SUIT YOURSELF INTERVIEWS
PURVEYOR OF STYLE PAUL MARTIN
Cris Davies catches up with the man behind one of the coolest Facebook Pages 'Purveyors of style', Paul Martin has been part of the Mod scene for many years, he is respected well loved and super smart, in this exclusive interview he talks about his love for the scene, his favourite haunts, music, young guns and what it's like to run such a successful group.
Hi Paul, thanks for taking the time out to talk with us, can we start by you tell us a little about yourself, where you are from, how long you have been part of the scene, how you got into it and your early influences.
Firstly can I say what a privilege it is to be asked to do this. I'm from a small village in Leicestershire...at the age of 13 I would jump off the school bus and start my paper round which was along the A50 between Leicester and Coalville...my best mate mosh would do one side and me the other...I remember a lovely hot day and we'd just finished and met up when a strange noise alerted my attention...coming down the road were about 30 to 50 scooters chromed up..lights & mirrors etc...id never seen anything like it and just stood there gobsmacked...as the last scooter rode past the pillion stuck up the v sign. What the hell was it ? Here i was stood wearing the usual crap 13 year old's wore and these looked cool as F! I needed to find out more. Luckily two lads Chris bell and Richard Lewin had also seen them...they were a couple of years older and wore Sta prest..boating blazers etc they told me the scooters belonged to mods. Richard and Chris lent me a few albums i.e the Who Small Faces kinks etc which I loved as soon as I played them. They took me into Leicester where I bought a blazer..shirts from Irish menswear that sold a lot of cavern stuff and that was my introduction to this way of life...eventually both Chris and Richard packed in so I was the 'only mod in the village' (there's a comedy punch line there ) but it didn't deter me.
A couple years later I was in coalville on my own and bumped into 2 girls who were mods and they said come down next Saturday. I did and met Gonzo Storer and Rod Storer..Mark lingham and the rest of the Coalville lot. Through meeting the coalville lot I heard new music...round at Gonzos I'd be listening to Jimmy Smith...Mark lingham would have the Prisoners blasting out and it just opened my mind up to a whole new scene and also the clothes. You see I was still winging it in Sta prest and cavern stuff but they would be wearing charity shop shirts and Levis and just looked smarter. However one night we went to a do I can't remember where but I think it was Derby and they were all wearing suits and there was me in cavern trousers and a Ben Sherman shirt still thinking I looked the bees knees...in fact nearly everyone in there was dressed up. This was also the time when I met the Loughborough lot Karl Flavell.. Andy lee..Dave Ingle..Martin Derby and Dicky. More Sharp dressed mods so I badgered my mum who took me to Burton's where I had two pairs of trousers made dark blue and grey with a light blue pin stripe. I was finally catching up.
Can you tell us about your early experiences as part of the scene, your old favourite clubs and rally destinations.
In the early days I would attend do's put on by the Loughborough lot which were fantastic and also attend the holy cross soul club in leicester run by Rudzi who owned the Boogaloo record shop in leicester. The thing is I was never shunned by anyone..I was let into this group of mods and learnt from them. The mod scene in leicester itself was dying a death so not many do's to attend there so I'm grateful to the Absolute Begginers (Loughborough) for putting on those do's. We would also attend the royal George in Brum which is where I heard Pid dj'ing, and he really provided me with the soundtrack to my early mod days...and of course I met the lovely Brum lot. The first rally I attended was Folkstone 1987 on a PK50 (110 kit) but still a bloody long way to go on that thing but what a great weekend...surrounded by hundreds of like minded people and the music was just fantastic. Personally my favourite rally will always be Gorleston and I don't know why !! It just is...followed closely by the I.O.W
Could you tell us a couple of funny stories from back in the day.
Ah well there's a few lol....going to the isle of wight and the A road was shut and somehow we diverted onto the motorway so I pulled my L plates off and carried on...we weren't far from the junction when the police pulled us over and asked for documents and as I opened my glove box on the scooter two L plates fell out !! Even the coppers saw the funny side. Also we got to the B&B at Gorlestone and a lad called Elliot ran up stairs and jumped on to the bunk bed and was bragging about me having to sleep underneath. He kept jumping around and Steve Myles made us all a coffee...Elliot popped his head over and looked down and laughing asked if I was ok down there..i kicked the underneath of his bed and he screamed and jumped off covered in coffee..karma lol
Were you ever part of a scooter club? What was the club called? can you tell us a bit about it And do you own scooters today?
