R*E*P*E*A*T - Fighting the Power since 1994

This is an unedited vesrion of text submitted to Cambridge Eveing News in the run up to our anniversary gig, April 25th 2006... read the printed version here.

Originally this gig was planned to happen in 2004 to 'celebrate' 10 years of R*E*P*E*A*T.

However, we never got round to it.

We're still calling it the 10th birthday party in the best traditions of R*E*P*E*A*T - as so much of what we've done has been late, for instance issues always miss their deadlines and so many CD launches have had no CDs!

By lucky coincidence, it is 10 years this year since our first release.

However it's the fanzine we're really celebrating as well as the label, gigs and website. You can read this bit here about birth of fanzine.

1) So, what made you start REPEAT Records in the first place?

Realising that lots of the bands we were seeing and hearing in Cambridge were far better than lots of the major label dross were being sent to review. Then being inspired by Jason Baldock of Freeboy who instigated the first release, a 4 track split 7" vinyl featuring 4 bands. We couldn't afford to pay for printed labels so we hand stamped them with animals to tell one side from the other. Hence there was a monkey boy side and a mad sheep side. Without us employing any PRs or pluggers, Peel and Lamacq played the Freeboy track 'Patrick'. It all seemed so easy!

2) What have been your five favourite REPEAT moments?

That Freeboy track has to be one of them, it's a classic, you can still hear it on our website here and it still sounds so fresh and vital.

- Hearing our stuff on the radio is always great. One summer I was working on a kids camp in Yorkshire with lots of sceptical students, until one night we were driving a bus full of dozing children back from Billingham ice rink when John Peel played Miss Black America's first single on the van radio. "That was 'Human Punk' on R*E*P*E*A*T Records" he intoned in his inimitable and much missed way. The students weren't sceptical anymore!

- When the Virgin Suicides, who'd upset the local scenesters with their bilious rants and fantastic republican red anti royal Jubilee single, had their gig disrupted by members of the Cambridge indie glitterati who appeared to pull the plugs, causing the power to all go off mid set . For one brief moment as everything was plunged into pitch darkness, you could feel the menace and the tension in the air as it seemed that anarchy was about to break out. Then the lights came back on…

- Ringing Hall or Nothing (Manics press people) and their press officer saying 'Nicky Wire's just over there in the corner giggling at the new issue of R*E*P*E*A*T!"

- Taking The Hammers (then aged 9-11) to play live on Blue Peter and them completely trashing the dressing room with ice cream and fizzy pop!

- Walking into HMV and seeing a Miss Black America section in the racks, with our copies of 'Terminal' on sale in a chainstore last summer, made me feel we'd arrived.

- Putting out a single with long time hero Attila the Stockbroker.

- People writing to say they want to start a zine, having been inspired by R*E*P*E*A*T.

- Hearing of one time R*E*P*E*A*Tsters jetting off to LA to interview Oasis for Radio One, writing for Drowned in Sound or The Fly or getting careers in writing, music or photography, and them saying they'd never have done it without R*E*P*E*A*T .

- When the kids I teach at my Junior school suddenly become interested in what I'm doing after school; "Can you get me Miss Black America's autographs please?"

- Chips and buns.

- Being unable to stick to word limits!

3) Tells us about the anniversary gig, why did you choose this line-up?

I'm not really into looking backwards, so I had to be pushed into this one - that's why it's running 2 years late! But 12 years is a long time for a 'zine to be running, and it's probably worth marking. This is why I chose the bands:

The Visions - Greg McDonald is someone who's always appreciated what Repeat is about, and although he'd claim to be more Bruce Spingsteen than Richey Manic, and more Gordon Brown than George Galloway, he has a heart of pure rock'n'roll and The Vision's epic slabs of romantic yearning will make a perfect end to the evening.

