By Laura Glick
"It’s your baby, you don’t want to see it abused or exploited," seriously says Jason Cruz, front man for Strung Out.
His fear is that mega-record companies may become the guardians of up and coming artists and their music.
To date, the California quintet has avoided such a fate by traversing the lesser-travelled punk-rock highway. It also helps that they’re coddled by a less-controlling mother figure, Fat Wreck Chords.
Spewing raw, chunky and speedy punk rock with the label since their formation in, Strung Out has been eagerly inviting listeners from around the globe into their cavern of metal-tinged riffs.
By far, Cruz’ personal favourite fans have been those in Japan.
"To be that far away from home and in such a different world, and to have the kids freak out like you’ve never seen before," he says, is the highlight of his career. "The enthusiasm for what we do–nobody can come close. They don’t hold back. I like that."
Cruz also really likes Madonna–his voice cracked and his pace quickened when her name was uttered. You could hear his heart rate soar as he contemplated the idea of performing a duet with Madonna.
He would be so close to the pop icon, so close he could touch her. Cruz definitely liked this rock star fantasy.
The preferred song for the duet? "True Blue"–Punk rock style.
"It’s a long time overdue. She hasn’t even touched the field of punk rock yet," he says with surprise as he realizes her neglect of the genre.
Was there anyone else who would make his pulse flutter?
"No, I think I’m going to stick with the thought of Madonna for a while. It feels good," he muses.
Alright. We’ll let Cruz have a cold shower and move back to Strung Out and what keeps the van wheels rolling after eight years of tour flatulence, drool and monotonous highway games.
"Until it becomes work or becomes too much of a hassle to continue we’ll quit, but it’s still fun. I don’t have to have some crappy day job, and I can still pay my rent. I’m happy," says Cruz.
The inner motivation that can’t be categorized kicks into high gear and propels Cruz forward.
"It’s something you don’t really speak about, just something you do, because basically it’s all you ever wanted to do and it’s all you think about," he explains.
The deep passion Cruz tries to put into words is better felt in their music. Their most recent CD, Twisted by Design, adequately captures the vivacity of the group’s live performance. When inches away from an audience, Strung Out can best be described as an exhilarating, sweaty, dizzying display of sheer adrenaline and balls-out punk rock.
To see the spectacle for yourself, Strung Out will be playing an all-ages event along with the Mad Caddies and Choke Thurs. Sept. 30 at the Calgary Multicultural Centre. The show starts at 6:30 pm.