Epitaph Records

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Epitaph Records
Epitaph Records Logo.svg
Founded1980 (1980)
Founder Brett Gurewitz
  • AMPED Distribution (US) [1]
  • PIAS (UK)
GenreVarious, predominantly punk rock and pop punk
Country of originUnited States
Location Hollywood, California
Official website epitaph.com

Epitaph Records is an American independent record label owned by Bad Religion guitarist Brett Gurewitz. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, most acts signed to the label were punk and pop punk acts, while there are many post-hardcore and emo bands signed to the label as well. A large portion of the record label, known as Hellcat Records, is owned by Tim Armstrong, frontman of the punk rock band Rancid. Several sister labels also exist, such as ANTI-, Burning Heart Records, Fat Possum Records, Hellcat Records, and Heart & Skull Records that have signed other types of bands.



Early years (1980s)

Brett Gurewitz formed Epitaph Records as a vehicle for releases by his band Bad Religion. [2] The name had been taken from the King Crimson song Epitaph from which the lyrics "Confusion shall be my epitaph." had struck a chord with Brett and Greg when they were young. [3] Its first release for the label was Bad Religion's 1981 self-titled EP, followed by their debut How Could Hell Be Any Worse? , which was also the label's first full-length release. Also released during this period was Peace thru Vandalism , an EP by The Vandals, who were the first band besides Bad Religion to sign to Epitaph. Two more Bad Religion releases followed – Into the Unknown and the EP Back to the Known – before their temporary split. After Gurewitz had cleaned up his drug issues, both Epitaph and Bad Religion were revived in 1987. In the following year, Epitaph released its first record as a proper label, which was L7's self-titled album, and it was distributed by Chameleon. Also in 1988, Bad Religion released Suffer , which was both released and distributed by Epitaph. Not only is Suffer often cited as one of the band's best by fans, but it is credited with "saving" the Southern California punk rock scene by fans and Bad Religion's contemporaries alike. [4] [ better source needed ]

In 1989, Gurewitz signed NOFX to Epitaph. They released their debut for the label, S&M Airlines , that same year, featuring the video for its title track and the cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Go Your Own Way", which featured guest vocals by Gurewitz and Greg Graffin, also a member of Bad Religion. This was followed by Bad Religion's next two albums – No Control and Against the Grain – which sold 60,000 [5] and 100,000 [6] copies respectively.

Breakthrough success (1990s)

By 1993, more punk acts had signed to Epitaph, including Pennywise, Down by Law, Coffin Break, The Offspring, Rancid, RKL, SNFU, Total Chaos and Claw Hammer. Epitaph's expansion saw the label relocate to new offices in Silver Lake. [2]

Although Bad Religion was the founding band of Epitaph, releasing their early records through the label, they switched over to Atlantic in 1993, with Recipe for Hate being their first record outside of the label. Brett Gurewitz is thought to have left Bad Religion as a result of internal disputes, but actually left the band in 1994 so he could run Epitaph full-time. That year Bad Religion and Epitaph received widespread fame, both within and outside the punk community, when Bad Religion (even though they had left Epitaph by this time), NOFX, Rancid and The Offspring all released hit records. This was a big year for punk in the mainstream; Rancid appeared on Saturday Night Live the following year, playing "Ruby Soho" and "Roots Radicals". The Offspring eventually left for Columbia Records in a contract dispute, but their album Smash became the best selling independent album of all time, with more than 11 million units sold worldwide to date. [7]

Change in style (2000s)

In 2001, Brett Gurewitz returned to Bad Religion, and the band returned to Epitaph Records, [8] releasing seven more albums, the latest being Age of Unreason (2019).

In mid-2005 Epitaph was added to the official list of RIAA members [9] along with several other high-profile independent labels. The reason for the listing is not clear, but one source points to an agreement for internet P2P distribution. [10] Another source claims label management joined RIAA in order to get certified sales awards (i.e., official "Gold" or "Platinum" record status) for releases. This sparked some controversy as some feel they should no longer be labeled independent if they are a member of the RIAA. [11] However, the only source that has actually been used for these claims of membership is the official RIAA membership list, which has been disputed. [9] As of this writing, not only is Epitaph listed as an official member, but Lookout! Records is once again listed, after being falsely listed before. In addition, Fat Wreck Chords has released statements denying their own involvement in the RIAA, condemning the organization. [12]

During this time, the label started to stray from its traditional punk rock output by signing a number of post-hardcore bands such as The Blackout, Escape The Fate, From First to Last, Hell Is for Heroes, I Am Ghost, Matchbook Romance, Our Last Night, Scatter the Ashes, Story of the Year, Thursday, Vanna, and You Me at Six.

Recent years (2010s)

Epitaph signed Weezer in 2010, the label releasing Hurley later that year. [13] The label signed Social Distortion in the same year. [14] Epitaph signed Australian punk band Dangerous! in 2011 and released album Teenage Rampage. Epitaph had also signed the Canadian punk rock band Propagandhi. The label has also been more active in signing bands from the emo revival including The Menzingers, Joyce Manor, Pianos Become the Teeth, Defeater, The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die, and Touché Amoré.

