Eleven more years of the legendary music magazine Rip It Up are now on line at Papers Past: 1986 to 1998. This means that all issues edited by Murray Cammick (or the co-founder, Alastair Dougal) are now digitally scanned to ensure the photos are well reproduced, and the text word searchable. AudioCulture is proud to be involved. Once again, Rip It Up co-founder and long-serving editor and designer Murray Cammick shares the stories behind the covers that featured New Zealand artists in the period being digitised: January 1986 to July 1998.
(Read about the earlier Rip It Up covers featuring New Zealand artists here: Rip It Up: the New Zealand covers, 1977-1985)
For me, looking over past Rip It Up covers is not fun. In the early days if we had cool design, it was more likely to be inside the magazine, not on the cover. In the later days of my owning or editing the magazine – covered here – I was distracted by trying to pay tax penalties or pick the grunge act that would sell magazines on the newsstand.
Rip It Up always had a policy of putting New Zealand artists on the cover when that artist released an album, as that was when they most needed the profile and that was when they would tour. Twelve issues a year is not many, so you could not put everybody on the cover.
Being monthly, we were not likely to be the first with the story as most other media was daily or weekly. The newspapers had some pro journos, so we were not always the best. But what we could do was, do it our way: find some zany writers and give them more space than the writers in other media.
Another complication in my later Rip It Up editorship was my owning Southside and Wildside Records. Only one Southside act appeared on a cover, and most of the Wildside covers were Shihad or Head Like A Hole. After I left Rip It Up in 1998, a later owner was bailed out by two record companies who chose the covers and Shihad were on the cover about four times a year.
In 1993 we were free and printing 30,000 magazines monthly and we had 75 percent New Zealand covers. When we changed ownership and went on sale the following year, the percentage nearly reversed, dropping to nearer to 25 percent New Zealand covers as we chased retail sales.
It was excellent for me that we got purchased by the Liberty Group as whatever silly amount of money I gave the Inland Revenue Department, they would have added a sillier penalty on top. With the move to the Liberty Group, I got a wage and a bigger staff – and Rip It Up went on sale with a cover price of $2.
The exact list of later sales figures has been hard to find, but April 1994 – the first issue with a cover price – went big with a free CD, TV advertising and a full-page story in the NZ Herald about me and the IRD. We sold over 20,000. A month later we did over 17,000 due to Kurt Cobain’s untimely death, and then figures hovered around 15,000 units sold until we reached the official audited figure of 11,893 based on 1996 sales. This figure would include about 1000 copies distributed free, by various means.
I have tried to acknowledge the names of the designers and photographers who created the memorable Rip It Up covers that were the gateway to some very passionate writing.
RIU 102 January 1986 – Alannah Currie
January issues were often about summer tours and expat Alannah Currie did a lively phone interview with writer Duncan Campbell, ahead of the Thompson Twins’ tour of New Zealand. Also in this issue, Russell Brown interviewed Martin Phillipps of The Chills about their recent UK tour and line-up changes.
RIU 105 April 1986 – Tim Finn
With Tim Finn in England, this cover coincided with his first release on Virgin Records, the album Big Canoe. At the time New Zealand artists signing directly to Northern Hemisphere labels seemed to be the logical way to succeed in Europe and the US. Rip It Up became slightly obsessed with the New Zealand musicians seeking their fortune in Britain or the States. This issue has a second story on musicians abroad, with interviews by Chris Bourke with four expatriates living in Australia: Kevin Borich, Mike Caen, Tina Matthews and Mark Williams.
RIU 106 May 1986 – DD Smash
With staff writer Russell Brown heading to London for his OE, the new editor Chris Bourke took over the task of writing the “on-the-road with the band” story, this time starring Dave Dobbyn and the Stone People (aka DD Smash version III). The story was enlivened with pix by Chris from the Mackenzie Country to Taihape. The cover photo by Derek Henderson was shot at the Puhoi Tavern.
RIU 107 June 1986 – Peking Man
I visited CBS Records to look at new publicity photos of Peking Man. The session with photographer Kerry Brown was specifically for the Rip It Up cover. There was one, and only one, casual snapshot of Margaret Urlich that caught my eye. I suggested to CBS A&R Manager Gilbert Egdell that the casual shot of Margaret would make a great magazine cover. Gilbert said, “Just take all the photos, if you use the one of Margaret, I don’t know anything about it!”
