Turn It Around: The Story of East Bay Punk

Christen McFarland

  • Murray Bowles
    Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day sings with Tim Armstrong of Operation Ivy at 924 Gilman Street in Berkeley, CA, 1988
  • Green Day, Rancid frontmen team up as the Armstrongs Billie Joe Armstrong and Tim Armstrong launch new punk supergroup with charity single "If There Was Ever A Time" https://www.grammy.com/grammys/news/green-day-rancid-frontmen-team-armstrongs

Many of you have heard the stories of Berkeley’s infamous “Gilman Street” music collective and the music shared there, but maybe you never had the chance to properly experience it - or rise to fame from it. Some of our SF Chapter friends did, and they made a film about it. Four-time GRAMMY Award® winners Green Day put a team of punk rock music and film makers together to create an incredible retrospective that covers the East Bay’s once-emerging punk/rock scene. The film includes notable Recording Academy SF Chapter artists, including Michael Franti, Larry Lalonde (Primus), Kirk Hammett (Metallica), and GRAMMY® winner Tim Armstrong (Rancid) plus Green Day who, to quote director Corbett Redford, “shined as an example of hope to every oddball creative kid – their story being the proof that if you put in the work, your art could take you anywhere.” 

There’s a single released from the film, "If There Was Ever A Time," recently featured on the home page of grammy.com, from which 100% of sales proceeds will benefit 924 Gilman. Read on for more... 

GRAMMY U SF member Matt Voelker served as Sound Designer/Sound Editor on the film, and GRAMMY Award®-winning SF member Chris Dugan was the film’s Re-Recording Mixer. Director Corbett Redford has worked with the team to offer members an exclusive screening; see details at the close of this article.


Turn It Around: The Story of East Bay Punk explores Northern California’s pivotal role in evolution of punk rock - the loud, intense and anti-authoritarian philosophy of music and politics that arose in the late 1970s. Early San Francisco Bay Area punk pioneers like Dead Kennedys, Avengers and Flipper as well as Lookout! Records and the Maximum Rocknroll fanzine helped take the punk underground global.

As the once-vibrant local scene became wrought with violence, corruption and racism, punks over the bridge in the East Bay responded by creating a fun and inclusive style of punk rock that also carried on the region’s tradition of radical thought. Banding together around Berkeley’s all-volunteer 924 Gilman Club, this diverse collective of misfits created a do-it-yourself, no-spectators’ petri dish for art and music that changed the Bay Area punk scene…and the world at large.

Today, we know about some of the bands who emerged from this scene, like Green Day and Rancid, but their success is just the tip of the iceberg; the roots of this inspiring story go deep into the underground. Narrated by Iggy Pop and executive produced by Green Day, Turn It Around: The Story Of East Bay Punk is told by the people who were there. The story of East Bay punk rock unfolds from its unlikely beginnings, continues through its struggles, and triumphs with its raucous power continuing to be influential today.

The film features a diverse spectrum of musicians and artists who have all been impacted by or participated in the Bay Area punk music scene of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.The film’s producers conducted over 150 interviews around the United States and amassed over 500 hours of interview footage.  Redford was quick to point out that while the film features many members of famous rock bands (Green Day, Metallica, Guns N’ Roses, Rancid, AFI) it also includes dozens of interviews with relatively unknown individuals who were pivotal in creating the music scene in San Francisco and Berkeley over the past many decades. The aesthetic surrounding Berkeley’s 924 Gilman Street music collective is patently “anti-star” – all in an effort to encourage creativity and community without the mystification or any “over importance” placed on those performing onstage. There is a large effort at the venue to blur the line between band and audience. ANYONE can be a “star” at Gilman where all participants of a show from the lead singer to the clean-up crew are equally important to the success of the event. “The cast of our film mixes the typically-unheralded right alongside many bona fide rock stars in an effort to exemplify the ethos and inclusiveness of the East Bay punk scene.”

Numerous underground punk legends appear in the film together with the top-selling artists of the genre. Non-punk artists in reggae, garage and experimental music are featured, and actors, film directors, authors, activists and graphic artists are also interviewed. ”We are proud that the cast of our documentary reflects the deep renowned diversity of the creative community surrounding the SF Bay Area,” said Corbett.

Get to know Gilman:

  • Formed in 1986, 924 Gilman is an all-ages, collectively organized music club located in Berkeley, CA. It is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2017 and is the longest-running collectively-run music club in the United States.
  • “Gilman” was a platform where bands like Green Day, Rancid, AFI and many others got their early starts. Artists such as Michael Franti, Miranda July and Aaron Cometbus also participated at the club in their early creative careers.
  • 924 Gilman has a few main rules: No drugs, no alcohol, no violence, no racism, no sexism, and no homophobia. These have been the key rules since Gilman opened its doors in 1986, and today the rules include no transphobia.
  • Touring bands have found a home at Gilman over the years including Bikini Kill, Fugazi, The Offspring, Bad Religion, Gwar, Sleater-Kinney, Chumbawamba and thousands more.
  • Bay Area bands and artists like Jello Biafra, NOFX, Primus, Avengers, Flipper, Jawbreaker and many bands in non-punk genres have played at Gilman over the years.
  • 924 Gilman officially became a 501(c)3 Nonprofit Organization in 2014. Visit HelpGilman.org for details on the club and how to donate.

In closing, Corbett shares, “I believe our film’s ultimate focus is about the human need we all have to find a place to belong – a place we feel safe to truly be ourselves. I feel much urgency for people to see what we have created in this documentary – which at its core is really a story about the road to the emergence of the nonprofit music collective 924 Gilman in Berkeley, California. Safe community spaces like Gilman continuing to exist are going to be more important than ever in the days ahead. Outsiders of all stripes need a place to come together under the dark clouds of an often-oppressive world. This was the case then. This is still the case now. I hope the story of East Bay Punk can be another example of how things can be... in a world that continues to tell us most of the time only how things cannot be.”

The filmmakers are presenting our SF Chapter members with a private screening of the film on Monday, September 25, click here for details and to RSVP; open to members +1 guest on a first-come basis. 


julie@tricycle-records.com's picture


D-Wiz's picture

Looking forward to this ! Being an Oakland native its great for people to know about another strong area of our musical history.

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