A conversation with ex-Pennywise frontman Jim Lindberg
JIM LINDBERG recently made some big changes in his life. In addition to becoming a father and writing a book, Punk Rock Dad: No Rules, Just Real Life, he handed over the reins of PENNYWISE--the punk band he fronted for two decades--to Ignite vocalist ZOLI TEGLAS (who we also have an interview with right here). While Lindberg’s book is being turned into a documentary and possibly a feature-length film, he’s also concentrating on a new band. Just don’t expect any of this to mean that Lindberg will be mellowing out.
INTERVIEW: Nattalie Tehrani
For the first time in 20 years, you’re not in Pennywise. How does that feel and why did you decide to leave?
Well, I don't really feel like I left Pennywise. To me, the band just wasn't working anymore. I think we all wanted to do it as long as it was still fun, and we had been having a lot of conflict with touring and the way we had been doing things. It was just kind of difficult for us to get along. I still feel like all will be the same for Pennywise. It was a huge part of my life for 20 years. Just because “Mom” and “Dad” couldn't get along and couldn't reconcile doesn't mean that I feel like I’m out of it. It was definitely a big change. It's something that I saw coming for a while now. It wasn't as abrupt as some people think. It was a situation where everyone had different priorities and, for me, becoming a father had a bit to do with it. There were other conflicts as well, and I didn't want to stand in the way of [the other members]. The amount of touring that we did didn't fit well with my life. There is only a bit of touring that I can do as a father, and I didn't want to stand in the way. For a lot of us dads out there, it’s a pretty difficult decision to make. The thing is, it's almost cliché because that starts to lead to conflicts in the band and then you have to negotiate and struggle to keep democracy. Then it's three against one and, for me, that situation just didn't work. I was out-voted, and I was forced to be an asshole. It's difficult. It just leads to more and more arguing in front of the “kids,” and the situation just became lame and I have way too much respect for our fans, our band and our message to have that happen.
You have a new band. Can you tell us a little about it? Do you have a name for it?
That's the hardest part. I can't believe how difficult it is to find a name for the band. It's still a yet-untitled project. I couldn't be happier with the band itself. We have a great drummer--Alan Vega from a band called Good Guys In Black--and my friend Davey Latter--who’s actually the drummer in an indie band called Everest--plays bass. The energy is so good. After playing a song sometimes, we look at each other and we say, “Holy crap. Did we just do that?” It's a really powerful band, and I think a lot of people thought I would just mellow out after Pennywise. But there are a lot of songs that we have that are very aggro.
You guys are in the studio recording right now with Far guitarist Shaun Lopez producing. How is that going?
It couldn't be better. Another thing with Pennywise was that we are all strongly opinionated guys, whether it was about touring or recording. Now I’m in a situation where I’m calling all the shots. I write every guitar note, every drum part and obviously the band can play their parts as well. Shaun is just an absolutely amazing producer. It's just surprising how easy it’s been--and a lot of fun.
In addition to all the music, you also wrote all the lyrics for this album. Do you feel as though this band will show how you’re developing as an artist?
You know, I think you can hear how I’m changing as a songwriter. You’re definitely going to be hearing some different sounds and a lot of different lyrical content as well. With Pennywise, we just got pigeonholed into one sound and we realized that if we changed our style just a little bit, we would lose a lot of our fans. So we got stuck. But with this band, I can play any musical style I like. It's very liberating.
Where do you pull most of your musical inspiration from?
It's a combination. I mean, I read the newspaper every day front-to-back, and there’s a lot to be angry about. I'm also just a voracious reader. I read a lot of philosophy, and that’s where most of my lyrics come from.
You also wrote a book called Punk Rock Dad. Not only is it being made into a documentary, but there’s talks about making it a feature film.
Yeah, the documentary is almost finished, and it's absolutely insane. We have so many dads from the music scene in the film. We have Tim [McIlrath] from Rise Against, Lars [Frederiksen] from Rancid, Mark [Hoppus] from Blink-182, Fat Mike [from NOFX], Duane Peters and Tony Hawk. The list goes on and on. The book was also optioned into being made into a feature film, and we’ve been talking about doing a fictionalized version of the book. The guy who wants to do it actually came [to California] from New York recently, and we got real drunk and went to a punk-rock flier show. He got a little taste of Hermosa Beach. I showed him all the different punk-rock bars that have been turned into college bars. [Laughs.]
You knew your replacement in Pennywise, Zoli Teglas, before he took the gig. Are you happy about the arrangement?
Yeah, I’ve known Zoli for a long time, and I think he’s the perfect guy to do that and he has every right to do that. He's been very generous and cool to me throughout the whole process, and there have been times when he has called me up to get my blessing on things. I have no worries about Pennywise. They’re going to go out and play great shows and do great things and have fun with it. It's not a situation where there is a lot of animosity or any of that. It's been a happy ending for all of us. We all get to play music and have a great time in life, and Pennywise can keep playing and have a good time. I'd be happier about that than anyone. alt
Read our interview with new Pennywise frontman Zoli Teglas.