Published on October 28th, 2019


Intrinsic to the ’90s surf/skate punk scene spawned by southern California, Hermosa Beach rockers Pennywise live the ethos of their latest album, “Never Gonna Die.” Melodic with roots firmly dug into the early soil of California hardcore, their immediately recognizable sound has been imitated by many and seldom improved upon.

Formed in 1988 and named after the iconic evil clown of Stephen King’s “It,” Pennywise have remained true to themselves and stuck to the songwriting basics that continue to earn them fans. Singer Jim Lindberg, guitarist Fletcher Dragge and drum

mer Byron McMackin — founding members all — have carried on with a turn toward positivity, coupled with Lindberg’s anti-authoritarian and transcendental lyrics, after the suicide in 1996 of founding bassist Jason Thirsk. The band has passed the incredible 30-year mark of existence.

But it hasn’t always been as easy as gliding through a perfect barrel. Lindberg has quit the band over creative differences more than once. The first time with Thirsk taking on vocal duties while Randy Bradbury, Thirsk’s eventual replacement, played bass. Lindberg also wrote “Punk Rock Dad,” a 2007 memoir that inspired a 2011 documentary, “The Other F Word,” both about aging and parenthood in punk.

Deliberate in their recorded output and relentless in touring, the band finds itself collectively in a good place. With twelve solid albums, a handful of EPs and too many compilation tracks to count, Pennywise are as relevant today as ever.

Their logo, the stylized encircled “PW” is either a quick graffiti tag or a gaunt figure with outstretched, welcoming arms. It has remained a central design aesthetic in most of their album art and in their latest release, a blue target amidst black and white sketch motifs from previous album covers. Almost like Vonnegut gathering his wayward literary children within the pages of “Breakfast of Champions,” Pennywise bring forth the best assets of their past for this album.

The result isn’t groundbreaking; they say as much on the closing track, “Something New:” “How long will it take us to finally make something new?” Yet what they’ve always done is exactly what works, and why they’ll never die.

Pennywise perform 7pm Thursday November 7 at Revolution Live in Fort Lauderdale with Stiff Little Fingers, The Bronx and The Attack. ~ Abel Folgar

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