Calling all long time Australian punkers! If you haven’t heard the news, Strung Out are making their way to our shores in June to not only celebrate ‘Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues’ in full, but also the absolute best of Strung Out!
Getting to chat with founding guitarist Jake Kiley about the upcoming tour, the opening topic of conversation was about how excited Strung Out are to come back to Australia. Kiley pointed out that, “We love coming down there; it’s always a wonderful time when we get to come down and see you guys. It’s a beautiful country with great people and great beer! It’s always a pleasure and I’ll never get tired of coming there. We just want to make sure that we keep the set interesting enough that you want to keep coming to the shows.”
Moving onto how the ‘Suburban’ tour first came to light, Kiley explains, “Our agent brought it up so we could come back, as we haven’t had a new record in a few years. As it’s one of the more popular albums and people really connected to the songs, it’s a great way to make it a fun, exciting tour. We’ll do the record and then we’ll do another 12 or 13 songs from other records, so it will be a complete show at the end of the day.”
When asked whether Strung Out made their way across America in 2016 to celebrate 20 years of ‘Suburban,’ Kiley pointed out that, “I think it was around the 17th or 18th anniversary. We noticed a lot of people wanted to hear this record and we just decided that it would make a good tour. Sometimes it’s cool to keep it to a year, but it’s been so long now that we just decide ‘f**k it, let’s just do it!’ Plus the world might not have been around in two years’ time,” he laughs, “so let’s just do it before it’s too late! It’s cool that people still want to hear it, so it made sense to take it around the world as well.”
Taking time to talk on a more personal level, when asked if he had a personal favourite song on the album, Kiley quickly expressed, “That’s really hard to say, as I love all the songs on that record!” before going into further detail. “Wrong Side of the Tracks is one we don’t do all the time, Six Feet or Somnambulance we don’t do all that often, so it will be cool to get all those in there and go through the whole thing. Plus it’s such a short, fast record, we could knock it out in like 25 minutes which leaves us a lot of time in the set to do a lot of newer or different things.”
After a bit of conversation regarding previous Australian tours where fans might have heard ‘Suburban’ songs being performed live, Kiley pointed out how, “Even though a lot of the songs are in the set regularly, there are a few that we haven’t played in quite some time! The biggest challenge is getting everything up to speed. That record is a very pure punk rock record, where every song is super short but super-fast! We have a new drummer now, who has brought a whole new life and fire into the band, so it’s going to be the fastest we’ve played these old songs in some time! Our long-time fans are going to be in for a show that they’ve never seen from us.”
Unfortunately Strung Out recently had to make their first line-up change in almost two decades. When Kiley was asked how new drummer RJ Shankle is going about learning everything needed, Kiley was very quick to point out that, “He’s done an incredible job. He’s exactly what we needed!” Kiley then gave a much unexpected inside perspective into what recently went down. “We were in a situation where we were hardly practising; it felt like our old drummer Jordan (Burns) didn’t care about being in the band, as far as writing or improving his performance. Now with RJ, he’s practising all the time; in fact I can go there anytime and jam with him! He’s just been this whole breath of fresh air and a great thing to experience, as he’s taking it super serious and wants to step up his game as well as the band. We made sure that by getting someone new, it was someone who would definitely improve our band and our performances live, which has definitely been happening!”
Kiley then gave further insight about the toll it was taking on the band as a whole, pointing out that, “The band couldn’t exist the way it was, as it was grinding us down. We kept it going for a long time longer than we should have, but I thought there was a lot of value in keeping the original line-up as close to intact as possible. It was a tough call, but it was the right call. Some old fans might be a bit hesitant because they’re used to Jordan, but we are 100% better with the choice we made.”
Kiley was very quick to point out that there was no bad blood between Burns and the band. “We wish Jordan the best; hopefully he can get into a new group and find the motivation that he needs to become a better musician. Jordan is still a great drummer but for we’re trying to do, we needed someone who was operating on all cylinders and going to inspire us to keep going.”
Looking forward to the future of Strung Out, has there been any talk within the camp about a follow up to 2015’s ‘Transmission Alpha Delta?’ Kiley was quick to mention that, “We actually have an acoustic EP called ‘Black Out the Sky’ coming out next month,” before mentioning, “I’ve been jamming with RJ working on new material this last week, whilst the other guys have a bunch of new songs! We’re hoping to look at getting together in the next few months and take the next step before long. All I can guarantee is that we’re busting our asses to make this next record better, as well as one of the most extreme and intense records that we’ll probably ever make; we’re supercharged to make this gnarly, electric record!”
Before drawing the interview to a close, Kiley reminded fans, “If you want an insight into the new acoustic songs, check them out on YouTube,” before mentioning, “Thank you all for having us back again. We love Australia and it’s always been a wonderful second home to us! We’re gonna make this tour amazing, so just please come on out to the shows. It’s probably going to be the best time you’ve ever seen us!”
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