Next month, a beloved heavy music media institution will make its return to the local market.

Lead by journalist, podcaster, and Co-Founder of The Neversphere Mike Hohnen and writer and Microsoft Account Exec Peyton Bernhardt, Blunt will now be published under newly formed company The Complaints Department Pty Ltd.

The Complaints Department takes the reins from Nextmedia, who had published Blunt‘s digital platform and print magazine for over 15 years.

When Blunt quietly left the market in 2017 due to the shifting print landscape – a predicament which was felt internationally at the time – heavy music fans nationwide were audibly disappointed. Couple this with the fact Soundwave and Big Day Out were no more, and you’ve got yourself a music publishing tragedy.

Now, Australia’s rock music publishing sector has never looked healthier with Rolling Stone announcing plans to enter the market in 2020 and NME launching in Australia today.

TIO understands Peyton Bernhardt and Mike Hohnen linked up for the acquisition just a few months ago and while there are plans for a print edition, they’re looking at a bi-annual release. The print mag will be made available either through Blunt directly, or a dedicated third-party partner. 

Issue 111 of BLUNT Magazine
Issue 111 of BLUNT Magazine (2012)

Mid-January is when fans will start to see bluntmag.com.au officially launch with content, all guided by Head of Editorial Peyton Bernhardt, who will liaise with a host of freelancers. The self-dubbed Patron Saint of Operations, Mike Hohnen, will be focused on the day to day management of the brand and business.

To gain even more insight into Blunt 2.0, check out our Q&A with Mike Hohnen below.

Tell us the story behind the acquisition? How did you and Peyton Bernhardt link up to bring Blunt back?

As freelance journalists in the alternative music scene, Peyton and I first met in the trenches of on-ground interviews. It’s a small community with a strong sense of camaraderie, after all, and very few others understand this strange but exciting hustle.

I understand several other parties had engaged with Nextmedia regarding the revival of Blunt Magazine since it went quiet, to no avail for various reasons, many of whom have reached out to express support to Peyton and I which was really comforting.

Enter: two emos from Sydney. 

Do you have access to all the archival articles and galleries? Will they be republished?

We do! As part of the acquisition we have access to all the content posted on the website as well as enough erstwhile magazine templates to sink a ship. We are currently trawling through close to 20 years of content to find evergreen pieces, or pieces that are again relevant, and will bring them back to life; whether as a #tbt or as an interesting insight into our scene’s yesteryear.

Music has changed so much in the last five years alone with genres bending into one another more and more. What kind of music will Blunt cover?

It’s a tough question to answer given the global shift away from the restrictive concept of ‘genre’. Artists these days are more so inclined to explore multiple penchants, sensibilities and disciplines in their music.

The ‘catch-all’ I would use to describe our new vibe is ‘Heavy’ which is fairly self-explanatory and ‘heavy-adjacent’ which we’re using to describe music that lives ‘next door’ to ‘heavy’. City and Colour for example, or another example is the recent Epitaph signing Lil Lotus. 

mike hohnen
Blunt’s Patron Saint of Operations, Mike Hohnen

What would you say Australian music fans missed the most after Blunt left the market?

Posters. We always knew we would need to bring the poster magazine back however given just how many followers reacted to news of the revival with questions of when the posters will be back, we’ve had to bring those plans right up to early next year.

Tell us about the new operation? Who’s on your team and what kind of business model will you be rolling out?

We’re currently engaging with writers who worked with the brand in the past – they were its voice and will play an important role in the revival. On top of that we’re looking for new voices to contribute going forward.

In my old age of 29, I’m excited to play a role in bringing in the next generation of music writers.

We will be launching with the ad model. However, we believe innovation in that regard is well overdue and will be chipping away at more ambitious and less restrictive revenue models. For now, we’ll play by the rules. For now. 

What’s the long-lead plan for Blunt? What do you hope Blunt contributes to the music media market?

For almost 20 years Blunt was the cultural heartbeat for the alternative community in Australia. It wasn’t just music, it was tattoos, films, pop culture, fashion and more, with content delivered through the principle of a serious focus on quality.

There are so many great sites out there successfully appealing to broad audiences; we love that and hope to form relationships with these publications; after all – the rising tide lifts all boats. The ‘big picture’ plan for Blunt is to reestablish a home for heavy, and heavy-adjacent.