|Founded||1966 (Solid State Tuners) |
1978 (SST Records)
|Genre||Punk, alternative rock, rock, heavy metal|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Official website|| sstsuperstore|
SST Records is an American independent record label formed in 1978 in Long Beach, California by musician Greg Ginn. The company was formed in 1966 by Ginn at age 12 as Solid State Tuners,  a small business through which he sold electronics equipment. Ginn repurposed the company as a record label to release material by his band Black Flag.
Music writer Michael Azerrad wrote, "Ginn took his label from a cash-strapped, cop-hassled store-front operation to easily the most influential and popular underground indie of the Eighties".  Along with other independent American labels such as Twin/Tone, Touch and Go Records, Epitaph, Alternative Tentacles, and Dischord, SST helped to spearhead the nationwide network of underground bands that formed the pre-Nirvana indie-rock scene.  These labels presided over the shift from the hardcore punk that then dominated the American underground scene to the more diverse styles of alternative rock that were emerging.  SST initially focused on releasing material by hardcore punk groups from Southern California. As many of the bands on the label sought to expand beyond the limitations of the hardcore genre, SST released many key albums that were instrumental in the development of American alternative rock, including releases by the Minutemen, Hüsker Dü, the Meat Puppets, Soundgarden, Sonic Youth, and Dinosaur Jr. After a peak release schedule in the late 1980s, SST began venturing into jazz releases. SST is now based in Taylor, Texas. Sonic Youth, Soundgarden, Dinosaur Jr., and the Meat Puppets have reclaimed the rights to their respective SST material after leaving the label.
Greg Ginn created Solid State Tuners (SST) at the age of 12. SST was a mail-order business that sold modified World War II surplus radio equipment. The business was small but thrived well into Ginn's early adulthood. 
In 1976 Ginn formed the punk rock band Panic. Panic recorded eight songs in January 1978, but no labels were interested in releasing the music aside from Los Angeles, California record label Bomp! Records. By late 1978 Bomp had still not formally agreed to release the music on record, so Ginn decided he had enough business experience with SST to release it himself.  Pressing records turned out to be a simple matter; "I just looked in the phone book under record pressing plants and there was one there", Ginn recalled, "and so I just took it to them and I knew about printing because I had always done catalogs." SST Records released the music recorded by Ginn's band (now named Black Flag) as the Nervous Breakdown EP in January 1979. 
Many early Black Flag shows ended in violence, often involving the Los Angeles Police Department. As a result, the police tapped the label's phones and kept the SST office under surveillance.  Ginn claims undercover police posing as homeless people sat close to SST's front door. The band were unable to hire a lawyer because of a lack of money; Ginn later explained: "I mean, we were thinking about skimping on our meals. … There was no place to go".  By 1980, L.A. clubs had begun to ban hardcore punk shows, adding to SST's troubles. 
SST issued the Minutemen's debut EP Paranoid Time as its second release in 1980.  The songs were recorded and mixed in a single night for $300. Minutemen bassist Mike Watt recalled, "It was at that point we realized all you had to do was pay for the pressings, that records weren't a gift from Mount Olympus . . . Maybe it was from Greg's experience with ham radios, but he believed if you try, you can get things beyond your little group."  Facing hostility towards hardcore punk, SST groups like Black Flag and the Minutemen played wherever they could, mainly at house parties and in basements early on.  Black Flag began traveling up the California coast to play Mabuhay Gardens in San Francisco, making seven trips in total. SST house record producer Spot went along as sound-man and tour manager, a job he would perform for several years, along with helping to record much of the label's music. 
SST sold its releases to small distributors at a deliberately low price; however, since the distributors typically sold import records, the records usually ended up in specialty shops where they would sell for high prices. Ginn decided to release the first Black Flag album Damaged (1981) via a mainstream distributor. SST struck a deal with MCA Records to co-release Damaged on Unicorn Records, a smaller label distributed by MCA. Just prior to the album's release, MCA decided not to release Damaged, citing its "anti-parent" subject matter.  SST sued Unicorn claiming the label did not pay rightful royalties and expenses for the album. Unicorn countersued and obtained an injunction preventing Black Flag from releasing further material until the case was settled. When SST released the Black Flag compilation Everything Went Black , Unicorn took SST to court in July 1983. Ginn and Black Flag bassist Chuck Dukowski (who had become a co-owner of SST) were found in violation of the injunction and were sent to the Los Angeles County Jail for five days. Late in 1983 Unicorn went bankrupt and Black Flag was able to release records again. 
