ModWear5 – E13 - Gary Shail September 18 2015

ModWear 5 with Gary Shail – Episode 13

Actor, Director, Musician, Producer and now an Author. Many of our readers will best know the person behind our next ModWear5 as “Spider” from Quadrophenia – Gary Shail.  We spoke with Gary who is just weeks away from the launch of his first book.

Gary Pictured with Trevor in Brighton last month. Thanks to David McHugh for allowing us to use the image:

1) At what point did you realise, how big Quadrophenia was and the influence the film would have on so many people’s lives?

I think it was around 1997 when I started to realise that Quadrophenia was a lot bigger than I thought it had been. I was working in Soho at that time, writing and producing music for the advertising industry. I had been out of the acting lark for a few years by now, when I suddenly got a call from a guy who told me that Quad was going to be re-released on to DVD, and was getting a nationwide showing in cinemas around the country.

The bloke (whose name I can’t remember) wanted to know if I’d be up for attending another premier showing of the film in Brighton, and I said that if all the other guys in the cast were doing it, then why not! I also said that I’d like to be able to take some guests with me, as I thought that all the guys and gals in the office would fancy a little weekend works outing in Brighton. 

When we arrived at Victoria, a specially chartered train was laid on for us that was filled with reporters and TV crews all asking what we felt about being in such an iconic movie. To be honest I think we all found it a bit bemusing. When we eventually arrived in Brighton it was chaos and the police were there holding people back from getting to us. My girlfriend at the time thought it was hilarious, and kept calling me a complete & utter cult for the rest of the evening.

I think I only realised the influence Quadrophenia has had on so many people when I started to meet the fans in person. Over the last few years I have had the honour and pleasure of being invited to many charity and fundraising events, where I am constantly told just how much this film has meant to them over the years, and has changed their lives. To some it really is a way of life! 

2) We’ve read you were a punk before you shot the film, is there any aspects of Spider that changed you as a person and have lived with you over the last 30 years?

Yes I was a Punk for a brief moment in my youth, but it always seemed such a hassle to get ready for anything. I’d spend fucking hours in my mum’s bathroom trying to get my hair to stand up, so when I got the wardrobe clothes for Spider I was quite relieved, and so was my mum!

I’m not really a Parka person, but I love the suits, and will use any excuse to wear one now. 

3) We saw you in Brighton a few weeks back for the Brighton Mod Weekender. What did you get up to and what was your highlight?

I’d been invited to the Mod Weekender by the guys who run Brighton’s Big screen to attend a showing of the film on the beach. I phoned Trevor Laird (Ferdy) and asked him to come as well. I took my missus & Trev brought his kids who thought it was hysterical that Daddy & Uncle Gary were so famous. It was a brilliant weekend and we met some old friends and made plenty of new ones too. Can’t wait ‘till next year! 

4) How long have you been putting pen to paper on your forthcoming biography, what made you decide it was the right time to publish and how did you decide on the title: “I Think I'm On The Guest List”

I’d written a piece for a book about the late Gary Holton (auf wiedersehen pet/ Quadrophenia Rocker) and the publishers liked it so much that they asked me to write some more. I’d never written anything until then, but apparently I’m quite good at it. The book took me about 9 months to write, but that is because I’m very hard on myself when it comes to self-editing. When I eventually sent in the final draft, my editor didn’t change a single word… I just hope that’s a good thing!  

The title was the first thing I came up with even before I’d written the first line. Back in the late 70s and for most of the 1980s, I think I’m on the guest list was a mantra. When I have my book launch in London sometime before Christmas, there will be no fucking guest list!! 

5) After your book release what’s next for you?

I have a movie coming out soon called “Stranger” where I play a psychotic cowboy and there is another one in the pipeline that I’m not allowed to talk about just yet. In the meantime I am packing my bags ready for a trip up north to meet and greet more fans of Quadrophenia. For more information of where and when, I’m very easy to find on Facebook!  


You can find Gary on Facebook

Or follow Gary on Twitter: @GaryShail

You can pre-order Gary’s forthcoming book “I Think I'm On The Guest List” (Out October 1st) at Waterstones: or keep checking back on Amazon when the book becomes available: