Mystic Records is an American record label and music production company specializing in hardcore punk, crossover thrash, underground music, vintage and cult records. It is owned and operated by Doug Moody. The label was first established in Hollywood, California, and subsequently moved its operations to Oceanside, California. Mystic Records is an independent label and not a member of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
Mystic Records is closely associated with the personality of its founder, Doug Moody, regarded as a pioneer of the independent Rock and Roll industry. Moody's father, Walter Moody, was himself an influential figure in the music industry, running EMI Studios (Abbey Road Studios) in London during the 1930s. In 1953 the family moved to the United States.
Moody decided to himself become involved in the music business, first working in the A&R department of Silvertone Records in New Jersey. A series of music industry jobs followed throughout the decades of the 1960s and 1970s, including stints in various capacities at Kama Sutra Records, 20th Century Fox, and A&M Records.
Studio and label
Seeking another place in the music industry outside of the major record labels, Moody opened a recording studio in Hollywood, California at the location of the old Mustang Studios, made famous as a facility used by the Bobby Fuller Four. Moody changed out the studio's superannuated 2 track mono recording gear and replaced it with state of the art 8-track stereo gear, leaving the recording rooms otherwise largely unaltered.
In tandem with the studio was launched the Mystic Records label. During the label's peak period of activity, from 1982 through 1990, Mystic released over 200 records, many of which were multi-band compilations, involving the work of several hundred artists. Emerging as a prominent force in the Southern California punk rock music scene, Mystic put out an array of alternative bands, with an emphasis on the hardcore punk, crossover thrash, and speed metal styles in vogue during this period.
Moody claimed to have invested $70,000 in the label in 1983 alone, but taking into account recording costs and sales figures averaging about 2,000 copies per record, found the operation with about $40,000 left to recover at the end of that year. Bands would purchase studio time, with Mystic recouping its investment against royalties due, which in 1984 Moody claimed was approximately 40 cents per record.
In conjunction with the label, Moody and Mystic established its own wholesale record distribution branch, MD Distributing. This distributorship handled not only Mystic releases but those of other labels as well.
Some of the best known artists on Mystic Records include NOFX, RKL, Battalion of Saints, Ill Repute, Agression, Newport Beach Dune Buggy Band and The Mentors. Mystic Records has also released vinyl compilations featuring Suicidal Tendencies, Love Canal, New Regime, Black Flag, False Alarm, Duct Tape Hostage, SIN 34, Government Issue, The Minutemen, Burning Image, Habeas Corpus, and Bad Religion.
Mystic Records has been credited with several innovations in the independent record industry of the 1980s. It introduced Super Sevens (7-inch 33rpm extended play records featuring seven songs) and helped popularize the manufacture of limited edition records on colored vinyl. The label was also influential through its release of multi-band compilation albums, such as its "The Sound of Hollywood" series, and promotional label samplers making use of album tracks, typified by its "Mystic Sampler" series.
Moody's key collaborators on the Mystic Records project included producer and engineer Phillip "Philco" Raves, sales and distribution manager Bill Karras, and "Mystic Mark" Wilkins, Director of record and tour promotion.
- John Broven, Record Makers and Breakers: Voices of the Independent Rock 'n' Roll Pioneers. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2009; pg. 363.
- Al Kowalewski et al., "Mystic Records, Doug Moody," Flipside, whole no. 42 (Summer 1984), pp. 42–43.