Ipecac Recordings Celebrates 20th Anniversary

Apr. 1, 2019


IPC-1, that’s the catalog number of the release that started it all: Fantômas’ self-titled release. Greg Werckman, former Alternative Tentacles’ Head Honcho and Mike Patton’s manager, along with Mike Patton (Faith No More, Tomahawk) had just come off the heels of the wild ride that was Mr. Bungle’s California and were looking for a label home for two new Patton projects: a “supergroup” featuring Patton, the Melvins’ Buzz Osborne, Slayer’s Dave Lombardo and Mr. Bungle’s Trevor Dunn as well as Maldoror, a release featuring Japanese noise heavyweight Masami Akita (Merzbow) and Patton.

The pair of releases were obviously far outside of mainstream norms but, in 1999, even in more experimental circles, Fantômas and Maldoror were headscratchers. The ensuing label offers, of which Werckman says several less-than-stellar proposals were sent their way, didn’t offer the creative freedom Patton craved.

On April 1, 1999, Ipecac Recordings was officially born, headquartered out of Werckman’s San Francisco home office, the company released Fantômas’ self-titled album on April 26, 1999 and Maldoror’s She later that fall. Initially, the plan was to make this a home for Patton’s non-Faith No More/Mr. Bungle releases, but a year’s long friendship with the Melvins quickly changed that.

“At first Mike and I started Ipecac as simply an outlet for Mike’s music. We did not really consider it a ‘label’ per se but shortly after we decided to do this, the Melvins asked if we were interested in including them. That was the moment it turned into a somewhat proper label,” explains Werckman. “We quickly found out that we knew a lot of musicians that were looking for an artist friendly home. We started with very humble expectations and have been pleasantly surprised. We are grateful for our unique, loyal fanbase that have been willing to take artistic diversions with us and most of all so grateful for the artists that have been willing to join us.”

“When Greg and I started Ipecac,” adds Patton. “We both had seen and experienced examples of what we DIDN’T want to do. As an artist, I only hoped we could configure a model that was independent and sustainable… and that we could develop a contract that I would actually sign myself! Basically, a friendly artist-driven environment where every record was, in essence, ‘licensed’ with the artists having ownership of their own music. We also wanted to offer complete artistic freedom from point A to Z. Seems ridiculously straightforward and simple, right?”

“We told Greg that if they wanted to start a label then the Melvins would love to be involved,” offers Melvins’ singer/guitar player Buzz Osborne. “We asked if he would be interested in doing a trilogy of releases within one year and they said no problem. 20 years later it still works.” That year the Melvins released The Maggot, The Bootlicker and The Crybaby via Ipecac.

Over the ensuing years, Ipecac Recordings has served up over 200 albums, DVDs and singles. The label’s catalog includes 33 various pieces of the Melvins’ discography, four of heavy music’s most critically-lauded and influential albums of the past two decades via ISIS, Eagle of Death Metal’s debut album (Peace, Love, Death Metal), 23 albums from At The Drive-In’s Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, various releases from Ennio Morricone, Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age/Desert Sessions), members of the Jesus Lizard, Jim Thirlwell, Dean Ween, Napalm Death, Einar Orn, Zach Hill, Sleaford Mods, Mark Lanegan, TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe and, of course, Mike Patton’s expansive and ever growing, body of work including Tomahawk, Mondo Cane, Dead Cross and Faith No More.

As Ipecac enters yet another new decade of its existence, the label eyes the future, having recently released perhaps the finest album of 2018: Daughters’ sure-to-be masterpiece You Won’t Get What You Want, and throwing their support fully behind the blissfully heavy outfit, Spotlights, who release their second-full length with the label, Love & Decay, later this month.

Ipecac Recordings… making people sick since 1999.

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Quotes from Ipecac Recording artists:

“In my twenty or so years of being a “professional” musician, Ipecac has been my all-time favorite label to work with. Greg and Mike (and everyone else at the label), wholeheartedly embrace and encourage creativity and artistic freedom - this is no small feat in an industry that usually just strives for the production of salable (i.e. bland) product, even on the “underground" level. Not only that, they also treat their artists fairly - they’re on time, organized and transparent - again, all qualities that are in short supply these days (and maybe all preceding eras as well). It should also be noted they’ve released music by some of the most crucial, relevant, forward-thinking (and personal fave) artists of the last 20-50 years: dälek, Melvins, Merzbow, Bohren & Der Club of Gore, Eyvind Kang, Zu, Fantômas, Justin Broadrick/Kevin Martin, Ennio Morricone, Lustmord, etc. Here’s to twenty more - and thank you Ipecac, I’m deeply grateful for your support!” – Aaron Turner (ISIS, Split Cranium)

“I am so grateful to be surrounded by a musical family consisting of some of the most amazing and bizarre artists. Not only that, but I have somehow managed to get The Locust, Retox, Dead Cross, and Planet B on one of the raddest labels of my generation. Where logical thinking and practicality are not always a consideration when it comes to releasing music, we can only hope that everyone's collective efforts grow further into more innovation and obscurity. Viva Ipecac!” - Justin Pearson (The Locust, Retox, Dead Cross, Planet B)

“Ipecac has been home for me since 2002. Mike and Greg have never put any restrictions on us or our music. They have allowed us to be us and gave us the space and support to grow into the musicians we are today. Being on the same label as, and touring with the Melvins, Tomahawk, Fantomas, Isis, (and so many other incredible musicians) taught us what it is to be a touring musician and uncompromising artist. I am forever grateful for all Ipecac, Mike Patton, Greg Werckman, and the entire staff through the years has done for us. I am more than honored to be an Ipecac Recording artist, a member of their Board of Directors, and Godfather to 6 of Mike Patton’s 7 children. (6 out of 7 ain’t bad) When Patton bailed the Oktopus out of jail.... that’s more than a label b... that’s family. Congratulations on 20 years familia! Here’s to many many more! Salud!” - dälek

