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Strung Out expects nothing less than your best

Punk band returns to Whistler in support of new album Transmission.Alpha.Delta



Having played to Whistler crowds before, Jason Cruz has an idea of what to expect when he and Strung Out hit the stage at Garfinkel's on April 14.

"It's awesome. It goes off," he says from his home in Ventura, Calif.

"It fucking better go off. First song it better erupt or I'm calling it quits and going home. I'm expecting a lot from you, Whistler."

You get the sense he's only half kidding.

At the time of our conversation, Cruz — whose speech is a charming mixture of pleasant courtesies and well-timed expletives — is preparing to hit the road in support of Strung Out's new record Transmission.Alpha.Delta.

He says he has one crucial piece to add to his preparation in the weeks leading up to a big tour — get sick.

"Figure out a way to get really sick and then that way you get it out of the way, so you know, you're a machine," he laughs.

"And start drinking. Up the drinking to get your tolerance up there."

But Cruz admits he probably doesn't drink as much as he should on tour.

"Handle business first," he says.

"The overall consensus when it comes to touring is take care of business first, and then you can have your drink after."

Take note, young rockers — these are wise words from one of punk rock's longest-serving frontmen.

Cruz and Strung Out have been tearing up stages with their blistering brand of speed-punk-metal since 1989 — a virtual lifetime in punk years.

"I've seen bands come and go, I've seen lead singers come and go, I've seen guitar sounds come and go," Cruz says, when asked how the punk scene has changed over the years.

But after all this time, Cruz says he's written off caring about the scene and its at times constricting pressures.

"The scene made us. We got lucky and we were able to piggyback on the back of the punk resurgence, and I will forever be thankful that we were that lucky," he says.

"But at the same time, the scene, it can be devastating to creativity. It's almost like a uniform. It's almost like an expectation."

When you've been a band as long as Strung Out has, expectation plays into a lot of the music you put out.

"I guess I'm the kind of person that tries to defy expectation, but at the same time, you don't want to alienate the people who have supported you the most, so it's a fine line," Cruz says, about Transmission.Alpha.Delta — Strung Out's ninth studio album.

"It's impossible for me to be objective about it," he says.

"I'm just glad that it's finally going to be out, and it's exciting to hear what people are going to think about it, because we drove a lot of people crazy making this thing, and we drove ourselves crazy."

Listening to Transmission.Alpha.Delta, it's likely that Cruz has nothing to worry about — the record is as fast and melodic as one would expect from a Strung Out album while still managing to forge its own path, and has been pulling in rave reviews online since its release on March 24.

Strung Out's last release was 2009's Agents of the Underground — but the band has kept busy in the interim.

For Cruz, the past few years have been taken up by the birth of his first child and his side project, Jason Cruz and Howl.

"It taught me to be a little bit more confident in my songwriting abilities," Cruz says, of his solo work.

"It taught me that Strung Out is always going to be Strung Out, and there's things about Strung Out that I cannot control and I cannot change, and I no longer try to.

"I think that's what made (Transmission.Alpha.Delta) so great... we all kind of accepted it is what it is, and it's more of a celebration. I'm able to celebrate what Strung Out is now, as opposed to trying to mould it into something that it's not."

If you're unfamiliar with what Strung Out is, the fury will be on full display April 14 at Garf's.

Cruz is expecting nothing less than your angry, aggressive best.

"It's something about the air up there, or the water or the beer or something," he laughs.

"But it goes off every time."


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