Pennywise: New Album, New Singer, Same Contentious Vibe
Punk and hardcore bands aren't usually known for lineup stability, but Hermosa Beach, California, rockers Pennywise had a pretty solid run for their first 20 years of existence.
Beyond the death of bassist Jason Matthew Thrisk (they dedicated "Bro Hymn" to him) Pennywise's lineup remained solid as the band toured relentlessly and released an album every couple of years. When singer Jim Lindberg decided to leave the band in 2010 to focus on his family, it seemed entirely reasonable that the band would call it quits.
But they didn't. Zoli Téglás of OC hardcore band Ignite stepped in, and though it took some adjustment to Pennywise's style, he's pulled it off and has released a new record, All or Nothing, with the band.
Pennywise is scheduled to perform Thursday, May 24, at Marquee Theatre
Up on the Sun: You played a couple of shows with Pennywise before you were invited to be a permanent member. What was that like? I read that one of your first shows was a hometown show. That must have been pretty daunting.
Zoli Téglás: Yeah, my first show with them was their hometown in front of 75,000 people at the Smokeout Festival. The first three shows were at home, fronting Pennywise. It was difficult, to say the least.
What happened was, after I got the gig, I still didn't feel comfortable being the singer of Pennywise yet. They have 25 years of growing together, working together, [and] becoming a unit. Then you got a new singer that's singing the old singer's songs in an entirely different vocal range than he did -- I have a higher voice and different mannerisms. I can't just go out and try to emulate Jim [Lindberg], but I can't lie, either. It was a difficult thing, you have to be yourself, but at the same time you have to be yourself playing Pennywise because people want to see Pennywise, not Zoli's version of Pennywise.
I didn't get the gist of the whole Pennywise world until we went to South America. For some reason on stage in Sao Palo, and Jesus Christ, everything clicked, I've been very comfortable on stage from that point on. I needed to play and tour with these guys to finally get my groove with this band. It takes a minute.
Tell me about the recording process of All or Nothing. Did you have to consciously remind yourself that you're writing Pennywise songs, not Ignite songs, or did it come naturally at that point?
You've got people with Pennywise tattoos on their backs. They've adorned their body with Pennywise tattoos -- Pennywise fans are really, really dedicated. You've got a guy from the band Ignite, which is a completely different sound. I'm not here to write a Zoli album and I'm not here to write an Ignite album. I'm here to write a Pennywise album, so how do you do that? We all collaborated and beat the crap out of the songs. We would take a song and go over it, and go over it, and go over it and, well, that sounds too much like Ignite, that doesn't sound enough like Pennywise. We put blood, sweat, and tears, and a lot of arguing and a lot of compromise . . . It was a lot of work; tons of work. A lot of sacrifice, it was a lot of believing in your side and sticking to it. When you work with a guy like Fletcher Dragge, it's like going to get a root canal every day in Afghanistan with a wooden spoon, that's how fun it was. It was a very difficult time, but I think it was worth it because the album that came out turned out to be really good.