Interview With Eddie Piller & Steve Rowland About Their Book Modzines

Modzines by Eddie Piller & Steve Rowland - Cover
Modzines by Eddie Piller & Steve Rowland
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Modzines by Eddie Piller and Steve Rowland is a book about fanzine culture from the Mod Revival and beyond. A thoroughly well researched book on Mod fanzines and one which visually attractive, it is available to buy on 7th February 2019. I recently caught up with Ed and Steve and had a chat with them regarding the researching, compiling and publishing of Modzines. Here is that enjoyable and informative chat.

Tell us a little about your backgrounds relating to Mod Subculture, throughout the decades.

Eddie Piller: Well, where to start? I’m not sure I can get it all down. Suffice to say that I became a Mod in late 1978 and became a devoted gig goer as a teenager. I saw The Jam 53 times! I also used to follow various Mod Revival bands and started managing Mod bands in 1981 as well as djing the same year – Set up my first Mod record label in 1982 (Well Suspect) and also edited the largest selling Mod fanzine, Extraordinary Sensations (along with Terry Rawlings).

My mum ran the Small Faces fan club and I am on the front cover of the LP There Are But Four Small Faces, which came out in America, wrote an 8 part series on youth culture for ITV, documentary on Mods for Radio 4 and most recently wrote a documentary on Quadrophenia for Sky Arts (out in April), was Paul Weller’s tour DJ for many years…erm…loads more but life’s too short!!!

Steve Rowland:  The Mod revival hit at just the right time for a 12 year old me.. older kids on our street were into The Jam and hanging out I got to listen and look at the records, especially All Mod Cons with its iconic inner sleeve, parkas and scooters started to appear and of course when Quadrophenia came out the whole thing blew up across the country. To a young kid into music this was massive with new bands like The Chords, Purple Hearts, Secret Affair coming thru Punk felt ancient and Mod became our scene and no longer something the older kids had.

First gig I went to was The Gents in a village hall in 79 and from that point I was hooked on gigs and music subcultures in general. Its always been there at some level whether music, clothes or attitude, coming full circle with this book, promoting gigs and clubs, designing record sleeves, a radio show, working with the Modcast and related projects in the pipeline. 

Modzines is an enjoyable & well researched account of fanzine subculture from the Mod Revival. What inspired & initiated you to publish Modzines?  

Eddie Piller: It was Steve Rowland’s idea and when he asked me to get involved, I jumped at the chance. I think the concept of a Mod fanzine is extremely important in terms of social history. The mod scene was ignored by the mainstream from 1980 onwards and so the only documents of that time were fanzines, written by Mods, for Mods. Private and not intended for outsiders. Modzines educated, informed and recorded our world. This is unique in youth culture and I felt it deserved some serious consideration.

Steve Rowland:  A few years ago I was listening to Ed’s The Modcast (Podcast) which often talked about the revival scene of 79-80’s bringing back fond memories for me. As I was working on a couple of projects with Ed around that time I’d always ask him about the punk/revival period and when he gave me a few fanzine copies he still had left it sparked a journey of research finding out more fanzines where produced in the Mod scene around the world than any other subculture, an important fact in the history of Fanzines.

Because the scene was largely ignored by the mainstream press it seemed important to tell the story and document, especially in a printed book format. As a designer I’ve always loved the format and DIY ethic of fanzines – using felt tip pens, Letraset, early typesetting, photocopiers, cut and paste with no rules, not forgetting the sheer effort, patience and passion needed to produce an issue in those days. 

How long has it taken to research, write & publish Modzines in it’s entirety ? 

Eddie Piller: It took me about three months to get the whole thing down on paper. While I was very pleased with the response from some serious players. Paul Weller, Steve Diggle, Tony Fletcher and Adrian Thrills were very generous with their time and interviews. I also had a lot of help from Goffa Gladding, the co-editor of the first ever Mod fanzine, Maximum Speed as well as from members of the Purple Hearts and The Chords. I was frustrated that quite a few fanzine editors had disappeared or declined to be interviewed. Therefore there are a few things I would like to have covered but couldn’t. I think Steve has done a brilliant job with the design and the book looks stunning.

