Living as a Mod in the 21st Century

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Most - What Timeless Mod Music Sounds Like


To those of you that still have any doubt that Mod is global, think again. Some of the best bands around these days come from every corner of the globe. Case in point, the Swedish band The Most. With their energetic mix of good ol' Beat and Power Pop and drawing their inspiration from Blues, Jazz and RnB, they are guaranteed not to disappoint.

Parka Avenue had the distinct pleasure to interview Frans Perris and Magnus Kolberg. Aside from being witty and having a great sense of humour, they both skillfully assume the guitar and vocal duties of the band.

The Most on tour in London
You have strong Sixties influences. How do you incorporate that sound and make it new and contemporary? 

Magnus: We never really listened to Mod revival bands of the late 70s. To us Mod music evolved and developed in the late 50s and early 60s. We just pick up from there I guess. I prefer the term timeless to contemporary. 

Frans: I think the music leading up to the 60s is very interesting; old blues, RnB, Soul, Bluegrass, Jazz, Music Hall, etc. The creativity of 60s bands is something we can relate to, finding our own sound. 70s Punk was our skiffle though, learning chords and such. What is contemporary? Everything is tied up in its time, popular today, gone tomorrow. If something old sounds good today, it’s probably because it is just that, so who cares?!

What is your song making process like?

Frans: We try different ideas, sketches if you like. If something works, we build around that. We always record as much live as possible with drums, bass and guitars. 

Magnus: Any member has the power of veto at any given time of the songwriting-production process.


Sweden is not necessarily known as a bastion of Mod culture. Tell us about the band's path and growth. How did you manage to become one of the scene's leading bands? 

Magnus: We got together in the late 90s. Some quick line-up changes and then Mats, aka Slim, and Marcus Holmberg stayed on. All four of us share a love for 60s Beat music and thus heading in the same direction. Our first release was in 2004 on a compilation for the label Garageland but we had been doing gigs for a while already. 

Frans: Sweden has always been very popular for touring bands. They all came here in the 60s. Bands like The Who, Small Faces, Rolling Stones, Kinks, Beatles, etc. Maybe that’s also why many of them had Swedish girlfriends…ha ha. Sweden had its own big Mod scene in the 60s with fine bands like  The Tages, who once backed Chuck Berry. Tages also, on one occasion in 1966, lent their Gibson SG to a certain guitar smashing Pete Townshend, that in itself is bravery….ha ha.

In the 21st Century, the Mod scene seems to have exploded internationally with bands like The Riots from Moscow, French Boutik from Paris, RAF from Portland, The Strypes from Cavan, Ireland and you guys from Umeå, Sweden. How do you feel to be part of a worldwide movement? 

Magnus: Fantastic! All the bands are really supporting each other and we have toured and played with our mates French Boutik a lot now. Salut mes amis! 

Frans: It feels amazing! Like a big family. We grew up with the same music as everyone else. I went to school in the UK and in the US as a youngster. Being half Italian I never thought of having to stay in one country. We’re all in this together.

In May 2013, you released your first full length album Auto-Destructive Art and played the famous Cavern Club in Liverpool. What was that experience like? 

Magnus: It is amazing to perform on that stage! Lots of mojo in the air. 

Frans: Being from a small town ourselves we absolutely love Liverpool and all the wonderful people we met there. Liverpool has such a history, heavily bombed during WWII, trading port, its own stew ...oh, and of course The Beatles. 


Tell us more about your album. 

Magnus: It’s got some nice tunes…

Frans: Rushed!! I was in the Army. The mixing console blew up, ended up using a crappy one. Recorded over some very hot summer days, drummer Mats only in his drawers! You wouldn’t want to know. Yes, it has its moments. 

Clothes and style are an integral part of being a Mod. Every photo I've seen of the band, you guys exude cool, going from a very classic dark suit to psychedelic, colourful late 60s garments. How important is your overall look? 

Magnus: I feel that everything is important. The sound, the look, the whole package. It helps us focus in these days of ”standard-musician-roadie-style-fashion”. Have fun! 

Frans: Yeah, clothes are fun, wear them! I think John Lydon said that. The old Bluesmen dressed up to entertain. I also like the style of early 60s bands like The Yardbirds, the Stones, Pretty Things, Them and The Small Faces when they were all searching for a look but didn’t quite have it together. 

Photo by Roger Degerman 
Since we're starting a new year. Tell us about a found memory of 2014 as a band.

