'The Other F Word': Jim Lindberg on punk rock fatherhood
If you make your living thumbing your nose at authority, how do you lay down the law with your own child? That’s one of the questions posed by the documentary “The Other F Word,” which chronicles the colorful and often oxymoronic lives of punk rock dads.
The film, from director Andrea Blaugrund Nevins and producer Cristan Reilly, begins with Jim Lindberg, lead singer of the L.A. skate punk band Pennywise, packing for tour under the watchful eyes of his three daughters, one of whom tucks a Barbie doll into his bag. Lindberg’s heavy heart at having to travel during his daughters’ formative days is the central conflict of the film.
Other punk rockers who tell their unlikely and often surprisingly poignant fatherhood stories include Blink-182’s Mark Hoppus, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea, Rise Against’s Tim McIlrath, Everclear’s Art Alexakis and the Adolescents’ Tony Adolescent.
Lindberg, who also wrote a book in 2007 called “Punk Rock Dad,” spoke with 24 Frames' Rebecca Keegan about the challenges of raising kids while raising hell, the surprises he learned about his punk brethren and what it takes to turn rockers into softies.
"The Other F Word" opens Friday.
Rebecca Keegan: When did it first occur to you that being in a punk band and being a dad are incongruous activities?
Jim Lindberg: While I was living it. I knew I was in a unique situation, trying to live up to the stereotype of being a crazy frontman in a punk band and then coming home and dealing with diapers, homework and making school lunches. More and more I realized as my kids started getting older and I was trying to be an authority figure how hypocritical it was of me to be singing a song like "F… Authority."
R.K.: Do you think being a singer in a punk band is just a more extreme version of what many parents go through?
J.L.: A lot of people are more punk rock than they know. Punk rock is about teenage and adolescent angst. It’s about rebellion and not wanting to do what your parents tell you. Most people are stuck in adolescence for a very long time. Having kids and a family forces them to grow up. A lot of parents try to be their kids’ best friend and it just doesn’t work. You have to teach them that the frying pan is hot, that they have to look both ways before crossing the street. You have to tell them what to do a lot and you become the authority figure for them.
R.K.: How old are your daughters now and have they seen the film?
J.L.: Eight, 12 and 14. They came and saw it at the South by Southwest premiere. It was a little disconcerting sitting next to my 8-year-old and having her hear the F word that many times. She’s aware that daddy cusses for a living, but I’m not sure she was ready for as many four-letter words as there are in the film. There is some heavy subject matter in there. It is somewhat an adult film. I hope people don’t go thinking it’s "look how cute our kids are, we can dress them up in mohawks and Doc Martens." It's a hard-hitting film. There were more than I few times that I wanted to have the ear muffs.
R.K.: You’ve formed another band since this movie was made. How’s that going?
J.L.: I started the Black Pacific. The other guys in the band understand my situation a little better than the guys in my previous band did. I realize a lot of dads have to get out there and work and miss important events for their kids, a lot of dads travel, but it got to a point for me that we were doing more than I was comfortable with and it made it difficult for us to get along. My new band understands when I’ve got commitments at home that I have to be around for. They just love to play music, and I’m really proud of the record we put out and the shows we’ve played.
R.K.: I think of punk as such a macho subculture. The idea of guys who make this kind of music having a tender side surprised me. Has it become OK for punk rock guys to talk about their feelings now?
J.L.: It’s because of the filmmakers. The punk rock docs that have come before usually came from a very male perspective, about how radical and hard-core and violent the punk scene was and how crazy it was. It’s very different when you get two women – a woman director and producer, mothers themselves — who are coming into these guys' houses and want to talk about this. I think a lot of the guys in the film let their guard down somewhat. They felt secure in talking about it. That's why I think it's one of the best punk documentaries ever made. Instead of us just saying, "Look at how radical we all were," you’re finding out what started it, what these guys were rebelling against, what they came from and why they hope to be better fathers. I really think Andrea brought out a lot of these stories just by knowing how to listen.
R.K.: Have you taken any razzing for not being punk rock any more?
J.L.: The thing about being a dad is, you leave your cool at the door. Dads are goofy. When we first had kids, we had our white minivan and it had Britney Spears stickers all over it. I just didn’t care. You’re not fooling anyone. You’re not cool anymore. The way to be cool is to be a good parent.
— Rebecca Keegan
Photo: Jim Lindberg and family. Credit: Courtesy of Jim Lindberg