What's the point in always looking back
When all you see is more and more junk?
(part 2 of a series!)
Answers prepared by Rosey R*E*P*E*A*T for reader Michael Doyle's
University Case Study about R*E*P*E*A*T that you might like to read
too (or not)
Could you possibly tell me a bit about how the idea came about to
start up your fanzine?
I'd been a music fan for years but was inspired by the Manic Street
Preachers to be more than a consumer and to get off my backside and
do something for myself. Back in those days the Manics had stacks of
people inspired by them to be creative and subversive by writing poetry,
compiling fanzines, doing art work, forming bands etc (I think they
still do inspire this in their fans, Nicky Wire has said it's one of
the things that make them unique).
I can't ignore my job as a primary school teachers in all of this -
when some of my class gave me their drawings etc, I sent them off to
a MSP zine and they were published. I didn't know it could be so easy!
The first issue sold (no, got rid of ) 67 copies, mostly to MSP fans
via their mailing list and fliers, and it just grew from there.
A couple of years later we teamed up with a local band (Freeboy) to
put out a single - it was going to be a flexi given away free with the
fanzine, but the nearest place making these was in USA so we decided
to put out a proper 7 inch vinyl single - with hand made sleeves and
white labels (hand stamped with a cow and a sheep to tell the sides
apart) to save money. This got played on radio one. This lead
on to the rest - CDs, downloads, picture discs etc
'The Sheep Side'
Freeboy / Stripey / Eden Park / Autumn Stone split single
The gigs came from the need to promote the releases, we
liked to have launch parties to promote them and also to recoup some
of the money. These became more regular; as I've now started recording
bands I now do less gigs but try to do at least one or two a month,
either with R*E*P*E*A*T or the local Love Music Hate Racism group.
The website came along in about 1999 to support all of the above.
What was the demographic you aimed towards?
Hmm, the fact I just had to look up what demographic means shows I wasn't
really thinking about that - this is something I love rather than a
business, and is funded by my wages (rather than vice versa!). Initially
we aimed at fellow MSP fans through their tight knit community and gigs
and with the records we started tapping into the local scene. A lot
of the gigs were for local young bands - though this is harder nowadays
with stricter licensing laws on Under 18s playing in pubs, it is still
something I'm interested in; I took a band from my Junior School to
play on Blue Peter a few years ago and I now teach and record other
young bands (eg Feedback www.myspace.com/feedback665).
Of course, while we have many young writers and contributors for the
zine (the last issue being almost totally written, illustrated and compiled
by a 16 year old), some of our writers have stuck with us for years
and this is reflected in the bands covered in the zine - eg recent interviews
were with New York Dolls, Terrorvision, Gary Numan, Saint Ettienne and
Ian Brown - however these go along side reviews of brand new releases
and interviews with The Drums, The Paddingtons, Lily Allen, Lovelikefire,
Anti-Social Burnouts, Glory Glory etc - jus cos we've been around for
15 years I don't want to become an embarrassing Uncle dancing at a wedding.
Saffs fans at R*E*P*E*A*T gig, 23.3.98
Our releases are usually of new young bands just making their way (The
Shills, Hyman Roth, The Resistance) - though we do have some more established
bands too, eg Johnny Panic, Miss Black America, The Dawn Parade, Ten
What was the date of the first issue?
June 1994, just in time for MSP playing at the anti Nazi carnival; first
release (free with the zine) 1996; first shop release 1998, first download
How you came up with the design of the fanzine?
Cut and paste punk rock mayhem! Copied from too much time spent reading
other people's zines and devouring Jon Savage's England's Dreaming.
Again, being a primary school teacher also helps with this!
How did you promote the fanzine?
Initially, as I said, we used informal MSP networks through their
mailing list, plus fliers etc. The publicity around Richey Manic's tragic
illness and disappearance boosted our profile, and the releases only
helped raise it further eg through Radio Play, reviews in the nationals
(eg Record Collector, NME, The Independent and um... The Financial Times),
spilling orange squash on Steve Lamaq in pubs etc. I'm still not backward
in coming forward and handing out fliers, selling zines etc outside
gigs - in the early days I followed Steve Lamacq's advice and went to
gigs with no money so I HAD to sell some to get the petrol home! Fliers
are great, myspace and the interweb and now facebook are all useful
too. We have a distributor who tries to sell our releases into shops
and to i-tunes and other digital platforms, and a mailing list of reviewers
we send stuff too - occasionally we can afford to employ professional
PRs - sadly it's true that (with the demise of Peel) it is very hard
to get any national exposure without greasing the wheels of the machine
in some sort of way. That's why our webspace is so vital.
Lovely Johnny Panic picture disc
What's the future of the project?
Free mini zines have (reluctantly) replaced the enormous paper zine,
just to point people in the direction of our huge, creaking website.
Lots of our releases are now available via i-tunes etc, which is a less
money-leaking way of doing things - though we always produce a limited
number of hard copies of all our releases. CD singles are hard to sell
but vinyl singles are still popular, especially coloured vinyl and we
did one beautiful picture disk with Johnny Panic (see above). I'm enjoying
being more selective in the bands I put on at gigs, and in learning
how to record bands.
Do you have any demographic info in terms of sales, web views etc?
Download sales always surprise me - eg I have a huge pile of lovely
unsold Virgin Suicides CDs (and some of their even lovelier Republican
'Red Fuck the Jubilee' vinyls), but every month they sell well on downloads.
I know I'm never going to cover costs on physical releases, and downloads
don't make enough to make anything like a living wage per hour spent
preparing them, but that's not the point - it's fantastic to have got
off my backside, to be involved writing and doing collages and putting
on gigs and kicking against the Nazis and releasing great records and
recording bands, helping to make people's ideas reality.
'Fuck the Jubilee' vinyl
The fact that last year the R*E*P*E*A*T site had 2.3 million hits from
116,000 unique users makes me think we are doing something right -what
a change from those original 67 zines we 'sold'...
[Hope that's OK, I'm off to watch Match of the Day...]
Some links that may help
Short but flattering piece
A personal history by me
Local mag article
Drowned in Sound article (me winding them up!)
Out of date history of Repeat Records
Local paper article
A personal history of Repeat
University essay about how our releases get to the shops
Pics from our history
Financial Times article (yes really!)