Epitaph Records Merchandise
See also Bad Religion merchandise – click here
See also Hellcat Records merchandise – click here
Epitaph Records is a Hollywood, California based record label owned by Bad Religion guitarist Brett Gurewitz. The label was originally "just a logo and a P.O. box" created in the 1980s for the purpose of selling Bad Religion records, but has evolved into a large independent record label. Gurewitz took the name from a King Crimson song of the same name. Throughout the 80s and 90s most of the bands on Epitaph were punk rock groups, while it is now primarily made up of alternative rock bands. Several sister-labels also exist, such as ANTI-, Fat Possum Records, Burning Heart Records and Hellcat Records that have signed other types of bands.
In 1987, Epitaph released its first record as a proper label. It was the band L7's self-titled album, and it was distributed by Chameleon. The first album that was both released and distributed by Epitaph was Suffer by Bad Religion.
In 1994 Epitaph received widespread fame, both within and outside the punk community, when 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 soon left for Columbia Records in a contract dispute, but their Smash lived up to its name and quickly became Epitaph's all time best selling album, with more than 11 million units sold worldwide to date.
Recently in 2003, Epitaph has sparked some controversy among its fans by signing noted alternative rap artists Atmosphere and Sage Francis and noise/metal band The Locust, leading to many heated debates about what constituted the true nature of "punk" music, but so far the new groups seem to feel at home on the label. The label also signed Canadian rapper Cadence Weapon in 2007. Merle Haggard has also released material on the Epitaph label (If I Could Only Fly (2000) and Roots Vol. 1 (2001)).
Although Bad Religion was the founding band of Epitaph, releasing their early records through the label, they switched over to Atlantic in 1994, with Stranger Than Fiction being their first record outside of the label. Brett Gurewitz is thought to have left Bad Religion as a result of "intra-band drama" but actually left the band in 1994 so he could run Epitaph fulltime. This came after lead singer Greg Graffin said he wanted to tour more and quit school to do so. The band responded by filling Gurewitz's place with Brian Baker. In 2001, Brett returned to the band and Bad Religion once again signed to Epitaph Records, releasing The Process of Belief in 2002 and The Empire Strikes First (2004). A new record entitled New Maps of Hell was released in July 2007.