Case Mag’s Mike Netley

Slowly, but surely, Case Magazine is starting to permeate themselves into the world of BMX media, but in the most grassroots way possible: giving out free mags to kids though shops, at the trails & in skateparks all over the world. While winding down his annual trails trip with Sputnic/Wasted Youth’s Mike Cottle, I was able to sit down & chat a bit about the trials & tribulations of starting a print mag in 2010. Thanks to Cottle & Ryan Hoey for the pics.

LM: What was the first BMX magazine you ever picked up?
MN: Probably Ride UK, late ’99 with Jason Aliano’s front garden on the cover. It was pretty sweet.

LM: Were you already pretty engrossed in BMX at that point, or were you just getting into it?
MN: I actually picked up that magazine at a King of Concrete event in Southsea. I was there with my parents, looking through the fence, saw people riding the vert ramp and was psyched, just went in, checked out the comp and got a copy of said mag.

LM: Did you already have a bike by then?
MN: Nah, nah, I was just, fuckin… saw BMX and was just like, “yeahhhh that was rad!” That was late August, and I think I got a bike for Christmas that year.

LM: A lot of kids our age, we got into magazines when there were still a bunch of ’em running. I’m guessing magazines were a big reason why you got into BMX; is that something you’re trying to recreate now with Case?
MN: When I grew up, there was only magazines. I’d rather see everyday content on the internet, and decent articles in magazines. I used to look forward to reading somebodys interview or a scene report, rather than just reading it on a 15-inch computer screen.

LM: What’s the motivation to do print, during a time when print seems to be dying?
MN: I enjoyed working with Ride UK, taking photos and stuff, and I just wanted to do more and more. I don’t really like the internet, or looking at photos online. I’d rather see a nice big picture printed.

LM: Where do you feel Case fits into the current BMX media spectrum?
MN: I think the fact that it’s free, and every single kid can pick it up, it’s kind of like how the interent is free. You don’t have to spend $5 on a magazine, you can just go in a shop, pick it up & enjoy it.

LM: Has it been possible to make any money, or break even doing Case?
MN: Nearly impossible. Well, not impossible, but I’m still putting in a fair bit of money each issue myself. The 2nd issue doubled from the 1st one, the 3rd one has almost doubled from the 2nd. Hopefully the 4th will be even better. It’s still not…. it’s getting there. slow but steady progress. I’m happy.

LM: You’re on your annual trip to ride trails in the US; what got you started coming over here?
MN: Old videos & magazines of Posh & Push, Suffield and all the crazy spots; old FBM videos of Bakers Acres & “Welcome to Pittsburgh”. It just looked like a fun scene to be involved in.

LM: What was the first year you came over here?
MN: This is the 5th year, so summer 2006.

LM: How do trails here in the US compare to trails in the UK?
MN: Not dissimilar in the slightest. There are certain spots in England that are perfectly groomed, like they are here, and there are shady spots as well.Huts, BBQ’s, cookin’ out & all that sort of stuff, it’s pretty similar. Just a different atmosphere.

LM: Are UK trail builders as salty as US ones?
MN: Ha! They used to be, doesn’t seem so much anymore. Certainly a few years ago, there was that whole “no dig, no ride” thing. I’ve always been fairly welcomed at most spots and it’s cool. It seems pretty lighthearted now. That doesnt mean you can turn up and take the piss. If help is needed, help.

Cottle: Do you guys have flathead shovels in England?
MN: We have to order them(laughs). Just shitty, 4ft long… shitty shovels.

LM: Being a heavy trail rider, did you ever want Case to be more of a trail-orientated magazine, or do you feel like you’d be pigeon-holing yourself?
MN: I wouldn’t say I’m a ‘heavy’ trail rider first off. And i wouldn’t say it’s “pigeon-holed”, but that’s certainly where my first love of BMX resides, but I have as much respect for Tom White riding street & Garrett Reynolds winning park contests as I do J-Bone or Stauffer shredding the trails, and people like Mullville still doing it today, killing it. Even flatland is impressive; those King of Concrete events when I first started riding, flatland was one of the main disciplines and i loved it. I’d always go for both days, sit in the stands and watch all day. Vert, flatland, street; Effraim (Catlow) shredding the flatland & Jerry Galley shredding the vert ramp, stuff like that, it’s all cool. Trails is what I like to ride most, so I’m probably shooting more trails than anything else.

