Magazine are an English post-punk band active from 1977 to 1981, then reformed in 2009. Their debut single, "Shot by Both Sides", is now acknowledged as a classic and their debut album, Real Life, is still much admired making several top 1,000 album lists. The band was formed by Howard Devoto after leaving punk band Buzzcocks in early 1977. Devoto had decided to create a more experimental and less punk band. Their style and lyrical preoccupations later influenced many musicians.
Magazine reunited in 2009 for a UK tour, with almost all the remaining and "classic" line-up, with the exception of guitarist John McGeoch who died in 2004. He was replaced by Noko, who played with Devoto in Luxuria. Magazine released an album of new material, No Thyself, in October 2011, followed by a short UK tour.
Howard Devoto formed Magazine in Manchester shortly after he left Buzzcocks in early 1977. In April 1977 he met guitarist John McGeoch, then an art student, and they began writing songs, some of which would appear on the first Magazine album. They then recruited Barry Adamson on bass, Bob Dickinson on keyboards and Martin Jackson (previously of The Freshies) on drums, to form the first line-up of the band. After signing to Virgin Records, Magazine played their debut live gig at the Rafters, in Manchester, on 28 October 1977.
Dickinson, co-writer of "Motorcade" and whose background was in classical and avant-garde music, left shortly after a number of gigs in late 1977. In early 1978 the band released their first single "Shot by Both Sides", a song Magazine recorded as a four-piece which featured a guitar-bass-drums sound similar to punk rock. Shortly after the single's release, Dave Formula, who had played with a 1960s shortly famed rock band from Manchester called St. Louis Union, joined as keyboardist. "Shot By Both Sides", used a chord progression suggested by Pete Shelley, and which was also used in the Buzzcocks track "Lipstick". The Magazine single just missed the UK Top 40. The band, with Formula on keyboards, made its first major TV appearance onTop Of The Pops in February 1978, performing the single.
Following a British tour to promote their critically acclaimed debut album Real Life (which made the UK Top 30), Jackson left Magazine in late July, and was replaced briefly by Paul Spencer, who performed with the band for gigs across Europe and some television appearances, including The Old Grey Whistle Test, where they played "Definitive Gaze". Spencer quit partway through the tour, joining The Speedometors shortly afterwards, and he was replaced in October by John Doyle, who completed the Real Life promotional tour and remained in the band.
In 1979 Magazine's second album, Secondhand Daylight was released, reaching the UK Top 40. The record features more experimental, synthesiser-based material. That same year, McGeoch, Adamson and Formula joined electronic project Visage, recording and releasing the single "Tar".
After the release of Secondhand Daylight, Devoto decided to change producer, choosing Martin Hannett, who produced their next album in the same year, The Correct Use of Soap, again making the Top 30. Following its release McGeoch decided to leave the band, tired of Magazine's low sales and their less guitar-oriented songs, joining Siouxsie and the Banshees. To replace him the band called Robin Simon, who previously was in Ultravox and Neo. That line-up toured across Europe and Australia, recording their next release, the live album Play. Simon made some initial recordings and rehearsals for the Magic Murder And The Weather album, including co-writing the song "So Lucky", but he left the band before the album was released so that he could record on the John Foxx solo album The Garden.
Again without a guitarist, Devoto called in his former college friend at Bolton, Ben Mandelson (former Amazorblades member). This line-up completed the recording of Magic, Murder And The Weather in 1981, but Devoto quit in May of the same year months before its release of the album with the remaining members deciding to disband . A year later, After The Fact, the first Magazine compilation was released.
Adamson continued collaborating with Visage, and also began to work with The Birthday Party and Pete Shelley, Formula continued as member of Visage and joined Ludus, Mandelson joined The Mekons, and Doyle joined The Armoury Show in Scotland in 1983, along with John McGeoch. After a brief solo outing and two albums with Luxuria Devoto quit music to become a photo archivist until a collaboration with Buzzcocks' Pete Shelley produced theBuzzkunst album in 2002.
It was confirmed in July 2008 that Howard Devoto and Magazine would reform for five dates in February 2009. The line-up includes Devoto, Formula, Adamson and Doyle. In November 2008, the band announced Noko, Devoto's bandmate in Luxuria, would be the guitarist in the reformation line-up, taking the place of John McGeoch, who died in 2004.
The sold out shows received widespread critical acclaim. The group then went on to play at festivals in the UK and abroad over summer, before performing 'The Soap Show' in Manchester, Edinburgh and London. At these concerts, the band played two sets – a performance of The Correct Use of Soap in full, followed by a set composed of other songs from their catalogue.
In January 2010 Noko officially joined the band, becoming a full member of Magazine. The band started work on new material. In November 2010 Barry Adamson left to concentrate on his film work and solo recordings. Jon "Stan" White joined as bass player on the new recordings and debuted live on 30 June 2011 at Wolverhampton Slade Rooms where Magazine were playing a warm up show for their Hop Farm festival appearance two days later.
A new studio album, No Thyself, was released worldwide by Wire Sound on 24 October 2011 and the band embarked on a UK tour in November 2011.
Magazine's music continues to be an influence today. While rooted in the punk and new wave movements, Magazine combined elements of avant-garde and pop. Radiohead in particular draw on the lyrical style of the group, and have performed "Shot by Both Sides" in concert. What's more, Radiohead's 1995 single "Just", with its ascending guitar hook, bears a passing resemblance to "Shot by Both Sides". Morrissey, a fan and acquaintance of Devoto's, covered "A Song from Under the Floorboards" as a B-side to his 2006 single "The Youngest Was the Most Loved". "Floorboards" was covered by My Friend the Chocolate Cake on their 1994 album Brood. Half Man Half Biscuit have performed live covers of a number of Magazine songs. "The Light Pours Out of Me", from the album Real Life, has been covered by The Mission, Peter Murphy, Sleep Chamber and Ministry. Swedish punk band No Fun at All did a cover of "Shot by Both Sides" on their record And Now for Something Completely Different. Devoto co-wrote two songs with Mansun, "Everyone Must Win" and "Railings", contributing vocals to the latter, and the band later covered "Shot by Both Sides" for John Peel Sessions. In issue 66 (May 2011) of Bass Guitar Magazine Duff McKagan cites Magazine's album Real Life as an influence, particularly on tracks where McKagan uses a chorus effect. Johnny Marr cited Magazine as one of his main influences when promoting his debut solo album The Messenger in 2013.