Disturbing the Peace
415 Records and the Rise of New Wave
In the late ’70s and early to mid ’80s, San Francisco was a creative incubator, bringing forth all manner of new music acts. Ground zero for the scene was the Mabuhay Gardens, home to huge barrels of popcorn, once-a-week spaghetti nights, colorful emcee Dirk Dirksen, and punk/new wave bands from all over the Bay Area. Concert booker and renegade radio DJ Howie Klein joined with Chris Knab, owner of the local Aquarius Records, to launch a record label in support of that scene.
Measured in strictly commercial terms, 415 Records was at best a modest success. But then, for Klein and Knab, financial gain was never the primary goal. Ask Klein about his objectives, and he’ll tell you: “F-U-N,” he’ll say. “It was all about fun.”
But 415 Records would have a lasting impact, one that extended far beyond the minor chart action that a few of the label’s artists achieved. Klein and his cohorts established new ways of doing business in the music industry, and were at the forefront of a resurgence of independent labels.
Disturbing the Peace is Bill Kopp’s chronicle of the groundbreaking independent record label founded by Howie and Chris, featuring the stories of Romeo Void (“Never Say Never,” “A Girl in Trouble”), Red Rockers (“China,” “Shades of 45”), Translator (“Everywhere That I’m Not”), Wire Train (“Chamber of Hellos,” “Skills of Summer”), Roky Erickson (“If You Have Ghosts,” “I Walked with a Zombie”), The Nuns, Pearl Harbor and the Explosions, and nearly two dozen other bands.
Featuring a foreword from Joel Selvin (Hollywood Eden) and based on Kopp’s nearly 100 interviews with the artists, industry execs, producers, friends, rivals, onlookers, journalists and hangers-on, Disturbing the Peace also features hundreds of photos and memorabilia from the archives of those who were there.
Praise For Disturbing the Peace: 415 Records and the Rise of New Wave…
— Ira Robbins, co-founder of Trouser Press magazine
"The direct line leading from San Francisco’s psychedelic hippie-band era of the ’60s to the city’s punk and new wave movement of the late ’70s-’80s has never been drawn this clearly — or with this much sheer elation — before. Although they might seem to have little in common musically, philosophically or stylistically, 415 Records bands like Romeo Void, The Nuns, Translator and SVT (whose bassist, Jack Casady, had been in the earlier era’s Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna) followed the same guiding DIY principles, rebelliously eschewing a craving for mainstream success in favor of fomenting a true cultural revolution. Disturbing the Peace is more than just another profile of a local rock scene or record label—it’s the story of a seismic shift, and the passions of the people who created it."
— Jeff Tamarkin, author of Got a Revolution!—The Turbulent Flight of Jefferson Airplane
"By sweeping together the minutiae of one particular music scene — San Francisco in the late ’70s and early ’80s, when 415 Records began and flourished — Bill Kopp manages to remind us of the way punk and alternative music blossomed into cultural forces influencing the ’90s and beyond. Yes, it really happened: dozens and dozens of bands, club hoppers, radio hounds and record store geeks built and maintained a scene without the internet. This devourable, fanatically researched document is indispensable for those who were there and will gall into jealousy those who weren’t."
— Karen Schoemer, author of Great Pretenders: My Strange Love Affair With ’50s Pop Music
HoZac Books, 9781735998534, 360pp.
Publication Date: January 3, 2022