Sales certifications

Epitaph has issued two albums that have been certified as platinum or multi-platinum, for sales of over 1 million units, by the Recording Industry Association of America: Smash by The Offspring, which has been certified six-times platinum, and ...And Out Come the Wolves by Rancid, which has been certified platinum. [15]

Six albums released by the label, or its subsidiaries Hellcat and ANTI-, have been certified gold for sales of 500,000 copies: Ignition by The Offspring, Punk in Drublic by NOFX, Let's Go by Rancid, Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards by Tom Waits, The Drug in Me Is You by Falling in Reverse, The Warrior's Code by Dropkick Murphys and Sempiternal by Bring Me the Horizon. [15]


Current artists

Former artists


See also

Related Research Articles

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Rancid (band) American punk rock band

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Bad Religion American punk rock band

Bad Religion is an American punk rock band that formed in Los Angeles, California in 1980. The band's lyrics cover topics related to religion, politics, society, the media and science. Musically, they are noted for their melodic sensibilities and extensive use of three-part vocal harmonies. The band has experienced multiple line-up changes, with singer Greg Graffin being the band's only constant member, though fellow founding members Jay Bentley and Brett Gurewitz have also been with the band for most of their history, and guitarist Brian Baker has been a member of the group since 1994. Guitarist Mike Dimkich and drummer Jamie Miller have been members of the band since 2013 and 2015 respectively. To date, Bad Religion has released seventeen studio albums, two live albums, three compilation albums, three EPs, and two live DVDs. They are considered to be one of the best-selling punk rock acts of all time, having sold over five million albums worldwide.

<i>Ignition</i> (The Offspring album) 1992 studio album by the Offspring

Ignition is the second studio album by American punk rock band the Offspring, released on October 16, 1992, by Epitaph Records. Issued during the alternative rock and grunge era, the album brought the band small success in Southern California as they started to gather a following. This success would continue to grow with their next album, Smash (1994). It is the first and only album to include photos of each band member in the liner notes.

<i>Smash</i> (The Offspring album) 1994 studio album by The Offspring

Smash is the third studio album by American punk rock band The Offspring, released on April 8, 1994, by Epitaph Records. After touring in support of their previous album Ignition (1992), the band recorded their next album over two months at Track Record in North Hollywood, California. Smash was the band's final studio album to be produced by Thom Wilson, who had worked with them since their 1989 eponymous debut. This also marks the first album where Holland is credited to playing the guitar as opposed to vocals only.

<i>...And Out Come the Wolves</i> 1995 studio album by Rancid

...And Out Come the Wolves is the third studio album by the American punk rock band Rancid. It was released on August 22, 1995, through Epitaph Records. Rancid's popularity and catchy songs made them the subject of a major label bidding war that ended with the band staying on Epitaph. With a sound heavily influenced by ska, which called to mind Tim Armstrong and Matt Freeman's past in Operation Ivy, Rancid became one of the few bands of the mid-to late-1990s boom in punk rock to retain much of its original fanbase. In terms of record sales and certifications, …And Out Come the Wolves is a popular album in the United States. It produced three hit singles: "Roots Radicals", "Time Bomb" and "Ruby Soho", that earned Rancid its heaviest airplay on MTV and radio stations to date. All the singles charted on Modern Rock Tracks. …And Out Come the Wolves was certified gold by the RIAA on January 22, 1996. It was certified platinum on September 23, 2004.

<i>Lets Go</i> (Rancid album) 1994 studio album by Rancid

Let's Go is the second studio album by the American punk rock band Rancid. It was released on June 21, 1994, through Epitaph Records and was the band's first album to feature Lars Frederiksen on guitar. The album initially achieved little mainstream success, though it appealed to the band's fanbase. However, the surprise success of punk rock bands such as The Offspring, Green Day and Bad Religion in the mid-1990s brought forth more mainstream interest in Let's Go, and it peaked at number 97 on the Billboard 200. "Salvation" was released to alternative radio on February 3, 1995.

<i>Suffer</i> (album) 1988 studio album by Bad Religion

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Brett Gurewitz

Brett W. Gurewitz, nicknamed Mr. Brett, is an American musician and record producer best known as the lead guitarist of Bad Religion. He is also the owner of the music label Epitaph Records and a number of sister labels. He has produced albums for Bad Religion as well as Epitaph Records labelmates NOFX, Rancid, and Pennywise, among others. Gurewitz also had a project called Error, which also featured Atticus Ross, Leopold Ross, and Greg Puciato. He is also the co-founder of comic book and graphic novel publisher, Black Mask Studios.

<i>Stranger than Fiction</i> (Bad Religion album) 1994 studio album by Bad Religion

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<i>Indestructible</i> (Rancid album) 2003 studio album by Rancid

Indestructible is the sixth studio album by the American punk rock band Rancid. It was produced by Brett Gurewitz and released by Hellcat Records with distribution through Warner Bros. Records on August 19, 2003. Despite critical acclaim, the band was criticized by some of its fans for Indestructible's "poppier" sound on some of its tracks. It debuted at number 15 on the charts, with 51,000 copies sold in its first week, making it Rancid's highest debut at the time though it would be surpassed six years later with their 2009 album, Let the Dominoes Fall. Indestructible marks the last recording by drummer Brett Reed, who left the band in 2006 and was replaced by current drummer Branden Steineckert. Additionally, it is the only album that features songwriting contributions from Reed.

Hellcat Records

Hellcat Records is an independent record label based in Los Angeles, California, United States. The label, an offshoot of Epitaph Records, was started as a partnership between Brett Gurewitz of Bad Religion, the owner of Epitaph, and Tim Armstrong of Rancid, who was generally responsible for signing bands.

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