One of the most popular bands in punk today, Pennywise shook things up back in 2009 when they announced that long time front man Jim Lindberg had decided to leave the band. Instead of throwing in the towel, the band picked up a new front man in Ignite vocalist Zoli Teglas, and since then have been working on material for their tenth studio album. I caught up with Zoli the day after their appearance at the Sydney leg of the Soundwave Festival to discuss the festival and their new album.
I’m here with Zoli from Pennywise, how are you doing today?
Phenomenal man, how are you doing?
I’m good thanks. How have you been enjoying Australia so far this trip?
Well, I mean this is my third time in Australia. Pennywise is a pretty big band down here man, so it’s been phenomenal. We’ve played in Brisbane to about 15,000 people. Last night there was about 12,000 people in front of us. For me as the new singer of Pennywise, my purpose is to try to prove to the fans that I can do it, and to put on a good show. Pennywise has been such a lifestyle to so many people, and now that they have a new singer, it’s scary for a lot of people, so what we’re trying to do is just say “hey, the band has a new singer, but we’re still gonna kick arse.” So it’s been for me on this whole year of touring, not saying it’s been difficult, but it’s been very, very intense, because I have to try and put on a great show every night, because these fans, they’re scared, you know? Their favourite band of all time got a new singer, and they don’t know how it’s gonna sound, so it’s been a lot of work, but it’s been amazing.
Were you ever worried that some longtime Pennywise fans wouldn’t be so receptive to the change?
Yeah, and there’s some people that wont like it. Iron Maiden got a new singer, Black Flag got a new singer, AC/DC got a new singer, but he sounded like the old singer a lot. Van Halen got a new singer for a while. There’s a lot of new singers, so what you’ve got to do as a new singer is try to keep all the old fans, but try to make music that you can get new fans through as well. There’s gonna be people that don’t like it, which I understand, but Jim didn’t want to do it anymore, and they asked me to sing, and I asked Jim for his permission, it wasn’t like I kicked him out or anything. I asked him to make sure it was cool with him, because I’m singing his songs of 20 years. I’m doing the best I can, and I think we’re doing okay. Last nights show was amazing.
So what’s it like touring in front of so many people compared to when you last toured with Ignite?
Well, Ignite is big in Europe. We do Europe a lot, we really focus on Europe, because in Europe you have all of these festivals, and you can tour one country for a whole month. So I’m used to playing in front of like 20-30,000 people at these festivals in Europe. I like giant festivals, and I like really small shows. There’s two kinds of shows I like: big festivals like last night, where there’s just this crazy energy, or really small shows where there’s just 200 people packed in a little fucking room with no barricade, you know what I mean? I don’t really think about it when I go onstage, I try to do the same show if there’s 400 people there, or 40,000.
What is Soundwave like compared to other festivals that you have played?
Most festivals don’t tour like this together. Most festivals you have two days, and you play with those bands, and then you move on to the next festival, which is completely different. Soundwave is cool because you get to see everybody again, the only problem is that there are so many great bands; I don’t have time to see everybody.
Who have you been seeing so far that you have enjoyed?
Social Distortion, The Bronx, Terror, H2O, I’ve seen them. I saw Slash, he was cool, but I haven’t seen Iron Maiden yet.
With you being a member of the band now, that’s essentially a fresh start for the band. What can we expect with the new record?
Old school style because I have a high voice, my voice is on a higher register, and when Jim started Pennywise back in the day, he had a higher voice than he has now, 20 years ago, he was younger, right. So it sounds like old school Pennywise, that style.
Where are you currently at with the new album at the moment?
We’ve got about 20 songs, we’re trying to write about 30 and pick from the best and then work on those.
When are you going to aim on having that released?
This year, sometime. I don’t want to say anything premature, but it’s this year, sometime.
Pennywise released the last record through Myspace Records, and they’ve kinda gone under now. Do you know what you’re doing with the new one?
Probably Epitaph. Looks like it will be Epitaph.
Do you think you’ll come back here soon off the back of the new record?
If you’ll have us, I’d love to come back here. I like touring, man. I like to be on the road. I spread the message of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society on the road, sign people up for different organisations, so I like touring.
Pennywise have always charted fairly well here in Australia. Do you think that shows how devoted the fans are here?
Yeah, the fans are very devoted here. The Pennywise lifestyle is very much the Australian lifestyle, partying, drinking, smoking, and just enjoying your life. I like Australia; it’s a very laid back, very friendly, surf country, it’s awesome.
You’re doing a few sideshows with Millencolin as well.
Yeah, there’s the one tonight, and the Melbourne show has actually sold out already. Are you looking forward to them?
Yeah, as long as my voice holds up. We just did a big European tour, and then I was home in LA for two days, and now I’m here. Being a singer kinda sucks because you’ve always got to worry about your voice. But if it blows out, whatever, I’ll just give the microphone to the crowd.
Will you do anything different at your headlining shows compared to what you will at Soundwave?
We have longer sets. At Soundave we only have 40 minute sets, when we’re headlining we get an hour and 15-20 minutes.
How do you decide these days what songs you are going to put in the set list?
They just kinda tell me what they want to do, what they’re feeling, but then I’ve got to learn them. We’re gonna do Land Down Under, and I’ve never done that before. The only problem with me is that I’ve got a lot of cheat sheets, there’s a lot of words dude, a lot of words, and it’s like “fuck, I can’t remember them haha.”
I think that’s about it here. What would you like to say to the rest of the fans who are yet to see you at Soundwave?
A lot of young people come to our shows, and there’s a lot of need in this world to get busy and get your hands dirty with environmental or political and social organisations, there’s a lot of need out there man. This world is going crazy. What I always push is the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, which a lot of people in Australia are big supporters of, there’s a boat coming into Hobart tomorrow. If you want to really get in and get your hands dirty, and do something for a good cause, I’ve personally been pushing Sea Shepherd since 1989, you can go get on the boats and work on them, and go see amazing things, www.seashepherd.org, check them out.
Alright then, thank you.