Interview with the co-editor of one of the most popular Modzine’s of the 80s Derek Delboy Shepherd. In The Crowd was a voice to many youth across the country and around the world. We discuss it’s beginnings, why the modzine phenomenon was a vital tool in sharing journalistic views and much more. In the crowd Modzine was based in the channel Islands of Guernsey and was one of the leading Mod magazines in the 80s with 30 issues between 83-90 making it the most read zine of it’s type!
Derek later went on to do Tailor made modzine during the 90s >>> Read all issues online – http://issuu.com/derekdelboyshepherd
Ok firstly I have got to ask you about your opportunity to spend the day with The Jam in the studio as they recorded their critically acclaimed studio album The Gift. How did this chance opportunity come about?
We were lucky enough to have friends who lived a few doors away from where Paul Weller’s mum, dad and sister lived on the Shearwater Estate in Woking, So when I got into the Mod scene in 1980 and discovered my love of The Jam, my first port of call when I was staying with friends at Woking was to be taken around and introduced to see what Jam fan goodies they had.
I made numerous visits between 1980 and when The Jam split up in ‘82, on one such occasion I went around with a local Woking Mod, Paul’s mum greeted us and said ‘Paul is down the studio in London, would you like to go down’, of course we said yes please, so she give him a call. The next day we were on the train down to London to spend a day in Air Studios with Paul, Rick and Bruce, I have to say they were really friendly, The Jam were not like the majority of other bands and they always treated their fans really well. They were always down to earth and not like a lot of other rock stars at the time.
We chatted to Paul quite a lot, while Bruce was trying to lay down vocals on ‘Happy together now’ which was from their album ‘The Gift”. I remember him struggling with the high notes on it. I remember Paul vividly asking us what we thought of the new Secret affair single ‘Do you know’. I know he wasn’t impressed about Ian Page’s vocals. We had a great day with them and they made us feel very welcome, not many people get to meet their hero’s let alone spend the whole day with them, This will always be a treasured memory.
Tell us about Growing up in Guernsey and discovering the mod scene, What was it about it that attracted your attention and why did it appeal to you?
Guernsey is a very small Island about 22 square miles, I must admit that I wasn’t very good at school and was quite and introvert, I didn’t have loads of close friends. When I left School I got into Dxing while listening to International shortwave stations, also had a passion for football and Tottenham hotspur FC, which I’m still a big fan of today. I did play a bit in the youth league in Guernsey but wasn’t very good to be honest.
It wasn’t until I got my first car when I was 18 in 1977 that I really started to come out of my shell and girls started to show an interest in me. In 1980 I celebrated my 21st birthday, not long after that I ended up falling out with my best mate Pete over a stupid argument over a five a side footie match, which left me and you can get the violins out for this with know real close friends, So for a good few months I was doing a billy no mates and going out all on my own to Discos etc!
Until one Friday night I ventured to the local disco ‘Huggys pit’ I was sitting next to the dance floor and I noticed these cool looking boys and girls having a great time dancing to 2-tone and The Jam and I thought I want some of that, so just joined in with them.
As it happens I did know one of the Mods, Sharp Mark who had played for my five a side team, He introduced me to the gang, including a very young Mark Le Gallez of The Risk fame.
Suddenly I went from having know friends, and not really any direction in life, It seemed now things were starting to come together. To be quite honest I didn’t really have a clue what Mod was all about at first, the 79’ Mod revival completely passed me by. I had some very strange ideas what Mod was all about. People must of thought was a right 2&8 at first, but did get there in the end, that’s why always have lots of time for young Mods coming into the scene. Apart from finding out the right gear to wear, I also bought the whole Mod revival back catalogue including The Jam’s which really push me over the edge.
Funny I remember sitting in my bedroom at home thinking about becoming a Mod and quickly realised my life would never be the same again which has turned out to be true and not all bad at all. I never thought I would end up being editor of the biggest selling and longest running Modzine ‘In the crowd’ in 80s, read by Mods from all over the world!
It is still very much a part of my DNA and always will be, I just can’t imagine what I would be like now if I didn’t engross myself into the mod scene.
The success of your very popular fanzine “In The Crowd” is well documented across the scene having been featured in various books. Can you summarise how it started, it’s success and why fanzines played an important part of British youth at the time?
