Bad Optix (Operation Ivy’s Tim Armstrong & Jesse Michaels) – “Raid”

Lisa Johnson

Bad Optix (Operation Ivy’s Tim Armstrong & Jesse Michaels) – “Raid”

Lisa Johnson

Be honest: Do you really want an Operation Ivy reunion? Berkeley ska-punk greats Op Ivy started in ’87 and ended in ’89 — you had a garage or an amp, they’d play anytime. The band released one album and toured the country once, and then they broke up. Two members, Tim Armstrong and Matt Freeman, went on to generational importance as half of Rancid. In recent years, there have been a lot of calls for Operation Ivy — one of the few great American punk bands who have never done the reunion thing — to get back together and headline Riot Fest or whatever. But would that actually be the religious experience that people seem to want? It’s hard to imagine.

Still, it’s very cool to see Tim Armstrong rekindle his old friendship with former Operation Ivy singer Jesse Michaels, who has spent the past few decades working on relatively obscure projects like his band Classics Of Love. Last year, Armstrong and Michaels got back together onstage to play “Sound System” at a benefit show, with the Interrupters backing them up. Now, the two of them have a new band together.

Bad Optix is Tim Armstrong and Jesse Michaels with Trash Talk bassist Spencer Pollard and Joey Castillo, a drummer whose resume includes Wasted Youth, Sugartooth, Danzig, Queens Of The Stone Age. (Right now, he’s in Circle Jerks and the Bronx.) It’s a little weird that Armstrong’s current bandmate Matt Freeman isn’t involved, since he was in Operation Ivy and everything, but maybe we should just let these guys do what they want.

Bad Optix started in March 2021. In a press release, Jesse Michaels says, “Our creative connection seems to be stronger than ever and all the music we loved back then, we still love… As soon as we started writing together, we found that we had the same collaborative energy that we had in the past, so it was natural and fun just to keep going.”

Meanwhile, Tim Armstrong says, “It came back, just like that. Like when we were kids. There is a special chemistry between us and I don’t take it for granted.”

The first Bad Optix single is called “Raid,” and it’s also the first selection from the Hellcat Singles Club, the new endeavor from Armstrong’s Hellcat label. “Raid” is a straight-up ska song, with horns and organs. And yes, it’s a blast to hear these guys singing together again. Listen to “Raid” below.

“Raid” is out now on Hellcat.

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