Monday, July 19, 2010

Jesse Michaels of Op Ivy

There was a time, from about 1988 until '90 or '91, when I would make up any lame excuse that I could to find myself in front of Bleecker Bob's on 3rd Street in the Village to rummage through their ska section. Whatever you may have thought of this establishment, at that time they had one of the best offerings of ska LPs in NYC--domestic and imported. Whoever was stocking the ska section back then did an incredible job of keeping up on the latest and greatest releases (if I read a review of a ska album in George Marshall's "Zoot," it could be found at Bleecker Bob's). Looking through my collection of records that I bought during that period, if I didn't mailorder it from Unicorn Records in the UK, then I picked it up at here. (I didn't buy many ska singles then because I was too intimidated by the surly, mega-cool staff to ask to see the box of 7"s stored behind the counter.)

One of the LPs that I snagged from the ska bin at Bleecker Bob's was Operation Ivy's Energy (Lookout Records, 1989), probably after reading about it Maximum RocknRoll. If you can, try to imagine a time before the roach-like proliferation of ska-punk bands in the 90s, when the closest most people had come to the blending of these genres was The Specials' "Concrete Jungle" (seriously!). Even the Mighty Mighty Bosstones didn't drop their debut Devils Night Out (the only ska-core record I really like) until 1990. I remember playing a tape of Energy for my younger brother--who was always much more adventurous than I was in finding cool new music, genres, and styles--and he couldn't decide if it was brilliant or god-awful (for my money, I thought he would have loved it). But my brother was kind of flummoxed by it. Op Ivy were that far ahead of the times and tastes.

Op Ivy singer and lyricist Jesse Michaels dropped off of most people's radar after the band broke up right after the release of Energy (guitarist Lint--AKA Tim Armstrong--and bassist Matt Freeman went on to form Rancid), so it was a nice surprise to come across this new interview with Jesse by Jon Reiss in Jewcy...

Here's the money quote:
You know, as soon as I start thinking of myself as some kind of rock star, I'm a prick. So, I guard against that because I don't want to be a prick. It's not because I'm heroic or super modest or spiritual, it's just because I don't want to to be a fuckin' douche bag. So if someone comes up to me and is all, "ooh ahh," I'm sort of like, "wow you have a interesting fixation on me, and that's okay, but it has absolutely nothing to do with who I am." I'm just a guy with problems.

On the other hand, great art is great art. If that's great art to someone, fantastic. The music and art that I love, I love it. Of course there's a natural attraction to someone who's made something that's meaningful. I'm as subject to this as anyone else. When I met Joe Strummer, I almost shit my pants. At the same time, I know that it's just kind of this imaginary thing that I'm doing in my head, that he's just another guy with problems.

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