RIU 110 September 1986 – Dalvanius
The Pātea Māori Club single ‘Poi E’ was released in 1983 and this story was meant to coincide with the release of the album that was finally released a year later. As Dalvanius was in Wellington we used freelance photographer Garth Robinson, who Chris Bourke knew from his time at the NZ Listener. At the time I thought the image of Dalvanius was rather stark but nowadays it’s just Dal with a faint smile. Interesting to see the phrase “He Kupu Na Maui” on the cover. I don’t recall it being there. Google translates, “A word from Maui.” Maui was Dalvanius’s middle name, and the Poi E album was released on Dalvanius’s Maui indie label.
RIU 113 December 1986 – Hello Sailor
When Rip It Up was getting started in 1977, Hello Sailor was also getting started and creating a nationwide pub circuit where bands would play original music. When Hello Sailor reformed to record Shipshape and Bristol Fashion, we wanted to be supportive, but their new rock sound with twee 1980s production did not go together like a horse and carriage. Neither did our cover, as the logo’s outline went missing at the printers.
RIU 117 April 1987 – The Chills
I have always been a fan of Russell Brown’s stories with “behind the scenes” or “on tour” or “drinking with the band” themes. When he moved to London, it was cool to get his story about The Chills touring Europe. It did go on and on and on, but it was a new story, not just another trip around the New Zealand pub circuit. It was a great travel story as well as a great music story. He sent me some snapshots and Dutch postcards and I cut them up and made a cover collage. What could go wrong? Probably my finest work of art ever. You would have to be very clued up to notice that I filled in the background with a pink sharpie.
RIU 119 June 1987 – Ardijah
This issue was the 10th anniversary of Rip It Up magazine and Betty-Anne Monga of Ardijah was on the cover to coincide with the release of their self-titled debut album. As a funk music fan, I thought it was cool to have such an excellent album emerge from the South Auckland funk scene, with strong marketing support by Warner Music. The fabulous cover image was by photographer Jocelyn Carlin, from the sessions for the album cover.
RIU 120 July 1987 – Herbs
This Herbs cover coincided with the release of the album Sensitive to A Smile. The release took place in Ruatoria providing a vibrant cultural backdrop for the feature story by Chris Bourke. We had dual headings for the Herbs story, “He Rata Kouri Nui” and “The Mighty Rata Grows.” The photograph was given to us by Jocelyn Carlin.
RIU 123 October 1987 – Shona Laing
This cover celebrated the release of Shona Laing’s album South in New Zealand on indie label Pagan, and the release of the single ‘(Glad I’m) Not A Kennedy’ and the album on the TVT label in the US, and on Virgin in Australia, UK and Europe. A fine photo by Kerry Brown. The Bats are the next big New Zealand story in this issue and one of the Flying Nun acts that should have been on the cover of Rip It Up, but their stories always clashed with a stronger choice for the cover.
RIU 125 December 1987 – The Chills
A second 1987 cover for The Chills and another lengthy story from London by Russell Brown. I had a natural curiosity for how The Chills were doing in the Northern Hemisphere and I assumed the serious readers of Rip It Up would think likewise, in the year that the band’s debut album Brave Words gained attention around the globe.
RIU 127 February 1988 – The Warratahs
The Warratahs earned their first of two Rip It Up covers with the release of their debut album The Only Game In Town on Pagan Records. With Rip It Up having indulged in a Dwight Yoakam cover in 1987, it was time for some local “new country”. Professional photographer David Hamilton – a friend of the band – took this photo for us.
RIU 131 June 1988 – Headless Chickens
We had a hip, classy cover with this fine photo by Chris Mauger and design by John Pitcairn. It was great to have the edgy Headless Chickens win the Rheineck Rock Award and deliver a high audio quality album on the Flying Nun label. Our cover prior to this was Iron Maiden; maybe the Chickens was a rush to regain cred. When Bob Dylan wrote, “the times they are a changing” he may have foreseen the arrival of heavy rock and hip-hop in the 1980s.
