Music Interview: Strung Out won’t sell out

By Logan Niehaus

Today’s music industry is a complex labyrinth of hyper-rich egos, maniacal self promotion and a significant amount of complete bullshit. Bands are nothing more than trading cards in a system of corporations honing in on the weekly trend and bleeding the very same thing dry beyond any recognition. Even punk music, the one division known for giving a big fuck off to all the mainstream garbage and commercialism is at its proverbial breaking point. Tarred and engulfed in a relentless creation of image driven, emotionally deprived, corporate sewage, punk rock has become the trivial excrement of personal carnage. One of a select few bands from punk’s pre-apocalyptic state are Strung Out, a band who have never walked this line and continue to be a prolific power of musical invention and respect.

Roughly 13 years ago Fat Wreck Chords signed a young SoCal group with a strong sense for melodic punk and a creative flair. These two traits have remained boldly apparent through their whole career. Released in 1994, Another Day in Paradise was the start to what is still a strong relationship between Fat Wreck Chords and Strung Out. Most of the members were just out of high school the but were just as eager to do what they had been working towards most of their lives as they were young.

“It was exactly what I had hoped to do,” explains guitarist Jake Kiley. “By the time high school was wrapping up I was hoping to be in a band that had some shit going on, to just get out of town and hit the road”.

As initiation into the Fat family, the boys were released into the world touring with punk idols NOFX. Treated with the utmost respect and invitation, NOFX offered an unbridled commitment to Strung Out making touring what it’s supposed to be, fun.

“The guys were so nice and down to earth and just the anti-rock star,” Kiley points out. “That was so cool and made us feel right at home. That’s kind of the ethic we’ve always tried to carry out and when we take out new bands we try to open up to them and support them. We try to make them understand we’re in this together. Its not just about being the bigger band or some stupid celebrity shit.”

Unfortunately there is a growing trend among new bands to picking up a real rock star mentality. This has lead to problems with the boys in Strung Out who were raised in simpler times and has severed many possible friendships with upcoming acts.

“Making friends in this is an awesome thing,” Kiley says. “When it’s all over with, that’s one of the few things you can come out with, some great musicians I can respect”.

Being an integral part of the punk world throughout the last decade, the changing industry does not go unnoticed to Strung Out. The band is extremely vocal about what is breaking down a once proud and prominent industry they are still so committed to.

“Punk rock in general is just about to completely collapse,” insists Kiley. “It’s got no heart to it. We just finished Warped Tour and you see the kids in America. I have never seen a more insecure, sheepish, slack of kids; all looking the same, all wearing the same exact shirts and haircuts. And no one’s fucking doing it to be different, they’re all doing it just to fit in. That’s what’s fundamentally wrong with this music.”

The need to create an image isn’t for Strung Out. Punk has always had an image attached to it. Lately the emphasis has shifted away from what should be focused upon, the music.

“It’s just short-term attention spans,” stresses Kiley. “They [new pop-punk culture] don’t even care who started the scene. You see them walking around in Iron Maiden or Black Flag shirts, when they don’t even know one of their songs. It’s like they do it because the All American Rejects wore Bon Jovi shirts and figure they can wear a Def Leppard shirt and be hip.”

Strung Out’s fan base continues to grow, catching different people’s attention the old fashioned way. Many fans still enjoy both a good show from an inviting band rather than one more likely to spit in their face.

“That’s why we have always been stoked on our fans,” says Kiley. “We see such a mix of people. I want our shows to be for people who know our music and enjoy it.”

Unfortunately, this is often untrue for many bands today and it makes Strung Out unique on a much bigger level.

Artistic, inspiring and loyal are just a few ways to describe the band and what they bring to the fledgling punk-rock scene. Until other bands take time to notice this, quality music in the punk-rock scene will continue its path towards extinction.

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