You all know who Jim is. From his successful twenty year endeavor as Pennywise frontman, to his current project, The Black Pacific, Jim Lindberg is definitely one of the most recognizable vocalists in punk rock, which is why I was stoked to see him perform acoustically at “Rock Vs. Cancer,” a show to benefit The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society at House of Blues, San Diego. He played alongside fellow Black Pacific member Gavin Caswell, and their set included songs from their recent self titled release as well as a few bonuses like “Don’t Come Close” (Ramones), “My Own Way” (Pennywise) and “Ball and Chain” (Social Distortion).
After the show I got the chance to talk with Jim about a myriad of topics: How he broke his ribs on tour in Europe. The progression of The Black Pacific’s sound. The addition of new band members (Marc Orrell from Dropkick Murphys). A new Black Pacific album. A Jim Lindberg acoustic album! Stem cell research. Musical influences before punk rock. Fighting the temptation to “sell out” while in Pennywise. And the progression of the punk scene in general.
Read the whole interview here.
DS: Jim on behalf of myself, Dyingscene.com, and its readers thank you for taking the time to do this interview!
JL: Alright. You bet.
DS: The Black Pacific recently returned from a European tour. Any memorable moments or experiences you would like to share?
JL: Yeah, the sun didn’t come out for about three weeks! Then an arctic snowstorm came in so it was 30 below some nights. We played a skatepark called Skaters Palace in Münster, Germany. It seemed like the perfect chance to skate and someone put an extension cord at the base of one of the ramps and it was dark and I couldn’t see. I tore into this one ramp and broke about three ribs. I did two weeks of the tour with broken ribs and didn’t miss a show. It was a really fun tour with The Riverboat Gamblers – a great band, and Veara. It was a great tour, hard to do with broken ribs but I survived somehow.
DS: That’s awesome. You also have an upcoming western US tour beginning in March with more shows in August. Is that in support of any new songs or album?
JL: We’re working on some new stuff now. We have Marc Orrell from Dropkick Murphys in the band now and Gavin Caswell our new bass player. We have been writing new songs together and it has been coming along really well. It’s easy to write with these guys and we are really excited about the direction because its hard and energetic music, but not a million miles an hour like in the past. I am really happy about everyone’s attitude in the band. Everyone likes to play. It is really cool to have a whole new way to approach music after doing it the same way for twenty years. It’s great to have a fresh new outlook on things. I am excited about the new album when it is done being written.
DS: “The System” from The Black Pacific’s first album was featured on the Music4Cancer compilation, you played here tonight at Rock Vs. Cancer and have taken up donations for a friend’s son during the show at Key Club in Hollywood. Is cancer cure/awareness an issue with personal meaning or something you see as a good cause and worth supporting?
JL: I really feel like it is a great opportunity. My Mother is a breast cancer survivor. One of my best friends called me up and said his son has Duchennes Muscular Dystrophy and asked me if I could help out. We came up with the idea of doing wristbands to raise money for Duchennes because it is very hard to get government money earmarked for research these days especially when it comes to stuff like stem cell research because there is a lot of political roadblocks when it comes to stem cells. When you consider how many kids are afflicted with that particular disease. I think it’s our obligation to do that as much as possible. It’s not hard for bands to find a cause to believe in. You just have to look for something that is close to you personally and I think that’s what we did with cancer research as well as Duchennes Muscular Dystrophy, I think it’s a worthy cause. People don’t really know what it is like until they have experienced firsthand the feelings of helplessness in these situations. So if we have the opportunity to help, I’m going to do it every time.
DS: A lot of people don’t realize there are several types of stem cells. The embryonic stem cells which a lot of religious people are opposed to and then you have types such as cord blood stem cells which are completely different.
JL: Yeah, exactly. It’s about raising awareness about those issues. There are ways of doing it that shouldn’t conflict with people’s religious beliefs. I think it’s important for us to make people aware of that. Sometimes people hear the word stem cell and they get freaked out. They envision people experimenting on babies and really, nothing could be further from the truth.
DS: Basically an uninformed public.
DS: A lot of punk musicians are doing acoustic style albums these days. Will we see an acoustic Jim Lindberg album in the future?
JL: Um, I’ve got a lot of acoustic songs I’ve always wanted to do. Tonight is the first time I have done it live. I’ve got a lot of songs, but I wanted to put out a few albums of hard music first and then go into the acoustic stuff instead of switching back and forth. But I’m always writing and have an acoustic guitar in every room of the house so it’s easy to sit down and write a song. So yeah, I got lot of acoustic tunes I am excited about possibly putting out at some point.
DS: Your new band The Black Pacific unveiled your first album in September of 2010 and had a familiar, yet new sound. Can we expect more sound changes in the future?
