If our conversation with Pennywise vocalist Jim Lindberg is any indication, the Hermosa Beach punk group’s newest album Yesterdays (out today on Epitaph Records) may turn out to be one of the most important records in their 26-year history.
The album features Lindberg’s return to vocal duties after his acrimonious departure in 2009. It also harkens back to a simpler time in the band’s legacy, as many of the songs on Yesterdays were penned during the group’s early years by original bassist Jason Thirsk, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 1996.
West Coast Sound caught up with Lindberg on the phone last weekend to discuss his return to the band and the new album.
What inspired your decision to return to Pennywise?
I just wanted what was going on to stop. You can’t have a song like “Bro Hymn” which is about friendship, unity, and sticking with your friends and then have a total fracture in the middle of the band. Unfortunately, we started having our problems when e-mail became the primary source of communication. That’s the worst way for bands to do business. We learned the hard way but I think we’ve hugged it out.
How did it feel to return last year at the band’s 25th anniversary shows at the Palladium?
With those Palladium shows, I think there was a sense of enormous relief that we had gotten the family back together. When band members leave and there’s some acrimony over what’s going on, it’s tough. It was rough for all of our friends in the area. Much like a divorce, people feel like they have to pick sides. I don’t think any of us liked living that way.
What inspired the decision to revisit songs from the band’s past on Yesterdays?
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These are the songs I fell in love with when [guitarist Fletcher Dragge] asked if I wanted to try out for Pennywise [in 1988]. These songs are from when we didn’t care about anything except playing backyard parties and having fun. It’s very unambitious.
Did the “back to basics” approach to Yesterdays make your return to the band easier?
Absolutely. This album was very therapeutic for the band. I think the last couple of records we did together were overproduced. We lost the spirit that we have live and we got pasteurized somewhat. This is beach punk…mic the instruments, sing until your voice is raw, and put it out!
Pennywise performs at House of Blues Sunset Strip on Friday, July 18th and Sunday, July 20th.