Despite its legal troubles, SST continued to release records by artists including Minutemen, Saccharine Trust, and Meat Puppets. In 1982 Minneapolis hardcore group Hüsker Dü became the label's first non-West Coast signing.  Following the resolution of the debacle with Unicorn Records, SST released four Black Flag albums in 1984. The multiple Black Flag albums, along with the double album releases Zen Arcade and Double Nickels on the Dime by Hüsker Dü and the Minutemen, respectively, stretched the label's resources. While SST believed Zen Arcade would be a sizable underground hit, pressings of over 5,000 copies were unknown territory for the label, so it erred on the side of caution and did not print over that number in its initial pressing. Awarded critical acclaim by several mainstream media outlets, Zen Arcade sold out quickly and remained out of print for months.  Ginn decided to cut the promotional costs of the Black Flag albums by issuing them in quick succession and having the band tour solidly behind the releases. 
During the mid-1980s Hüsker Dü became SST's star attraction, their strong songwriting and increasingly melodic music becoming the key link between hardcore and the developing sound of college rock.  The steady recording and release of records by the band (which released three albums over the course of 1984 and 1985) created an influx of income for the label and afforded it leverage to gather payment from distributors for other releases.  However, the band felt that SST did not devote enough attention to its releases; Hüsker Dü drummer Grant Hart said after the band left the label, "I think there's a little reluctance on their part to let anything get a little more attention than Black Flag."  In 1985, Hüsker Dü wanted to self-produce its third studio album, New Day Rising . Ignoring the band's wishes, SST assigned Spot to supervise the sessions. Grant Hart later explained: "We had no other choice but to work with him. SST made us work with him".  Aware of the tension, Spot "had to do what the record company wanted".  New Day Rising, as a result, became one of the last recordings Spot did for the label,  and the band soon signed to major label Warner Bros. Records. 
SST's roster was further diminished by the 1985 demise of the Minutemen (the result of the death of guitarist D. Boon) and the 1986 breakup of Black Flag. The label replaced these bands with new signings Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr, and Bad Brains. Sonic Youth mentioned SST often in interviews and in music writer Michael Azerrad's estimation, "seemed to be actively campaigning to get signed to the indie powerhouse";  in turn, Sonic Youth was instrumental in getting SST to sign Dinosaur Jr. Gerard Cosloy, manager of Dinosaur Jr's previous label Homestead Records, said, "SST was the label everyone wanted to be on [. . .] Everyone's favorite bands were on the label; SST was funnier and cooler and it also had the machinery." 
In 1986, Ginn bought New Alliance Records from Mike Watt, who had founded the label with D. Boon.  Ginn and SST proceeded to reissue some of New Alliance's key releases—albums by Descendents, Hüsker Dü's Land Speed Record , and all of The Minutemen's non-SST releases—on SST. He then converted New Alliance to a label based around unusual jazz, rock, and spoken word releases.
In the late '80s and early '90s, Ginn started two SST-distributed sub-labels. The first, Cruz Records, which started in 1987, released three solo records by Ginn in the space of a year, and also released records by ALL, Big Drill Car, and Chemical People. The second, the short-lived Issues Records, concentrated on spoken-word releases, including a double album by former NBA player Bill Walton with music by Ray Manzarek.
Several artists left SST in the late 1980s. By 1987, just a year after signing with the label, Sonic Youth had grown disenchanted with it. Guitarist Thurston Moore said, "SST's accounting was a bit suspect to us", and the group's other guitarist Lee Ranaldo criticized the label's "stoner administrative quality".  The band was also dissatisfied with Ginn's newer signings. Unhappy that income from their records was ultimately helping to fund "lame-ass records", Sonic Youth acrimoniously left the label and signed with Enigma Records in 1988.  Dinosaur Jr left SST for Blanco y Negro Records in 1990. Frontman J Mascis said, "I like Greg Ginn and stuff, but they wouldn't pay you." 
