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I spent Friday evening downtown at the Capital Music Hall interviewing Fletcher Dragge (far left in photo) -- guitarist from the Hermosa Beach, CA institution known as Pennywise. Pennywise is another one of those fantastic SoCal punk bands that I grew up listening to -- so imagine my surprise when the Ottawa Senators recently began spinning one of their tracks after a goal is scored.

The song is called "Bro Hymn", and the trend of hearing it played after goals didn't start in Ottawa -- it actually began in Anaheim during the Ducks' playoff run last year. Anaheim would play it religiously, and the fans eventually caught onto the catchy chorus. Here's a clip of the song as it's heard in both the Anaheim and Ottawa arenas:

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If a song is receiving regular exposure in the venues where a major sport is being played, you'd think the band would be thrilled, right? Not necessarily...because there's a lot more to "Bro Hymn" than just a great hook.

The song was written by Pennywise's former bassist, Jason Thirsk. During a leave of absence from the band in 1996 (a decision made to battle growing problems with alcoholism), Thirsk tragically died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Thirsk had originally written the song as a tribute to friends in his life who had passed on, but after their bassist's unexpected death, the band dedicated the song to him, closed every live show they have played since with it, and included Thirsk's name in the lyrics.

So what was Fletcher's take on their sacred song being used at NHL games?

"We're not upset, but it's not cool," Dragge said. "There's a deep meaning behind that song and it's weird for it to be used in such a fashion.

"I mean, we're not that upset, because it's a celebratory thing, and the song celebrates life. Jason loved sports. It all depends what it's being used for, right? I mean, if it were being played in a shampoo commercial, I'd be bummed."

The main issue currently irking the band seems to be the importance of the song getting lost in the shuffle.

"They're only hearing the chorus; they're not hearing any of the lyrics," Dragge pointed out. "They don't know any of the lyrics, but if they did, maybe they could relate better.

"We appreciate the recognition, but the importance of the song is being missed."

Pennywise's best-known song is also significant to its fans; the band regularly hears of it being played at funerals, and Fletcher even referenced a father and mother showing up at the Toronto show on Thursday, who had recently lost their 15-year-old son.

"They played (Bro Hymn) at the funeral, and they wanted to be at the show for their son. The most normal-looking people you'd ever see," Dragge said.

But the more traditional celebratory use of the song doesn't appear to be going away anytime soon. In fact, this isn't the first time it's been used at a sporting event.

"There's a Belgian soccer team that uses it -- you've got 70,000 people all at once singing it -- it's crazy," Dragge said. "We went over there, and no one knew who we were until we played the song. Then they went absolutely nuts."

No word of a mosh pit breaking out. Something tells me Thirsk would have loved to see that happen.

Bro Hymn lyrics

To our friend,
Present, past and beyond
Even though you weren't with us too long
Life is the most precious thing you can lose
While you were here the fun was never ending
Laugh a minute only the beginning
Jason Matthew Thirsk, this one's for you

Wooooaoooah Woooah Woooah Wooah

Ever get the feeling you can't go on
Just remember whose side it is that you're on
You've got friends with you till the end
If you're ever in a tough situation
We'll be there with no hesitation
Brotherhood's our rule we cannot bend

Wooooaoooah Woooah Woooah Wooah

When you're feeling too close to the bottom
You know who it is you can count on
Someone will pick you up again
we can conquer anything together
All of us are bonded forever
If you die I die, that's the way it is

Wooooaoooah Woooah Woooah Wooah

To all my friends,
Present, past and beyond
To all those who weren't with us too long
Life is the most precious thing that you can lose
While you were here the fun was never ending
Laugh a minute was only the beginning
Jason, my brother, this one's for you.

1 response to "NHL exposure a bittersweet experience for Pennywise"

  1. Nice Post. I cannot wait to hear this song in the Corel (Scotiabank) center!!! I'm still adicted to the put your hands in the air song from last year and of course the Heat is On.

    Last night, the Ottawa Senators got secondary and terterary scoring.

    Rather than critizing the pizza line which will get shut down from time to time, I want to PRAISE quite of few rising Senators.

    Hamel has waited along time to get his NHL debut in Ottawa. If he's played, I never noticed him but last night he was great. Vermette was great. Chris Kelly was great.

    Spezza seemed to be particulary in a funk. The kid needs to go bowling or something. In fact, the whole pizza line should take a day out to bowl or watch a great movie like Star Wars, use the play station whatever. If Ottawa can recover somewhat from the loss of Havlat in the secondary scoring department, (guy could probably have been primary), the pizza line should be able to recover confident that they are only part of the team.

    Ottawa fans, if we want to make the play offs this year, which is going to be tough and which is required to get the cup, we are going to have to route our team like underdogs!!! We are no longer the Prima Donnas, now we are the under dogs and the Leafs are the Prima Donnas. If only the Leafs did suck this year. On the bright side while the Leafs are the favorite by far this season, IT AINT OVER TILL ITS OVER.

    Enough of this Ottawa Sens fan negativity. Lets stop taking ou ideas from Leaf fans. We have great team, now lets back them while times are tight. Lets show the world that Ottawa is NOT a city of sore losers but great fans that love hockey.

    I guess thats enough of a biased rant.

    Ricky the hockey Moose