MEETING PAUL (SMILER) ANDERSON
MODS - THE NEW RELIGION
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Over the years I have been very lucky and met some amazing people, I have DJ'd all over the world (under a different guise), played in different clubs to amazing crowds and rubbed shoulders with interesting characters. Now, and I admit this freely I find myself rekindling old friendships with people that have remained friends even though we moved in different directions. These people have been kind enough to share their time and stories with us to create this website for you to enjoy and for that I am truly thankful.
Paul Anderson, or 'Smiler' as he is also known is one of my friends. Our friendship, like others has stood the test of time even though we moved in different directions, after seeing each other for the first time in over 20 years nothing has changed, sure we are both a bit older, maybe a bit wiser, maybe even a bit greyer but the friendship still as strong as ever.
When we were first planning this web site, I had a tick list of dream interviews. We could have gone down the route of interviewing major bands, singers or artists but we wanted the launch of Suit Yourself Modernists to be more personal, the other stuff will come later. I am more than pleased to say that tick list was completed and interviewing Paul was high on the list. Myself and Mr Anderson, the DJ, Promoter, Author and exhibitionist spent the afternoon catching up as I tried to be the professional interviewer and, as old friends do we let time run away with ourselves and before we knew it I had enough material to spread over two editions of the website. I make no apologise for that Paul (Smiler) Anderson, author of three successful Mod orientated books and another on the way has lead a full and diverse life and has lots to talk about, so here, I present to you an interview with a friend................(Cris Davies-Editor)
So Paul, how long have you been part of the Mod scene?
Well, I don’t consider myself part of a scene – I consider myself a mod, but I don’t see myself as part of a scene. I have my own take on it I guess. It’s too insular for me, I like too many other things. I used to be on the scene in my 20s but not now. When I walked away from the scene, the blinkers came off and I didn’t want to be part of it later in life.
The revival was how I got into it originally, we picked up the Richard Barnes Mod book and looked back for all the clues, but it got to a point where you think you have that down and you are looking for something else, you realise if you drop the blinkers, suddenly there is some great music out there – such as Esther Phillips in 1972, Curtis Mayfield & Marvin Gaye, writing some of their best stuff around the Vietnam war. Once you go beyond the blinkered scene you can take parts of many genres, take the best and ignore the rest.
The entry point for me would have been the 79 revival – especially The Jam – I was too young to have been a punk, (12 years old) but I was always totally into the R&B sound, 9 below zero, through them I found out about John Lee Hooker & Muddy Waters, that was a big to me. Locally (early to mid 80s) there was mainly a northern soul thing in Reading, Northern Soul was not really my scene – it all sounded too similar to me – I liked the harder R&B sound and I wasn’t being catered for. So in 1984, Richard Molyneux (Dicky) & I went to the Phoenix and then Sneakers in London and suddenly found what I was looking for, the easiest way to describe it – ultra smart. When I put my own events on in 85 it was hard because only me & Dickie were going to these London events and I wanted to play R&B, people hadn’t really heard of it and I thrived off it even though it was against the grain, but it worked.
Was the love of music that turned you into the DJ?
Yes, my very earliest memory is listening to the radio around 1968, playing with a toy red racing car, my sister on the spirograph. I can name three of the songs I heard – There’s A Kind of Hush by Hermans Hermits, All You Need is Love by the Beatles and You’re My Lady (Cinderella Rockerfella), so music is my first ever real memory.
Did you start promoting so you could play the music you loved?
Yes, I did my own events – it was the only way for me to cater for things I liked.
You were replicating the sights and sounds of Sneakers in your home town of Reading – how nerve racking was that experience?
It was worrying, a lot of people including Mark Bicknell (A northern soul DJ and promoter) thought I was treading on their toes especially when I had the audacity to book the Horse & Barge (one of his venues) he wasn’t happy, but when I explained that I didn’t want to play northern soul and that I would be playing a completely different genres – Ska , Motown, R&B he was cool about it – the fliers actually stated ABSOLUTELY NO NORTHERN SOUL – because we didn’t want to disappoint people. We could have been empty but because we were hanging around the same pub - Boars head and I knew we would get punters – it was packed. I was doing afternoons in the Boars Head pub from 85 onwards.
Was it at this time you moved into the famous Kings Tavern days?