In 1987 SST released over 80 titles, a "ridiculous amount even by major label standards", according to Azerrad.  SST's prestige declined and by 1990 Seattle-based indie label Sub Pop had upstaged SST. SST's reputation was damaged severely when sound collage group Negativland fought a long legal battle with SST in the wake of its sampling lawsuit over their notorious "cover" of U2's hit "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For", on the 1991 U2 single. The case was settled when Ginn and SST agreed to fully release most of Negativland's masters (mainly their Over The Edge series of cassettes) in exchange for completing work on a live album that had been planned long before their legal battles began, as well as keeping Negativland's three SST releases on the label for a short period (the copyright in those has since reverted to Negativland). This entire battle was later the basis for Negativland's 1995 book/CD, Fair Use: The Story of the Letter U and the Numeral 2 . (One bit of detournement took the bumper sticker "SST: Corporate Rock Still Sucks" and made it into "Corporate SST Still Sucks Rock".)
SST went into near-hibernation in the mid-90s, deleting much of its jazz output, and releasing little new material apart from Ginn's projects (including Confront James, Mojack), but still keeping the catalogs of Black Flag, The Minutemen, Firehose, Hüsker Dü, The Descendents, and Bad Brains in print. Several artists formerly on the label, including Sonic Youth and the Meat Puppets, sued SST to reclaim their master recordings, claiming unpaid royalties.  The label had ceased releasing any material by the end of the 1990s. Ginn blamed this on the bankruptcy of the label's distributor, DNA.  The label eventually resumed releasing new material in the mid-2000s. However, these new releases have been restricted to Ginn-related projects like Gone, Hor, Jambang, and Greg Ginn and the Taylor Texas Corrugators.
In 2002, Ginn signed a new distribution deal with Koch Records and announced a series of new releases from his various projects.  In 2006, independent digital music distributor The Orchard announced that 94 titles from SST's back catalog would become available on digital services like eMusic and the iTunes Music Store. 
Gregory Regis Ginn is an American guitarist, bassist, singer and songwriter, best known for being the leader, primary songwriter, and the only continuous member of the hardcore punk band Black Flag, which he founded and led from 1976 to 1986, and again in 2003. The band announced another reunion in 2013. Since the breakup of Black Flag, Ginn has recorded solo albums, and performed with such bands as October Faction, Gone, Confront James, Mojack, and others. He was 99th on Rolling Stone's list of "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time".
Black Flag is an American punk rock band formed in 1976 in Hermosa Beach, California. Initially called Panic, the band was established by Greg Ginn, the guitarist, primary songwriter, and sole continuous member through multiple personnel changes in the band. They are widely considered to be one of the first hardcore punk bands, as well as one of the pioneers of post-hardcore. After breaking up in 1986, Black Flag reunited in 2003 and again in 2013. The second reunion lasted well over a year, during which they released their first studio album in nearly three decades, What The... (2013). The band announced their third reunion in January 2019. Brandon Pertzborn was replaced by Isaias Gil on drums and Tyler Smith was replaced by Joseph Noval on bass.
Nervous Breakdown is the debut EP by the American hardcore punk band Black Flag, released in January 1979 through SST Records. It was the label's first release.
My War is the second studio album by American band Black Flag. It was the first of three full-length albums released by the band in 1984. It polarized fans due to the LP's B-side, on which the band slowed down to a heavy, Black Sabbath-esque trudge, despite the reputation the band had earned as leaders in fast hardcore punk on its first album, Damaged (1981).
Damaged is the debut studio album by the American hardcore punk band Black Flag. It was released by SST Records on December 5, 1981.
Zen Arcade is the second studio album by American punk rock band Hüsker Dü, released in July 1984 on SST Records. Originally released as a double album on two vinyl LPs, Zen Arcade tells the story of a young boy who runs away from an unfulfilling home life, only to find the world outside is even worse. Zen Arcade and subsequent Hüsker Dü albums were instrumental in the creation of the alternative rock genre, and it is considered by some to be one of the greatest rock albums of all time.