RIU 134 September 1988 – Crowded House
Upon leaving Rip It Up, Chris Bourke sounded out the possibility of writing his Crowded House book, Something So Strong (1997). In Sydney he arranged for photographer Chris Mauger to take a band photo in the hotel room. Mauger had the idea of putting a sheet behind them, then going to the State Theatre to photograph the backdrop for our cover. The images were a winning combo and one of Rip It Up’s finest covers. Bourke notes that this is “a rare pic of Eddie [Rayner] with Crowded House when he was on the brink of officially joining the band.” A new John Pitcairn-designed logo made its debut appearance on this cover.
RIU 136 November 1988 – Tex Pistol & Straitjacket Fits
Two acts on the front cover: the pop of Tex Pistol (Ian Morris) and the alt of Straitjacket Fits [sic]. Either act could be the cover star, both Chris Mauger photos delivered, but there are only 12 months in a year. Chris Bourke wrote the Ian Morris profile and Angela Jonasson the Fits interview.
RIU 139 February 1989 – Sneaky Feelings
When Sneaky Feelings looked like the logical cover story, Matthew Bannister was in Auckland, but the rest of the band were not, so we could not take our own cover photo. We made do with a black-and-white photo and a groovy background pattern by John Pitcairn.
RIU 155 June 1990 – The Chills
The Chills return to New Zealand to tour to support the release of their new album Submarine Bells. The bright background is likely to be part of the PR photo. The cover line says, “Martin Phillipps Interview”, but we never chose to ask for Martin-only photos and Flying Nun or their Northern Hemisphere labels Slash and London must have never chosen or been allowed to use photos of Martin only.
RIU 159 October 1990 – Straitjacket Fits
Straitjacket Fits get the same background colour as The Chills had earlier in the year but in this case I think we removed the background of the photo to create a more graphic cover. Donna Yuzwalk wrote this in-depth story with strong quotes and reflections on their new album Melt and their desire to focus on building an audience in the US. The handwritten lettering was ripped-off a surfing magazine and the letters assembled individually. We used this lettering style for a year or so.
RIU 161 December 1990 – The Warratahs
This wet and wild photo of The Warratahs on the Desert Road was an unseasonal image for a December issue of Rip It Up but it coincided with the release of their Wildcard album on Pagan Records. This photo by Polly Walker is similar in style to the first 1980 colour Rip It Up covers, an artist with a scenic background but I chose sunny days.
RIU 164 March 1991 – Push Push
Rip It Up usually waited for an album to be released before we featured an artist on the cover but Push Push went on the cover as their debut single ‘Trippin’ moved up the charts to No.1. Rip It Up was always linked to the live music scene and Push Push were the first group to break out of the popular Powerstation hair-rock scene. There were a multitude of new bands reviewed in this issue, including a young Supergroove. I guess “rock ’n’ roll is back” was the vibe with this issue and Rip It Up wanted to be part of the ensuing noise. With hindsight, the photo used was a cynical choice with maximum hair but and I am sure there were better, more conventional photos from this session by Chris Mauger.
RIU 166 May 1991 – NRA
Not Really Anything – also known as NRA – were on the cover for the release of their album Hold On To Your Face. Our most adventurous cover of the year. In 1991 we had rawk’n’roll covers such as Megadeth, Jane’s Addiction, Metallica, Slash, and AC/DC. bFM legend and friend Lisa Van Der Aarde wrote the story. This was one of Rip It Up’s best covers featuring a new act and I was probably won over by the groovy Polly Walker PR photo.
RIU 171 October 1991 – Flying Nun 10th Anniversary
It’s ironic that our putting the Flying Nun 10th Anniversary on the cover stopped either of the label’s major artists featured – Headless Chickens or The Bats – from having their own cover. The cover featured very fine photos of numerous Flying Nun artists, taken by Kerry Brown and Darryl Ward at the 10th anniversary party in Auckland. These included the Headless Chickens who were releasing their masterpiece Body Blow, and The Bats, who released their third album Fear Of God. Both albums received a bigger recording budget than usual. The Flying Nun 10th coverage included a live review of the Powerstation Party, Elvis Slag’s backstage report and a review of the Roger Sings the Hits cassette.
