Mods rule! Whether it's Sir Wiggo modelling his spring/summer collection for Fred Perry, Miles Kane headlining the NME tour, orMartin Freeman still on our screens fighting off the evil dragon Smaug (obviously a metaphor for some dirty greaser), representatives of Britain's most enduring subculture have never been so prominent.
With the O2's British Music Experience now using the mods' RAF roundel, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the movement – which started with late-50s Londoners adopting the Italian suits they saw on Blue Note jazz sleeves, and adopting the scooter as a neat way of nipping through Soho after hours – was in danger of being blunted by the mainstream. Yet visit clubs from Glasgow'sFriday Street to Brighton's Mod For It, or look at YouTube footage of recent scooter runs and you'll see a new generation of cappuccino kids. March even saw 16 clubs join forces to raise £50,000 for Teenage Cancer Trust, promoting a new breed of mod bands called things like the Swagger and the Brassic. There's only one problem: they're rubbish.
If you were looking for a reason, Oasis, forever riding on the fishtails of Paul Weller in the 90s, didn't help; the "Modfather" had ceased moving forward after the Style Council's ill-fated but entirely logical detour into house music. The Gallaghers were pictured on scooters, publicising their Earls Court gig, and mods now seem to equate Britpop (mainstream, nostalgic) with modernism (elitist, forward-facing). Mod bands who dress the part but favour Britpop over black music and its myriad mutations – and admittedly your writer has only anecdotal evidence, though it's the sort of thing mods argue over, a lot – are like a Jpeg of a photocopy of Liam's bumcheeks.
Mod's aesthetic has influenced every aspect of British culture, its Bauhaus-inspired lines visible in everything from Terence Conran's furniture to Wayne Hemingway's housing estates. We've had a mod home secretary (Alan Johnson) and a mod TV chef (Stacie Stewart); only in music are they letting the side down. While it's asking a lot for any act to match the Who's riot of pop art ideas or the Small Faces' psych-soul surrealism, it's a contradiction that Dean Rudland, music editor on Eddie Piller's excellentModcast, has given some thought to. He reckons the scene is actually healthier when there aren't any mod bands. "If you walk around saying 'I only like music made by mods', you miss out on the most mod music," he says.
It's a great theory but can mod be meaningful without meaningfully modern music to accompany? Discussing seminal mod clothing brand Fred Perry's ongoing series of gigs – recent guests King Krule and Tom Vek; not a tonic suit in sight – its head of marketing Richard Martin said: "We want to blend the history of where we came from with a contemporary edge." Mods: your smart little subculture is in danger of scootering into a dead end.