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To be honest there's not an easy way of saying this so i'll say it quickly - the journey that started back in June 1999 has come to an end in 2014. Designer Magazine is officially no more!

Why? I had to get out while I still love music. Whilst I know there have been some great bands that played for us in 2013 that I believe 100% will go all the way...I simply couldn't face another year of last minute pullouts, no shows and bands not having the respect to stick around for the other band on the bills sets.

Its been so enjoyable the past couple of weeks - listening to music just for the joy of being a fan of music



A lot of the younger bands won't know about the website side of things that literally used to attract 10-15,000 readers a week at it's peak (1999-2006)

I started Designer Magazine in college in May 1999 and it launched on Geocities hosting the month after. City College was a great breeding ground for talent and we were taught all we needed to know about the music industry by Phil Ellis (RIP).

At the time we were only 1 of 2 music websites in the city, the other being Manchester Music that started around the same time.

It seems a lifetime ago, but I got to interview some of my favourite bands such as My Chemical Romance, Dead Prez, Panic! At The Disco; politicians I admire like George Galloway, Tony Benn, David Hilliard of The Black Panthers; TV stars such as Noel Fielding (The Mighty Boosh), Dara O'Brain, stars of the League Of Gentlemen and many other comedies.

Seriously look at www.designermagazine.org archives - the names above are personal faves, but there's some massive names on there

Loads of people helped us in this period - but the ones that stand out as massive massive helps are Rob, Ursula and Sarah from Pomona; Ian Cheek; Mike and Warren from Infected. Thank you so much!!!


The gigs were just a happy accident that kind of became our main thing for the past 10 years

Initially there was only to be 1 gig a year from our 5th Birthday Onwards, but I got such a buzz from it they continued to the point where I ended up doing 6 gigs a month

When we started the manchester music scene was in much better health. Pre-recession in 2004 it was the norm when a Tuesday night at Night & Day would be nearly sold out. The barriers to entry for bands then were a lot higher so the quality was higher - myspace had only just kicked off then and bands more often than not would pay for recording and CDs before getting a gig. Pull outs happened about once every 3-4 months rather than once a week, because bands had invested so much in the band before they'd even stepped on stage

Hungry Pigeon Festival with 3 other promoters was without a doubt the biggest thing we did gigwise. A multi-venue festival right in the heart of Manchester including a massive outdoor stage in Piccadilly Gardens. Looking back it was outstounding what we did on an ambitious level!

The rest you know - Bombay Bicycle Club, Kids In Glass Houses, Dear Eskiimo (The Ting Tings), Athlete, The Heartbreaks, Drive Like I Do (The 1975) et all. You've read the list many times and the class of 2013 will add to that list with time!!

Thanks in a very big way to Matt Johnson of TCB:Live for helping us kickstart the gigs initially... and thanks to all the venues we've worked with over the years. Roadhouse in particular. Great venue!

1st thing I want on historical record re: the All Ages Gigs is.... they simply wouldn't have happened had El Policia and Little Engine not existed!

I think it was the same week I first heard those 2 bands and I knew I had to find a way to put them on. At the time All Ages gigs didn't really happen in Manchester unless it was the Academy Unsigned gigs (those gigs were shit then, they are still shit now).

Bar Amp were the venue that took the challenge on and the legacy still lives on from those gigs. 2 years of 20 musicians a month taking to the stage and they're now spread around the country at Uni's writing music and playing live. The most well known name from those All Ages gigs is probably Findlay (who used to play acoustically for us under her full name Natalie Findlay), but I think the true legacy is the sheer number of people who played for us who are involved in music still. They include gig promoters, music teachers, venue bookers.

It was at this time as well that the very nucleus of Support The Scene was set in my mind. All Ages Gigs embodied that ideology that music fans would turn up regardless of which bands were playing - they just wanted to experience new music and have a good time - and importantly the fans stuck around for all the bands on the bill. To this day a lot of over 18s music fans could learn a lot from this time!

Oh - and not forgetting the Olympic Torchbearing experience. Genuinely one of the best and strangest moments of my life. I got nominated by Chris Reddy for the reason "I put gigs on that make people happy" and really didn't expect to be selected at all. I knew what i'd done with the all ages gigs and provided a great opportunity, but out of all the people in the country I didn't expect a gig promoter or somebody involved in music to get a look in - music was always sidelined for sports by the Educators when I was at school so it was never going to happen surely

Well, it did happen!

Somehow off the back of a tweet that too 10 seconds to write I ended up on the BBC Breakfast TV sofa talking to 1.5 million. I lost 5 stone in weight. I ran with the torch in Buxton in front of 25,000+ people. I spent an hour having my photo taken with strangers. Bizarre but happy!

Thanks to Sam Wall, Al Wheatley and Hugh Thomas (El Policia); Callum and Ben (Little Engine); Neil and Simon at Bar Amp; Chris Reddy for giving me my 5 minutes of fame as a torchbearer


Simply put - The Mandigans are on my list of my favourite bands of all time!

Somehow while my other fave bands of all time - you know, the likes of The Smiths, The Manics, Public Enemy, Orlando, My Chemical Romance, The Clash - were talking politics, depression, self-mutilation, self-loathing - this band came into my radar on their first gig for us. They we're the polar opposite of all my favourite bands. They weren't angry. They weren't depressed. They didn't have any grand statements. They just wrote great timeless guitar-pop songs that made people happpy and that was more than enough!

I managed them after their first 2 gigs and stayed with them until their split. Looking back we achieved so so much. Supports slots with Example, their own gigs in South Manchester to hundreds, the Skins Beach Party gig to 700+ people.

And it was all done on near zero budget and word of mouth marketing. Literally the flyers were hand guillotined by myself, the word of mouth came direct from the fans spreading the word and handing flyers out and putting posters up in their home towns. There was no PR company or radio plugger yet they remain the youngest band to do a National XFM Radio Session, fans made their own homemade T-shirt and perhaps the bizarrest sight was seeing girls banging on takeaway windows and screaming. Fever point. At the time what were considered cooler indie bands were paying hundreds for pr and pluggers and playing to audiences 10% of the size of what the Mandigans did

The only tragedy was they didn't achieve what I felt they should. A number 1 single, album and arena tour should have been theirs. I genuinely believe that songs like "Girl Next Door" and "In The Morning" were worthy of that.

The music industry is fucked up like that!

Thanks to Tom, George, Henry, Matt, Mike, Ric, Lesley, Howard, Corinne, Seamus and the whole Mandigans family


Thank you for the music - please keep on with Support The Scene and keep the legacy flying!

Sorry if I missed out anybody above - I couldn't include everybody we worked with.

This is My Truth, Tell Me Yours. A Design For Life

Alex Designer Magazine

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All Interviews by Alex McCann unless otherwise stated
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