Offspring Leave Epitaph For Columbia Records

With 17 songs written, the Offspring are ready to record a new album.

The Offspring, one of the most popular punk bands in the

world, have left Epitaph, the indie label that helped them become an

international sensation, and have signed with Columbia Records. The deal--for

four albums and millions of dollars--went down Monday (May 13). "It's

disappointing and I feel betrayed," said Epitaph Records president Brett

Gurewitz yesterday. The Offspring have reportedly written 17 new songs, and

could have a new album out by October of this year. Although Epitaph has

operated as a successful label for many years, it was the over-the-top success

of the Offspring, a band that sold more than eight million copies of it's last

album, Smash that really put the label on the map. Unfortunately,

negotiations between Epitaph and the Offspring broke down after 14 months, and

earlier this year formal talks began between the group's manager and Columbia

Records (one of a number of major labels that were eager to sign up the Orange

County punks).

One hitch: the Offspring still owed Epitaph one album. In

March,

after the Offspring's representatives took the position that the group did not

owe Epitaph any more music, Gurewitz went to L. A. Superior Court and filed a

"complaint for declaratory judgment" which sought a judgment on the validity of

the Epitaph/Offspring. It looked like an ugly court battle was in the offing.

But Gurewitz told Addicted To Noise yesterday that "I sold my record [to

Columbia]. Now they can release it." The label head (and former member of Bad

Religion who now fronts his own band, Daredevils) said that Offspring leader

Brian "Dexter" Holland "asked me [to be released from the contract]. He

came to

me and, man to man, said that he didn't want to be on Epitaph and wanted to be

on Columbia and would I please sell his record to Columbia. I did some soul

searching. Epitaph has never compelled an artist to record for us. And after

thinking about it, I did what was asked." It was not an easy decision for

Gurewitz to make. "I had the ability to dig my heals in and force them to give

me a record, but as Epitaph is the artist's advocate, we will never do

that."

There are, of course, a slew of

excellent punk bands including NOFX, Pennywise and Gas

Huffer that record for Epitaph; it's unclear whether

Rancid, managed by the same company that handle the

Offspring, will continue to record for the

label. Asked how he felt about having a major label swoop in and grab a band

that he

had signed when nobody else wanted them [this has, of course, been going on

since the birth of rock and roll; RCA bought Elvis from Sun Records in the

'50s], Gurewitz expressed his clear disappointment. "I know all about it...

That's the way the cookie crumbles."