R*E*P*E*A*T IS A fanzine/ website, a record label, and part of music’s war against fascism and hate. It was started in Cambridge 20 years ago by Richard Rose, with A4 fanzines bloated with interviews, record and gig reviews and rants. It looked like a fanzine should do, messy with more emphasis on words than layout. The record label has featured numerous East Anglian and national bands including Miss Black America, Johnny Panic, The Virgin Suicides, The Dawn Parade and the latest release has S*M*A*S*H re-doing the incendiary (I Want To) Kill Somebody, updating the list of figures of hate, with anti-Tory rapper NxtGen on the other side. Please check the website as it has so much more, and buy some excellently priced records. http://www.repeatfanzine.co.uk/
I spoke to Richard recently about the past 20 years, and now.
Porky: You were inspired to write a fanzine by the Manic Street Preachers, what exactly was it about the Manics you found so invigorating?
Rosey: Mix of glamour, bookishness, politics, sex, shyness, energy, anger and intelligence. Having been too young for the Pistols and The Clash, they were the band I’d been waiting for all my life.
Porky: The Manics of 1990-92 were incendiary and a class above most bands of the time. Have you been disappointed at some of the material they have produced post-Generation Terrorists, particularly from the early 2000s?
Miss Black America
Rosey: Yes but I usually get over it. And maybe go onto understand it. For instance “If You Tolerate This…” may sound very middle of the road and unthreatening, but with it the band managed to smuggle a song about fighting Fascism into number one spot of the hit parade. With recent election results across Europe, it’s more relevant now than ever. Porky: What other bands should the world be listening, alive or dead, East Anglia and beyond? Rosey: My answers are going to be R*E*P*E*A*T related as otherwise the question is too large -of course I’d say all of our releases, but especially in the context of this discussion I’d say in this context – S*M*A*S*H, Johnny Panic, Miss Black America, Ten City Nation, Virgin Suicides, The Resistance, Beverley Kills, Rats As Big As Dogs, NxtGen…
Porky: What’s the biggest coup for the zine? And your favourite interviews, feedback, records, freebies?
Rosey: Releases by two of my favourite bands that I was already a massive fan of and never thought to work with – Johnny Panic and S*M*A*S*H. Once we interviewed three bands in one night – from memory Dweeb (me), The Bluetones (Rowan Collinson) and Catatonia (Rowan). Radio One play for our first ever single which we couldn’t even afford to print labels for. Spilling orange squash on Steve Lamacq. Rowan interviewing Cornershop when they were number one. Rowan going onto work for Radio One Making records that when they come up on shuffle on my music player I think – ‘this is fantastic’, before I realise that I helped put it out! Taking The Hammers to play live to 11 million people on Blue Peter.
Porky: A major factor in the zine is your anti-fascist stance, and you have organised anti-fascist marches in Cambridge. Given that the racist Ukip has an alarming level of support, while the fascist British National Party and English Defence League gain excessive amounts of publicity, what needs to be done to counter these mobs?
Rosey: I think the tactics we’ve used over the past years have been proved to be successful. The BNP looks set to be going bust and the zombie EDL are split and weak. And they always blame us for this, which shows we are right to constantly expose and confront them. But you are right, UKIP provides a different challenge. Clearly not Fascists, they rely on nasty populist anti migrant racism, telling lies and half truths which make sense to people who’ve not had experience of living in mixed cultures, including some who are alienated from the mainstream political process for reasons I can well understand. They are hard to counter as they are democratic (unlike Fascists) but I think their racism needs to be taken on as it is shifting all political discourse rightwards. Recently, we had a Love Music Hate Racism stage at a local festival where we raised the question of opposing UKIP, and there is the beginnings of a united front to counter UKIP’s poison, Stand Up to UKIP http://standuptoukip.org/
Porky: Have you experienced any intimidation/ violence from the far-right for your activities? Rosey: Just the usual – nasty texts, calls, shouts in the street, nothing physical for a very long time, fingers crossed… Porky: There is little alternative other than a lacklustre Labour Party and the Greens to the ConDem’s cut-at-will brutalistic policies. Why is the left not capitalising on the resentment to such things as the Bedroom Tax?
Rosey: No alternative exists at the moment, there are small groups eg TUSC (Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition) but without the media coverage Farage gets they will never do well, or at least not without an outbreak of mass strikes, civil disobedience etc – I think that’s the key to how people’s ideas change quickly. You can read in the Daily Mail about Romanians stealing your houses or your job, but when you are striking or marching alongside one, or you’re working together to stop a Bedroom Tax eviction, you realise who is really on your side. Also successful battles give people the confidence that things can change – for instance in my primary school in a leafy suburb, most colleagues would agree with me about (Education Minister) Michael Gove and the Tories and also how Labour offer no alternative, but getting them to take action to fight for an alternative takes time and persuasion and patience and understanding.
Seeing somebody else win a battle elsewhere would really lift us all. But when Union leaders use action as token and then demobilise it again, it can be demoralising. Some of the European votes in the Euro elections do show that the Left can grow again very fast, as I am sure it will.
Porky: I recently interviewed Ranting Jack from xBomb Factory, and he said the band’s websites had several visits from police computers. Do you think the authorities do the same with Repeat. Do they buy any records?!
Rosey: There was an article in the Guardian. The police come to our anti Fascist meetings and try to recruit spies. No doubt they’ll have looked at the website too – I know they have as they’ve turned up at our meetings. Maybe at gigs too – not that I am bothered, we have nothing to hide, we work by being open and involving as many people as we can – as long as they pay to get in! http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/mar/17/cambridgeshire-police-political-activists-informants I do hope they bought the last record “(I Want To) Kill Somebody”!!… caught by the fuzz! Porky: You recently released a single by S*M*A*S*H who share your love of asterixes and were, with the Manics, one of the bands that had attitude and positivism. How did this project come about? Rosey: Yes, we nicked their S*T*A*Rs, they actually inspired us to set up R*E*P*E*A*T just about as much as The Manics, especially the DIY creativity they showed was possible. We interviewed them in ‘94 (see pix http://www.repeatfanzine.co.uk/archive/Smash.htm ) and I went to many, many gigs. In 2013 Ed sent me the new version of Kill Somebody and I thought it a waste not to publicise it more widely. NxtGen on the flip side is a fantastic young rapper /poet who shows that the anger still exists, and I think that the single with its beautiful picture disc artwork really hangs together well, something I am very proud of!
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