Cap & Gown first, then it turned into the Kings Tavern around 1989 – that was the height of my mod retro career – but it was during a period in London when Sneakers had pretty much finished then and it had gone back mainly to a northern soul base. The Kings Tavern flew in the face of that and carried on the Sneakers vibe really playing jazz, R&B and Motown, I started playing a lot more beat music then because no one else was playing it that I knew anyway. I liked stripped down blues – so that’s what I did at the Kings Tavern, blues & beat. It worked because no-one else was playing that type of music around our way, or catered for the people that liked it. Then when beat started to be played I suddenly dropped it as it got more popular, and I went back to stripped blues and jazz again. It finally finished because I was becoming more involved in the Jazz scene, going to Dingwalls on a Sunday afternoon – Gilles Peterson had a totally different vibe to everything else and hearing stuff I had never heard in a mod club such as ‘Where It’s At’ by Jimmy McGriff’. Lots of girls, and lots of people dancing.
What year was this?
Around 1990. There was a natural progression, I’d stopped going to Mod clubs from 1987. I would go to the Paul Murphy nights - Purple Pussy Cat, in Finchley Road and the Purple Pit, (Friday nights) at the Electric Ballroom in Camden, plus there were Tommy Chase Quartet live sessions – loads of stuff going on, Dave Hucker at the Sol Y Sombre. I was still going to these things with friends but you only saw a few mods there. We saw Paul Hallam and Mick Ferranti at the Purple Pussy Cat, but that wasn’t why we went there. There were Lots of rockabilly guys in 50s clothes, Cadillacs outside, zoot suits, all really different and Murphy would play the 10 minute version of Sidewinder, Lou Rawl’s version of Girl from Impanema and mixed it all up with other stuff from the mod scene.
NYE 1987, myself and a friend, Millet, were off to Gazs Rockin Blues, the queue was around the corner and then we couldn’t get in, so stuck in London and couldn’t get into where we wanted to be so we went to The Bizz mod night, I hadn’t been there since 86 and had a great time, caught up with loads of people I knew and was pulled back into the Mod scene - just when you think you got out!, my friend Millet stayed on the jazz scene and I went on to do the Cap & Gown in Reading.
Is that when you started DJ’ing at the Mod rallies?
No, that was in 1989 / 1990 I did Scarborough in 89 and I was asked to be part of the Classic Club International (C.C.I) and DJ there, I was voted onto the C.C.I committee and was on that for 2 years (89 & 90)
What was involved in being in being part of the C.C.I committee?
We were a committee of 12 (you had to be voted in) we were there to make decisions on how the rallies would go, but it was all deflective fog – no-one was answerable if something went wrong it was all “the committee decided.” Me and Tony Schokman were seen as trouble makers as we didn’t agree with a lot of what they wanted to bring in, dropping dress codes and that kind of stuff, but we thought we could change things.
They had a great thing going on because they did get people from all over Britain to come and listen to music they wouldn’t hear if they lived in the middle of nowhere, maybe their whole lives revolved around going to a rally, so they were important, but at the same time they had a terrible reputation with the purists.
At this time I was asked by Rob Messer, to join the Rhythm and Soul rallies but it was too soul oriented for me, no disrespect to those guys, but I wouldn’t have enjoyed it, I want to enjoy going out and dancing to other records. Then what happened with the C.C.I rallies was that ‘Groove in the Heart’ and other non Mod stuff was being played! I wasn’t against it as such, but I was against it on the Mod scene. I famously slagged off the ‘Charlatans - The Only One I Know’ but truth be told I wasn’t against it per se, but it had no place on the mod scene – or I didn’t think so anyway at that time.
I first met you and Richard (Dicky), the Reading Stylists, around 1985. Can you tell us about those days?
I was going to the Boars Head pub in Reading – I was practically the last mod in Reading but there were a few others, most of the others were off on the national rallies, but it was never really about scooters for me, it was about the clothes and the music , I loved clothes, still do, and the scooter scene didn’t offer me that. They had started listening to stuff like King Kurt. At the time I was riding round on a 1966 150cc Vespa with lights & mirrors – when I’d come out of the pub in those days all the mirrors would be bent around. That was part of life then. I got to know Richard really well – he had a Lambretta Super Starstream, and he had a whip-aerial on the back, he got grief for that! Anyway Dickie liked the mod thing but didn’t want to be too diverse – bowling shoes and a 50s flat top and bits of mod clothing.
