Thom Yorke on the cover of the February 2013 issue of Dazed & Confused magazine has tempted me to buy another magazine I can’t afford. It also recalls the Radiohead frontman’s infamous interview with himself. It was April 1996 and Radiohead’s second album, The Bends, was making its second rounds through pop culture. When they debuted OK Computer at the launch party for the issue featuring Yorke’s interview, nobody thought to record the event. There were no smartphones then; nobody took cameras into clubs; everything felt more temporary.
Yet there is nothing fleeting about Radiohead or Dazed & Confused.
The first issue was distributed at the hands of founders Jefferson Hack and Rankin: three pieces of folded paper that made a poster with an editorial on one side and a poster image on the other. In a recent interview with Purple Fashion Magazine, Hack recalls it was formatted like a manifesto. In the next several issues, the publication that was essentially a zine started to take form as a magazine. They started using staples in issue four, and had a perfect binding in issue 20.
While technology has changed wildly and the magazine has become a lot glossier since its conception in 1991, the idealism and style of their early issues still run through the magazine today. Hack seemed to reconcile the changes with a touch of absurdity when he designed a scented candle to smell like silky magazine pages. With similar assertiveness, when the magazine met difficult times in the mid-90’s they printed, “If you can’t afford it, steal it” above the barcode.
Here are some covers from the early days featuring some of the best faces of the 90’s, including Thom Yorke with Thom Yorke, David Bowie, Björk, Damien Hirst, Beth Orton, and, please stand up, Eminem:
Issue # 5
(Note that the free 20 page supplement is “Sponsored by Sony Minidisc”. If that doesn’t make you feel old, what does?)
Vol II Issue #14 (June 2004)
Yorke graces the cover again: Vol III Issue #18 (February 2013)
All images via: exacteditions