Johnny Panic. I wanted to add a slightly 'larger' band from outside town, and Johnny Panic are perfect, in fact they are probably my favourite band in the world right now. They mix glamour, excitement, intelligence, energy, bookishness, socially conscious lyrics, a homage to Clash and Guns'n'Roses, and great slabs of guitar toting melodic rock punk to make the most intense inspiring adrenaline-fuelled sound you'll hear this side of Generation Terrorists. Indeed they are in many ways the inheritors of the Manic's crown, and so the perfect R*E*P*E*A*T band.

The Saffs epitomised for a long time what Repeat was about. Glamour, sleeze, pissed up kids looking for an escape from their humdrum lives, The Saffs became unwitting leaders of a very exciting if short lived social movement in Cambridge. Fortunately, they had tunes to match, and songs that still sound fresh today. Their legacy in Cambridge is enormous; everyone I've talked to about the Junction gig says "I can't wait to see The Saffs" - and this includes 13 year olds who can only have been 6 when The Saffs split in 2000!

Miss Black America - the perfect R*E*P*E*A*T band, loyal allies in a world that doesn't care. Seymour Glass has always known exactly what we're about and hasn't hung back from articulating it. Their refusal to collapse in the face of adversity or to worry about being with the 'in' crowd is something else they share with R*E*P*E*A*T. Despite this, their first single and second album are the only things EVER to cover costs on our label!

Pilots of the Sixth - one take on the future of R*E*P*E*A*T. These boys use the guerrilla guitar philosophy beloved by the likes of The Arctic Monkeys and Pete Doherty, spiced up with the beefy blues of The White Stripes and QOTSA, to weave songs of immense power and memorability, leading a resurgent guitar-toting scene amongst the City's teens. Their 'Arbury Demonstrations' ep was the first proper release on The Big Badger Recording Co, our download label, and also the first to receive national radio play.

The Horse and His Boy - the remains of The Virgin Suicides, but not just included for nostalgic purposes - this acoustic duo manage to mix lush musicality combined with linear, scar-like lyrical honesty and their songs have been to known to make grown women weep.

4) What plans do you have for the label; do you think there will be a 20th anniversary knees-up?

As I said, 12 years is a long time for a fanzine to run, and it is perhaps alarming that no one newer and younger and more intelligent has come along to push us off our perch. There are good local fanzines (I was reading Black and White only today) and of course lots of promoters in Cambridge and a couple of labels, but no one who does quite what we do.
Speaking personally, I need to do something creative rather than zonk out in front of the TV after work, and R*E*P*E*A*T provides me with the discipline to make me do this. These days I write fewer reviews myself and am indeed more of an editor, and am fortunate in having a pool of (mostly younger, aged 11 upwards!) talented, opinionated writers whose work does us proud. They are also grateful for the outlet the fanzine and website (110,000 different users last year) provides them with.
As regards the label, The Big Badger download label is going really well and I've managed to recruit some invaluable help with the donkey work that it brings; The Pilots of the Sixth CD was played on Radio One and sold really well, and our next release by Autons has been played repeatedly on national radio and the band even had an MTV crew filming a recent gig, weeks before the single's release.

There's easily enough bands I love to put on another gig like this next week - Cosycosy, Bomb Factory, Towers of London, The Hope, Autons, Volunteers, The Paddingtons, The Resistance, and Impact are all on my wish list, but whether we'll be here in 8 years time, I dunno. I was writing my will recently, but of course no one wants to inherit Repeat, as it takes your time and money and gives you nothing back but the occasional feeling of a job well done. But one thing's for sure, if we do have a 20th birthday party, it'll be a few years late!

5) Which do you prefer? Chips of cream buns? (Sorry!)

Obviously the right answer is chips (we had a graph to prove this once) although cream buns are having a bit of a renaissance in these parts lately.
We asked Garbage this question on a boat sailing down the Thames they'd taken us on once, and they refused to answer. That's probably another of my proudest moments!

Interview by David Williams

Full gig details here

Mouth off about this interview on our message boards here