Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Rip It Up: A history of us, a history of me

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  • Russell Brown,

    For everyone else's memories, allow me to recommend The Spinoff's excellent new oral history of Rip It Up.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Alec Morgan,

    What an unexpected pleasure and awesome achievement by all concerned. Back when “cut and paste”, “waxer”, and “lightbox”, all had rather different meanings!

    Rip It Up ‘preserved’ confirms all sorts of things if you were lucky enough to have been there at the time.

    Tokerau Beach • Since Nov 2006 • 121 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Simon has a post on the National Library website with his memories of the time and an explanation of how all this has happened.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Alec Morgan,

    What an unexpected pleasure and awesome achievement by all concerned. Back when “cut and paste”, “waxer”, and “lightbox”, all had rather different meanings!

    The smell of the wax comes back to me ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • tony j ricketts,

    Congratulations. New to NZ in 1980 Rip It Up was crucial to my getting to grips with the scene. And as part of my first job I had to edit/design/lay out a technical college monthly paper, printed by the Rodney & Waitemata Times, so I know about the waxer too, as well as reprographic pencils!

    wellington • Since Aug 2012 • 41 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Armstrong,

    I started with earliest issue I could recall - September 79 and had a browse. I was 12 and had already learned to never mind the bollocks that was music industry journalism but the ads are still gold and trigger lots of great memories.

    New Zealand • Since Jan 2015 • 36 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Darlington,

    Jeez, how's a man meant to get any work done if you keep lobbing this sort of stuff at us! :-)

    Well done to all!

    Nelson • Since Nov 2006 • 948 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Ah, I’ve just noticed that Murray’s side of the pompous-letter story is in Gareth’s Rip It Up oral history on the Spinoff:

    At one point, I received this anonymous letter saying that Rip It Up used to be brave, but had just become an advertising rag for the music industry. It was absolutely beautifully written. Every typewriter was different, so you could identify who’d written a page by how it looked. So then a story appeared six months later and I thought – “I know that typewriter!” Russell was obviously a great writer so I wanted to contact him, especially since I was looking for a sub editor.

    From memory the phrase I used in the letter was “paid advertisement for the music industry”. Murray told me later that he figured, “well, better that than an unpaid advertisement.”

    Funny thing is, I’m pretty sure I copped that phrase from Roy Montgomery after a conversation one day at the EMI Shop. It’s wild how small things change the course of lives. Would I have got to Rip It Up if I hadn’t gone into the shop one day and had that conversation?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Jonathan King,

    Speaking of waxing, cutting and pasting — not to mention bromides and dark rooms etc — I pasted up my first issue at Rip It Up as designer … and thereafter had the honour of being the one who dragged RIU into the digital age. Murray was skeptical … but intrigued by the possibility of cost savings, and recognised it was the way things were going … So we got a scanner and Mac, and every issue after that was laid out digitally.

    Oral history-wise I could tell (if anyone asked :-) about the day Murray went off to have the company wound up in court … and we sat around the office wondering what next … and Murray arrived back with Barry Coleman, the mag’s new owner, and introduced us all to our new boss! (I left shortly after).

    Since Sep 2010 • 185 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to Jonathan King,

    So we got a scanner and Mac, and every issue after that was laid out digitally.

    I haven't seen a copy for ages, but I do remember the front and back covers being interchangeable. IE no back or front cover?

    Atlantis • Since Nov 2006 • 4163 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Russell Brown,

    The smell of the wax comes back to me …

    My flat in RossLyn (with Murray) seemed to have the wax everywhere. It travelled with him it seemed.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Jonathan King,

    Oral history-wise I could tell

    The big story missing from the early years' oral history is the deadline story. MC would go into a mad frenzy for at least a week a) trying to finish the magazine, and b) trying to find the money to get it printed, or sweet-talk a printer into giving credit. Murray went through a number of printers and some were more patient than others - some (the Christian lot) would also censor the swear words.

