In the 20 years since Ipecac Records spewed its way into the public consciousness, it has achieved the impossible. It has continued to make money for its artists and the label itself without sacrificing its mission or values, remaining quite possibly the most consistent label in terms of quality releases in recent memory.
So where did it all begin?
Greg Werckman and Mike Patton – photo via FaithNoMoreFollowers
Well, it began with Mike Patton and Greg Werckman. The former, a master-class vocalist formerly of Faith No More and Mr. Bungle and the latter, a master-class label manager, formerly of Alternative Tentacles and Mercury Records.
It took balls of steel to start an independent record label at a time when the music industry was in a state of flux with the unholy birth of the download generation and the launch of Napster just one month later.
But as it turns out, Werckman and Patton were some forward-thinking fellas and through the years they really haven’t to adapt or change their business model at all. No ownership of bands or their music. Respect for the artist and their art was all but unheard of as a business model but damned if it didn’t work. And it all started with Melvins.
Let’s put it in filmmaking terms. If Werckman and Patton are the directors with vision, they needed the right actors to help them achieve this vision. In short, that makes Ipecac Scorsese and Melvins De Niro.
This partnership, along with the myriad of Patton projects released on the label has been the cornerstone of the Ipecac’s success. Melvins have amassed over twenty releases on the label and show no signs of slowing.
Other independent labels have managed to survive over the years but where Ipecac stands out is the sheer variety of artists, transcending genres, trends and commercial viability. They release albums and artists they like. It’s that simple.
This is why you can have Dälek, a dark soundscape hip-hop group; Isis, a post-metal ambient band and The Kids of Widney High, a group of developmentally disabled students joyously performing songs with the help of their music instructor.
There’s something for everyone on Ipecac. For the casual music listener, try Moistboyz, Dean Ween’s side-project. Know a music score fan? Get them Ennio Morricone’s Crime and Dissonance, a lovingly compiled compilation of lesser-known works. Have a high-strung uncle who’s just flat-out weird? The Golding Institute’s misguided mediation Final Relaxation will make an excellent stocking stuffer.
Everything you never knew you always wanted could apply to much of Ipecac’s storied roster. Here, as a helpful guide are some lists to help make your selection easier.
Top 5 Mike Patton project releases:
- Fantômas - Fantômas (1999)
- Dead Cross - Dead Cross (2017)
- Kaada/Patton - Bacteria Cult (2016
- Tomahawk - Mit Gas (2003)
- Mondo Cane - Mondo Cane (2010)
Top 5 Melvins releases:
- (A) Senile Animal (2006)
- Freak Puke (2012)
- Hostile Ambient Takeover (2002)
- The Fantômas Melvins Big Band - Millennium Monsterworks 2000 (2002)
- The Bride Screamed Murder (2010)
Top 15 Ipecac releases to not feature Mike Patton or Buzz Osbourne:
- Bohren & der Club of Gore - Black Earth (2002)
- Kaada - Thank You For Giving Me Your Valuable Time (2003)
- The Young Gods - Super Ready/Fragmenté (2007)
- Dälek - Abandoned Language (2007)
- Eyvind Kang - Athlantis (2007)
- Le Butcherettes - A Raw Youth (2015)
- The Desert Sessions - Volumes 9 & 10 (2003)
- Unsane - Visqueen (2007)
- Imani Coppola - The Black and White Album (2007)
- Planet B - Planet B (2018)
- Mark Lanegan - Houston Publishing Demos 2002 (2015)
- Ex-Girl - Back to the Mono Kero (2001)
- Daughters - You Won’t Get What You Want (2018)
- Ennio Morricone - Crime and Dissonance (2005)
- Ruins - Tzomborgha (2002)