Web Exclusive: A conversation with Strung Out’s Jason Cruz

April 1, 2009
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STRUNG OUT will soon finish recording their seventh studio album, but first, they’ll unleash Prototypes And Painkillers–a 25-track collections disc spanning the band’s greener years up until the present day–released yesterday on Fat Wreck Chords. BRIAN SHULTZ recently spoke with frontman JASON CRUZ about the compilation, as well the band’s new recording and Cruz’s newest musical endeavor.

How long has this compilation been in the works?

It’s been [in the works] for a while. It just took awhile for everyone to agree on stuff. We just haven’t been able to agree on what we want to put out and stuff. We had all these extra songs. That and just getting the stuff together and unifying the project that we [had].

What’s your favorite song on Prototypes And Painkillers?

I think my favorite song is probably "More Than Words." A lot of my favorite songs are songs [for which] we didn’t have enough space on new records, so they end up as bonus tracks on the first 2000 copies or something. I think "More Than Words" is probably one of my favorite songs–and "Lost Motel," of course. [They’re] songs that never really got the attention they deserved, I think, because there just wasn’t enough room on the record. I think that’s cool for kids, too, you know? The songs sound great. I think they’re well written, and it makes the B-sides thing something a little bit more special than a bunch of junk.

More Than Words – Strung Out

How’s the new full-length coming?

I’m doing vocals now. We’re right in the thick of it right now. We’re recording with Cameron Webb. It’s going fucking great. All of the music’s done. A lot of the guitars are done. I have artwork for it getting started, [and an] album title. We’re just coordinating with Fat [Wreck Chords] and figuring out what the game plan is and how we want to approach this thing and how we want this one to be different from the rest–from the other releases.

Are you noticing anything different about the songwriting compared to 2007’s Blackhawks Over Los Angeles?

Yeah, dude; a lot. I think more than any other record. So much has happened in the last year, or over the last two years, since Blackhawks was out. With the war hanging over the last three records, it’s like a new–I don’t know. I hate to sound like a wanker–but it’s like a new day for the band. There are new things to write about. There are just all kinds of new feelings. We’re in such a different place as a band. I feel like slightly rejuvenated. It’s like George [W.] Bush was a shadow over us for eight years; all you could fucking think about [was the] war and everything else going on around us, now it’s just like "what did we learn from that? Where are we at now? So let’s try and show people what we’re all about, I guess."

Would you say the new songs are slower, faster, more melodic?

Always more melodic. The tempo doesn’t mean anything to me as long as there’s a good melody. I like pretty melodies. Pretty, fat melodies. It’s fun to try and fit something pretty over something that’s super metal. I like that contrast, that juxtaposition.

Velvet Alley (Acoustic) – Strung Out

How is drummer Jordan Burns recovering from that broken thumb?

He’s all right. It sucks that it’s just the thumb, like tip of his fuckin’ thumb. Jarrod Alexander [Death By Stereo, Suicide File, the Hope Conspiracy] filled his shoes in for a session, [but Jordan]’s coming along. He was at practice yesterday. We have some shows coming up, so he’s trying to work for those. It’s gotta be fucking frustrating: Days into recording you break the tip of your thumb–[at] practice, of all things.

So are any of Jarrod’s drum tracks going to appear on the album?

I can’t talk about that. [Laughs.] We can’t talk about that. That’s something that we haven’t decided yet. That’s a bridge we’ll have to cross when we get there. It’s about time and there are so many factors involved. It’s kind of a touchy thing.

Has his involvement given you any new musical ideas for the songs?

Yeah, for sure. Like every drummer has his own feel, Jarrod definitely has his own feel. He puts kind of a different swing to the songs. We recorded guitars and I’m singing over it, so I think this record will definitely have a different feel than the last record. I think every Strung Out record has had a different feel than the one that came before it. That’s what we do and I think kids will be stoked on that.

I’ve heard rumors that the band were looking around for a new label. But from what you’re saying, it sounds like those rumors are false.

Yeah. We’re "go." We’re on with Fat again. I’ve talked to Fat and I think we all agreed we want to make this one something special. We’ve been with Fat Wreck Chords and kickin’ it so long–I don’t know. I just want to make our presence felt. I think that we’ve been doing this long enough to show the world, to show kids, to show people that who read AP, that we’re not going anywhere and we still got a lot to prove. Us and Fat Wreck Chords.

Im Not A Loser – Strung Out

You also recently announced your side project, BlackHeart And The Pistoleros. What’s going on with that?

It’s just me having fun with my brother and my friends. I love music and I love playing any kind of music. It was nice to have [the outlet] after straight years of touring with Strung Out, to come home and play something that wasn’t metal and just have fun. And I love to play music and that’s all it’s about, man. Strung Out are my heart and I need–everyone needs something to vent and step away–something to step away to. And that’s what it is.

How long had you been considering doing something with that?

I don’t know. I’ve always liked new challenges. I love playing guitar and my friends–I have so many friends who are so talented, man, that… I don’t know. I’ve just been thinking about it for a long time and I did it. It helped me write a better Strung Out record. I can tell you that. Because certain things–you have to get them out somehow, man. Any artist or anybody that does anything creative, you know that there are certain things that you can’t show everybody. You have to get them out somehow. So that’s all it was. Exorcising my little demons, I guess. alt

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