Magnus: Playing The Cavern for the second time. Hanging out with Ian Barrett in Manchester. Playing in Paris. Playing in London. Touring Sweden with French Boutik. Fracturing my right collar bone… oops, sorry not that!

Frans: Performing at the Purple Weekend in Spain. It was bass player Martin’s second gig with us. When he saw the venue, a huge stadium, his face turned white as a sheet of paper…ha ha. We played it cool. We do this every time. 

What's in store for The Most in 2015? 

Magnus: We will play in London for The March of the Mods, (March 8th Fiddle’s Elbow). We have a full length album out sometime soon. Maybe some new videos too. 

Frans: We will probably implode and die, who knows.

Well, we certainly don't want Frans' predictions to come true. To keep up to date with what faith has in store for them and news of their forthcoming doom and demise, head over to The Most Facebook page. And to put your hands on their music, head over here right now!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

I AM a Mod



For the first time since I started this blog, five years ago, I had to scrap a post and start over. The one I just fed to the paper shredder was meant to celebrate the 5th year anniversary of this wonderful adventure. It was pompous, self congratulatory and it simply wasn't me. You could argue that it was very "Mod" though.

Instead, what I should be doing, is simply thank all you loyal readers for your continuous support. Many of you are also an integral part of Parka Avenue's success and you should be acknowledged.

First, the We Are The Mods radio show. Warren Peace might be vilified for his views but I rarely met somebody as passionate about the scene and as supportive of all my endeavours. I love doing my Vintage Vinyl From The Vault segment and I hope to continue to introduce you to many more unknown 45s from my collection. I haven't run out yet! Penny Lane, co-host with Warren on We Are The Mods, is just as important. Her own show, Punks in Parkas, has been on the air for 10 years! She works tirelessly and her positive attitude is contagious.

The Mod Generation website is, in my opinion, by far the best resource to keep you abreast of everything that is happening in the Modern World. It's always a source of pride whenever one of my posts is featured on their online magazine Mod Scene Weekly.


I want to thank my friend DJ Lee Modern and DJ ParkLife for handing me over the reigns of my city's longest running weekly Mod night, The Mod Club. Currently in it's 8th year, I hope I'm a good steward of its legacy. Our new location, the Bar de Courcelle, is simply fantastic. I couldn't ask for better management and a more dynamic staff. I love these guys! That place is truly like a second home. It's packed every Saturday and the atmosphere is second to none. I only have one complaint. It needs more Mods!


My crew of regular guest DJs are like family. Napoleon 67 and DJ Shado are like brothers. They are true Mods in every sense of the word and have impeccable taste. Then, we have my Soul brother (in spirit and in music) DJ Ben Shulman. I owe half of my record collection to this guy. He's my record pimp and an encyclopedia of knowledge when it comes to Soul music. And he's only 21! Put us on stage together and we are the Sam & Dave of DJs. If any of you are visiting Montreal and want to spent a great Saturday night, get in touch with me and you'll get VIP treatment.


Speaking of DJs, I need to express my gratitude to all of you out there that had me over or have extended an invitation to guest DJ in your city. Ty Jesso and Sean Quinn at Soulelujah in Boston, Mike and Teddy at the TNT night in Washington, Garry at the Mod Club in Ottawa, Rob Fearless at Save Your Soul in Baltimore, Eric at the High Rollers Weekend in Las Vegas, Tom at the Secret Soul Club in Cleveland and Sir Eric Colin at MODchicago.

Enough with the love fest. Let's get serious for a minute. There's a reason why I entitled this post "I AM a Mod". That's because I am and I'm proud of it. I'm tired of people saying things like "I used to be a Mod" or "I affiliate myself with the movement but I'm not really one". Better yet "I don't like labels" or "I see myself as one but I don't like to call myself one". Stop that! You're either a Mod or you're not. There's no grey area. I've NEVER heard a Skinhead say: "I'm sort of a Skin." With them, it's clear as day. There's no ambiguity. There's no such thing as a part-time Skin.

Now, I don't expect my vision of Mod to be your own. That's what's great about being a Mod. It's a movement of self-expression and individuality. And don't let others dictate what the definition of Mod is for you. Not even me! But for Mod's sake, proclame it and stand proud!


