Q&A: Daniel Benson / The Albion

In January of this year, news of a new UK based magazine called The Albion dropped.

There hasn’t been too much info regarding the nitty-gritty, so I recently threw some questions at Daniel Benson about it all. Click below to check that out.

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Let’s start off with the heavy question. What lead you guys to start up The Albion?

It was just an accumulation of things that all came together at one time. I’d expressed an interest to George about starting up a small zine after picking up a London based skate zine called Grey and also the excellent Holeshot BMX zine. I liked the size and content of them both and I thought it could be something I could do in my spare time and on my own as well as submitting stuff to Ride. I mentioned it to George on a boozy night out and he to had planning to do something similar. Steve had told me he’d been thinking about leaving Ride (UK) a long long time ago, but I never thought he’d do it. When he did, I started to question what I was doing there, could I see myself doing this in two years? Working for a mag that I wasn’t into anymore? Steve left and for me that was the catalyst to do something different. George and I started talking more about the mag, or mags at that point and Steve also had plans of starting something new, then Tim March, who I knew from the 4130 days of Ride wanted to help out and we pooled all these ideas together and decided to start The Albion.

For those who might not know, give us a break down of who is involved.

George Marshall, Steve Bancroft, Tim March and Rob Loeber.

George, Steve and myself are all shooting stuff, Tim’s sorting out the brands and Rob is designing the whole thing. I feel pretty bad for Rob at the moment as his day job seems pretty hectic, with long hours. Then he has to come home to design this mag.

From the outside looking in, it’s only natural to assume that things must have been really bad or difficult for everyone to just bounce from Ride UK. Would you care to elaborate on that side of things?

To be honest, things were pretty easy at Ride. I was never staff, so I didn’t have to deal with all the usual headaches of deadlines and juggling articles around the mag. I know Steve found it hard at times, it’s not easy putting out a magazine every month. I never had any desire to move up to staff at Ride, I like being freelance and shooting and working on other shit, not just BMX. It keeps it interesting and I don’t get burnt out on riding. It sort of goes back to what I said in that first question ‘Could I see myself doing this in two years?’ Just churning out articles every month. I see a future in this new venture, I know that sounds wet, but I’m 28 now and now seemed like the perfect time to do something new. I’ve got no ties, no mortgage and I’ve been riding for 16 years and submitting stuff to Ride since 2002. If I, or we didn’t do this now we would’ve never done it.

Was it daunting to leave an established magazine and start from scratch?

No, not at all. Its amazing actually, we have a blank canvas and the freedom to take an entirely new approach.

I’m sure you guys are throwing your heart and soul into this new mag, so how is the first issue coming along?

Its going good man, its just daunting thinking about how much we have done and also how much left there is to do. Juggling full time jobs on top of it. We’re making this from our bedrooms. The other night, we all met up at George’s, Rob was laying stuff out, Steve was doing the flat plan whilst George is trying to scan everyone’s negs and having to make pancakes for his girlfriend because it’s Pancake day, or Shrove Tuesday. We worked until 3am that night and I had to be at work at 8am the next day. Its stressful for sure, but also very rewarding. It doesn’t feel like work, even though I’ve never worked so hard. Day to day it seems like we don’t get much done, but then you look back at the end of the week and we’ve done loads.

Would you care to spill the beans on some things we might see in issue 1?

Ahh, we’ve all agreed to stay silent about that! We don’t want to give anything away just yet. It’ll be worth it when you open the mag and its all fresh.

On the press release, it states The Albion is “aimed at reinvigorating BMX media”. From your standpoint, what do you feel is missing out there?

Haha, yeah that sounds pretty militant doesn’t it? BMX magazines have always put out good photos, but a lot of the time that’s at the expense of the writing. It shouldn’t be secondary. There are some really in depth stuff in this first issue, some of it is pretty shocking to be honest, its stuff I can guarantee everyone will read, I feel that mag’s often overlook this. Its too easy to rest on the laurels of good photos, you need to offer something more engaging, as well as these amazing photos.

The thing about the Albion is that it’s the whole package, it’s created as one big thing. The design is consistent and the articles flow together. It looks different, the content is more than just 144 pages of decent photos and I feel its altogether something a bit more considered, grown up if you like, without just aiming at the youngest demographic to bolster revenue. If you just like looking at sweet photos, they’ll be loads in there, but they’ll also be in depth interviews covering topics that I’m sure some people would be uncomfortable talking about, not in a scandalous way, but stuff which people will want to hear about. For all the interviews in the first issue, we (the photographers) all stayed with the people we were interviewing instead of just turning up, shooting a few photos over the course of a few afternoons and then firing over a few boilerplate questions via email. I think that’s what print has an advantage over web, the detail you can get out of situations. It seems a shame to waste that on badly written articles and half assed interviews. Photos too, it’s that one moment when the trick looks its best, seeing that you don’t need to see the rest. At the same time, you can’t fuck with the internet for stuff like news, there’s no need.

On the flip side, Some people might question the need for another BMX mag. What is your response to that?

I think that’s a question people who work at other bmx magazines may say, as there is only so much money in the advertising pot to take out. Its bound to cause friction if we just go out and start another magazine. But this was bound to happen; someone else would’ve done it eventually if we hadn’t. People are so passionate about BMX that if they think something’s wrong with it, or they think they can do something different, they’ll do it. It’s the beauty of it. I’m sure people are real pissed we’ve done this, but I know if they were in our shoes they would’ve done the same thing. The only people that’ll question it are people who might be out of pocket. As far as BMX is concerned its 100% a good thing.

Seeing as Albion follows the “free” business model, how do you guys plan to get it out there?

The Albion will be released on the 1st of every other month starting with April fools day. The magazine is distributed through 4Down, Seventies, CSG, Shiner, Zeal and Mint Distribution who will ensure all their shops get copies. In addition to that, we’re sending mags to mail order shops such as Crucial, The Source, Evans, Custom Riders, Alans, Volt etc and they’ll be sending mags out with every order. All shops that advertise in the Albion will be sent a big stack right away on the 1st, so if you live close to one of those places, go down and pick it up.

For every rider that lives far from a shop, we will be setting up an annual subscriptions package which for a price subscribers will have The Albion posted to their door as soon as it comes out, and some grips and t-shirts thrown in. Subscriptions will be available through our website www.thealbion.cc when its up and running in a few weeks.

The print run for the first issue is 10,000, every one of which is certain to get into the hands of UK riders. Our print bill is £10,800. Its really daunting thinking about money like that. That’s just over a £1 per copy and we’re giving this away for free. It’s all gonna weigh 3.4 tonnes when it’s on the pallets, or 3.4 tonnes of typos as George called it, but I’m sure we’ll iron all that out beforehand, none of us are new to this really. We have decades of publishing experience between us.

Will The Albion reach the states?

I really hope so, we’ve just had to concentrate on the UK for the first issue but I’m really keen to get it over to the U.S. Subscriptions will be available so anyone who doesn’t live in the UK will be able to get it that way. We’ll post it anywhere, not just the U.S.

I’m stoked that you guys have a photographer heavy crew, which is all good in my book. Will you guys be able to take advantage of that and experiment more than before?

Hopefully, yeah, but at the same time I’m keen to make sure we experiment in all avenues of the mag. Like I mentioned before, I’m keen not to rest too much simply on good and interesting photos.

Finally, What does Albion mean, and how did you settle on that name?

Well, there’s two reasons. The short one is that it’s the pub we used to meet up in outside of Winchester train station, the one where all the drunks congregate and the second reason is that ‘Albion’ is the oldest known name for Britain. We thought that was sort of fitting, seen as we all live here and are quite proud about it. Its also quite idealistic, as its often used to describe Britain in a positive way.

I’m looking forward to meeting up at The Albion for issue two actually, I miss those journeys down there to meet Tim and Banners. It was like a day out.

Thanks for your time. Anything you care to add before we wrap this up?

Just thanks to all the advertisers who have backed us from the get go. It means a lot to us, when I get bogged down with it all and it seems too much I have to remind myself that there’s a lot of people who have come forward to support this. George heard that some kid at a Skatepark had made his own homemade Albion t-shirt, its stuff like that which is good to hear.

Also, for all those who can, come to the launch party on the 31st of March at the Macbeth in East London. We’ll have the mag there and also since its open to the public aswell, they’ll be girls there, so it won’t just be the usual sausage fest. Thursday nights are usually pretty wild in east London, so it should be a good one. Thanks!

16 responses to “Q&A: Daniel Benson / The Albion”

  1. joe cox says:

    mint

  2. Joshua says:

    That current magazines don’t put enough effort into articles and interviews is definitely true. The two Rides have both let down on quality and gone in such a commercialized direction, it’s really a bummer to read them lately. Very awesome that you guys are going to start putting out a magazine more focused on the written content.

  3. tom perry says:

    Definitely looking forward to a good read when this first issue drops!

  4. mikey moore says:

    very exciting venture!! best of luck and cant wait to be able to subscribe down here in oz. cheers

  5. James Cox says:

    Yes Benson! Can’t wait to see the finished mag!

  6. c4tini says:

    well I mate. make sure cycle centre get some in newcastle.

  7. bmxmdb says:

    Really looking forward to this, hope the writing is as good as they say, some current magazines are just embarrassing on this front.

  8. Tom Arkus says:

    Looking forward to seeing this! Keep on shredding them papers.

  9. The Count says:

    Can’t wait for the mag lads, sounds ill. see you’s on the 31st

  10. Jonas says:

    Will be subscribing from Belgium as soon as it launches! With these guys involved it can only be great!
    Good luck on making that deadline, guys!

  11. mario says:

    awesome! – Get it to New York please!

  12. Ken says:

    Nooo, i spot justified text twice in the mock ups. If it is mean to be read then you better be a typographer genius with that. Otherwise I’m really excited about this; should be such a positive influence that bmx needs.

  13. I want this magazine so bad. The print stuff that comes out of the UK has consistently been of a higher quality both photography-wise and as far as the articles go in the last five years and the scene is so good but so overlooked here in the States. Anybody remember TwentyBMX? That had a good layout and great pics but fell short in the actual article side, and goes to show you how hard it is to establish a mag that lasts.

  14. Kai says:

    YESBOSS!!!

  15. tom says:

    Sounds sick, love the kind of skate zines you say were an influence. I’ve just subscribed and am very much looking forward to that first issue landing on my door mat.

  16. Lester says:

    A financial advisor is your planning associate.

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