In August 2009, Pennywise's long-time front man, Jim Lindberg, announced he was leaving the band after some 20-plus years. It didn't take long, however, for Lindberg to refocus his energy and, with a renewed sense of optimism, begin work on his new project, The Black Pacific. After subtly revealing their presence on MySpace and through their own website in late June 2010, Lindberg reached out to Punknews to offer up a look inside The Black Pacific and what the band has in store. Punknews interviewer Sean Jain was fortunate enough to answer the call and spoke with Lindberg about The Black Pacific, his new bandmates, the song writing process, and his departure from Pennywise.
So Jim, obviously youâve got a new band, introduce us to your membersâ¦who is The Black Pacific?
Well I hooked up with Alan Vega who is the drummer for Good Guys In BlackâI met him on the Warped Tourâand I knew I just wanted to get started right awayâ¦Iâve been waiting a long time to do this and Iâd just gotten along with Alan really well and I knew he was a great drummer. I sent him a track and he sent it back and I was just blown away with the way the guy drumsâheâs really powerful and just super solid. We got together and it started clicking unbelievably, we work really well together. Then I got Davey on bassâDavey Latterâheâs been in bands for a long time, he was in a band called Stanford Prison Experiment and Earlimart and, he also drums for the band Everest. Heâs been in a lot of really cool bands and heâs just a great guy, weâve been friends probably since right around high school. Itâs great to have a really close friend in the band as well.
Right now weâve got just the power trioâwe recorded the album that way. I did all the guitars and Shaun from Far produced the record, he played a little bit just to make it cleaner, but weâre probably going to add a guitar player. Weâre talking to some people right now for playing live, but yeah weâve got just us three together and its working really well so it has been really fun and Iâve got a really great group of guys behind me and thereâs no attitudes which makes it really easy to work with. Itâs awesome.
Cool, do you think that when you guys add that second guitar player youâre going to fall back to singing or are you going to be playing guitar as well?
Itâs funny, I definitely want to play guitar on stage, I really have fun doing it and Iâve never been allowed to do that in my old band so I really want to play live, but itâs funny, Joe from SideOne was like, "Man I want to see the Jimmy that I know with the hat on and the sunglass and the finger pointing," (laughs)â¦so he told me he didnât want me to do it all the time (laughs). We were just kind of laughing about that but yeah, Iâll definitely strap on a guitar for some shows, I really like playing and Iâve never done it live so itâll be fun.
So when you initially thought about starting The Black Pacific you immediately went to Alan and Daveyâ¦you didnât, sort of, "try out" anybodyâ¦it was just automatic to go to those guys?
It really was, it was just kind of one of those things. When I met Alan on the road we just really hit it off as friends you know? He was a cool cat, we talked a lot and he said that he produced a lot of the Good Guys In Black record and did a lot of the drum stuff for it, and when I heard him play on this one track that I sent him, it was just like, amazing. When weâve played live and Iâve had people come to practice everyoneâs just blown away by him, theyâre like, "That guyâs insane," and when Joe heard the demo the first time he said, "I hope you still have that drummer." Heâs been great and has just been super solid, he came to the studio every day and he and I worked on a lot of stuff togetherâand Daveyâs been awesome as well. You know, it was tough to leave the band Iâd been in for a long time but I really didnât have time to dwell on it, as soon as I made the decision it was all about just getting back in there and playing and I was so happy with the new band right away that it made it easy.
Is there a cool story behind the name The Black Pacific?
I think so. Basically I grew up at the beach here in Southern Californiaâin Hermosa Beachâand the Pacific has always represented a big part of my life. Iâve had a view of the ocean every day, and it was a big part of my upbringing. I feel like that represents a really happy memory of my childhood, but itâs also an acknowledgement that thereâs also a dark side to everything. The Pacific means, "peaceful," the wide expanse of the Pacific, but then thereâs always the deep dark things in your subconscious you know, all the monsters from the deepâthe fears that kind of drive people.
Also, in another way, you can think of, "the black pacific" as meaning death in the sense that, thatâs what a lot of people are scared of and once you overcome that fear it frees you up to live a better life and so, "the black pacific" means that sort of dark, peaceful state that weâre all heading towards, so itâs kind of morbid in that sense, but itâs meant to be inspiring as well.
Cool, so its like a juxtaposition of a negative idea with the word Pacificâwhich people often think of as beautifulâa juxtaposition of those two ideas.
And you know, thatâs Yin and Yang, and thatâs an enormous concept that, when you come to a certain acceptance that the world isnât perfect, and that, in order for there to be good things, happiness, and love, there has to be its opposite. Thatâs an understanding that everyone has to come to at some point in their life. Thatâs the whole really, "deep" answer to that, otherwise itâs just a cool name (laughs).
Was this band something you started working on immediately after you announced your departure from Pennywise or was it something that slowly came about as a result of, for lack of better expression, "cabin fever"?
You know, I write all the time. I pick up the guitar every day and try and write something and Iâve been doing that for years and years and years, and so I always had a ton of music. Iâd bring it to Pennywiseâwhen weâd record Iâd bring in like 40 or 50 songs and so I just had material and I always knew that if it got to the point that if it didnât work out with Pennywise for whatever reason, that I would always want to keep playing music. So once the final decision was made I called Alan and got to work that same week.
