Strung Out : Jason Cruz
Girls, guns and caffeine bombs

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cc: Now we're onto something . . . I think as a listener you can go back and trace all of those elements in the songs - the melody, the speed, the singing . . . I mean, so that's a pretty good generational gap going there; from something like Elvis, to Hendrix, to the other Elvis, and then there's Maiden. It's great though that you can look past what might've been going on at the time of your arrival - which is to say, go back to the roots - and I think it reflects more favorably in the music and allows more artistic freedom. So where are you at today - you don't listen to much punk music but what do you hear going on with new bands that's pretty happening?

Strung Out - Click to enlargeJC: To me personally, I think punk rock was pretty stale for a few years, but it's starting to get interesting again with bands like The Hives . . . I love The Strokes, man that's my favorite band right now. And just weird shit like that, that's got nothing to do with what I'm doing right now, but everything to do with what I'm doing, if you know what I mean? And that's just me personally. The rest of the band has their own little thing going on. But I think there's a resurgence in rock music. There has to be, because this bubble gum thing - this whole radio thing - what's going on right now and the past couple of years has just been stale to me. I think that we're capable of a lot more. I think as a band, we try and be the best that we can be because we owe it to ourselves and to the music.

cc: You mentioned the bubble gum thing, which you know, amounts to a lot of those pop crossover types being marketed as 'punk'. I'm hearing a fine line between the two, but overall it's just commercially driven music that's always been against the principles of punk music anyway.

JC: I don't know what true punk is anyway. The word 'punk' is irrelevant to me. I hate the word, honestly. I think punks kill punk rock if you ask me . . . but to me, I'm just doing what I'm doing and - I don't wanna drop any names, but - I just think things are stale right now with everything I hear on the radio. I can't go into a CD store and find a CD that I like from a new band. That leaves it open for people to get that creative bug and come up with something better. That's the best way I can respond to that without pointing any fingers.

cc: A noble gesture - and I didn't mean to lead you into that position. You know I mean it's not very ethical to bring up all these Blink 182 type pin-ups now anyway, I think it's pretty self-evident.

JC: Well we won't talk about Blink 182. [laughs] How is it now that they come out with something, and then there are 20 million bands that sound just like them . . . whatever!

cc: And then there's the issue where if a band sounds like so and so, they'll draw criticism cause they were 'good' before . . . ah, but now we've found a winning formula. Bullshit, you're emulating the latest big selling success because after all it's a consumer-driven market, thank you very much MTV!

JC: Yeah, and that stuff's irrelevant to me as an artist. I don't really care about how many records you sold; it's just about creativity in the end. I mean, no one can be completely original, but you try. Another thing is that everyone's trying to be a commercial . . . not necessarily being commercial, but a commercial. You turn on the TV and videos are just commercials for a band's look or a band's lifestyle. Songs on the radio are commercials. I wanna be a band that writes music for its own sake; for the emotion, the energy and the art.

cc: Writing for art's sake and creating complete albums that stand on their own that are still memorable ten years later. You don't find a lot of that anymore. I mean, if you're writing to cater to a given audience and fixed on those one or two hit songs, why bother doing a whole record anyway? Just do a lousy single at a time and leave it at that . . . but then again you lose a large chunk of percentages in the end.

JC: You've gotta make money doing what you do in order to keep doing it. I'm not gonna front and say I don't wanna earn a living. This is a business. You make it a business when you decide to quit your day job and go out on tour. But you control, ultimately, which direction it goes and how you wanna make it succeed - the creativity and the promotion - if you can keep your head above water and maintain your integrity.

cc: And so far you've managed to do alright following your own formula - you've got ten years under your belt, a very impressive turn out for the show, and all this without plugging some big radio song or whatever. And I think for that very reason you mentioned - the staleness of the rock scene - kids will get away from all the hype and find things out for themselves rather than let others decide for them.

JC: We strive for that . . . the musicality, but at the same time I don't wanna think too much about what we're doing . . . or think too much and preconceive about what we wanna be like or sound like. And there is something to be said for simplicity. That can be the most challenging thing to put across sometimes. We just do what comes naturally and its different now. We don't have to try to be anything now.

cc: You've found your own niche and can stick with it and keep building.

JC: When you can pretty much materialize what you think up, that's when you know you're getting at where you wanna be. It just comes out. You can pick it up and pull it off. It's a challenge for any band or artist to pull off what you're thinking without compromising.

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