I used to buy Eddie Pillars Modzine ‘Extraordinary sensations’ back in the early 80s and loved the way it was just newsy and made you feel the was a whole scene going on outside my home Island. It was after watching the 1st music programme ‘The Tube’ on Channel 4s opening night when they had The Jam live and also Jools Holland did a interview with the editors ‘Shapes of things’ Modzine, which a rare event to have something on Mod in the media since the end of the revival. So the idea of doing our own came into my head, to help promote our own scene as the mainstream media had abandoned us for pastures new.
This was an ambitious move considering how rubbish I was at School, especially in the English and grammar department, however my girlfriend at the time Jackie who was still at school was good at both and could type.
So early 1983 we produce the 1st issue of ‘In crowd’ and bashed out 50 odd copies on Jackie’s school photocopier, We were so proud of what we achieved, we sent a few copies off to the Rocker feller centre in Carnaby street. We didn’t really have high expectations because we thought that the mainland Mod scene would never be interested in a little Modzine from Guernsey. We were amazed when only a few weeks later the owner Jimmy gave us a call asking for more copies!
This drove us do more and we constantly thrived to improve the layout and content to not only cater for a UK audience but worldwide too. At it’s peak we sold well over 2000 copies per issue including outlets, mainly Mod clothing shops in London, Belfast, Cardiff, Birmingham, Dublin, California etc
We had 200 plus subscribers and lots of Mod societies selling it for us because we did lived in an Island in the English Channel we relied on people to help us out with both this and to do articles interviews etc for us, as it was difficult to get to mainland Mod events and access bands for face to face interview’s.
‘In the crowd’ ended up being a very cosmopolitan Modzine expressing lots of peoples views and not just ours which I think was why partly made it so popular. Modines were the internet of the time, as the main press did not want to know Mod epically in the early 80s. Modzines like ours was the only way Mods would find out what was going on in the scene or there was a Mod scene at all!
Also helped supported all the Mod inspired bands to get know and sell their records which otherwise wouldn’t have happened. I personally think It did keep the scene going through the 80s. I have spoken to a lot people since who have said how they appreciate getting ‘In the crowd’ and how help them keep part of a worldwide Mod scene, even if they were only Mod in their town.
I only really appreciate this now and it makes me very proud, that’s all we set out to do and I think Modzines really kept the scene going through the 80s. “In The Crowd” became one of the most read Modzines of the 80s with 30 issues. Big thank you to everyone who helped making that possible, especially the long suffering co-editor Jackie, who deserves my credit, just having to put up with making sense of my illegible writing!
The Sun newspaper named “In the crowd” one of the top five fanzines in the UK. It’s impact was shared far and wide throughout the UK but where else across the world was it shipped?
Yes a journalist from The Sun phoned us up one night asking about ‘In the crowd’, Jackie thought it was someone taking the piss, so handed the phone over to me. We were told that someone had sent them a copy because they were doing a feature on Fanzines. Some weeks later this ended up in the newspaper not only that but it was featured as one of the best 5 fanzines in the UK!
This was around the time it started to become quite cool again after a long period without any media coverage, we had quite a few orders from this and met a person recently at the ‘Modzines’ book launch in Bristol that saw this review and ordered a copy from us. He told me that he hadn’t realised there was a worldwide Mod scene until he got ‘In the crowd and thanked me for that. It made me feel really proud and that I’d played a vital role in connecting mods worldwide. In the mid to late 80s there were quite few Mod features in the various music papers including front page covers, including a few ‘In the crowd’ mentions. It’s funny how unfashionable we were after the 79 revival in the medias eyes to then became very cool again!
Is their any plans to re-release or create and updated version of nostalgic fanzine?
No I think it’s just best left in the past it was of It’s time but I’d love would to do a coffee table book featuring all the issues at some point, any offers?
Tell us about your invitation to appear in The Jams music video for their single “Funeral Pyre” by bassist Bruce Foxton?
I was walking back from Working station with my friends daughter Wendy when The Jam’s bassist Bruce Foxton pulled over in his car and asked if we would like to take part in a video they were shooting for the bands next Single ‘Funeral pyre in Woking woods that night. We rushed over to see Pauls Mum Anne and his sister Nicky who ran The Jam’s fan club to find out the details, Nicky was kind enough to offer Wendy and her boyfriend a lift down to the shoot.
