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Alternative Tentacles Records was established in June of 1979 and is most likely the longest lasting (and still active) underground record labels around. Although it is perceived by many as a "punk" label, having released records by Dead Kennedys and others, it is actually best known for its impact on the world of underground culture.

In the early years the label gained international attention by introducing the world to artists such as : Dead Kennedys, Butthole Surfers, D.O.A., 7 Seconds, Winston Smith, NoMeansNo, Neurosis and Voice Farm. The label has continued to remain vital in its lengthy history by refusing to adhere to a formula for an easily identifiable 'Alternative Tentacles Sound.' Rather, the label has released many political spoken word releases; as well as releasing: Brazilian hardcore, bent pop, faux-country, twisted twang, and assorted rock & roll. Of late, the label is also known for its "Re-Issues Of Necessity Series".

The label is also well known due to its outspoken provocateur owner, talent scout and recording artist, Jello Biafra. Many may recall his run for mayor of San Francisco in 1979 at the age of 21; as well as his trial for "distributing harmful matter" - which stemmed from including an H.R. Giger poster in a Dead Kennedy's album; to his 2000 nomination as Green party candidate for President of the United States. Since the parting of Dead Kennedys, Jello has released many spoken word releases as well as collaborating with other musicians and bands such as DOA, Nomeansno, Mojo Nixon, and stand-alone projects like Tumor Circus (with Steelpole Bathtub), No WTO Combo (with Krist Novoselic), Lard (with Al Jourgensen), Jello Biafra with the Melvins, and his latest project with members of Victim's Family, Faith No More, and Sharkbait!

Alternative Tentacles Records employs two people in Emeryville , California. (The label has always been based in San Francisco, but in October 2002 the label moved here.) The company is a sole proprietorship owned by Jello Biafra. Aside from being a label, it is also a mailorder company selling its own wares, as well as a ton of underground t-shirts, books, dvds, music, and other merchandise.

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