The Bay Area punk scene really started to energize in early ’77, when bands like Crime, the Nuns, the Mutants, and the Avengers started drawing rabid fans to legendary venue Mabuhay Gardens. Novak was a Mills College grad student with a background in avant garde composition—he’d worked with Robert Moog and John Cage as an undergrad—and access to a 12 track recording studio. He started making his own version of garage inspired punk rock. By the end of ’77, he’d formed a band, played Mabuhay Gardens five times, started his own label—Dumb Records, and released his first 7”, “RU21.” He did all the engineering and production himself, glued the 500 covers by hand, and went around on foot to San Francisco record stores trying to get people to listen. Novak met the Nuns’ Alejandro Escovedo at Mabuhay when the Nuns opened up for the Ramones, and ended up recording a three song demo for the band. Shortly after, Novak produced Crime’s second single, “Frustration”/”Murder by Guitar.” Gathering momentum, Novak put out a second 7”, “Oh Farrah!,” later that year. He went on to put out two more Novak singles, and also—returning to his avant garde roots—a more experimental project called the Survivors, two savage drone tracks that incorporate eerie vocal samples of cult leader Jim Jones. Into the early ’80s Novak broadened the Dumb Records catalog, issuing releases by local bands BOB and Ixna.
One part glam, one part dumb is smart, one part riff rock ’n’ roll, Novak’s music is raw, arty punk rock. The fourteen tracks on this LP preserve the legacy of the Novak project by collecting the four Novak 45s and the Survivors 45.