I'm also tired of people complaining about the state of the contemporary Mod scene. We all know someone like that. "It was better back then", "The scene here is nothing like (insert part of the world here) !" or "They're are no good Mod / Soul / 60s night in the city" are comments I hear too often. Stop whining and do something about it! Get involved! The scene is only as good as the people that are part of it.

Write your own blog. Play in a band. If you don't know how to play an instrument, book a band and organize a night. Don't have time? Go out and see a local band. Visit your local record shop. Start a podcast. Put a scooter rally together. Too big of an undertaking? Support the nearest one. Join a scooter club. Start your own scooter club. Simply call your mates and go out for a scooter ride. Wear a suit. Put some effort in what you're wearing. But please, I beg you, stop bitching!

I don't have all the answers. But at least I try. Who knew that a 43 year old Mod from Montreal, Canada would write these words 5 years after he had started. English is not even my native tongue! If you have followed this blog for a number of years, you know one thing, I'll never dictate what Mod is or what it is supposed to be. You can make up your own mind about that. I aim to inspire, motivate and ignite passion.


So, my fellow Modernists, adorn proudly your finest suit, straddle that Lambretta and head for the nearest dance floor. Invade it and stake a claim to it. "I AM A MOD!" is your new war cry and I'm right beside you chanting it. "I am a Mod! I am a Mod! I AM... I AM... I AM A MOD!"

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Scooters That Never Became Popular With Mods


Although you don't need a scooter to be a Mod, let's not kid ourselves, the scooter is the ultimate Mod symbol. Some of us take as much pride in our ride as we do in our shoes. Since the very start, you would either fall in one of two camps. The Vespa or the Lambretta. The debate about which one is the best has been going on since the first Mod decided to add an extra light to his steed. Personally, I have one foot firmly planted in both camps. You can read about what I think the ultimate Mod scooter is in a previous post here.

The reason why Mods have been captivated by those two brands is pretty obvious. I mean, look at them! Tell me these Italian marvels are not a thing of beauty!

My 1965 TV175 Series III
My mate Daniel's Vespa Sprint with my 1959 Vespa VNB

The 50s and 60s have been the heyday for scooter manufacturing across the globe. A myriad of companies came out with countless models that tried to dethrone the two Italian giants. And for a subculture that prides itself on being individuals, I'm surprised we don't have more accounts of Mods riding anything else but a Vespa or a Lambretta.

One reason could be that some of these contraptions are simply the ugliest things on two wheels.  In any case, we're going to have a look at some of them and I'll let you make up your mind about them.

DMW was a British motorcycle manufacturer based out of Wolverhampton, England. They came out with a scooter called the Bambi. With a name like that, it's no surprise that Mods weren't seen driving to Brighton on them.


Puch was a well established Austrian motorcycle, scooter, moped and bicycle manufacturer. In the late 50s, they decided to capitalize on the scooter craze sweeping Europe. They came out with a two-stroke 125cc version. Interesting fact, in 1987 the Puch company was sold to Piaggio. They continued making bikes under the Puch name.



The BSA company was based in Birmingham. The most notable models were produced in the early 60s jointly with the famous Triumph motorcycle manufacturer. They were never popular with the Mods maybe for the fact that the Triumph name was associated with Rockers?






BSA was not the only British company that ventured in the scooter market. DKR came out with five different models: the Dove, the Defiant, the Pegasus, the Manx and the Capella. The Dove, the Defiant and the Manx, with their front end shaped like a large nose, were far from what could be described as "modern".



At least they somewhat redeemed themselves with the Capella range that came out in 1960.


The Excelsior Monarch, produced out of Birmingham, was not the only British company to come out with a fat nose scooter.


The James, also produced in Birmingham, was short lived. It had an interesting feature. The engine was located under the footwell which made it pretty stable. That also freed some space under the seat to put your parka when out to the club.



The Wasp, made by the Sun Cycling & Fiting Co, was yet another Birmingham scooter. Were they trying to capitalize on the Vespa's (the Wasp in Italian) popularity by naming it so? Someone could argue that they were.


The French automobile company Peugeot entered the scooter market in 1953. The 1954 model S.55 had an interesting feature with a luggage carrier in the front mudguard. The model below was available in the late 50s and early 60s.


The Capri was Italian made and despite the claims in this ad, it still wasn't very powerful with its 80cc engine.




The ISO Milano was produced, you guessed it, in Italy. The scooter seems to be a mutant Lambretta-Vespa hybrid. The front is a close cousin of the Vespa and the side panels seem to be a mix of a Lambretta LD and the Li series I.


Durkopp was a German company that produced the Diana. There's a definite Italian influence here but the scooter line was short lived. It did come out with a powerful 194cc engine that had a four-speed gearbox operated from the left pedal.



The Manet S100 was a Czech scooter. It has a certain modern appeal, with it's sleek lines, that speaks to my inner Mod. I would have to warm up to those spoke wheels though.


The Raleigh Roma was a scooter produced in the UK under licence by the Milan company Bianchi, also known for their bicycles. Note the interesting air scoop on the front mudguard.


The German company NSU was a major player and entered the scooter market by manufacturing the Lambretta LC under licence. In 1955, the NSU-Lambretta partnership came to an end and the firm launched their own scooter, the Prima. If there's a scooter that could have Mod appeal, it's the Prima. The lettering is a reminder of it's Lambretta past, it has plenty of chrome and the accessories could make any Modernist drool. Electric starter, front bumper, horn grill, luggage rack, spare wheel, a front fog light, full dashboard are just some of the equipment that could be seen on the various Prima models.


Last but not least is the German Zundapp Bella. With it's massive 12-inch wheels, it would have provided a confortable ride on long trips to the coastal towns on bank holidays. The Bella did have a brief incursion into the Mod world when it made an appearance on the cover of Oasis' album Be Here Now.



Many more scooter brands came and went during the 50s and 60s. I have only touched the surface. Maybe some original Mods did cruise the streets of London on some of these models. Please correct me if I'm wrong. If there was a model that you think that could have been a Mod contender, please let us know in the comment section or visit the Parka Avenue Facebook page.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

This is a story of a Mod who spent the day with 6 beautiful pin-up models: part II


A year ago, I had the pleasure of having professional photographer Simon Laroche rent out my loft for a pin-up photo shoot. You can read all about the experience here. We have since became friends, sharing the same love for flea market finds and collecting Jazz and Soul records.

The Parka Avenue HQ has moved since that day so we agreed that we should relive the adventure. My decor had changed a bit and I had new blank canvas to work with. I now have a basement! 


Simon had such good feedback about the first photo shoot that he had amateur models showing interest all over the place. Simon and I also share the same philosophy about beauty. None of these models are professionals but stunning they are. They don't represent the androgynous, stick figure, photoshopped top models we see in fashion magazines these days. They have curves. They are sexy and they are real. That is the essence of what a pin-up is.

Now, none of them are Mods. The clothes they wear might not appeal to you. I wasn't responsible for that. My contribution was the ambiance, the accessories and the location.

Pictures are worth a thousand words.

First up was the vivacious and effervescent Karine. She seemed very comfortable in front of the camera and the results are there.





This 60s dress has Mod written all over it. It was actually one of the pieces of clothing I really liked. Simon found it in a thrift store for next to nothing. You can expect one of these images to be used to promote one of my futur Mod Club nights in the city.



Gabrielle is shy and demure. It took a while for her to warm up but once she did, she took directions like a professional. She confided in us that she had recently loss an insane amount of weight. I have to applaud her courage for stepping in front of the camera like she did. And that enchanting gaze... Oh! THAT GAZE!






Nadine has that "girl next door" quality. And who wouldn't want have her as a neighbour?



Virginie was a pleasure to work with. She was spunky, confident and seemed to really enjoy herself. It all translates in the photos.






She was later joined by her cousin Catrine. There kinship wasn't fake and it permeated through every shot.


Catrine also had a very short learning curve. If she's not the definition of a natural beauty then I don't what is. I think that smile says it all.





I have to confess. I have a particular fondness for Chloe. It's not a surprise to anyone, I've always had a weakness for blondes. And if you don't see the Marilyn Monroe connection, you must be blind. She might be reserved and timid but that didn't keep her from being highly photogenic. That glare simply pierces through the lens. I had the distinct pleasure to share the spotlight with her.








All of this wouldn't have been possible without a team. When Myriam is in charge of hair and makeup, you know you're in good hands. You can see more of her work here.


The artistic direction was under the guidance of photographer Camille. What an absolute delight it was to work with her. You can check some of her work here.

Last but not least, the man behind the camera, Simon Laroche. The constant professional, I would recommend him in a heartbeat. Have a look at his portfolio here. This won't be our last collaboration, so stay tuned!