Pennywise are one of the world’s most disliked bands. Everybody has their own personal reasons as to what makes them so bad. It might be how you feel insulted by their absurd, ridiculous lyrics. Maybe it’s how they have released the same album over and over again for years now. Did their merchandise line in the 90’s bug you? Perhaps you’re put off by all the macho, violent, rape-y bros that make up their fanbase. There are so many reasons for people to hate on a band like Pennywise.
In 2009 Pennywise vocalist Jim "Punk Rock Dad" Lindberg submitted his resignation and quit the band. This was massive news in the punk community, news which left everybody asking WHY? In a recent interview Fletcher (Pennywise guitarist) discusses Jim’s lack of enthusiasm for the band:
I remember that Jim would always get pissed off when I would listen to Pennywise in the car or something. I remember that he’d say “Why are you listening to that?!” I would always say “Because I like it”! I’m not doing it from an ego standpoint like “Wow, I’m the guitar player from this band!” That would be bullshit. I’m doing it from a fan perspective because I really like a lyric or whatever is going on. I’m totally feeling great about it! The CDs don’t come out of my car for a long time. It might sound weird to people that I sit around and listen to Pennywise records but I genuinely like Pennywise! I’m not saying that I like being in the band and I like being the guitar player – I mean, I just like what’s going on
One would think that the departure of a lead vocalist from a band with as little to offer the world as Pennywise would spell the end, but that was not the case. The remaining members of Pennywise recruited the guy from that band Ignite (they were one of those bands that you probably heard on a shitty compilation one time and skipped over) and continued on their merry way. With Pennywise having not released a record worth listening to in around fifteen years, combined with the loss of their front man, obviously the band had to come up with something pretty special.
They didn't, but when a band well past their prime are about to drop a new album that everybody knows is going to be super shitty, a tactic they will often use is to mention in interviews how similar in sound the new record is to their earlier, dearly loved/commercially successful output. Bands like the Offspring, Metallica and the Red Hot Chili Peppers have been pulling this shit for years now right before they lay out their latest turd, once again leaving everybody in the whole world wondering how a group of adult males could possibly create something so shitty.
Pennywise have been laying this tactic on super thick with their latest offering:
At the end of the day we listen to a song and go “Wow… how did that happen!?” It happened because everybody was pushing the limits and everybody was pushing each other and telling everybody that “Your part sucks! We can do this better” That’s a good thing! It turned out to be the best thing for Pennywise. It sounded more like old-school Pennywise session than I can remember in a long time.
You read this and you remember that first time you heard Pennywise on a surfboarding video and found something cool. That first Pennywise album was actually pretty good. Gnarly skate-punk with a bit of a (“Walk Among Us” era) Misfits-y vibe. “Hey, I might check this out!” you think to yourself. You give it a go and you realise that you have been lied to. What they are saying obviously does not ring true to anybody who has a functioning set of ears. This album is terrible. It sounds like Nickleback trying to recreate a later era Offspring album. It's slick to the point of sterility. It sounds massive, but it has no heart. This is the worst.
One of the biggest Pennywise talking points over the years has been their hilariously goofy, lightweight lyrics about fighting society, fucking authority and bringing down “the system”. But fear not punk rockers, as apparently the band have that all sorted:
Well, I think that the biggest thing is that Zoli was willing to say things like “I can’t believe this lyric is so bad… I hate it! I’m not going to sing it” I would say, “Fuck you… it’s a great lyric!” I remember that lead to me being able to tell him that his lyric sucked and that his melody sucked. By that point absolutely everybody – including the producer – was attacking everybody! It sounds like it was a pretty hostile environment; and it was and because of that; when you have three people telling you that your guitar line sucks, you’re going to go home and write a new guitar line! Then when you all say “well that was way better and we love it” that’s when you start thinking that you were wrong, and maybe my guitar line wasn’t good because everyone hated it before! Now everyone loves my new one, so thanks for telling me guys! It might have hurt my feelings expressing that to me and pissing me off like no tomorrow but at the end of the day that’s what pushed the album further.
One would think that this extreme, aggressive form of quality control the band are undertaking would lead this group of adult males into maybe coming up with some pretty great lyrics. Nope... it’s just the same old shit, except this time around somehow worse than you remember them ever being. Worse than you could ever possibly imagine!
Don’t believe me? See for yourself:
There's a rebellion on ice and you'll pay the price
As your freedom fades away.
Dishonesty is high, so won't you even try
To stand up for your rights and say.
We don't want your laws. So take 'em back right now.
They're bullshit anyhow.
It's time we had our say. The injustice cannot stay.
They stabbed us in the back.
And you can feel it bleeding if your heart's beating now.
So let us hear your voice. They said we have a choice.
But I don't believe they really meant it so.
We're gonna call their bluff 'cause we have had enough.
Take the power back. The foundation's gonna crack.
I see the freedom at the end of the road.
I've heard so many lies and I've taken the blows.
Give it to me. Take it from me. Nobody knows.
Sick of being used and I'm gonna explode.
Total destruction all over the place.
There is so much hate it's a fuckin' disgrace.
Everyone is blind; can't see through the lies.
But they aren't even looking at the wolves in disguise.
You can’t make this stuff up!
Excerpts taken from a recent Bombshell Zine interview with Pennywise.