Punk rock and responsibility go together like TK and TK. So how does a snarling, 18-year-old nihilistic punk rocker who rages against authority deal when he finds himself a father of a child who needs him to be a consistent presence and authority figure? It's a question that Jim Lindberg, the 46-year-old former Pennywise vocalist and current frontman for The Black Pacific, asks himself every day as he does his best to raise his three daughters.
Lindberg wasn't alone in his concern and confusement when he had to figure out punk rock fatherhood. In director Andrea Nevins' fun, fascinating, and moving new documentary The Other F Word, he and other punk rocker dads, including Ron Reyes (Black Flag), Flea ( Red Hot Chili Peppers), Lars Frederiksen (Rancid), Greg Hetson (Circle Jerks, Bad Religion), Mark Hoppus (Blink-182), and many more, talk about the problems that parenthood presents to guys who've spent decades running wild and preaching anarchy. For many of them, the punk scene became a family that replaced dysfunctional relationships with their own dads, so making sense of fatherhood was even more complicated.
With The Other F Word in theaters now, Complex spoke to Lindberg, whose 2008 book Punk Rock Dad: No Rules, Just Real Life inspired the film, about why he agreed to be a part of the project, the reality of the punk rocker lifestyle, and how the hell he plans to deal with his daughters' inevitable teenage rebellion.
Interview by Justin Monroe (@40yardsplash)
You were reportedly hesitant to be featured in The Other F Word at first. Why did you decide to be a part of the film?
Basically it was a situation where, after I wrote the book [Punk Rock Dad: No Rules, Just Real Life], there was a lot of interest from reality shows and things like that, and I’ve never really been about that, wanting to make big celebrity of it. I’m from a place, Hermosa Beach in L.A., where all that kinda stuff is pretty frowned upon. It’s a little too Hollywood, coming from the punk scene. So that was just never really something I was into at all.
But when I talked with [producer] Cristin [Reilly] and [director] Andrea [Nevins] (right, with Everclear's Art Alexakis), and they wanted to talk about this new generation of parents, coming from a perspective of alternative parenting, and just a new hopefulness and an era of tolerance. That was something I was much more into, explaining what a lot of punk rockers come from and the positive side of all this. So that was a little more intriguing, and once they said they would let me suggest some other dads to interview, that it wasn’t gonna be all about me, that’s what made it something I was going to work with them on, ‘cause I really didn’t feel like I needed that much attention. [Laughs.] I think it was really cool to have the other dads involved.
One thing that’s explored in the movie is the rockers’ relationships with their own dads, many of which were dysfunctional. Is that something you find to be true generally in the punk scene?
Well, obviously the ones that are gonna stick out are the ones that are from the film. I think we picked out certain people because we knew that they had a story to tell. Being friends with Art from Everclear, I knew that with a song like “Father of Mine,” that he had some issues to talk about. And just other people from the early, like Tony from The Adolescents, and Ron from Black Flag; they were such a big part of creating the hardcore scene that I knew there had to be some interesting motivations for them to choose punk rock.
And I kind of served as a foil in all this ‘cause I didn’t come from a bad background, I came from a happy family life. I have a great relationship with my dad. There’s kind of this situation in the film where you have this yin and yang of people who obviously came through a very challenging upbringing and got into the punk scene, but also there’s plenty of regular people out there as well who don’t go out like Sid Vicious, that become parents who still appreciate punk music and I think they did a good job of showing both sides.
What was the main attraction of punk for you?
I think the main attraction was just growing up here in a surf and skate punk scene, and coming from Hermosa Beach, where three of the most popular hardcore punk bands came from—Black Flag, Circle Jerks, and The Descendents. We basically grew up at ground zero for the whole alternative culture surf/skate culture and punk rock culture. It was in my backyard, it surrounded us. When you have The Descendents and Black Flag going to the same high school as you and you surf and skate all day, it’s just the atmosphere that you’re brought up in, so I was hooked from a very early age.
But a lot of us, at that period in time, a lot of us were latchkey kids. Our parents worked all day and we were just free to do whatever we wanted. So it was basically adolescent delinquency that led to me getting involved in punk rock. And that has a lot to do with the themes in my book and also the film, which are, issues of authority, and when you’re someone who grew up having free reign and being able to do what you want all day, you definitely have issues with authority.
But then how do you become an authority figure for your own kids? It's difficult. It’s something I still struggle with daily with my kids. How do I draw the line between being a cool tolerant parent but also wanting to guide them in the right direction and keep them away from dangerous areas in life. It’s definitely a challenge and it’s not something that anyone takes lightly in the movie.
Do you feel you’ve figured anything out from your first to your third daughter or is it still a constant balancing act and you never know exactly what you should be doing?
The latter definitely. I think the more experience you get, the more confused you get. But I guess it’s a learning curve here. You definitely get some perspective.
If you've got kids, you've gotta be around for 'em and somehow be a positive role model for 'em. Being drunk, passed out at your show somewhere isn’t a way to do it.
The thing about punk rock is it’s very much about keeping that youthful ideology, so you think back and remember when you were a kid, so I do that as much as I possibly can with my kids. I realize that they do wanna go out and have fun with kids but I’m also there to say, “Let me tell you what it was like for me, and what type of situations you could encounter,” and use some of my experiences to give them examples, but while also letting them be free to make their own mistakes.
I’m definitely becoming more conservative than I thought I would turn out to be, I guess because I’ve seen so much coming up in the punk scene and living in a place like Los Angeles with the beach here. It’s pretty fast living for kids, so I’ve been shielding them somewhat but at the same time letting them have their fun as well.
In what areas does your conservativeness most surprise you?
Having three daughters, I definitely am trying to keep them from doing too much dating at too young of an age. I’m definitely gonna be the dad sitting on the porch with the shotgun. [Laughs.]
But also I’ve seen drugs and alcohol ruin so many lives. I enjoy a drink now and again but [teaching them the dangers] is something that’s very, very important to me. I don’t want to sound hypocritical; there’s plenty of people who’ve seen me on the wrong end of a bar stool over the years that would cry foul when they hear that, but at the same time, I think some people get into it way too early. And there’s people that can handle it and people that can’t. I’ve seen that and I’m sure everyone out there has seen that drugs and alcohol can really destroy people’s lives. The people who can’t get it under control are gonna have a lot of problems, so I’ve been very conservative in making sure that they understand that.
How do your daughters feel about you being a punk rocker dad?
I would think it’s a double-edged sword. There are probably times when they wish they just had a normal dad who had a suit and tie and a 9-to-5 job and didn’t stand out at all, but there are other times when they think it’s really cool. It’s one of those things where they’re proud when they see another kid at school wearing their dad’s T-shirt; the fact that kids their age like the music I’m putting out is really cool. They probably don’t like when I’m playing guitar at full volume when they come home from school every day, though. [Laughs.]
Also, I think it depends which kid you’re talking about. My oldest doesn’t like to stand out. She’s more reserved, whereas my middle child is very outgoing and she’s an athlete and she’s loves it. She’ll probably be the first one in the pit when she gets older.