Well I was in the A50 Roadrunners first but that was mainly scooterists...we formed a club called the 'Soul Drummers scooter club' with red and white helmets with SDSC on the back. I also joined the running wild in leicester who were a great bunch and the last club was the LASC Leicestershire alliance scooter club but I packed that in about 8 yrs ago. I have an indian 150 sprint in the shed awaiting new forks and I've rebuilt the engine fingers crossed will be on the road for next summer but I won't be doing ride outs or joining a club. Although I'll say this..riding with your mates to a rally and the smell of 2 stroke there is no better feeling
Could you tell us about your love of the scene and what has attracted you to it over the years.
Well even though I dipped out for a bit I never stopped riding scooters or listening to the music but family life took over and with full time work and 3 children the Mod scene was carefully put to one side. But you never lose that feeling of belonging to it..I'm sure there are others like me...it flows through you. Even though I wasn't that active (sticking to local events) I did admire those that kept it going. I remember Karl and Dirk inviting me to Brighton beach in Leicester..it was great meeting up with those two again and other old friends and making new ones
Comparatively what are your thoughts on today's scene to the one of old.
I don't think there's much difference to be honest..if you strip it back it's still like minded people who want to dance to R & B..soul..latin..jazz..have a drink and chat to their friends from different parts of the country and dress to impress. The one thing I have noticed is the overseas events which look fantastic and thankfully are well attended by mods from over here. The good thing is a lot of The old guard are still here and still dj'ing and still pushing the barriers...there are more vintage sellers and more youngsters taken the Mod baton and carrying on our great scene.
You are always impeccably dressed when you are out and about, what’s your favourite look?
Well thanks very much..I try my best. Years ago I was a shirt and trousers/hipsters man when going out with jeans and shirt being the casual day to day look. Nowadays the beer belly counts hipsters out so I tend to stick to the suits. But my favourite look would be the 65/66 period..the French line cut and nice trousers with high collar shirts. But I must give Liza Brozdowski a mention here as she chose a lot of of my stuff...I'd get ready and ride over to hers and she'd say 'nope put this on' and she'd get my hair bang on Every time.
...and music, we all love a toe tapping tune, can you tell us about your favourite styles and your current favourite clubs and rally destinations.
The one great thing about being a mod is the wide array of music we can listen to...latin..Jazz..blue beat..psych..revival etc..so we have so much to keeps us listening. This is a top ten of stuff I love.
We got latin soul - Mongo santamaria
You need loving - Small Faces
Pass the hatchet - Roger and the gypsies
My baby likes to boogaloo - Don gardener
Soul drummers - Ray barretto
In love - Tony Galla
Reggie - The Clique
I am a fisherman - The Prisoners
Subway Joe - Joe Bataan
Looking back - Spencer Davis group
But I could easily put another 50 up there. Club wise I attend out of time in Wolverhampton and the Britalian in Nottingham.. until recently there was also the Pelican R & B in Loughborough But that has sadly stopped...I also pop over to Shake it loose in Newark when time allows. Rally wise well Dreamsville is a must..as near to the old rallies as you'll get in my opinion and also 3 keys in Skegness but there are many more I've yet to do such as yours in Bristol and in cahoots..also club wise there are Soul circle...Jelly roll...Get smarter and kitten casino which I need to get round to attending ....there are so many things going on that it's a case of picking and choosing what I can afford and making sure the dates are free as I have my children some weekends. One other thing...Keith Jones needs to organise a do in Northampton...it's been too long.
You are the owner of the very successful ‘Purveyors of Style’ group on Facebook, how did you come up with the idea? What is the group all about and what are your visions for the group and your plans for its future.
