Bruno Gallone talks Mod Revival, His Band REACTION, Supporting The Jam at Hammersmith Palais, December 15th 1981 & more
When I first started calling myself a Mod, it was probably during 1978.
Me and a few mates were really into the Jam but also a liked a few punk bands too but it was The Jam that always stood out.
We dressed in Jam type suits and with Paul Weller talking a lot about his Mod influences in the press, we naturally we got interested and started listening to that music too.
All most overnight instead of being called punks/into new wave, we were suddenly Mods.
There wasn’t really scene in Burton at that time but you did sense something brewing (as well as the beer).
I remember at a party chatting to some Northern Soul lads and where before there was dislike and animosity, we sensed a mutual admiration of similar sounds and clothes.
The first Mod club I went to was in Derby early 1979 period, it was in an old Indian cinemaand I vividly remember walking in for the first time into this dark smoky room, hearing the soul and ska music blasting out through the speakers and seeing people in Mod/60’s outfits – it just looked and felt so flipping cool .
I felt such a feeling of belonging and a real feeling that this was our scene.
I then started seeing stuff in the music press about what was happening in London and the bands starting to emerge. The Chords, Secret Affair, Purple Hearts, etc
I made it my mission to see these bands as quickly as I could and many of them would have an influence on me when I started playing. As well as The Jam, I loved seeing The Chords live as well as, The Circles, Teenbeats, The Lambrettas, Purple Hearts etc but never for one minute thinking that I would be sharing the stage with some of them very soon….why would I, it was never even in my thoughts.
The first time i picked up a guitar to play was only the day before REACTION’s first ever practice.
Together with a book called “how to play the bass guitar” and tried to cram as much into my head as possible, so I did not lose too much face the following evening.
The reason for this frantic session becomes more clear If I wind back a few days earlier.
On a Saturday November night in 1980 I attended one of the regular Mod Nights in Guild Street in Burton on Trent. During the night I went up on the stage to ask the DJ for a song and I while up on the stage I looked down at the 300 or so crowd and said to him that it would be great being in a band playing to this.
“Why don’t you get a band together?” he said.
I asked, “When is the next Mod night?”
He said it was in 6 weeks’ time and for some reason and I am still not sure why, but i, said I would.
By the time I walked off the stage, I’d somehow agreed to put a band together, said we were going to be called The Internal Envelopes (which I later changed to REACTION) and he had already announced to the crowd, that Burton’s first Mod band, would be playing at the next event.
As I looked back at the DJ in a bit of a haze, the realisation hit me – Not only had I neverbeen in a band before, I couldn’t play an instrument and had never sung anything other than Happy Birthday and in only 6 weeks’ time, I had just agreed to perform, with a non-existentband, on that stage!
Within a week, I had gathered together a fellow Mod, Trev Wood, who used to play drums in a Burton punk band called The F Word, his former band mate, Kev Coates (lead guitar) and Rob Cox (rhythm guitar), a gas board fitter, who I spotted had a guitar in his car.
I went to the local music shop and bought a second-hand bass guitar. Why? Simply because it had four strings, so naively guessing it must have been easier to learn.
So there I was bluffing my way to the rest of the band, in an old disused out building next to Burton Albion, practicing for the first time. I say practicing, as it was just a loud out of time, noise.
But over the next 5 weeks we practiced like mad and developed a set of various covers from the Jam, Small Faces, The Who and all songs Mod related.
As I got a little more confident, I started my first dabble in writing songs, converting some of my poems and ramblings into lyrics.
I’m not sure where the musicality part of my ability came from, as I wasn’t from a music background at all, but somehow I did find that I could hear melodies and even create catchy choruses, whether it was from a set of chords or random notes being played or just from in my head.
As the first gig approached, we had a set of 16 songs, mainly covers but a scattering of our own too.
