The Punk Vault

Selections from The Punk Vault [False Prophets]

False Prophets – Good Clean Fun 7″
(1982 Worn Out Brothers)

My introduction to False Prophets came from the amazing P.E.A.C.E compilation on R Radical Records. That compilation single handedly introduced me to more great bands than any other compilation in history. I used to bring the booklet to school that came with that compilation and read it over and over during study hall. False Prophets had a song on there called “Banana Split Republic” and it was one of the many standouts of that record. It was soon after that they released their first album on Alternative Tentacles, which I promptly purchased. Eventually I tracked down their two 7″s that came out prior to the LP, on their own label, Worn Out Brothers.

As for the band’s history, aside from being from New York, and George Tabb doing time in a later incarnation of the band, I know little else about them, however Stephen Wishnia of the band provided this history for the Alternative Tentacles website.

False Prophets were formed in June 1980 by singer Stephan Ielpi, bassist Steve Wishnia, and guitarist Peter Campbell. Matt Superty, Stephan’s cousin and scion of a long line of drummers, joined soon afterwords. We quickly made a name for ourselves with raw, danceable energy and Stephan’s welcome-to-my-nightmare theatrics, playing gigs at Max’s Kansas City and predawn sets at the A7 Club. Our first single, “Blind Obedience” b/w “Overkill” and “Royal Slime” came out in June 1981. Musically, we were part of punk-rock’s second generation, which included the Undead, Heart Attack, Reagan Youth and DC transplants the Bad Brains in New York, and the Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, D.O.A., and Minor Threat in the rest of the world. We also drew on British post-punk bands like Joy Division, Public Image and the Gang of Four; pre-punk rockers like the Kinks and Stones (Steve and Peter) and Alice Cooper and Mott the Hoople (Stephan); and rap, reggae, and funk, the sounds of the boom boxes on New York’s streets.

So we never quite fit the hardcore stereotype, being too varied musically and not thuggish enough personally. “Good Clean Fun,” our second single, released in 1982, was both our first hardcore-speed song and a criticism of mosh-pit violence. Matt quit soon after, replaced by the Undead’s Patrick Blanck, Donna Baril, and Ned Brewster, who made his debut at an all-night anarchist ball on New Year’s Eve, 1983. We recorded our first album the next summer, financed largely by Stephan’s uncle hitting the triple at the Aqueduct racetrack in Queens.

Alternative Tentacles put the album out in early 1986. By then Peter was gone, having quit after a Southern tour in the summer of 1985. The band toured heavily over the next two years with new guitarists George Tabb and Debra DeSalvo, recording the Implosion album in early 1987. It broke up during a disastrous West Coast tour that fall. Stephan and Debra then re-formed it with new musicians and kept it going for several more years, releasing one EP. (Steve and George went on to form Iron Prostate, while Ned eventually wound up in punk-blues stalwarts the Senders.)

Ronald Reagan was inaugurated a couple days before our first two-night stand at A7, ushering in a new era of greed, puritanism, and hate. We wanted to rage against all that, and did. We also wanted to write great songs, have fun, and get possessed and out of our heads playing rock’n’roll. Listen to Blind Roaches and Fat Vultures and see how we did.

-Steve Wishnia

A good portion of the early False Prophets material is available on a CD from Alternative Tentacles.

As always if you have any additional information, or were in False Prophets, please get in touch.

Listen to “The Functional Song” from the record

Buy the False Prophets CD from


  • Hey, I’m new to the whole mp3 blog scene. so i hope you get this messge ( from what i’ve seen you’ve got a pretty complicated site). Anyway, i know you’re based in Chicago and i love (FUCKEN LOVE) the Chicago sound of the early-mid eighties. With all the hype NY and DC and of course SoCal get its hard to come across Il. band s beyond Big Black, Naked Raygun, Effigies and AOF. What about maybe focusing on Il. bands a little more? I have friends who love punk/HC who have no idea whatsoever about yer town. What about posting some Savage Beliefs, Bloodsport, Silver Abuse or Da (maybe even the Busted at Oz Comp?)? all of which i haven’t heard. Either way keep it up, great site!

  • Hey there, thanks for writing about False Prophets!! I was in the band for a looong time and many tours. To bring the history up to date….After Steve Wishnia left the band, he was replaced with bassist Nick Marden (ex-Stimulators). Original drummer Ned Brewster left as well and was eventually replaced with Billy Atwell (ex-Rhythm Pigs). We also added violinist Heather Hardy. George Tabb eventually left as well to do his own thing and we found guitarist Steven Taylor, who added fresh energy to the band due to his connection with the NYC poetry scene (Steven had been Allen Ginsberg’s accompanist for 10 years). The new lineup did 2 European tours supporting the Implosion album (AT), which was critically acclaimed in the US and Europe, and several American/Canadian tours. (not to mention a few stints backing up Allen as The Ginsbergers!) We signed to Cargo Records and released the Invisible People EP on Cargo in the US and Konkurrel in Europe and did another European tour. Although by this time the band was playing large venues in Europe (600-1200 people on average) we also continued to play as many squats and alternative venues as possible. After we came home from the last tour, Steve found he’d been accepted to the PhD program in ethnomusicology at Brown University. He commuted between Brown and NYC for awhile but eventually had to quit the band and focus on school. We went on with just me playing guitar for awhile but it started to feel like time to be grateful for what we all had accomplished and enjoyed and to put the band to rest. So we did…
    Debra DeSalvo

  • This is all very informative. Debra, thanks for chiming in here. I was on the NY hardcore scene in the early 80s, and hung out on the Lower East Side of Manhattan through the early 90s. Their ethos and message was a good example of the progressive political sensibility that flourished in punk and the first-wave hardcore of my youth in NYC. I remember Stephan as being a welcoming and distinctive presence in and around Alphabet City. I appreciate the False Prophets much more now, than I did as a young punk.


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