So are you sort of the chief song-writer and lyricist at this point?
I am right now, some of the songs Iâve had forâlike three of the songs for the record Iâve had for like 10 years and then I wrote a bunch more and the guys really liked them. On the next batch of songs, if any of the guys want to contribute, music or lyrics, Iâd be more than open to it, but they were really helpful in bringing the songs out as well, I brought them in somewhat finished, but Alan definitely interpreted them the way he heard them. A lot of times I would just bring in the riff and heâd start going off to it and it was like he could almost read my mind on what I wanted, heâs that good.
Cool, you mentioned three songs that youâve had for 10 years, which songs are those?
Those were "Kill Your Idols," "No Purpose," and "Time Is Not The Reason." Iâve had those for a while.
And the cool thing is, Iâve got another batch of songsâIâm almost just, I want to go in and record this next batch of songs âcause like, I definitely knew that there would be some people interested in the direction I was going to take, but I really feel like this album is the bridge to whatâs coming next. Weâre just kind of getting startedâthe bandâs just getting started so Iâm definitely excited about recording more.
When did you guys start recording the album?
It wasnât until, I believe, February. Iâd been talking to Shaun Lopez, the guitar player for Far whoâs a great producer, heâs worked with The Deftones, Giant Drag, and other bands, and I heard an album he did for this young band and he made them sound so good that I kind of sought him out and I just hit him up and he said heâd love to do it. He came down to a few practices and it was really really great working with him, Iâm a huge fan of his band Far, and heâs a great songwriter, but most importantly, he gets an insane guitar soundâitâs so thick and I always wanted that type of guitar sound so that was cool, and he was a great producer in the sense that, heâs really good at mixing sounds and using vintage gearâa lot of vintage stomp boxes, a lot of vintage amps, and at the same time it was finally cool to have a new situation where I could almost call the shots myself and do things my way. Before, it was more of a consensusâa lot of the time we recorded in Fletcherâs studio, so a lot of it, whether it was guitar tonesâI wasnât really even involved in that, and I always knew what I liked and how I wanted my record to sound. I definitely wanted more bass and I think this album is a lot more bass-heavy. I think the first thing you hear is like,, "Wow, itâs got a really heavy bottom," and thatâs the sound that Iâve been waiting to get for a long time.
Yeah I noticed that, so based on that, it seems like this might have been a radically different recording experience compared with what youâd previously done with Pennywise, in terms of what it was like in the studio.
Couldnât have been more different, thereâs no question that about that. Fletcher and I butted heads a lot. We both felt very strongly about Pennywise and how it should sound, how the band should be run and so, it was kind of like two brothers trying to run a company togetherâwe fought a lot. It just made it so the last album, I honestly knew that I would probably never do it again because I just had such an unhappy time in the studio. I love recording and I love writing music and itâs really frustrating when it doesnât go well because thatâs kind of like, what I live forâI love going in there and hearing the songs develop and I get a lot of enjoyment out of that process, and when itâs the opposite of that it just kills your spirit and when we had similar conflicts it made me realize that I had too much respect for the band to continue doing it when I wasnât happy and thatâs basically whatâif anyone asks me what happenedâI was unhappy doing it so it was time to move on for me.
Fair enough, do you find that nowadays you prefer more of the studio experience of being in a band or the touring aspect?
Well Iâm really looking forward to touring with this bandâI love playing shows. The other thing is, itâs all brand new now and thatâs something thatâs really refreshing when youâve been doing it as long as I have, itâs like, it feels like Iâm just starting over and thatâs exciting. Itâs tough for bands that have been around for a long timeâit was really hard for our band because there was such a prescribed idea of how we had to sound and what we could do because it was Pennywise and it was very important to us to please our fans and do things the right way. Now, itâs like starting over so I can go in with a better attitude and thatâs important.
So on this album do you have any favorite tracks in particular?
Yeah, probably song two, "When Itâs Over," just for the fact that, I think when people hear the first song, "The System," theyâre like, "Okay, thatâs Jimâs voice and the same sort of guitarâ¦heâs just doing more Pennywise," but I think that when you hear track two you canât say that, and then later on there are other songs where itâs likeâI think there are three songs that I did in drop D tuning, so I really tried to mix it up a little bit and thereâs one song that has kind of a Clash vibeâthatâs what I look forward to on the next recordâIâm going to experiment even more, not the type of experimenting that a lot bands talk about where that means theyâre going to put out a really weird, freaky, stupid album (laughs), I mean the type of experimenting where I want to pull in some of the influence of bands that I really like, bands like Pegboy and JawbreakerâIâm a big fan of like, power-pop and stuff like that, Iâm just excited about that prospect.
Coolâ¦so as I understand it, your first show is going to be at Epicenter 2010?
