Vocalist ZOLI TEGLAS has earned a reputation as a qualified go-to guy when a punk or hardcore band are in need of a singer. He stepped into the spotlight to tour with MISFITS after their vocalist left in 2000 and when PENNYWISEfrontman JIM LINDBERG (who we also have an interview with right here) departed from that band last year, Teglas–who has fronted Orange County, California, hardcore outfit IGNITE since 1994–stepped in. Earlier this month, Teglas was officially announced as the new singer of Pennywise even though he’ll also continue playing with Ignite. So what can fans expect?

INTERVIEW: Nattalie Tehrani

Are you excited or do you feel pressure with your new gig?
Well, my No. 1 priority right now is the live show and writing a good album–especially because I feel responsible to the fans who have followed and grew up with the band for 20 years. I want to make sure I don’t let down the fans with Pennywise tattoos and those who have been so loyal to the band. I’m keeping that in mind while I write this album. 

You’ve said you’ve felt like a human karaoke machine because you’ve filled in for vocalists before–like with the Misfits. How does that feel?
You know, I was born in America but raised in a small town in Hungary. [I’ve been lucky] to be able to come back to America and do what I’ve always wanted to do in life. Having the Misfits–one of my favorite bands of all-time–ask me to sing for them was unbelievable. Now with this Pennywise opportunity, it’s just another blessing. I had the opportunity to make friends with [the members of Pennywise] while on tour with my band, Ignite. They’re a great band and great guys and they have awesome, awesome fans worldwide. I’m just real thankful to have the opportunity.

Was it difficult to fit in with them as a member?
The cool thing with Pennywise is that it’s not a stretch for me to get in to be their singer because they’ve always been a socially conscientious band and we come from the same area, too. I was raised near Orange County, and they were raised near the beach areas. I was raised on punk music my whole life, so I’m not just some dude that morphed into it. I feel that it’s a good fit. I believe in their band, and I believe in the songs, and I’m really looking forward to the new album.

What special touch are you going to bring to the band that maybe you felt wasn’t there before?
Well, I really like their early stuff a lot, and we’ve talked about writing some aggressive and melodic stuff along with aggressive vocals. So this album is going to sound like old-school Pennywise. I’d like to bring a little bit of aggression back in. Jim [Lindberg] is a great songwriter. One thing I’m thankful of is that this guy wrote 20 years’ worth of great music. I just get to step into this whole Pennywise lifestyle.

What sets you apart from Lindberg?
Well, my writing style and Jim’s writing style are completely different. He writes more on top of the beat and I write more behind the beat. I’ve been adding a mixture of writing in front of the beat as well. It’s cool because it’s been a challenge to write in a different way. Jim is such a cool and talented guy; I’m stoked to be learning about how he wrote his music, too.

What are your fears and hopes for the band now that you’re ushering in a new chapter?
All I can do is try my hardest on this album. You know, it’s the same thing with Ignite: You just have to do the best you can and put it out into the universe and see what happens. It’s really out of your hands. Sometimes it’s kind of a scary thing because I have never known if any song I’ve ever written was good enough, you know? You just try to be honest and try to write creative music and hope for the best. alt

Read our interview with ex-Pennywise frontman Jim Lindberg.