Crafty Cigarette Author Matteo Sedazzari talks to Adam Cooper of Heavy Soul !Written by Adam Cooper
A new book is out now by original ’79 Revival mod Matteo Sedazzari, who also happens to be the founder of ZANI – an online explosion of sound, word and imagery for “the new beat generation”.
Not so much a history of Mods this time, but a personal account of his childhood / teenage years in suburban England and his passage of discovery that led him to The Jam and all things Mod.
Entitled “A Crafty Cigarette – Tales of a Teenage Mod” the author had a chat with Heavy Soul! about the project....
Heavy Soul! - Matteo, an exciting time to grow up in the late ‘70s for a teenager, where your imagination could run free and there seemed to be endless things to do – a great time to write a book about…
Matteo Sedazzari - The 70’s I remember as a child, prior to becoming a teenager, were quite restrictive for kids, parents, teachers still had the Victorian values of “children should be seen and not heard”. Without taking this interview on a negative vibe, that is why Saville and Co were allowed to flourish because of this belief system, that kids have no voice, and it’s only now that the “establishment” realised they got it wrong. The brutality that kids faced at school by teachers was so so wrong, caned in front of your class mates or forced to do PE in your underpants if you forgot your kit. The middle school I went to, now as an adult I seriously question their desire to be a teacher, to me, it was to be brutal and control kids. Maybe that was just me and other kids had a great time at school.
But that’s why I believe music and tribalism that came with music in that decade , be it Punk around 1976 and the Mod revival in the late 70’s appealed to so many young people, it was a real big fuck off to our parents, schools, work and the fucking church. The Sex Pistols shook it all up with God Save The Queen around the Silver Jubilee in 1977, that crossed a taboo, as speaking out against the monarchy was a big no no, The Pistols and Punk as a whole gave the youth of England back their voice. I have to be honest, I was shocked about this song first time round, but I got it a few years later.
England was in disarray back in the 70’s, three day week, weak economy and the cost of living in the early 70s went up overnight, which affected Working and Middle Class families across the country.
So it would be wrong to say the 70’s were magical times as a whole, that is just nostalgia, rose tinted and all that, that is something I have never been about.
Heavy Soul! - It’s refreshing to read a book about personal accounts, something that the reader can hopefully affiliate themselves with rather than interviews and historical artefacts and photo’s, where do you think your book will fit into a growing market of Mod-related literature?
Matteo Sedazzari - Good question, and a hard one to answer to be honest, as I haven’t, nor has my publisher Paul Hallam, really thought about or discussed it, all we want to do is make it a success and have fun doing it. It’s more than a story about Mod, it’s about crossing over from being a child to a teenager, which lasts for about 2 years 11 to 13 , one day you are playing with your action men not giving a fuck about your clothes , then pow ! you are collecting records, asking your mother for money for clothes, reading the NME, become interested in girls, you leave your childhood behind and begin your journey into adulthood, we all have to go through, of course we do, but it’s a tough cross over and you don’t see it coming. I wanted to go deep with this with Crafty Cigarette.
Heavy Soul! - You chose the Mod route back then, what was the defining decision to go down that boulevard, was it solely The Jam?
Matteo Sedazzari - Yea, staying within the concept of the previous answer, I discovered The Jam by accident, from my brother’s record collection, I was getting into music, in fact the film Grease was a huge turning point for me. Went to Staines’ cinema to see it, I was mesmerised by the power of music, the power of a gang and the clothes, even went to school the next day with Brylcreem on my hair. Then my brother went and saw Saturday Night Fever, which is based on Nick Cohen’s time with the Shepherds Bush Mods, which I didn’t , nor did many people know at the time, he told me the story and bought the sound track, which I loved and still love the album and the film. Some of the kids at school were getting into New Wave, The Stranglers, Blondie, and I followed suit, then as I stated I played side 2 of All Mods Cons, Billy Hunt, and it was like seeing the light, trust me, it was spiritual, played all of the album over and over that fateful day, read the sleeve notes, that’s how I become a Mod, and I was 12 at the time, still at Middle School. So The Jam really did change my life.
Heavy Soul! - I take it you are from Italian stock, so had an advantage already! Must have been cool for your mates to have you around!?
