Story & Interviews by Vanessa Soriano
BeachLife Festival is not only a festival that celebrates music, but also the culture of Southern California. Taking place from September 10-12, 2021, BeachLife embraces the sand and ocean at Seaside Lagoon in Redondo Beach, California. This year, Beachlife has announced the addition of a new performance area called the “SpeakEasy” stage on top of a list of incredible bands playing the festival, which includes headliners Jane’s Addiction, Cage the Elephant, Counting Crows, and Ziggy & Stephen Marley.
The SpeakEasy stage will take on an ‘Out West Badlands’ atmosphere featuring music by celebrated rockers, surfers and skaters including: Tom Curren, Steve Caballero (Urethane), The White Buffalo (Solo), Trever Keith (Face to Face), Jason Cruz (Strung Out), Jason Devore (Authority Zero), Jim Lindberg (Pennywise), Law featuring Jakob Nowell (Acoustic), Davey Allen, Kira Lingman & V Torres and Hope Waidley.
This additional fourth stage, SpeakEasy, presented by Jack Daniels, will showcase stripped down acoustic sets, in addition to a voraciously popular pop-up art and photography exhibit called Punk Rock & Paintbrushes, curated by Emily Nielsen. This special BeachLife SpeakEasy edition of Punk Rock & Paintbrushes will highlight the work of Duel Diagnosis (Dave Navarro X PADHiA), Marley Chaney, Jim Lindberg, Andrew Campanelli, G. Love, Meg Zany, Steve Caballero, Tom Robb, Brent Broza, Jakob Nowell, Dan Smith, Jason Devore, Brian Bent, Kristin Koefoed, Evgola, Lola The Creator, Beebs, Kevin Salk, Bob Dob, Steve Carranza and Shawn Foley. Not only does the BeachLife Festival and Punk Rock & Paintbrushes celebrate art and music, it also generates awareness and donations for local philanthropic partners, in yet another way of giving back to the community.
Juice Magazine had the opportunity to talk with Jim Lindberg (Pennywise frontman and curator of the Speakeasy Stage) and Emily Nielsen (founder of the Punk Rock & Paintbrushes), along with some of the featured artists, musicians, surfers, and skateboarders: including Steve Caballero, Dan Smith, PADHiA, and Brian Bent, as well as Brandon Novak of Novak’s House. Here is an inside look into the upcoming immersive experience of the BeachLife SpeakEasy and Punk Rock & Paintbrushes exhibit, as well as what sparks creativity for this unique collective.
JUICE: How did you come up with the “Out West Badlands” saloon concept and lineup for the SpeakEasy Stage at the BeachLife Festival?
LINDBERG: Well, that was pretty easy. We started this big festival down in Redondo Beach at King Harbor and Ed talked about doing an acoustic stage. Pretty much the only place for it was on the far west edge of the festival at this corner where the first year we had the Body Glove wetsuit bar. It was where all of the surfers and skaters and people would hang out and we called it the Out West. It was a perfect place to put the acoustic stage for this year’s festival. Of course, if I’m doing acoustic, I’m going to corral all of my musician friends, like Jason DeVore of Authority Zero, Trever Keith of Face to Face, and Jason Cruz of Strung Out and ask them to play. Thankfully, they all agreed, so that was cool, and then we were lucky enough to get Tom Curren, who is one of my favorite surfers of all time and a legendary champ of surfing. Around the same time, my buddy, Steve Caballero, called and wanted me to sing on his new album for his band, Urethane. He’s got a killer new band, so I asked him if he would join up. Before you know it, we had this all-star lineup. Now I think there’s going to be more people at our stage than anywhere else.
JUICE: What do you hope to see as far as audience interaction with the music and art and acoustic sets and talk story with the musicians, skateboarders and surfers at the SpeakEasy Stage?
