Perhaps Pennywise's forthcoming album, All or Nothing, due out May 1, is aptly titled: It's the South Bay punk legends' first release since 2008 and their first ever without longtime lead singer Jim Lindberg.
"Working with Jim was no longer amicable," says guitarist Fletcher Dragge. "He was unhappy and wanted to move on -- we could feel it, the fans could feel it." After 20 years of making punk music with Pennywise, which is both revered locally (you see more Pennywise tattoos in the South Bay than you can count) and well received (both Straight Ahead and Unknown Road are considered classic records), Lindberg left the band in 2009. They say they've moved on -- hardcore punk outfit Ignite's singer Zoli Téglás now is handling vocals.
Dragge says the band tried out 50 or 60 people for the position, and that Téglás was an obvious choice. They feel like the lines of communication are finally open again -- as in the old days of Pennywise.
"This is the record we should have made six years ago," says bass player Randy Bradbury.
Forty-two years old but looking 10 years younger, Téglás is a seasoned veteran in the music game. Of Hungarian descent, he's densely muscled and compact; he looks more like a UFC fighter than your average musician. Téglás has toured extensively as the singer for his band, Ignite, and others, including the Misfits.
"When you tour with [the Misfits] you have to try and sound like Glenn Danzig," he notes. "You have to try to emulate that onstage -- you have that responsibility to the fans."
But he feels that with Pennywise he's allowed to have more of his own identity, especially on this new album, where he was included in the songwriting process.
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Many bands have had to change lead singers -- Black Flag, Van Halen and AC/DC among them -- but it's always a difficult transition when the frontman leaves. Pennywise may survive it partly because Dragge has always been their face, just as much as Lindberg, and because All or Nothing is actually a very solid album.
It's not a punk-rock opus or anything, but it's a good, fast work in the vein of many of the band's successful, earlier releases. It will satisfy longtime fans and certainly has the legs to support the band's already extensive catalog on tour.
Pennywise's new album, All or Nothing, is out today.