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Squire UK Mod Band

Anthony Meynell Interview

Mod to the core


Mod is an attitude

There has been so much written about Mod and it's histrionics, I had no better champion to discuss with on the subject than the frontman and songwriter of classic band Squire - Anthony Meynell.

He speaks from a position of having lived through the 1979 Mod revival period and through ups and downs with Squire stuck to the cause, which is to produce authentic sixties sounding recordings with a sprinkling of late seventies New Wave and Power Pop.

Anthony also lectures in the hidden arts of Music production and how to recreate those magical moments that came from basic recording studios through the sixties. A PHD from The London College of Music gives him more gravitas to speak to students interested in the workings of the Studio and how to get the best from the equipment.

Squire UK Mod Band

We meet in Haslemere, a Surrey Village with connections to Squire throughout their existence, playing a show you could say no where near the traditional Rock'n' Roll venue. After a soundcheck I get to speak to Anthony and ask about the gig location.

Anthony Meynell - Because most of the band come from this area , my brother lives in Haslemere, Jon and Ray live in Haslemere, I used to come from Hindhead so it’s kind of our area. We were approached by the Haslemere fringe festival where we are to play the open air festival in July and they suggested this show as a taster for that. This was  also a great opportunity to warm up for the Mods Mayday shows on the 5th May in London and the 6th May in Cambridge.

 It was also for me a chance to play in Haslemere where we haven’t played for years and have the current version of Squire with the added option of the previous version. To have James and Kevin in the same room as present members. Kevin is too ill to play currently but will be here to meet the others. The original idea was to maybe have two drummers and that may happen in the future.

Squire UK Mod Band

RTS - On the subject of Mod and it's place today in the world of music, is Mod still as relevant? -

AM -  I did a presentation at University on the cultural influence of Mod across the world. You look at the UK now and there are two Mod scenes really there’s the Year zero 1964 Modstock and then you have the Mods Mayday but then you go to Indonesia and there is a Mods Mayday, you go to japan and there is a Mods Mayday there. If you look into it, it's all about taking the Mod ethos but reinventing it using their own cultural influences of now. It’s not exactly the same scene but the same ideology reborn every few years with new people that the older generations still recognise and keep involved with.

It’s not the music or the style either but an attitude.

Squire UK Mod Band

RTS - Growing up, what would have been your musical influences and are they still with you?

AM -  My sister was a big influence on me as she was a Mod in the sixties and when she left home I inherited her record collection. The song Mod Mod World is about her and her stories, she also worked at Decca Records in the pressing plant in New Malden. We grew up listening to the music coming from her bedroom so it was a big cultural influence and when it finally came to putting a band together, this was the influence along with the Girl Pop Groups of Motown.

RTS - Into the later seventies, did the Punk generation have an affect on you? 

AM - In the seventies at school people listened mostly to the prog of the day with those complicated songs but with punk and bands such as the Ramones you thought: I like this and I can play this. I saw all the punk bands and the imagery but I wasn’t a Punk so I had to wait it out until I joined Squire in 1978 who at that point were really a Punk Band. I had these sixties inspired songs that they were not sure about until we supported The Jam that year at The Guildford Civic Hall where it all fell together and made sense in front of their audience of 1000 fans and so we felt oh... ok we can do this. 

Squire UK Mod Band
Squire UK Mod Band
DSC_5896 1_edited.jpg

RTS - How did things progress after that amazing Jam gig?

AM - We thought we were the only Mod band at that time though through an advert we saw The Chords were playing so went to see them at the moonlight Club where outside was someone from the fanzine Maximum Speed so we spoke to them. From then we were part of a Modscene and things happened quickly, we asked The Purple Hearts to support us at The Ronnie Scotts Club so they came along with their audience who then became our audience too. From there, we realised there were a lot of similar bands around outside of London which were helped to get known by being written about in fanzines, quickly this grew into festivals.

The Mod scene really took off in parallel with the ska revival with bands such as Madness and The Specials, we played with these bands as well and the audience mixed and followed both genres together. The thing was you couldn’t dance to Punk but you could to Ska and Mod so it was like the younger brother of punk for the younger fans who wanted their own thing.

Then of course we all heard Quadrophenia was being made and then it was like a Tsunami. It was bigger than the Mod scene and flattened everything before it. What kept going was the fanzines so Mod went back underground from there. The Nme and music press were looking to the next big thing such as electro pop.

Squire UK Mod Band
Squire UK Mod Band

RTS - With the peak flattening out as you say, was there a temptation to change your sound to fall in with the changing trends?

AM - We were killed off at that time by a dodgy manager and we lost our record deal, we found ourselves in a difficult situation. In hindsight all those Mod bands were in a difficult situation as attention had moved on to Tubeway Army. This was when I set up HILO records and that kept us alive and going, when strangely there was a second wave of interest and by 1983 we were touring to a new audience, we were playing at record shops to kids of 12 or 13 years old and that was our audience because they were old enough to be into Mod but not old enough for clubs but they loved us for our legacy. We were at a point where the audiences were there but not in a way that would interest a record company so we used an independent approach and toured North America and the UK selling records out of boxes.

 From this I learnt the whole process of learning the song, recording the song, producing the song, doing the record , doing the artwork, connecting with the fanbase all while the record is out.

 This has led to me teaching at masters level, the whole process.

RTS - What age are your students?

AM - They tend to be in their twenties or thirties and come from here and abroad such as Korea and China.I can teach them how certain records got their sound and what’s behind it.

The show was excellent as always, the sound of the two Rickenbackers playing together with James Meynell back in the band for the time he is in the UK. They will be playing other shows later in the year.

Squire UK Mod Band
Squire UK Mod Band

Above: Squire reunited - from left to right are Ray Lawrence, Kevin Meynell,

Jon Bicknell, James Meynell and Anthony Meynell

Photographs by Dan Reddick

Interview by Dan Reddick

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