Ramona! Jane! Kate! June! The Mo-dettes are gonna steal your boyfriend!!!
The Mo-dettes (that’s MODE-ettes, not modettes! These girls were no mods!) were an all-girl punk band formed in London in 1979. If you’ve heard early Raincoats or Slits stuff, or better yet LiLiPUT or Girls at Our Best, you should have an idea of what they sounded like. In fact Kate Korus, the Mo-dettes’ guitarist even played with the Slits for a while, as well as the Castrators.
Kate moved to London from the U.S. in the mid 70’s and met June Miles-Kingston (who had previously played drums with Richard Dudanski in the Banks Of Dresden) on the set of The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle, where they were both working as musicians. Jane Crockford (the bassist) was also hanging around the GRnRS set, though I’m not sure if she was working, she might just have been there because she had been sharing a flat with Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious after running away from home. Somebody eventually introduced the girls to Ramona Carlier (the lead singer), who had studied ballet in Switzerland before moving to London, apparently because there wasn’t enough of a punk-rock scene back at home. And so the Mo-dettes were born. Hang on to your boyfriends.
The Mo-dettes played their first show at Acklam Hall, opening for the Vincent Units, and released their first single “White Mice”, b/w “Masochistic Opposite” on their own label, Mode. They released several other singles after that and an album, but their first single remained their biggest hit. The group’s last single came out in 1981, and though they did record some more material after this none of it was released. Shortly after the last 7” came out, the Mo-dettes got a second guitarist, Melissa Ritter, who played her first show as a Mo-dette just four days after joining the band. In February of 1982 Ramona quit and June sang for a couple months until Sue Slack joined as their new singer, but then Kate quit too, and as it was Kate that had started the whole thing in the first place the Mo-dettes didn’t last much longer once she was gone.
In the late 80’s June Miles-Kingston played drums for a band called the Communards, put out a solo single on Go! Discs and collaborated on some stuff with Fun Boy Three and Everything but the Girl. Kate Korus recorded a single with Jenny from the Belle Stars.
It seems that the Mo-dettes weren’t appreciated by all of their female peers. In an interview with Nardwuar, the Human Serviette, Jane Wiedlin of the Go-Go’s said “The Mo-Dettes were always really mean to us,” when asked if the Go-go’s had ever played shows with the Mo-dettes. Nardwuar asked Jane why and she elaborated “I don't know. I think they were just mean.” Another band, the Dolly Mixture, had a song called “How come you’re such a hit with the boys, Jane?” that is purportedly about Jane Crockford, and listening to the song one gets the impression that Jane Crockford was not a hit with the Dolly Mixture. I guess the Mo-dettes were not nice.
White Mice / Masochistic Opposite (Mode MODE-1) 1979
Paint It Black / Bitta Truth (first pressing with flexi-single Twist&Shout; Dream Records DET-R1) 1980
Dark Park Creeping / Two Can Play (Deram Records DET-2) 1980
Twist and Shout (flexidisc) 1980
(LP) The Story So Far (Deram Records SML-1120) 1980
Kray Twins (Live) / White Mice (Human Records HUM-10) 1981
Tonight / Waltz In Blue Minor (Deram Records DET-3) 1981