Living as a Mod in the 21st Century

Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Making of a Mod Video - Parka Avenue & Mordicus Team Up

A few months back, I was approached by director Ken Allaire, on the behalf of Mordicus, an energetic and talented Power Pop band from my own province of Quebec to possibly help out on a project he was working on. 

Album cover from the recently released Edgar Allan Pop LP
You want to know how Britpop made by young French Canadians sounds like? You'll want to check these boys out. They had some commercial success with their first album Cri Primal so I had heard of them before. Now get ready for a hard hitting dose of Stones, Kinks, Beatles with a bit of Oasis thrown in for good measure, all delivered with a fresh modern edge.

Through this very blog, Ken had seen my "modded up" 1959 Vespa VNB and thought it had to play a central part in the video of Mordicus' new single Grandville

Max Desrosiers, the band leader and singer had conveyed to Ken that he wanted a certain Mod aesthetic to the video. Who knew that a few months later, the final result would be the story of a Mod turning to the bright lights of the Big City. But most surprising of all, I would be credited as the artistic director.

I don't believe in faith, karma and all that superstitious mumbo jumbo. But sometimes, stars do seem to align. The second I met Max, I knew we were kindred spirits. Being from a small city in rural Quebec, it's hard to imagine that our paths would one day cross and that Max's fascination for Mod culture would be the catalyst.

At first, my sole purpose was to provide my Vespa for the shoot. That's it. But as soon as Ken, Max and I got together, my role expended to "Official Mod consultant". Max had never driven a 2-stroke scooter before so I had to show him the basics. You know, which grip you need to twist to pretend to change gears and which lever to pull to brake. I offered my immaculate fully restored 1965 Lambretta TV175 or my stock 1975 Jet200 with less than 500 original miles on it for the shoot but Max wouldn't go for it. He wanted the scooter with all the mirrors and lights.

Then the title of "stylist" was added to the list. Even though we had only known each other for a matter of minutes, I blatantly told them that if they wanted to pass as Mods, I needed to have my say in the wardrobe. Yes, I was bold. I grant you that. But I thought that if the Parka Avenue name was going to be associated with the project, we had to make it look as authentic as possible. Long story short, I opened my closet and Max dove in.

What I didn't expect is how open, gracious and receptive they were going to be. In my opinion, this is how true creativity emerges. It's when people get together, share ideas and listen to each other. Sounds simple but more often than not, egos get in the way. This was not the case.

From that point on, I felt like I was part of the team. The mark of a good director is someone who will listen to your ideas and opinions but will stay true to his vision. That encapsulates Ken to a tee. It was fun and easy to work with them.

We shot a few scenes of the main character getting ready to go out on the town inside my loft but that  didn't make the final cut. Ken made the right call. I suggested that for some of the outside scenes, they should shoot in front of the most "Mod" architecture Montreal has to offer and that's Habitat 67. You get a glimpse of those modern looking cube apartments, built in 1967, in the video.

The title of the song, Granville, is typical Quebec rural slang. It can be easily translated to "big city". It's not an expression I ever used because I'm a city slicker. I was born under the bright lights of the metropolis. It tells the story of a guy, from a small town, making the trek to the city. He's attracted to the danger, the risk and the excitement of it all. Max penned it. Being from Chicoutimi, a small town of no more than 70 000 people, hours away from the nearest major centre, he knows what he's talking about.

The first day of shooting wrapped up at Bar de Courcelle where I host my weekly Mod Club night. That's where you see our protagonist enjoy the nightlife. If you don't blink, you'll also see yours truly letting loose and spinning some 45s. This wasn't a set-up. That's exactly the type of atmosphere you'll experience every Saturday.

The second day of shooting was all done in a studio using a large green screen. I had the pleasure of throwing fake snow at Max's face. So kids, don't try this at home. Don't go driving your vintage Vespa in the snow. I know this is Canada and it's the type of thing we do on a daily basis but please, leave it to the professionals.

Now, it's one thing to be asked to land a hand to a creative project. It's another thing to participate with a band that you actually respect and admire. These guys ROCK!

Max & Ken between takes
I feel extremely honoured to have been part of it and I'm proud of the end result. The fact that they became friends is another added bonus that I embrace wholeheartedly.

Without further ado, here's Mordicus with Granville.

Expect to see these guys at the MODtreal Weekender during Labor Day 2016.

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