In 1988, Jim Lindberg began etching a name for himself as the frontman of Pennywise, a SoCal punk band with a passionate, positive message to accompany its aggressive anthems.
But with the 2007 publication of his memoir “Punk Rock Dad," followed by the 2011 documentary “The Other F Word," Lindberg, 47, started taking on a second identity: as an expert on the cognitive dissonance, if not downright hypocrisy, of being foul-mouthed and anti-authority (Pennywise combines those themes on the song “F--k Authority") on stage, while trying to have a semblance of authority once kids enter the picture at home. (The other “F Word" in the film's name, by the way, is “Fatherhood.")
In a cast that included Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers), Duane Peters (U.S. Bombs), Mark Hoppus (Blink-182), Art Alexakis (Everclear) and Fat Mike (NOFX), Lindberg stood out as being almost a gentleman philosopher, and a loving father to his three daughters, whose childhoods he'd grown tired of watching from the vantage of rearview mirrors as he embarked on tour after tour with band mates who loved the road life.
Spoiler alert: The articulate and thoughtful Lindberg became a focal point of the film, eventually deciding to leave the band in 2009 to stay home and raise a family, releasing this statement: “After 20 years, nine albums and thousands of shows around the world, my time in Pennywise has come to an end. Being the singer for this band has been an amazing experience, and along the way we made some of the best fans anyone could ask for."
His band mates quickly replaced him with Zoli Teglas from the hardcore band Ignite, got back out on the road and began recording.
Just three years later, the classic lineup of Pennywise, whose name is derived from the sewer-dwelling clown-monster of Stephen King's “It," has reconvened. Its first tour in years comes to Bend on Sunday, when the band will play at the Midtown Ballroom. Two other SoCal acts, Lagwagon and Stick to Your Guns, will open the show, along with locals The Confederats (see “If you go").
Lindberg and company had not yet embarked on the tour when The Bulletin caught up with him last week. After two reunion shows in January at the Hollywood Palladium, and a quick run to South America, Lindberg sounded guardedly optimistic about Pennywise's future.
“We're just brushing off the cobwebs, so to speak," he said. Getting back together with his old band mates — guitarist Fletcher Dragge, drummer Byron McMackin and bassist Randy Bradbury — was not as strange as he expected. “We've been doing it so long together ... I was ready for a break for a while, but coming back even with the extended time away, it felt pretty normal."
In all, he was away three years. During that period, Pennywise toured with Teglas and Lindberg formed Black Pacific, another blow to his relations with his old band.
According to an interview with KROQ radio station in Los Angeles, Teglas had been sidelined from touring by a back injury incurred in Germany, and had contacted Lindberg himself about coming back. (“He's actually happy. He's happy to get the hell out of here," Dragge told KROQ. “Jim told me he was calling and saying, 'Hurry up and come back man.'")
The reunion came “Pretty much out of left field," Lindberg said. “Right before Fletcher called me (about a reunion), if you had asked me could I ever imagine myself playing with Pennywise again, I'd have said 'There's no chance in hell.' But life is strange that way. Fletcher gave me a call, we had a very long heart to heart, kind of talked about a lot of the problems in the past, and somehow at the end of it, we decided we should play some shows. It was as simple as that."
Though he'd formed Black Pacific, “(Pennywise) meant very, very much to me," Lindberg said. “Besides my friends and family, it was pretty much my whole life for 20 years. I wasn't happy to leave the band, so to have it put back together in its proper form was something I was open to — as long as we could make some agreements on how we should behave in the future."
His band mates have done a little growing up themselves in the last few years, he said. “I hope so, and that's kind of the point. Byron, our drummer, has a young son, and Fletcher has his two dogs. I hope that helps," Lindberg said, laughing.
“I think there's a little more understanding now of the challenges that people with kids (face) being touring musicians," he said, “and you've got to find that balance. That was always part of the issues. It was a big issue for everyone, but I think if we can find some balance with home life and touring, and tour smart, we should be able to do it for years to come."
That means a new studio album could be in the works.
“We're talking about that. It's very important to me that, if we're going to make music together, we have to be on the same page. That was one of the many unspoken problems I was facing before; we had become very distant in the songwriting process," Lindberg said. “It just got to the point where people would bring in their own songs and instead of the collaboration we pretended it was, people would just bring in finished songs and the other guys would play them.
“That wasn't cool. We had strayed from what it meant to make music together," he said. After 20 years together, “it gets harder to go to that well and have it be fruitful collaboration. But I know we can get back to that. We just have to remember what we loved about playing music. It wasn't about selling records or filling venue seats. It was about playing rad music together."