SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — The legendary label 415 Records was instrumental in forging San Francisco’s musical identity at the dawning of the new wave era. 415 started with releases by SVT, the Uptones, and Pop-O-Pies, and eventually broke through to the mainstream with latter-day signings like Romeo Void, Translator, and Red Rockers.
Liberation Hall will reissue 415’s indie (pre-Columbia Records distribution) titles beginning October 9, 2020 with the Disturbing the Peace compilation, followed by SVT’s Always Come Back and the Uptones’ Get Outta My Way on November 6, and finally the Readymades’ More Alive Than Not and Pop-O-Pies’ The White EP plus bonus tracks on December 11.
Liberation Hall president/COO Arny Schorr says, “When the opportunity was presented to bring 415 Records back into the market, to generate new exposure for the artists and their music, we jumped at the opportunity. Label founders Howie Klein and Chris Knab had a great eye for talent and the music holds up incredibly well.”
Klein notes, "415 Records started as a labor of love (and fun) for both Chris and myself. We never thought of it as a way to make any money, just as a way to get the music in our town out to a wider audience. It was always so thrilling when a programmer in Boston or Michigan or Texas would tell us they were playing one of our songs or that the local indie record store had sold out of our singles and they needed more ASAP. I learned the music business putting records into envelopes and calling people at magazines and radio stations to ask them to listen to our bands. It served me well and I hope it served the musicians and the people who liked their music well too."
The initial titles of the 415 Records rollout:
October 9: Various Artists: Still Disturbing The Peace a.k.a. The Past Is the Present
Expanded reissue of the 1978 compilation including songs from The Nuns, Mutants, Pearl Harbor and the Explosions, SVT, VLTMS, The Offs, Red Rockers, New Math, Pop-O-Pies, Baby Buddha, The Units, The Uptones, The Readymades, Renegades, The Symptoms, The Imposters, and Monkey Rhythm.
November 6: SVT: No Regrets
Blistering new wave rock from the San Francisco ensemble originally known as the Jack Casady Band. SVT is what happened when the former ’60s icon Casady (from Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna) ventured out into the city’s punk/new wave scene and was instantly inspired by its energy. Out of print for years, the reissue contains never-heard bonus tracks.
November 6: The Uptones: Get Outta My Way
In the Bay Area, the Uptones were the leading light of the mid-’80s ska eruption. Their impact upon the evolving ska scene was enormous. In a sense, they bridged the era of the Specials and Madness with the era of Green Day, Sublime, and Rancid.
December 11: Pop-O-Pies:Get Outta My Way
Pop-O-Pies started out in 1981 as an SF-based rock band founded by Joe Pop-O-Pie. The White EP, their first vinyl effort, was released in 1982 on 415/Columbia and was never re-released on CD — until now. What the Pop-O-Pies turned into was not so much a band with steady members, but an ensemble composed of Joe and a rotating tribe of very talented musicians. Get Outta My Way contains the six-song EP, including the college radio hit “The Catholics Are Attacking,” plus seven bonus tracks featuring future members of Mr. Bungle and Faith No More, and Ozzy Osborne’s band.
December 11: The Readymades: San Francisco: Mostly Live
TheReadymades, one of the most influential West Coast punk and new wave bands, were led by professional photographer and former Avengers bass player Jonathan Postal. They worked with producer Sandy Pearlman (The Clash, Dictators, Blue Öyster Cult) and were courted by John Cale of the Velvet Underground. This release offers the band’s best — 17 tracks in all.
About 415 Records (adapted from the liner notes of Disturbing the Peace):
The city of San Francisco, physically compact at seven miles square, was, in the ’70s,a patchwork of neighborhoods and their attendant tribal vibes: one could pass through hippie-hangover-en-flagrante in the Haight Ashbury; beatnik vestiges in North Beach; conspicuously sexually-liberated Castro and Polk; and the Latino cultural immersion of the Mission. Small clubs still favored jazz and acoustic acts; large venues hosted touring power-pop and hair bands; the radio airwaves were filled with Album-Oriented Rock.
In this milieu, 415 Records was formed in 1978. Journalist, activist, photographer and DJ Howie Klein was a frequent visitor to small, independent Aquarius Records in the city’s Castro District. He was drawn there both by its proximity to the offices of Supervisor Harvey Milk, for whom he had been hired as photographer, and its cadre of new music as he scoured for records both for his underground show on radio station KSAN-FM, and for the dance clubs that hired him for their once-a-week “punk/new wave” night. Aquarius was owned by Chris Knab, and along with music collector Butch Bridges, the three bonded around a passion for what was very much still an emergent, somewhat underground movement.
Klein and Knab were indefatigable supporter of the eclectic collection of bands they began to see with growing frequency on their nightly rounds in North Beach and its environs. Over the course of just a few months in the late ’70s, they had seen more “punk/new wave” nights and more alternative bands being added to the rosters of tiny North Beach outposts transforming themselves into music venues: Mabuhay Gardens, Savoy Tivoli, Back Door, The City. Knab and Klein became fixtures on the gritty scene, gathering in the back of the house, straining to see over the heads of the pogoing — and likely underage — audiences. Howie considered it his calling to go out every evening, weekdays included, parading from club to club in his signature black leather jacket, bobbing his head while making mental notes of each band: their style, their energy and their following. He would unabashedly share his enthusiasms, to friends out in the clubs with him, and over the airwaves on his radio shows.
By 1978, the loose underground community had matured into verifiable scene, and Howie and the 415 team knew it. This zenith offered a wide berth to musical subgenres, from hardcore punk to ska-influenced bands, rockabilly and synthesizers. 415 Records was the big tent for all of them, each treated reverentially and promoted with equal devotion and gusto.
Rather than being an artifact of nostalgia, the Still Disturbing the Peace compilation — the cornerstone of Liberation Hall’s 415 Records reissue rollout — demands the listener marvel at the inventiveness, originality, expansiveness and muscle of 415’s bands. The carefully curated cuts selected from among the progenitors of new-wave era San Francisco remind us that while every era breeds its own cultural signifiers and tropes, lasting art knows that time stamps are a joke. These young (at the time) bands perform with a strident clarity, conviction and truthfulness that is as evident today as the day they were recorded.
About Liberation Hall:
Liberation Hall, an effort to keep the spirit of the original Rhino Records alive, is owned and operated by Rhino alumni. Label President/COO Arny Schorr places a high value on interesting and rare CD and vinyl releases by heritage artists and, as was the case at Rhino, the DVD focus is on classic and cult films, live performances and outstanding television performances from TV’s golden age.
Liberation Hall recently completed its first production, Brown Eyed Handsome Man, a documentary film which defines Chuck Berry’s undeniable impact on rock ’n’ roll. You’ll see full performances from the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Jimi Hendrix and more, honoring the man they agree started it all. The program initially aired on PBS as a pledge item and continues to appear on PBS stations.