Operation Ivy was an American ska punk band, formed in Berkeley, California in 1987. The group is often credited with spurring the 1990s punk revival in California and was one of the first bands to “mix” hardcore punk with elements of ska, known as “ska-core”. The band consisted of Jesse Michaels (lead vocals), Tim Armstrong (credited as “Lint”) (guitar, vocals), Matt Freeman (credited as “Matt McCall”) (bass, vocals), and Dave Mello (drums). Although Operation Ivy released only one studio album, Energy, and had little mainstream success during its career, the band had a large underground cult following and influenced bands such as Sublime and Green Day. The band’s name, previously used by contemporary Berkeley punk band Isocracy, was derived from the Operation Ivy series of nuclear tests.
The name “Operation Ivy” was the original name of the contemporary Berkeley punk band Isocracy. Prior to the formation of Operation Ivy, Tim Armstrong and Matt Freeman had been playing in the Berkeley ska punk band Basic Radio with Michael Valladares and Jeff Kamalian, who would later go on to form the ska band Critical Mass. Operation Ivy’s first live performance was on May 27, 1987 in Dave Mello’s garage. The next day began a tradition of performances at the Berkeley punk collective center 924 Gilman Street. Operation Ivy began playing a number of performances which led to its almost immediate cult-following. Later in October 1987, the band made its debut on the Maximumrocknroll compilation album Turn It Around!. In January 1988, the band signed to Lookout! Records and released its debut extended play Hectic, which became one of Lookout!’s best-selling records. By this time, Operation Ivy, along with Crimpshrine and The Mr. T Experience, was one of the most successful bands from the punk scene at 924 Gilman Street. The band began playing a number of performances and embarked on a tour across the United States. By mid-1988, the group began selling out larger venues and the pressure to sign to major labels began to rise.