Explosive Californian punk legends Strung Out are heading back to Australia to tour their massive and much loved album, Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues. This is the first time they’ve toured the album in it’s entirety but it wont be alone, you can also expect ear blasting, punk grin inducing favourites like Analog, and Too Close To See from their epic catalogue. Jake Kiley, really looking forward to the tour, talks about the shows, the band and the drummer change.
First up I wanted to know why Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues.
Jake explained, ‘it’s one of our more popular albums that people seem to have requested a lot. It will get people psyched to come out. We’ll do that record and a bunch of other songs as well and make it a really complete show all round. So it’s going to be a lot of fun.’
These other songs, according to the press release include Analog, Calling, Blueprint of the Fall, Ashes and Matchbox which made it seem that the set list was locked in, but is it?
According to Jake ‘we’re still working it out, obviously the record itself we know what that will be but we will cover a variety of different things off our newer albums and the best of our entire catalogue. You know you have certain hits that you have to play every night, that will always be in the show but then there’s other songs that you can rotate around and do new stuff.’
Obviously I have my favourite Strung Out songs and I want to know do they match with the ‘have to include’ songs Jake mentioned.
Jake says, ‘some of the stuff off the early records is really important you know, Too Close To See, Firecracker, Bring Out Your Dead. Songs like that really are kind of staples of the set and some of the newer albums have songs that we made videos for so we play them and some of the newer songs like Analog. We have a new drummer now so we’ll have to stick to the songs that we’ve worked out with him so that will narrow it down a bit but we’ll have about 12/13 songs that will be in there and between us we’ll come to some sort of agreement on the strongest.’
Thanks for the perfect Segway to ask about the seemingly abrupt change in drummer after 20 odd years in the band.
‘It was a long time coming, for some time now we’ve just felt like he wasn’t really motivated to maintain playing and really keep stepping up in playing which is what we’re trying to do. And we were running into lots of problems with that and it came out. We kind of just kept putting it off because we wanted to keep that original line up in tact but it got to a point where it was just completely counter-productive and I don’t think the band could have really existed in that situation any longer. It was just what we had to do and we wish him the best and hope he starts a new group or gets into a new group. It’s unfortunate but that’s how some people choose to be. We’re not going to let it slow us down; we’ve got a lot to do still.’
There is a lot to do still with a new acoustic EP, Black Out The Sky scheduled for release in a month’s time.
‘That will be really cool you know, it s the first time we’ve done something in acoustic format. It’s very stripped down and different from anything we’ve done so far. There’s not a lot of drums but there’s a lot of other instrumentation on it and the vocals really sell the songs. It’s something we’ve been talking about doing for a while and last year we just decided to put some time into it and make it happen. It’s a cool thing that we can interject into our set, we can do acoustic shows here and there. But it’s not like the new direction of the band or something like that.’
Ok, so we don’t need to panic that Strung Out are going soft on us?
Jake laughed, ‘no, no, god no. It was a fun experiment but we’re already working on the next full electric record and it’ll probably be one of the most aggressive things we’ve put out. So it’s kind of like the yin and yang to balance out. It’s good to do that I think. It’s important as artists to challenge yourself from time to time and do something that is completely out of your comfort zone or what they’re known for. And I think our fans will appreciate it for what it is. If it gets a really big response then maybe we’ll do more stuff like that down line.’
But that’s not really what drives you guys, public opinion or what’s popular? ‘Well not really, you have to do it on your own terms first and foremost, really have to do it for yourself, to find what it is inside you that you’re looking to accomplish and what you’re trying to achieve. You know that’s what we’ve always done. We’ve always been very true to ourselves, very committed to our own vision of what our band should be. Of course you’re influenced by the reaction to things that we do. If you put something out and people just don’t really connect with it then there’s no real reason or point to do more of that.’
There hasn’t been much of that for Strung Out, nearly 30 years later they still have legions of loyal fans psyched to come out to the show.
Jake gets super excited, ‘yeah, it’s unbelievable. They get more out of it than I do, it’s pretty unbelievable.When you write it you’ll feel strong about some but when you see the appeal, how much it effects them it’s like, wow, I never even knew that this would have that much impact on somebody else. It can be really overwhelming but you just have to really give it your best and we have to earn this rather than be given you know. Show people like, hey we appreciate you allowing us to still do this. It’s really cool.
So after all this time there is still a love for the whole thing, creative process, recording, touring?
‘Oh yeah, it’s fun to write, it’s fun to record the album but that’s like the academic process and going out there and seeing the people that love it and playing to them that’s the real reward. For me, that’s what I love first and foremost, playing the shows live. But you know you need one to facilitate the other. It takes a lot of determination but it’s been fun. When you enjoy it it’s not really a struggle, and that’s why we’re still doing it. We’ll never get rich from this band but I’d much rather have the richness of the experience, of the love that we get than the material wealth or something like that. We’re really lucky you know, we get to do something we enjoy, something musical and not just like digital, it’s fun.’
Definitely not digital, Strung Out will be smashing gigs with their unique brand of sonic defiance June 21 Solbar Maroochydore, June 22 The Brightside Brisbane and June 23 Sharkbar Miami. Bring out your dead, uncover your inner Monster and get your arse there.
Tickets available through http://davidroywilliams.com/tours/strung-out/