It has been a long, loud journey for Pennywise. The Southern California punk stalwarts released their debut album 17 years ago on Epitaph Records and went on to rack up 3 million CDs sold worldwide. This week, they release their ninth collection as a true 21st-century endeavor: "Reason to Believe" finds them partnering with MySpace Records, and the 14-track album will be offered free to fans for two weeks since Tuesday.
"It's a brave new world in the music industry," lead singer Jim Lindberg said last week during a break from rehearsals.
Bands used to fret over the cover art for their album; now they wrestle with decisions about the price of their album and their path to the marketplace. All eyes were on Radiohead a few months ago with their pay-what-you-want model online followed by a physical CD release. And Lindberg said he was intrigued by Elvis Costello's recent announcement that he would put out an album on vinyl that would come with a download voucher tucked inside. "I'm not really the person that downloads and listens on portable devices or a computer, that's not how I enjoy my music. But a lot of people do, and this approach we're doing will really connect with a lot of new people."
It's a significant project for MySpace, which will be putting its considerable network propulsion behind a free full album from a name band for the first time. (Epitaph will release the album jointly with MySpace Records in Europe and Australia.)
Pennywise (which has Fletcher Dragge on guitar, Byron McMackin on drums, Randy Bradbury on bass) got its start as a backyard lark in 1988. Lindberg said the turmoil and opportunity of the music industry today can be unsettling, but the band is just happy to be as loud as ever. "We all expected to need day jobs a long time ago."