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Losing their legendary and influential frontman Jim Lindberg was something neither Pennywise nor their diehard fan-base ever wanted to see happen, according to bassist Randy Bradbury…

Losing their legendary and influential frontman Jim Lindberg was something neither Pennywise nor their diehard fan-base ever wanted to see happen, according to bassist Randy Bradbury… But when, in 2009, the vocalist called it quits due to loss of interest in continuing on with the Californian punk rockers, the rest of the band also saw a new opportunity within the unfortunate tragedy. Enter new singer Zoli Teglas and a return to Pennywise circa 1993 – the way we wished they’d always stay.

"Obviously, the last thing we ever wanted to happen was for Jim to leave," states Bradbury. "He was a huge part of the band; he really was the face of the band. But a huge part of the band is also our dedication and desire to make music, which was something that Jim eventually lost.

"We’ve always had a huge fan-base who have been supportive of us," he adds, "including during this tragedy of losing Jim, so we refused to give up when he left.

"It was just getting stagnant because Jim wasn’t happy anymore and he didn’t have that invigorating attitude anymore. He didn’t really want to go on long tours anymore – anything longer than a week, he wasn’t up for anymore. Jim’s voice also changed over the years, it got deeper… so when Zoli showed interest in taking over, we were real excited."

Bradbury, in particular, was super stoked when Teglas joined the fold. According to the bassist, for the last decade it was the band’s wish to return to a sound that made Pennywise famous with the 1993 release Unknown Road something that Lindberg was not so keen on, however. With Teglas now onboard, and with a tenth album currently underway, Bradbury claims that, 18 years later, Pennywise are finally going back to their roots. The bassist, for one, is over the moon about it, and according to Bradbury, the fans are just as overjoyed with the news.

"When we put out our first [self-titled] and second album, Jim was a young man and he had a higher-sounding voice, and Zoli is more like that," Bradbury explains. "So out of this tragedy of losing Jim, we’ve also been extremely lucky with the fact that we not only get to carry on doing what we love to do, but we get the chance to go back to the kind of sound we used to have.

"It’s taken some adjusting for everybody, for sure," he adds. "When I would usually write songs, I’d think of how Jim would be singing them, so that’s something that I’ve had to change. Zoli’s got the higher-pitched voice like how Jim used to, but at the same time, his voice is quite different to Jim’s. Nobody really wants to have a Jim impersonator up there anyway, but the energy that Zoli brings is a real positive energy that Jim used to have."

Hardcore Pennywise fans around the world have also been quite quick to accept Teglas, according to Bradbury, who claims he was a little surprised and had expected some backlash from the band’s long-time followers.

"So many people have grown up with this band," he explains. "Having a singer as influential as Jim, someone who has been such an important part of the band as he was – you just automatically expect there’s going to be resistance from fans to any changes. I know of people out there who are just Jim fans more than Pennywise fans!" he laughs.

"But the way I see it is that every member of this band should be equally as important because we’ve all been a part of creating this. Yeah, there have been a few people who are bummed out about Jim, but luckily – now that we’ve already done four or five tours in the US and Europe with Zoli – I’ve not seen one negative thing."

For Bradbury, the mere fact that full-fledged, extensive tours of Europe and the US have even happened in the last couple of years has been one massive positive change since Lindberg’s departure from the band. With a new and much more enthusiastic singer fronting the band, Bradbury claims Pennywise have recently been touring in countries never before visited by the band… It’s also meant a long-overdue and much-anticipated return to Australia after a long absence.

"We’ve been to places like Croatia, Poland and Argentina," lists Bradbury. "I just wish we hadn’t waited so long to go to those countries because, even though we knew we had a big fan-base, you just never really know to what extent until you visit places like that! Jim never wanted to tour, he was just so over it. Having Zoli is an opportunity to play to fans that we never even knew we had.

‘We had a show in Germany where we had fans who said they drove all the way from Croatia just to see us at one point – well, that’s not gonna have to happen anymore because we plan to go to those smaller places too. Coming back to Australia is another bonus, because we’ve been coming since back in 1995. I don’t remember a whole lot [of that tour] – maybe it’s because of all the booze – but I know it’s such a similar lifestyle. I remember surfing and skating and the laidback vibe – it’s so similar to southern California. I’ve always said that California should be a different country in its own right because it’s so different from the rest of the ‘States."

Pre-production and recording awaits the band after their upcoming Australian visit, according to Bradbury. With producer Cameron Webb on standby and a pumped and ready new singer in Teglas, the new Pennywise album is set to be the highlight of the band’s year.

"We’ve got tons of songs," announces Bradbury. "I feel like we’ve got that many good songs that it really doesn’t even matter which ones we decide to put on the album because they’re all awesome. It’s very reminiscent of Unknown Road, it’s very much going back to that. Zoli can’t wait, we can’t wait, the fans can’t wait."

PENNYWISE play SOUNDWAVE at the Melbourne Showgrounds on Friday March 4 alongside Iron Maiden, One Day As A Lion, Queens Of The Stone Age, Primus, Slash, Social Distortion, Stone Sour and heaps more – it’s sold out. They also play a huge double-headed SIDEWAVE with Millencolin – as well as The Mad Caddies – at The Palace on Tuesday March 1 – which is also sold out. Damn – hope you got your stubs.