Clever Stephen King fans may well recognize that the clown in the novel, "It" is where the band members of Pennywise found their name. They formed the punk rock band back in 1988 and the name fit well and had a dark and sinister undertone at the same time. Somehow, this looks very apropos especially when considering the wild nature and offbeat humor exhibited by this group of performers.
In 1991, they released a debut album that was named for the group, and they released one album biannually after that until 2005. All of these releases were with Epitaph Records. With "Reason to Believe", their album that came out in 2007 the group has a total of 9 studio recorded albums, one album that was recorded live, a DVD release and 2 Extended Play selections to their credit. Much to the delight of their fans the 2008 album was sent out free online thanks to a collaborative arrangement with Textango and MySpace. Fans could still purchase the album in Europe or the US.
The present band members have been in place for almost 13 years and they include:
Jim Lindberg (vocals)
Fletcher Dragge (guitars)
Randy Bradbury (bass)
Byron McMackin (drums)
Except for Bradbury, this was also the original lineup from 1988. In 1996, the bassist for the group, Jason Thirsk, committed suicide and this was when Ray Bradbury was brought in to take over on bass guitar.
The four young band members had all played in different bands found around Hermosa Beach in California. Once they found each other, they realized that they had the ability to excel at creating great music with a unique flavor and style. In just two years, they went from mere performers to a signed recording act and a year later, they were releasing "Pennywise" which was the album that gained them good visibility among members of the punk community across the nation. The songs had lyrics that encaged positive attitudes and progressive ideas for members of Generation X.
Their main vocalist, Lindberg, left the group for a short time after that debut album but he was back with the gang in 1992. This was just in time to record their second studio album, "Unknown Road" which would be released in 1993. This second release would make the group a strong reputation in the world of punk music. In 1995, some punk style bands were going mainstream but Pennywise preferred to stay away from the lure of the major labels. There was really no need for them to move away from Epitaph because their Pennywise merchandise and music were all selling well. To prove the point the group made another album, "About Time" in 1995 and it became another success for them.
In 1996, Thirsk was trying to overcome his alcoholism, but he ended up taking his own life. When bassist, Bradbury joined the band the group recorded "Full Circle" in 1997 and "Straight Ahead" in 1999. Their live album in 2000 was entitled, "Live at the Key Club", then "Land of the Free?" followed in 2001, and "From the Ashes" was released in 2003. The DVD created by Pennywise was called "Home Movies" and was thought out in 2004, although it had first been released in 1995. There is a Steve Martin film called " 45 Revolutions "which features a little of the group. In 2005, the band created an 8th album with the title, "The Fuse". It was released first to the European market and then to the US.
Fans can prepare to see Pennywise onstage when they perform at the spring Jagermeister Music Tour. They will be performing along with Pepper, a reggae rock group. This will be the perfect time for diehard fans to cheer in person once more for this independent minded group of musicians.