Strung Out stops in Flagstaff for a lesson in old school punk
By Laura Thompson
Strung Out is a skate punk band older than most freshmen on campus. Formed in 1992 in Simi Valley, Calif., Strung Out has kept true to their sound since the beginning. Guitarist Jake Kiley and drummer Jordan Burns spoke with Lumberjack reporter Laura Thompson about their tour, their most known albums and future plans for the band.
The Lumberjack: Rise Against used to open for you guys and you were considered one of their influences as they were first forming. How does this make you feel, now that Rise Against is a well-established name through the music industry?
Kiley: Well, we’ve known Joe [Joe Principe, bass guitarist of Rise Against] forever, we all met back in the early ‘90s. They’ve been doing [music] as long as we have and they were fortunate enough to get a lot of radio play, which obviously takes you to another level: reaching people. It’s cool to see them get some success and do well where a lot of other bands are just pushed in everyone’s face. They’re a really cool, genuine band and it’s cool to see them get some credit for it.
Burns: I mean, it was really cool to know we took them out on their early tours and we had a lot of good times with them and to see a band like that have such success, we’re proud of them.
LJ: Which songs on Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues and Twisted By Design are, in your opinion, the best?
Kiley: I don’t really know; they’re all equal in my opinion. We just look at those albums as a whole. Twisted has a lot more variety to it — it was kind of an experimental album for us whereas Suburban is just kind of straight-forward, fast-paced skate punk. I actually kind of prefer to play those songs, just the fast, straight-forward punk songs. But for me, my preference is secondary to the fans and the crowd. The songs they’re yelling out, the songs that make them go crazy, those are the ones that make it more fun for us.
LJ: Why is this tour focused on Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues and Twisted By Design?
Kiley: Well, we’ve been doing these albums as anniversary shows for a while. They’re like 17 years old now and word got around and people started requesting us to do them in other places and it just seemed like a cool thing to do, to hit the road and play all these songs. A lot of people ask for these songs and we might not be up to playing them on a normal tour, just because we’re out of practice, so by doing this, it gives a chance to concentrate on them. It’s a throwback; it’s nostalgic for a lot of our fans. I’ve met a bunch of kids on this tour who aren’t kids anymore and they haven’t seen us in like 10 or 15 years since we first toured on these albums, they heard about the tour and came out to see it so that’s really cool.
LJ: What is it about these two albums that stand out from the rest of your discography?
Kiley: They were just kind of our defining work early on and a band is usually always remembered and held up to their earliest and most impactful stuff. Luckily, we were signed early on and put out records consistently every two years. People kind of always hold those early albums as sacred, even if you go on to have huge success with later stuff people always remember the early stuff as what brought them into it.
LJ: What do you look forward to for tonight’s performance?
Kiley: Tequila shots. That’s always good to go on with, a couple shots to get on stage a couple shots halfway through the set. We’re doing a song for Tony Sly [singer of No Use For A Name] because he passed away last month with a couple of guys from the other bands. And just seeing what the crowd’s into, see what they throw on stage. Maybe Jordan will bite the head off a bat. Again.
Burns: Ozzy can’t be the only one!
LJ: Have you ever played the Orpheum Theater in Flagstaff before?
Kiley: No. I love old theaters though, so it’ll be cool. We have played old haunted theaters before which is really cool. We’ve had the staff take us down into the basements and some of the original old closed off rooms. I love [expletive] like that.
LJ: What are you coming out with for 2013?
Kiley: We have a box set coming out. It’s our first three records all remixed and re-mastered and it really sounds better than the original records, in our opinion, so it’s really cool. It’s going to have a bunch of additional photos and some other stories about the records. That’ll be out through Fat Wreck Chords probably in the first half of next year.
Burns: We would’ve actually done this a lot earlier. It’s something that we’ve been wanting to do, but funny enough, some of the Suburban tapes were totally lost, so it hindered us from doing this sooner. We finally found all the tapes and had all the songs remixed by Ryan Green and he just brought a brand new life to all the music, so it’s going to be really cool.
LJ: What are your plans for the rest of this year and the future?
Kiley: Not much for the rest of this year; we’re pretty much wrapping it up. Aside from the box set, you never know, we’re always working on stuff. No deadlines, sometimes it’s good to make people wait. Whatever Jordan can sneak us into.
Burns: I make the deals! But I think the plan is to just keep on doing what we do. Just keep playing music, and we’ll do it at our own pace; we’d like to have a new album out as early as December 2013.
The Twisted in a Suburban Wasteland Tour blasted through Flagstaff on Sept. 26 at the Orpheum Theater. The opening bands who warmed up the audience were The Mandingo el Guapo from here in Flagstaff, Such Gold who came from Rochester, N.Y. and The Swellers out of Fenton, Mich. The audience was thin for the local opening act, which is to be expected so early in the evening for a relatively unknown band.
The Mandingo el Guapo sounded tight and seemed to have a lot of potential, despite lacking energy. Such Gold then took the stage and drew some more people with their improved stage presence and heavy punk riffs. Their heavier sound was complemented by the singer’s intense vocals.
The energy of the bands seemed to be getting better and stronger when The Swellers commanded the stage and incorporated the audience with every song. When Nick Deiner’s — the lead guitarist/singer — guitar malfunctioned, he instinctively dropped it and went on with the show. An outsider would have had no idea anything went wrong. With hands free, Deiner jumped out into the crowd and kept on screaming.
The performance got the audience primed for what was to come. Strung Out burst onto the stage with the intensity of a much more youthful band. Although the bassist, Chris Aiken, was missing for personal reasons, these veterans owned the stage with expertise.
The crowd rushed to the front and the collective energy was all around. They brought the audience into their music — they were sucked in — moving and shaking as one.
Andrew Taylor, a junior business marketing , was thrilled for the show.
“I have a test at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow [but] this is my favorite band, so of course I’m going to come out for them!” Taylor said.
When Strung Out called members of The Swellers onstage to play a tribute to Tony Sly, lead singer and guitarist for No Use For A Name, the crowd went crazy. They continued to tear through the two albums on which this tour is based, Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues and Twisted By Design.
These albums are the fan favorites and nearly every single member of the audience sang along to every song. The band that formed in 1992 is still going strong and keeping true to their sound for their fans, old and new. This show proved that Strung Out still has it and will continue to keep rocking their fans until they’re fired, retired or expired.