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Epitaph Records
Epitaph logo
The Offspring signed between 1991-1997
Founded 1980
Founder(s) Brett Gurewitz
Distributing Company ADA
Country of Origin U.S.
Official Website epitaph.com

Epitaph Records is a Hollywood, California based independent 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.

The Offspring's tenure with Epitaph

In or around 1991, The Offspring were signed to Epitaph Records. Producer Thom Wilson had been trying to get The Offspring to get signed to Epitaph, but Brett was not sure about this. The making of the Baghdad EP convinced him to give the band a shot. The Offspring's first release on Epitaph was their second full-length studio album Ignition.

Recordings on Epitaph:

The Offspring's departure from Epitaph

In 1996, Dexter announced in the Offspring mailing list that they had left Epitaph for Columbia. He wrote:

"Hey,

A lot of people have asked me what the deal is with us leaving Epitaph, so I thought I would post it here... seems like a good place.

We've gotten a lot of flack about leaving Epitaph, and a lot of that's because we tried to keep our mouths shut so this wouldn't turn into a press war. Unfortunately, Epitaph didn't do the same, so the only side anyone heard was theirs. Well, I'd like you guys to get our side of the story.

Brett Gurewitz owns Epitaph. He's made our leaving the label very public and very nasty, and that's why we decided to defend ourselves, and that's why I'm writing now. We all really like the people at Epitaph and the bands on Epitaph, but we couldn't deal with Brett anymore. Brett's more concerned about making his label big than he is about helping his bands. That's basically what it's about, and why we left.

We tried to renegotiate with Brett to do more records on Epitaph starting last March, because we wanted to stay on the label. We had been trying to stay on Epitaph all along, actually. When Smash first started getting big in May of '94, Brett approached us and said he wanted to sell the record to a major label in return for a royalty override on it. We convinced him not to do it. In July of '94, when the record started taking off in Europe, he approached us again about selling the record to a major label in Europe. Again, we had to beg him not to. We wanted to stay on Epitaph because they gave us our start, and we like to keep the same people. We have the same booking agent, the same crew, etc.

So we didn't meet with any major labels - not one. Meanwhile, Brett met with all of them. Geffen, Capitol, Sony, you name it, and he met with them. They wanted to buy Epitaph, and he was listening. He told people that he wanted to be the next Richard Branson. Oh yeah, he met with Richard Branson too.

It's important to a lot of the Epitaph bands to be on a label not associated with a major. When we confronted him about selling, he denied it. Finally though, last December, he admitted that he wanted to sell part of the company to 'raise capital.

We were concerned about Brett selling part of the company, but there were other things that bothered us too. Like, we had decided early on to try to keep a low profile. We didn't do things like 120 Minutes, or David Letterman, or Saturday Night Live, although we could have. But when we would turn down an interview request, Brett would step in and do it himself, pumping his company. He even did interviews with Forbes magazine and Newsweek. We were trying to avoid being poster boys for punk rock, and Brett wasn't helping - we felt that if we turned something down, he shouldn't do it in our place.

We negotiated for about a year, but couldn't get everything ironed out. It's true that he offered us a great advance and a great royalty rate. But the last contract he sent had some big problems for us. It said we couldn't do cover songs. It said Ron couldn't play in his other band. It said he could use our music on as many compilations as he wanted to. One version of the contract had a clause in it that allowed Brett to take out a life insurance policy on me, so that if I died, he would profit. That's when we realized that this was just about money for him.

He refused to negotiate any more last January, and a week later, he decided to pull the whole offer. To keep it short, he eventually sold our contract to Columbia.

We believed in sticking up for the indie label, and we shouldn't have. We stayed true to Epitaph while Brett met with every major label. Brett says publicly that major labels are bad but, of course, he was in Bad Religion when they signed to Atlantic. He wrote a lot of the songs on Stranger than Fiction that came out on Atlantic. Also, Brett sued us. And, he tried to force us to stay on his label. There was no indie spirit there anymore.

We took less money to sign with Columbia. We had to sign for more records to go with Columbia. Our signing with Columbia was not to try and make more money. We did it because we won't record for someone who thinks he can force us to. We won't record for a guy who's worse than a major label. We're gonna do whatever the fuck we want to.

Well, there it is. You heard it first...

Dexter."

Despite having already left Epitaph, the label released the band's fourth album Ixnay on the Hombre in some parts of Europe.

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