You know Jim Lindberg as a founder and lead singer of Pennywise (on and off and back on again) as well as the Black Pacific, the author of Punk Rock Dad and the main subject of the spin-off documentary The Other F Word. You know him less as a member of the international Surfrider Foundation's Board of Directors, which the 48-year-old joined in January. That association has produced a Nov. 15 benefit show for the San Clemente-based ocean-and beach-access protecting nonprofit at a small club in Lindberg's hometown of Hermosa Beach.
We'll leave it to the longhairs in the Weekly's tripping music department to cover Lindberg's sonic contributions. We here on the no nonsense newsy Navel Gazing side chatted hum up about his clean-ocean contributions, although it's clear his career, activism and fatherhood are intertwined.
1. What does a Surfrider board member do?
[Chuckles] More than you think. I'd been involved with Surfrider a long time before becoming a member of the board. I've always been concerned about the ocean and stuff, and I think it took them awhile to ask me to be on the board. The biggest requirement is attending quarterly board meetings, where we advise the staff of Surfrider and consult with them on various projects. It involves all facets of how they run and work. This year, there is really an interesting group of people on the board, and we've got a lot done. Like this benefit. I think them asking me to be on the board was to just try to get more musicians, entertainers and actors involved. I thought this benefit would be a good idea to start.
2. So you don't mind them using you?
[Laughs] Not at all, I kind of knew that was part of the territory. The South Bay of LA has so many issues concerning us as people who love the beach and ocean. I was always part of their soundtracks for Surfrider [Writer's note: the M.O.M. albums], and I've done PSAs as well and other benefit concerts. There is a lot going on in Hermosa Beach. That's why [benefit venue] Saint Rocke got involved. It's a full-time job getting ready for this thing.
3. But does organizing a, for lack of a better word, charity show bring more fulfillment than organizing one that's just about making money for the band?
Yeah, because I know it's a good cause, a cause that I care about. But it's still a lot of work. Basically. we're trying to get a lot of people who want to see Pennywise into a 300-seat place. We probably should have done this at a bigger place. But it's great to do this in my hometown, Hermosa Beach. There are a lot of locals and businesses that want to help out, like Vans, which started out here in the South Bay, Volkswagen, and a lot of great surf companies. We'll have an auction; we hired a professional auctioneer to auction off trips to Cabo, wetsuits, one-of-a-kind artwork. We're kind of trying to get auction items at all different levels. It takes a lot of work, it's not always easy, but the ocean keeps you motivated.
4. As a famous punk rock dad, fatherhood must have played a part in why you are doing this, to leave behind a clean ocean for your kids?
Yeah, exactly. Plus, being someone who grew up here, the water was extremely polluted. Some if not most of LA is surrounded by environmental polluters. The Hyperion sewer treatment plant during big storms used to dump raw sewage into the ocean, which was terrible for sea life. Now, there are a lot of protections that have been enacted, so the water is a lot better. I want to keep it that way.
This is not some abstract concept here in the South Bay; it's a huge issue because we have a company that wants to drill for oil in Hermosa Beach, one of most popular beach cities on the coast. It's a very contentious issue. We're raising money to fight an incredible battle. Surfrider has had some great victories, like Trestles, where they defeated the toll roads, and with beach access. Once I saw what was going on in my hometown with some very self-serving interests, I had to get involved. I want the ocean to be clean for several years to come. It's extremely important to protect it against people who are only in it for a buck.
But what I like about Surfrider is they are very thoughtful and try to take a stance where they are very understanding to the pressures people are under. They are not one of those entities that just can't see the other [side's] point of view. I totally believe in the leadership of Jim Moriarty [Surfrider's chief executive officer]. He's a surfer and an activist, but he's also a businessman. He and the entire staff: I've been impressed by them and everyone on the board.
5. This just hit me, duh: the band name the Black Pacific must be related to ocean pollution?
Pennywise is my band playing the benefit, but definitely that name was dragged out of an idea on a lot of different levels. When we formed [in 2010], the [Deepwater Horizon] gulf tragedy had happened, and I envisioned that type of thing here. Right now I am at my parent's house, which overlooks the nice, blue Pacific. I hate to see it threatened in any way. I can see it in my head, from when I grew up on the beach in Hermosa, and my parents worked 9-to-5 jobs in aerospace, I did a lot on the beach, surfing in the water and on the sand. I want to protect that. I don't want people who only look at the bottom line drilling for oil in this area. It's absolute greed.
6. The thing is, by the time people catch wind of stuff like that, it's already on the way to being approved, right?
I know, exactly, that kind of thing is gross. The problem is, it's very hard to get people involved and interested and attending meetings. A lot of people like to just sit around. We have to remind people it takes activism, it takes people letting their voices be heard or it will be assumed the people want it.
That's what this benefit is about. I joined the board because of the issues in Hermosa Beach. The writing was on the wall in the very beginning that this would be done. It took a few months, but it's finally happening. We'll have Shaun Tomson speaking. [The former world champion surfer out of South Africa and now Santa Barbara-based actor, environmentalist and businessman is known for his best-selling book Surfer's Code-12 simple lessons for riding through life.] I heard him speak at a house party, and it was very inspiring.
We'll play a bunch of old songs, most were unrecorded. It will be great for Pennywise fans who haven't heard us in awhile. We're also going to do a live webcast now through irocke.com, so a lot of people will be able to hear it. This is something very cool. When I joined the band the end of last year, in December, we kind of mapped out how it would go if I returned. This to me is something where our hearts are really in the right place, this type of activism the band is able to do. We did a big charity event at the LA Sports Arena years ago. It was one of our biggest shows ever. Doing something for Surfrider and the ocean is a way to get back to that as a band.
7. Early Pennywise was known for the positivity in some of the lyrics. But you came from the South Bay, which I associate with aggro punk music. And yet when I think of Surfrider, soul surfers come to mind. So how do you reconcile all that going on in your head?
[Laughs] That puts it perfectly: soul surfers or aggro skater/surfers. It is hard to reconcile. In surf culture, there are a lot of variations. You have very aggro people and you have the soul surfers and the Fleas; it takes all kinds. Especially in LA and parts of Huntington Beach, you have some pretty aggro surfers, and the music reflects that. We definitely came up in that scene. But I really responded a lot more to the positivity of Minor Threat, 7 Seconds, Dag Nasty and less so to the fights and creating chaos everywhere.
People have said there were other reasons, but when I left the band in the early '90s it was because it was too violent and absolutely ridiculous. It was the main reason; it was kind of out of control. For me, being positive and trying to bring positive change, I could not reconcile that for me. Once the music [scene] took a real change for the positive again, that's when I got back into it, and we went on to have a long career. Really, for me, pushing the positive through singing and writing and doing cool things with the band is a way to try to counter the forces that would take us in a different direction. I want to go in the righteous direction, like playing for a good cause we really believe in. If it's not about that and it's just about making money or getting songs on the radio, that's a pretty hollow prize.
Pennywise headlines a special Surfrider Foundation benefit dinner, concert and live auction with doors opening at 6 p.m. Nov. 15 at Saint Rocke in Hermosa Beach. Tickets are $50 to $500 (for the “Uber Fan Experience” that includes the opportunity to attend the sound check, hang out and snap photos with the band and get VIP access to dinner, cocktails and other related events). Whatever one pays, it includes a one-year Surfrider membership. Visit www.SaintRocke.com for more details.