Youíve just been voted the best punk drummer through Drummer Magazine. How cool is that?
Itís pretty bad ass I might say. The thing is that I know that thereís so many others incredible punk drummers out there. Brooks Wackerman (Bad Religion) who finished behind me is an incredible drummer. A real prodigy kid drummer who has just been insane forever. So to see my name in front of him is pretty insane. I think Iím pretty humble about it Ďcause I know who the amazing drummers are out there. Byron from Pennywise should have been nominated along with Bill Stevenson (Descendents), Eric Sandin (NOFX), Sean Sellers (Good Riddance). So yeah, thereís a lot of great drummers in punk rock so it was pretty cool to be included into that pool. My sponsors are excited and my fans have been leaving me many cool comments so it makes me a happy guy.
So youíre about to leave on a tour called Twisted In A Suburban Wasteland. So youíll play Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues and Twisted by Design in their entirety every night?
HumÖyeahÖevery night we will play both records. I think itís gonna be a bit challenging. Itís definitely gonna be like running a marathon for me because itís twenty-seven songs right there. I feel like everyone is really excited about the shows. The tickets sale have been going very well so thatís obviously a good sign that people are very interested in seeing this. Iím just being concerned with the length of the show and I just really hope that we can keep peopleís attention. I think itís going to bring a lot of people havenít came to see us in a while and a lot of people are talking about the memories that have of these albums, of their youth and I think thatís really cool and that itís gonna go very well.
Suburban came out sixteen years ago and Twisted came out fourtneen years ago. Do you feel like itís been this long?
Time flies but weíre having fun. When I think that Iíve been in this band for almost twenty years itís insane to think that itís been so long. That weíve had such a long career and that we are still making music and people are still caring, itís a good feeling. But it doesnít really seem like itís been that long ago.
Do you consider these two records being your best records?
HumÖno. I mean, I donít like to personally say that because I love all of our records. I really like everything weíve done with an equal amount of passion. I think weíve done a very good job at staying creative and making music that is still interesting. Itís a challenge to keep on doing that record after record, to always try to make a better record than your last. But in the end itís always the fans who decide if you did or didnít do that by the reactions that you getÖbut based on sales Suburban and Twisted definitely seem to be our fans favorite albums. But back then things were so different. You canít compare that period to the one when we released Agents Of The Underground. Obviously things have changed so much within the music industry. But still, we know how popular these two records are and it just made sense to pick those two albums to do this tour with.
Do you have any idea of how much units you sold of these two records?
Of course I know...Suburban sold about 170,000 units and Twisted is right behind with 168,000 or something like that. Thatís a shit load of records for an independent band that never got any radio or MTV support. Not that that shit even matters today but back in the days it did. So yeah, for an independent band and considering we have done pretty much everything on our own thatís a lot of records and Iím pretty happy about it.
What do you remember of the writing process of Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues?
I remember that at that time we were just looking to write the fastest record possible and I think we definitely accomplished that. Thatís something that the fans really really liked about that album at the time; the intensity, the speed. It was a different sound for that time frame when it got released. People were really pumped on it. Sometimes I listen back to that album and I wonder how the fuck did we play so fast. Itís pretty intense and to try to recapture that intensity when you are sixteen years older than you were back then itís challenging. As a drummer itís definitely different physically on your body andÖIím not an athlete.
Were you realizing it was going to be such a good record when you were recording it?
Yeah, when youíre in the studio making your music and putting your heart together you definitely have the feeling inside of you that itís going to be fucking amazing. Pretty much every band is guilty of saying: ęThis is our best stuff ever! Ľ when they put a record out. You always have that feeling and you want it to be true but like I said itís your fan base who decide if you did or didnít accomplish that.
What was your reaction the first time you heard that some people were thinking that your drumming had been accelerated on Suburban because it was basically impossible that you played that fast?
My initial reaction was ęFuck off everybody! Ľ. No just kidding. But what do you mean? That I was on coke or that I took a bunch of drugs to get that fast?
That the recording was accelerated? You never heard that?
I have heard that and itís funny because we are still hearing little debates about that. We have proof that that didnít take place. It would be interesting to figure that it is what happened so that way we can drop the pace a notch and we wonít have to play it so fast. But no, thatís not the truth. There wasnít any acceleration in there.
