Surfrider welcomes Jim Lindberg

Courtesy Surfrider Foundation

Pennywise frontman Jim Lindberg has re-joined his beloved band of bros and signed on to the Surfrider Foundation board of directors.

We all know the environmentalist stereotype: the granola in hemp sandals, the bearded Surfrider guy at the protest in a hat made out of recycled fanny packs, the really nice lady whose car is full of trash she picks up everywhere. If it weren't for these people, you probably couldn't even go in the ocean without your skin melting off.

But there's a new figure getting in the Surfrider boat -- and he doesn't wear those shoes that claim to not be shoes. He's Jim Lindberg from Pennywise. He listens to Black Flag and The Ramones, has a studded belt and just joined the Surfrider Foundation's board of directors.

Between Taylor Steele videos, the Warped Tour and video-game soundtracks, Pennywise simply became the confluence of the Southern California skate/surf/punk/snow scenes. In 2009, Lindberg left Pennywise after 18 years and nine records. His book, "Punk Rock Dad," and film documentary, "The Other F Word," laid bare his reasons for quitting.

While Pennywise continued on with singer Zoli Téglás from Ignite, Lindberg fronted a band called The Black Pacific. But now the original frontman is back and has also taken a new position with Surfrider.

Courtesy Surfrider Foundation

Lindberg grew up surfing LA's South Bay and has been supporting Surfrider through fundraising and PSAs for a decade.

Really, it's not a terribly far stretch. Say what you will about the commercialism of punk, but hardcore music shares many of the same themes of environmentalism and social issues that came out of the flower-children generation. And Lindberg has been doing public-service announcements and fundraising for Surfrider since the mid-'90s. He was basically wondering when they would ask him to join.

"I grew up surfing here in the South Bay. I know there are surfers in Oregon or Chicago that claim to be the most hardcore, but I think this area of LA has the most hardcore surfers when you consider the small waves and pollution," he says.

"And even as a kid, I got really angry when people dumped trash into the ocean. One of the biggest problems we have is street runoff. When we get waves, a lot of the time that's associated with a rainstorm. So we're in the water when it's the most polluted. I'm really interested in pushing for more water testing. And it's not cheap. It's important, first of all, for us to know when we might get sick and pinpoint what's causing it."

Lindberg also notes that at recent meetings the East Coast has come up, specifically areas devastated by Superstorm Sandy. The controversial Sandy relief package passed by the Senate includes $5.35 million in funds directly for the Army Corps of Engineers to fill and re-engineer beaches. This, particularly in New Jersey, has led to loss of sandbars and key surf spots that take anywhere from a year to a decade to come back.

Speaking generally of the nonprofit, Lindberg notes that people have taken some shots at Surfrider in the past few years. But he stands by the organization, saying that they are surfers first and foremost and approach every situation in a pragmatic way.

He's also happy to be back with Pennywise. This looks to be more than just a quick reunion. Lindberg said it required a long talk between him and guitarist Fletcher Dragge, whom he has not-so-subtlety hinted was the catalyst for the band's past disharmony.

"Fletcher's used to getting his way simply because of his stature," explains Lindberg.

Courtesy Surfrider Foundation

Lindberg belts out a bro hymn for a packed crowd.

He seems to think they have come to an understanding about the band and life on the road. He also confirmed the story of Téglás calling him and asking him to please come back to the band to re-replace him.

"I see a real change now simply because I'm not the only one with kids anymore," says Lindberg. "Byron [McMakin, Pennywise's drummer] has a 1-year-old and he's made a 180-degree change."

Pennywise will still pack mega-venues in the U.S., Australia and Europe, likely with fans eager to see the return of Lindberg. But Lindberg is realistic about the fact that Pennywise is no longer the house band of the surf world.

"I think it goes in cycles. In the '50s surfers listened to the 'Surfin' Safari' stuff. Then came The Beach Boys, then came the hippie music. In the '70s things got a little harder with [Led] Zeppelin. In the '80s everything was neon, so you had new wave and the beginning of punk. Then in the '90s you had guys like Kelly Slater and Tony Hawk just taking everything to the air. And that's where punk blew up. It wasn't just Pennywise, but Bad Religion, the Offspring, Unwritten Law, the Bouncing Souls and even Blink-182," he remembers. "But people can't listen to fast music all the time. I think it ran its course, and about 10 years ago it went back to the mellow stuff; Jack Johnson was huge. Now I think if you go down the beach, you'll find people listening to every kind of music in their headphones. Some are listening to punk. I try not to be that old guy, saying it was better when everyone listened to a certain kind of music."

Lindberg is also eager to get some time in the water.

"I'm due for a trip to Micronesia or the Mentawais," he says. "All my friends do these great trips and I see their photos while I'm in downtown St. Louis [Mo.]. I have seen the downtown of every city in the U.S. and Europe. I'm ready to see a few tropical islands."

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