With a history of over thirty years as a band, Pennywise have managed to not only stay relevant but thrive as a band to this day. The Californian punk rockers are back in Australia early next year for their 20 year anniversary tour of their 1999 album Straight Ahead. If you’re feeling like it’s Groundhog Day, you aren’t going mad - the band were only in the country a couple of years ago touring behind the 20-year anniversary of Full Circle.
“I guess we could be doing this for like the next five years or something, ‘cause we kept putting out records,” says guitarist Fletcher Dragge. “It's pretty crazy for sure, I mean every time we turn a corner it’s another 20 year anniversary of a record, which is totally surreal. It doesn’t really register with me, for me this isn’t really a job it’s kind of just like, what we do, and people go mad.
“I know that it’s definitely special when you can go play a record that was written 20 years ago and people still want to come out and see it and it still has meaning to people and it’s still important in people’s lives. That’s pretty special so it’s going to be pretty friggin’ cool.”
As with many punk bands, Pennywise lyrics are politically charged - angry and screaming for change. With the sweetness of managing to stay relevant while feeling the bitterness that the political climate hasn’t changed since the lyrics were written, Pennywise are grateful that their music resonates with a wide range of people.
“The lyrics are kind of timeless. You want to talk about politics right now, you’ve got ‘My Own Country’ or ‘American Dream’, or ‘Greed’. I think ‘Greed’s’ a perfect song for someone like Donald Trump. So, if you’re sixteen and you’re watching the news and see what's going on – school shootings, whatever it may be – you’re going to find a song that resonates with you on that topic matter so I guess that’s something to be said for the lyrical content.”
“Since writing it 20 years ago, [‘Greed’] still has meaning today and is still relevant, unfortunately,” Dragge laments. “A lot of times there hasn’t been enough change. It still has the same impact as I did 20 years ago, when I was thinking about some bullshit back then. It’s still bullshit today but I guess that helps us stay relevant in a strange way.”
“How crazy would it be if someone got elected to be president of the United States of America that was like, raised on the punk rock ethics? That would be huge because punk rock has a pretty good moral compass and is usually on the right side of things, as far as I’m concerned.”
As for the Australian tour next year, Pennywise fans can expect absolute mayhem. Straight Ahead is one of their fastest and most politically charged albums, and Dragge says that the band are super keen to get back on Aussie soil and indulge in some classic touring antics.
“The Aussie fans always deliver,” Dragge exclaims. “We’re a band that's known to party, and our fans have always been known as fans who like to party. You’re not going to see a bunch of people there standing around, you’re going to see a bunch of people drinking beers and Bundaberg rum. The fact that you got No Fun At All, one of the greatest punk bands of all time and Strung Out, another one of our favourites, opening that show I think it’s an undeniable night of craziness.”
“I always compare it [Australia] to California in the late 70s/early 80s when I was a kid – surfing in the morning and skating in the afternoon, drinking beer on the beach. It's before the cops when into full crazy gun-mode and it was a lot looser of a vibe.”
“You guys are notorious partiers and beer drinkers and we come from a beach town that’s known for partying and punk rock.”
Pennywise embark on the Straight Ahead 20th anniversary tour with Strung Out and No Fun At All this February. Head to Live Nation to grab your tickets today.