As Scene Magazine celebrates its 1,000th edition, we hear from the 3 most influential editors in the title's 20 year history.
GARETH BRYANT (2010 ~ Present)
As a fresh-faced journalism/ honours graduate in December 2001 I arrived at Scene for a three-month summer internship that morphed into the role of editor many years later.
While the company still occupies the same office space, it was a different time — the machinery was certainly last century; five minutes was the waiting time for the staff writer computer to start-up; gig listings arrived via fax; and our photo database consisted of thousands of hardcopy photos and negative slides (I was given the task of sorting them alphabetically one day — hours of fun).
But I was soon introduced to a world where a passion and love for music could find a home; shaped by the guidance of editor Pat Whyte and deputy editor Marc Grimwade, I worked alongside fellow staff writer — the always beaming Cosmo Cater.
It was a game changer when we welcomed Mr Dan Evans — a man who only needs to walk into a room to be noticed — as arts editor in 2006. The role is currently held by Majella McMahon (the baking queen of the office) who expanded upon her fashion repertoire to step into the arts editor shoes.
Then there was the production staff — a mixed bag of all-sorts — lead by the eternally optimistic production whiz Patrick Herlihy (said with a healthy dose of sarcasm — love ya work, Paddy) who reigned for a decade plus.
To fellow editor and staff writer Rohan Williams; aside from bringing all manner of cool to the office with his immense pop culture knowledge and passion for cinema, he makes putting out a weekly title so much easier.
There will be names I miss ... but special mention to Mark Strugar’s continual cheerful outlook as the man fronting the advertising department in early 2012 who gave me hope the magazine could/ would ride out the storm.
In 2013, street press battles social media and the rampant advancement of technology yet every Monday we knock over another issue, making deadline and getting a fresh serving of underground and independent music, arts and entertainment to the streets.
Finally, I’m mighty proud to work alongside a man whose vision to fill the lack of street press coverage for dance music 20 years ago has created a local insitution across all forms of music: a guide to what’s what locally, nationally and internationally.
Howard: you have more guts, determination, persistence, honesty and balls than anyone else I’ve encountered in this industry — I look forward to many more production Mondays as we continue to hit the streets every Wednesday.
PAT WHYTE (1998 ~ 2008)
1,000 issues of Scene Magazine. Wow. Think about it - 50 odd issues a year. That is one amazing achievement. When I was editor from 1998-2008 that milestone seemed a long way off.
I still look back fondly on the many good times I had at Scene’s Fortitude Valley headquarters and I’m very proud of the work we did and the content myself and a moving cast of colleagues and contributors got up. There were bloody great challenges along the way to be sure, but it really was a joy to go to work each day. How lucky was I to have a job like that!
But enough about me, the accolades must go to one Howard Duggan, the publisher of Scene Magazine. He is the man.
He’s been driving this thing for all these years, through thick and thin, the joys and travails. Many competing titles came and went, they had a crack and folded. But he’s still standing tall.
Scene editors have come and gone - but there have been relatively few, which again is testament to the publisher.
The lanky Howard, AKA Captain Peacock, has outlasted them all in Street Press in Australia. He’s been a sole publisher all that time. No benefactors, no overseas investors, no leg-ups, no second best. What skill, grit and determination, what guts, what stamina. What a guy! He deserves much praise and congratulations.
Street Press is important – don’t let anyone tell you different. It serves the younger generation well. You all know it’s more than just a gig guide and what’s on rag, but a place to learn about music, the arts and culture for generation after generation in the prime years of their lives. It's your thing people – don’t ever let it slip away.
I loved working at Scene but after 10 years and pushing 40 it was time for me to grow up, as it were, and move on to the next chapter.
Now my eldest son is 16 and a Scene reader. Yep, he's one of the cool kids that Howard and Scene Magazine and all the staffers and writers have served selflessly all these years.
Congratulations to Howard, Renee, Gareth and the current Scene crew and to you the reader and all the Scenestrs from across the years. Here’s to a legendary effort and to the future. Well played.
NEIL RICHARDS (BNE 1994-1997 & MEL 2003-2004)
The early-mid ‘90s was an exciting time to be part of Brisbane’s evolving musical landscape.
The dance scene was kicking with venues like The Site, The Roxy, Ric's Upstairs (where you could actually wear shorts and sneakers), The Empire, The Tube, The Tunnel down the coast all playing great music alongside raves like Adrenalin, Strawberry Fields, NASA, Ultrasonic, Vibes On A Summer’s Day (not a rave!) and many others that have slipped my mind. And who could forget Livid.
