Founding a Label:
In the late '80s, major labels refused to sign many punk bands, partly because they questioned their ability to sell records as partly because they were frightened of the notoriety many punk musicians carried.
Many bands were reduced to pressing their own albums and selling them by mail. Bad Religion guitarist Brett Gurewitz founded Epitaph Records to promote his albums.
Becoming a Real Label:
As Bad Religion grew in popularity, so did their label. In 1987 Epitaph released its first record as a proper label, L7's self-titled debut.
In the '90s, success hit Epitaph hard, when other bands on their label starting hitting gold and platinum status. These included The Offspring, Rancid and NOFX.
Epitaph Records continues to grow. It now includes multiple sister labels, including Hellcat records, which handles a roster composed of mainly psychobilly and ska bands, and ANTI-, a label that handles some brooding heavy hitters, most notably Nick Cave and Tom Waits.
Epitaph's Trademark Bands: