Ill Repute – Omelette LP (1985 Mystic Records)
I first heard Ill Repute on either Mystic Sampler #1 or We Got Power: Party or Go Home, I forget which, but I do know I was instantly taken with the song I heard and of course went out and got all the records they had at the time or would put out for awhile. They put out a few 7″s on Mystic, and three LPs before some lineup changes and a label change would occur and after a hiatus, the band put out an album on Dr. Strange Records in the early 90s. Throughout their career they went from hardcore, to rock, and back again.
Ill Repute was from the Oxnard, CA and along with a few other bands such as Dr. Know, RKL and Stalag 13, they coined the term Nardcore to describe their scene and music. All of those bands formed within a couple years of each other and they were all friends.
Thanks to the Nardcore board, I was able to get in touch with John Phaneuf of the band and he was kind enough to put together a band history for me to use for this entry. It was very nice that after all the heat I got on the Nardcore board, that someone was willing to open up and share their stories with me and I appreciate it. So here is the history according to John…
Ill Repute were all high school friends. Jim, Carl and Tony were a grade ahead of me(John), and we all discovered punk rock the summer before my senior year.(1980) They were out of school and I remember I had to be a bit more creative to go to the Starwood in LA on a “school night”. We would go and see Black Flag, Fear, Circle Jerks..etc and eventually decided to start our own thing.
I came back from a year in San Diego to find Tony and Jim had the name “Ill Repute” and I think 2 or 3 songs. We had our first practice in my mom’s mobile home(she was out of town) in Lemonwood in central Oxnard. Tony on guitar, and Jim on vocals. I played bass, and Carl on drums. I sucked on the bass, so Jim and I switched and the line up was set. It was fall of 1981. Tony and Jim wrote the tunes for the most part..the good ones anyway.
We would practice every night, every song. Always in Carl’s garage. Looking back his parents were super cool about the noise we made. Our first paying gig was a new years eve party at the local Alcoholics Anonymous club. They hated us.
I don’t remember how I met the guys in Dr. Know and Aggression, but soon we had a full on group of close friends. I remember the early scene to be so fun. Kyle, Ismael, Jamie, Ronnie Baird, to name a few, were hilarious. I remember laughing my ass off on a regular basis at gigs, parties, PEACE Missions..etc. We would all get together and play punk rock soccer in the park. It was probably the only way you would see white, Mexican, and black (Vaughn) and every other race getting along with a common interest. It was definitely one of the best times of my life. Way too many crazy, funny things to remember right now. It would take a month. We had our first “real” gig at the Hueneme Community Center with Circle One, Aggression, Beirgutz and Us. We were so fucking nervous.
As the scene grew, we met folks from Ventura. I remember Brent Beasley, Nutt (RIP) and all the Pierpont guys, (the band MIA) would have great parties and gigs. (There were also punk girls from Ventura which was nice) Then things spread to Santa Barbara with the Goleta Valley Community Center where Gary Tovar threw some of the funniest gigs I ever remember. No violence, great bands..all the big touring punk bands, and we would open up for them. It was a fucking great time.
We recorded a demo and a friend got it to a popular LA DJ, Rodney on the ROQ. He would play punk, along with some bad 60’s and 70’s shit every Sunday night. He heard our demo and picked our song “Clean Cut American Kid” for his Rodney on the ROQ Vol III. This was a big deal. He had bands like Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Adolescents..etc, and he wanted us, We were stoked.
It was cool to be on the comp. It was cool to hear the song on Rodney’s radio show on Sunday nights, and it was cool that people knew one of our songs. There was zero interest in us as a “marketable” band, to be honest, we didn’t even think of it. Those who are old enough to remember the early 80’s, pop music was Michael Jackson and Kaja Goo Goo. We were playing in garages.
A friend of ours from high School, Mike Terry, had some money and said he would help us put out a record. We had done a couple demos at Goldmine records in Ventura, 8pm-8am $100. We would come out with like 15 songs mixed and everything. That deal ended, so we were forced to go to the big city and found a real cheap recording studio in Hollywood called Mystic Records. We just booked a day to record there, met Philco and Doug Moody, and he offered to put out the record.
