Lavasocks Records and Sell The Heart Records are co-releasing a 33-track, double LP, Operation Ivy tribute album titled 'Mooorree Than Just Another Comp'. Spanning virtually the band’s entire recorded catalog, the album offers plenty of fresh takes on the originals from some of the most exciting punk and ska artists out today. A portion of the proceeds go to 924 Gilman St. The compilation is also available from Disconnect Disconnect Records and Brassneck Records in the U.K. Today, we are premiering Flying Raccoon Suit’s take on ‘Missionary’ and Heater’s version of ‘Plea For Peace’ along with a short interview with both bands.
PRT: How did you first discover Operation Ivy's music, and what was your initial reaction?
Flying Raccoon Suit: I first found them on Limewire in middle school, and it may have been some of the first ska-punk I heard. I was definitely drawn in by the rawness of it, even though I wasn't sure what to call it at the time.
Heater: Our first real intro to Op Ivy happened in high school (think early-mid 90s). The three of us were close friends back then and kinda cut our teeth together learning about new, and older, music. Though Op Ivy had already been gone for many years at that point, we were learning about Green Day, Rancid and all of the Lookout/East Bay bands, which eventually led us to hearing Op Ivy. We of course were totally hooked by it, really as one of the first bands we were collectively listening to that was incorporating ska and punk together
PRT: Why did you pick this particular song to cover?
Heater: When I (Andy) was looking at the list of available songs, which at that point was small, I went through some of the tunes to see which ones I thought might translate the best with our style. Right away I had an idea of how to take Plea For Peace and make it a bit more cow-punk, so we went with it
Flying Raccoon Suit: To be honest, it wasn't a song that we were very familiar with. When we were initially asked to be a part of the compilation and given a list of songs, we all had our different favorites and took a day in our band chat discussing which we wanted to do. By the second day, almost all of the songs had been claimed by bands who make faster decisions, and rightly so haha. Missionary's a good song, and we had a blast covering it.
PRT: How did you go about adapting the song to your own style?
Flying Raccoon Suit: We didn't want to do a carbon copy of the original, and half of our band are horn players so I don't think we could have if we wanted to. We're from the gulf south where brass band music is huge, and half of our members play or have played brass band music for years. We thought it would be fun to draw from these styles in our big bag of influences, and combine some of the culture of where we're from with some of the west coast punk music that has also influenced us so deeply. Plus we are fortunate to have several multi-instrumental members of the band - our guitarist Andrew plays sousaphone in this version, while our drummer Kerley plays banjo in addition to drums.
Heater: As I mentioned above, I quickly got a sense of how we could turn it into more of a cow-punk song, so I laid down a few quick acoustic demos and shared it with the fellas, and we just took it from there. Josh has a great knack for adding tasty guitar licks, and Mac tossed his ideas into the arena, so we tweaked a few things here and there and ultimately came up with the finished product
PRT: What do you think makes Op Ivy's music so enduring and relevant today, even decades after the band broke up?
Heater: I think it really comes down to how honest they are (were) as a band, and the spirit of those songs. It's very youthful but also incredibly insightful and thoughtful music. They were kids singing about trying to change the world, but also writing silly songs about the opposite sex and being truants... who can't relate to those things? All these years later it's pretty easy to put on Energy and still feel connected to it. On top of that, it is impossible to deny how influential those songs have been on the punk & ska scenes.... you see it everywhere.
Flying Raccoon Suit: It was one of the first ska-punk albums. Not 'the' first, but a template for songwriting that would influence tons of bands to come. I think even through the rawness of the recordings you can still see ripples of the topics they choose to discuss and the way they wrote their songs influencing ska-punk bands today.
PRT: How much of an impact has the band had on your own artistic vision and approach to creating music?
Flying Raccoon Suit: I think Operation Ivy is a good reminder for everyone to make your art. The band was only active for two years, and I'm sure they would have never imagined how long the cult following would persist. It's a good reminder to make your art for you, and then if people listen, that'll just be the cherry on top.
Heater: Op Ivy is a band that we look to to remind ourselves that you can be both very bold with your songwriting while also keeping things fun and simple, and still craft quality tunes that can be universally enjoyed. There are songs from their catalog that I am constantly reflecting on while coming up with demos in both Heater and Tsunami Bomb, finding ways to incorporate those "keep it simple, stupid" ideas to go along with heavier lyrical themes