LINDBERG: Well, I’ve done a lot of these art shows with Emily and it’s just always really cool to see all of these super talented people from the music and surfing and skating world bringing out all this talent. It’s something different than just going to a concert and standing there watching a band. You’re taking in all this stuff and you’re hearing great music. Sometimes we’ll have a DJ too. At the same time, with the art show, you’re getting to see all of this cool visual representation of all these great artists. You’ve got a whole room of them there. It’s cool to see all of the art, along with the music, and it just makes for a cool experience for the whole festival.
JUICE: It’s awesome getting all of those elements of art and music together and giving people the chance to meet a bunch of different people. Honing in more on your music, was there anyone that first inspired you to get into music and anyone that has inspired you to keep singing and performing throughout your life?
LINDBERG: I was lucky enough to grow up in Hermosa Beach and we had such legendary bands that came out of this tiny little surf town, like Black Flag, Circle Jerks and the Descendents. Those bands went to my high school and it was like having Led Zeppelin, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones all going to your high school and hanging out at your 7-Eleven. It was like anyone can do this. You just have to start a band and go for it, which is basically what we did.
JUICE: Do you have a favorite song that you’ve released?
LINDBERG: I just finished an acoustic album that people are really going to go, “What the hell is he thinking?” It’s like Americana stuff. Instead of hard, fast and loud, it’s slow, soft, and quiet. It’s really mellow, heavy songs. I think some of the most recent stuff that I’ve written is the most personal and I’m excited for people to either love it or hate it and I don’t care.
JUICE: How has your music style evolved since you first started?
LINDBERG: I started out with The Beach Boys and beach music, growing up in Hermosa Beach, and then punk rock, and now to I’ve come to a time where I’ve gotten more reflective about things. You have life experiences that change your outlook. When you have all those experiences, it changes the way that you write and the message you want to get across. When we’re younger, it’s all piss and vinegar and now it’s a little more reflective. I think everyone has that journey of trying out different styles, so I think it’s cool to try different things and not be stuck doing one pigeonholed style of music.
JUICE: As a songwriter, what do you do to get out of a creative rut?
LINDBERG: Sometimes it’s staring at the wall with a guitar in your hand, you know? Other times it’s listening to new music and things that inspire you. I was just out in the desert recently and I saw this older lady begging for change at the Vons. She looked like she could have been someone’s aunt or grandma. She was totally put together, but she was begging, and so I brought her some money and stuff and tried to help her out. Just seeing something like that, it affects you, so I went back and wrote a song about it. It’s like, “How did this person get there?” Once again, it’s life experiences and just seeing things and wanting to record it. You could do a painting about it or a drawing or a tattoo. It’s all about representing what you see in the world and trying to put it out there for other people to check out.
JUICE: How would you describe the feeling that you get right before you’re about to step on stage to play your music?
LINDBERG: Relief. When I’m on stage, I totally know what’s going on and I can just do the thing. I’m sure it’s the same way for people who skate or do art or tattoo. Once you’re in the place that you know very well, the stress is pretty much gone. It’s all the stuff leading up to the show that can be stressful, like traveling and making sure people are on the guest list and making sure everyone has everything they need and everything is set up. I’m sure it’s the same for skaters and surfers. Being out on the ramp or at the pool, that’s the easiest part.
JUICE: How would you describe your art style and the inspiration behind it?
CABALLERO: When I first got into art, I was just trying to figure it out. I’m a pretty methodical person and I like to try to figure things out, so I was like, “Okay, I want to be an artist. How can I be successful with this and how can I make it at this?” I was observing other artists and I noticed a lot of artists get popular because of a certain look. I thought, “Maybe I need to find that in my art.” I then realized that’s not me. If I got stuck with one look, I’d get bored. It’s just like with my skating. When I picked up my skateboard, it was all about skating every day and I went to a pool to skate or a ramp to skate. I even tried freestyle skateboarding and downhill slalom skating. It’s the same with music. I’ve played all genres of music. It hasn’t just been punk rock all of the time. I like to keep it open and learn new things and I’m always open for adventure.
JUICE: Do you have a creative process for coming up with unique ideas for your art?