    Finding the money was a full-time job that often ended with a friendly record company boss - CBS, Festival, Virgin and WEA were very supportive - agreeing to book and pay for ads for the future issues. The indie labels and bands, who all advertised, had no money after all. (Murray gave away a lot of free space to the people that made the music - also designing ads for them for free.)

    The mag would be finished after days of no sleep and then MC and a staff (there was only one for a while) would immediately drive it to a printer often in the Waikato or north. He'd then come back to the flat and disappear into the bathroom and the bath for up to 36 hours with magazines and our only phone. I would have to explain to visitors and my girlfriend that we had to use the loo next door (we had great neighbours).

    After 24/36 hours MC would reappear and get in the van to drive to the printers and return with the new Rip It Up. This was repeated the next month. And the month after ...

    That he did this is part of the reason RIU is so important.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3283 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    Kudos to Cammick and all the elves that made RIU happen. It was such good reading (most of the time) even when I didn't agree with the reviews.

    And more kudos to Simon for getting hold of it and letting go again, into the national memory. Well done, that man!

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2929 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    Trying all the links at different places I get this.

    This site can’t be reached paperspast.natlib.govt.nz’s server IP address could not be found.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1874 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to andin,

    This site can’t be reached paperspast.natlib.govt.nz’s server IP address could not be found.

    Not just you.

    It may be that their servers weren't quite ready for this.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Janet Dawes,

    I love that Murray remembered your formatting and the imprint of your typewriter.

    Melbourne • Since Nov 2012 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    The big story missing from the early years’ oral history is the deadline story. MC would go into a mad frenzy for at least a week a) trying to finish the magazine,

    The other part there, from a staff point of view, is that Murray felt that food was extremely important on deadline and we'd down tools and go eat. It was usually Wun Loy, up on Hobson St, or the Mekong on Wellesley St, on the other side of the block the RIU building was in. Crucial part of deadline.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Fortunately their servers were ready.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19667 posts Report Reply

  • Jonathan King,

    Murray felt that food was extremely important on deadline and we'd down tools and go eat.

    In my day it was Shahi Indian on Jervois Rd. Murray didn't have to say what his order was he'd say "Hello, Murray here ... 15 mins? OK, thanks."

    Since Sep 2010 • 185 posts Report Reply

  • Ken Double,

    God I remember getting a job at The Listener by writing a pompous letter. Embarrassing really. Why do they never tell you to do that at school careers evenings?

    The other part there, from a staff point of view, is that Murray felt that food was extremely important on deadline and we’d down tools and go eat. It was usually Wun Loy, up on Hobson St, or the Mekong on Wellesley St, on the other side of the block the RIU building was in. Crucial part of deadline.

    Food is essential to any fringe creative endeavour that can't afford to pay people properly. Nothing's more bonding than a late night dash to a quality dodgy restaurant. You'll do anything for people that feed you.

    Wellington • Since Dec 2012 • 119 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Jonathan King,

    In my day it was Shahi Indian on Jervois Rd. Murray didn’t have to say what his order was he’d say “Hello, Murray here … 15 mins? OK, thanks.”

    I now feel I need to know what his standing order was.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ken Double,

    Food is essential to any fringe creative endeavour that can’t afford to pay people properly. Nothing’s more bonding than a late night dash to a quality dodgy restaurant. You’ll do anything for people that feed you.

    Testify. I put a ton of time into a big British Council event years ago, none of it paid. It certainly wasn't a case of lack of funds, just their usual practice. But good lord they fed and watered me well, so I was happy enough.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22724 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    When did the typewriters switch to computers? Given how expensive computers would have been in those days, the switch would probably have come quite late in the game.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5414 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    Seems roughly commensurate, actually. NZ newsrooms mostly switched to computer layout during the mid-1980s. (Allan Bell was able to carry out studies of the process of news editing in 1984, based on physical drafts, that by 1988 had become impossible to replicate.)

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1876 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Murray Cammick and Chris Bourke natter with Kim Hill (53m clip).

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19667 posts Report Reply

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