In the late ‘70s and early to mid 1980s, 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 deejay Howie Klein joined with Aquarius Records owner (and fellow deejay) Chris Knab to launch a record label in support of that scene.
Disturbing the Peace: 415 Records and the Rise of New Wave is Bill Kopp’s chronicle of the groundbreaking independent record label founded by Howie Klein & Chris Knab, featuring the stories of Romeo Void, Red Rockers, Translator, Wire Train, Roky Erickson, The Nuns, Pearl Harbor and Explosions, and nearly two dozen other bands.
Based on 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 personal archives of those who were there.
In the late 1970s, indie labels popped up all over America, forming an underground network that altered the course of musical history. Each one had a vision, characters and a story of DIY ingenuity, but those were overlooked as their bands took the spotlight. Trouser Press worked a lot with Howie Klein and San Francisco’s pioneering 415 label, but I really didn’t know much about the company. Thanks to Bill Kopp’s definitive Disturbing the Peace, now I do.
— 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