Anyone who went to the first It’s Not Dead festival a couple of years ago surely remembers what a day of punk rock it was, and this Saturday figures to bring back all of that old school punk in San Bernardino once again. But where the first time through was all about the music, this year’s It’s Not Dead is introducing the Punks Well Read tent, which puts a spotlight on punk rock authors like Jim Lindberg of Pennywise and Jack Grisham of T.S.O.L.
“Some of the literary greats might roll over in their graves hearing that ‘90s skate punk bands are getting book deals, but why not?,” Lindberg says. “A lot of these people have lived much more interesting lives than someone who sat at a desk all day — there was definitely more beer involved. Punk rock and books don’t need to be mutually exclusive. If you can tell a story, you can write a book.”
As Lindberg sees it, some of his favorite books are music biographies (including The Nearest Faraway Place: Brian Wilson, the Beach Boys, and the Southern California Experience and Redemption Song: The Ballad of Joe Strummer) mainly because musicians tend to have better stories to tell than many other people. But while he’s always yearning to learn more about his favorite artists and their inspirations in books, the veteran vocalist is currently looking forward to another full-day music festival with some of his best friends. As far as he’s concerned, It’s Not Dead could really become the new (or old, depending on how you look at it) touring punk rock summer camp.
“I think it’s a great thing and we should take it on the road,” Lindberg says of It’s Not Dead. “I talked to a lot of fans — and a lot of bands — and there are a lot of people who want the old version of the Warped Tour back before screamo took over. The Warped Tour was amazing — and a pretty huge part of our lives — but I think you can do a scaled-down version where you’re not trying to play 100 cities in 102 days.
“It’s a great day of great music in the sun,” Lindberg continues. “There are so many festivals out there these days, but it didn’t always used to be this way. These kinds of festivals were going down in Europe for years, and it’s a great opportunity to see all kinds of bands in one day. My advice is to bring sunblock, wear light clothing, drink lots of water, and go fucking nuts.”
But this year will be a slightly different experience for Lindberg than most of the major punk rock festivals have been. Although he closed out the first It’s Not Dead with Pennywise, this year he’ll be bringing his other band to the show. With a distinctly different sound, Wraths may not appeal to all Pennywise fans (even if there’s bound to be plenty of crossover), but the group also gives Lindberg a chance to do things he wouldn’t be able to do with his iconic primary band.
“Wraths is a side project that just kind of developed out of nowhere,” Lindberg says. “We wrote some songs, put out an EP with Bird Attack Records, and have been having fun with it. Pennywise has been doing this kind of thing for nearly three decades, and I’ve had every kind of experience you can imagine at a music festival. With Wraths it’ll be different — we’ll probably be playing first when they’re still setting up the stages. But I dig playing with these guys. It’s a different animal.”
When he’s not performing or recording with either band or writing books like Punk Rock Dad: No Rules, Just Real Life, Lindberg’s been working on another new project as of late. Given the importance of punk rock and other dissenting music in the Trump era, Lindberg’s found a way to combine his passions for punk and writing with a touch of political activism to make the world a better place even beyond what goes down at It’s Not Dead.
“I think [the Punks Well Read tent is] a great opportunity to inspire people to pick up a book instead of their phone,” Lindberg says. “America is becoming a sad version of the Idiocracy movie. [People should] read some Emerson and Thoreau, they’re the OG punk rock philosophers. I also started a website — punkguru.com — that focuses on books connected with the punk scene and politics. I have Russ [Rankin] from Good Riddance contributing articles, and we’re hoping to do more reviews and interviews, but I’m just getting it up and running now. Hopefully, it will inspire people to read and get more information out there.”
It’s Not Dead takes place Saturday, August 26 at the Glen Helen Amphitheater in San Bernardino. Tickets start at $42.50 and are available through the official website.