Operation Ivy was a ska/punk band that originated from the East Bay of San Francisco. The band consisted of frontman Jesse Michaels (vocals), Tim Armstrong (Credited as "Lint") (Vocals/Guitar), Matt Freeman (Credited as Matt McCall) (Bass/Backing Vocals), and Dave Mello (Drums/Backing Vocals). Their name was derived from the Operation Ivy series of nuclear tests. Two of their members, Armstrong and Freeman, also perform(ed) with the bands Rancid (their current, and biggest project), Basic Radio, Downfall and Shaken 69. Armstrong also went on to perform with The Transplants and contribute to Dance Hall Crashers. Additionally, Freeman has performed with Auntie Christ, Generator, MDC, and Social Distortion. Mello went on to perform with Schlong. There was a great deal of speculation regarding the fate of Michaels, with many fans believing that he had moved to Nicaragua or became a Buddhist monk. Michaels eventually resurfaced into the music world with a project band, Big Rig, and later with a more active band, Common Rider, which included bassist Mass Giorgini (of Screeching Weasel) and drummer Dan Lumley (of Squirtgun). Common Rider released two full-length albums and did some nationwide touring in the United States before eventually disbanding.
The band existed between May of 1987 and May of 1989, as was chronicled in the lyrics of Rancid song "Journey to the End of the East Bay", which appeared on the Rancid's ...And Out Come the Wolves:
Started in '87 / Ended in '89 / You got a garage or an amp, we'll play anytime / It was just the four of us, / Yeah man, the core of us, / Too much attention unavoidably destroyed us
Their first show was performed on May 16, 1987 in Dave Mello's garage. The next day began a tradition of performances at the Berkeley ska/punk collective center 924 Gilman Street. They released one EP, Hectic, January 1988)) and one full-length album, titled Energy on Lookout! Records in May 1989. The band broke up the same month, and their last official show was on May 28, 1989, at what was supposed to have been their release party. They played one more show the following day, mainly for friends and family, in Robert Eggplant's backyard in Pinole, California. In two years, the band had performed 185 shows.
The lyrics and tone of music by Operation Ivy reflect social justice to mainstream or conformist culture.