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 afterwards. 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.
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