“Ipecac Recordings is a constant support for all of my projects and I can’t not slap myself in the face enough because since I can remember have I been a fan of theirs and the inspiring art and music that they put out.” - Teri Gender Bender (Le Butcherettes)

“It’s always been difficult for a label to figure out what the hell to do with me. I don’t do just one thing, I do everything, that’s no exaggeration. If anyone could understand and appreciate that approach it would be Mike Patton who has been “in every band on the planet” and maybe a few from Jupiter. Ipecac doesn’t have a formulaic, cookie cutter approach to releasing their artists material. It’s not a ’one size fits all’ marketing strategy like most labels try to get away with. They really take their time to figure out clever ways to give each artist their stamp of individuality. They basically let you do whatever the fuck you want, granted they like what you are doing. And they ALWAYS ask what your ideas are before offering their own. And they are genuinely friendly fucking people. I don’t get that post ‘label phone call’ slimy feeling of disgust or regret after I talk with them. They are adults, experienced and they are from an era when human beings were still born with souls. I feel an honest sense of ease knowing I can trust this label. And of course, we have history having worked on the Black and White Album, being familiar with them and having worked together in the past helps a lot.” - Imani Coppola

“I have been a part of Ipecac Recordings since the release of their first album. (1999 / Fantômas / Amenaza Al Mundo) When I first started working with Mike and Greg I was gifted not only great friends, but with complete creative encouragement. No labels or limits. Challenging boundaries and making people uncomfortable has been the majority of my life’s work. At Ipecac I was embraced for my intense, often odd, musical taste and encouraged to keep freely expressing myself through any style. I am very proud to be apart of the Ipecac family and hope to continue "making people sick" for many years to come. Mike and Greg, Congratulations on 20 years of insanity and thank you for creating an artistic space where individuality rules and mainstream has been 86’d.” - Dave Lombardo (Dead Cross / Philm / Fantômas)

“Ipecac was initially created as a sort of haven for misfits, specifically Fantômas, at the time. The label continues to be a grassroots family whose business model is transparent. To be able to directly call and chat with the owners of the label about possible releases, licensing, distribution, etc is refreshing. And there are no inflated hopes about hit-making. It’s a very realistic place to launch one’s creativity." Trevor Dunn (Fantômas / Tomahawk / Madlove / Melvins Lite / Qui / Trio Convulsant)

“We love being a part of the ipecac family. Having the privilege of being associated with the iconic label itself has helped us find like minded music lovers in all corners of the world. They’re all pretty weird people too. Believe me.” - Stu Brooks (Dub Trio)

“I speak as a designer, but one thing I have learnt is that you get included in the Ipecac family, you really support each other. I must tell a story about my own entrance into the "family" as a young designer. One thing I never dared to tell Mike or Greg back in 2000 (when I was asked to do sketches for Fantômas “The Director’s Cut”), was that I had only made like one or two CD covers, for friends' bands. That they believed in me (an obviously an inexperienced designer), and let me have the opportunity was unreal. Although the Internet had existed for many years, it was strange to communicate only by email. It is also unreal that this is almost 20 years ago. I have many times thought after countless hours, that the fans should know how much time and effort we put into designing these covers. I want to thank Ipecac for all the fun projects and wish Mike, Greg (and all the others who have worked at Ipecac over the years) a wonderful anniversary! Skål!” - Martin Kvamme - Album cover artist

“Twenty years in and still making people sick and blowing minds! Given that we - the Ipecac staff and artists are just a bunch of hopeless record-collecting jerks, it kicks ass that Ipecac is still here. I’m so very proud and so grateful for being a part of the family.” - John Kaada

“It’s hard to imagine a label more diverse and challenging than Ipecac. From the start they’ve been uncompromising and unaffected by trends. It’s not easy running a label-you have to say "no" on occasion. I’m fortunate to have had a long running relationship with them. Long may they reign.” - Duane Denison (Tomahawk / The Unsemble)

“Ipecac has never ceased to be a pillar of innovative, incredible, powerful , and just downright fucking weird records. I wouldn’t want a label any other way. They take chances. That’s what good art does. It takes chances. Thank you for everything you’ve helped other artist birth into the world.” - Michael Crain (Dead Cross / Retox)

“Being part of the Ipecac family has been one of the highlights of our career. We’ve grown up following and looking up to their bands, as well as their ethics as a label. It’s surreal to us every time we flip over one of our albums and see that logo! Aside from being huge fans of theirs, it’s an honor to work with people that respect music as an art form. I can’t think of another label out there who really does favor the artist’s interests, and operates in such a transparent way. No bullshit. That should be their alternate slogan. We love Ipecac, here’s to another 20!” - Mario Quintero (Spotlights)

“Zu is a weird animal. It’s always been difficult to fit into a festival program or into an agency roster without feeling like fish out of the water. When we first met Mike back in the days in early 2000 and he talked about his new label we thought that it would have been a nice bowl to swim in…but we weren’t ready. In 2009, 1000 concerts and 6 records later we made our first release with Ipecac Recordings and we felt we finally found the right place, surrounded by other weird animals! Happy birthday Ipecac Recordings! Thanks for everything!” - Jacopo Battaglia (Zu)

“I will always be grateful for our time on Ipecac. For me, it was a dream come true. Having grown up in the nineties on a steady diet of freaky underground rock, getting to join such a prestigious roster was and is an enormous point of pride. While our tenure was brief, we had a wonderful time working with Greg, Mike, Shawn and Monica. Congratulations! Here’s to another 20 years!” - Matt Cronk (Qui)