When did you realize that you were getting really popular? That people were showing a lot of interest in your band after the release of Suburban?
I think itís when I got my first million dollars and I bought my first Ferrari. Now, I of course have tens of millions and a whole Ferrari collection Ďcause we are so huge as a band and are such big rock stars. Thatís when I realized it. NoÖI donít know if I ever did realize it. I think we just kind of rolled with the punches and did or things and played or music. We just did our thing and it was awesome to see things happen and get the reception that we did each time a record came out and we went out on tour. Strung Out started in a time when this whole punk rock market as not insanely flooded with so many bands. Back then it was definitely much more of an original identifiable sound that we were coming out with and it was just cool that so many people loved it and enjoyed all of the music that we were making. It still goes on today so that awesome.
Suburban came out on April 23rd 1996, the exact same day as the release of Less Talk, More Rock by Propagandhi. Were you aware of that? Any kind of friendly competition between you and them back then?
I donít think I even did know that back then and if I did I donít remember. Fat Wreck Chords just probably made that shit up. Itís cool to know Ďcause Propagandhi is definitely an amazing band and theyíre a band that I would love to share the stage with. Iíve know those guys forever although I donít know them well. They stayed at my house when they recorded their first album. Fat Mike brought them out here and they stayed at my house the night before they went into studio to record with Donnell Cameron. Thatís how far back I met those guys and I really think theyíre an amazing band. I would really love to share the stage with them since Strung Out never played with Propagandhi. I told Chris many many times that we want to play with him butÖmaybe heíll read this and heíll be interested this time. Theyíve always done their own things and set their own rules and they like to play with certain types of bands but I think it would be an awesome show and a crazy tour. I have a lot of dream scenarios like putting together a tour with Strung Out, Lagwagon, Propagandhi, Good Riddance and maybe Millencolin. It would be fun to do some sort of super tour like that. Itís just a dream scenario.
When came the time to write Twisted By Design did you felt any kind of pressure or a desire to go in a different direction?
I donít think we ever went in a certain direction or not on purpose at least. Obviously during the first three records Jim Cherry was in the band and he was a very talented songwriter that brought a lot of great music to Strung Out. One thing I remember is that when we went in the studio to record Twisted we just had a bunch more music ready to go. Speaking of Jim Cherry it was the tenth year anniversary of him passing away on July 7th. Shout out to Mister Jim Cherry who was a founder of Strung Out and he was obviously an important part of Strung Out during the years he was in the band. This band would not exist without Jim Cherry and as much as we had a turbulent relationship heís the one that brought me into the band. I was in a band called Scared Straight (who went on to become Ten Foot Pole) and they kicked me out and three weeks later Jim Cherry asked me if I wanted to jam with Strung Out and it ended up working out and Ten Foot Poleís dead and we are not.
Strung Out remained with Fat Wreck Chords for all of their releases and Iím pretty sure that after Twisted by Design you got offers from major labels. Any reason why youíve always remained with Fat?
Fat Mike has always been very, very fair and the way he deals with all of his bands and what heís able to do and the offers that he gave usÖFat Wreck Chords was obviously one of the biggest punk rock label out there and it has always been a good place for us for the most part and we just havenít really had the desire to seek out other things. But seriously back in those days we didnít really have any major labels knocking at our door and taking us for diners and try to make us sign a huge record deal. Itís funny because weíve seen some bands that did take that route and weíve seen it fail in several different cases. I donít know if I need to name bands or whatever but many bands left fat Wreck Chords to go on a major label and get dropped. The only band for which it really works out well is Rise Against. They just became one of the biggest band in the world and their still killing it so itís cool it worked out for them.
The American election are coming in November, do you have anyÖ
Oh God. You want to talk about politicsÖIím not big on politic at all. I think theyíre all a bunch of crooks and puppets and I donít think it matters who goes in there Ďcause I believe the President is just a puppet ran by the upper above that are way bigger and more powerful. Heís just told what to do andÖyeah, I donít wanna go into all this shit.
Thatís cool. Itís already a good answer. Do you have a new record coming out sooner than later?
How about later than sooner. Weíre all talking about it and we want to get a new record out but we are aiming at 2013. As long as weíre all here and we donít all die on December 21st as the Maya predicted Ďcause thereís a lot of shady shit going on around the world. So letís see what will happen in 2013 right?