CABALLERO: Yeah. I look at something that inspires me and I sketch it out on a piece of paper or card stock and then I like to ink over the sketches. Ideally, I should keep those sketches and do the inking on something else because then I lose the sketch. When I went into painting, I really loved learning to do the underpainting of a painting. I felt like you could really understand the value of color by trying to stay away from black because the more you stay away from black on acrylic paintings, the more realistic it is. As soon as you add black, it becomes like a cartoon, like an illustration. I watched a lot of artists that inspire me and I noticed that a lot of guys will do an underpainting, and the underpainting is almost like a painting and then they’ll paint over that. It’s a long process, but the more time you put into a piece, the better it could get, and there’s always room for improvement.
JUICE: With your music, what made you choose the bass out of all instruments?
CABALLERO: Well, when I first started learning how to play in 1982, I chose the bass because I thought it would be easier than the guitar. I chose the easy way out, but I have a strong love for guitar, so I’ll maybe end up playing the guitar. In this new band, Urethane, I started out playing bass and, within 4 months, I was like, “I need to play guitar,” so we added a bass player, and now we’re a four-piece.
JUICE: With skateboarding, what is your first memory of skateboarding and where have you had the most fun skateboarding recently?
CABALLERO: My first memory of skateboarding was picking up a skateboard magazine at 7-Eleven and seeing all of these guys riding backyard pools and homemade ramps down in Los Angeles. I was in NorCal so, when I got into skateboarding, there was no such thing as a skateboard park in Nor Cal. I started seeing these skateboard parks being built in Southern California and, when I went down to Disneyland, in ‘78 maybe, there was a skatepark called the Concrete Wave right across the street from Disneyland. I ended up going there and skateboarding there for the first time, and I fell in love with it. A year later, the Winchester skatepark opened up in Northern California and my new passion and my new drive was to just go there whenever I could. I could only afford to skate on the weekends, so I waited the whole week to go there and have my parents drop me off or I’d take a bus to the skatepark. As soon as I got on the team, I got free skate time, so I ended up getting to go every single day. I would go there at nine in the morning and leave at nine at night. I was super dedicated to becoming a good skateboarder. My favorite time skating now is anytime that I’m not injured. [Laughs] I like getting injured on my dirt bike. I don’t know why it seems to happen often. The good thing about being an artist is, when I’m injured from skateboarding or riding a dirt bike, I spend more time doing art and playing music, and then, when I’m healthy I’m skateboarding or riding a dirt bike or mountain bike, so I have to pick and choose. Being a dad, I’m taking care of my kids too.
JUICE: What’s it’s like doing Punk Rock & Paintbrushes with Emily [Nielsen] who is putting the show together?
CABALLERO: We’ve been working with Emily for a lot of years and she’s on point with everything, always sending emails and texting us, and letting us know what’s going on, so I knew that it was going to be handled very professionally and there was nothing going to be left unanswered.
JUICE: What is the vibe at a Punk Rock & Paintbrushes show?
SMITH: Between all of the stories everyone tells and the questions being asked, it fuels a pretty reflective trip down memory lane. The intimate Punk Rock & Paintbrushes nights are such a special thing and it really hits on the sense of community that we have. Punk rock and art can fuel one another and float each other, so it’s pretty special to see that happen in real time. You’re hearing a lot of different life experiences that make you think about your own and then you’re bouncing off each other and people that you’ve never met before, so it’s pretty rad.
JUICE: Can you tell us a little bit about the art you’re planning to show at Punk Rock and Paintbrushes gallery at the BeachLife Festival?
SMITH: I’ll be showing a recent piece that I made on canvas reproductions of a classic ‘punk’ figure that’s holding a snake, and inspired and painted using an old Japanese woodcut print style. I’ll also then be adding some hand embellishments on the various details such as his studded wristbands, zippers, pins and belly scales and snake detail. I wanted to portray the relationship between ‘free thinking’ or ‘independence’ and the ‘snakes’ of the world.
JUICE: What records did you listen to as you were creating your artwork for Punk Rock & Paintbrushes?
