DozenQ – The Substitutes

This entry is part 15 of 20 in the series DozenQ

The Substitutes are a four-piece mod covers band from South Wales who are enjoying an incredibly busy year headlining gigs and supporting the likes of From The Jam. They cover songs from iconic bands including Small Faces, The Who, the Jam, the Kinks while throwing Tamla Motown, 1960’s soul and Northern soul into the mix. They’re not after the big time, they just want to play music they love and expand the Welsh mod scene. They’re not averse to spreading their sounds elsewhere in the UK, so read what Dan Owens and Jon Amos told Eyeplug and check out their links.

Band Members:

Paul Cobley: Guitar, vocals
Daniel Owens: Bass, vocals
Jon Amos: Guitar, backing vocals
Steve Roberts: Drums

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01. When and how did the band form?

Dan Owens: I bought a Hofner bass and two days later Jon called me up and asked me to join. Getting the chance to use it properly and playing with Jon again was too good to refuse!

Jon Amos: A bit of a long story, but myself and Dan had been in bands together previously, I was also in a band with Paul a few years back and Paul and Gareth (our original drummer) had also played together in the past. After a six year break from being in bands, due to having kids, I was asked to join a band last year. I played a couple of gigs with them but it wasn’t really my thing and it didn’t work out. Having got the guitar-playing bug back, I came up with the idea of putting together a mod covers band. The first people I called upon were Dan and Paul because of their mutual love for all things mod. Paul suggested bringing in Gareth as our drummer. Everyone was up for it and that’s where it all started

02. Do any of you come from a musical background?

Dan: My parents are big music fans, I was raised on Dylan, Beatles, Bowie etc but my dad’s tone deaf, so he never played but my mum had piano lessons as a kid. Both their fathers were musical, one played piano and the other played accordion

Jon: I’m from a big musical family with my father and grandfather both playing in brass bands for many years, but I decided to do my own thing when I was about 14 years old and took up the guitar. I think it was more a rebellious thing than anything else!

03. Who are your major influences and who do you swerve?

Dan: 1960s mod, psychedelic, blue note, jazz, country and blues. As long as you can tap a foot to it, I like it. Also, I gotta believe in the singer’s vocals. Take Jonny Cash, when he sings “I killed a man in Reno just to watch him die”, I believe him. Sam Cooke is another. I think it’s called Soul.

 Jon: My biggest musical influences are the obvious ones, Paul Weller, Steve Marriott and Steve Cradock. Ocean Colour Scene was probably the first band I got into that was mod-influenced, and it was from them that I started to discover all things mod related. My musical influences started around 1995/96 and sort of went backwards. I swerve anything that’s manufactured or comes from one of the TV talent shows

04. You cover mod classics including Tamla and Northern Soul, which song do you most enjoy performing and which song is the most challenging?

Dan: Barrett Strong’s ‘Money’. I’ve mixed up the verses a few times and the rest of the band can never stop laughing before we get to a verse. Most challenging is The Action’s version of ‘I’ll Keep On holding On’. Reg King was such a great vocalist, and playing bass and nailing his vocal is ridiculous!

Jon: Most enjoyable for me are either ‘High Heel Sneakers’ or ‘Biff Bang Pow’. Both dance floor fillers. Most challenging has gotta be ‘Money’. Trying to play guitar whilst in hysterics at Dan forgetting the words is very difficult!!

05. What can someone expect from your live shows?

Dan: Fun. Our main objective is to enjoy ourselves at our gigs. If we’re not having a good time then how the hell are the crowd? I’ve left the stage a few times to dance with the crowd, I get so carried away. We’ve had people jump on stage with us, whether it’s singing or playing inflatable guitars. It’s a party!

Jon: They can expect to see a band who doesn’t take themselves too seriously, having fun and playing some classic mod tunes.

06. What is the mod scene like in South Wales?

Dan: Well, up until a few years ago, I could count the mods I knew on one hand. Since we’ve been playing, it’s opened up to a lot more. We played in Cardiff recently and it was full of mods of all ages and immaculately dressed. I think we’re bringing nods together with our gigs, which makes the whole thing even more enjoyable. Everyone gets to wear the clothes they probably wouldn’t wear down their local on a Saturday afternoon and they can let their hair down.

Jon: I wouldn’t say the mod scene in South Wales is thriving but we’re hoping we can do something about that.

07. Is there a gig that you wish you could have attended?

Dan: James Brown at the Apollo. The way he works that crowd gives me goosebumps whenever I listen to it – the band, his voice, and most importantly, the show. I was lucky enough to go to the Apollo recently, it was like a pilgrimage.