Yeah, thatâs a pretty strange first show for a band, it just kind of came along and Iâm like, "Well our first showâs gonna be with Kiss and Eminem, thatâs weird," (laughs) but Iâm sure weâre probably going to play a show locally kind of just to debut the band for people in L.A. and Hermosa Beach and the South Bay. Thatâs what Iâm really looking forward to âcause I know what it sounds like when weâre practicing and I just really want to construct a show thatâs going to blow people away, and I already have it in my head how I want it to go from top to bottom. Thatâs been another thing as well, when it came to my last band it was difficult because there was things about the live show that bothered me but I couldnât really change because it was such a situation where, you know, once youâve been in a band that long it gets harder to communicate those type of things âcause everyone gets kind of frustrated that they donât want to hurt anyoneâs feelings or start a big fight over something, so everyone just kind of sits there and deals with things they donât like and thatâs kind of the hard part. Now itâs likeâitâs not a situation where Iâm kind of like the over-boss of this band, I think the other guys have enough respect for me to say, "Hey, you know, Iâve got some ideas I want to try out," and if thereâs something that they donât like they can definitely say, you know, "That sucks," and, "I donât like that," thereâs definitely that freedom, but I just have an idea of how I want the live show to go and how I want the band to sound and be presented.
So are you guys in the process of booking some tours after Epicenter?
Yeah weâre working with our booking agentâweâre looking at various things, thereâs an opportunity to do a Europe tour, but Iâd really like to hook up with some cool bands, Iâd like to grab a similar band or just bands I really like touring with and go out there and get some cool club shows. I think that would be a lot of fun to just get out on the road again and let people hear the new band for the first timeâI think people are going to be really surprised and plus, I want to make it an entertaining evening, weâll play the whole record, but I definitely want to do some cool cover songs and make it a fun night for everybody.
The last record you did with Pennywise, you released it for free via MySpace. After that experience, why did you elect to go back to a label?
Itâs funny, in this day and age itâs almost like youâre doing that anywayâstuff gets put on the internet so quickly, but basically the thing with MySpace was a situation where it just kind of popped up and the label was into trying thatâ¦and at that point I think for us it was just kind of like desperation, time to try anything new at all because itâs really hard when youâve been doing it as long as we had to get excited about something. Itâs like, "Alright hereâs another album, another tour, whatâs going to be different about this," and other bands were trying that way of releasing stuff as well. Iâll probably end up doing something similar again, but Iâve always wanted to be on Joeâs label. I think SideOneDummyâs just an insanely cool labelâreally really great people working there and they get it, theyâre doing it for the right reasons. Everyone is super fired up there, theyâve got great bands, The Gaslight Anthem, The Casualties, 7 Seconds, all these great people and the vibe there is insanely positive and itâs a very eclectic label as well, theyâve got all kinds of music on there but they donât have any music thatâs inauthentic. Iâd have trouble being on certain labels these days.
Lyrically, on this record it seems as though youâre in a better place than you were on the last Pennywise album, for example, on the song, "Time Is Not The Reason" you say, "Iâve got something to believe in," whereas on, for example, "Reason To Believe," you sang, "Give me something to live for." Is that because of this new band or are there other factors in your life making you feel that way?
I think so, without putting me on the therapistâs couch, I kind of looked over the time spent with Pennywise and I realized that I probably never really recovered that well from when Jason passed away and I really kind of just felt depressed a lot of the time. It was kind of like this thing underneath it all that I was probably trying to push away, but the truth is, I probably wasnât that fun to be around so thereâs a point where, when we were touring, I just kind of disengaged myself somewhat and it was just because there was this terrible tragedy. For people hearing, "Bro Hymn," for them it was like this great song about brotherhood and thatâs how it was for me as well, but it alsoâto go up every night and play that song it was just a daily reminder of everything that had happened and itâs a very emotional thing for everyone involved. The other thing is that I started a family the same year that that happenedâI had my first kid the same time it happened so I really didnât have time to process it, so my life just became, for the next 10 years after that, really happy with my new familyâmy wife and kidsâand yet there was still this underlying sadness with what happened with Pennywise, and its like, I have so much respect for the guys in the band and in everything that we did but I didnât want to sully it any further. I just felt like it wasnât working for me in certain ways and I had to make the change for my family and myself. Now, I feel like I made the right decision and thereâs definitely a renewed optimism that Iâve been waiting to have and I think that that shows in the music.
Have you played the album to your kids, do they like it, can they the comprehend it?
(laughs) Yeah, my oldest daughter is 13 so Iâm very happy that theyâre into like, the type of music that people their age should be into I guess (laughs)â¦they like their style of music, they like really fun music and thatâs greatâtheyâre not into punk rock that muchâthey like the popular stuff like Paramore and Green Day, stuff like that, but they definitely like the music, my wife plays it in the car a lotâshe likes to listen to it so I heard my daughter singing it they other day, so they like it a lot, but theyâre into the stuff that girls in junior high should be into.
Right, well I guess thatâs kind of a relief in some ways.
It is somewhatâ¦I wouldnât mind at all if they came home and were listening to The Clash or anything like that, and Iâve definitely turned them on to music that I like and the stuff that inspired me, but some of the angrier, deeper music, I think itâs better they wait for stuff like that.
Cool, well Jim, thanks for doing this, any last thoughts or ruminations?
Well I hope everyone likes the new record and weâre looking forward to getting out there!