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Ripper Records

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 Records).

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.

Started by popular 1ZM Tuesday evening show host Bryan Staff as an outgrowth of his own radio show:

Staff would take in demos and then record the bands he liked in the Radio New Zealand studios in Auckland’s Durham Lane West (ironically in a now demolished building next door to Zwines, the city’s leading punk club).

Staff would then play the resulting recordings in on his show. It was a win-win for the bands and Staff, and it occurred to the pair that there was probably a market for the best of these, focusing on the wave of new punk bands filling the venue next door.

AudioCulture article on Ripper Records

Staff got together with his radio show programmer Jon Doe; who had experienced the early days of the UK’s explosive punk scene, and was keen to leverage this new market in New Zealand with a compilation that captured the sound of Auckland Punk – AK79 was born.

Get hold of the AK79 compilation – later reissued as a joint release (with many bonus tracks) through Flying Nun Records and Propeller which was Rippers’ key archival document, and one of the finest compilations any New Zealand label has ever put out.

AK79 was a huge success – it came into what was essentially a non-existent independent record market and proved it was viable:

There had been the odd indie releasing tracks from studio downtime, and Terrence O’Neil-Joyce’s Ode but they were all ignoring the new wave of bands filling the clubs and bars. CBS and WEA had a couple of signings (and WEA were about to sign, courtesy of the vision of Terry Hogan, Toy Love) but the New Zealand recording industry was virtually dead in the water when Bryan decided to put together a bunch of tracks of new acts, and call it AK79. With a Terence Hogan designed logo – they were in business

Simon Grigg article on Ripper Records

With The Swingers coming on board in 1980, the label expanded quickly:

Moving distribution to CBS in 1980 (The Swingers single was the first via the deal), AK79 was reissued on both LP and cassette, and Ripper/CBS licensed further Swingers recordings from Mushroom in Australia when that band signed a deal with the Michael Gudinski owned Oz indie. The next single from the band was the monstrous and era-defining ‘Counting The Beat’ which gave Ripper its only No.1 (in April 1981).

AudioCulture article on Ripper Records

Label Artists

Compilation Discography

  • AK79 (1980, RPR1)
  • Hauraki Homegrown 1980 (1980, RPR2)
  • Ghost Milk Soup (1982, RPR005)
  • Rip Shit Or Bust 12″ EP (1983, RIP026)
  • It’s Bigger Than Both Of Us (NZ Singles 1979–82) Double LP (1988, 2REV210)


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