Legendary and short-lived indie punk label that debuted right on the cusp of the New Zealand underground explosion (i.e. they predate and are noted as a precursor to Flying Nun). Ripper was basically where New Zealand punk first surfaced with the likes of the Suburban Reptiles, the fleetingly popular Swingers, Scavengers etc – basically the cream of the early New Zealand punk scene.
Get hold of the ak79 compilation – later reissued as a joint release (with many bonus tracks) through Flying Nun and Propeller which was Rippers’ key archival document, and one of the finest compilations any New Zealand label has ever put out.
Compilation Discography (picks in bold)
- AK79 [1980 RPR1]
- Hauraki Homegrown 1980 [1980 RPR2]
- Ghost Milk Soup [1981 RPR005]
- Rip Shit Or Bust 12″ ep [1983 rip026]
Excellent, and highly popular post-punk / new-wave pop act out of auckland in the early 80s. Achieved unprecedented success with the release of ‘See Me Go’, a lovely poppy early single in the distinct Mee Mees style that managed to top the New Zealand charts without any radio play, purely on the popularity of their live shows and word of mouth.
How many times was this [‘See Me Go’ 7″ on Propeller] recorded and mixed. We finished the mix and went on tour, only to receive a “remix” that the marketing guy at Festival had done. It was unlistenable, although we were told that he’d substituted it for our mix on the release. A quick call to the pressing plant meant ours was substituted, the other one was quietly dumped, so the official release was ours. The funny thing was the marketing guy never noticed…..4000 copies in a week and number one…in fact the first NZ single to enter at 1.
– Simon Grigg: taken from Griggs’ Propeller archive website.
The Mee Mees were soon to be touted as New Zealand’s most popular band with their rollicking debut If This Is Paradise, I’ll Take The Bag, and toured as part of the Screaming Blamatic roadshow in 1982 to huge crowds, a defining moment for New Zealand post-punk (championed by start-up label Propeller Recordings) – but their success was short lived with members Tony Drumm, Michael O’Niell, Peter Van Ver Fluit and Jon ‘Yoh’ Landwer going their seperate ways after the ‘Stars In My Eyes’ single in 1983.
Discography (picks in bold)
- ‘Can’t Take It’ Split 7″ Single [1981 W/ Newmatics Ripper Rip013]
- ‘See Me Go’/’Till I Die’ 7″ Single [1981 Propeller Rev8]
- See Me Go Ep [1981 Propeller Rev8x]
- ‘Sunday Boys’/’At At’ 7″ Single [Propeller Rev15]
- ‘”F” Is For Fear’/’Orson Welles’ 7″ Single [1982 Propeller Rev18]
- If This Is Paradise, I’ll Take The Bag [1982 Propeller Rev203]
- ‘Stars In My Eyes’/’Days Go By’ 7″ Single [1983 Propeller Rev22]
- Stars In My Eyes 12″ Ep [1983 Propeller Rev22x]
- Stars In My Eyes [Compilation 1992 Propeller Rev501]
RIANZ Awards 1981
- Most Promising Group Of The Year: Screeming Meemees
Hugely popular and influential New Zealand industrial rock act. Known for their grinding sound and one particularly visual music video – the incredible and universally banned ‘Affco’. The video shows some rather graphic freezing-works footage, and was directed by Stuart Page – also known for his band the Axemen. The video has since had several one-off showings, and is actually available directly from page – but it is far too graphic to ever receive any kind of commercial release.
David D’Ath (vocals / keyboards) and Robin Gauld (guitar) formed The Skeptics in Palmerston North way back in 1979, with Don White (drums, percussion and samples) and Ian Reiddy (bass) soon joining to complete their original line-up, heavily influenced by the first wave of British punk. After a few fruitless practice sessions and recording efforts in their high school, Gauld’s old friend Nick Roughan (who was considerably more technically adept) was brought in as a new bassist and things started to gel.
The Skeptics are set apart by the transcendent intensity of their performance. It’s uplifting by way of the band’s sheer force of will. Punishing and cathartic in the extreme, the skeptic’s noise is demanding and confrontational
– Paul Mckesser, taken from a live review in Rip It Up, 1990
Support slots and eventually their own headline slots soon showed a quickly rising fan-base – the band were growing very popular. The Pyronnists Selections EP was recorded for Ripper recordings, but a stolen master tape delayed their debut release (though the track ‘Last Orders’ was included on the Three Piece Pack compilation). After a close finish in the Auckland battle of the bands (finishing 2nd to the short-lived Gurlz) they finally made their debut with the EP Chowder Over Wisconsin, a distinctly collaborative album.
The band continued to build a strong following, running the Palmerston North venue ‘Snail Clamps’ – and started releasing material through Paul Lurkers Industrial Tapes , including a release from spin-off act the Amazing Charlton Heston. Once palmy had been conquered the band relocated to Wellington, losing Gauld to overseas study and gaining the Gordons / Bailter Space‘s John Halvorsen as his replacement, and Brent McLauchlin lent a hand as mixer (and eventually a part-time 2nd drummer).
2nd album Skeptic III and the subsequent ‘Affco’ video were produced in 1987, cementing the bands notoriety, but TVNZ refused the piece, even with digital editing to mask the gore:
The graphic scenes of animal slaughter are unnecessarily detailed and prolonged, and despite the fact that they may be everyday scenes at freezing works, this does not imply that visuals of this nature may be screened on television
– Gerry Ryan, ‘Radio With Pictures’ producer
Come 1989, work on the third album Amalgam was disrupted by D’Ath’s health. It was quickly apparent that D’Ath had leukemia, but despite rushing the albums production, D’Ath never saw it completed. He died on Tuesday, September 4th 1990, dissolving the band. Post D’Ath’s death, the band released archival and live material and compiled their work on a Flying Nun released boxed-set, though Roughan, White and Gauld’s attempt at a reunion (as hub) never really got off the ground.
The focal point was david with his slight stature, his hooked nose and his deep-set eyes. He looked like some strange, punch drunk bird and the veins in his neck bulged as he forced mysterious words and noises from his throat
– Chris Matthews, taken from D’Ath’s obituary in Rip It Up, 1990