One night in 1984 me and Dickie are sat in Boars Head in Reading – same old thing, same old pint with nothing going on and the Phoenix List was out I said to Dickie “come on lets go to London”. This was mental because the pubs shut at 11.00pm back then. It was 9.30pm , anyway he agreed, we were just casually dressed (no suits) so we both went home and changed then got the 10.40 train from Reading to London , we went to the Phoenix in Cavendish Square (nothing to do with the Phoenix list). We heard things like Slim Harpo, ‘I’m a King Bee’. The following night we went to Sneakers at the Bush, and that became our thing then. We went to the 84 National Mod meeting in the Boston Arms in London with three others who were mainly scooterists. Me and Dickie made a pact that the following year (1985) that we would go to every Mod rally that year, and we did – all 10 mod rallies!!
You had your own sense of style then?
Well we put silver chains on the bottoms of our trouser! (laughs)
Whilst the mod fashion scene changed quickly, you two were pushing boundaries.
Yes, and Dickie was happy keeping his flat top even though he got a lot of stick for that – but we didn’t want to do what everyone else was doing, I look back at the photos of Clacton and we are in suits, full length umbrellas you know we weren’t happy being average mods.
Where were you getting your clothes made?
There was a tailor in reading called Kogans, but that was for altering original stuff and then me and my friend Millet went to Paul the Tailoring Stylist in Berick street in London, and started having trousers made. Only once though because someone at Sneakers mentioned Charlie Antioiou, a tailor in Carnaby Street. We went there because we couldn’t believe how cheap it was! £120 for a handmade suit!! So that’s where we went. Later, Katy Stevens did the shirts for us , she used to be above a live bed show in Soho. She would say she made stuff for the Small faces and I used to think “yeah right”. I didn’t suss it until I was looking into the New Religion book and found out that she really did make them for The Beatles and The Small Faces, you know – she was telling the truth.
1990 – Millet had been chatting about the jazz world and I had always listened to bits of stuff, I never got into the Manchester scene it really didn’t interest me. I got into it a bit later on I guess, Happy Mondays, Charlatans. At that time Dingwalls was like going back to the Phoenix in the sense that it all seemed new to me. Me and Adrian Jones had been going for a while with Dave Brown, it was what I didn’t know I was looking for. I was in Dingwalls they had the joss sticks burning, brilliant jazz dancers, people dressing quite Moddy – Italian tops and stuff. There were lots of girls and I’m hearing all this great Jazz mixed in with Hip-Hop music, I never thought I would buy that! But I was listening to it and buying loads.
I called up a friend Andy Preston, part of the smart mod gang in Reading and we had this conversation about it, he was like, “No, mate, I’m really disappointed” so I played him Funk Inc. down the phone and he’s going “That’s fab! whats that?” He soon got in to it too.
How did that effect your DJing on the Mod scene?
Proper DJs don’t just play stuff, they absorb stuff not just listen to one thing. It was hard because I was in this position at the time where I was DJing for the C.C.I, on the committee and running the Kings Tavern and all of a sudden I feel a bit of a fraud because in the afternoon I was wearing trainers, white jeans and original 60s knitwear which doesn’t sound awful, but I was known for being in tailor made shirts and suits.
Friday nights at the Starlight rooms in Paddington was called The Fez club. Sunday afternoon it was Dingwalls but coming back to Reading to do the Kings Tavern was tough as it already had its hey day,.You can feel its going – we’ve done the beat thing, the blues thing, I started to push the Jazz a bit playing Oscar Brown Jnr and things but I want to be playing the Young Disciples! I didn’t agree with what the C.C.I did and yet now I wanted to do the same thing and part of me felt too guilty to dilute the mod scene, so the last Kings Tavern was in Jan/Feb 1991. I closed it but I opened it in April as an acid jazz club.
How did it go?
It lasted for about 5 weeks with Millet, but it didn’t work there I was loving it but I had to take it somewhere else. So there was this guy at work, Keith Matthews. He always had record lists and stuff and someone said to him, you want to talk to Paul. So his first words to me were “alright mate, I heard you’re a mod, you must love northern soul” and I’ve gone, “f- off” (which is awful) and walked off and blanked him. Sometime later that week we were working together and we start chatting about stuff, he was talking about Gilles Peterson and the Viberazone radio show. Keith was more from the jazz crowd who also dug funk, soul and fusion at clubs like The Electric Ballroom in the early 80’s. We went down the pub and got drunk together, which is the best way you can get to know someone. We had so much in common yet both coming from completely different angles. We decided to put on a do together and the Fourth dimension was born in 1992.
