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A new music weekly takes on the might of the NME.Self-proclaimed as “The World’s Only Weekly Rock’n’Roll Paper”, there’s a manic energy about the recently launched Artrocker that reeks of unwashed T-shirts, lager for breakfast, overflowing ashtrays and whatever gets you through the night as deadlines loom. It’s the Lester Bangs school of rock journalism: self-referential, riff-addicted and gig-obsessed, all for £1 a pop.
Blood Group & Mando Diao
This lot are busy bastards: before the paper there was, and still is, Artrocker’s weekly bands’n’laffs club night at Islington’s Buffalo Bar. Then there’s Artrocker the label, with acts including The Gin Palace, Ten Benson, Mighty Fraff, Electric Shocks, The Hells and The Hotwires. There’s also the infamous Artrocker website, forever baiting the enemy: a complacent, bloated music press. “Music magazines are uniformly crap,” says Tom Artrocker, a self-described “ragged trousered rock’n’roll philanthropist in Cuban heels”. Tom’s been championing new rock’n’roll for a good while, formerly with his much lauded Sausage Machine club in West Hampstead during the late 80s and early 90s.
Alongside fellow Artrockers Paul Cox and Mark Sallis, Tom’s motivation for starting their new Artrocker publication was born of “frustration at the state of the UK's only remaining [music] weekly”, while aiming “to encourage rock’n’roll in all its brash exuberance and to ignore indie miserablism”. According to Tom, he and his band of merry mischief-makers also aim to “shake up the consensus from time to time”. “People get too cosy,” he says.
The paper doesn’t have the cushion of a huge editorial team. Theirs is a skeletal, fanzine-sized staff of six (although Tom maintains Artrocker is “absolutely not” a fanzine). The first issue proudly featured a full colour photo of these disaffected ne’er do wells burning copies of the NME, while Tom recently launched an attack on the NME’s alleged endorsement of crack-smoking in hailing Pete Doherty top of the IPC weekly’s spurious 50 coolest people list. “I live in Brixton amidst the tragedy of crack addiction,” says Tom. “For the NME to declare it cool is the last straw.”
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Avowedly rock’n’roll to their bones, the Artrocker organization is most certainly not about seamless beat mixing and ecstasy, as Tom explains, referring to, of all things, Artrocker’s imminent arrival in Topshop. “Well it looks like that’ll happen,” he says. “We’re keen to have a presence with Topshop because we share a client base - young people who care about how they look. It’s also important to guide these people away from pill munching and into our world of brash dash.”
Artrocker appear to walk the talk. It’s time for the kids on the high street to decide whose top of the music weeklies.
Artrocker is on sale now.
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