20 Mar 2024

Part of the machine.

20 Mar 2024

It’s funny how touching a piece of paper can send your head off to the moon.

Some of my earliest memories are pre-ordering motor cross magazines with my dad at the local corner store (we don’t call them dairies in the UK).

Every Saturday morning we’d drop by to see if the latest issue had come in, at the time all I was concerned about was the die cast models of Yamahas and Suzukis that came with each issue, however I never failed to marvel at the glossy, high resolution imagery, long before I could read the accompanying articles.

I can still remember the look of the store front, old newspaper branding adorned the windows and the cashier was so friendly. Years later, after moving around a bit, it’s the same corner store I would go before school to load up on fizzy drinks and sweets.

A few years after that our gang of ne er do wells would loiter outside that shop on a Friday night asking passers by to buy us cigarettes… not my finest moment, but REAL memories.

In my last trip back to the UK in 2022, I was sad to see that store had closed down, its now a vape shop.


That whole ramble above came flooding back just from thinking about magazines, sure I remember some of the best memes, but its not really the same, is it?

I stumbled upon Submachine after chatting briefly with The Boss (used as a term of endearment, as well as fact).

It’s like one of those time-warp moments, that sucks you backwards, falling endlessly into the cosmos, all your life’s memories passing you by, straight back to those first MX mags with dad and the corner shop.

Submachine and Phantom are a match made in heaven, both forged out of innovation, experimentation, the want to push things forward, all whilst remaining true to oneself and the craft.

In the last few weeks we’ve every size Submachine poster out on the streets of NZ.

Real, good, stuff.

In a world of overly digitised EVERYTHING, we need magazines like this to exist.

‘Talk to a surfer after they’ve been out on perfect waves and their enthusiasm will rub off on you. That buzz is infectious. Riding a motorcycle gives you the same buzz. Its the existence of such things that provides us with a shared sense of joy and optimism’.

Art, cars, motorcycles and optimism.

We were lucky enough to grab Al Best, the brain behind Submachine for a quick yarn about himself and the mag,

G’day Al, cheers for making a belter of a mag! tell us a little bit about yourself? 

Although I was born in Auckland, I was educated in Australia. I returned  home to NZ in 1991 and started a career in advertising, working simultaneously as an art director, illustrator and designer. 

I have had a lifelong love of cars and motorcycles, bordering on obsession.

Is there a backstory to Submachine?

With no work during Covid, I taught myself how to screen print and created Submachine as a brand for the t-shirts I was making.  While operating my printing press (a very manual process), I realized I was part of the machine so that’s where the name came from.

People who bought my tees would sometimes send a photo of them wearing it. I would use their photo to make a fake magazine cover and send it back to them. It was just done as a bit of fun, but it got to the point where I really wanted to know what this magazine would be about so I decided to try and make it for real.

Why the decision to go to print, opposed to staying strictly digital? 

I wanted to make something people would keep. Something of value. It had to be printed and I wanted it to feel special, so we use a heavy stock and a special laminate for the cover. People actually stroke the cover and smell the ink when they pick up Submachine. You don’t get that experience online.

What are your thoughts on people saying print is dead? 

(I’m basing this answer on magazines, rather than the print industry as  a whole)

I think people like to be dramatic. What they mean to say is; “Magazines are  not as abundant or profitable as they once were”, which is true. It must be  awful to watch your readership numbers drop away and have to lay off staff and close your doors, but that has happened a lot in the last decade.There  is no question that it is a tough game however, creative people tend to put  pleasure before profit and good magazines tend to be fountains of creativity,  so I don’t see any reason for them to be pronounced ‘dead’.

When the CD came along, they said vinyl was dead but people soon realised there was something missing in the experience of handling a CD and a large part of that was down to the printed component.

I think most intelligent people are aware of the disastrous effects the smartphone is having on society. Books and magazines are a reminder that it is possible to put down the phone and stop scrolling, and yet still being entertained or enlightened.

Any big plans or projects for the future, both personal and for Submachine?

I have met so many amazing people since I started the magazine and many of them have become friends with whom I’d love to collaborate. Hopefully some of the project ideas we’ve had will blossom. On a personal level, I need  to keep learning and have a few things on the boil at the moment that will be new territory for me. For example, I’m about to pinstripe hot rod flames on my fuel tank. This will either be a joy or a disaster!

As for the magazine, I love making it so much. I get such amazing feedback on it so I feel like I am doing something right. 

Sounds absolutely epic mate, look forward to seeing some more of the mahi!

If you’re keen to get your hands on a mag, we’re running a little competition on our socials.

Check out more from Submachine on their website and Instagram.

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