Is that what you are still doing today?
Well we resurrected it 3 years ago – we did a one off on its 20th anniversary of its death. Now we do about 4 a year, last year we did 2 or 3, but this year we’re doing 4, it’s not a regular thing but you know…….
So we started it as a jazz club playing real jazz, Brasilian stuff, Funk, Hip Hop, Acid Jazz on a Friday night, We’ve done various nights over the years together all called different things such as Cymbalism, Full circle and others right up to around 96/97.
The Britpop thing was taking off, I’m living in a university town and I hook up with a guy called Chris Parish who was a scooterist. We started a club night called Get Carter – I would play funk, bits of hip hop, Brit pop and he would play Brit pop and Northern soul and then a couple of obvious bits – The Who etc. We only did it for a few weeks, it was packed and then another club put on live bands like the Blue Tones and started taking our punters. I was at a bit of a loss then (96) so then I started being a punter a bit more really. I put on a few jazz things in 1997 and went to Isle of Wight Mod Rally. It wasn’t my thing at all, it had gone too Psychedelic and I couldn’t get my head around that so I didn’t know what I was looking for but I’ve always DJ’d – so I was playing records but not really knowing where I was headed.
In 2000 Jean – Paul Seculare asked me to DJ at his club - Right On, he asked me to come down and I played a retro set, Blue Beat, Jazz, 50s R&B, almost going full circle but it felt right and it went down really well. He liked it so then I did a few club nights with my old mate Dave Edwards. Dave and me were mates from Sneakers and I would still call him on the phone throughout the 90’s, even when I wasn’t in the mod scene, we talked about doing a fanzine thing together.
That never happened but years later we did a club called Revolution – but the only thing revolutionary was that we had gone back to playing the old mod stuff, we were playing Motown, Blues, Ska and stuff but we joked about it and said it was in the Re-pub-lica of Filthy McNasty’s, Paul Hallam’s place .The internet trolls went mad, we were playing stuff that we were playing in the 80’s and they couldn’t see anything special in it, but we were just having a good time.
I must be the only DJ that played the CCI, the Untouchables and Rhythm and Soul Set Rallies (I did one for them in 1994)
I started a club in Reading called Club Rude! with my friends Keith, Dan and Jim, based on Ska & Reggae in 2003, it could have fallen on its arse but it ran for 9 years! I started going up to London a bit more with Dave Edwards – got together with Lorraine (My wife) in 2004 and basically got involved with playing retro sounds again but still playing reggae, ska, jazz and R&B. I was asked to DJ at big London nights and Something Else in Birmingham, Stepping Out in London as a resident.
Joe (My son) came along September 2011 and it totally changed my life – I didn’t want to do Club Rude anymore. I couldn’t commit to it every week – it was packed but I didn’t want to carry it on.
Having Joe made me think more about what I wanted to do on bank holidays. I was doing the Hipshaker events on the Isle of Wight – huge – and I’m proud to have been asked to do that and still love what Dave and Simon (Hipshaker DJ’s and organisers) have achieved. Then 3 years ago I did Brighton – Grits & gravy on the Friday night – got a taxi home had to go to work on the Saturday morning, so no sleep, and then went over to the Isle of Wight – it killed me!
Bank holidays are important to me, and I find myself wanting to spend them with my family. I’m still asked to play Isle Of Wight and Brighton events but usually turn them down for family time.
The best thing that really to happened to me by a country mile was Eddie Piller asking me to do the Modcast Boat parties in London, because yet again, I finally found the thing I was looking for. Eddie’s cool, he completely understands my feelings on how I see Mod and thinks along the same lines himself. I can do what I want and play what as the events are pretty eclectic, and I play everything from beat, R&B to Funk, lots of Jazz and even a bit of Hip Hop. So far I’ve done every one and Im so proud of that and very thankful. They are great events due to the party vibe and complete lack of snobbiness with a brilliant open music policy.
What has been a stand out moment for you as a DJ?
