Pennywise: too offensive for L.A.

Punk band Pennywise is known for its loud political music, but apparently, it was too controversial for one Southern California city.

The Hermosa Beach, Calif.-based skate punk band, one of more than 30 bands that will perform July 1 at the Vans Warped Tour show at Boreal Ski Area, was scheduled to perform a free concert June 19 for hundreds of fans in the parking lot of Tower Records on Los Angeles’ Sunset Boulevard. However, the city decided that the band’s song “Fuck Authority"—receiving heavy airplay on many of the nation’s alternative radio stations—was too offensive and could not be performed on their city streets. The song is the first single off the newly released album Land of the Free?

“We thought it was a gross form of censorship,” said Pennywise vocalist Jim Lindberg in a recent telephone interview. “They’re willing to let Ricky Martin and all the disco bands out there play their safe Republican music, but when it comes time for a band to play something that has something important to say, they want to quash it any way they can. So they moved us to an indoor venue where we wouldn’t soil the minds of the neighborhood.”

The band wrote the song to protest widespread government corruption and includes the lyrics: “I say fuck the silent majority … raised by the system, now it’s time to rise against them.”

Lindberg said he hoped the band’s music addressed the high level of apathy in the nation and that Pennywise is following in the tradition of progressive musicians such as Bob Dylan, U2, The Clash and Rage Against The Machine.

“Hopefully, we can inspire people in our peer group to begin to realize that the government process needs to be in the hands of the people—not in the [hands of the] people who are trying to go along with the wishes of corporate entities,” he said. “A lot of the best California punk rock music came from the Reagan era. … With [President George W.] Bush in office, you have a real resurgence in politically-minded bands.”

Other bands appearing with Pennywise at this year’s Warped Tour include 311, Rancid, Less Than Jake, The Vandals and The Ataris. The festival will also feature various skating, BMX and Moto Cross athletes. This will be the sixth Warped Tour since its conception in 1995, intended as “a summer camp on wheels, where extreme music, athletes and lifestyles could co-mingle and thrive.” The festival is said to be responsible for introducing bands such as No Doubt, Blink 182, Eminem, Papa Roach, Kid Rock and Limp Bizkit. The festival will also offer a chance to see Riverside, Calif.-based Alien Ant Farm, whose Reno tour date was cancelled earlier this year.

Lindberg said what distinguishes the Warped Tour from other concerts is that it doesn’t have rock star trappings, such as overbearing security guards and promoters.

"It’s really like a big traveling barbeque circus," he said. "If you have to tour, this is the way to do it, because there’s someone new to meet and to talk to and lots of trouble to get into."