Well the idea of 'Purveyors' arose from frustration really...I'd be added to mod groups and it was Jam/Weller/Quadrophenia and repeat. There was no Latin or R & B or soul being posted and due to the fact I'd sarcastically comment about this it would get me banned/blocked. I can only take so much of Phil Daniels pics being photo shopped onto a target and anyway I did all that when I was 13/14. I wanted the old pictures from the 60's and the revival through to the Phoenix and CCI and beyond...so we set about creating what we thought people would like 'Looking Back was born' but after a while we moved onto bigger and better things with Purveyors. The group is open to everyone and it's there for them to post their favourite tracks photos etc and fingers crossed so far it's doing well. One thing I have noticed is no one really falls out even when they have a difference of opinion (it may happen but so far so good) And we try to be diplomatic as much as we can. And we try to run it like a fanzine so there are bits on different bands..clubs..clothes etc. And I'd never seen interviews on any other pages so that's something else I'm proud of and no one so far has declined. As far as a vision well if people want it then we'll keep it going I guess.
With so many other Mod orientated facebook groups how do you keep yours so fresh and exciting?
Keeping it fresh is the main thing...I'll discuss it with the other admins as I think because we're all of a similar age we need a few of the younger mods bringing on board..after all it's about them anyway as we're just old fogeys now ha ha so bringing in the new breed will hopefully punch some fresh ideas into it. As I said earlier keeping it fanzine based and advertising events new bands etc will keep people up to date with what's happening.
Being of a certain age (as we all are) how have you found the emergence of social media within the scene, do you think it has helped or hindered and what’s your personal view, are you a lover of it or do you hanker for the days of flyers and newsletters?
I love it...it's put me back in touch with so many old friends and along the way I've made many new ones. There's your website 'Suit Yourself' along with Jaynes 'soul and mod' and on Facebook you have 'Mod to bootboy' and the original modernists page also pages on the clique..the London mod scene and the old rallies. Pictures are being shared and this is great as I never took a camera anywhere again relying on Liza to take the pics along with others. We can look back with mod tinted glasses and yes i loved the newsletters and flyers and the phone calls but with the internet everything is accessible instantly. We can look up rare tracks on YouTube and buy off eBay and Discogs. There are internet radio stations with Alan may and Ian Jackson to name a couple.
Would you ever consider putting on group events?
This is something I have thought about but as yet not committed to. There are so many events on at the moment picking the right time would have to be carefully planned. It's not something that would scare me and I'm quite sure I could get the djs on board. Funnily enough only a few days ago I went to Loughborough to a do Sean sexton had organised..the venue was fantastic with a proper dance floor and a bar in the corner...I never even knew it existed. This area could do with a local do and as I said planning is the key so maybe it's a possibility but I wouldn't do it on my own I would get others on board
What advise would you give a young Mod coming into the scene today? And what advise would you give to anyone that wants to set up their own social media group/page.
What advice would I give to youngsters...simply enjoy what you're doing and open up your ears to the massive list of tracks available to you. Never be scared to ask for advice ever...if you hear a track you like ask the dj what it is they won't bite if you ask...the same with clothes...keep asking questions as it's the only you'll find out more. Being a mod doesn't have to be expensive..you can do it if you look in the right places and remember it doesn't have to be tailored. In the last few months I've bought off eBay 4 lovely Gant button down shirts and a few pairs of levis all under a tenner. Talk to the vintage sellers they'll help find you stuff too. As for suits check out I-tailor on the internet and also John Lewis for trousers and blazers....if something is too long it can be altered for 10-20 pounds. And as for scooters you can buy a good one for 1200 if you look around. It's up to us to encourage the new breed and not turn them away. I've been there as a 15 yr old and through asking and gaining knowledge it helped me adopt my own style and make friends I still love 30 yrs on. The futures yours so grab it...if you want to create your own group then do it..it can take up a bit of your time but it's worth it at the end of the day.
What would you like to see in the future of Modernism?
The future of modernism rests in the hands of the youngsters as I've mentioned earlier. So the organisers of the weekender and local events need to include more of the younger DJs into their respective events. I'm convinced it'll continue and have every faith in the young ones carrying it forward. I'll still be attending these events put on by them but I'll be swapping my sprint for a mobility scooter...no lights or mirrors though..Will drain the battery.
‘Looking Back’ What one bit of advise would you give a young Paul Martin
Advice I'd give to a younger me hmmmm!!. Invent something to make me a millionaire ha ha...erm work harder and attend more rallies...that's what we lived for so that's the advice to my younger self.