Californian punk rockers Strung Out have been touring relentlessly and consistently releasing firecracker albums for over thirty years now. With a new album and new drummer very soon they will be back in Australia supporting the legendary Pennywise. We were lucky enough to catch up with Strung Out vocalist Jason Cruz ahead of the Aussie tour.
 
 
SCENEzine
Firstly how was Christmas and New Years for you?
 
Jason Cruz
They were good. I’m thankful that I have a little family to spend it with, everyone’s healthy here. Thank you for asking. It was nice to be home and rested.
 
SCENEzine
I’m guessing a highlight from last year was getting to participate in Punk Rock Paintbrushes and also releasing your own children’s book?   
 
Jason Cruz
Yeah that was awesome. It was a little nerve racking but it feels like that anytime you release something like that out into the world that you created. The worst thing to fear is a mediocre response, you want to know that what your doing is going to validate your future efforts. I’m glad everything went alright it gives me the fuel to go on another year doing what I do.
 
SCENEzine
Huge congrats as well on your latest album Songs Of Armour And Devotion. A few months on since it’s release you must be stoked on the response by fans?
 
Jason Cruz
Yeah I’m grateful I think we’ve earned the right to keep doing what we are doing for the next couple of years. That’s important to me and to us as a band. Nobody wants to live off the past that’s just pathetic. I think it’s important to earn the right to keep doing what you do.
 
SCENEzine
What was it like putting together the video for “Under The Western Sky”?
 
Jason Cruz
That was fun. We had a nice little crew of people that work with us on all these videos that we do. That was actually one of my favourite things about making a new record getting to bring in the crew and annoy them with my jibber jabber. We have always had a close knit circle of people around us that are very supportive and will pick up the phone every time I call.     

SCENEzine
Can you tell us how you decided on the cover art for the album?
 
Jason Cruz
A war horse just seemed appropriate, something that had strength and grace. These songs hide our vulnerabilities and celebrate our vulnerabilities like armour.
 
SCENEzine
There’s a lot going on lyrically on the album. Do you have a lyric writing process?
 
Jason Cruz
There’s words and lines that pop up they are hints of what you’re trying to say. Then you take that line and expand on it, sometimes all it takes is one line or one word. Half the songs are repeating myself what I’ve done for the last thirty years and half the songs are new emotions and new ways of looking at things.
 
SCENEzine
What’s it like being part of the Fat Wreck Chords family?
 
Jason Cruz
I’m so grateful that we found a label that has been by our side through all these years. I think we have always been the black sheep of Fat Wreck Chords being in the Southern part of California. We are a little detached from the Fat Wreck Chords North California scene. It always set us apart a little bit in our sound and our attitude. But they’ve always been super rad and supportive.
 
SCENEzine
It’s not long until you are back in Australia. You must be pretty stoked to be jumping on a plane with Pennywise?
 
Jason Cruz
Yeah, we just did two months on our own and I’m not going to lie it’s nice to do a big tour supporting a band like Pennywise. The pressure is off of us, shorter sets mean we can go off a little bit harder. I’m fucking stoked.
 
SCENEzine
Both Pennywise and Strung Out fan base is quite similar so I’m guessing there’s a good camaraderie between the bands?
 
Jason Cruz
That’s the one obvious factor that we are all looking forward to. The camaraderie is one of the best parts about being in a band.
 
SCENEzine
Also as an added bonus we get No Fun At All on the tour. Are they a band you’ve toured with much over the years?
 
Jason Cruz
Yeah we used to tour with them all the time in Europe back in the early nineties. This tour is going to be cool.
 
SCENEzine
How was your Australian headline tour in 2018 having RJ behind the kit?
 
Jason Cruz
That was an early tour so RJ was still learning a lot of the songs but we had a blast. It’s nice that we have a record with him out now and we can play some of these new songs. I think he’s settled into the band a little bit more and become more a part of the bands identity. It’ll be good for the fans to see a whole different band.
 
SCENEzine
One of my favourite Strung Out memories was seeing you headline a festival in Sydney called Come Together back in 2006. Do you have any memories of that show?
 
Jason Cruz
Yeah I remember that it was at Luna Park. That was such a special time in Australia. That was when festivals were huge in Australia.
 
SCENEzine
It’s a pretty well known fact that Australian’s love beer so Strung Out having their own beer seems awesome to us. How did all that come about?
 
Jason Cruz
I’m not a big fan of using the band name to sell things other than music. We met with this small brewery in a town that I grew up in and to us they exemplified us as a band. They are grass roots, coming from nothing and have a little family business and we like the beer. The beer tasted awesome, exactly the kind of vibe that we were going for.
 
SCENEzine
Strung Out has quite a cult following where people take it to the next level and get your logo tattooed on them. Must be humbling for you to see so many fans with Strung Out ink?
 
Jason Cruz
Yeah it is humbling man I think about it all the time. It’s hard for me to slow down like with this whole thirty year thing I’m only now starting to get my head around it. I think when I’m older and I’m not doing this anymore I’ll slow down a bit and actually really think about it but I’m so goddamn preoccupied with what to do next that I don’t think about stuff sometimes like I should. So when I do an interview and someone brings it up or I see it in the crowd I get reminded to slow the fuck down and appreciate this.
 
SCENEzine
Lastly I’m a big fan of your other band The Howl. Is there any news on new music from that project?
 
Jason Cruz
Yeah I’m going to try and get something out by the end of the year. I lost a couple of members. One member to cancer my best friend and my guitar player moved. So I think the next thing that I do wont be anything like that it’ll be a little different. I always have to do something else and keep busy or I’ll drive everyone around me insane. I appreciate you bringing it up and listening that means a lot to me coming from so far away.
 
(interview by Christian Ross)
 
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