Tim Armstrong and Jesse Michaels unveil their new project BAD OPTIX with the release of debut single “Raid” today via Hellcat Records. Their first venture together since the short-but-sweet run of Operation Ivy (1987-1989), they are also joined by drummer Joey Castillo (Circle Jerks, The Bronx) and bassist Spencer Pollard (Trash Talk). The new track kicks off the Hellcat Singles Club: a collection of new releases by a variety of bands curated by Tim Armstrong and the Hellcat team.
Anti-authoritarian anthem “Raid” features breezy, classic Jamaican influenced ska contrasted with a vocal approach aligned with the brute force of punk for a vibe that’s updated but not completely disconnected from early ska legacy. On the lyrical intent behind the song Michaels explains, “Raid is about every person's spiritual autonomy from the powers that be, regardless of who they are or what their particular struggle is.”
Speaking to the creative process he continues, “Like many of the tracks we have worked on, I heard the music and wrote the lyrics very quickly, almost on the spot. This was only the second song we did but it felt hot immediately and just flowed so we thought it would be a good way to introduce the new band to the world.”
Officially forming in March of 2021, the ska-punk pioneers have over 35 years of history together. Even with the gap between Op Ivy to now, Michaels says, “our creative connection seems to be stronger than ever and all the music we loved back then, we still love.” The idea to form a band came organically one day when Jesse and Tim met up purely with the intent to reconnect. Of course, the topic of music came up and when Armstrong started to play some of his new tracks, Michaels was immediately inspired and sparking ideas for vocals. He explains, “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.”
Though it might seem like picking back up after all these years, BAD OPTIX are not just an iteration of their last band. Harnessing decades of punk legend status for a fresh opportunity and a broader perspective, they make a subtle nod to their origins with their name as a playful acknowledgment of history. Embracing the concept of “substance over surface,” sitting in the tradition of punk band names like Bad Brains, Bad Religion and the Bad Seeds, they find it a title worthy of their cause.