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  1. Pennywise
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Ended: Active


  • Jim Lindberg


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With a new album just released, California's Pennywise espouse the power of the individual Jim Lindberg tells Truepunk. Interview by Steve Tauschke with vocalist Jim Lindberg.

I notice you've taken the band's name from a Stephen King novel It.

Jim Lindberg:
"Yeah, it's the clown who would eat up little kids and in order to kill the monster at the end of the book all the kids had to confront their fears. So it was a good metaphor for what we're all about as far as writing lyrics and putting out a positive message and things like that. It was a good title for the band because we're a big, loud scary thing that tries to teach a little bit."

What is it about evil clowns .. I remember the one in Poltergeist gave me the creeps.

Jim Lindberg:
"It's a weird thing because it's kind of seductive for kids. A clown is supposed to be their biggest source of amusement so to think of a horrifying clown is to subvert everything that they are secure with. Unfortunately a lot of times that's how kids start to get into trouble; seeing something they see as safe and fun and easy and it leads them into trouble."

You've had some trouble of your own at shows in the past due to misrepresentation of the band's PW logo as a white power symbol.

Jim Lindberg:
"Yes, it just kind of shows the intelligence level of people who are into that type of thing. We've never written one word that would suggest we are into that way of thinking. I'm into ME power, the power of the individual unlike these huge groups who, on the basis of skin colour, can claim some power. It's just one of those things that happened, they figured punk band with PW, let's call them a white supremacist band'. We still use the logo but we've never been a white supremacist band. Luckily, one we started playing bigger shows that element stayed away because they were outnumbered."

You did quit the band for a while in the early days .. why?

Jim Lindberg:
"I got a little fed up with the violent scene in Los Angeles at the time, this was around the time of the riots. I think what happened with those riots is that it was really just a really violent period in society, especially in Los Angeles. It was like powder keg ready to explode and I think everyone was expecting the riots to happen and the police verdicts were a reason to do it. Back then, everywhere you went there was violence in the air and when we played shows it was just a big meet up for gangs.

Jim Lindberg:
"For me, I said look 'this isn't what I'm into music for and I don't want to be a leader or a spokesman for this type of stupidity'. I thought it was a joke so I quit. Even though we had a pretty bright future ahead of us and the Epitaph label was behind us it still wasn't worth it for me to be up there in front of a bunch of guys fighting. It was fruitless. So I left for a while, got married and had a nice year off and the band took that time to tour Europe with another singer substituting for me. I think that finally got the other guys in the band to really take it seriously as well. And then when they went in to do the next album (The Unknown Road) thee were songs there that I had worked on and I wanted to go in and work on them with them so we got it back together."

There seems to be a punk lineage in your hometown of Hermosa Beach with Black Flag and Circle Jerks and Descendents all forming there?

Jim Lindberg:
"Yeah, there must be something in the drinking water here because a lot of really great punk bands came out of here and you know, the town is only one square mile. I think it just had a lot to do with bored suburban kids needing to get some aggression out. It's a great town where kids are into a lot of active sports like surfing and skating and stuff like that. I suppose the music pumps them up to do those kinds of physical sports."

Does Epitaph's association with board sports stretch back a long way?

Jim Lindberg:
"You know what, it's really funny because it really started with us. We were the first band that told Brett (Gurewitz) 'look, all these surfing and skating and snowboarding videos are starting to play our music, we should start, um', you know, there are plenty of publications out there to help get your music out and have people notice us but to get the music across to our peers we really want to go towards that market because a lot of surfers and skaters listen to our music and are into, like I said, that energy rush.

Jim Lindberg:
"So then other Epitaph bands starting doing it too. Having acceptance in that field was very important for us because those are our peers. It's been a mutually beneficial relationship with the whole industry because we are able to tour a lot of places. I just got back from snowboarding in Alaska yesterday and now I'm off to Australia to hopefully surf a lot there. I can mix music and sport as much as I want - it makes touring easier."



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