26 April 2011


A few months ago an Orient fan who was watching the O's at Withdean picked up a copy of TSLR.  He liked it a lot, and as he was a writer decided to do a piece about the new breed of football fanzines for Loaded Magazine.

In keeping with the magazine's brand values, the writer decided to fill the pages with the biggest pair of tits he could find, so was quick to get on the phone to us two Co-editors at TSLR HQ.

The original interview is below, you may find it of mild interest, and the feature has been published this month and we'll stick some scans up on here later.

Loaded : When did you start your zine? Why? (give me a potted history of how and why it came to be...)

TSLR : A load of things all came together in the summer of 2008; firstly the pair of us are best friends and have been since we were 7 or so, we’re also massive Albion fans and journalism graduates in our mid-twenties so we had the time to do it.  If you’re into football and writing then you should be into fanzines, and we certainly were.  Albion are lucky to have a rich fanzine heritage but nothing had been produced for about a decade, so over a pint in a backstreet pub in Manchester (TSLR is co-edited between Manchester and London, not Brighton) we decided to take the plunge.  People thought we wouldn’t last but we’re still here 3 years later, it’s extremely hard work and we’re indebted to our contributors, but we have a lot of fun doing it regardless of the effort.  It’s a special time for the fans at the moment, there’s a lot of love about, so it’s great to be part of that.

Loaded :  Wasn't the internet supposed to kill off paper zines by now? Why do you think they've survived? What do you think they offer that, say, forums/blogs don't?

TSLR : The internet was a major factor, but so were a load of other things – football changed so much in the early to mid 90s, the hooligan thing died, terraces were knocked down, football grounds weren’t so angry and intimidating anymore and alternative football writing was in the broadsheets and glossy magazines.  Fanzines were often the only alternative news outlet for fans, the internet killed that aspect because you didn’t need to wait until Saturday to hear the news the local rag or ceefax weren’t going to run, you’d just log on to your forum and bosh, it’s all there.

The ones that survived, and there’s not many, are now 20 plus years old, so it’s ingrained in the fan culture of their club.  Engaging with people who remember fanzines and used to buy them is not that difficult, but try and flog one to an 18 year old with an iPhone and they look at you like you’re trying to sell them knocked-off porn DVDs.

Fanzines were once the norm but with us some people ask why we bother, what’s the need for a fanzine? etc, but if they don’t get it then so-be-it.  Sometimes when people see things that are different they stay away from them, they’re happy with their News of the World football supplement, our biggest challenge has been getting people to give it a try.

We’re new though, we do things differently.  We embrace the DIY ethos of fanzines, but we do TSLR on Macs using Adobe InDesign, everything is emailed, it’s digitally printed and we nick pictures from Google.  We have traditional elements, but we also have contemporary parts too, more akin to an actual magazine, like an off-beat version of the official programme.  Design is important to us, we have an in-house artist who does our covers, Brighton’s a deeply creative town and that should be reflected.

Loaded : If you sell outside your club on matchday, how many people normally purchase one? What is the average buyer of your zine like? (age, sex, etc)

TSLR : A real mix.  You get the fans who remember our contemporaries and support the role of a fanzine, you get some younger people who are more inclined to try something different and then you get the people inbetween who are willing to pay a measly pound for a bit of reading on their way home from the game or to leave in their khazi at home.  Our contributors are different ages so we hope there’s appeal across the board, the syntax is pretty easy to get your head round and even our parents know what LOL means these days.  The only thing that gets us is that kids in their mid-teens don’t seem that interested, they’re the future of the club so we need to try harder with them.  We were going to make some badges that said GULLY SOLD ME KET to wean them in but the club might ban us if we portray the mascot as a dealer.

Loaded :  Has your club ever being involved in any campaigns/influenced the politics of your club? If so, what is that?

TSLR : We’ll promote anti-homophobic things, and the club seem to be on the ball with that too, some of the fans seem less bothered but we feel we should raise awareness so we’ve worked with people like the Justin Campaign in the past.

