Britain's best alt-magazine joins Loaded and Maxim in the lad's mag graveyard.
I first read Front Magazine in 2007. I was on a train coming back from Paris after a holiday with my girlfriend's family. I spent the entire journey covering my mouth in case my girlfriend's mum heard me laughing and asked what I was reading.
'Tits and jokes about penises' wouldn't have been a good answer.
This was just after Joe Barnes had taken over as editor, and I finally felt like I had found a magazine that spoke just to me. It was full of swearing, tattoos, skateboarding and the self-depreciating toilet humour that Blink-182 became famous for.
Over the next seven years I bought Front religiously. Travelling in India in 2010 I only spoke to my mum to order her to make sure I had a stack of Fronts waiting for me when I got home. After a shitty lecture at university, my mood would be buoyed by the knowledge that a new Front was out and I'd spend all afternoon in bed, eating biscuits and laughing.
The features were brilliant. A stand out was a question of the month page at the beginning of the mag. My favourite question - 'If I shoot a bomb, will it explode?'. Another feature walked you through a house party, breaking down what was happening in each room. The best of them all was 'Britain's biggest Cunts' on the back page. The first page I read and the best back page of any magazine (whoever decided Front was getting the axe goes straight in at the top of the list, no questions asked).
It was at Front where I got my first bit of work experience. Walking into the office, I felt like I was meeting my idols. The magazine was now under the editorship of Steve Beech and the whole team couldn't have been lovlier. I was there for two weeks and had to organize a feature on burgers, and another on pizza which meant we ate like pigs/kings. Another part of my work experience involved me taking part in the infamous 'Workie Challenge' or 'Wookie Challenge' as I had to dress up like Chewbacca and dick about in Soho (in June no less).
The height of my work experience adventures came when I had to down a bottle of mulled wine through a funnel, before hitting the pub. I later learned this wine was 'bum wine'. I still don't know what that meant, but it tasted like shit. We'd also spent all afternoon drinking cocktails and shooting water pistols off the roof.
After uni I came back for a month's internship. The same team were still there and it was like seeing friends again. More drinking happened. I interviewed Ghostface Killah and Jeremy Jones. At the end of my month there I applied for a staff job. I didn't get it, but when I moved back to London it was Mike Rampton at Front who sent a few freelance jobs my way. One job involved me going off to the country to train with ex-SAS blokes as we prepared to storm an old school. In true Front fashion, I had to wear a dinosaur mask. Fatigued by the day's activities, the dinosaur mask decided to stay on the train when I got off at Victoria. (Sorry guys).
A fellow freelancer recalled a conversation with a Front editor who told him he couldn't have work in Front and their rival in the same month. My friend replied, 'fair enough, they pay more and they pay within a week.' But while it was sometimes very difficult to get paid by Front, it was a joy to do freelance for them. Nowhere else gave you such freedom to dick about and write things like 'f*cky w*nk b*ll*cks' as a legitimate sentence.
Front were always the scrappy underdogs. They didn't have a big publisher behind them, but they did have a fistful of booze, some rad tattoos and the hottest models working in any magazines ever. With the decline of Front, the magazine spectrum just got a little bit less colourful. With the decline of Front, a whole multitude of dudes and dudettes have lost their favourite magazine. The loss of Front is an offence to good taste, but for those of us who've religiously bought the mag and even got to know the team, Front will live on, not least in the stacks of old mags piled high in our bedrooms. Front, you'll be sorely missed.
God bless H.M.S Front and all who sailed in her.