Interview with Ward Robinson of Animals Magazine*

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We just started carrying this new publication at the store and we are really psyched on what these guys represent. We caught up with the HNIC, Ward Robinson for a little interview…

ANIMALS is a biannual, image-heavy men’s magazine. We are California and ANIMALS is the world through our lens. FUCK NEW YORK. FUCK PARIS, London, Tokyo and Milan. We are the birthplace of modern surfing, gangsta rap, all your shit with a chip inside, modern skating, everything on your screens, Hells Angels, hardcore punk, your porn, your hot rods, your radical choppers. Our painting is colorful and weird. Our poets are fist fighters. Our butchers are artists. We play to lose. We destroy austere, wan effete cool with knuckle-busted. hungry-as-a-tiger, go-before-you-know, color-drenched life life life.

We are California. We are Animals. – ANIMALS

I love your manifesto and quite frankly, I agree…couldn’t have been put better. That said, FUCK NYC is one of the first things you say about your magazine.  As a transplant from NYC, I can tell you that I have heard that a lot since moving out here.  Californian’s have a bit of a chip on their shoulder.  Care to explain?

Hahaha. Man, I guess you can call it a chip, I look at it as setting the record straight. Look, it has gotten to where for decades people have not even questioned the cultural superiority of New York over California. New York is like a rich and angry brother-everyone is scared of them so no one asks if their dominance is warranted. California and specifically the outlaw spirit of California is a cultural powerhouse and always has been. My point is if you look at what truly influences the world’s behavior, it isn’t the massive amounts of money that run through Manhattan, it’s the way Dane Reynolds lays into a cutback, or how Jason Jessee built the Black Tibetan, or what tech is coming out of SF.

By the way, on your list of Cali shit…you forgot to mention “cold pressed juices”…just thought I would mention that.

…yeah, that kale-dandelion-lime shit is just fucking delicious don’t pretend.

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LA in particular seems to be experiencing a creative boom right now.  Good art, good, food, culture.  Any thoughts on this?

Well I think what we have on lock in LA is space. SF is a peninsula, New York is an island. The lack of space in those sorts of places drives up costs and pushes creative people out. In LA we are an enormous sprawl, so there is no end to the low-cost living options for creatives. It’s the same thing that was happening when I left SF for LA in ’99: my band was playing a show at the Paradise lounge and the sound guy brought in a decibel meter!! He said someone had built a loft across the street and was complaining about the noise. I had always felt like SF was a rock and roll city but not anymore. I had never been told to turn down in LA so it seemed like I fit here better and I moved here the next week. So, similarly, people with weird, creative approaches to life are getting pushed here because the cost of living is lower and the space is cheaper and they can explore their new ideas without dying of starvation or living in a closet. The result is a vibrant and exciting city full of people who are unwilling to conform. Outlaw spirit is alive and well here. Animals wants to celebrate people’s weird and ballsy life choices, so we are centered here too.

When you are not publishing magazines, your a photographer right?  Is it fair to say that your photography gives me the feeling like this is what it would have looked like if Charles Manson was a photographer and not a cult leader?

Manson is an asshole but that Bugliosi watch-stopping trick was pretty rad. I have always been focused on what I like to call ‘fuck you magical realism’. My work is about relationships; when my photos are good viewers feel like there is a real relationship between me and the subject when really it is a fiction. So, yeah, pretty much exactly like Manson.

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We noticed you have a pretty bitchin Porsche collection? What’s good?

Oh man. I lucked out. I was driving a Prius, which I feel is the most life-destroying choice someone can make. I was so over it I wanted the opposite car experience entirely. So I looked for about 6 months and found the most analog car I could, which was an 84 Porsche 911 built up as a race car. It is such a purpose-driven machine: no power steering or brakes, no computer-aided anything. All input from the driver is mechanical. I wanted a car that demanded my attention constantly and it does. I took out the roll cage so I can have a back seat but other than that it is how I got it. I have daily-driven it for years now and once ran it 16 hours to Jackson Hole in one go. I love that car and I plan to drive it until I die, or maybe while I die. I happened to buy it right before a bunch of other people wanted them so I paid a lot less than I would have recently. A lot less. I have a few friends who have earlier European cars and we share an interest in driving them like they are built to be driven: fast in the twisties. A few of us are starting a sort of car club now at a warehouse we rented in South Central we are calling The Riot. People will store their older cars there and can work on them, some pretty well-known local Porsche mechanics have agreed to come do tutorials on oil changes and valve jobs, stuff like that. Also we will have a halfpipe in the lot and show movies and stuff. One of the partners has a juice truck so we will have some of that pressed juice you love, and good coffee.

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What’s next for ANIMALS?

Well we are full steam ahead on issue 2, so that is the main focus right now. There are so many amazing stories to tell and adventures to get wrapped up in, we are running them down as we speak. So, writing and shooting new stories and also finding pragmatic ways to distribute the magazine. The traditional distribution model, like the traditional magazine industry as a whole, is a deeply flawed business. Distributors take 72% off the cover price, newsstand owners decide on their own how long is too long for an issue to be on the stands and they tear off the cover of the remaining copies, return the cover to you and throw away the magazine itself. A 30% sell through is a really solid number, which means you are killing it if you are throwing away only 70% of what you make. Insane!!!! Through our distributor Money Ruins Everything, we want to focus on partnering with amazing stores like Union, just 15 internationally, and build out from there to dispensaries, private gyms, restaurants and other spots where people might be surprised to find a magazine but happily so.

Beyond that, I have always seen the magazine as a cultural spearhead of a larger brand. Once we flesh out the story to people of what we are about, we aim to develop some of the intellectual properties into different formats: documentaries, books. It would seem like a good fit to make clothing collabs, maybe a store built around the vibe. That’s all a ways off but it is the goal.

Finish this sentence for us…

There are two types of people in this world….

The quick and the dead.

Check the ANIMALS website for proof of Cali’s supremacy

http://www.animalsmag.com/

…and although it’s the new year..here’s a little XMAS video courtesy of ANIMALS: