Operation Ivy Biography

US ska/punk cultish legends Operation Ivy were formed in 1987 by Tim Armstrong (25 November 1966, Oakland, California, USA; guitar/vocals), Matt Freeman aka Matt McCall (bass), Dave Mello (drums) and Jesse Michaels (vocals). Inspired equally by Britain’s first wave of punk bands and the 2-Tone ska revivalists such as the Specials, they blended these two musics into a frenetic live show. Their main American influence was the Uptones, from Berkeley, California. Their debut in Mello’s garage was followed quickly by an appearance supporting MDC at Berkeley’s Gilman Street club, the prominent local facility that would later breed peers such as Green Day. After making their vinyl debut on a Maximum Rock ‘n’ Roll compilation, Operation Ivy released the Hectic EP in January 1988 on Lookout Records. A full-length album, Energy, followed in 1989. It added to Operation Ivy’s growing popularity, with the band competently matching reggae, ska, pop and punk with vitriolic lyrics. However, it was live that they were at their most impressive, performing a punishing schedule of concerts throughout North America. However, the pressure finally eroded the group’s spirit, and they collapsed in May 1989. Michaels became a Buddhist monk and Mello joined Schlong, but Armstrong and Freeman continued working together. Two ska-inspired bands, the Dance Hall Crashers and Downfall, featured both of them. By April 1990 Freeman had joined MDC, touring with them while Armstrong roadied; Freeman featured on that year’s album, Hey Cop, If I Had A Face Like Yours. He left by the end of the year, however, and Rancid was eventually formed, initially as a trio with Freeman, Armstrong and Reed (ex-Smog). Rancid then set about building a commercial profile that finally matched Operation Ivy’s critical standing.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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