JL: It won’t be radically different. I kinda felt like this album was like a transition from what I was doing with Pennywise. Still playing hard energetic music. Once you have been playing for so long people expect a certain style from you. They want a super fast chorus, a catchy part and ending, a paint by numbers style of music. I listen to all kinds of music. I like bands like The Bronx. I like what The Menzingers are doing. Title Fight is another cool band I like a lot. I like listening to bands who are mixing it up a little bit, but I’ll always be a skate punk style of fan.
DS: Like mid eighties Powell Peralta era?
JL: (laughs) Yeah, exactly. It’s almost gotta be fast and energetic and have a certain message but I’d like to be able evolve within the form a little bit, instead of having to conform to the exact certain style of how I should sound. I think bands like Refused were the first ones to do that. They can be heavy one minute then be experimental the next. I’d like to try and do more and more of that. Luckily the guys in the band are really into that as well so I think you’ll have some songs that are really hard edged and more that are more experimental. I like that band Fucked Up a lot, I think they are really cool. They are playing hard music but it seems like it’s free from the constraints of traditional songwriting. So that’s what I would like to do. If I am successful at all at it is another question. Not successful as in terms of just selling a bunch of records, but the ability to write music that is engaging but is still different. It is easier said than done.
DS: In other interviews you’ve mentioned you grew up in Hermosa Beach listening to punk rock. What did you listen to before you discovered punk?
JL: Growing up by the beach I listened to a lot of The Beach Boys. They were a big influence. I think that is why a lot of my songs have a melodic base to them. I grew up listening to them almost exclusively. Then obviously, once punk rock came around I listened to that. The Ramones, Sex Pistols and The Clash were a huge influence that I like to incorporate. Instead of, like I said before, having to be a cookie cutter skate punk first chorus, first chorus whoa whoa whoa part. Hopefully I can draw on some of that influence as well. As much as you can bag on the scene for certain types of music being offensive there is always good music coming out that can inspire you to write better stuff.
DS: Your book is titled Punk Rock Dad. Does punk rock run in the family?
JL: It’s very, very different. I’m not some overbearing dad that says you have to listen to punk rock or whatever. My daughters are into Taylor Swift, Justin Beiber, stuff like that and I’m not going to hassle them for it. At the same time we were driving here today listening to The Clash and my daughter says “play Spanish Bombs,” which is my favorite song by them. They probably aren’t going to listen to GWAR or anything like that but they will listen to the Ramones, Clash, Blondie and stuff like that.
DS: You started Pennywise back in 1988 and….
JL: Late 88/89
DS: you have certainly seen the ebbs and flows of the punk rock scene. How do you see it progressing?
JL: It’s interesting. The first scene was a lot more organic and later on it became more about surfing and skating or Warped Tour and stuff like that. I think somewhat fairly and unfairly it got pegged as being marginalized by a lot of corporate involvement and different entities wanting to sell punk rock. That’s where it got really dicey for me because I believed in it so much, was a huge Black Flag fan. A lot of bands like that wanted to be successful as well, but how do you find success as a band and still not sell out. As a 90’s band was a big rub. How do you get more popular but not get rid of the ideals of punk rock? That was a real battle for me because we got offered a lot of stuff. Whether it was a car commercial or opening for a certain band. I would say “no” and that would piss everyone off – my agent, the record label, they were so mad at me for not doing those things but I felt like I had to protect what credibility we had left. The other guys in the band wanted to do all the radio shows and stuff like that and I didn’t feel like it was in line with my ideals as a musician. I think we came up at a very difficult time for Pennywise because I wanted to protect what I was really about and there were a lot of people that wanted to make us into this really big band that I wasn’t comfortable being. There was a lot of push and pull that made it uncomfortable.
DS: Do you think that not going with MTV, so to speak, and taking a more DIY approach was a contributing factor to the longevity of Pennywise?
JL: I definitely do. I think there are a lot of bands, especially from different genres, like Pantera back in the day, who were like “we’re going to do it our way and that’s it and we’re not going to care about what’s good for our career or what hurts our career.” That was the razors edge we had to walk a lot of the time. It’s not which opportunities can help you, it’s which ones can hurt you. In the sense that your fans are going to see you doing something they don’t appreciate and say you sold out or whatever. It was tough. We got those sell out calls all the time and here I am trying to protect us. You never saw us on a Coke or Ford Commercial. You didn’t see us doing things that I felt were out of line with our vision of how the band should be presented, but it did cause a lot of arguments.
DS: Any last words for the readers of dyingscene.com?
JL: Yeah, to the readers of Dying Scene give The Black Pacific a good listen, we are making the best music we can and sticking to a certain message. I believe there is a lot more to come from the band and we hope you like the music.
The Black Pacific released their debut, self-titled album last September on SideOneDummy Records.
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