CATALINA ISLAND, California — Finally, a cell phone that rings at an opportune moment.
Just as guitarist Fletcher Dragge was explaining Pennywise's new single, "Disconnect," a ring began to resonate in his pocket, perfectly exemplifying what the song is about.
"It's a pretty cut-and-dry song," Dragge said. "It's about wanting to unplug yourself from the world. We totally got by without cell phones and without computers forever and now that we have them, it's like we think we can't live without them."
By the end of the interview backstage at a promotional concert on the famous island off the Southern California coast, Dragge will have received five calls. "[Cell phones and technology] have made society like totally faster and more on edge," Dragge said.
"Disconnect," the first single from Pennywise's just-released eighth album, The Fuse, is currently one of the most requested songs on KROQ-FM in Los Angeles and is picking up steam across the country. Eventually, the band hopes to see some video play — once there is a video, that is.
"We're trying to come up with something cool," Dragge said. "We'll figure out something. You know how we are: We're disorganized. Most bands would have their video done two weeks before the album is out; we'll have it done two months after the album's out."
Following the old adage "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," Pennywise didn't stray too far from their traditional punk sound on the new album.
"It's not a whole lot [different] than its predecessors," Dragge said. "I mean, the songwriting process was the same. We just tried to write Pennywise songs and have fun."
The only difference in The Fuse is the more laid-back approach the band took. Pennywise decided to spend a minimal amount of time recording and just "let it rock," Dragge said.
"The last couple of albums we got really into the recording process and tried to get really technical and make everything super, super tight, almost to the point where we may have overdone it a little bit," he said. "When we went in [the studio to record The Fuse], we just started going for it. We stopped going back and saying, 'I can get this part better' and playing it [or singing it] 10 times."
Aside from "Disconnect," another song attracting some attention is one called "Fox TV," which points the finger at Fox News for what Dragge calls "one-sided reporting."
"We travel the world and see the news in other countries where it's just really accurate," Dragge said. "They give you the news. They don't slant it one way or another. So the song kind of goes out to [Fox News], just basically telling them to f--- off for not being fair and unbiased."
Both "Disconnect" and "Fox TV" are testimonies to Pennywise's commitment to speaking out about issues that concern them. Tracks from their last album, From the Ashes, dealt with the war in Iraq and life post-9/11, something Dragge says alienated some of their Republican fans.
"We never really care about being popular," he said. "We just do it because we love it. We're just going to keep making music until someone goes, 'You're way too f---ing old and ugly to be up on that stage and you can't walk anymore. Please stop.' "