RIU 173 December 1991 – MC OJ & Rhythm Slave
From 1988 I was active running the Southside label (Ngaire, Moana and the Moahunters, Upper Hutt Posse, etc) but I had never viewed the releases as suitable for a Rip It Up cover. However, I changed my mind with the release of the MC OJ & Rhythm Slave album What Can We Say. Their touring with Headless Chickens and their numerous videos including ‘Money Worries’ with Mikey Havoc had put them on the map and on Max TV. The next step was putting them on the cover and photographer Chris Mauger came up with the clever image.
RIU 175 February 1992 – The Exponents
When Universal’s “new” signing was the “old” Exponents there were doubting cynics among us who were all proven wrong when Something Beginning With C became their biggest selling album ever, with hits ‘Why Does Love Do This To Me’, ‘Who Loves Who The Most’, ‘Whatever Happened To Tracey’, etc. It was cover time again and Kerry Brown shot his third fine cover of the legendary band. The lighting appears to be what photographers call the “golden hour” – just before dusk.
RIU 176 March 1992 – Push Push with Belinda Todd
I am clueless as to how and why we combined on to this one cover, Push Push and Belinda Todd from the zany TV3 news show Nightline. Unfortunately, the cover image was digitally processed to be not as sharp as the original Kerry Brown photo that appears inside the magazine. The cover lined-up with the release of the Push Push album A Trillion Shades of Happy. Writer Donna Yuzwalk did the deed on the Belinda Todd story and Kirk Gee wrote the Push Push story. Two very creative writers.
RIU 179 June 1992 – Head Like a Hole
After a dabble with the Southside label I wandered into the rock genre with the Wildside label. The sixth act on the label was Head Like A Hole. They were the first act on the label that I considered “cover worthy” when their debut album 13 was released. They had built their following with videos such as ‘Fish Across Face’ and live performances, their own shows in Wellington and opening for Shihad nationwide. Fresh back from New Orleans, Chris Bourke wrote about Moana & the Moahunters performing as guests of the Neville Brothers at the legendary Tipitina’s nightclub.
RIU 180 July 1992 – The Chills
One thing I thought I knew for certain: I never wrote a Chills story. But now I have been proven wrong, there’s a story by me in this Rip It Up for the release of the Soft Bomb album. I assume someone else transcribed the tape and I just wrote the intro. These times were a bit crazy, and you do forget things. Excellent cover photo by Darryl Ward and design by Jonathan King. This issue also included Donna Yuzwalk’s “New Plymouth Rocks” story.
RIU 182 September 1992 – Jan Hellriegel
Too classy to be a Rip It Up cover. Designer Jonathan King seriously upgraded the Rip It Up look with covers like this one. No photographer credit but someone knew what they were doing. Donna Yuzwalk wrote the Jan Hellriegel story. Other features included Bailter Space, Peter Jefferies and The Mutton Birds.
RIU 183 October 1992 – Greg Johnson
A cool cover for a smooth operator. The photo was by Polly Walker and the story was written by John Taite. The single ‘Isabelle’ was a success on commercial radio and the album Everyday Distortions followed on the Pagan label. Dark backgrounds were never the best when Rip It Up was on newsprint but the Polly Walker’s sharp high-quality image worked for Greg Johnson.
RIU 187 February 1993 – JPSE
This excellent cover photo by Darryl Ward made JPSE [Jean-Paul Sartre Experience] a zany and creative cover as they released their Bleeding Star album on the Flying Nun label. The cover story was written by Martin Bell. This alt cover followed three rock legend covers: Keith Richards, Neil Young and Guns ’N Roses. In 1993 Rip It Up had 75 percent New Zealand covers. This was the last year that I owned Rip It Up, as IRD was knocking loudly on the door by this stage.
RIU 188 March 1993 – Dead Flowers
Dead Flowers scored the Rip It Up cover for their debut album Skin of a Stone. Their touring and videos such as ‘Plastic’ made them contenders. I wasn’t sure of their warranting a cover until I read a positive review of them opening for Guns ’N Roses, written by Graham Reid in the NZ Herald. At that point I decided they’ve made it, and they should be there. The interview is with singer-guitarist Bryan Bell and written by Shirley Charles.
RIU 189 April 1993 – Straitjacket Fits
Straitjacket Fits are back on the cover again with the Blow album and yet another excellent but uncredited photo. The cover story is a lively interview by Donna Yuzwalk covering it all, from their deal with Arista US to Andrew Brough’s departure.
