|This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (May 2016)|
|Parent company||Epitaph Records|
|Distributor(s)||RED (US), ADA (US), eOne Music (CAN)|
|Genre||Hardcore, Oi!, Psychobilly, Punk, Ska, Street punk|
|Country of origin||US|
Hellcat Records is an independent record label based in Los Angeles. The label, an offshoot of Epitaph Records, was started as a partnership between Brett Gurewitz of Bad Religion, the owner of Epitaph, and Tim Armstrong of Rancid, the latter of whom is generally responsible for signing the bands.
The label specializes in ska, punk, oi!, psychobilly and hardcore bands. Give 'Em the Boot, a Hellcat label sampler which also includes tracks from other up-and-coming independent bands, has been issued every other year since 1997, with the exceptions of the third release which was released 3 years after the second and the last one, which was released one year after the one before it.
In 2005, a Give 'Em the Boot DVD was released, featuring tour footage of numerous Hellcat bands.
On January 15, 2006, the label released Live Freaky! Die Freaky!, a full-length film produced by Tim Armstrong and filmed using marionettes. The plot involves Charlie Manson's story being misinterpreted by a nomad in a post-apocalyptic Earth. It features the voice talents of the members of Rancid, Green Day, AFI and The Transplants, among numerous others.
Hellcat Records has been involved in a feud with one of its former bands, Leftöver Crack, over censorship issues. Leftöver Crack wanted their 2001 debut album to be titled Shoot the Kids at School, with the cover art depicting a gun-toting arm aiming at a playground. In the aftermath of the Columbine High School massacre, the plant pressing the record and labels, not Hellcat, refused to allow this so the band titled their album Mediocre Generica in protest, as a veiled reference to what they viewed as the mediocrity of the bands on Hellcat's label. This incident ultimately led to Leftöver Crack departing from the label, regardless of who was responsible for the choice.
After leaving the label, Leftöver Crack has accused Hellcat Records of promoting sexism and homophobia within the punk community. Their accusations are based on allegedly homophobic lyrics by the now-departed U.S. Bombs, Hellcat's attempted signing of controversial reggae artist Buju Banton and Lars Frederiksen and the Bastards' allegedly sexist lyrics and use of naked women in label art. Leftöver Crack have also addressed these issues explicitly in their song "Gay Rude Boys Unite". The song, written in response to perceived homophobic artists on Hellcat Records, makes jeering homage to Operation Ivy -- Tim Armstrong's pre-Rancid band -- in both its music and lyrics, lamenting what Leftover Crack saw as Armstrong/Hellcat's hypocrisy between rhetoric and practice.
Rancid and the label were met with some backlash for the release of Rancid's 2003 album, Indestructible, which was jointly released through Hellcat Records and major label Warner Bros. To ease tension among the fans, Warner's name or logo was nowhere to be found on the album's packaging, only the Hellcat Records logo.