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The Rip

Legendary New Zealand underground musician Alastair Galbraith‘s first band. Flanked by Robbie Muir and Jeff Harford they put out 2 extremely hard to find EP’s in the mid 80s that show-case Galbraith’s brilliant talent for song-writing at an early age, particularly on their second EP – ‘Stormed Port’.

Galbraith was originally inspired by witnessing The Clean playing a series of hall gigs back in Dunedin (in 1981), and immediately formed The Rip with Muir. Both were only 15, so early live performances were a bit of a struggle. The group suffered a particularly tragic single song debut – their 14 year old drummer Nicholas Neill couldn’t make the show and a roped in replacement (possibly John Collie) ‘bashed away’ while Galbraith and Muir managed to break multiple guitar strings.

However after the show both Kathryn Tyrie of the Verlains and Wayne Elsey of The Stones offered up some encouragement:

[Wayne Elsey] was there and asked me to come and sit on the steps with him, and just…Blew me away. He told me that I had something, something that he couldn’t really describe, not a great musical talent or instrumental proficiency, more of a spirit that he could see when i played, and that I had to keep doing it.

He offered to help me any way he could, and he actually did that over the next few months. He got Robbie a better bass, let us use their practice space, got us gigs supporting The Stones and just encouraged us the whole time, saving us from a very, very short career.

Alastair Galbraith

Boyd on by the encouragement they’d received the young duo soldiered on, eventually recruiting Matthew Ransome as their first steady drummer. The group spent the first half of 1982 as the perennial support band in Dunedin before striking out to headline shows later in the year.

By March 1983 and they were ready to record, the results appearing on a DIY cassette and a song on the ‘Songs from the Lowlands‘ compilation on Robert Scott‘s Every Secret Thing cassette label.

[‘The Hole Room’ cassette] It was horrible! I really, sincerely, genuinely do not have a copy and haven’t had a copy since about 1988. I don’t know who would, hopefully no-one. We had the covers printed with a wooden block. That was just stuff we recorded in our practice room of the time. 

Alastair Galbraith interview with Tony Dale (Terrascope)

The lack of headline opportunities frustrated the group – Galbraith remarking on The Empire Tavern being the only available venue for groups like theres. By the end of the year they planned a final show, with Ransome moving on.

However early in the new year Jeff Harford joined as their new drummer and the group soldiered on – his experience as the drummer of The Stones helping the trio step things up a notch. With shows up and down the country, a win in the local battle of the bands competition and new recordings completed during a busy 1984. The resulting EP ‘A Timeless Piece’ came out on Flying Nun Records.

By 1985 Galbraith was a busy man – playing violin with The Bats, forming new group The Witchdoctors with Michael Morley and the occasional show with The Rip. A recording session with This Kind of Punishment’s Peter and Graeme Jefferies was completed, however with The Rip playing their final show in March 1986 the results wouldn’t arrive until a year later. Galbraith described the final stages of the group with the Chicago Tribute:

My approach to how I wanted to make music was changed with that album, and part of it was forced on me by the band having suddenly disintegrated, we had just lost our drummer, but thanks to Peter, it was the first time I felt I could have a great say in what the record would sound like and how the songs went down. It became a record with no drums, almost like chamber rock. Before, we had always put the drums and rhythm track down first and built on that. But this time, we got the essence of the song down first.

Alastair Galbraith interview with Greg Kot (Chicago Tribute)

Galbraith and Muir would resurface in new group Plagal Grind in 1988.




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