Brett Gurewitz Poster

Biography

A founder and co-songwriter of influential and venerated Southern California band Bad Religion, Gurewitz is one of the prime architects of a high energy melodic punk style that continues to resonate throughout contemporary music. And as founder of independent powerhouse labels Epitaph and Anti-, Gurewitz created a sustainable, artist-first model that was prophetic 30 years ago and perfectly suited to today's ever-changing landscape. Gurewitz came of age a science fiction reading rock and roll fan in the sprawling sun drenched San Fernando Valley suburbs of Los Angeles. As a teenager he was introduced to the primal sound of The Ramones first album at a local record store. The following year, while attending El Camino High School, Gurewitz met a handful of likeminded young rebels united by their love for punk and a disdain for the surrounding culture of conformity. Along with Greg Graffin and Jay Bentley, the soon-named Bad Religion began rehearsing in a parent's garage, an unassuming start for a band who, three decades later, continue to inspire hope and dissent throughout the world. In the true DIY spirit of punk's early days, the band recorded and self released a 7"record the following year in 1981. Bad Religion followed up later that year with their still highly regarded full length debut "How Could Hell Be Any Worse," a raging, intensely insightful burst of high speed suburban protest music. Gurewitz eventually stopped playing in Bad Religion after an ill fated stylistic change with the group's second album Into The Unknown. He attended art school and took music theory and philosophy classes at the local community college. Then he began working for a record distributer during the day and attending recording school at night. In 1987, along with a classmate, Gurewitz purchased a tape machine and mixing board and they opened a tiny studio called Westbeach Recorders in the back room of another larger studio. "It was basically a closet," Gurewitz says. In 1987 Gurewitz had stopped supplementing his regiment with chemicals and rejoined Bad Religion, whose two early records had gained in stature in the intervening years and become classics of the genre. And while the music press considered punk a mere remnant of an earlier time, the audience for the music had only grown. Bad Religion decided to record again and it was a chance for Gurewitz to capitalize on the literally thousands of hours spent perfecting his craft. The first record on what is present-day Epitaph-Records was Bad Religion's 1988 breakthrough album Suffer. It is a work still widely considered one the most influential and best sounding punk records ever produced. The album was named record of the year by influential fanzines Flipside and Maximum Rock N Roll, the only publications that mattered to punks at the time. As Bad Religion continued to gain in popularity, Gurewitz was in a unique position. As a touring musician in one of the scene's biggest bands, he was playing with some of the best new artists, and as label owner, he was able to sign them. In 1990 he signed the band Pennywise, in 1991 he signed both NOFX and The Offspring and soon thereafter Northern California punk band Rancid. It was during this period that Gurewitz moved Epitaph to a larger location and managed to persuade reluctant major record chains to stock their independent punk records. While the music press was focused on the long-haired flannel-adorned grunge sensation of the Pacific Northwest, the underground punk scene continued to flourish. There were massive punk shows throughout the West and spreading across the country. Along with this thriving and vital scene, Epitaph continued to grow. By 1994 Epitaph was already growing wildly but with little fanfare. Then they released The Offspring's appropriately named Smash album and suddenly everyone noticed. That one record would go on to sell over eleven million copies. Next was Rancid's 1995 ...And Out Come The Wolves which went platinum with gold records for both Pennywise and NOFX on their way. To keep up with increasing demand, lifelong science fiction fan Gurewitz naturally gravitated toward the then new technologies of personal computing and the internet. As Epitaph thrived, so did Bad Religion who continued to gain in popularity throughout the world. In 1993, in an attempt to expand beyond their primarily punk audience, Gurewitz and the band had signed a deal with major label Atlantic Records. Two of the Gurewitz-penned songs for the subsequent record Stranger Than Fiction, "Infected" and "21st Century (Digital Boy)," would become the band's biggest hits and the album would be certified gold. It was a precarious peak from which Gurewitz would soon plummet. While in the studio recording Stranger Than Fiction, he decided to quit Bad Religion. After a stint in rehab, in 1997 a clean and reinvigorated Gurewitz returned to Epitaph. In 1998, the label signed the iconic artist Tom Waits. Inspired by the move, Gurewitz formed Anti-Records, an imprint of Epitaph dedicated to serving a more eclectic and less classically punk roster. Since then both Epitaph and Anti- have flourished, signing an eclectic mix of vital and creative artists from upstart punk influenced acts like Bring Me The Horizon and Falling In Reverse to visionary and influential artists such as Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, Wilco, Mavis Staples, The Swell Season and Tom Waits. The label has also released several Grammy winning records for artists including Booker T. Jones, Mavis Staples, Solomon Burke, Tinariwen, and Tom Waits. In 2001 Gurewitz returned to Bad Religion and the band began releasing albums on the label they helped to start. They have had several recent radio hits and continue to sell out concerts throughout the world.