“It is with great sadness that we announce that Alternative Ulster was unsuccessful in securing Arts Council funding for 2012/2013. As a result, AU Magazine is being put on hiatus. The website will continue to be run on a voluntary basis, and AU will continue to promote the best of Northern Irish and Irish music, culture and lifestyle in every way it possibly can.”
I was so, so saddened when AU magazine editor Chris Jones broke this news earlier this week. For the past nine years – and especially the five or six that I’ve been reading it – AU has been a beacon of Irish music journalism, setting a bar that no other Irish magazine came close to reaching in terms of the quality of writing, the beauty of its design and the scope of both music and non-music features alike that it covered. And it was free. FREE! It’s the sort of magazine you’d pay good money for in any other country, which makes it seems doubly bloody unfair that such a quality magazine falls by the wayside, when there’s so much inferior crap being published elsewhere.
On a personal note, I feel extra sad, because AU were one of the first magazines to take me under their wing when I was a rookie music journo. Former editor Francis Jones took a chance on me, and gave me feature assignments with big bands when no one else would. Chris has been equally generous and supportive since he took over the reins a few years ago. I had my first-ever cover feature – an huge milestone in any journalist’s career – with AU in 2008. In recent years I haven’t contributed more than the odd feature and a smattering of reviews to every issue, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading it cover-to-cover whenever it landed in the stack by Tower Records’ front door every month, and I’ve been proud to have my name associated with it for so long. For a magazine that’s run on what I assume is a comparatively tiny amount of advertising revenue (along with the now rescinded grant) and a hell of a lot of goodwill, it has been an amazing achievement.
So I want to publicly thank publisher and editor-in-chief Jonny Tiernan, Chris, Francis and everyone else involved behind the scenes with AU for their amazing hard work in keeping the magazine going for so long. The website (http://www.iheartau.com) will continue on a voluntary basis, but here’s hoping there’s some way back at some point in the future.
At the risk of sounding like a complete bore (sorry, I will stop going on about it, promise), I recently had the pleasure of meeting the man behind my favourite album in a long, long time. I did a rushed pre-gig interview for AU magazine with John Grant when he played The Button Factory the other week. I thought I’d try to find some non-idiotic/sycophantic way of explaining to him how much I loved the album, but I ended up just mumbling something half-witted and moved on to the first question. He was friendly and funny (and tall) and talked about his plans for Queen of Denmark‘s follow-up. You can read it after the jump.
Originally published in AU Magazine, November 2010
IT’S NOT every day that you get to hurl the phrase ‘fuck you’ with gusto down a phone line to a celebrity. It’s even less likely that the object of your outburst will respond with friendly enthusiasm. Then again, it’s not every day that you get to talk to the man behind one of the hottest singles of 2010 – thankfully, of the same expletive-focused title.
Originally published in AU magazine, March 2010
LET’S BE frank for just a moment. When you think of Sigur Rós, arguably one of the most cerebral bands of the 21st century – a band whom the word ‘ethereal’ was seemingly devised solely to describe – you don’t necessarily expect them to be captivating conversationalists. Harsh? Well, try sticking ‘Sigur Rós Radio Interview Disaster’ into Google, witness the stultifyingly awkward ‘discussion’ that followed on NPR in 2007, bear in mind that this is a band who regularly sing in a made-up language, and then tell us that you’d like to be stuck in an elevator with them for an hour.
Originally published in AU Magazine, May 2010
BRIAN BORCHERDT IS single-handedly destroying his band’s reputation as a carefully-managed, well-oiled and complex music-making machine. “Rehearse?,” he laughs down a phone line from New York City. “Nah, we don’t really rehearse.”
Originally published in AU magazine, February 2009
I’M SITTING in a restaurant in trendy Shoreditch, London, with one of the most popular British bands of the past decade. “Oooh, Rhubarb Crumble” says Alex Kapranos, gleefully eyeing the menu just handed to him by a star-struck waiter. “That sounds amazing. Can I have some of that, please?”