Epitaph Records’ Brett Gurewitz: Punk Rock Tastemaker Strikes Again With The Linda Lindas
Brett Gurewitz is something of a Southern California punk rock icon. While the area is most culturally associated with palm trees, sunshine, surfing and beach life, he tapped into something completely different.
Gurewitz is a founder and lead guitarist of Bad Religion and its label, Epitaph Records, both formed in 1980.
In addition to ’90s punk legends Rancid, The Offspring, NOFX and Pennywise, Epitaph became a mainstay for a burgeoning punk/hard rock scene that now boasts a roster including Alkaline Trio, Every Time I Die, Motion City Soundtrack, Propaghandi, The Weakerthans and, of course, The Linda Lindas.
One of Bad Religion’s albums, 2019’s Age of Unreason, was produced by a Los Angeles engineer, producer and family friend Carlos de la Garza – whose two daughters, Mila and Lucia, make up half of The Linda Lindas – signed by Epitaph last year and poised to bring punk rock to a new generation of music fans.
“They’re brilliant and talented women,” Gurewitz says of The Linda Lindas, composed of sisters Mila and Lucia de la Garza, their cousin Eloise Wong and longtime friend Bela Salazar. “And no matter how young they are, Lucia is a brilliant visual artist, musician and writer. Mila is one of the best drummers I’ve heard despite just now being 12 years old. Lucia has a genius IQ and she’s in Advanced Placement classes in school. They’re all brilliant in their own way.”
For as impressive as The Linda Lindas’ talent and abilities are, there’s more to them than that. They are rock ‘n’ roll – and not just as a function of genre, but down to the intangibles of soul and ethic.
“Part of what I see in them is my youth, you know, a love for rock ‘n’ roll and this passion for music and for experimentation and rebellion,” Gurewitz says, noting he was only 17 himself when he started Bad Religion.
“They are very young women writing their own songs, playing their own instruments and doing that around the world is a very powerful, clear message for young people. They’re powerful young women of color and, at this moment, that’s a really important thing.”
Gurewitz notes that “Racist, Sexist Boy” is inherently political, as is most of Bad Religion’s oeuvre. When Mila de la Garza’s male classmate told her he couldn’t get near “Chinese people” because of the emerging coronavirus, she shot back, “I’m Chinese,” and then wrote a punk anthem about the incident.
“Yeah, it stemmed from that,” Gurewitz says. “They’re doing music of freedom and opposition and rebellion. You can say that’s what punk rock is. But I think that’s rock ‘n’ roll. Sometimes kids just know. You know the saying, ‘from the mouths of babes?’ The kids just tell it like it is.”
Another new artist Gurewitz is especially excited about is recent signee Magnolia Park. “They’re absolutely blowing up,” he says, adding they are getting some great touring and opening opportunities with some bigger bands. A single, “I Should Have Listened To My Friends” is doing well, he says.
Bad Religion continues to tour regularly, having just returned from a European trek of festival plays and headline dates including in the UK, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Norway and the Netherlands. Box office reports submitted to Pollstar show Bad Religion averages 2,280 tickets sold per show for an average gross of $85,087.
Bad Religion is also preparing for a run of fall U.S. festivals including Riot Fest, Louder Than Life, Aftershock, and Punk in the Park.