The Austin Chronicle


July 28, 1995, Music


Liberty Lunch, Friday, July 28

Pennywise did not become Pennywise because they are smart shoppers. Named for the clown/demon of Stephen King's It, they chose to use Pennywise, who turned into what his victims feared the most to terrorize them, as a metaphor for their sound (scary hardcore) and their message (positive!). Pennywise (the demonclown) was defeated only when people banded together and faced their fears. Get it? The scary-sounding band with a positive outcome!

Cynic? Don't worry, smart shoppers... singer Jim Lindberg doesn't go out on tour to preach to 800 drunk, sweaty punk rockers every night. When asked if he delivered his message Ian McKaye style, he said "We try to let the message come through in the songs." And amazingly, it does. For all the titanic punkbuzz the band makes, Lindberg's voice is a one-man anthem machine of equal power. It all adds up to more punk for your penny!

Are the current champ-ions of punk simply preparing ears worldwide for the Penny-wise takeover? Listening to "Perfect People" on their most recent Epitaph release About Time, the answer can only be "Yeaah, Yeeaah, Yeeeeaaaaah!"

The Pennywise sound is fueled by bionic-punkdrummer Byron McMackin, who slams skins like he's been "McMackin" a little too much coffee - a suspicion Lindberg eventually confirmed. Fletcher Dragge's guitar sounds like it's being passed like a joint from Brian Baker, to Greg Ginn to Kirk Hammett for a second, then over to East Bay Ray - only better, because he's got his own style. Imagine that! Were it not for the loving craftsmanship with which Dragge, McMackin, and bassman Jason Thirsk whittle redwood riffs into streamline surf-punk scuds, the hardships that the band has weathered thus far (violent shows, resultant defamation in the press, and a temporary breakup) make them a future takeover contender on endurance alone. Heck, look what endurance did for Bad Religion.

Three albums deep, says Lindberg, the band plays bigger and better than ever, impressive considering how quickly bands can learn to suck. That makes a Pennywise concert ticket purchase a thrifty decision. - Ben Plimpton

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