SMITH: I own Captured Tattoo in Tustin, CA, where I painted the art and we always have a pretty wide variety of music playing in the shop. If I’m remembering correctly, I was listening to a lot of Shame – “Songs of Praise”, Change – “Closer Still” and the new Descendents’ record – “9th and Walnut”.
JUICE: Do you follow any similar creative methods when you’re drawing your art as you do when you are making and playing music?
SMITH: I think the similarity between the two, personally, would be that I never want to stop until its completed and always feel like I kind of need to get it done all at once. I don’t like stopping and coming back to it, although sometimes I’m sure it would probably be a good idea. Haha.
JUICE: First punk show you ever went to?
SMITH: First punk band I saw would have probably been a local band in Auckland, New Zealand, where I’m from. I think the first punk band that was visiting from overseas that I saw would have been the Beastie Boys in 1994. I would have only been 14, but that mostly punk set changed everything for me and, very shortly after, highly motivated me to start to contribute and build the local punk scene. It was such a different time back then, and with a very small population, building a healthy local scene took a lot of work. It wasn’t until I got a bit older that bands coming down was a fairly regular thing and I ended up forming relationships that would eventually lead me to move to the U.S. to pursue my own stuff even further.
JUICE: Who were some of your favorite musicians, surfers and skaters to tattoo?
SMITH: In my formative years, the distance between New Zealand and the world (let’s be honest – California) seemed just SO far away. When I started traveling to tattoo, and touring with my band, it made the world much smaller and things were suddenly ‘doable’. I have been so lucky to tattoo some of my heroes and people that I’ve been inspired by for a long time. I think coaching Steve Cab while he did his first tattoo on my long time friend Toby Morse from H20 was an especially awesome moment.
JUICE: What first got you into street art?
PADHiA: I moved to LA 10 years ago to work in VFX as a 3d character modeler, but was really moved by all of the street art here. At the time, I had a secret blog I was ashamed of, about my experience with depression/ complex PTSD. I write in more hopeful light than mainstream views that it is a shameful and damning mental illness, but rather an operating system that creates a contraction around our life energy, from which we can heal. It started to get a lot of traction. People were really uplifted and inspired and I began to fantasize about what could happen if I combined those themes and messaging with large scale public art. Also, I had to face that I’m not cut out to work at a desk doing the same thing everyday. That feels like death to me. It also felt like a waste of my bizarre story. There was no point in living through all of that if I wasn’t going to do anything with it. With this type of art, the possibilities are endless in terms of translating it to fine art, written pieces, video, apparel, sculpture, etc. That’s the kind of life that makes me want to live.
JUICE: What are you most excited for with Punk Rock and Paintbrushes at BeachLife?
PADHiA: Two things… First, THE ENTIRE EXPERIENCE, and second… to see Jane’s Addiction play. I think the world loves Dave as a musician and personality but, in getting to know him over these recent years, I’ve developed a deep reverence for him as a human being and his unique creative genius. It goes way beyond music and his public personality, and I’m really looking forward to seeing where his creative path began.
JUICE: How do you choose where and when to paint your art?
PADHiA: With my personal art, I’ve been on hiatus finishing a massive book project, but I used to like to choose spots with great visibility and a bit of challenge in the get up. With Duel Diagnosis, we try to choose spots that fit into the architecture or landscape in a cool way.
JUICE: What is your favorite mural that you’ve painted?
PADHiA: Our Duel Diagnosis Whirrrlld piece. We created the characters I & i, and subsequently and unintentionally – just following creative flow, we created a whole world that they lived in. It was as if a whole new alternate universe was birthed outward from them at the center. Seeing it in full color, large scale on a wall for the first time was really an impactful moment.
JUICE: Where or who do you look to for inspiration?
PADHiA: I look to a lot of the greats in history such as Ernst Haeckel who weren’t trying to sell anything or be any one thing, they were just exploring their fascinations and curiosities and creating whatever came along naturally with those explorations.
