Ill Repute is like a household name in the Ventura County area. They were some of the pioneers of “Nardcore” scene, a subgenre of hardcore punk in the Oxnard area originating in the early 80’s, alongside other bands like Dr. Know, Stalag 13, and Aggression. The band currently consists of John Phaneuf on vocals, Tony Cortez on guitar, Jimmy Callahan on bass, and Chuck Shultz on drums, which is only one member off from the original 1981 lineup. Ill Repute will be playing on the No Cover stage at the Ventura stop on the Warped Tour this year. I spoke with guitarist, Tony, and bassist, Jimmy, about their accomplishments in Ill Repute and their experiences with Warped Tour in the past.
What made you guys start start making music in the first place?
Jimmy: I think for me, and then probably for Tony and John, the music scene back in the late 70s early 80s when when we were in high school was kind of getting a little stale you know, with the so-called corporate rock and we were always looking for something different. John had a friend that had a Dickies record and he played it for us and we’re just like, “oh my god, what the heck is this stuff? This is pretty awesome.” So I started listening to that and then we saw the Dickies were playing in LA so we went down there saw them and ran into some people that ended up being longtime friends that had just started a band and encouraged us to start a band as well and so we did. It was really weird to be sat down and all of a sudden you’re in this atmosphere with all these people. You never even dreamed that you could start a band and do it you know because it was all such corporate sterilized stuff. And then we’re meeting all these people that are in bands, we go see them and it’s like, “wow we could do that!”
So how has Ill Repute itself influenced your guys lives now since it’s been around for so long?
Jimmy: It’s like part of you now.
Tony: Yeah it’s definitely our identity. And we never thought we would still be doing it today.
Jimmy: We thought we would do it maybe this summer, maybe the next summer and then we’ll have to be done with it.
So in 2014 you guys had that documentary come out about you. It’s been it’s been a few years now, how do you guys feel about it? Has it made any significant impact on your life?
Tony: I mean.. Not really. It’s really cool, it’s really an honor that we did it. The guy approached us, he was a big fan and it was really kind of his test into the waters to do this type of thing. So he had never done it before and he did the whole thing like in two days. So it’s really a bare minimum kind of touch-and-go kind of thing.
Jimmy: I mean, I really liked it. I’m glad it’s out there and it was a honor for that guy to select us for it.
When Warped Tour first started you guys had already been a band for a while, what did you initially think of the festival?
Jimmy: Well I’ve never been to Warped Tour this will be my first year! I’m a Warped Tour virgin.
Tony: Well back when it was in Ventura I used to go quite a bit. Back then it was the bands I liked and everything you know? Then in then the past few years it was just bands I wasn’t into.
Did you guys ever think that you would end up playing a Warped Tour?
Tony: No not at all!
Jimmy: We hoped we would play it back in the 90’s, but we’re getting our chance now so we’ll take what we can get!
Is playing Warped Tour different to you than playing other shows you guys have played?
Jimmy: Yes, I would say. Mainly because if you’re on the Warped Tour you’re probably guaranteed a meal every day and gas money to the next town. And back in our heyday, sometimes it would be a real struggle just to get from town to town. We tried to keep the prices low, that was part of the whole thing. It was just like you said, D.I.Y. you know? Sometimes if we’d be out on the road one town it would be a house party where we’d get twenty bucks from a hat they would pass around. Then the next night we might be opening for Bad Religion or Youth Brigade and get a decent paycheck.
Tony: There were actually times where those house parties gave us more money than the club shows!
Are there any bands that you guys wanted to see on this year’s Warped Tour?
Tony: Well I know the Interrupters, I love those guys. Pennywise is always good too!
Jimmy: With our luck we’ll be going on at the same time as them!
On the 2004 Warped Tour Compilation NOFX put their song 13 Stitches, the song that mentions missing “six Ill Repute songs”, on the B-side of the CD. Did you guys know about that?
Tony: Yeah that’s really cool! I mean, we grew up with those guys we know them really good and you hear something like that. It’s just a trip. and I probably did something to like that too.