In 1998, Eric Howarth was living in San Francisco and running a label called M-Theory Records, which released albums by Slackjaw, Alien Crime Syndicate, Mars Accelerator, his band Suplex, and, later, Congress of the Cow, featuring members of San Diego’s Inch and fluf.
Howarth, disenchanted by the Bay Area’s dot-com culture, relocated to San Diego, a city he’d visited once on a college-sponsored trip as a freshman in L.A.
The severance package from his computer-sales job amounted to the sum he would need to open M-Theory Records at 30th and Juniper. Inspired by the independent record stores of Portland and San Francisco, M-Theory spent five years in South Park before moving to its current Mission Hills location at Washington and Goldfinch. In 2009, Spin magazine called M-Theory “one of Southern California’s best.”
“San Diego by nature is under the radar,” Howarth says when asked why America’s Finest City hasn’t received the same national attention, musically, as San Francisco or Portland. “It’s the sleepy brother or cousin to L.A. I don’t know if that’s ever going to change. I don’t think the fact that San Diego hasn’t been put on the map, so to speak, is a reflection of whether the bands are great or not.”
Having befriended Brooklyn alt-rockers Nada Surf at an in-store performance, Howarth took what he learned from M-Theory Records in San Francisco and, in 2007, started Hi-Speed Soul to reissue a decade-old, out-of-print Nada Surf EP, Karmic.
Hi-Speed Soul (the name is a Nada Surf song title) has gone on to license two out-of-print records by British band Swervedriver for reprint and press albums by several San Diego bands, including Sirhan Sirhan, Nervous Wreckords, and Lady Dottie and the Diamonds, while Howarth began managing the Black Heart Procession.
In late 2010, Hi-Speed Soul put out a vinyl release from local indie electro-duo Hyena, a vinyl reissue of Afghan Whigs classic Gentlemen, and vinyl versions of Swervedriver’s Mezcal Head and Raise.
Howarth sold M-Theory in January 2010 to the owners of Gaslamp nightclub Fluxx and started promoting events as Daydream Nation Presents. That company brought live entertainment to Fluxx with acts such as Cee Lo Green, Mixmaster Mike of the Beastie Boys, Louis XIV, and GZA of Wu-Tang Clan
As of 2013, Howarth lists his credits as: founder and former owner of M-Theory Music, former President of Hi-Speed Soul Records (Afghan Whigs, Swervedriver, Nada Surf, Three Mile Pilot, Black Heart Procession, Film School, etc.), and current co-owner of Daydream Nation and the Bring on the Bright Lights concert series.