An interview with Billy Frost, a mod of the past, grandfather to three teens today; discussing how he feels about ‘mods’ as a subculture, their main influences and how he remembers being part of such a big movement.
Me: Thank you for joining me.
Billy: Pleasure to be here, I love talking about my past, takes me back to the good old days, trends change like the weather these days I can’t keep up, not like my days, people were easily labelled.
Me: What do influenced the subculture and made it so contrasting to rockers?
Billy: Music I’d say, it was as much of a fashion as the fashion that it created. The Mod style was a carefree fashion. We used to go from one record to another, one band to another but one thing we were always so heavily influenced and inspired by was the band ‘The Who’. They were the most idolised band for Mods. Rockers were our rivals, we called them greasy. They were definitely aware when we arrived chanting ‘ we are the mods, we are the mods, we are we are we are the mods’ literally imitating Quadrophenia, which you must have seen?
Me: Where did you spend your free time and weekends?
Billy: Coffee bars were a place I often chilled. They were popular, contrasting places to bars and clubs where we would ‘hang out’. Changing the jukebox was an alternative thing my group and me liked to do of an evening.
Me: How did it feel to be a part of a mod group? Where you all dressed the same, all influenced by the same things. Did it feel like you were all competing against each other?
Billy: The feeling I would describe as energising. Being a ‘mod’ among millions of ‘mods’ was incredible. It was like being a part of something bigger than a race. It covered everyone, we all looked the same, we all acted in the same manors, we all just wanted to be the same. Where as now so many feel the need to stand out or not stand out for so many reasons.
Me: What about the many riots with the rockers? How did they make you feel?
Billy: They spurred us on. Yeah they were our enemies; we hated them. But at the same we did have fun! The major want to be so contrasting, whom would we riot with without them? They, I believe, made us more who and what we were.
Me: Surely this was encouraging disagreement between people, just small wars really?
Billy: Of course we clashed, our styles and attitudes were so different. We rioted mostly out of boredom though. But believe it or not, this was the first movement in the history of youth agreement. I think it encouraged agreement, drove togetherness and agreements of motive. Youth always has leaders; someone in charge. The leader of a mod group however could have been anyone. Any kind of kid could lead no matter what they looked like. So long as they rode a Vepsa, had the right haircut and wore the right clothes, they were a Mod. There was no born rarity. You could buy everything you needed to style yourself a Mod and ask for the hairstyle in Barbers. It was such an amazing youthful drive that bought people together in large groups. Nothing major, not racism, not bullying; just fun and passion of music.
Me: I find that so surprising, yet so believable. What was so different to todays society?What bought you together most?
Billy: Subcultures bought people with little yet lots in common, together. It wasn’t a case of competing to fit in like today. You weren’t bullied for being a ‘try hard’. You felt you fitted in within a large group like a huge family. Music always heavily influenced our fashion. Kids these days copy reality Tv stars. Not bands like us. Put ‘The who’ my generation on now in room full of my old pals would have a completely different reaction to kids these days with a song from a few years ago. Commercialism was what made the subcultures end. Commercialism was the beginning of the end for me. It used to come from the streets, choosing to be part of something you loved, not something impersonal or forced upon you which I think commercialism lead to. I’d love for bands to still be as influential today with love of music striving people. People wanting to be part of ‘togetherness’, for nothing more than harmless fun. But ‘who’ knows haha! An upcoming band just like ‘The Who’ who affected me just might create a trend and new subculture that inspires future generations.