STRUNG OUT // “If fans took anything away from this album it’d probably be two middle fingers”

Ask any fan of punk rock their favourite bands, and more likely than not, Strung Out will appear somewhere in that conversation.

MORE: NECK DEEP: Rating: 8 Middle Fingers REVIEWS: BLOOM: Maybe In Another Life // BANKS ARCADE: DEATH 2 // MANNEQUIN PUSSY: I Got Heaven // JUDAS PRIEST: Invincible Shield

After all, their story is legendary within punk circles. First forming back in 1989 when vocalist Jason Cruz was 15, they were one of the first bands signed to iconic label Fat Wreck Chords.


In 1994, they released their first album, Another Day In Paradise, and quickly became a staple of record stores, live stages, and CD players the world over. They’ve been consistently active ever since, despite a few lineup changes over the years, and this month saw Strung Out release their tenth studio album, Dead Rebellion. However, if you were to ask Cruz, he’d tell you this was a day he never saw coming.

“I never expected that I would stay in the band this long, or I never expected that I would still be here,” he explains. “I think it’s terrifying to be in a band, and then to put so much time into it when you have a family, you constantly ask yourself, ‘am I doing the right thing?’

“God damn it, it’s such a sacrifice to do,” he continues. “You have to really believe in it, and I’ve always really believed in it, what we can do when we get together. It’s something I would never take for granted.”

Initially formed by Cruz, guitarist Rob Ramos, bassist Jim Cherry, and drummer Adam Austin, only Cruz and Ramos remain from Strung Out’s original lineup. Austin would depart in 1993, longtime guitarist Jake Kiley would join in 1993, and Cherry would pass away in 2002. Despite the trials and tribulations that may have occurred behind the scenes, the band would manage to push forward, ultimately becoming a group that is far more mature and stronger than their earliest days.

“I think there’s so much less ego and so much less urgency, and I think that we’re better at being able to restrain ourselves,” says Cruz. “Everybody in the band are just exceptional players, so having these guys trying to get everybody to worry more about what the song needs rather than our need to express ourselves, I think we’ve gotten a lot better at that.”

Indeed, in Strung Out’s earliest days, much of their sound was defined by a need to be hard and fast, and doing their best to blow away their audiences. As time has gone on, their sound hasn’t necessarily relaxed, but has become more manageable, allowing for more space to enter the records, and allowing the members of the group to grow as musicians. As Cruz puts it, that’s one of the biggest differences between their latest effort and their earliest material.

I think it’s terrifying to be in a band, and then to put so much time into it when you have a family, you constantly ask yourself, ‘am I doing the right thing?
[ Jason Cruz, Strung Out ]

“I think the songs are great, I just think that they’re too fast,” he says of their first albums. “Like, Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues, I think that record is way too fast, but that seems to be the thing people loved about it the most. 

“When you make something, people are going to view it their own way and they’re going to find little parts about it that you never would imagine, and it’s not yours anymore.

Twisted By Design, I fucking love that record because I felt like we actually knew who we were and what we were capable of,” he adds. “We did songs like Asking For The World and Just Like Me, and just threw weird shit in there. That’s when I think we started getting good.

The group’s newest record, Dead Rebellion, is their first new album in five years. Arguably, it’s one of their strongest to date. Leaning into heavier sounds than previous releases, and relying more on impact than technical proficiency, it’s an example of their efforts to continue evolving way into the future.

“We didn’t say we’re going to write a really heavy record; it just came out like that,” says Cruz. “I think we make a conscious effort not to rely on speed so much anymore. We use it more as an accent, as opposed to writing a whole record of fast songs, and the last record was kind of fast. So I think we did make a conscious effort to say, ‘We can’t make the same record twice’.

“So in my head I’m thinking, ‘What can we do that’s not like the last record?’ And I think that when we don’t play very fast or we do mid-tempo, it just comes out heavy.”

However, the heaviness of the record seems to be fitting for the lyrical content. Though the album isn’t exactly one full of doom and gloom, it does feature a somewhat darker sound; one which sees Strung Out reacting to the world around them.

Rick Rubin always talks about how we’re just transmitting what’s going on around us,” he explains. “I’m nothing; I don’t mean anything; I don’t exist; I’m just a shell that is a transference of energy, and I think that’s why I like this record, because I feel like so many things came into place. 

“I found the album artwork in the middle of recording and it created a tone that everybody can reflect on and it could reflect back on us,” he adds. “And the uncertainty of everything going on right now, the birth of AI, the crazy shit going on in America, in Russia, just everything right now … it’s weird.”

Most importantly, Dead Rebellion is the sound of Strung Out at their most confident and powerful in years. For Cruz, it’s clear that if he’s not making art, he’s not living life to its fullest, and at 50, he’s reached a point where he doesn’t care about public perceptions or reviews. Instead, he’s all about ensuring that  Strung Out in 2024 is emblematic of what’s to come for the future of the group.

“We are a very strong band, we are putting out some of the best music of our career, and if fans took anything away from this album it’d probably be two middle fingers,” he says. “I don’t give a fuck, I don’t care anymore. I’m proud of where I am with my brothers in the band, and I feel we’ve come to such a great place and we’ve earned the place that we’re at right now.

“I think that’s my new attitude towards the band; I don’t fucking care anymore,” he concludes. “I’m gonna do exactly what I want to do, and we’re gonna do exactly what we want to do, and it’s a beautiful, liberating feeling because I think the best is yet to come.”

Purchase and stream here.


Latest News