Alternative Ulster

Alternative Ulster

Infobox Magazine
title = AU Magazine

image_size = 175px
image_caption = June/July 2007 issue, featuring The Gossip
publisher =
paid_circulation =
unpaid_circulation =
total_circulation =
circulation_year =
language = English
category = Music, Culture, Arts
frequency = Monthly
editor = Jonny Tiernan (Editor-in-chief), Francis Jones (Editor)
firstdate = 2003
country =
website = [ I Heart AU]
issn = 1740-7311
AU (formerly Alternative Ulster) is a magazine written, designed and published in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Although predominantly a music magazine, AU covers other aspects of popular culture, such as movies, comics, games and the arts. AU was launched in June 2003.


Alternative Ulster started life in March 2002 as a radio show on Belfast community station Northern Visions, as well as a website. Early the following year, a prototype 'Issue Zero' was launched, promising to provide "the best reportage from the local world and beyond." [Alternative Ulster Issue Zero, March 2003] A local band, Therapy?, headlined the official launch party in the Mandella hall on the 6th of June 2003. In 2004, the magazine won "Magazine of the Year". [ [ "MAG-NIFICENT"] retrieved 19 June 2007]

The magazine underwent a massive redesign and relaunch in February 2007, when the name officially changed from Alternative Ulster to AU. Though it continues to cover the best in Northern Irish (and, latterly, Irish) music, the name change reflects the wider scope that the magazine now has. The very best Irish acts sit side-by-side with the best in alternative music from around the world. During 2007, cover stars included Bright Eyes, The Gossip, Biffy Clyro, LCD Soundsystem, Kate Nash and a major feature hailing 'The Hot 40 - Ireland's Must See Acts'. The poll of industry insiders was topped by Belfast indie-pop/electronica duo Oppenheimer

The Magazine

The magazine started as a music magazine and continues in that vein, though in recent years more non-musical content has been added. Each issue includes four or five large features on major acts of the moment (in Issue 43, Hot Chip, Los Campesinos!, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Vampire Weekend and I Was A Cub Scout) as well as three smaller, single page 'Incoming' features, often on acts that have yet to reach the public consciousness. The magazine also boasts an extensive reviews section, with 40-60 albums being reviewed every month and rated out of 10, as well as a section of live reviews.

The magazine is published monthly and is available in newsagents and record stores throughout Northern Ireland and at Eason in the Republic of Ireland. It is supported by The National Lottery through the [ Arts Council of Northern Ireland] . Apart from features and reviews, the main sections of the magazine are:

*UpfrontThis section occupies the first 20 or so pages and includes the 'Incoming' features, a mix of serious and irreverent news stories and light-hearted regular features like Ironic Iconic (a look at a re-appreciated star of yesteryear), Goodies & Baddies ("who's exuding cool and who's acting the fool"), and 'Hey You! What's On Your iPod?', where the magazine's staff walk the streets asking passers-by that question.

*RewindThis section focuses mainly on celebrating great events in music and film etc. It begins with 'Flashback', marking the anniversary of an event or movie release and finishes with an in-depth essay on a 'Classic Album'. Other regular features include A to Z (a themed, comic run through the alphabet on anything from Wrestlers to Superheroes), Let's Get Phrenological (brutally analysing a troubled celebrity) and The Good, The Bad and The Weird, celebrating and castigating the best, worst and most bizarre of a given topic.

*SubbacultchaThis section takes up the last 20 pages of the magazine and includes 'Most Wanted' (a preview of gigs, releases and events), 'Back Of The Net' (all manner of weird and wonderful stuff from the web), 'In Pictures' (photos taken by an AU photographer of punters at a recent gig) and specialist pages on the latest goings-on in the worlds of Film, Games, Arts and Comics.

AU Army

The "AU Army" is the magazine's street team. It was created in January 2007 and is largely made up of students who did work experience in the AU offices. Its members can be found distributing stickers and back issues into waiting rooms and running stalls at gigs in towns and cities around Ireland.


The first AU logo featured the full words of "Alternative Ulster" and dominated the masthead. In 2006, the full name was phased out and re-branded as simply "AU". The logo features the letters "AU" in white writing within a red circle and white border. Initially, the words "Alternative Ulster" appeared under the circle, but this was later removed and the circle remained. Instead of dominating the cover, the logo was moved to the top left and the featured artists became the focal point of the issue cover page. The magazine also launched a sticker campaign, where their street team, the "AU Army" travelled around the country, branding all types of items with the "AU" logo.


The magazine employs a large team of writers, photographers and designers from around Ireland and further afield. It also occasionally features writing by musicians and others, for example Jetplane Landing frontman Andrew Ferris and BBC Radio presenter Rigsy.

:"(As of March 2008, Issue 43)"

*Publisher & Editor in Chief – Jonny Tiernan
*Editor – Francis Jones
*Sub-editor – Chris Jones
*Contributing Editor – Ross Thompson
*Design & Illustration – Stuart Bell, Luke Carson, Tim Farrell, Neil Gillespie, Elissa Tiernan
*Photography – [ Alan Maguire] , [ Gavin Millar] , [ Loreana Rushe] , [ Graham Smith]
*Advertising Manager – Joanne Tiernan
*Promotions and Marketing Assistant – Stu Gowdy


External links

* [ Official Site]
* [ Official Forum]
* [ Alternative Ulster] on MySpace
* [ AU Army's Official Myspace]

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