New Day Rising is the third studio album by American punk rock band Hüsker Dü, released in 1985 on SST Records. The album continued the move away from the fast hardcore punk of the band's earliest releases toward slower, more melodic material.
Hüsker Dü was an American punk rock band formed in Saint Paul, Minnesota, in 1979. The band's continual members were guitarist/vocalist Bob Mould, bassist/vocalist Greg Norton, and drummer/vocalist Grant Hart. They first gained notability as a hardcore punk band, and later crossed over into alternative rock. Mould and Hart were the band's principal songwriters, with Hart's higher-pitched vocals and Mould's baritone taking the lead in alternating songs.
Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981–1991 is a book by Michael Azerrad. It chronicles the careers of several underground rock bands who, while finding little or no mainstream success, were hugely influential in establishing American alternative and indie rock, mostly through nearly constant touring and records released on small, regional independent record labels. Azerrad conducted many interviews with band members, and also conducted extensive research of old fanzines, as well as more mainstream newspapers and books.
Flip Your Wig is the fourth album by American band Hüsker Dü, released in September 1985. It was the best-selling album to that point for the band's label SST Records, and the last they made for that label. As the band's first self-produced album, they spent months in the studio to achieve higher-quality production for its melodic power pop songs.
EVOL is the third full-length studio album by the American alternative rock band Sonic Youth. Released in May 1986, EVOL was Sonic Youth’s first album on SST Records, and also the first album to feature then-new drummer Steve Shelley who had just replaced Bob Bert.
Spot is an American record producer best known for being the house producer and engineer for the influential independent punk record label SST Records.
Double Nickels on the Dime is the third album by American punk trio Minutemen, released on the California independent record label SST Records in 1984. A double album containing 45 songs, Double Nickels on the Dime combines elements of punk rock, funk, country, spoken word and jazz, and references a variety of themes, from the Vietnam War and racism in America, to working-class experience and linguistics.
Paranoid Time is the first EP by American hardcore punk band Minutemen. It is also the second ever release by the SST record label, founded by Black Flag's Greg Ginn and Chuck Dukowski. The album cover is a drawing by the American artist Raymond Pettibon.
New Alliance Records was an independent record label founded by American musicians D. Boon and Mike Watt and longtime friend and associate Martin Tamburovich. They were inspired by the example of their friends in southern California band Black Flag who had earlier formed SST Records. The existence of SST led Watt to understand, according to a 1987 interview he gave to Musician magazine, how easy it was to get a record made: "All you had to do was pay the record plant man."
Saccharine Trust is an American punk rock band from Los Angeles, California, formed in 1980 by singer Jack Brewer and guitarist Joe Baiza. The band would frequently perform with SST labelmates Minutemen and Black Flag. However, Baiza described Saccharine Trust as the "black sheep" of the SST roster. Drummer Rob Holzman appeared on their 1981 debut Paganicons but left the band to play in Slovenly, replaced by drummer Tony Cicero. After a ten-year hiatus circa 1986 to 1996, the band re-formed and began performing around the West Coast.
Duck and Cover is a 1990 compilation album, issued by SST Records, featuring cover songs by 13 punk and alternative rock bands.
The discography of SST Records, an American punk rock independent record label formed in Long Beach, California, and based for years in nearby Lawndale, ranges from releases in 1979 to the present. Founded by Black Flag guitarist Greg Ginn, the label released records by punk bands such as Black Flag, the Minutemen and Hüsker Dü during the 1980s.
Minutemen were an American punk rock band formed in San Pedro, California, in 1980. Composed of guitarist/vocalist D. Boon, bassist/vocalist Mike Watt, and drummer George Hurley, Minutemen recorded four albums and eight EPs before Boon's death in an automobile accident in 1985; the band broke up shortly thereafter. They were noted in the California punk community for a philosophy of "jamming econo"—a sense of thriftiness reflected in their touring and short, tight songs as well as their eclectic style drawing on hardcore punk, funk, jazz, and other sources.