Hop on the Wire Train for a Story About the Record Label Who Made Noise

If you’re a fan of new wave or post punk, bands such as Red Rockers, Translator, or The Imposters have been on your musical radar for years. However, you may not know about the groundbreaking independent record label who brought them to the forefront. Disturbing The Peace: 415 Records and the Rise of New Wave by Bill Kopp will fill in these blanks and then some!

Concert booker and renegade radio DJ Howie Klein teamed up with Chris Knab, the owner of Aquarius Records, to launch a record label in support of that scene. 415 Records was a modest success. However, monetary gain wasn’t their primary focus. Ask Klein about his objectives, and he’ll tell you: “F-U-N. It was all about fun.” 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 cutting edge in the resurgence of independent labels. Kopp conducted over 100 interviews with industry executives, friends, journalists, fans, and band members who were there. The stories are inspiring, interesting, and eye-opening at times. 

The book features a foreword from Joel Selvin (Hollywood Eden), a plethora of photos, and memorabilia from the archives are displayed throughout the pages. This was part of the reason why I loved this comprehensive story. You’ll see band flyers, candid snapshots, and much more. They may bring back memories for those who participated in the fun or cause a bit of envy for those who didn’t or weren’t able to. 

Two of the recording artists which caught my attention from the very beginning are Wire Train (“Chamber of Hellos,” “Skills of Summer”) and Romeo Void (“Never Say Never,” “A Girl in Trouble”). Both of these bands were in my regular rotation when I was a college DJ. It was compelling to discover their origins and learn how they broke the mold. Another fun fact? 415 Records was a play on both the telephone area code for the San Francisco area and the California penal code section for disturbing the peace. 

You couldn’t get anyone better than Bill Kopp to write this book. He got his professional start writing for Trouser Press and continues to write for his blog Musoscribe every day. He researches and authors liner notes for album reissues, more than 30 to date, and co-produced a reissue of jazz legend Julian “Cannonball” Adderley’s final album. He put a lot of care and dedication into sharing Disturbing The Peace: 415 Records and the Rise of New Wave – and it shows.

This read is ideal for those who love David vs. Goliath stories or have a passion for alternative music. “I Gotta Go” and absorb this again because it’s really that good!