JUICE: What messages will you be working to convey in order to affect change through your art at BeachLife?
PADHiA: What is often portrayed in media and especially social media is a very narrow and filtered representation of what it feels like to be human. In truth, there is much more to the experience, and talking about those deeper truths brings connection, understanding, and healing.
JUICE: Is there a mantra or saying that you live by or a piece of good advice that made an impact on you?
PADHiA: Fuck everybody and fuck everything – and I don’t mean that in an aggressive, hostile way. It just keeps me able to think for myself and stay true to my vision when I’m struggling with crippling shame, self-doubt, or self-loathing. It’s my way of punching through the walls and negative projections my mind creates, I guess.
JUICE: What do you like about working with Punk Rock & Paintbrushes?
BENT: My family goes way back in Hermosa Beach and I’ve always liked the Beat Generation, and the Insomniac was down there and the Lighthouse was down there. Emily [Nielsen] is like the Peggy Guggenheim of getting all of these expressional people together. It’s like beauty out of ashes because of COVID. It’s this platter of radness going on. People don’t even know what’s coming. It’s all just happening and you can’t even define it. They say that you can’t define yourself if you’re punk rock. That’s true, but you can bring a lot of us together that are kind of wacky and give us a forum to express that wackiness and be ourselves. At one of the shows, I saw Jason Adams and Matt Hensley just hanging out and then Matt Hensley jumped up and played accordion with my daughter and me in The Bent Duo Band. That’s serious life stuff that you can’t even put into words.
JUICE: Would you say that your background in surfing and skating changes the way you view and create art?
BENT: Surfing definitely inspires the art that I paint through the motion and the fun radical way that surfing down the line and the atmosphere of surf music sounds in jazz.
JUICE: Best punk rock and surf rock album covers artwork or design?
BENT: My favorite iconic logo is probably the Moon Eyes logo. My favorite album cover would probably be The Clash. “Combat Rock” is one that I’ve had for years and I used to really like the Sex Pistols cover. I also like the Specials first album cover and I like a ton of surf records and their covers like The Lively Ones and “Surfing” by The Ventures with Sammy Lee on the cover.
JUICE: How did you decide on the artwork that you’ll be showing at the Punk Rock and Paintbrushes gallery at the BeachLife Festival?
BENT: The art that will probably be at the show will be an expression of Surfing in the 60s and late 50s. I usually paint to music and I usually listen to West Coast jazz to early surf songs.
JUICE: Tell us about working with Emily Nielsen and what you experience at a Punk Rock & Paintbrushes show.
BRANDON: The Punk Rock & Paintbrushes shows are such an intimate acoustic vibe, and Emily [Nielsen] is very good at finding people that believe in what they do and are in it for the right reason. When you can get a group of collectives together and you’re in tune with what you’re seeking and the direction you’re headed, you can see these miraculous events take place before your eyes and it’s borderline magical. People get to ask questions and really understand what the driving force is behind us and what we do to maintain the things that we are passionate about and how we continue to evolve and make it through. They really get to understand us, and the tattoos, and art and music and skateboarding and surfing. They get to understand the why behind it and how they can be a part of it and help create change.
JUICE: What first gave you the idea for Punk Rock and Paintbrushes?
EMILY: PRPB was a happy mistake as it began with my battle and remission from cancer in 2007. I had started my event ‘ROCK VS CANCER” which was a benefit to help fund those battling this life threatening illness and to provide hope and love they may need through this time in their life. I was working with professional musicians and artists to create inspiring art pieces and in turn many musicians stepped forward and shared with me that they were artists/ painters and the can of worms was open!
JUICE: What goes into choosing which artists to bring into Punk Rock and Paintbrushes?
EMILY: I would say I choose artists based on their talent, but also their attitude, their personality and their passion. SO much of this is a personal journey and art truly touches hearts and souls, so having an artist with the right motivation and mindset is so important. All artists in the collective work hard and it is a 2-way street. I am here to lift them and to help with their art careers, but they must share their talent and their drive with all.
