Was there any bad feeling when you decided, ‘right, I’m going to do this on my own.’ No bad feeling whatsoever. Banners even went as far as to say, “I’d love to help you out” but at the time, he was with Factory Media and they probably would’ve sacked him. [laughs] Banners moonlighting under a pseudonym at Case, I would’ve liked to have seen that. I’ll tell you what’s funny, I sent one email to Stu [Dawkins] and Ian [Morris] one morning around 11am, basically telling them I was planning on starting a magazine, within the hour I had a phone call from Banners saying “What’s this I hear about you starting a mag?” Banners wasn’t pissed or anything, I guess he just wanted to find out a bit more. So was it all self financed? 100%. Early on in ‘09 I decided I was going to do it. I put £500 aside for seven months and that, along with the small amount of advertising from issue one, is what funded it….Then I got a bank loan [laughs]. Can I ask how much it cost, that first issue? £5000 for 5000 copies. Did you make enough back? Dude, I haven’t made a single penny from any of this. I was broke after issue three. Issue one was 3/4 funded by me, the second issue was about half and half, the third issue was a few hundred quid off. You worked full-time right through all this as well? Yeah man, 40-45 hours a week. All on my own too. Nine till five at a camera shop, seven until midnight doing the mag, five or six days a week. What were the main struggles putting it out there, other than money and time? Well, time wasn’t an issue, because I wanted to do it. Basically money; money from advertisers, money for trips, money to travel to shoot photos etc etc. Mother fucking money… Hate the stuff. Obviously it’s a labour of love, but did you feel that it’s what BMX needed? For starters, you championed the ‘free’ model in the UK for BMX mags. At the time I didn’t think about it. I was thinking of putting a cover price on it, but after speaking with Mark Noble and taking some advice I went down the free route and yeah, I think BMX definitely needed something new. And the free aspect I think just made it that much more appealing. Are you glad you stuck with the free idea? 100%. You only need to look at Vice, and the handful of newspapers at the time that were changing, to realize that people love free shit. It was quite a good sales pitch for advertising too. My only downside, and the reason I didn’t get as much advertising in the beginning as I had hoped, was because I didn’t have the money to print a super large number of copies, but everyone loved the free idea. It’s funny, people thought it was going to lack in quality, but the paper used on issue was amazing, too good perhaps. The size too, its a big magazine. The thing I wanted with Case was an emphasis on big photos. I used to look at Ride and Dig and I hated how small some of the pictures were printed. No offense, but even with The Albion, I look at the tiny pictures and think ‘what’s the point?’ Not having a moan, just my opinion. I think pictures look so much better full size. You guys are good with picture size for the most part; it’s hard from a design point of view too, especially when you have a lot of text and stuff. 44
Backtracking a bit, you said that advertisers wanted a distribution of more than 5000 copies, or something along those lines? Yeah, they wanted me to be printing more copies than Ride or Dig for them to jump ship, which I totally get, it’s kind of common sense, although with Case being free it meant I could guarantee every copy would end up in the hands of a BMXer. Something the others can’t, that was part of it anyways. I guess some of the advertisers felt loyal to Ride and Dig where they had been around for so long… Actually, only Stu and Colin [at Seventies] said that [laughs]. Right, two more questions. Firstly, what have been your mistakes and regrets with Case, if any? And what do you think you’ve achieved and brought to the table with the magazine? Regret is a strong word… [laughs]. Errors of judgment? Is that better? Erm, I would’ve preferred to have had a designer on board from day one. I think that set me back a fair bit. It’s not really anyone’s fault, but I think a key part as to why The Albion is so successful, is because you’re all very friendly with the main UK distros and have known them for years. I basically went into meetings with those guys having never met them, all I had was a cool idea. I think that’s why they were a bit reluctant to fully back the magazine. Other than that, basically, you can’t please all of the people all of the time. Certain people took things a little too seriously, like spelling mistakes, photo choice etc etc. Sometimes I wish I hadn’t even of bothered… I dunno man, some days I wake up and think, ‘yeah, Case is fucking rad’, other days I think ‘what was the point in even starting it?’ I’ve had a headache and been skint for two and a half years. Then I look at what I’ve accomplished and it’s cool. Like, how many people on this planet can say they’ve made seven magazines? Not many. As for what I’ve brought to the table… I suppose I was responsible for the first free ‘extreme’ sports magazine to the market… I’m pretty sure I was anyway. Obviously there are you guys. I don’t think you would be here today if it wasn’t for Case, although I don’t know for certain [laughs]. Tim [March] can say he’s had the free BMX mag idea for years all he wants but I went and did it and that in itself I’m proud about. I don’t think the ‘free’ idea was anyone’s to claim, but you went out and did it, like you said. I am honestly a huge huge fan of The Albion, I can see a pristine copy of every issue on my shelf from where I’m sat. I’m in Pijin on the first of every other month to get it and I sit and read it in the shop, but yeah, there is a part of me that thinks you guys looked at Case and perhaps thought, ‘how can we do this better?’ I don’t blame you for that, I would’ve done the exact same [laughs]. I’m not bitter in the slightest, but I do wish I had a crew of five talented guys with years of experience on my side from day one. I think it showed us to a certain degree that the free model could work. I think we were always going to make a mag. We weren’t really happy where we were, like you weren’t. That’s exactly it, I don’t think for a second you guys thought ‘let’s show this prick how it’s done’ [laughs]. I can 100% assure you that’s not what we thought. Right, anything else to add? Yeah, when/if I stop doing Case, can I send you guys pieces? Deal. Ups and downs, smiles and frowns, my man.
The Albion BMX Magazine Issue 6 Original release date February 1st 2012