“People keep asking if I’m going to write a book about this stuff, which is preposterous; so this (the Ripped And Torn website) is the beginnings of that work”
Tony D – October 2011
Well, the book took pretty much exactly seven years to finally be published with the invaluable help, and enthusiasm of Thurston Moore (ex of Sonic Youth).
The published book was well worth the wait!
A thick volume which displays the original seventeen issues of Ripped And Torn, every page, every scrawl in perfect print.
The layout is divine, the coloured pages of the fanzine (coloured pages feature sporadically from issue ten) are startling, and we can see why Ripped And Torn had, and has such a wonderful reputation amongst the contemporaries from the era.
Tony D signed my, ahem, free of charge copy with these words:
To Penguin. This is just the warm up for the ‘Puppy’ book!
If that project could be possible in the future, and the finished publication could look even half as good as this Ripped And Torn anthology, then bring it on!
I wanna see it!
Here is some text from the official press release:
Tony founded two legendary punk fanzines, Ripped & Torn in 1976 and Kill Your Pet Puppy in 1980. He chronicled the rise of punk and how it developed into a lifestyle whilst living the life and being highly active on the anarcho-punk scene in the early eighties, helping set up the Black Sheep Housing Co-op and a peace centre at Centro Iberico in London. Tony written for music publications such as Sounds, NME, Record Mirror, Zig Zag & Punk Lives. Tony left music journalism in 1984 to perform and develop a punk circus across Europe, pioneering the likes of Archaos, before touring the world in his own right as a fire-breathing entertainer; in which time he did such things as meeting Lady Di and unicycling around the Royal Albert Hall dressed as an enormous goose.
Thurston Moore is an American musician best known as a singer, songwriter and guitarist. He has also participated in many solo and group collaborations, including Sonic Youth, as well as running the Ecstatic Peace Library publishing house and the Ecstatic Peace! record label.
Tony D’s Ripped & Torn was the loudest and coolest fanzine in the UK. To celebrate the publication of the new Ripped & Torn compendium, Ecstatic Peace Library and Rough Trade are hosting a festival of punk.
With conversations about and with the 1970s and 1980s musicians and writers as well as performances by their contemporary counterparts ‘The Ripped & Torn Fest’ will be an evening of gigs, talks, and fun as we explore Punk’s London roots as well as its continuing influence, from fashion to film, politics to identity, and of course, music.
Some of the events include two radio interviews with Tony D recorded live during this month, October 2018.
The recordings can be listened to in the two links below.
Thurston Moore from (post-punk rock band Sonic Youth) conducted a Q&A with Tony D in front of an audience at Rough Trade East in Brick Lane, Whitechapel about starting up the legendary fanzine Ripped & Torn. Introduced by Max Rema Rema A.K.A Dorothy, Industrial Recording artist.
This event was also held this month, October 2018.
The recording can be listened to in the link below:
Tony D with Ripped And Torn anthology alongside Thurston Moore with the Sniffin’ Glue anthology.
The link below is the unedited audio of the discussion.
In December 2018, an interview was broadcast about Ripped & Torn with Michael Bradley of The Undertones on his Radio Ulster Arts Show programme. Tony says that the interview was very strange to do as he had to wear headphones and could hear himself booming into his own ears as he was talking – hence the stuttering voice. During the interview Tony admitted that of all the artists on the Good Vibrations record label at the time he preferred The Outcasts to The Undertones; this according to Tony, developed into a nice and nerdy discussion on the subject of Good Vibrations records and Michael told him that when the Undertones play gigs they often include Outcasts song in their set!
The link to the show is below.
Although I was not in attendance at the Water Rats pub for Tony D and Jordan’s book discussion, Johnny Moped performing afterwards, I can say that the book Defining Gravity by Jordan (with Cathi Unsworth) is probably the best autobiography that I have read for some time. I really cannot rate this book less than a solid TEN STARS out of , well, ten stars! Nice one.
The link to the full audio for the discussion between Tony D and Jordan in December 2019 is below.
Tony D and Jordan with Johnny Moped – December 2019
The text below is a snippet of the history of Ripped And Torn compiled by Tony D himself:
Ripped & Torn was started in Cumbernauld, Scotland by myself and the Skid Kid in 1976 as we wanted to get involved in the punk scene we were reading about in the music papers. There was nothing up in Scotland at the time.
