Nostalgia is something many punk bands have been embracing, especially during the past year or so, as everyone from the Offspring to Taking Back Sunday have reissued their biggest records. But if someone told Strung Out's Jason Cruz his band was veering that direction, that person would likely incur his wrath. "I don't like looking back, and I really don't care too much to listen to old stuff," the singer says as he hangs out at a dog park near his home in Ventura County. "It's like hanging out with an old girlfriend; it's just hard to do."
That said, Cruz and his band mates have spent the better part of the past six years celebrating their ferocious early material, releasing a greatest-hits package and a box set, as well as going out on a couple of album tours under terms even Cruz begrudgingly accepted.
"It made me appreciate where we came from," he says, "and I need that every once in a while."
While Strung Out was looking back for a brief period, Cruz and guitarist Rob Ramos continued to push forward with their side projects–Howl and the Implants, respectively–which helped them to sharpen their focus and learn what they had with Strung Out. "We appreciated what Strung Out was and what it wasn't," Cruz explains. "I think we understood what the band was capable of and what not to expect [from the collaborative process]."
The time off from writing and releasing new material served them well. With the band members' strong-willed personalities, there were plenty of disagreements at the beginning of the writing process for the new album, Transmission Alpha Delta. On top of their internal squabbles, it took the band a couple of months to shake off the rust and capture their old chemistry in the studio. Producer Kyle Black (Paramore, Comeback Kid) kept the band in line. "He's badass and not used to working with completely insane people like us," Cruz says.
The album, which took two years to finish, showcases a rejuvenated sound.
Though many of their contemporaries have disbanded or are sitting back and celebrating their legacies, Strung Out say they will continue to make music as long as they have something to say.
"It's your duty as a human being to not be the same person you were when you were at 18, when you're a fucking douchebag," Cruz says. "To me, I think that you get better as a musician the older you get. I think it's important to let your music show your age and to be true to where you are in life. As long as I don't look silly up there–which I don't think I do yet–I still have something to say, and there's still something inside of me that needs to be heard."
Strung Out perform with Masked Intruder and La Armada at the Observatory, 3503 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana, (714) 957-0600; www.observatoryoc.com. April 3, 8 p.m. $18. All ages.