RIU 191 June 1993 – Tim Finn
Tim Finn made his third solo appearance on the cover of Rip It Up with the new album Before & After. Four tracks, including ‘Hit the Ground Running’ were produced by Brit legends Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley. Other stories include The Warratahs by Kevin Norquay, the Bats by Grant McDougall, and Failsafe by Donna Yuzwalk.
RIU 192 July 1993 – Shihad
Shihad debuted on the Rip It Up cover with the release of their debut album Churn. They insisted that the only photos that could be used for publicity were the out of focus images from their album artwork. They must have backed down from this demand as inside Rip It Up are photos from a session where they are drinking cups of tea. Very rock’n’roll. The cover story is written by Donna Yuzwalk. Other features include Moana & the Moahunters by Barbie and Tin Soldiers by Grant McDougall.
RIU 193 August 1993 – Dave Dobbyn
Back on the cover is Dave Dobbyn with his Lament For the Numb album. Resident Rip It Up writer Donna Yuzwalk digs out all the details on Dobbyn’s various endeavours, from producing Grant McLennan’s album Watershed to recording his new album in Los Angeles with Mitchell Froom. Other yarns: Into the Void and Braintree.
RIU 194 September 1993 – The 3Ds
The much-loved, lower profile Flying Nun band The 3Ds made their cover debut with the release of their second album The Venus Trail. The cover story was written by Craig Robertson and the photo was supplied by Flying Nun. Other local stories included Dribbling Darts by Donna Yuzwalk, Strawpeople by Russell Brown, and Chris Knox by Matthew Hyland.
RIU 195 October 1993 – Crowded House
A cool cover with Crowded House in a shelter that did not reflect the budget for their album Together Alone, recorded at Karekare beach on the western edge of Auckland. The fourth guy who made this shelter so crowded is US multi-instrumentalist Mark Hart. Other New Zealand acts in this issue were The Verlaines, Hallelujah Picassos and Chug.
RIU 197 December 1993 – Andrew Fagan
Andrew Fagan had been a big part of the Rip It Up history with his many successful years fronting The Mockers. A young teen crowd initially embraced The Mockers but, like the Exponents, the band went on to have a strong following on the pub circuit. Andrew’s solo album Blisters was released after he returned from several years in the UK. I did the interview. Also, in this issue were Urban Disturbance and Bill Direen.
RIU 200 April 1994 – The Mutton Birds
In January 1994 the Inland Revenue decided to wind up Rip It Up over the accumulated tax penalties owed. We pursued a music business bail-out but only one day prior to our final IRD meeting The Liberty Group (National Business Review) made an offer to pay off our debts in exchange for ownership of the magazine. We accepted and I stayed on as editor. After publishing a March issue in the old free format, the new publishers wanted to go on the newsstands with a free CD, a TV campaign and a $2 price tag. The Mutton Birds were on the cover of our April issue – No.200 – and our sales were outstanding, just over 20,000 units.
RIU 202 June 1994 – Head Like a Hole
The April issue was bolstered by TV advertising; the May issue cover was Kurt Cobain’s death (over 17,000 sold); and June was a more routine issue with Head Like A Hole hitting 15,000 sales. The band had just released their second album Flik Y’self Off Y’self and Jeremy Chunn wrote the story. Also in this issue is Tall Dwarfs in Europe by Chris Knox. Young dudes had joined the Rip It Up staff: designer Ryan Henderson and staff writer John Russell.
RIU 203 July 1994 – Supergroove
The super-seller album Traction was the focus of the Supergroove story and the band supplied a Polly Walker photo. Otherwise the issue was light on local talent but Donna Yuzwalk did visit AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd’s Mountain Studios near Katikati.
RIU 204 August 1994 – Jordan Luck of Exponents
Thinking newsstands and sales, we decided that photographing Jordan Luck on his own might make a better Exponents cover. This was a bad idea. The Wayne Wilson photo inside was a killer image but Jordan with a cigarette would have broken my cover rules. Another cool local story was "The Producers”, in which Emma Farry profiled Nick Roughan, Mark Tierney, Phil Fuemana, Angus McNaughton, and Malcolm Welsford.
RIU 212 April 1995 – Pumpkinhead
We were living in a grunge world and the seven covers prior to this issue were Big Day Out style foreign acts: Pearl Jam, Courtney Love, Faith No More, etc. Christchurch rockers Pumpkinhead are on the cover to coincide with the release of their debut album Sloth; John Russell wrote the story. Also in this issue is an interview with Nathan Haines about his time in New York and the release of his album Shift Left.
RIU 213 May 1995 – Shihad
With the release of the classic Killjoy album, Shihad were back on the cover. Writer John Russell interviewed Jon Toogood who was in Germany on a European tour with Head Like A Hole in tow. Both bands were released on the Noise Records label in Europe. Other stories included The Nixons and The Magick Heads.
RIU 214 June 1995 – Jan Hellriegel
Only once in my life have I seen a photographer’s film where I could have used any of the photos taken from the session. Often it is a struggle to find one photo you can use. When Alan Drain brought in his photos of Jan Hellriegel, I would have happily used any of the photos. Always a Prince fan, I loved the purple studio background. Jan briefly dropped by the office to make sure we didn’t choose a dud and she only identified about five images that she did not want used and left us to choose the cover. This is our first cover with a photo credit for not just photographer Alan Drain, but also a make-up credit for Virginia Carde. With Rip It Up now selling for $2, and soon to be $2.95, I was cautious about my cover choices: the next 11 covers were foreign rock acts and Björk was the only woman.
RIU 226 June 1996 – Garageland
My wearing two hats as Rip It Up editor and owner of the Wildside record label hit a crisis point when I moved the label’s distribution from Festival Records to BMG. A call came through from Mark Ashbridge of Festival Records to ask how this would affect the relationship between Rip It Up and his company and the labels such as Flying Nun that they distributed. I said, no worries, I would happily consider Garageland for a cover if they can come up with a cover photo of the band. I loved their ‘Beelines to Heaven’ video that recreated a 1960s TV show and photographer Leon Rose came up with an excellent cover image. Garageland was a bit of pop, a bit of rock, a bit of alt and a bit of cute, so was a perfect blend for Rip It Up.
RIU 229 September 1996 – Supergroove
Supergroove were quite controlling of their publicity photos and this supplied image had it all for me, a classic car and a light coloured background that would print cleanly. What was missing? Che Fu. The band’s debut album Traction was so massive and the band had been doing great things touring around the world, so a cover for Backspacer was a no-brainer. I have never heard their second album, the good thing about being an editor is that you can delegate, listening to a bad idea.
RIU 230 October 1996 – Shihad
Just like the old days, John Russell delivered a “going on the road, drinking with the band” story in the tradition of Russell Brown. I still get those names mixed up. The cover coincided with the release of Shihad’s self-titled third album. John Russell joined the band on the road in Australia and even called me about the tension between band members. One of those “song by song and on and on and on” stories that I have always liked.
RIU 239 July 1997 – Bic Runga
Bic Runga was an excellent cover for one of our “20 years of Rip It Up” issues. The photo was by Cindy Wilson and cover design by Lloyd Osborne. John Russell interviewed Bic Runga about the several attempts to record her debut album Drive. Part of our 1977 to 1997 interview series was John Russell’s interview with Flying Nun’s Roger Shepherd.
RIU 243 November 1997 – Salmonella Dub
This cover was part Salmonella Dub and part Big Day Out. Rip It Up had always been focused on the live scene and we had all seen Salmonella Dub emerging as a popular new live band. Since the festival’s debut in Auckland in 1994, the Big Day Out and Rip It Up had a close working relationship. Promoter Doug Hood stuck with Rip It Up in an era when there was a proliferation of cool alt magazines. The stage timetable would first appear in the January issue of Rip It Up.
RIU 251 July 1998 – Neil Finn
The Rip It Up staff employed by the Liberty Group, including myself, were given notice that our jobs would end after the June 1998 issue was published. John Russell had written the Neil Finn cover story and sold it to the new publisher. He insisted on being paid up front, a wise move. John had already accepted the job of editing Real Groove magazine for Real Groovy Records and a condition of his employment was that he had to accept that Warner Music had purchased the front cover his first issue for The Feelers, not his fave band. Part of his agreement was that after his first issue, the cover would never be for sale. This Neil Finn cover had the first-ever Rip It Up editorial, written by David Glynn, appointed editor by Liberty.