Strung Out Revisit Their Old Albums Before Releasing a New One
When asked for his thoughts on Strung Out's heyday in the 1990s, the first word Jason Cruz uses to describe the decade is "weird." Fundamentally, there wasn't anything especially bizarre about the decade of Simpson, Lewinsky, Jordan and Titanic, but when you consider the vocalist's unusual life experiences, yeah, that time must have been pretty strange. "It was definitely a lot of traveling for me and a very crazy time in my life," he says, before offering this observation: "One key thing I can say is when I first started going to Europe in '94, people liked Americans still."
Cruz owes his experience touching so much soil across America to his once-fledgling, Simi Valley-based skate-punk band who emerged at the perfect moment. While pop-punk superstars Green Day, Blink-182 and the Offspring ran up the charts, and as third-wave ska enjoyed a spell in the sunshine, Fat Wreck Chords and Epitaph Records boasted rosters stacked with skate-punk luminaries such as NOFX, Rancid, Lagwagon, Pulley, Pennywise and, of course, Strung Out.
The genre found its niche by latching onto an enviable middle point: The skate-punk sound was melodic enough and cleanly produced, attracting fans straying over from Dookie, with flourishes of gritty, '80s hardcore that injected the sound with extra credibility and coolness. "People were doing something new with [punk]. They were taking what Bad Religion invented, in a way--the Southern California sound--and running with it. Kids all over the world went crazy for it," Cruz says. "People liked that melody. I like to think of it as a jumping-off point for Strung Out--taking that and doing something different with it."