So, on December 13th 1980 I did my very first gig as bass player, lead singer and songwriter of REACTION and even though I was terrified, made loads of mistakes, unbelievably, wewent down a storm. The warmth from the Burton Mods on the night was amazing and itreally felt like they were saying “we like you because you’re one of our own”.
As I was bitten by that performing bug, there was really no time to “hone my bass playing craft” as my ambition for the band meant that we went from that first gig into a series of onegig after another, so my musical development was happening as I was playing live – because of this, I personally never rated myself as a bass player while in REACTION. It was after, when I was in a three piece called 2nd Phase, that I had to step up to the plate musically, as there was no place to hide.
As REACTION grew as a band, i believed that I was getting better and more confident at writing songs and our set became more of my own compositions rather than covers.
Within a very short period of time, through my tenacity, courage and pure bloody mindedness (and a little naivety) I had got REACTION gigging all over, from the Midlands down to London.
We’d supported the 60’s outfit, the Nashville Teens, also Secret Affair, Purple Hearts, Small World and had been on the same bill as The Lambrettas, The Mods, Hidden Charms, The Questions and the Dolly Mixtures.
We’d played at iconic venues such as London Rainbow, Hammersmith Palais, Dingwalls, The Birmingham Barrel Organ and Gold Diggers at Chippenham but I guess REACTION’s greatest achievement was supporting The Jam…!
After exactly only 1 year and 2 days after our very first gig at Burton, on 15th Dec 1981, REACTION walked onto the stage of the Hammersmith Palais as one of the supports acts to The Jam. (The others being Ruts DC and Bananarama & The Fun Boy Three).
I think the reason why other people also still view this event with fondness too was because it could have happened to them.
There was me, a Jam fan/Mod who’d been into The Jam since 1977. Got every single and album as they came out. Been to loads of gigs, attending a lot of the soundchecks and by Dec 1981, a year after picking up the bass for the first time and after putting the band together, I was sharing the stage with THE JAM!! – all this at a time when they were massive, with two number 1s already under their belt, with Town Called Malice about to be released as the next single.
REACTION only lasted another 5 months after that gig. A year after, out of the ashes of REACTION, came 2nd Phase. Even though we were only as a three piece, musically we were a much better and more tighter outfit than REACTION. Our songs were much more mature and a little more creative and dare I say, experimental. However, although, we played as many gigs as REACTION and similar venues, we never quite got the breaks and the band fizzled out in 1985.
Following 2nd Phase, I formed a short lived band called The Gift but following only 3 /4 gigs the band ended without ever reaching it’s potential.
I’d love to say that I carried on plugging away over the years but in truth during The Gift I had got so disillusioned that I hung up my guitar and walked away from music.
It was only back in 2006 that I found inspiration to write songs and to start gigging again but this time as a solo artists.
Over a 12 year period as well recording four CD’s worth of songs and gigging all over the UK, I’ve been played on National Radio, performed on TV twice and also supported the likes of From The Jam (three times). Dr Feelgood (Twice), The Christians, Toyah, Mark Morris (ex Bluetones), Ian McNabb (ex Icicle Works), The Blockheads and Steve Gibbon Band, to name but a few.
Spring forward to 2020 and the idea of REACTION reforming, all be it remotely, began to grow over social media during the first lockdown period. So, I decided to write a couple of songs which we then recorded and put out on the various internet platforms such as Itunes, Amazon, Spotify etc. the response has been phenomenal .
With the support and radio plays from the likes of top man, Alan May, on the Glory Boy Mod Radio Show, Sean Cooke on Target Radio and Ellis on The Revival Show on Crew Rock Radio, the first three songs combined have already had over 10,000 streams on Spotify..Bruno Gallone & REACTION Music Links Below
I have since wrote another three song with the 2nd of those being released shortly.
I have been pretty proud of the new stuff but it does make me think, if only REACTION were that good back then…who knows what could happened
Bruno Gallone & REACTION Music Links Below
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