MY ORIGINAL OPUS PAGE...
Over two decades later, Kickboy Face's review in Slash still hits the nail on the
head. Next to nothing is known about Opus other than at least one member later played
with Smog Marines and The Leaving Trains. Recent reports suggest the main guys may
have gone the way of another ill-fated L.A. punk band, Rock Bottom & The Spys.
My last ditch effort of sending 200 letters to every Tony Comstock in California failed
to produce a single lead. Know something nobody else does? Please drop a line!
SMOG MARINES: Scott, Raoul, Howard, Tony
In the midst of a debilitating month where three friends died in unrelated incidents,
a razor thin bit of silver lining emerged: an out-of-the-blue contact from former
Opus and Smog Marines drummer Scott Maxson. In helping construct his website, a friend
of Scott's had googled around and found this page. Manna from heaven! All it took to
finally find Opus info the simple act of GIVING UP... it's all so biblical. Scott
immediately began doling out the details...
Raoul was the lead man in these bands. He was the original drummer and lead singer
in Opus with A.J. and Tony. They found me through the Recycler to play drums so
Raoul could just sing lead. My first show with Opus was at the Troubadour (sold
out to 300+ people). They applauded until we gave them an encore. I was in drummer
heaven and never went back to classical orchestra after that. We became the Smog
Marines, and after 18 months of gigs, Tony and I went on to Aphotic Culture.
After Aphotic Culture I moved to S. F. and founded Fountains Of Use and Tony fronted
a trio called Crown Of Thorns here in LA. A guy named Kevin Mitchell played bass
in Crown Of Thorns and he played various instrument in some gigs with Smog Marines
and Aphotic Culture. He played with Opus quite a bit and then quit because he thought
they played too loud. I met Kevin at U.S.C. He stopped college music school after
one semester but when I told him I joined Opus he said "I used to be in that band!'"
After some digging, Scott excavated a sleeveless copy of the Opus 45 along with a
couple Smog Marines fliers which I promptly bought. Scott suggested that if I ever
made it out to Los Angeles that I should stop by. As it happened, I was heading to
L.A. for Rock Halsey's funeral a few days later.
The weekend proved to be hectic and draining. As my last night wound down, Scott
and I finally managed to coordinate. Scott brought along a surprise: Kevin Mitchell, another former Opus member.
Though an original member, Kevin — like Scott — hadn't played on the
Opus 45. As these two filled in the blanks, Kevin dropped the bombshell any punk
fan fears: Opus started out as a prog band. Kevin claimed responsibility for the
name Opus, a name he immediately regretted suggesting and a name immediately embraced
by everyone else in those heady high school days. Scott continued...
Those [Opus] guys went to John Marshall High. I didn't go there. I teamed up with
them after my college was done. They were about 20 and I was 22 years old. A.J.'s
parents were divorced when he was about 15 and his dad moved out of their Silverlake
home. His mother moved out when he was about 16 (I thinks she had a new boyfriend
or remarriage going on) and A.J.'s siblings were older and already out of the house.
With A.J. living alone in the large 2 story house, Raoul and Tony set up rock band
rehearsal shop in the master bedroom and later the living room.
An impressed friend/fan type person bought them a six channel Tapco mixer and full
PA system. A.J. played either dual keyboards or bass and sang back up, Raoul on drums
and lead vocal, and Tony the rock creator on guitar. Kevin was with them in the
earliest days and intermittently later usually when bigger gigs were happening. I
played with them for about a year before Kevin re-emerged.
When asked for an explanation of the Opus 45's virtual non-existence, Kevin pointed
to AJ's house as the vinyl's final resting place thanks to a ruthless Russian clean-up
/ moving crew that cleared the house out when A.J. and friends were eventually given
the boot. Atrocity indeed! Kevin then dropped another bombshell: his only copy of
the 45 had gotten melted and tossed out — but he'd kept the picture sleeve.
It's the "spare parts" moment record nerds dream about. An hour later, cash and
picture sleeve traded hands mere blocks from the intersection in Atwater Village
where, a couple years earlier, my friend Antonio suggested we put up fliers looking
for Opus info. To think it might've worked! And with that magical match-up of record
and sleeve and long-awaited Opus background, an otherwise dreary trip to L.A. ended
on the upswing.
— Ryan Richardson
August 31, 2005
As with so many other punk 45's of this era, one song does a legend make...
An insultingly unobtainable yellow sleeve variation of the injuriously rare Opus picture sleeve...
CONTACT: Break My Face