Strung Out has talent, longevity and a strong work ethic. As a testament to that they are still riding on the success of 2009's Agents of the Underground a year later, touring in support of the critically acclaimed, fanbase approved record. Punknews interviewer, Jason Epstein caught up with drummer Jordan Burns at their show in NYC on September 17th to chat about vans, bands and future plans.
What is Strung Out's favorite guilty pleasure while on tour?
We watch a lot of stupid movies (which Chris is usually guilty of putting in), listen to a lot of different music like say Hall and Oat's for instance…stuff you'd think no one in our band would listen to. That's all I can think of off the top of my head. Some are definitely smokin' a lot of weed, that's for sure but, i don't think they feel guilty about it at all..haha. Oh, and Steak n Shake! We love Steak n Shake!
Theft is a dangerous thing for nomads such as yourselves and a few years ago you guys had your van stolen. Does it take a long time to recover from something like that and have you been doing anything differently since then?
Well, fortunately we had (and still have) a lot of really great supportive sponsors that helped us out to recover with our instruments. Then we also did one big benefit show that sold out in which we had a lot of fan support from. Fans definitely helped us out big time with that show. But yeah, honestly, I don't think we ever recovered 100% from everything that got stolen. You know there's still a lot of stuff that we haven't replaced but it didn't shut us down, which it surely could have. It can easily wipe out a band. Do we do anything different? Yeah, I'd say yeah we do. We take more precaution. We always make sure that everything is locked and the alarm is on and some other "secret" things that need not be mentioned I suppose but yeah, we do things differently and think a lot more about where we park and of course we'll never stay at a hotel with bulletproof glass in the front office. That's a direct sign to split. You'll be better off sleeping in the van before staying at a shithouse hotel.
When the band is on the songwriting phase for each album, which member usually brings more of the pop punk elements, who brings the skate punk, who brings the metal, hardcore etc?
I don't think there's any certain person that's bringing in one type of song or another. The songwriting process is pretty much a group effort and everyone brings different elements to the table during the process. Everyone's got some sort of involvement in the music so we take the word 'band' and use it as its true meaning where it's a band of 5 people and we all have some input. Add our producer into the mix and that's six creative minds putting it all together, so yeah, there's not just one or two people writing this or that sort of tune. It's all tossed into the Strung Out salad bowl, we mix it up, and out comes the tasty album.
Now that Agents of the Underground has been out for about a year, how are you feeling about its sound, its message and its reception?
Well, I was really stoked when it came out and our producer did a great job with us and all the pre-production. I actually recorded last this time (as I had broken my thumb three days before we were set to record) which was different but, worked out great in the end. Anyhow, our goal is obviously to challenge ourselves and do our best to keep creating better and better music, making stuff that the fans as well as critics are going to think is better than your last album. We're all really quite satisfied with the way it turned out. Most bands always say "Oh, this is our best album ever", and I think it's really easy to say that as a band member and of course being in the band you want to automatically think that but, the truth of the matter is the band doesn't decide; the fans decide who likes what the best. Agents Of The Underground has been received really well so, we are pumped on that. It got almost all really positive reviews too so, that makes you happy as well. It's rewarding and we're proud of it!
What's the most grueling tour the band has ever been on?
We just did a Dropkick Murphy's tour that was pretty damn grueling. Their fans are like sports fans or something. They didn't seem to care about anything else but the Dropkick Murphy's. We love the Dropkick Murphy's (and we're impressed with their success too) and all the guys are awesome. We were stoked to do that tour but their fans were super hard to try and win over. That was a pretty grueling tour. The other grueling tour was when we got our shit ripped off of course because that was only about two weeks into a six week tour and we finished out that whole tour in an old handicap van (wheelchair lift and all) we bought off Craigslist in Boston before we entered Canada. That was "punk rock" for sure. Our good friends Evergreen Terrace helped us out so much during that tour. But yeah, usually things are pretty good and fairly smooth and we have a good time. Aside from breaking down…that is always grueling too!
Are there any other b-sides out there that didn't make it onto Prototypes and Painkillers?
I guess there's a few things but…I think there are certain songs that the band didn't necessarily want to put on. I think we got everything on there we wanted to and it made for a really cool album that takes you through our past to present. Its cool how there is a paragraph about every song inside the album cover that gives you a little insight to each song.
Embarrassing stuff [that the band didn't want to put on]?
I don't think it's embarrassing material, it's just really the progression of the art and the artist. But we did take some songs that were back from the early 90s and put them on there. I say don't be embarrassed by anything because it's part of you know, our growing up as a band and musicians. I'm proud of everything we've done.
What gets your own creative juices flowing?
Personally, with my drumming, creative juices come from seeing other great players. There's a couple of great players like Terry from Rufio and Etienne who just walked in [to the dressing room] from Mute and you watch players like that and that gets the creative juices flowing. My good friend Dean from Good Charlotte lives right by me and we hang a lot and play drums together. He's such a ripper, that surely helps the creative juices. Once in a great while, I'll take a bong rip before practicing by myself and that can bring some creativity too, though it's rare that I puff these days.
What's the worst interview question you have ever been asked?
Well, I'm definitely sick of being asked "What are your influences?", because we've answered that question so many times and you know, interviews can get kind of stale sometimes because there are certain things you get asked all the time, that you're just sick of answering. Even though you feel that way, ya still end up answering cause in my opinion, even if your fully flustered and over an interview, its for the benefit of keeping your band in the news ya know. People seem to have short attention spans and you can easily be forgotten. Luckily, we've got a seriously dedicated hardcore fan base. Just look at all the hundreds n hundreds of Strung Out tattoos alone
What does the future hold for Strung Out?
Well, I think for the future the band is definitely going strong. We're happy that we're able to keep on touring and that people are still interested in our music. I think as long as we can continue to be excited about making new music and touring n such, that there's no reason for us to slow down you know? As far as I'm concerned, there's a lot of places that we've haven't been that we want to go to and I think we'll just keep on going and eventually make it to these places like Russia, Mexico, South Africa… There's no time limit. Its funny cuz sometimes I'll look on our message board and there will be people talking about the break up of the band or whatever. And it's like - umm…we haven't talked about that. It's never been a topic within our camp. We're still plugging away at this and feel very fortunate to still be here with so many people caring about our music. Longevity! It's a great feeling, let me tell you.
Is there anything else you'd like to say?
I guess I could mention that we will be playing a show in LA at the House Of Blues on Friday November 19th to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of our Element Of Sonic Defiance CD in which we will play all 8 songs to start off the show. Should be pretty awesome. Also, follow us on Twitter@StrungOutMusic and you can follow me to if ya wish at Twitter@JordanBurns178. One more thing, check out Mute at www.myspace.com/mutepunkrock from Quebec city cuz they seriously rip, and also check out this new band Danger Friends USA, www.myspace.com/dangerfriendsusa from Simi Valley California, our home base, that i've been working with. They're really different and cool. I think so anyhow, the listener may decide for themselves. Thanks for the interview and thanks to everyone who keeps coming to see us play. Cheers!