Common Rider vs Operation Ivy

You guys just recorded a new song for a compilation on Adeline Records? What’s the story behind that?
That wasn’t recorded with the same personelle, that’s recorded with other people. Basically, it’s Billie Joe from Green Day’s label. He asked me to record something, you know he has a studio in his house, and I went up there and recorded it with him and some other people. I didn’t know what to call it, so I just called it Common Rider.

But apparently it sounds much more OpIvy’ish than the Last Wave Rockers CD.
Huh. Well, it’s hard to judge how much it sounds like OpIvy, but it’s definitely much more intense. Much harder than the Common Rider stuff, like a traditional kind of punk song.

What about the CD cover for Common Rider? It’s very interesting, very artistic…
Well I just went for something really simple. I’ve always done art, and it’s always been really complicated and full of detail. I don’t know why, but I just wanted to do something really simple, and it really appealed to me.

Do you think people compare Operation Ivy and Common Rider too much?
Somewhat. Operation Ivy is much more intense, much more of a conventional punk band. It’s much harder and faster. Common Rider is more mellow. That’s the main difference.

And have you written new material for Common Rider?
Yes I have. I’d like to continue with it; I’m not sure in what form. The reason is I live in a different state than the other people who played on that record. But one way or another I would like to continue it. I have been writing a lot of new stuff lately and it’s much more intense than the stuff on the Common Rider record.

So what were you doing for all the years between OpIvy and Common Rider?
It was a long period of time that comprises basically most of my 20’s, so I did a lot of different stuff. I went to school for a while and, I don’t know, hung out I guess. I mean, ten years is hard to capsulate. But I was going to school for a while … not playing music for various reasons … I hung out and partied and read a lot of books. Just a bunch of typical stuff.

Did your tastes and influences change a lot over those years?
Yeah definitely. Over ten years you liste to a lot of new music. I was listening to everything from Nirvana to the Beatles to … more punk punk rock. After OpIvy I got into a lot more hardcore punk rock.

What about hip hop? It seems there’s a bit of hip hop influence in Last Wave Rockers.
I’ve always liked hip hop. OpIvy had a lot of hip hop influences. We used to listen to it, and OpIvy came out around the time Public Enemy was getting big. I like the rythymic aspect of singing, so I’m definitely influenced by hip hop. But I have a very limited amount of patience for stuff that’s just about money and bitches. It’s funny once in a while, but it gets old really quick.

Did something change that inspired the sort of “love songs” on Last Wave Rockers?
When I put together the material for that record, I was just in a really “sweet” phase. So there’s a lot of love songs and tender moments, but that isn’t really typical of my style. I certainly don’t regret it, but it’s not something I normally do. If I do another one soon, it will probably be closer to my old style, which has more conscious and philosophical lyrics. I won’t say political, because I don’t consider myself to be political, but more topical, more songs about struggle, and so on. When I wrote the material for the Common Rider record, I was in a phase where, I had difficult time in my early 20’s with drugs and partying, again not something I regret but something I went through, and I had stopped doing that so I was in a healing phase of my life. So the songs were about love, and life, and happiness … which was just what I needed to do at that time. But as I said, if I did anything new, it would be tougher.

Well I think it all turned out good. Especially the song “True Rulers” … it has a real simply genuine feel to it.
I’m glad you liked it. Yeah, it was a real big risk for me … and I’ve defintely gotten a lot of shit from the more hardcore types, which I can understand, but at the same time I’m glad there’s people out there who enjoyed it. Luckily it’s all on Napster, so now if people wanna check it out before they buy it, they can.

I don’t have Napster. I did, but I deleted it a few months ago. I just got sick of it … never working properly.
Really? I just got a computer, so all this stuff is new little toys for me. So I’ve been checking it out a little bit. And it kind of funny how much of a big deal they’re making about it, because it doesn’t seem like much of a threat. Unless you have a really high-tech computer, it’s really slow and clunky. I think it’s all just a media circus, not that big a deal.

And I would never prefer a CD on MP3 to a real CD or vinyl anyways. I don’t like to sit on the computer all day listening to MP3’s, and even burning it … I don’t see a CD-R as a valuable addition to my music collection.
Yeah totally. It’s just a toy. I’ve been getting into a lot of new styles of music, new indie rock stuff and other types of music, ’cause there’s just so much music out there these days, so I’m looking forward to checking it out before I have to buy the fuckin CD’s. Of course, if I like them, I will buy the actual CD. So I think it’s a cool thing for bands

Well more bands are loosening up and putting MP3’s on their own website, so you don’t always have to go through Napster anymore to hear bands anyway.
Yeah, I intend to put up Common Rider songs on the site and also unreleased songs.

Oh yeah? What do you have as far as unreleased stuff?
I’ve got three songs that I recorded with friends and they’ve never been put out on anything so I’m gonna throw them up on the site for grabs. They’ll probably eventually come out on some record.

Do you ever play Operation Ivy songs with, either Common Rider, or just any other time you’re jamming?
I don’t… I’d be happy to, but I don’t, because the band has a policy of not cashing in on our history. So out of respect for that, I don’t. It’s not because I don’t like the songs… I love the songs and I don’t regret a minute of OpIvy. But it seems so many bands cash in on their old stuff, and sometimes it’s cool, but a lot of the time I think it’s a little bit tacky. So I’m glad we opted not to do that.

So you’ve never talked about an OpIvy reunion?
It’s never come up. And we’re in that good contact. And with the guys being so busy and Rancid so successful … actually if you just go by the numbers, Rancid is much more well known than Operation Ivy. They’ve sold millions of records. The OpIvy record just went gold a couple months ago. So technically Rancid is much bigger.

But the Operation Ivy tribute album … that must have been a real honor. Those don’t go around to just anybody.
Yeah it was. I was pretty amazed actually when that showed up in the mail. I knew the album was selling, but I didn’t realize how much of a fuss there was about it. So I was really surprised by that, and of course I was happy about it.

Alright last thing. Operation Ivy was on Lookout Records. Common Rider is on Panic Button Records. But, the two labels are related somehow. Can you clarify that?
Panic Button started as a result of Ben Weasels experience with record lables and his desire to see it done better. To his credit, he and the staff really treat their bands well. Anyway, Lookout distributes them and they function as an independent but related company.


Interview by :
Tim Kyrsko :