Exploding onto the southern California punk scene, STRUNG OUT were one of the first bands signed to Fat Mike’s Fat Wreck Chords, issuing their debut album in 1994. It was the band’s sophomore effort however that truly proved Mike’s faith in the band was so very well placed. Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues is a fan favourite and will be played in full and in all its splendour when they start their Australian tour this week. Jake Kiley talks more about that classic album and the upcoming Australian tour.
There’s plenty of love down here in Australia for Strung Out and it must be great to be coming back for another tour.
Absolutely. We’re really looking forward to it, man. It’s going to be a blast.
Just trying to think how many tours does that make it now for Strung Out as it seems as if you guys are here every couple of years or so.
Oh, gosh. Oh, yeah, yeah, we’ve been pretty consistent since we started coming over. 1997 was the first time we came over and then every few years since. So it’s probably about fourteen, fifteen tours at this point.
For fans it’s a really exciting for them to be able to hear Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues played in full on this tour. Was that one of the standout albums to do this type of tour?
Yeah, we’ve gone to do it before on different tours where we’ve had that theme of doing that record And it really goes over well. People really respond well to it. It’s one of our better known records so when we decided to book this tour it seemed like a really cool idea to do and just go through it as a whole. Then we’re also going to do a bunch of other material as well. It’ll be a pretty complete show at the end of the day, with modern stuff and this older record. So, yeah, the fans really respond well to it.
Have the fans been asking for this sort of tour as well?
People seem to ask for it quite a bit. We’ve had a lot of people say, “Yeah, you should bring this tour over.” ‘We did this tour in the States a few years back where we did the whole record in its entirety and once people got wind of it, they started asking for us to do it there and do it over in Europe and stuff. It’s very cool and we’re looking forward to it, they should be really rad shows, I think.
When you look at that album, and considering that you’re playing it from the start to end, do you think about what you might do differently if we had the chance over, or what were we thinking when we did that?”
Oh, for sure. Every photo is like a picture of where you are at that time. So you can listen back to it which takes me back to where we were. At the time we just wanted to make a very straightforward, very fast, very unfiltered punk rock record, which I think it is. Every song is pretty short and pretty fast and to the point.
When you look back at it, maybe there are some things we would do different. Maybe some songs we could have slowed down certain parts and made it a little more dynamic, but it’s where we were at that time so it’s better not to really mess with it. People like it for what it is. It’s fun, but still, we’re still pretty connected to that part of our life and our roots that we came from. All in all we’re just really pleased to get to play it for people and I’m really glad people want to hear it.
Do you get nostalgic as well when you do these types of tours where you focus on a particular album from a particular point in time for the band?
Oh, yeah. I mean, everything, I’m really just positive about most things. We live in a very nostalgic era these days where people are very attached to what they grew up with and they hold that very close to them. The movies they grew up with like Star Wars is still the biggest movie franchise in the world but came out in 1978. It’s like we’re living in this crazy stunted time where everyone’s very attached to what they were around when they were younger. I’m certainly guilty of that and I like that, you know? I like to be a part of the things that made me and the things that influenced me early on. I’m very proud of that record and proud that people are happy and want to hear us still do it. Part of me when we made the record, or when we were a band back then, I figured twenty, twenty-five years down the line no-one would care about anything that we were doing. So it’s very cool to have people still respond to it and really want to come out and see it.
What are some of the best memories that stick out for you from 1996 when the album did come out?
Oh, you know, just being out on the road on those early days. Some of the tours we were a part of, being out there with Lagwagon, going out on the early Warped tours. All those sorts of things were a lot of fun and it was all brand new. It’s such a fresh scene and it was such an exciting time to be around it. The skies were the limit as far as where your success could go back then. Some bands were blowing up and doing really well. We just want to keep challenging ourselves, putting out music that we felt was our best that we could do at the time and building on what we had already done. I feel we’ve grown a lot since this record, since that record, but you’ve just got to keep challenging yourself and making it fun, keeping it creative or else you might get tired of it or bored of it.
Are there any new albums that are in the works for Strung Out?
Absolutely. We just finished an acoustic EP. It’s an eight song acoustic record that we just worked on over the last year. It comes out soon and we’re really stoked with it. It’s a whole different side of us that we’ve never really messed around with before and it’s pretty restrained. There’s not a lot of drums on it and the guitar sound is pretty minimal, but the vocals are really great on it. The songs are great and it’s something that some of the guys in the band wanted to do for a few years. It’s good to get this out of us and try something that was completely different from anything we’ve ever done. It also clears the way for the next record too.
Does that open the door to giving some of the other Strung Out classics a bit of an acoustic makeover, and maybe even just doing an acoustic tour?
Yeah, possibly. Out of these eight songs, two of them are old songs that we redid acoustically. Then the other six are brand new, just acoustic material. Now when we start playing some shows where we are playing at a beach or a smaller venue, we can play acoustic shows so then we can bring out more of our material in an acoustic format for those things. Within our traditional concerts we can have like a small acoustic interlude or something in the middle of the set or at the end of the show as well. It’s just one more tool to have at our disposal that we can break out and it’s just one more side of us. It’s definitely not the new direction of the band or anything like that. It was just an experiment and it turned out really good at the end of the day.
When you were saying clear the decks for the next record, is it too early to start contemplating what you might do with it or where it might go?
We’re already working on it now and it’s coming along great. We’re hoping to have it out next year. We don’t want to take too long in between this and the next thing that we do. This EP is really cool but I don’t see it buying us a lot of time where we can tour on it for two years. It’s something that we can add into our shows, but we’re pretty motivated to get this next full length record up and out. We have a new drummer now, and he is just unbelievable. The process is so creative. It’s been so exciting. We’re really looking forward and excited to getting another record out and show the world what we’re capable of now and really pushing ourselves to somewhere we’ve never even done before. It’s a very exciting time for us right now.
Interview by Rob Lyon
Catch Strung Out on the following dates