I don’t know, or care about what people think about Doug Moody. The only part I feel he didn’t follow thru on with Ill Repute is that he did not give us any of the newly released CDs. He did reject our cover art once and just put out the “Omlette” record without us knowing, but he gave us a box when we toured. Back in the 80s he would arm us with boxes of records when we left on tour. We would sell them and t-shirts for gas money. That was the agreement.
I remember Doug would live part time in a room at Mystic. I never got the image that this guy is rolling in cash from his record sales like Shug Knight or something. He would scuff out in his slippers and see what we were up to in the studio. He gave us full access to the studio, where we would record covers and experiment with all kinds of stuff. (He put some of that out too.) Doug, probably in his 50’s then, would come out and would “analyze” the punk movement and compare it to the early black bands in the south.
He would let us hang there, sleep there. He let us record a couple live records in the studio.(where I once saw El Duce puke and saw still wrapped candy in his vomit). The best benefit I would say is having access to the bathroom which means you didn’t have to crap in the shitter at the Cathay De Grande across the street during gigs. I think about the vomit, beer bottles and shit he was left with after we left.
His plan was to just record a shit load of punk bands, which he did. I think over 500 bands. My take is he spent a lot of money on recording all the bands, putting out comps with hideous quality, but hell, it was punk rock.
On our first EP the bass drum track somehow “disappeared” and Carl had to go back and record each kick drum track. He did it by using a spoon hitting the top of a Folgers coffee can. Now that’s punk.
Anyway, Mystic’s early “successful” bands were from Oxnard, (with of course the exception of NOFX) were the place that he sold some records. That is where I think the “rip off” part stems from. I just know that no labels would have touched us at the time. The Circle Jerks and Black Flag and DKs were still under the radar at that time. If it was a major label we would be owing them money.
They had some good shows at the Olympic Auditorium, Goleta Valley, Stardust Ballroom..etc. We got to hang and play with a lot of cool bands. We did a couple shows with the Misfits and Black Flag. We became buddies with the Necros who were real nice to us when we were in Ohio.
Anyway, we had a blast. We toured, broke down and toured and broke down. One “Disat-tour” after another. Got our car and trailer stolen in Pittsburgh. That took a lot of steam out of the band for sure. The punk scene got very violent and we would be playing and fights breaking out everywhere. Stabbings, shooting at that place in Long Beach..I forget the name..
We were over it.
We got together in 90 or so and recorded Big Rusty Balls on Dr. Strange records. That was produced in part by the great Jerry Finn, a good friend and now producer of many great punk bands, Pennywise, Green Day, Rancid, Suicide Machines, and Blink’s 2 #1 albums. Great guy. We paid him $150 for it and he was Stoked! He’s now a multi millionaire. We laugh about those days.
Anyway, Big Rusty Balls was a post punk type of thing that I thought turned out well. That’s where I left/got kicked out of the band due to a surf trip I had scheduled to France that didn’t correspond well with a last minute gig in Oregon. I got an ultimatum and went to France. (you know the girls are topless there, right?).
Tony kept the band alive with new guitarist and drummers and even after he was the only original member. He took on the vocals and they had some good tunes. I think if they would have dropped the Ill Repute name and went from scratch they could have went somewhere.
Then in 2002 we got back together with all original members for a couple practices to play a Mark Hickey RIP gig. Carl, the drummer was a busy guy and it didn’t pan out with him, so we got Chuck on drums and played a handful of great shows until our official retirement last year.
The more “experimental” record John refers to did come out on Mystic and was called Transition. I don’t think they made more than 1000 of those, as it seems to be the hardest Ill Repute record to come by from back then. A lot of their early Mystic material is collected on the What Happened Then CD on Mystic Records that came out a year or two ago.
John also sent over a scan of the flyer for their first show, which you can click below to see.
As always if you have any additional information please get in touch and thanks again John for the great story!
Click here to hear “Count the Odds” from the record (right click and “save target as…”)