JUICE: As you have overcome obstacles in your life and achieved your goals, what advice would you give to others needing inspiration and motivation to make it through challenging times?
EMILY: Always find the silver lining. There is a reason and there is a purpose and do not give up or give in. No matter the challenge you CAN overcome it. Sometimes it may take a tad longer, but there is a light at the end. If you believe in something, TRULY BELIEVE IN IT. Surround yourself with inspiring individuals and surround yourself with people you look up to, your mentors and those that challenge you and push you forward. If you do not have inspiration from others, you will not have inspiration within yourself. When people come into your life and make you think and inspire you…. do not let them go. Hold onto those people. They are magical.
JUICE: What is the best feeling you ever got from seeing a work of art and who was the artist that created it?
EMILY: Mark deSalvo recently painted a portrait of myself from 2006 when I had cancer. I was so young and so self-conscious when I was ill that I did not take one photo of myself bald or ill, so I asked him to recreate this piece. Today… This piece means SO much to me for so many reasons.
JUICE: How have your life experiences informed the way that you curate art shows and present a variety of work from a group of artists?
EMILY: My life experiences are a puzzle…. every piece creates MY story. Some pieces are beautiful and some are difficult, but all are imperative to my story. Every piece of art we show with PRPB is imperative and every artist has a story…. Whatever it may be, it is there to be seen and felt by someone. No matter whether they feel it is important or not…. it is. Someone needs to see the art and feel it and they certainly will at some point.
JUICE: What can we look forward to in the future with Punk Rock and Paintbrushes shows and the work you do with local philanthropic partners?
EMILY: We hope to continue to spread the message of art, creativity and passion and to share the lives and fire of those artists we work with. They and I LOVE this collective. This is a family and we love and support one another. We work with a variety of philanthropic partners and are always wanting to support a variety of them. There are so many beautiful causes that we wish to be able to share our funding and create awareness with all.
The BeachLife culture is an inviting and inspiring atmosphere showcasing a variety of talented musicians and artists. The addition of the SpeakEasy stage will bring an even more personal feel to the festival as fans will be able to hang out with musicians, skaters, surfers, and artists. After getting to speak with Jim Lindberg and Emily Nielsen and learning more about the curation of the SpeakEasy stage and Punk Rock and Paintbrushes, as well as speaking with Steve Caballero, Dan Smith, PADHiA, Brian Bent, and Brandon Novak, it is clear that BeachLife isn’t just a festival, but also a community celebrating music and art together.
As BeachLife Festival’s Katie Henley added, “Beachlife is a celebration of Southern California culture, and that includes punk rock, skating, surfing, and art. The SpeakEasy stage, along with the Punk Rock & Paintbrushes art show, combines all of those elements in a rad, organic, underground kinda way. It’s a new twist for the BeachLife Festival, and we are super stoked to see it come to life!”
The 2021 BeachLife Festival Lineup is Jane’s Addiction, Cage the Elephant, The Revivalists, Silversun Pickups, Larkin Poe, Save Ferris, The White Buffalo, Tomorrows Bad Seeds, Tom Curren, Zella Day, Trever Kieth, Paris Jackson, Kevin Sousa Band, and Country Breakfast, Counting Crows, Fitz and the Tantrums, Men at Work, The Wallflowers, Cam, Phosphorescent, Sugar Ray, English Beat, (REVISE) Yachtley Crew, Jim Lindberg, Mother Hips, The Aquadolls, Jason Devore, Steve Caballero, Slackstring, Hope Waidley and Joker’s Hand, Ziggy & Stephen Marley, Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals, Portugal. The Man, Gary Clark Jr. , Thievery Corporation, Fortunate Youth, G. Love & Special Sauce, Brett Dennen, Melvin Seals & JGB with John Kadlecik, Nicki Bluhm, The Main Squeeze, Jason Cruz, Too Rude, Law ft Jakob Nowell, Kira Lingman & V Torres, Davey Allen, and Gen3.
For more info on Beachlife Festival, visit https://www.beachlifefestival.com/