, Soul and Jazz. It was my Mod Nirvana. After that we became regulars at The Phoenix on Saturdays and Sneakers in Shepherds Bush every Sunday. I started getting suits and shirts handmade and collecting vinyl records with a passion.

1997, Stone Island top, Paul Smith trousers, Vespa GS160.

“You recently published the book - Circles, The Strange Story of The Fleur de Lys, Britain’s Forgotten Soul Band. What are your earliest memories of their music, and how did the interest in the Fleur De Lys book come about?”
I co-wrote the book on the rare 60's mod band The Fleur de Lys after both Damian Jones (co-author) interviewed the original drummer for a book I was writing on 60's Mods. His tales about living with Jimi Hendrix when he first came to the UK plus playing with Aretha Franklin etc made us realise it was a book in its own right. So we set about tracking down the other members and Acid Jazz showed faith in the project and agreed to publish it. 'Circles - The Fleur De Lys. The Strange Story of Britain's Forgotten Soul Band' came out and got rave reviews. http://www.modculture.co.uk/fleur-de-lys-book-now-available/

"You’re still quite active as a DJ on the Mod scene in the UK. Do you remember when you first got bitten by the DJ bug?"
I'd always bought records but after attending Sneakers club in 1984 I started to collect rare stuff properly and first DJ'd at a pub called The Horse & Barge in Reading in July 1985. Within a couple of years I was DJing at all the major London Mod Clubs as well as the scooter rallies plus all my own events. It has taken me all over Europe and it is lovely to play to people in places such as Italy or Spain because although they have great scenes they are not sure what you are going to play.

“How has the scene evolved since the early ‘80s, and what do you think about the current scene?”
It's weird but the scene now is quite healthy but somehow I feel disappointed. In the 80's we were evolving and you spent ages trying to find out about everything from music to clothes to Mod history. If you were sussed back then it stood out a mile but you always shared the knowledge whether you found something out in a book or somebody else told you some small mainly unknown piece of knowledge. We read and wrote our own Mod fanzines to spread the word. Just about everybody hated Mods at this point and they were quite violent times but hey we were young and you thrived off that! Now we live in the Internet age. All the information is there at the push of a button so people don't have to search for those tiny details so much. Britpop seemed to make scooters and Mod clothing acceptable, so much that now Mods are deemed as British as fish and chips. Anybody can DJ now because if you own a credit card and access to E Bay you can own those elusive records. No more trawling through record fairs, building up contacts, finding dealers who put out record lists. DJ'ing is there to anybody with a knowledge of tunes and a credit card. On a positive note the Internet has made it more possible to view things you'd never see and hear tunes you'd never hear . It basically makes the world a smaller place so that Mod is truly international now. Computer technology embraces the true Mod dream of using the most modern elements  whilst killing off the other Mod ideal of elitism to some extent.. In general though I am happy with the current state of play and love the fact that the scene will always be run and directed from people rooted within the scene. The passion of a true Mod always shines through. 

"subcultures like the Mod have developed along the decades through a path made of bands, characters,  events and even conflicts. Beyond reinterpretations and reshapings, what is the real essence of being a mod?" 

Years ago I feel that I was very blinkered and purist about my whole Mod involvement. I'd hate to be that way now. Around 1990 I was really heavily involved in the scene DJ'ing, running clubs, writing fanzines and helping organise the Mod rallies. I felt that somehow I couldn't expand any further and felt very limited. I got very into Acid Jazz, and the whole vintage tops and Duffer St George look. By 1991 I was buying things like The Young Disciples, Galliano, Brand New Heavies, A Tribe Called Quest plus seeing bands like these alive alongside the early Manic Street Preachers, Revs and 5.30 bands. I became a regular at Dingwalls on Sundays and various other clubs. By early 1992 I literally walked away from the Mod scene. I never stopped being or calling myself a Mod it was just that I had had enough of the actual scene.I sold off all my tailored suits and trousers as well as my hand made shirts. I began wearing Lacoste, Armani, Hugo Boss, Stone Island, Paul & Shark and Paul Smith. Feet were shod in Patrick Cox loafers or Adidas Gazelles. I was riding a  1966 Lambretta SX225 before moving on to a 1964 Vespa GS160 mk 2. 
     It was around 2000 that I was asked to DJ at a Mod orientated club for the first time in years as I still had all my record collection. I enjoyed myself and although I have never fully immersed myself back into the Mod scene, I began to get more involved with it again. I started to get my shirts , suits and trousers tailor made again. These days you are likely to find me dressed casually in a Lacoste polo, Levi 501's with 1 inch turn ups and Adidas Italias or Adidas Japans. Dressed up normally in a handmade shirt, tailor made trousers and either Bass Weejun loafers or vintage shoes.
    To me the essence of Mod is always about being smart and sussed. Dressing to fit the occasion rather than just dressing up for the sake of it. To me a true Mod will take the best influences both musically and clotheswise from the past and the present and co-ordinate them to move forward.
"We believe that a scene is healthy if it's still capable to attract youngsters. In other words has the mod factor still the right appeal nowadays"?
Since Britpop came along bands such as Blur and Oasis that  used Mod iconography have implanted the look back into the media. Although seen as past it now they have influenced many younger bands who have adopted that look maybe without even realising the Mod lineage. Back in the 80's anyone wearing a three button suit was the target of ridicule as one button, linen suits (influenced by Miami Vice) were the order of the day. These days the three button suit is seen as a 'classic look' and therefore acceptable as are Ben Sherman shirts, loafers etc. I think that there is enough acceptance now of the clothes, transport and music to make it appealing to younger generations.
"which current bands and clubs would you recommend?"
To be honest I don't really follow bands that much anymore. Miles Kane is doing some great stuff and I've loved The Arctic Monkeys since day one. The Supernovas from North London are a great young multicultural band. There's lots of clubs out there and probably too many to list. My friends Gilo and Dave Edwards run a great night called Sidewinder in London and No Way Out in Manchester is outstanding.
"clothes &  football":  favourite brands, favourite piece of clothing, your football team...!
I don't really do brand name stuff that much anymore although I find Lacoste polos the most comfortable and they are a classic look. My trainers are usually Adidas retro looking such as Gazelles, Italias or Japans. I love the suit that I had made for my wedding five years ago. It was made by George in Harringay and it's pure Dormeuil tonic. It cost £850, more than my wife's wedding dress, but it was worth it! My handmade shirts are my other passion! As for footy I'm a Hammer through and through. I used to follow them home and away with a season ticket in the Bobby Moore Upper. I gave up my season ticket a couple of years ago but I still get to see them when I can. Since my little boy Joe has been born I am much more limited but I went three times last season and also to the play off final at Wembley. I'm looking forward to us being back in the Premiership and will make a few games I'm sure. West Ham till I die.
Hand made shirt in West Ham colours
“Do you ever see yourself leaving Mod behind?”
I can never seeing me leaving Mod behind, it runs through my body like a life blood. It influences all my choices in life through art, music and culture. My book about the 1960's Mods called 'Mods - the New Religion!' is being published by Omnibus early next year and it would be lovely to think it may influence some youngsters to get involved . My little boy  is my greatest legacy that I will leave behind when I'm gone but my book will be a good second!