Cerritos College
Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

Cerritos College • Norwalk, Calif.

Talon Marks

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Pennywise’s guitarist tells all on WPMD

Courtsey of Josh Sribour
Pennywise stop to take a picture in the studio while they work on their new album. Guitarist Fletcher Dragge gave Cerritos College WPMD’s radioi show “Pancakes and Punks” an exclusive phone interview.

Listen to audio

Fletcher tells all

WPMD’s “Pancakes and Punk” played host to Pennywise guitarist Fletcher Dragge on Friday morning in a phone call that silenced the rumors regarding the band’s latest activity.

The event was originally scheduled to be an acoustic performance from the band, but due to the hospitalization of lead singer Zoli Teglas as well as other issues, Pennywise was forced to cancel its appearance.

However, this opened a window of opportunity for Dragge to tell the band’s side of the accounts of recent events, which include the departure of former frontman Jim Lindberg, the death of Jason Thirsk, the band’s bassist and a recent incident involving Dragge and an emo-genre band at the 2010 Vans Warped Tour.

Lindberg’s departure

The bulk of Dragge’s interview focused mostly on Lindberg’s choice to leave Pennywise in August 2009, in which he explained his disagreement with Lindberg’s decision.

Dragge mentions that the reason Lindberg departed was because he wanted to spend more time with his family, but Dragge questioned the integrity behind Lindberg’s reasoning due to the numerous accommodations that the band was willing to make for him.

Before Lindberg even made the announcement of his departure, he had already made plans in advance with his manager to quit the group and begin a separate project.

“We sat down with him, and the truth is, he really wanted to work on other projects,” Dragge said, “We came back with an offer. We said, ‘okay, you know what? We totally understand that. We’ll pay for a nanny for you, keep the tours at two weeks and take extra days off to rest your voice.’

“We rolled out the red carpet, and that wasn’t good enough,” Dragge added.

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Dragge also states that Lindberg was not willing to cooperate with the band by claiming that the only way he would remain in the band was if the band conformed to his demands, to which Dragge refused.

“Basically, he said, ‘If you guys don’t want to tour and you want to do it when, how and where I want to, then we can talk about it,’ and we said, ‘No, we’re not going to talk about it anymore. We’ve been doing that, and we’ve been pissed off about it for 15 years.’ “We’re done with that. We want to step up to the plate and do what we think is right.

“He planned on quitting the band, no matter what. It didn’t matter what we did.”

Dragge also mentions that the day after he quit the group, Lindberg returned to the studio to record new songs, which turned out to be, “note for note, one of our [Pennywise’s] songs.”

Incident on the Warped Tour

In the interview, Dragge also shared his experience on the 2010 Vans Warped Tour.

Dragge tells how one night, after leaving a bar in Denver, Colorado, he and bassist Randy Bradbury found an RV which they thought belonged to Reverend J. Peyton of the Big Damn Band and decided to pay him a visit.

Shortly after entering the bus, Bradbury realized that it did not belong to who they thought it did.

Dragge says, “We jump on the van, we sit around, and Randy looks around and says, ‘There’s no one on here, I don’t think this is the Rev’s bus.'”

Moments later, an unidentified individual enters the RV and questions Dragge and Bradbury.

Rather than leaving to end the situation, Dragge decided to “have a little fun” with the individual.

“I’m not going to tell them who I am because it would spoil the moment, so I said, ‘let me just make a sandwich really quickly and then we’ll split,'” he said.

The individual left the RV and re-entered with more members of Alesana, the band whose RV belonged to.

This led to a larger altercation between Dragge, Bradbury and the agitated band.

“The rest of the band came in there, I think my sandwich got swatted out of my hand and Randy got grabbed trying to take him out of there,” Dragge said.

“I remember two dudes grabbing me by the hair from behind, trying to pull me out of the RV backwards and started to punch me in the head and it just got ugly from there,” he added.

Dragge describes the individuals as, “Average sized, 25 or 30-year-olds, all tatted up.”

The altercation turned into a brawl, which Dragge does not recall coming into contact with anyone.

However, Alesana’s tour manager claims to have been struck by Dragge at least four times.

Dragge then said that following the brawl, he chased everyone out of the RV with what he called for the sake of the interview, a “sandwich.”

Shortly after, Dragge decided to not make the incident worse and turned the “sandwich” over to the tour manager.

However, Bradbury decided to return to the RV and resume the altercation, which led to a confrontation with a police officer.

Dragge said, “I see this dark figure running up the stairs and I go rushing toward him and it happened to be a Denver police officer.

He already had the taser locked and loaded and blasted me point-blank in the chest, that stopped me dead in my tracks.”

Dragge and Bradbury were taken to the Denver police station, but Alesana did not press charges.

After the incident, Pennywise was removed from the Warped Tour.

Dragge mentioned that Pennywise will be performing with Alesana in Australia.

“We’ll probably buy them a beer and say, ‘you want some more?'” he said.

Jason Thirsk’s death

Dragge took time out of the interview to discuss his experiences with former bassist Thirsk.

One aspect that Dragge recalled was when the band was writing the song, “Bro Hymn.”

After hearing the song being played on the show, Dragge said, “I just got goosebumps hearing his voice. It had so much meaning back in the day.

“At parties, we would play that song and Jim [Lindberg] would play bass and Jason would sing it. When we first recorded our album, no one wanted to record that song but me.”

Dragge says that whenever the band rehearses with Thirsk’s younger brother, Justin, it delivers a strange feeling.

“When Justin sings [Bro Hymn] live or when he’s on the road with us, it’s brutal and it really chokes you up.

“What better way to celebrate someone’s life than having a song like that dedicated to him that we wrote and played every night? It’s an amazing thing.”

“Pancakes and Punk’s” reaction

“Pancakes and Punk” co-hosts Shawn Adams and Jason Tyler were enthralled with the interview with Dragge.

“The interview went great, it was actually pretty easy. I’m usually running the boards, but once we started the interview, he answered everything; We didn’t have to ask him very much,” Tyler said.

Tyler mentioned that Pennywise will be on “Pancakes and Punk” live in January to present the band’s new album, a release that will be heard on WPMD before any other mainstream radio station.

Adams simply described the experience as, “freaking awesome.”

Adams took the opportunity to announce the appearance of other bands that will be appearing on the show, such as Authority Zero.

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Pennywise’s guitarist tells all on WPMD