415 was founded in San Francisco in 1978 by writer and promoter Howie Klein, Aquarius Records (San Francisco) store owner Chris Knab, and music retailer/collector Butch Bridges. In 1979, Butch Bridges sold his interest in the label to Queenie Taylor, a long time employee of the management and promotion agency, Bill Graham Presents, which helped book 415 acts opening for nationally touring bands such as Duran Duran. They signed a distribution deal with Columbia.
After Klein left 415, Levitin helped Klein run the label for 3 months until Sandy Pearlman (producer and manager of Blue Öyster Cult and Black Sabbath) bought the label, bringing in Tom Schedler to be head of the A&R department. Pearlman changed the name to Popular Metaphysics, and released records through its co-branding agreement with MCA Records for a diverse but small group of artists, including Love Club (4), Manitoba's Wild Kingdom, and World Entertainment War.