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Pennywise Ain’t No Laughing Clown – the History, Sound, and Influence of the Band

Facts About the Punk Rock Band from Hermosa Beach, California – Pennywise

Let’s get this out of the way – yes, Pennywise the band is named after Pennywise the clown from the classic Stephen King novel It. Now that you know – please understand the band itself deserves the same recognition as a clown everyone hates. Known for their energetic, catchy sound while taking on social and political issues, Pennywise is one of the best punk rock bands from the late 1980s and early 90s. They’ve released numerous successful albums like Full CircleAbout Time, and Straight Ahead. Their performances are legendary leaving little to question why so many flock to see them any chance they get. Lucky for us, they are still touring and remain influential in the current punk rock scene. 

History of Pennywise

To fill you in, Pennywise was formed in 1988 in Hermosa Beach, California. From the start, you had Jim Lindberg (vocals), Fletcher Dragge (guitar), Byron McMackin (drums), and Jason Thirsk (bass). Pennywise quickly gained popularity in the Southern California punk scene. Everyone wanted a piece of their fast-paced songs with socially conscious lyrics. By 1990, the band signed to Epitaph Records and released their self-titled debut album featuring iconic tracks like “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” and “Living for Today” in 1991. Beyond the music, their positive mental attitude (a mindset shared by H.R. of Bad Brains) resonated with Generation X who embraced the idea and band with open arms. 

Unknown Road drops in 1993, a hit within the underground establishing the band’s place in the punk rock community. At this time, Pennywise would begin to tour the globe spreading their positive mindset and growing their fan base.

Pennywise’s first album to chart on the Billboard 200 would be About Time released in 1995. Unfortunately, it would be the last album for bass player Jason Thirsk. The man, myth, and legend passed away in 1996. At the time, he was trying to beat his alcoholism with some success until he relapsed and dies of a self-inflicted wound. 

Thirsk’s death deeply impacted the band, but they decided to carry on, recruiting Randy Bradbury as the new bassist. Their next album, Full Circle, released in 1997, became one of their most successful albums, featuring the hit single “Bro Hymn Tribute,” which has become an anthem for the band and their fans. The album is filled with anti-suicidal messages and dedicated to Thirsk.

Over the years, Pennywise would release eight studio albums after Full Circle including Straight AheadLand of the Free?, and From the Ashes. With an outstanding discography of killer songs, their live performances have become legendary due to the passion on stage and the crowd singing along.

These days, the lineup includes Jim Lindberg (vocals), Fletcher Dragge (guitar), Randy Bradbury (bass), and Byron McMackin (drums) who are still touring, doing their thing. I left a video below of one of their shows. And you can check out their website for current tour dates –

Sound of Pennywise

The music of Pennywise draws influences from skate punk and melodic hardcore, with catchy melodies and powerful guitar riffs. Their sound is often characterized by fast and aggressive drumming, driving basslines, and abrasive guitar tones. Their songs often feature politically charged lyrics that tackle social issues such as inequality, personal struggles, and the importance of standing up for what you believe in. If you want aggression and catchy hooks, Pennywise is the band for you.

Influence of Pennywise

Many bands have cited Pennywise as a major influence. You can hear it in the aggressive guitar riffs, fast-paced drumming, and heartfelt vocals of bands that have followed in their footsteps like Blink-182, New Found Glory, Brand New, and The Used. Pennywise’s dedication to maintaining their punk rock authenticity and their relentless touring have also served as an inspiration for up-and-coming bands.

Pennywise’s influence extends beyond the punk rock scene, as their music and message have reached listeners from various backgrounds and musical tastes. Their music encourages individuals to question the status quo and take a stand for what they believe in.

Just like a punk band should.

Live Concert

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