Saturday, 12 April 2014

Bigger Issues: The Nervemeter x Frank151

In 2011 The Nervemeter was born. Founded by Ian Allison (editor) and Kieron Livingston (art director) the print magazine with a satirical twist set out to allow homeless people and those who have resorted to begging to make some cash by selling some issues. Fast forward four controversial issues later, I caught up with the two-man army behind the magazine to find out what issues are going to be addressed in the future, why advertising sucks and just how important second hand printing equipment really is to these guys.

Tell us a bit about The Nervemeter?
The magazine is quarterly at present and each issue works around some theme. The content has been described as “underground”; we like to focus on a mixture of social issues and also look at the various histories that lie behind today’s power systems.
We borrowed the funds to cover the first print runs and now the magazine relies on donations, money raised from exhibitions of artwork or other fundraising events such as putting on bands, and also fundraising done via the internet.
Tell us how NM began/ what was your trail of thought during its conception?
We started out back in 2004 with the plan to publish a kind of anti-financial free-sheet – black and white, newsprint with a masthead etc – which would focus on the iniquities of investment banks, hedge funds for the ultra-wealthy, mis-sold pensions, the hypocrisy of philanthropy amongst the city and so on. We did produce some copy but nothing that was ever published en masse, which was a pity given its prescience. 
I love your Ad buster style mock advertisements! What is your opinion on advertising on different media platforms? (Digital, print etc.)
Attacking advertising is a bit like shooting fish in a barrel. That said, advertising is such an insidiously vile and toxic pursuit we are bound to detourne it one way or another. We refuse to pander to it otherwise; we would sooner beg for the cash to pay for printing than carry adverts.
Is NM politically revolutionary or do you just wanna give the small guy a voice?
We try to be original – politically repellent would be more accurate probably. We do like the idea of giving people begging on the streets something new and interesting to offer that deals with history, philosophy and aesthetics, and they like to belong to that process.
Why should people read it? 
Lately we have included a lot of quotations from many sources; these punctuate the articles. We believe that there is three pounds worth of citations in an issue. If you like the other material then it’s a bonus.                              
Who is your reader?  
It’s sold on the streets of central London, so hopefully a broad spectrum of passersby. We believe that your average commuter in London is probably a highly literate character – you shouldn’t underestimate them.

Are there any other publications that have inspired the zine?
Not so long ago we came across a magazine called Schism at an independent publishing fair in London. It was composed of odd pages from books – an obscure essay on geometric form by Albrecht Dürer, for example – all woven together to flesh out governing themes that were also, in some cases, quite obscure. We have gradually begun to dispense with syllogistic convention in favour of a more fluid form, or a style that’s formed out of constellations of texts and images.
What do you want the zine to achieve?
We’d love to one day buy some second hand printing equipment and start our own press.
What upcoming themes can we expect from the mag?
We are about to publish an issue themed on wealth, greed and finance. We plan to dedicate the next issue after that to the subject of addiction. Looking further forward, we are interested in doing something on modern continental philosophy – Kant to Sartre; vanity publishing; Empire and power in the post-colonial universe; an issue composed entirely of writing and artwork done by homeless people; a history of counter-culture movements in 20th century and so on …
What is your opinion on the current state of affairs from a global perspective?
No comment
What are your thoughts on magazines today?
Most magazines, especially those that are aimed at young people, are very top-heavy with review material: music, films, fashion, and listings of all variety. That’s what basically comprises the majority of highbrow magazines. The rest are full of so-called celebrities at play. Some magazines attempt to blend those ingredients, like the Big Issue, for example.
What have been the struggles with putting out an issue so far?
We have been contacted by the police a couple of times asking us to issue badges to our vendors and provide an official register of their names. But far and away the main challenge is amassing the money for the next print run in a timely fashion.
How can we help to get more issues from NM and where can we grab a copy?
We are working on global domination but are not quite there yet. If you can’t get a copy on street please go to our website ( and we will happily mail you the current issue or back issues.
Any final last words about the world?

We are forced to lead our lives forwards but can only understand them in reverse.

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