I went to London to see what punk rock was all about. On the first evening I saw The Damned at the Hope & Anchor. Amazing, just amazing.
I had met Mark P and Shane MacGowan earlier and I had seen my first ever copies of Sniffin’ Glue on the Kings Road. Mark P said something like you should start your one fanzine.
Back in Scotland I did. Using a chat I’d had with the Damned as basis of an interview / article about that gig. I was working at an advertising company at the time and used their photocopier to print out ten copies of the ten pages of what was to be the first issue of Ripped & Torn.
I sent copies to the music papers, Mark P and also to the shops Compendium and Rough Trade.
Both the shops wrote back each ordering two hundred copies. That was going to be a lot of clandestine photocopying! In the end I went into the printers with my originals and got five hundred of each page printed. I thought the printer would throw me out on my ear or laugh in my face. But he was very sympathetic. This was a whole new experience; I didn’t know that it was possible to do such things. Then of course I had to get the sheets stapled together. This took a few days with a normal stapler (borrowed from work) with piles of paper in the bedroom. The next problem was how would I get the all the copies down to London. It was a steep learning curve but mind-blowing at the same time. There was no guide to help in this, all completely venturing into the unknown.
With the hundred copies left I took them to local record shops in Glasgow; where I learnt about the concept of sale or return. At first the shops took ten copies each. After a week I went back, and they all wanted more, having sold those ten very quickly. And I had the rush of seeing a copy in the window, man that felt good.
Then there was a piece about Ripped & Torn and me in the local paper.
The ball was rolling.
At this time a young Edwyn Collins (later finding fame with the band Orange Juice) wrote for Ripped & Torn, and in his book, he remembers how disappointed he was to meet me and find out I looked like Noel Edmonds!
This was to change.
I moved to London with Skid Kid in the spring of 1977, and begun writing Ripped & Torn issue five, which was mainly written in a bed-sit in Willesden Green, then later that year, from issue seven, the fanzines were written at number 2 Bramley Road which was a squatted pub called the Trafalgar situated within a squatted community known as Frestonia.
The Trafalgar pub was also a place occupied by several original Rough Trade shop staff, Steve Montgomery, Jo Slee and Pete Walmsley amongst them. The squat was right next to the infamous ‘Apocalypse Hotel’. Our old friends from Scotland, Sandy Robertson and Alex Ferguson soon joined us in this communial squatted pub to the dismay of the Rough Trade workers. We were collectively known by them as the Scottish plague!
In Ripped & Torn five I had mentioned that Mark P has given up the editorship of Sniffin’ Glue, it folded shortly after.
From issue six I am using the same printer as Sniffin’ Glue out in Cambridge and am typing up the words on the Sniffin’ Glue typewriter in the Sniffin’ Glue office on Oxford Street. Harry Murlowski has set this up.
There’s also the first appearance of Step Forward / Faulty Products adverts appearing. Looking at this now I see a big break slipping through my fingers, Miles Copeland – who financed all this office space must’ve been looking Ripped & Torn over as a successor to Sniffin Glue. But I was too snotty to know better.
An even bigger break passed me by when Janet Street Porter came around at the time of the Queens Silver Jubilee procession going past the offices down Oxford Street. She chatted to me and Skid Kid first then spent a long time with Sniffin’ Glue contributor Danny Baker. Shortly after this she got him onto TV and his career rocketed.
I was too busy climbing onto a telephone box to boo the Queens limousine to take much notice of this journalist. And what was a career anyway?
At the same time as all this was happening a strange mood was overtaking the music press – they had begun the ‘punk is dead’ campaign to varying degrees of success. Meanwhile pubs and clubs were bursting with a new wave of punk bands playing to crowds coming to London to find the punk scene they’d read about.
A photographer called Jem Gibbs began sending in photos from gigs he’d been to and they quickly found their way into the pages. Likewise, a cartoonist, Phil Smee, began sending in some strange strips about penguins. These also found their way into the next issues. Both elements helped improve the quality of the subsequent issues, and also began to give Ripped & Torn a style and identity. I never met either of these people in all the time of doing Ripped & Torn!
Another thing had happened: Adam And The Ants. This band quickly became the London punks number one band; all the better as the music press despised them and ignored them. It was becoming more and more a ‘them and us’ situation and Ripped & Torn was in a great place to get in amongst it. Ripped & Torn had the first ever Ants interview printed in issue eight published in September 1977.
