Strung Out : Jason Cruz
Girls, guns and caffeine bombs

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cc: [Momentarily distracted as another figure enters the room - train of thought restored, back to the all-important matters at hand] Okay, so looking over the song lyrics, you just said a moment ago about the Americana thing, and to me, I think they're very ambitious as opposed to two or three barely managed sentences thrown together . . . not to dismiss the grand ol' forefathers of punk or anything, but you seem a lot more progressive with your lyrics. So what I'm getting from them is a lot of discontent, a bit of self-discovery, a little on relationships . . . what's your mindset going into it?

JC: I think it's pretty selfish. The advice that seems to be given is not very good advice cause it's of a more self-destructive nature towards myself. I do agree that lyrics should be about discovery. I love Bob Dylan. He created meaningful music for me. So I guess I take upon that as far as figuring yourself out and experimenting in your head before you go and preach to anybody else. So basically it's just letting somebody in on your thoughts. It's my way of figuring shit out in my head . . . it's pretty selfish actually.

cc: I caught the last line specifically from the song American Paradox, which was pretty interesting: "So I'll scratch my eyes out, rip this face off, and rebuild something new for the world to choke on." I mean, that's pretty intense, and yet seems to embody something a little deeper than just, you know, you won't get rid of me that easily, or something . . .

JC: Well it's drawn from complete frustration of not being able to satisfy anybody . . . when you're trying to satisfy everybody in a way. Just being yourself and doing what you've gotta do to get by and survive. I'm not gonna tell anybody how to live their life; I don't have a right to. So just listen to me vent about my own. Life's all about relationships and the way you deal with people and that's what I try to do. I just figure out my own relationships in my life and sometimes it's not always positive . . . and it's fun to be a little self-destructive sometimes, honestly.

cc: That's true, and that's basically what punk rock was founded on - those principles anyway - where if you've gotta tear it up, lyrically or physically or however, the message will get delivered. Now you guys started out about a decade ago. Have you always followed this approach or would you say you've progressed along the way since the beginning?

JC: We've always approached the music to be as interesting as we can make it cause everybody in the band writes. And we have a strong metal influence, which has grown over the years. I think that the band's gotten more confident and as the metal influence has grown, so has the restraint factor. We used to write songs and throw out as many riffs as we could in the shortest amount of time, and just threw it at you, and there it is. But now I think we've gotten more . . . a little bit more refined, and a little more in tune to what we wanna say, you know? So I think we're using restraint and our songwriting skills have developed a whole lot more.

cc: Right, they call it 'maturity'.

JC: And articulating what you wanna do and say.

cc: Plus you just get better with age. Your skills have more time to develop and you learn and grow as a band. I've actually found that with a lot of the punk bands similar to yours - you know, the Epitaph types; Fat Wreck and labels like that where the bands are a step above strictly punk music, and there's a lot more melody and harmony lines . . .

JC: Yeah, must have something to do with the California sun or something. [laughs]

cc: And plus you mentioned the metal influence to your playing and maybe that's what it is. Punk music is, well still very much 'punk' with a lot of the bands out there, but then there is that metal and rock-based influence that allows you to fly just a little bit farther with your music.

JC: A progressive character . . . it's a new wave of progressive music. Call it punk, or call it whatever you want . . .

cc: [All of sudden the door swings open and another blaring shoots through the entire room as I reach for the stop button - the room suddenly a two way pathway from back area dressing room to lounge area and I reel for another starting point] Let's have some musical influences from back when you started . . . you mentioned Dylan earlier.

JC: I was just a little punk rock kid and my band was just a bunch of hashers . . . I don't know. My mom used to always listen to this really bad, sad sounding music. And some of it was really good, like old Elvis. And really, I guess I just picked on the whole melancholy melody thing from her music. And so from there it was how I wrote melodies. I don't really listen to too much punk rock. I find myself going back to the classic stuff that started it all; going back to the roots of everything. There's The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix - I love Hendrix and Dylan - Elvis Costello. Everyone in the band has got completely different influences, so that's what makes it kinda strange, but good.

cc: So give me two in particular that are so widely divergent that you'd never expect them to blend together within the same group.

JC: My band loves fucking Slayer! And Iron Maiden . . . and then there's Bad Religion. And it's like . . . you can hear them a little in the music. I hate Iron Maiden, but the rest of the band worships them! So you've got that, and what I mentioned earlier, and that's what makes it Strung Out.

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