I’m proud of my Kings Tavern days, and that I have been asked to DJ in London and all over Britain, as well as Europeon rallies such as Rimini and Barcelona. I was asked to DJ in Rome by Mary Boogaloo back in 2005. I went over and the venue was great .I was DJ’ing in a box overlooking the club. We had been to the Coliseum and I reminded of the Emperor’s box with the thumbs up or down – everyone was dancing and I put on Dance Cleopatra by Prince Buster on Blue Beat. I could see everyone dancing below me. The wife was there and I remember looking downat this sea of moving people. In the song it says “dance for the people of Rome” and that snapshot will stay with me forever, being on this balcony- a real moment.
I DJ’d at a few different Italian Rallies and really loved them. In recent years I’ve realised I can play what I like at Eddie’s events and I find it hard to DJ at strict mod events because I don’t want to be restricted to just that music.
Some of the Mod scene has taken on the Northern soul way of thinking, and its all about price and how expensive records are, sometimes its money over quality, some DJs turn up an play a set of £700 records, but the thing is many are playing the same stuff . Saying that, there are still many great nights out there to be had with some top talented DJ’s who push boundaries. I have been lucky enough to play at some amazing events, and now writing has become my new passion……………..
MEETING PAUL (SMILER) ANDERSON
PART 2 - BOOKS, EXHIBITIONS & THE FUTURE
Tell us about the Exhibition how did that all come about?
That was 2011 with Damian Jones. Damian has this great collection of original posters and he’s in Reading - a great guy, been a mate for some time. He would take me on interviews with people, drive there & stuff.
The Mod book took a lot longer than we thought it was ever expanding, in the meantime we did the Fleur de Lys book. I interviewed Keith Guster (FDL drummer) as part of the mod book, when he explained that he lived with Jimi Hendrix the story
expanded about Fleur de Lys and that they were the first ever band to be signed to Atlantic records in the UK. They were the Booker T and the MG’s of the UK and went on tour with Aretha Franklin. loads of stuff but never really got anywhere. So whilst we worked on this book we talked about doing a Mod exhibition. We spoke to Reading Museum about it and through a friend of a friend spoke to the curator, we made it very clear that it was going to be about MOD! I knew that it would be a bone of contention, it wasn’t going to be diluted with The Beatles or the 60’s, it was just going to be about Mods. I stood my ground and said if it wasn’t, we would pull out. So the route we would take was that we would invent this mythical guy who’s diary it was and as you walked around the exhibition it was like a year out of his life in 1964. So I wrote the story as such.
We did a mock up of his bedroom with all his suits in the wardrobe, records on the floor that sort of thing, then we had an original barbers chair from the 1960s, then for the club we had gone down to Portsmouth to interview a guy from the Birdcage Club. Just as we were about to leave he said I used to do the juke boxes at the Birdcage Club and the original one (which was full of modern music) was around the corner in a pub. Anyway we chatted to the landlady and she agreed to let us have it for the whole 6 month run of the exhibition! Damian took it back to fit it out, he used loads of original records so they would fit in the juke box, so it was full of original soul, ska, r&b and Mod stuff. It was on free play, so you could walk around the exhibition and anyone could put on whatever track they wanted from that period.
Then Fred Perry got involved, Fred Perry helped put stuff in, Mick Ferrante helped us out with some of the clothing, Original Reading Mod, Dave Ilsley, gave us a GS and a Lambretta fully kitted out, so you saw them as you walked in and then Damian knew one of the biggest Rolling stones collectors in the world and he gave us Alexis Corners acoustic guitar, Brian Jones’ early electric guitar and an original early jacket from the stones, that he wore in 63. Plus we had all the original posters, which I thought was the highlight of the exhibition.
Pretty Green sponsored it, which was great, so I thought Liam Gallagher might come and open the exhibition however, it was being held in the John Madjeski gallery and he was seeing Cilla Black at the time so they got Cilla Black to open it ! Aggh! On the opening night my mum was there hob knobbing with Cilla and the Mayor of Reading (I never got to talk to either of them nor did Damian).
It ran for 6 months and was their most successful exhibition ever! Can you imagine a mod exhibition, where once everybody hated Mods, was the most successful ever - we never thought it would be that popular!
Did you have any surprise visitors to the exhibition?
Chris Farlowe, when he was in town, I took him around, sadly I didn’t know Mr Weller at the time but he heard about it. Paolo Hewitt came, Daphne Sherman (Ben’s widow) too, plus loads of original mods and good friends from the Mod scene.