Loaded :  Have you ever had any contact with the club? What do they make of your zine? Do they approve or not? Have any players encountered it?

TSLR : We have had contact yes, of course, and they let us get on with it without hindrance and we appreciate that.  Our club was saved by the fans in the mid-90s and the fanzines were a huge part of communicating what was happening, absolutely huge.  An ex-editor of a fanzine in the 90s is the clubs press officer now so there’s a mutual respect there, he has helped us out a few times so that’s good.  In one respect it’s nice working with the club, but our independence is more important, we have to be impartial otherwise what’s the point?   

Loaded : Do you think physical football zines will exist in another five years? What do you think your zine will look like?

TSLR : Absolutely, print media isn’t dead, that’s a fallacy, but editors of fanzines need to be smart and produce a good mag.  We are moving with the times too, selling fanzines at the ground is still top priority but we have a blog and twitter that are proving popular and next season you’ll be able to get TSLR on your Kindle or iPhone.  Our sales have grown steadily since our inception so there’s an appetite that’s for sure, next year we will triple our home crowds with our new stadium and god knows where we’ll be in 5 years.  The digital stuff is interesting but it’s in support of the fanzine, not in place of it.  Blogs are easy to set up, everyone has one, but you try publishing a magazine, not easy but a hundred times more fun.

I would like to think other clubs will start publishing new fanzines, I’d like to see  younger guys get involved and there’s certainly a trend for fanzines in music and art again so why not football?  Just last month there were 2 new high quality football magazines launched, the market is there so this impetus will hopefully trickle down to club level and we’ll have a second fanzine boom.

We have evolved TSLR over 3 years in terms of how it looks, but it’s always been A5 size and black and white.  If we went full colour and glossy then I think some of the magic is lost, then we look like the official programme and that’s the last thing we want.  We’re toying with a colour cover though now, that’s a big decision for us to make which sounds stupid but fanzines are scruffy little buggers, Tatler it aint, we have some soul searching to do that’s for sure!

Loaded : Do you have contacted with other editors of zines? What are said relationships like?

TSLR : Not so much, no.  We had the editor of the Palace fanzine guest edit one edition – we called it The Seaweed Love Review (Palace’s derogatory name for us) and the issue was themed around our spiteful, but wonderful rivalry.  There used to be an annual fanzine awards but that’s gone kaput and it wasn’t particularly well organised or interesting to be fair.  We love fanzines though and always buy them when we see them, we hope that works vice versa too but communications are minimal.  There’ still some sort of collective spirit there though, we interviewed a bloke from Plymouth Argyle’s fanzine the other day to get the inside story on their recent troubles at Home Park.  We’re a club that was reliant on other club’s fans when we were in trouble so when we can help others we will.

Loaded : What is it that still makes you do it? Respect by the way!

TSLR :When somebody you’ve never met sends you an article which they have put time and effort into just because they love the Albion and have something to say then you’re obliged to keep it going.  Equally, when you get a compliment from people, that’s nice too, you feel like you’re doing something useful and adding a bit of colour to our fan culture.  Deep down though we just love fanzines, there’s no better feeling than getting the fresh ones from the printers, it’s nerdy but hey, we’re fanzine people and TSLR is ace, we’re very proud of it, typos and all!

Loaded : What's your favourite football zine now/ever? Why?

Some fanzines are really boring, that’s the truth, so we like ones with some bollocks.  Albion’s longest running publication was Gulls Eye, they had everything; news, humour, great cartoons, but mainly they were brave.  They were sued by the football club, they helped get the rats out of the boardroom and the fans relied on the stories they published in our darkest days so big respect to them.  Scars and Stripes took fanzines to the next level with colour and superior page design in the late 90s, so that was interesting too.  I should also mention people like Junior Boys Own who have just had a retrospective printed, we wish we were that ‘acid house’, and also – through gritted teeth – Palace’s Eagle Eye from the 80s had some classic fanzine design.

No comments: