Fred Perry are responsible again for Subcultural nights in unexpected venues. The audiovisual feast, Sub-Sonic Live is back, this time at 'The Lawn'. This time around, it'll be a stripped down affair - no drums, no amps. But the stellar line-up remains. This time they've hauled in the likes of Weish, Jon Chan of Plainsunset, Pleasantry, Charlie Lim, Nick Chim and Aarika and Kevin of SIXX. We celebrate Fred Perry's unique relationship to music and street style by asking "What music best represents Fred Perry?" and we have the answers:
Fred Perry, to me, embodies subculture; the voices that brew underground. This is simply a selection of songs by some of my favourite bands who are these voices. I've got a couple of iconic mod/punk classics that none of us will ever tire of (nor be able to ignore), of course, but I've also put in some more current, mod-influenced bands whom I'm glad are carrying the torch. Threw some local rep in there as well - whoo Fishtank!
The Who | My Generation
Oasis | Soldier On
Arctic Monkeys | Crying Lightning
Fishtank | What About You
Ramones | Blitzkrieg Bop
First, I have always noticed that Fred Perry features very sleek, masculine lines that exude a sense of confidence. Many of the musical acts have either been associated with Fred Perry at some stage in their respective movements/choice of wear.
Madness | One Step Beyond
In the 70s when Madness were in their heyday, the London Skinhead movement was closely associated with Fred Perry. Madness typified to me, one of the best acts from that 70's ska era, along with the Specials, etc. One Step beyond represents to me the best song they ever wrote, and the atuatic visual image I get on hearing that, are the boys from Madness, walking in line, wearing their Rude Boy FP tops, pants and brogues...
CIV (pronounced 'Siv') | Set Your Goals
The only US act on my list. From the 90s punk and Straightedge Hardcore movement, they revitalized the US underground by blending both, with a touch of Swing. When the punk anthem 'Set Your Goals' first came out, ths new-old sound was visually paired with a photoshoot of them in chic retro slim suits and in the guitar player's case, what else?
Blur | "Song 2"
Frontman Damon Albarn as well as original guitarist Graham Coxon were well-known FP fans, and this is a song that is considered a classic from them, even today!
The Police | Message In A Bottle
During the late 70s, The Police, before reaching their peak, toured the club circuit, and Andy Summers, one of my favorite guitarists of all-time, was frequently shot in underground clubs in FP, and creating a giant sound through his telecaster... again, the reggae/ska underground association, which The Police were known for before their pop days.
The Manic Street Preachers | Motorcycle Emptiness
Before Blur came along, The Manics were there to typify to my mind, one of the best things to come out of Britain. Again, that sleek, classy, slightly melancholic, slightly dark but classy, unassumingly glamorous, quietly aggressive sound that only the Brits can manage. If I were to pick a 'stage look' that reminds me of that, with the same qualities, a black FP shirt with white or cream piping would HAVE to be in that shot.
Fred Perry has always been an iconic brand associated with the Oi!/Ska/Punk scene, a sub-culture whose fashion and music are so distinct it's been virtually unchanged over the years since the 1960s. It's hence no surprise that the label brings me right there. Here are five songs from this sub-culture, a mere peek into what plays in my head when I hold or don a Fred Perry polo tee or button-down shirt.
The Vandals | Oi! To The World
Cockney Rejects | Oi! Oi! Oi!
The Oppressed | Skinhead Girl
4 Skins | Yesterday's Heroes
The Bois | SHARP Anthem
As a brand and clothing label, everyone knows that Fred Perry is synonymous with the whole mod subculture movement. And while that movement today may understandably appear to be associated with the myriad of new indie/electro bands attempting to be the flavor of the week, it would be a complete oversight to dismiss the heritage and ethos of mod culture that has set the mold for a lot of inspiring artists today.
Draw a line through the mod movement’s genealogy and you’ll find plenty of African-American soul/R&B influences. Pair that with the grungy, punk-rock stylings of the late 1970s, the new wave movement and today’s bedroom-production methodology and you’ll get a happy contortion of jilted rhythms, hip-hop sampling, weird synths, heavily-washed reverb, jangly guitars and an overall DIY vibe that’s semi-slick and rough around the edges.
I’ve picked the following songs/artists because they accurately represent what I think the spirit of that culture is, and hence what Fred Perry encapsulates as a brand. These guys are the real deal because they are continually pushing the musical envelope through borrowing sounds from different eras and applying them to a relevant context, all while working within the limitations of an independent release.
Frank Ocean | Sweet Life
SBTRKT | Hold On
St. Vincent | Strange Mercy
James Blake | CMYK
Cody Chestnutt | Upstarts in a Blowout
To me, the brand Fred Perry symbolizes a bold and daring attitude. It serves as an inspiration to anyone from the working class of society that with the right mix of determination and faith, along with a little luck, we can transcend our current circumstances and pursue our dreams. We don't have to live with the status quo!
Even though some of the songs I've chosen are from bands whom the mod street culture identified with beside the Fred Perry brand, I did so because they all share a certain aesthetic. These songs naturally DEMAND your attention, probably because they showcase undeniable talent and a whole lot of ballsy attitude.
Iggy Pop & The Stooges | Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell
The Fall | Theme From Sparta FC
Kiss | Flaming Youth
The Jam | David Watts
The Kinks | Victoria