We arrived to find lots of people wondering around with flaming torches and handful of kindling wood to throw on the big bonfire behind bands setup, we were told to wear something black so I had my black Harrington ready for the action. Anyway after watching the shot of the video, I somehow find myself walking next to Paul Weller, then I was amazed he turned to me and said ‘You’re the Mod from Guernsey aren’t you, my mum told me about you’ Wow was the best feeling ever!
They were more then happy to pose for some pictures later and I got all the band to sign a Jam photo, which has pride of place still on our living room wall!
Also did my bit for the promo video throwing wood on the fire, I waited ages for the single to come out, only to find after watching it on TOTPs that I didn’t make the final cut!
Tell us about your friendship with longtime friend, musician and songwriter Mark Le Gallez’ and funding his first band The Risk with their first ever release?
Meet Mark in 1980 at Huggys pit when I first got into the Mod scene, and we have been best friends ever since, was even best man at my first wedding. We always tried help out with Mark’s musical ventures from Single file onwards, and of course when we started ‘In the crowd’ Modzine we were able to promote his bands on a gain a wide appeal in the world wide mod scene, which lead to lots of opportunities.
Which include The Risk, having an extended stay California were the band recorded their 1st album for Unicorn records ‘Loud shirts and stripes, I remember getting a call from Mark from the US asking me if we could help fund the recording of the album, as they were a bit short of cash. I was very happy to help and I visited them and the band in San Diego early in the year. They ended up loaning us money because as we ran short because US didn’t like debit card, this was before visa and master card. I suppose that’s what friends are for after all and we have always tried to help each other if we can.
Give us an insight into the music that you engrossed yourself in and why it was an Important part of your youth?
Love all the Mod revival stuff both 79 and 80s, there was so many good bands. The Jam will always be my favourite band I don’t think anyone could match them, I wanted to be Paul Weller so much and I don’t think I was the only one but there was so many other great bands like Secret affair, Purple hearts, Squire, The Risk, The Prisoners, Small world and Makin Time to name a few.
I loved the power and the style, it was my youth and it will always be part of me. I was never really that much into music and style before I became a Mod but I certainly made up for it.
You have said in previous interviews about going to Northern Ireland alongside Mark Le Gallez’ who was compèring at an event in Belfast. Tell us in more detail about how Northern Ireland seemed to you in particular the mod scene at the height of the troubles?
Belfast was one of my fav memories Mark Le Gallez of The Risk was invited over to compère a Mod event in the 80s. Jackie and I tagged along, It was amazing and everyone was so friendly and pleased we came over. It was the closest I’ve come to feeling like a celebrity. Everyone wanted to know us and you’d never guess there was trouble going on apart from seeing British soldiers patrolling the streets. I certainly didn’t feel that there was any sort of reglious divide when it came to the mod scene over there, It didn’t seem that way anyways.
Tailor Made Modzine was short lived but still made a huge impact on the scene and the Brit Pop era. Tell us about it?
In the crowd stopped in 1990, Jackie and I had moved over to the mainland in ‘89 and then split up in ’90, I was not the right mind to carry on the zine without her because it was very much our magazine. I was going to give it up altogether until I went to a mod rally at the Isle of Wight, I realised how much I missed doing a Modzine. That’s when I decided to start a fresh new one and went back to the basics with a new Modzine called ‘Tailor made’ which came from a track from 80s Mod band The Moment.
I started with a few friends then my new girlfriend Catherine Woolger joined as co-editor and helped make ‘Tailor made’ even more professional looking than ‘In the crowd’ ever was.
We did 9 issues until 98 which also covered the Brit-pop era which really influenced me because I felt that most of the bands were to some degree inspired Mod. “Tailor Made came to a natural end because it became harder to sell and find content with the Brit-pop movement fading away and Catherines job taking more of her time. I was going to do issue 10 which would have been the last and I was a planning to do a Mod 99 special but it just didn’t happen but I can’t complain I had a last doing it and I had the opportunity to do some really interesting things.
Interview by Johnny Bradley, Image © Derek Shepherd, In The Crowd & Tailor Made and their respective owners.