Strung Out

In 1996 Strung Out released Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues. An album that became an instant classic as it was one of the fastest album the punk rock planet had ever heard. Two years later the Simi Valley band didn't disappoint when it came back with Twisted by Design. Both albums are considered by a legion of Strung Out fans to be essentials records to own for any punk rock devotee. To celebrate those two records Strung Out decided to go on a two month long tour that would be called Twisted In A Suburban Wasteland and to play both records in their totality every nights. Crazy concept right? Many people rejoiced including Punknews interviewer Alexis Charlebois who had a conversation with drummer Jordan Burns to talk about this tour who will go through North America from July 17th to October 5th

You’ve just been voted the best punk drummer through Drummer Magazine. How cool is that?
It’s pretty bad ass I might say. The thing is that I know that there’s 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 I’m pretty humble about it ‘cause 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, there’s 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 you’re about to leave on a tour called Twisted In A Suburban Wasteland. So you’ll play Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues and Twisted by Design in their entirety every night?
Hum…yeah…every night we will play both records. I think it’s gonna be a bit challenging. It’s definitely gonna be like running a marathon for me because it’s twenty-seven songs right there. I feel like everyone is really excited about the shows. The tickets sale have been going very well so that’s obviously a good sign that people are very interested in seeing this. I’m just being concerned with the length of the show and I just really hope that we can keep people’s attention. I think it’s going to bring a lot of people haven’t 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 that’s really cool and that it’s gonna go very well.

Suburban came out sixteen years ago and Twisted came out fourtneen years ago. Do you feel like it’s been this long?
Time flies but we’re having fun. When I think that I’ve been in this band for almost twenty years it’s insane to think that it’s been so long. That we’ve had such a long career and that we are still making music and people are still caring, it’s a good feeling. But it doesn’t really seem like it’s been that long ago.

Do you consider these two records being your best records?
Hum…no. I mean, I don’t like to personally say that because I love all of our records. I really like everything we’ve done with an equal amount of passion. I think we’ve done a very good job at staying creative and making music that is still interesting. It’s 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 it’s always the fans who decide if you did or didn’t do that by the reactions that you get…but based on sales Suburban and Twisted definitely seem to be our fans favorite albums. But back then things were so different. You can’t 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. That’s 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 that’s a lot of records and I’m 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. That’s 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. It’s pretty intense and to try to recapture that intensity when you are sixteen years older than you were back then it’s challenging. As a drummer it’s definitely different physically on your body and…I’m not an athlete.

Were you realizing it was going to be such a good record when you were recording it?
Yeah, when you’re in the studio making your music and putting your heart together you definitely have the feeling inside of you that it’s going to be fucking amazing. Pretty much every band is guilty of saying: «This is our best stuff ever! » when they put a record out. You always have that feeling and you want it to be true but like I said it’s your fan base who decide if you did or didn’t 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 «Fuck off everybody! ». 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 it’s funny because we are still hearing little debates about that. We have proof that that didn’t 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 won’t have to play it so fast. But no, that’s not the truth. There wasn’t 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 it’s 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 ‘cause we are so huge as a band and are such big rock stars. That’s when I realized it. No…I don’t 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 don’t think I even did know that back then and if I did I don’t remember. Fat Wreck Chords just probably made that shit up. It’s cool to know ‘cause Propagandhi is definitely an amazing band and they’re a band that I would love to share the stage with. I’ve know those guys forever although I don’t 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. That’s how far back I met those guys and I really think they’re 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 but…maybe he’ll read this and he’ll be interested this time. They’ve 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. It’s 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 don’t 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 he’s 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 Pole’s dead and we are not.

Strung Out remained with Fat Wreck Chords for all of their releases and I’m pretty sure that after Twisted by Design you got offers from major labels. Any reason why you’ve always remained with Fat?
Fat Mike has always been very, very fair and the way he deals with all of his bands and what he’s able to do and the offers that he gave us…Fat 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 haven’t really had the desire to seek out other things. But seriously back in those days we didn’t really have any major labels knocking at our door and taking us for diners and try to make us sign a huge record deal. It’s funny because we’ve seen some bands that did take that route and we’ve seen it fail in several different cases. I don’t 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 it’s cool it worked out for them.

The American election are coming in November, do you have any…
Oh God. You want to talk about politics…I’m not big on politic at all. I think they’re all a bunch of crooks and puppets and I don’t think it matters who goes in there ‘cause I believe the President is just a puppet ran by the upper above that are way bigger and more powerful. He’s just told what to do and…yeah, I don’t wanna go into all this shit.

That’s cool. It’s already a good answer. Do you have a new record coming out sooner than later?
How about later than sooner. We’re all talking about it and we want to get a new record out but we are aiming at 2013. As long as we’re all here and we don’t all die on December 21st as the Maya predicted ‘cause there’s a lot of shady shit going on around the world. So let’s see what will happen in 2013 right?