Plan B Magazine #0.5 – What happens when the hipsters no longer believe in unicorns?
Slightly taken aback by the number of re-Tweets about this series, so I thought I’d post the second issue up now rather than wait a few days.
(Once again, if you can’t be bothered to read all the words that follow, the link to the download is at the bottom.)
Here’s the editorial from the second issue of Plan B Magazine. We called it #0.5 because I was still unsure we were going live. In retrospect (and probably also at the time) it seems absurd, but we didn’t want to commit to a proper numbering sequence until we had all the elements in place: a sales team, an ads team, an office, regular pay, national and international distribution… all of these were some way off still, hence the reticence.
The cover was a total no-brainer. I’d long been in awe of Frances’ meticulous and evocative writing, and – simply – we all loved Joanna Newsom. (I think this might have been the first time she featured on a magazine cover.) For the first issue we’d totally gone back and forth on the cover artist, at various times favouring my article on Norwich’s oblique and inspirational Kaito, Jon Dale’s look back on The Pastels, future Plan B editor Louis Pattison on Lightning Bolt (we held off on that because we felt we were a fraction late), The Von Bondies (ET again: too negative) and Spektrum (too much Everett True)… indeed, I think we mocked up covers featuring all of the above, which I’ll try and track down from Andrew at some point. In the end we chose Chicks On Speed, partly because we loved ’em but mostly because we wanted to make a statement: the Andrew Clare illustration on the front, and the way the Miss AMP article was structured and written, the flow of the interview underneath complimenting the ‘think’ piece. Anyway, back to issue 0.5.
Already, most of our headlines were lower-case and quite often, it seemed, smaller than the actual text they were drawing attention to. But that was Plan B all over: lower-case people. The editorial team was very much in a state of flux: looking back on it I’m still in awe at how much of people’s time they gave, freely, to help us. I fondly recall Live Editor Gracelette’s fearsome editing skills, and no-nonsense approach to writers who exceeded word lengths. Stewart Gardiner was someone else I met once, and throughly impressed me. Beth Capper was an ace intern. Daniel Trilling came via Chris, I believe (and later ended up at the New Statesman), Pil and Galia were enthusiasts and curators from the CTCL days, Alex Capes did a wonderful job looking after the website at a time when everyone was focused on print… Chris will have to clue me in on some of the sales team. I love the look of these early Void pages (spot an early mention for future Plan B cover stars Smoosh, from David McNamee). The design on the albums and live pages incidentally quickly got copied by several other music magazines. Beautiful fucking Le Tigre illustration. And whoa… wait… is that Kieron Gillen and Ian Svenonius rounding out the issue for us? Nice.
I love this line from Frances, with regards to Joanna: “What happens when the hipsters no longer believe in unicorns?”
Friday 20 August
Tonight! Oh my god. Two shows in Brighton within five minutes’ walk of each other – and both so incredible. Joanna Newsom makes all the girls go weak at the knees and the boys dreamy-eyed with pleasure at the harp and a cappella shouting.
Rush over to The Beach with Ben Blackwell in tow, for The Dirtbombs’ second night. Oh my god. There are 20 of us fanatics down the front, during one equipment breakdown taking on the entire song with just drum support – Ben and Pat on fucken fire – and, well… it’s how I always want my rock’n’roll to be. Spontaneous, raw, brutal and mod (check the narrow lapels next to me). Vincent does his French boogie, and many cigarettes are smoked. The encores were entirely gratuitous and very much appreciated.
Life lurches in fits and starts between long periods of abject boredom and a welter of activity culminating in performing the songs of Mr Daniel Treacy in front of a crowd of mildly interested indie sorts in a queer-themed Belfast nightclub. I tell a story of prison boats off the shore of England. I tell a tale of a punk band that once supported Nirvana, big show, big date, big chance – and slowed all their songs down to third-speed to fuck off the grunge kids. I speak of beauty, and try to emulate what I speak of, through the sound of my voice singing words of defiance and outsider status, love and heartbreak.
The sound you hear is silence rushing around my head, concentration and good humour broken by yet another sleepless night spent fermenting plots of revenge against everyone I know, but especially my friends.