Jon: I would have loved to have seen the Jam live; unfortunately I came into the world at the wrong time!

08. Any plans to play outside of Wales?

Dan: Yes! We’re planning big things for next year. We’ve had interest from all the big cities and I’m getting asked daily on Twitter. We’re booked up until Christmas 2012, so we can’t fit in anything as yet

Jon: Yes, soon. We’ve had numerous offers already but this year is mainly about getting our name around the South Wales area and getting gigs under our belts. But keep an eye out for us at a venue near you soon!

09. Do any of you write your own songs and do you have plans to perform them alongside covers?

Dan: I’ve been writing for a while but I’ve never taken it seriously, it’s just for shits and giggles. I’ve got no patience, so if it’s not done in an hour, I won’t go back to it. The great thing about iPhone is that I can record it there and then, and upload it to Soundcloud, so I don’t forget it. I’d never perform my songs with the band; it would be so out of place next to the perfection of a Marvin Gaye track.

Jon: Dan writes and records his own stuff but no we have no plans to play them or any other original songs as the Substitutes. We played in original bands for many years but we are more about the gigs and the fun of it all, rather than any record contract.

10. Where do the Substitutes envisage being in five years time?

Dan: Taking lunch at The Ivy

Jon: Still together hopefully!! We haven’t really planned that far ahead and are just taking things in our stride. Playing our music all over the UK would be nice

11. If you could play on the same bill as three other bands in 2012, who would they be and where?

Dan: Steve Winwood is a hero of mine, so that’s my number one. I would be crazy not to say McCartney as he’s my favourite ever bassist (he could write ok, too). I think a jam with Cornershop would be ace. They blend so many eras and genres of music into their albums and keep it sounding fresh, they’re a mind-blowing talent. The most current bands that I’m into are mates of mine that I’ve been lucky to play with, such as Henry’s Funeral Shoe, El Goodo, Broken Vinyl Club etc.

Jon: Again, the obvious ones, I’m afraid: Small Faces, the Jam and probably Otis Redding (not technically a band, I know!!). If you mean current artists, it would be Paul Weller, Ryan Adams (not mod but the guy’s a pure genius) and possibly Miles Kane. Where? Anywhere! My back garden would be good!

12. What should we be expecting from you in the near future? Please feel free to plug your gigs.

Dan: I’ll leave that to Jon, he’s the switched on one. I have to ask him where we’re playing the night before the gig!

Jon: Loads and loads of gigs, we are adding more mod classics to our set each week, so hopefully our set is going to go from strength to strength. We have a big ChristMod night lined up in one of the larger Cardiff venues in December and we’re also part of March of the Mods next year in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust.  Our website is due to be launched in the coming weeks but, in the meantime, you can keep an eye on our Facebook page to see what we’re up to and where we’re playing. Hope to see a lot of you at our gigs in the next year, come and say hello, we don’t bite!!


Facebook –
Twitter –!/TheSubstitutes1
YouTube –
Gigs on Ents24 –


Michelle Coomber

A child of the 50s, remembers the 60s, partied in the 70s and was hung-over in the 80s. Used to sit in David Bowie’s garden, Biba’s shop window and leaned on the jukebox in SEX, stood up occasionally. Raised in Fulham by very cool parents and a stone’s throw from The Nashville, The Greyhound, Hammersmith Odeon and Kings Road. Still mourns the Speakeasy and Wardour Street’s Marquee plus other deceased London music venues and greasy spoons. Worked for Mary Quant in the 70s and enjoyed the social scene that went with it. Was surrounded by punk squats in the mid-70s and hung out at Beggar’s Banquet basement studio watching bands drink and rehearse while avoiding electrocution. Went to Lindsay Kemp’s mime classes with punk goddess Jordan, we were both rubbish. Grew up with Paul Cook and got hit over the head by Sid’s guitar at the Speakeasy. Saw many iconic gigs back in the day including New York Dolls at Biba’s Rainbow Room and Ziggy Stardust’s farewell show at Hammersmith. Lived in NY & LA in ’79, mainly went to gigs and posed in a leather jacket. Worked in live events production for The Hippodrome in the 80s and produced and directed fringe theatre while working in film and TV in the 90s. Still dabbles in publicity work and writes scripts which gather dust. Works at Ealing Studios and recently formed a film production company. Always listening to music and reads constantly, re-learning guitar and loves all things creative. Still writes with pen and paper. Started to talk to people at bus stops.

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Originally posted 2012-07-09 15:49:33. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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