Matteo Sedazzari - It would be nice to say yes, but sadly no, England was really into this Bulldog nation concept and Europe and beyond was full of Johnny Foreign with stupid lingo. There was a TV show called Mind Your Language, which ran from 1977 to 1981, about a night class in London for foreigners learning English, all national stereotypes were ridiculed , so if you were of foreign stock , then this could make your life hell, coupled with Michael Caine’s The Italian Job being shown on ITV, which so many kids took as gospel, being Italian or of Italian heritage you had the piss taken out of you. Italian food was not readily available in the supermarkets like it is today, and Italy was not a popular holiday nation, plus Italy had knocked England out of the 1978 World Cup the year before in the World Cup qualifiers, so there was a lot of anger towards Italy and their football team, who were perceived as dirty and cheats. Mods, or the ones I knew, didn’t really get the Italian influence or the whole scene, even though a lot of the clothes and mode of transport, scooters , came from Italy. The love for Italy came a few years later, The Style Council were certainly instrumental in that, not just Italy but France. Italia 90 made Italy a cool place, and around the club scene back then some clubbers were wearing Serie A football tops However I wasn’t bullied just teased, as Walton had a huge Sicilian community, but Sunbury in the 70’s was terrible, even the teachers joined in.
Heavy Soul! - There seemed to be so many youth cults about in ’79 onwards to the mid ‘80s, did your particular gang of Mods have their own part of town and were there no-go area’s?
Matteo Sedazzari - My friends back then would hate me for saying this, but we were the equivalent of the chav’s today, we made Walton Town Centre a no – go area for the shoppers, we were banned from all the shops, café, bans lifted then re-imposed. Walton on Thames isn’t really a rough place, but there are a few estates, and some of those back then, were not safe to go. Being a Mod and so young, made you a potential target when walking along or out on your bike, everyone seemed to hate us, we would be shouted out by passing cars, first of all it was daunting, then we got used to it, it was just bullying, older men were envious of us.
Heavy Soul! - A foreword by John Cooper-Clarke, himself an ex-Mod, was a nice coup – how did that come about?
Matteo Sedazzari - I interviewed John in August 2011 for ZANI, and we became friends, when I finished the 6th Draft of the novel, I called him and asked if I could send him a copy and if he liked it, would he do a foreword, he agreed, loved the book and did it. I was and still am over the moon, John Cooper Clarke and The Jam were the ones that made me want to be creative, so to get his support and blessing is a dream come true. I was in tears, tears of joy when I got the foreword, felt the same as when Italy won the World Cup in 2006, it’s up there as a great moment in my life.
Heavy Soul! - You mention in the book you and your mates’ inability to travel due to lack of funds and parental constrictions – what did you used to get up to and did you eventually get to the bright lights?
Matteo Sedazzari - We hung round the town centre, garden hop, went out on our bikes, went to the odd gig, went round each other’s houses, had a youth club, went to the Walton Hop, we just had fun, we were never bored, as we were quite mad, I am not saying that, we liked winding people up, having adventures, we still had a lot of childhood inside us and loved mayhem. We did venture to Carnaby Street every now and then, but I didn’t really start hanging out in London until my late teen’s, when I was pretty much out of the Mod scene.
Heavy Soul! - How did your music and clothes style change over the years – up to now?
Matteo Sedazzari - Wow, a lot, I stopped being a Mod, or at least calling myself a Mod, towards the end of 1984, went a bit scruffy then knocked about with the former casuals, got smart again and heading into London, was getting into Hip Hop, Soul, American and British, and bands like The Smiths, loved the Smiths, The Redskins, Style Council, Billy Bragg, so Mod, did the whole Acid House thing, which was OK, went a bit wild towards the end, and then in early 90’s before the whole Oasis, started dressing Mod again with a twist of the terrace culture, which is more or less the look I have today, no I am not a Module or whatever they call people crossing between Mod and casual, I am too old to be part of a tribe and I have no interest in being part of a tribe, I am just happy being me, well more than happy. As for music, loved Oasis and all that, but of late, got into late 60’s and early 70’s American rock, soul and funk, got a southern rock vibe at the moment, like The Allman Brothers and The James Gang, getting into British Jazz funk, early American Hip Hop, like The Last Poets, I am going back in time to music I missed out first time round, there is so much to discover, I know there are a lot of young bands flying the flag for Mod, I wish them the best of luck, and hope they shake things up, and give the whole Mod thing to a whole new generation, I was lucky to get that with The Jam. Who I still listen to for inspiration.
