by Wade Chamberlain
Pennywise released their fourth (third for Epitaph), and
possibly best album last month. And in the tradition of any hard
working punk band they promptly set out on the road. They came
through Salt Lake in Friday the seventeenth. I had the opportunity
of speaking with Fletcher the guitarist about the band, the punk
rock scene, and a few other things.
- Obviously you got your name from a Steven
King film, are you guys big Steven King fans?
- Well, we actually got it from the book
and not the film. We're all into Steven King, I mean we're not
like huge fans that collect all Steven King's shit or anything.
It was basically like one of our friends came over to one of our
practices and said, Fuck! You've gotta name your band
Pennywise!' He just kept barkin' at us so we were like what
ever dude cool.' But it also has a little bit of meaning because
we all read the book, and it was like Pennywise was like you're
worst fear. The guy would figure out what scared you the most
and turn himself into that and then fuck with you. So it's like
if you can get over your worst fears and the shit that scares you
the most then you can go on with your life. And that's the ty your life. And that's the type
of thing that we're into the most.
- I noticed a lot of your lyrics are really
about being positive and moving on with you life. Do you think
they are more introspective or observational?
- I think they're more introspective,
Jimmy writes a lot of stuff from his point of view which is
baisically the band's point of veiw. When Jason And Jimmy write
the lyrics they're writing almost every thing from personal
experience. Some of the lyrics are about other people, but
they're the ones about drugs and shit. He touches on other
subjects, but I think mainly the lyrics are about his life
- Are you guys affiliated with the straight
- No!, well I've been like a huge fan of
Minor Threat since the 80's. We've always partied and never ever
said we were straight edge. We're into the positive side of
straight edge, but we're not really into the preachy end of it..
The straight edge movement, I think, is more like about not
fuckin' with people and bein' more like into not doing drugs and
just having a clear head. But when straight edge gangs start
carrying it like too far, and beating up a kid because he's
drinking a beer that's not cool at all! That's almost like a
fuckin' type of racism. We're more into like doin' what ever you
wanna do and bein' cool to the people that deserve being cool
- I read an interview with you guys last year
when you came, and you said something to the effect that back in
the 80's the punk scene was pretty much lame, but now days it is
a lot more positive.
- I actually liked the punk scene in the
80's more than now, but there's good and bad about both. The
cool thing about the 80's is that it was like different. It was
original and about being an individual and now it's just like you
do it because it's the cool thing to do, just like with any other
kind of music, you get a lot of people that aren't genuine fans
of the music they're just doing it because that's like what every
one at their high school is doing or what ever. The scene now is
a lot more positive, like you get a lot of surfers, skaters, and
snowboarders listening to this kind of music, so they're not all
wacked out on drugs and shit. They're more positive people that
are into like sports and stuff. They'll go and they'll go off
just as hard as any guy in the 80's that was on black beauties
and gin That parts better for me cuz there is more kids that are
just like fully into it.
I've had a ton of friends that up until like recent years
gave me shit for playing punk rock, they'd always be like why
don't you play something like Bang Tango or something that's
gonna sell and we were like fuck you! I've been playing in punk
bands since like 1980 and I always just loved like really fast,
loud, distorted music. Now it's like come full circle and now
it's huge and all the people that were givin' us shit are like
can we get back stage passes. So in that way the scene has
changed a little bit. But we've also had a lot of friends that
have supported us.
We're still tryin' to keep a hard core approach even
though we're sitting here talking in the luxury of our tour bus
it's do to the fact that we've done 9 fuckin' tours out of a van!
With seven people and all of our equipment in a fuckin' van with
no trailer it's hard to come out and do shows when you've
traveled 8 hours in a van. And every one gets sick from each
other. We're still doin' our shit for the fans really, I mean I
heard they're playing us on the radio which is really uncool, but
what can you do? Evidently the record companies sent out CDs to
all the radio stations and they we're like uh, we don't really
like it's a little too hard core and shit, and then like the week
the cd came out we showed up at #96 on the billboard top 200.
And every one was like well we better start playing them! They
we're all jumpin' on the band wagon because we've had all of our
success do to like touring and doing it for the fans. We try to
do everything fan based.
