Label Spotlight: Epitaph Records

Epitaph Records is an independent music label founded in Los Angeles, California by Bad Religion guitarist Brett Gurewitz in the early 1980’s.

The iconic label released an incredible amount of hit albums in the 90’s and was also responsible for breaking through bands such as Rancid, NOFX, Pennywise, The Offspring and Bad Religion themselves into the mainstream.

It might be kind of tough to be both punk and successful at the same time but Epitaph Records has remained rather critically respected by signing bands such as Joyce Manor, Pianos Become The Teeth and Gallows to name a few.

With so many stand out releases in Epitaph Records 35+ years active, I take a look at some of the my personal favourites so far in chronological order.

1989: Bad Religion – No Control 


It’s not an easy task to pick out the best album that Bad Religion have ever made (what a fucking back catalogue though!) but I have a lot of nostalgic memories attached to No Control. It was the first release that I bought of theirs after discovering them through the labels excellent Punk-O-Rama compilation series and also hearing the track “You” whilst popping kick flips on Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2. A great introduction into a much respected band.

1991: Pennywise – Pennywise


Pennywise’s self-titled debut was the album that introduced me to both punk rock and Epitaph Records in the first place. They sounded like nothing I’d ever heard before, lyrically intelligent, palm muted riffs with an upbeat tempo so fucking fast that it felt like shooting adrenaline straight into the heart. I always like to go back to this album every so often to take me back to where my love of skate-punk started.  

1994: NOFX – Punk in Drublic


NOFX were in their prime when this album was released and many of their classic tracks feature on it (my favourite still being “Linoleum”). Punk in Drublic has no filler from start to finish and features some excellent crafted and diverse songs by the band. It was a tad overshadowed by the mainstream at the time of its release, (mainly due to the success of Smash by The Offspring and Dookie by Green Day). However, Punk in Drublic is without a doubt a masterpiece that every true punk rock fan should have in their collection.

1996: The Offspring – Ixnay on the Hombre 


For those expecting Smash to be my favourite Offspring album released on Epitaph Records, I’m sorry. Like everyone else, I really love that album too but there’s something about Ixnay on the Hombre that I like just that little bit more. Using the same signature style choruses with catchy sarcastic lyrics, it felt like a direct sequel to Smash (although noticeably exploring darker topics). If the platinum selling formula isn’t broke, then probably best to never, never, fix it.

2014: Pianos Become The Teeth – Keep You 


Max, our editor at Seeing Your Scene, brought up this album to me recently when I mentioned about doing a Label Spotlight feature on Epitaph Records. I’d heard of Pianos Become The Teeth before but never really gotten round to listening to them as I’m always backlogged with checking out bands recommended to me. I wish I’d discovered Keep You sooner though as it’s a truly stunning album that’s impossible to put down once it’s grown on you.

Other Honourable Mentions:

Rancid – …And Out Come The Wolves (1995)

Voodoo Glow Skulls – Band Geek Mafia (1998)

The Distillers – The Distillers (2000)

Gallows – Orchestra Of Wolves (2006)

Joyce Manor – Never Hungover Again (2014)

What have we missed out? Comment below!

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Richard Neil

I'm a freelance journalist who has interests in music, film, travel and politics. ▲

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