I feel like most people don’t know the history of Hermosa Beach and its connection to punk rock. It’s not a place you hear about very much in the history of Punk Rock music. Truth is some of the most note-worthy Southern California bands started there. Some of my favorites and yours too I bet!
I read an interview with Keith Morris from Circle Jerks recently telling the story of when he was hanging out at the rehearsal studio in Hermosa where Red Kross practiced and they were trying out a drummer named Lucky. Keith was sitting outside the room thinking Lucky sounded great and they must be happy they found a drummer. However, when Red Kross guitarist, Greg Hetson (Circle Jerks, Bad Religion, Red Kross, Punk Rock Karaoke) came out of the room he told Keith that the rest of the band weren’t into Lucky and he was frustrated. Of course, Keith said HEY, WE should start a band with Lucky! You on guitar and me singing. Boom! Circle Jerks were born. Black Flag practiced at the very same place and Descendents are also from Hermosa Beach.
I would say Hermosa qualifies as an important pinpoint on the Punk Rock map. Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Descendents and as fans of those bands, eventually Hermosa brought us Pennywise.
I love Pennywise. They are one of the fiercest and unpredictable live bands punk rock has ever seen! Fast beats, almost metal-like guitars, in your face lyrics and one of the best frontmen I’ve ever seen… Jim Lindberg. The baseball hat, Dickies shorts, Vans skateboard shoes and Adolescents T-shirt are un-mistakable!
After 19 years in Pennywise, Jim took a break from the band to spend time with his family. He also made a record with a band he formed called, The Black Pacific. He wrote a book called Punk Rock Dad which became a documentary film called The Other F Word which is about the challenge balancing life as a parent and being in a traveling band.
I started chasing Jim about doing this interview a lifetime ago it seems. Now that I’ve lagged on posting it (for no reason) for months, it’s finally ready for me to share. Sorry Jim for taking so long. Jim did this Q&A when he was back with Pennywise and had just returned from a European tour…
ME: First off, how were the shows overseas?
JIM: The shows were great. Groezrock was the big anchor show and that was a good time, especially because Flag was playing with Kieth, Bill, Stephen, Chuck and Dez playing old Black Flag stuff. To hear them play those songs was amazing. Of course it’s a drag though that Greg and Ron aren’t involved but that’s how it is. There’s not a lot anyone can do about it. Keith and I talked about it for a while after the show, and if anyone understands band conflicts it’s me. It was great to hear ‘Jealous Again’ and ‘Fix Me’ played live and loud again. I’m sure Greg and Ron’s version will be insane as well, but I’m still holding on to the chance they could all share the stage again. If we can do it, anyone can.
The rest of the tour we played shows in Spain, France, Germany, and Amsterdam with bands like A Wilhelm Scream, Authority Zero, Strung Out and Old Man Markley. All the shows went off and our fans were stoked to see us back together. We’re just kind of getting into the flow of playing together again. We’ve been doing a kind of a ‘Best Of’ set and people seem to be into it. We had one guy say it was our best show since Pukkelpop in ’96, which was particularly out of control festival if I remember so that’s saying something.
ME: Does it feel good being back on stage with the guys? How long was your hiatus?
JIM: It does feel good playing the songs with the guys again. The songs we wrote mean a lot to people and to see their reaction when we play songs like ‘Same Old Story’ or ‘Perfect People’ is a big reason we all do this and why we were able to put our differences aside. I was out of the band for around 3 years, and a big part of this whole reunion for me was to reclaim what we built together. It feels like I never left some times which is good. I feel positive about where we’re at right now and think we all appreciate what we have together a lot more. Today is what counts.
ME: Will there be another Black Pacific album? Maybe in your down time?
JIM: I got three kids so I don’t have a lot of down time! I’d like to have five other bands if I had the time for it. I think the other guys in PW should as well. It’s really easy to get pigeon holed after 20 years and kind paint yourself into a corner. Playing and touring with other people and trying other kinds of music gives you a lot of perspective. The guys in The Black Pacific are all doing other stuff right now. Mark has a band called Wild Roses, Alan just released his own album with the name, The Peace Masons, and Gavin has been playing shows with The Street Dogs and Senses Fail. I love playing music with those guys and would love to again if the time is right, but PW has been my whole life basically and right now I’m all about repairing what we had together.
ME: What is the status of the Punk Rock Dad movie?
JIM: Well The Other F Word doc came out and everyone seemed to like it a lot. I’ve had a lot of people come up and tell me how much they enjoyed my book and the documentary and I’m happy that people were able to relate to both of them. Adam Yauch’s company Oscilloscope distributed the documentary and that was an honor to have someone like him believe in the film. It was tragic that he passed and I never got to say thank you in person. He was a real inspiration for me in his development from who he was to who he became. There’s been an press release and paperwork moved around about it becoming a feature film but it’s unclear what my involvement will be. I hope they want my two cents in there somewhere since my book was the starting point for all of this, but I’m not holding my breath. If it’s great I’ll say it was all due to me, but if it sucks I’ll say it was their fault.
ME: Will there be a new Pennywise album?
JIM: I hope so. Right now we’re working on putting together a best of / box set type of thing which hopefully will include a lot of B-sides an old out-takes, but we tend to argue over which one of those are a good representation of the band. I say throw it all on there warts on all. The X and Nirvana box sets I own have all kinds of random stuff on there and that’s what makes them cool. As far as a new album, if and when we agree we have all the best songs together, then why not?
I have a great photo of Jim and I doing Jager shots at the SideOneDummy office that I was gonna post here but I can’t find it. ***UPDATE: Found it…
Also, cool side note… Fullerton California is only 30 miles East of Hermosa Beach and is home to Social Distortion, Adolescents and D.I. ***UPDATE: My friend Mike Palm from Agent Orange confirmed that they are, in fact, also from Fullerton. Which I wasn’t sure about. However, I hope to do an in depth interview with Mike very soon! I have a great Agent Orange story!!!