At our shows people try to tell us what to do and we
usually tell them to fuck off! You'll see tonight some shit
will happen. We've 'll see tonight some shit
will happen. We've already had security guards leave during the
show and leave it open to complete mayhem it was great! We've had
a couple of stages collapse. There's already been about $40,000
worth of damage on this tour We've had two stages collapse from
the weight of the fans being on them because we always invite
them up to sing along with the the last song (Brohymn).
- I first heard you guys on a snow board video
a couple of years ago Do you guys snowboard?
- Yeah, all of us do. I've only been into
it the last couple of years, but I like it a lot. I surf in the
summer when the waters warm, But we've all gotten into snow
boarding a lot. We snowboarded Alaska this year. Byron skates
- I noticed Epitaph has a home page in the
Internet, are you guys into computers?
- Jimmy our singer was the first one to
get a computer. Now I have one and I've been cruzin' the
Internet . It's cool to see what the kids write about our band
and others. Like one kid will write in and say I wanna see
Pennywise on MTV and then 30 kids will write in and say Fuck You!
We already have Green Day and Rancid. It's trippy being able to
talk to people all around the world. It's definitely the wave of
the future and I wanna learn more about it, but I'm a shitty
typer so I talk and my chic types for me.
- I noticed your first album is noticed your first album is a lot more
eclectic, it's not just straight punk. What made you decide to
go with the punk thing?
- Our first-first album?, That's kind of
a bullshit thing. We're always fuckin' around with stuff. We're
always writing songs and being experimental, but the guy put all
of these out takes on there, like Stand By Me was an out take
Maybes was an out take and he put those on there. That was when
we were less focused. But when we put out our first release for
Epitaph we we're like let's concentrate on the straight out hard
core stuff. We still fuck around and write different songs, but
hopefully they'll never pop up any where.
- I love Stand By Me, though.
- Yeah that was a cool one. That's like
our song now we're gonna play it tonight!
- How is it touring with Joykiller?
- Joykiller rips! One of the first gigs I
went to in like 1980 was TSOL. I've been in to them for years, I
mean Jack, he's been like my idol and now they're opening for
us! DFL are great too. I like to tour with all Epitaph bands
because we're like a big family and there's no attitude and
- Have you guys toured Europe?
- Yeah we've toured Europe like four
times. The scene over there is really cool cuz there's no fights
and shit. The people are all friendly and they are there to hfriendly and they are there to have
a good time and they watch out for everyone else. Over here it
can get lame cuz you get a lot of tough guys who like to hurt
people and you get a lot of gangs and shit. The whole point of
the music gets lost by people who are only there to be fuckin'
kooks! America is getting better though, this tour hasn't had a
lot of fights and shit. I think it's cuz there are a lot more
cool people getting into this scene!
- Are you gonna put out a video for any thing
on this album?
- The thing is we really didn't want to,
but the record company really wants us too. It's kinda like a
catch 22 I mean the record company does a lot for us and then
we're like fuck you! We don't wanna be on MTV or the radio and we
wanna stop selling records. You have to work with them. So we
compromised, and we wrote and directed a video for Same Old
Story, I mean it'll say some one elses' name, but me and Jimmy
we're givin' the orders. The video is about some kid who gets
into an argument with his dad and takes off on his skateboard.
It's kinda like a day in the life of a skater kid. The opening
scene is actually something that happened to me. You know like
my dad smacked me for drinkin' out of the milk carton, then
chased me out of the house so I took off. I think I went to a
Black Flag gig that night. The kid actually ends up at one of
our practices. So hopefully you'll see it. The fully you'll see it. The kid who skates
in it fuckin' blows doors! We mainly make our videos for
underground stations like with Homesick we didn't think MTV was
gonna play it because it had guns and dead bodies and shit in
- It had a really powerful message though the
stats about guns were devastating!
- Isn't that fuckin' sick! I mean 240,00
deaths in the U.S. last year because of guns!
The conversation was then broken up as people started
flooding the bus preparing for the show. Pennywise did put on a
great performance that night despite the bad acoustics and sound
people. There were also no fights, the security guards didn't
leave, and the stage didn't even collapse under the weight of all
those kids during Brohymn.-SUEDE
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