Older, Not Wiser
After more than 20 years as a band, not a whole lot has changed when Californian punks PENNYWISE take to a stage. Guitarist FLETCHER DRAGGE explains the winning formula to TOM HERSEY.
“We’re going to come down to the club, drink a couple too many beers and have fun. Hopefully the audience drinks a couple too many beers so they can’t hear the mistakes that we’re going to make and we’re just going to have a big, Aussie-style party where everybody leaves drunk and happy.”
For all the talk about the changes that SoCal skate punk kings Pennywise have undergone over the last few years, there’s just as much that has not and will never change. The band’s live show has always managed to find the perfect balance between being a high-energy, aggressive punk rock show and a party.
As though to prove their attitude towards playing live hasn’t changed, guitarist Fletcher Dragge has a hangover from last night’s gig. Even when they’re taking to the stage without founding vocalist Jim Lindberg, who announced he was leaving the band in 2009, Pennywise still put on a hell of a show. As Dragge sees it, the long-running band owes it to the dedicated fans who have stayed with the band through several years of turmoil.
“Our fans have supported us through a lot of shit, and they’ve remained loyal to us through this line-up change. And that’s a big deal to us, so we need to give 110% when we’re playing for these guys.”
Pennywise will return to Australian stages on the back of this year’s aptly titled All Or Nothing record, the band’s first without Lindberg singing. After the front-man exited in 2009, Pennywise found his replacement in Zoli Téglás, a punk rock veteran in his own right for his work with Ignite and The Misfits. Despite Téglás’ involvement in the punk scene, there was still a lot he had to adjust to when he joined Pennywise.
“We like to party, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. Our whole operation is a pretty loose ship. We don’t reprimand our employees for partying before, during or after the shows, and I think it was really hard for Zoli to get used to that. I think it was really hard for him to see crewmembers drinking beer and vodka onstage and smoking weed. He was like, ‘What the hell is going on around here?’ But now he’s used to that kind of stuff and he’s walking off stage each night, whether we’ve played a 200-person nightclub or a 20,000-person festival, saying, ‘Man, that was a great show.’”
As for what previous vocalist Jim Lindberg thinks of Pennywise’s new lease on life — a hectic touring schedule that’s taking them around the world and a new record that has been universally embraced by fans and critics — Dragge hasn’t heard anything.
“No one’s really communicating with Jim. I’m curious to see if he’s listened to the album because I know I listened to his record and I thought it was a good record. It sounded like Pennywise without me, Byron and Randy playing the instruments . . . I don’t know if he’d be happy or sad for us, because I think Zoli pulled it off and did a great job, and I don’t know if Jim was expecting us to be able to do something like that without him involved.”
PENNYWISE play the Eatons Hill Hotel (AA) with The Menzingers and The Sharks on Friday Aug 24. ALL OR NOTHING is out now through Epitaph. http://www.pennywisdom.com
JUST IN: Pennywise tour POSTPONED due to injury — new dates TBA.
TOM HERSEY is a writer and Amazing Race aficionado.