This original mod came down and said “Problem is Paul you haven’t got anything here from the Birdcage.” I said “Hang on, the juke box over there is the original one from the Birdcage.” and he nearly burst into tears as he had met his wife next to the juke box all those years ago! He couldn’t believe it!
It was a great thing, got great reviews and we were really pleased. The book was supposed to have been out at the same time but it was hard work.
Can you talk us through how you put the book together?
What happened with the New religion was I used to do the fanzines in the 80’s. All these books kept coming out about the scene but they seemed to be all about the Northern Soul scene really, and what went on up north, nothing about the MOD scene in general and what mods were doing. Having been with Damian and realising that between us we had such
fantastic collections, we knew we had the basis of a good book and I just had to go on and write it, my wife just said to me, go and write the damn book as I’d mentioned it a few times, but never done anything about it. I was going to do an 80s mods thing, but Manu wrote one. So then you make it harder because you’re going to write about a scene in the 60s where, to be fair, you weren’t even born, and with an uber critical crowd to please, so you could totally do it wrong, but I thought I could do it.
Having said that I was determined I didn’t want to do it via Facebook so I got numbers and chatted to people and got recommendations, tracked down lots of contacts. There was a concert in Reading with Gino Washington, Eddie Floyd & Pauline Black from the Selector, so in the interval I went backstage and spoke to Pauline Black and I literally asked her to pass on these two letters I had written to Eddie & Gino I didn’t think anything would come of it, but they both got back to me, so we went to Peterborough or Leicester and I got to speak to both of them!
The great thing is you can start name dropping at that point and Steve Ellis from Love Affair had already helped me out, then Chris Farlowe, Damian got Terry from The Eyes and he got another two of them involved. We tracked down the original members of the Mule Skinners, Ian Maclagan’s original band, I got hold of him and said if you come over for an interview I can reunite you for the first time in 44 years with the other members of the band. He flew over from Denver and we all met in a pub in Twickenham and got pissed all day, chatted and laughed it was a great time of reminiscing and to be able to write about it. Mac was pleased that he wasn’t being asked about the Small Faces. Tom McGuiness was happy to not be asked about Manfred Man, because I wanted to talk about the Roosters. It was great because we were doing the unexpected again and it was working.
Miracuously, I got a meeting with Martha Reeves, lovely lady, Chris Farlowe then went on tour with Herbie Goins, so Chris got me him, so it all fell into place. All the time we were getting original mods from all over the country. I didn’t want it to be another Manchester, London or Wigan story. We got hold of mods from all over and got their stories which showed that it was a nationwide phenomenon originating in London but it rapidly spread.
I thought I knew a lot about Mod, but doing this I learnt so much from so many people and it was all aspects, I didn’t want it to read like an essay, it had to have funny stories too.
Peter Senicola had a friend who had a boutique and they asked if they could take some pictures of him modelling their clothes, so he said yes. and one of them was put in the window. So then whenever he pulled a girl he would tell them he was a model and then show them this picture of him in a roll neck in the shop window, they were so impressed it, it worked every time! Brilliant!
The last page is a summary of revival and whats happening now, but purely it was that 60s thing to give rhythm and blues a bit more kudos. Being an anorak, everyone loves a list, so I got punters and DJ’s to give me their playlists. Loads of people have said that they think it’s the best part of the book.
What did it feel like doing the book launches and signings in Waterstones?
It’s funny, I don’t get why people want my signature, but having said that I’ve always collected autographs, footballers, singers, anyone I like really.
Some people don’t get it but I find it weird when people ask for my autograph as I’m a postie that has written a posh fanzine really. It’s not made me rich, I probably haven’t made back the cost of all the phone calls, travelling and stuff but it’s a piece of social history, which is what the exhibition was too. Also, the book is dedicated to my son, and it made the Sunday Times top 10 booklist - and if I never do anything else, I have that.
Sadly we have lost some of the people in the book now and that’s a shame, but they are immortalised in the book and those stories will be there forever, and I guess this was my book for those people really, I felt that the mods deserved something better than anything that had been done before. Now I’m currently writing a book about the 60’s Skinheads and Suedeheads
Can you tell us about the forthcoming Mod art book.