LM: How did you meet Mike Cottle?
MN: Ahh, sent him a message on MYspace, seeing if we could come hang out in Pittsburgh. That was about 5 years ago.

LM: Do you really trust this kid helping out on your magazine? I’ve seen him misspell his own name.
MN: He’s keen to support the cause, which is sweet. He’s as psyched as I am on the magazine, so it’s cool.

LM: Is Case going to have any other type of media presence? Are you going to incorporate videos or web stuff for any future Case projects?
MN: I’ve spoken with a few people about doing an exclusive web-edit for a full-on rider interview in the magazine, so when a magazine comes out, there’s a web-exclusive video to go with it. It’s not happened yet, but it’s certainly something that I want to do. I know, obviously, that the Internet is huge, so Case does need a decent-sized web presence. It doesn’t at the moment, but it’s soemthing that I’m working on. Just a lot to take on at one time.

LM: What are your thoughts on other magazines right now?
MN: Dig is sweet, and it always has been. I’ve always had a soft spot for its ‘close to home’ and arty feel. Not to mention that Ricky Adam is the best photographer out there. Ride UK, Ride US… every other issue, there’s a decent article. I don’t think it’s consistent, and I get bored looking at 30 pages of ads at the beginning, but I understand from making a magazine that they need to do that for revenue. I think that some issues are good, but on a whole… I don’t know, I still buy them every month, and I’m still interested to pick them up. I struggle to do a magazine every three months so god knows how they chuck them out month after month. Props to Banners and Chris at Ride UK. They’re working their asses off and it’s awesome what they’re doing.

LM: Have you had any sort of editorial pressure from any of your sponsors to change content, or focus on a specific rider/spot/etc?
MN: Nothing at all, no. I’ve said to potential advertisers that we could feature their riders, but I’m as interested in their riding as I am the company advertising. It’s not gotten to that stage, and I don’t think it ever will. I’ve been on a couple of trips with companies, and that’s been fun. They’ve been psyched to see the magazine, and I’ve been psyched to go on the trip, so it’s all good.

LM: Have you ever used the line “I run a magazine” to help get you laid?
MN: Nope! I don’t talk to girls as it is, so…(laughs). I’m probably too modest.

Cottle: How many girls did you have sex with in one week in Pittsburgh last year?
MN: Ha, umm… 4 chicks in 3 1/2 weeks, which i think is pretty good..?

Cottle: And did your mates from England have any sort of sexual run-in with them before you?
LM: Probably not, but probably (laughs). Stirring the porridge, stirring the porridge.

LM: What would be your dream interview or road trip for the magazine?
MN: East Coast trails trips are up there. I’d like to do something with Ben Lewis; that dude is amazing on a bike. Still trying to do the whole “legend on the cover” of each issue. Would love to do something with Bestwick riding vert at some point. I’d like to get a decent portrait of somebody for a cover at some point, like when Dig had that one cover of Bestwick that was just him holding the vert ramp made from light trails. That was awesome. All stuff that’s in the pipeline.

LM: What’s been the biggest general ball-up in starting the magazine?
MN: Not keeping everyone happy; you cant please everybody all the time. Some contributors getting pissed off that their articles didn’t make the cut, but that’s just something that happens. You can’t do much about it. Sorry to those few.

LM: In doing my research, I noticed you used to rock a platinum kizzy wig. You get over to the states now, and you’re rocking the creeper moustache. What’s next, a bowl cut?
MN: I had a bowl cut a couple of years ago, which was fun for a while. I’m a little bit of a sucker for trends; not too badly. More of it’s just… like, the whole blond hair thing, I don’t know where that came from; just a change after 24 years. The moustache is pretty popular at the moment, thought I’d try to rock it for a bit(laughs).

Brien Kielb

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