As the punks kept pouring into London, squatting began happening on an ever-larger scale. I remember walking from an Ants gig at the Roundhouse in Camden down Tottenham Court road and installing into the derelict flats on Charing Cross Road a whole load of homeless punks who happened to be at the same gig. A few weeks later they’d spread throughout the whole block!
Around the end of 1978 things began to change dramatically. Crass appeared and with them a complete re-focusing of the punk ideal. Johnny Lydon appeared with PIL in a Xmas show where his cynicism and mocking of the audience touched the wrong note with me.
The last issue of Ripped & Torn I was involved with was issue seventeen which is dated March 1979.
At that time, I had moved out of Frestonia and into a large squatted complex in Covent Garden, an interlinked series of shop fronts, warehouses and rooms that stretched around James Lane and Long Acre. Shrink was on the cover of this issue and was actually the catalyst of the move.
I’d gone to the Rock Garden to see Shrink play, been impressed and arranged to interview him for the next issue. Then a girl at the gig invited me to a party in her squat around the corner in Long Acre. I went, and even though I found out the ‘party’ was just me and her, I moved in with her. A week later Skid Kid also moved in, finding solace in the arms of the lead singer of a band called Bitch who lived on the top floor. She encouraged him to develop his bass-playing skills and shortly they both moved out of the squat and went on to form a psychobilly band together.
I discovered shortly after arriving that the squatted complex I’d moved into was in turmoil; probably the turmoil allowed me and Skid Kid to move in no questions asked, but the turmoil also led to the place getting evicted.
Most of the material that was eventually to be found in Ripped & Torn seventeen was put together in the front room of 48 Long Acre, although some of the material must have been written and laid out in the transition between entering the squat and being evicted as there is a note scribbled on the back cover saying how we are homeless and need somewhere to put the fanzine together!
An advance party from the Long Acre and James Street squats had recently found and moved into a disused fire-station near Old Street; we all drifted across throughout that spring. I wasn’t feeling very much like writing, and there wasn’t the time: on the back of Crass there was a renewed explosion of fanzines – a whole new scene was beginning that became known as Anarcho Punk.
But I was thinking further afield, and I had a headful of hippy trails and thought of just bumming around Europe. In the basement of the squatted Trafalger pub in Frestonia were stored large collections of hippy magazines and I read my way through just about all of the Oz and International Time magazines that were in that basement during my stay there throughout 1977 and 1978.
Vermilion had arrived in London, a writer and musician from San Francisco who had connections to the infamous City Lights bookshop and related journals from there. She had also got in with the Step Forward Records crowd – who used to help keep Ripped & Torn afloat with their advertising.
Living transiently at the Fire Station I realised that I may as well live transiently abroad and got a cheap bus to Paris.
Before I went I arranged with Vermilion to take over running of Ripped & Torn, rather than let it die I thought she might be able to give it a new spark and take it in a professional direction.
The squatting life had caught up with me and the fanzine had never been run properly as a financial business, or even as any kind of business. I mainly sold review copies of records to raise the cash to pay for printing, and then take armfuls of them around gigs selling them as I went.
There were a few shops along the Kings Road and Rough Trade of course, a few people attempted and failed at distributing them; so Vermilion was a bit surprised – shocked even – when we met to hand over the Ripped & Torn ownership I only gave her a handwritten list of subscribers (their subscription money had been spent long before) and a list of a few shops and how many they took – sale or return. One of the problems with distribution was the irregularity of the issues.
Upon my return from Europe about two months later, Vermilion had produced one issue, the most professional and well printed issue of the whole Ripped & Torn collection, with a great piece by Genesis P Orridge; I had nowhere to go so turned up at the Old Street Fire Station to see if it was still squatted. To my surprise it was now a punk rock commune.
From this base I thought about producing a new fanzine and eventually this idea was followed through with the eventual printing help of Better Badges who worked on the last fine issue of Ripped & Torn.
That fanzine was to be known as Kill Your Pet Puppy.
GET YOUR OWN COPY OF RIPPED AND TORN – THE BOOK RIGHT HERE
There is another KYPP post featuring a Tony D and Thurston Moore interview that was filmed for a BBC programme two years ago, in 2016 right HERE