Heavy Soul! - How did The Jam splitting up affect you? I just missed it, so can only imagine the feelings
Matteo Sedazzari - Crafty Cigarette only goes up to 1981, when Weller, Buckler and Foxton were very much on the up, The Jam split at their peak, I remember hearing the news from a Mod, whom I had never seen before, stopping and telling us. For me and my mates their breaking up, it was our Kennedy moment, what I mean everyone from a certain generation says they remember where they were when John F Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963 I still remember to this day when I heard they were splitting up. I was heartbroken, yet I did get it, knowing Paul, Bruce and Rick would go out on a high, as winners. The Jam to me, left a legacy for young people or my generation to be creative and have self-belief, they were still a driving force for me, writing the book.
Heavy Soul! - How long did the book take to write – did it ebb and flow or was it a smooth ride?
Matteo Sedazzari - It took me six months to write Crafty Cigarette, I am well disciplined and not easily distracted; phone will go on silence, unplug the landline, head down and write. I read avidly before and during the writing, Alan Bleasdale’s Scully, Terry Taylor’s Baron’s Court All Change, Harlan Ellison’s Memos From Purgatory, Mark Twain’s both Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, JD Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, even Emil and the Detectives to get that child feel, a lot of these books mentioned were written in the first person and in their own dialogue, which is something I wanted to emulate. I must say Gillian Flynn blew me away, took my writing to another level and changed my style. I watched early Grange Hill and any 70’s youth programmes or documentaries anything I could find on YouTube, kept away from anything to do in terms of Mod, I wanted to write a story as stated about changing from a child to becoming a teenager, but not to be a manifesto for Mod, that wasn’t my agenda.
I listened a lot to The Jam, Secret Affair and other mod stuff of 1979, it became a whole way of thinking. I am not one of those writers who needs inspiration to write, fuck that, that’s just an excuse to be lazy, if you want to write, you get organised , have a timetable and just do it, end of story.
Heavy Soul! - It looks like you have a lot to do with ZANI , ie founding it and running it! How is it going – looks like a major player now…
Matteo Sedazzari - Thank you, ZANI started over in late 2008, got the name whilst on holiday in Florence that year, saw the Nike symbol and wanted something quick and snappy. It picked up when I got behind the original Svengali with Dean Cavanagh late of that year, which led me to meeting Alan McGee, who guided and advised me as a writer and editor, and then in 2009 it went up a gear, still a long way to go and haven’t given as much attention in the last six months due to writing Crafty Cigarette, but back in the driving seat, more writers are coming on board, and looking to promote newer bands. ZANI did lead me to meeting Paul Hallam, who supported me to write a novel, I love it and have made friends for life from it, it’s an outlet, I will never stop it, it’s in my blood and my mind set.
Heavy Soul! - Finally, football, as a Juventus supporter – who’s the greatest player to play for the “old lady”? I’ll go for Roberto Baggio…, then again maybe Del Piero….
Matteo Sedazzari - There are so many, and to name the greatest would be wrong, as you know and I know, football is a team sport, from the fans, to the team and the ground staff, yet there are players that clearly stand out, Baggio for sure. Baggio is a big hero of mine, he only ever won league title with them and no European trophies ever, in fact with no team. I am going to cheat and have a few more, Roberto Bettega, my first ever footballer hero and emblematic of the club, an amazing striker, who sadly due to injury missed out on 1982 World Cup Squad, and as we all know, Italy won it that year with many Juventus players in their squad, Marco Tardelli , a loyal servant and for his goal celebration in the 1982 World Cup final against West Germany, legendary and at this moment huge fan of Claudio Marchisio, came through the youth ranks, always gives it his all for Juventus and also Italy, his passion for the game is breath taking.
Original Interview Appeared in Issue 31 of Heavy Soul! Used By Kind Permission
Here on Amazon