I decided that I didn’t want to be known for just writing about mods but I have to be in my comfort zone. Then, Damian came across every single mag of Town Magazine and Man about Town from 56 to 68 . I had about 2 or 3 weeks that I had them for and he said take out any of the ads or articles out of them so I was scanning bits out of these mags as it was a chance I couldn’t miss so I then wanted to do a book about Town magazine so I approached Omnibus and told them that I wanted to do this and write a book about that magazine. Bearing in mind they turned down the first book (New Religion) originally, and they finally agreed to publish that after I persuaded them to see me and I spent 3.5hrs with them. David Barraclough at Omnibus Publishing said he loved my enthusiasm and my belief in it so it worked out.
As for my idea about a book on Town Magazine, well they weren’t excited to start with, but it had everything in it to do with life at the time and had so much potential we started to look into it. Then we found out it was owned by Corn Market Publishing, which was owned by Michael Heseletine, so I didn’t fancy taking that on as we would need so many permissions to use stuff and it would have taken an age to get published. Anyway, David Barraclough said to me “ We already do ‘The Art of Punk’ and ‘Art of Goth, so how about you do ‘The Art of Mod’ because if you don’t do it, someone else will. So I thought ok, I’ll do it , but only if I can do it my way. I wanted to talk to 60s artists, include customisation of scooters and all that stuff ,and they basically said, “Paul if you take it on, its your baby, you can do what you want”, so I took it on.
Through Mark Baxter, who was doing a film on Tubby Hayes, I helped him out with some images for that, and I knew that he knew Peter Blake so I asked him for some help getting him for my book, so next thing Peter Blake got involved with my book.
Paul Weller had been given the my ‘New Religion’ book for his birthday, and he loved it , so he contacted Mark , and Mark told Paul he knew me. The next thing is he asked me if I wanted to meet Paul Weller. I’ve met lots of famous people through doing the New Religion book and it’s been amazing meeting them. I’ve had some great moments, but Weller got me into Mod!
We all know he’s the Marmite of mod to people, they either love him or hate him. Anyway we met up,he hugged me and gave me a German copy of Tin Soldier by the Small faces. I gave him a copy of Fleur de Lys book. It was brilliant and shortly after that we became friends. Later I asked him if I could have an exclusive interview for the new book. I spoke to him about his ideas for the album covers and I will say he’s genuinely obsessed with clothes and music still. If you hear a new band, he wants to know about them, always talking clothes or shoes. Paul is still that same person, and he loves mods. People can say what they want, but he’s still loving it all. So my early start was having Paul Weller and Peter Blake on board and I thought well it can only go downhill from here! In a way, what happens is that it journeys through 60s pop art to present day artists. Damian Jones had done some deals with John Dunbar, who co-founded the Indica gallery in London. He got involved too, and so we go through the professional high art side of it all to the fanzine D.I.Y side of the scene
When will it be out?
MOD ART IS NOW AVAILABLE HERE
And after Mod Art?
Paul Weller, having loved my Modbook, asked me to do a book on Suedeheads so I went to Omnibus Publishing and asked what if I do a book on original skinheads 67 to 73 book that was practically the follow up from the mod book. It seemed the natural progression of hard mod to skin head & then Suedeheads & smoothies. They agreed so I am currently interviewing people for that. I have new photos that are unseen, Reggae, Soul & Ska playlists, lots of original memorabilia, an exclusive Emperor Rosco Interview and other bits. I’ m working on it with Mark Baxter.
Where does Mark Baxter fit into it all?
He was a young mod kid and went off and did the jazz thing and he became an author himself, we’ve helped each other out with photos and stuff. I realised I was going to struggle, what with having a son, working full time etc so it just alleviates the stress knowing I have him to help me out. Its working really well at the moment.
I also do a lot of stuff for the History of R&B record label, and doing a lot of sleeve writing, but I struggle with a full time job, I would love to be able to give it up and lounge on a chaise lounge and just write, but I’ m not there yet. I’m lucky that they are asking me to do stuff and it leads to more work, so for the time being I enjoy what I do, I write about the things I love.
So what would Mr. Paul Anderson's future look like?
My dream would be that I would love to write a complete fiction book based on the stories from the mods that are a bit naughty and couldn’t put it into a factual book. I have so many stories that I could use in a fictional book. To be able to do it full time and it then be made into a tv series or something. You know what it’s like. I will always be a Mod, but on my terms, taking the best from the past, present & future.