I vow to stop writing.
I vow to stop listening to music.
I vow to move to Australia.
I vow to never leave my house again.
I vow to be like Howe Gelb, and be loved only for my sensitive brutality.
The sound you hear is the silence of my basement, broken only by the rumble of distant cars and trains, a clock ticking on the kitchen wall. I spend one week in a hazy largesse of train journeys and insomnia: many men with nice smiles give me CDs and seven-inch singles, some of which are even by bands I like. Many men with nice smiles pat me on the back (not literally) and tell me how good Plan B looks, like they have any fucking right. Many men with nice smiles buy Chris Houghton and I food, and I realise that Chris has a nicer smile than all of them combined. The only parable I remember from the age of 10 runs thus: the smile you see is on the face of a tiger. I am hailed as a prodigal son in Rough Trade Records – outside of which I once danced my ass off to the sweet sounds of The Violent Femmes on their debut acoustic busking tour of London: outside of which I once busked myself as The Legend! And The Swinging Soul Sisters, regaling passers-by with a cappella versions of ‘Papa Was A Rolling Stone’.
I am given a James Kochalka single, for which I am very grateful, because it is – indeed – exactly what you’d expect. I meet two dudes from Fatcat Records on the rooftop café of Brighton’s Duke Of York cinema, and they exchange gossip about Sigur Rós. On the way, Chris engineers a moment
whereby his mobile rings and we’re offered a full-page clothing ad for Plan B. I accuse him of getting an intern to call.
Another evening, I DJ at an architecture party in Farringdon – Electric Six, Throbbing Gristle, Dance Disorder Movement – and try to live up to my reputation for being a mean drunk. One man is excited to hear Shock-headed Peters.
The sound you hear is the gorgeous, inflamed tone of Ms Rachel Nagy of Detroit Cobras, sweating and sweltering but never once losing her poise. Steve Gullick phones, to let me know Plan B looks like Careless Talk Costs Lives from the back: and it’s lacking him. I tell him I know that already. Steve drunkenly emails the forum to complain at both our magazine and Bright Eyes – he doesn’t do this overtly, but I’m fully aware of his intentions. I like Steve.
After a Plan B night at Borders, a bearded man who produces television pilots suggests I drop a copy over to the Sussex Arts Club where
mainstream critic Julie Burchill has a residency. He thinks she’ll hold court. Lovely. I also enjoy films made about people who make films. Not. Through familiarity, eager media students taking notes of my lecture bullshit no longer disconcert me.
Life slows down to a crawl.
I’m stuck on a train up to London. I’m stuck in London. I’m stuck playing a Gameboy on a train stuck somewhere in London. I want to throw some words in about beauty – beauty and the riotous, geeky, pure dancing of the two brothers from Herman Düne with their stories and travail, and their chugging stop-start rhythms and four-second guitar solos and clouds of cigarette pluming above their bearded, beautiful heads, and their laconic dry wit and inflamed harmonies, and the way everything got stripped so gentle, so beautiful, during that cover of Tom Waits with the singing saw…
I had Herman Düne pinned down as somewhere between mediocre and Belle And Sebastian but – oh my god, the laconic wit, the brief brutal-sweet interludes of plangent guitar ringing like The Modern Lovers raised on a solid diet of The Velvet Underground, like all the dream New Zealand bands of the Eighties back for one last great hurrah, the brothers Herman dancing so gracefully, beer bellies hanging out, and tales of debauched weed-infested train journeys and remembered loves seeping out, the harmonies so fucking beautiful. It’s like Calvin J and Jonathan R and all your other cool male friends got together and decided not to scare you, only make you happy-sad with the cute, ghostly wonderment of life.
Someone grabs my hand. It’s my wife, and we’re dancing to the Sixties sound of Brighton’s own Phil Spector-tribute act, The Pipettes (matching polka-dot outfits, hand movements, perfect two-minute self-aggrandising pop songs and all).
Man, I’m a fucking lucky bastard sometimes.
Keep the roaring silence away.
Everett True, Editor-In-Chief
You can download the second issue of Plan B Magazine (#0.5) for free, at this link.