Older, but definitely not wiser

Attention all reformed punk rockers, consider this an invitation to revisit your anti-establishment ideals. Pennywise is coming to town. But before you break out the bottle of JD to start your warmup, be forewarned — this is not quite the Pennywise of yesteryear.

Zoli Teglas, formerly of Ignite, officially replaced Pennywise vocalist Jim Lindberg at the beginning of 2010. Lindberg had been with the band since their inception in California in 1988.

The line-up change alarmed may devoted fans whose scornful posts are clogging online forums. But guitarist Fletcher Dragge asserts that while touring in Europe and North America, the crowds were incredibly receptive to the updated Pennywise.

“We haven’t had anything but the crowd going ballistic and singing the lyrics full blast,” he says. “It’s really weird. You wouldn’t think it’s as easy as it’s been to replace a singer, but I mean it’s about the band and the fans, it’s not about one person.”

The line-up adjustment apparently came about as a result of Lindberg’s reluctance to tour. The band organized shorter tours, but ultimately felt they were neglecting their fans. Dragge says Lindberg quit when the band attempted to negotiate longer tours. Pennywise, however, seems perfectly content to continue on without him.

“You hear the word ‘Pennywise’ and you just think Pennywise. You don’t think about an individual member. People want to sing the songs, they want to have a good time and be part of it. Now that Zoli’s on board, it’s happening. We’re super stoked,” says Dragge.

This confidence also extends to the studio, where Pennywise is preparing a new album — their first without Lindberg — due out in 2011.

“Jim’s gone, but we can handle this,” says Dragge. “A lot of people don’t know, because we never credited who wrote what on the albums, that Randy and I wrote . . . a lot of the music, but also a lot of lyrics and a lot of melodies. Zoli’s got some song-writing skills as well. He’s just trying to figure out how to write Pennywise songs because he’s been writing Ignite songs for fifteen years. There’s a learning curve there, but he’s starting to come up with some really cool stuff. We’re going to utilize his ability to sing to the fullest.”

This line-up change has re-energized the band and Calgary can surely expect a high-octane show. This is, after all, a group that has been banned from a wide variety of venues.

“We’ve been pretty much banned from all of the Sunset Strip. And in Europe, we’re banned from half of the festivals,” Dragge confirms. “We’ve been banned from enough places to do a cool shirt that says ‘Pennywise, Banned From:’ and the whole back of the shirt could be a list of spots we’re not allowed to play. But hey, we’re not doing this to make friends. We’re doing this to make our fans happy. A rowdy show that get’s us banned from a club? We’ll just find another one.”

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