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).


Issue 1


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 City Nation

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 around 2005.

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!)

Proudest moments