Steve Rowland: All in all about 2 years once the idea was there, research, getting in touch with collectors and groups online and in the real world. The main production took about 8 months from collating artwork, interviews and Ed’s text to my design and layout. It really was a labour of love for myself and Eddie as most books tend to be nowadays.

Modzines by Eddie Piller & Steve Rowland - Cover
Modzines by Eddie Piller & Steve Rowland

Regarding the researching of the content for Modzines, how did you begin  continue finding the material / fanzines for the book?

Eddie Piller: Because of Extraordinary Sensations, I have always been part of that world. Many of the main fanzine chose themselves too. Roadrunner, Maximum Speed, Direction Reaction Creation, In The Crowd, Shake and Shadows and Reflections. Unfortunately I sold my collection of 1500 fanzines a few years back so we had to put out appeals on the internet for scans. Neil Allen’s archive was a brilliant help, as was Dizzy (Holmes) at Detour… Lots of former editors got in touch through the Mod Fanzines group on Facebook

 Steve Rowland: The starting point was chatting with Eddie and a few other people who were on the revival scene, editors, bands and fans, and getting in touch with them. With Ed being part of that world he knew a lot of the people from that time which helped. On the whole everyone was very supportive and encouraging. Offering their collections for scanning, contacts for other collectors, main faces and editors of Modzines from around the world. Neil Allen, Dizzy Holmes, Derek ‘Delboy’ Shepherd and Roger Dixon especially in the early days. Once the word had got out via the internet we had people from around the world getting touch. 

Are there any fanzines mentioned in the book that particularly stand out for you and if so why? 

Eddie Piller:  Not particularly. I was more interested in the motivation of the editors and how they went about making their magazines. They have never really had a voice before so it is great to hear their thoughts on the whole revival period. On the whole, fanzines were a very important part of their lives.

Steve Rowland: I really like the early ones, Maximum Speed, Extraordinary Sensations, Get Up and Go and Direction Reaction Creation. From a Design perspective Right Track had great covers as did Go Go, Smarter Than U, Gloria – Ladies Association, Shadows and Reflection . Also the prolific output of In The Crowd. A lot of the fanzines that came out of Australia , America and mainland Europe looked great. Pretty much like all of them for one reason or another !

What are some of your most enjoyable memories from putting Modzines together?

Eddie Piller:  I can certainly tell you the least enjoyable memory, stapling and compiling the bloody things round at my Nan’s house. By issue 14 of Extraordinary Sensations we were making 15,000 copies. They used to arrive from the printers uncollated. It used to take two or three weeks to put them together.

Best memories would have been me and Terry Rawlings heading in to our office in Dagenham. We used to have such a bloody laugh writing the thing. When we finally got them out on the market it made it all worthwhile.

I hope people enjoy the book as I am really proud of it

Steve Rowland: Meeting and talking to people from around the world who were involved in the scene, from the late 70s up to the present day, a lot of whom have become good friends. Finding rare / obscure Modzines and in some case getting the original copies in the post. Also when we got word the book would be published – that was was a great day and I’m proud of the book.

Modzines is available from :

Launch 31st January: book and limited boxset available a week early to buy on the night with book signing at Modfather Clothing

Modzines by Eddie Piller & Steve Rowland - Book Launch 2019
Modzines by Eddie Piller & Steve Rowland – Book Launch 2019

Modzines Limited Edition

Modzines by Eddie Piller & Steve Rowland - Deluxe Edition
Modzines by Eddie Piller & Steve Rowland – Deluxe Edition

Modzines Paperback Edition

 

© 2019, Jayne Thomas. All rights reserved.

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