Howie (as I have always called him) realised that with Time Off and Rave more than capably serving the rock scene, our bread and butter would be the dance scene. Promoters, clubs and fashion outlets were our main supporters and without them we would not have survived. Record companies - then a big part of street press - didn't want to know us but eventually with the support of people like Darren Erskine, Graham Ashton, Chris O’Hearn, Shiona O’Neill and Sony's Jason Parker & Jo Grogan we managed to eek out our own niche as the go-to guys for dance/ pop/ hip hop and R&B here in S.E. QLD.
The more progressive labels such as Volition (home to Vision Four 5, Southend, Severed Heads etc.) and Sony’s John Ferris- fronted dance department were early supporters.
Howard did the majority of the selling (with his musical tastes I wasn't letting him near editorial .... you know he likes that song 'Doop' right?).
As the editor/ managing editor, the biggest buzz for me was being able to give new acts some much needed exposure that, in some cases, would springboard to more recognition interstate (Savage Garden’s Darren Hayes once told me Scene was the first publication to write a piece on them).
If I recall correctly there were no Brisbane acts signed to a major label (back then you actually needed them) so local acts were viewed as inferior to their southern counterparts. Total horseshit of course. The view was that to ‘make it’ you had to move interstate. Thankfully the signing and subsequent success of Brisbane-based acts like Regurgitator, Powderfinger and George proved to everyone we do it pretty well up here. Of course when a dance act like Edwin Morrow’s Sexing The Cherry scored a national hit (1994‘s ‘Steppin On’) we were even more stoked.
In time the staff levels grew and I was lucky enough to have Anita Caruso come on board as editorial co-ordinator. It was Anita who would trawl through the press releases and talk to the writers about what they were hearing on the street, musically speaking.
As the mag’s credibility grew we were also extremely fortunate to have the services of a lengthy list of contributors that included the likes of Katch (who would go on to form Resin Dogs and Hydrofunk), Frenzie, Jane NEIL CONTINUED ...
Slingo, Andrew Peterson (of Shutterspeed),
Joe Wooley (an artist manager who took great delight in writing scathing reviews of singles), Lars Brindle (who writes for some mag called Billboard these days), Ian Thompson (Full Fathom Five), Katie Noonan and her big brother Tyrone (the driving forces behind the aforementioned George). Even Mike Goldman, now better known for his work on Big Brother, wrote a few things.
We were always trying something be it a ‘black music’ column (this was long before ‘urban’), a fashion section, a world music segment or a gay news column.
It was always interesting ... I remember a time where I sat in with the government on anti-drug/ rave safe campaigns that would run in the paper knowing full well that we had 10 pages of ads for raves where eccies would be rampant!
Another time we discovered a disgruntled promoter was driving around SE QLD. stealing Scene Mags and dumping them because he felt the musical event touted by the centre spread ad was a little too similar to one of his events. Apparently only the strong survive!
Often we’d pull an 18-20 hour shift but I didn’t like to go home until the mag was on its way to the printer. I recall one time we put the Rolling Stones on the cover and everyone had hit the wall, so Howard (whose old diet of coffee and cigarettes sometimes kept him going for days), said he’d finish off the cover.
The next day I asked Howie how the cover ended up, to which he probably replied, “it looked great”. When the issue arrived, the main image was black & white and the band was playing left handed! The Stones playing fucking left handed! Howard, ever the optimist, thought the band “looked much better”!
I recall handing Janet Jackson a copy of Scene Mag to sign only to realise that instead of issue 66 in the upper right hand corner he'd replaced it with ‘Achtung 66’ and the date of Feb 01 1994 had been replaced with “Foist Febree 94” ... he thought it was hilarious. Me not so much.
I left in late 1997 to run clubs for a while but would stay in regular contact. The magazine had earned its stripes and was going from strength to strength.
In 2003 Howard became convinced that the only way for Street Press to have any real power was to become a truly national network (and he was right) and he decided to have crack at the Melbourne market. He convinced me to come back on board but by this time I was running my own business and couldn’t commit to relocating so I would commute weekly. We ended up with a pretty good team, put out a quality publication each week and gave it a real good crack.
Sadly after 12 months we conceded defeat but I left with plenty of admiration for Howard and his fighting spirit. I have no doubt it was his vision, and the mistakes we made, that planted the seed for SPA’s purchase of titles in each capital city thereby creating a truly national network of street press.
Scene hitting 1,000 issues is an amazing feat and one everyone involved over the years can feel very proud. These days I’m just a reader like everybody else. Nothing stays the same I guess. Except Howard’s shithouse musical tastes ...
Also in our commemortaive edition:
Howard Duggan: Publisher — Reflects on 1,000 issues.
Cosmo Cater: Staff Writer, DJ, Raconteur — takes us back ...