Back with a bang – and a new vocalist – in 2010 the legendary Pennywise took the UK by storm during their headline tour earlier this year.

rushonrock‘s Tom Walsh caught up with guitarist Fletcher Dragge to talk all things rock and bring you yet another exclusive interview.

Look out for part two very soon!

rushonrock: Firstly, how do you felt the UK tour went?

Fletcher Dragge: Really good.  It’s been a long time since we’ve done a full UK tour and even Europe for that matter.  We’ve tended to do a couple festivals and then a few club shows around them so it’s really cool to get back to the club tours.  We’ve been getting a really good reception from the fans so we’re pretty stoked.

rushonrock: Recently your lead singer Jim Lindberg left the band and has been replaced by Ignite’s singer Zoli Téglás.  How did that come about?

FD: Jim wasn’t happy, he didn’t like touring and being away from his family I guess he was just burned out by it all.  For years and years we’d been fighting with him about wanting to go on tour but it’d always end up as a case that we could only go to places for a certain amount of days.  For example we could only go to Europe for 10 days and you can’t really do much in 10 days especially in Europe.  It meant we were missing out countries like we didn’t go to Spain for nine years and it meant we couldn’t do proper UK tours.  We were constantly fighting with him to go to different places like South America, China and Singapore and he just didn’t want to go.  Eventually we got very tired of it and felt that we weren’t touring enough which is the important part.  Writing a record is cool but it’s like work, it’s not an easy thing to do.  They pay-off is going out playing live and watching the fans sing your lyrics.  ??For us [other members of Pennywise] that was really important but to him it wasn’t and it came to a point when we were like “we’re not going to put up with it anymore, this is what we want to do and this band is a democracy”.  We put it to a vote, as we have done with many aspects in the past, and he still didn’t want to go on tour and he said that if we wanted to make Pennywise our number one priority we’d need to find a new singer.  We didn’t want to keep going on like this as a band so we went out and found a new singer.

rushonrock: How did Zoli become part of the band?

FD: We’ve known Zoli a long time, we’ve toured with Ignite a couple of times so we knew about him as a friend and a musician.  We tried out a lot of people but we knew Zoli was a very good singer, he’s got a great vocal range.  I think a lot of people were a bit sceptical of him being the singer because in Ignite he sings so high so you couldn’t picture him singing for Pennywise which is understandable if you don’t know a lot about music.  If you know about octaves and keys you’ll know that it’s easier to sing low than it is to sing high and it’s just a matter of adjusting down a bit.  The style is a bit different so we had to break him out of Ignite habits and our main goal was to make sure that he was able to do the old songs properly.  We tried a lot of people but Zoli was the best fit for the band.

He’s crazy although I think all lead singers are crazy it’s what we call the ‘Lead Singer’s Disease’ if they have a good voice they’re usually crazy.  He played some shows with us and they were pretty good.  Little bit rough but now we’re in the groove of things and people are leaving our shows really impressed.

rushonrock: With a new album in the works will there be much style change now that Zoli is the new singer?

FD: I think it’ll be more hardcore and more back to the early days because with Jim, even though he probably wouldn’t want to admit it, we were going away from the super hard stuff.  With Zoli he’s totally cool with doing the hardcore sounding stuff and people that have heard the demos of the new material are saying that it sounds like old school Pennywise which is a good thing.  I really liked our last album but my favourite stuff is our older material and with Zoli having a higher range than Jim we’re able to push it a little bit harder.  That was one of the first thing we noticed when we first went into the studio and on songs like Living For Today and It’s Up To Me Zoli sounded like Jim, nine out of 10 people actually thought it was Jim.  He does sound like a younger Jim.

rushonrock: You sound like you’re full of fresh enthusiasm?

FD: It will be going back to the old days and the writing process has got better as well. We got to a place in Pennywise where no-one wanted to make each other mad and you get to a point when you’ve been in a band for so long that the communication breaks down so we weren’t telling each other when we thought a part of a song was bad.  Now with Zoli he’ll tell you when it sounds bad and we’ll rewrite it so it’s open communication now.  It’s insanely refreshing, he’s brutal but it’s a much better way of writing.