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Strung Out

Strung Out might not get radio or TV play or be affiliated with a major label, but the band has played countless live shows across the globe and sold over a million records.

The band’s latest album Agents in the Underground celebrates exactly that, their underground status. Lead singer Jason Cruz is a force to be reckoned with on stage but is well known for staying out of the spotlight, so it’s an amazing opportunity to speak to him.

One of the other things that separates Strung Out from other punk bands is how regularly they tour Australia. Every time they release an album, it’s safe to say that we’ll see them soon after. “A band at our level, we have to work our ass off,” explains Cruz, “If we put a record out we have to tour on that record. We don’t get much radio airplay or press so touring is our bread and butter…We have to get on the road.”

I ask him about his first time to Australia all those years ago, “I thought it was a lot like California! I was surprised, everyone’s so laid back and the weather’s beautiful. I was surprised at how little of a culture shock there was.”

But that changed with the ‘Strangers in the Outback’ tour with No Use For a Name when the bands went off the beaten capital city track. As Cruz says “I’ve probably seen more of Australia than more Australians have seen! With the tour where we pretty much hit every major and little town in Australia. We went through the middle, around all coasts, small mining towns on the west coast I’ve never heard of, that no one’s ever heard of!”

The band’s upcoming tour also includes a couple of regional stops, re-visiting Geelong and Newcastle, “Because people show up! If people show up, we’ll go there! If you’re a touring band you gotta do that, cos people can’t travel all the time and the shows are that much better when they appreciate it that much more when you roll through.”

After this long on the road, does he ever just want to stay at home? “Yeah, I find the older I get the more of a homebody I become,” Cruz admits. “I have a lot of other things I love to do so when I come home I’m always busy…. So when I’m on tour it’s my game face, I’m all business. So then when I come home I really love being at home.”

What is it like to still be going strong when there are other bands from the same era that are fading away? “It’s hard to explain… I think that we’re just Strung Out, I don’t think we’re doing anything that different. I think you go through things in life that are different and maybe that comes across in the music. But I think we’re still the same band that we were 20 years ago, people expect that. Sometimes I get the feeling that punk rockers and hardcore people; they don’t want to be shown something different or new. I like to think that people have more of an open mind than they really do.”

So on to the inevitable question – what’s next for Strung Out? “I’d like to do a cool acoustic record,” Cruz reveals, “taking some of our old songs and reworking them. You could break down our songs and play them acoustic and they’re still there. They’re not all relying on the beat and the riff.”

Like any band with more than a couple of albums, there’s the anticipation of which songs they’ll play live and whether your favourite will be included. “Every dumb band guy says it but I really like the new record a lot, it means a lot to me, I’m really proud of it. There’s something on all the records I really like. But I think I’m at my best in the new record, I’m pretty satisfied with my effort and the band’s ability to work together on this one and Cameron West’s production just blows me away on this one.”

Seeing Strung Out live is electrifying, the speed and tightness completely sucks you in. And you’re waiting for the pace to slow down, but it never happens. Though Cruz admits that it’s getting harder as the band gets older. “I think the songs are getting harder, some of the new stuff is really hard so we have to practice to make it sound good.”

Definitely a band that have stayed strong through the years and show no signs of slowing down, Cruz captures the band’s core belief, “The music’s about the message, that’s what punk rock’s always been about. The attitude that’s put behind it, so I think you can do anything with it.”

Catch Strung Out around the country at these shows:

Thursday 3rd June Annandale Hotel, Sydney
Friday 4th June – Prince of Wales, Bunbury
Saturday 5th June – Capitol, Perth
Sunday 6th June – Fowlers Live, Adelaide (all ages)
Wednesday 9th June – Barwon Club, Geelong
Thursday 10th June – The Hi Fi, Melbourne
Friday 11th June – Brisbane Hotel, Hobart
Saturday 12th June – Come Together Festival, Sydney
Sunday 13th June – Wollongong Uni Bar, Wollongong
Wednesday 16th June – Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle
Thursday 17th June – The Hi Fi, Brisbane
Friday 18th June – Coolangatta Hotel, Gold Coast
Saturday 19th June – Kings Beach Tavern, Caloundra

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