“If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready.” – Jason Cruz of Strung Out

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Jason Cruz was either confident or crazy. Turning his back on school and a scholarship, Cruz rolled the dice on a dream. Strung Out was the gamble that became the education of a lifetime.

Nearly a year after their “lights out” show at Vinyl Music Hall as supporting act for Face to Face, Strung Out returned to town as headliners of their tour with The Swellers. One week before their show, Cruz talked about his art, his music and his life with Strung Out for the Pensacola News Journal’s weekly music column Music Matters.

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Here is a link to the article “Strung Out’s Cruz is still living the dream” and the full interview follows below.

***Jason Cruz interview***

MS: How is the new album coming along?

JC: The new Strung Out record?

MS: Yes.

JC: We haven’t even…I think we’re all just going to go home. I think that’s the reason the intensity of this tour is so we can hit it hard and then be done with it and get home and then concentrate on what the next records going to be like.

MS: You’ve got your solo work too. Do you have any material coming out from that?

JC: Yeah, I’m going to do that when I get home too. I have my little thing for sure.

MS: Man, Jason you’re a busy man.

JC: That’s what we do, you know. What else is there? There’s music and there’s family; not necessarily in that order, but that’s life.

MS: You give so much in your shows, is it overwhelming sometimes? Your shows are pretty intense. How do you juggle it all?

JC: I’m not a doctor, I’m not a paramedic or a cop or a somebody…it’s rock n’ roll, man. It’s an incredible opportunity to just be able to do it for this long and I just appreciate the fact that I get to do it. I know they’re a lot of people out there that have it a lot harder than me, so I try to think about that.

MS: When did you know that this is what you wanted to do?

JC: I can probably remember the exact moment that I wanted to make music and art my life. I dropped out of high school to do this; to get on a plane and travel the world. I had a scholarship that I bailed on because I knew that what I really wanted to do wasn’t anything that could be taught in school. I’m still learning every day, man. Every day of my life, I try really hard.

MS: With everything you do; your art, your life, family, touring, recording, what’s the coolest part of this entire ride for you?

JC: Like I said, it’s funny. I want to pass on all of the beautiful things that I’ve learned. The experiences that will lead her. For as long, hopefully…I don’t know how much longer it can go on, but I’m surrounded with art and music and that’s my life and that’s her life right now and I really am proud of that.

MS: The last time I saw you in Pensacola, things got wild, lights went black, something happened with security; what’s the craziest thing you’ve seen at one of your shows?

JC: Oh man, Jesus! I don’t know. I think every night there’s something fucking crazy. It’s hard to think of right now. I have to think about that; there’s so many things that are competing in my mind right now. Mostly its…one of my favorite things is watching kids sing the words, especially when they don’t really know the words (laughs). I’ve seen some broken necks, I’ve seen some great fights, I’ve seen people get stabbed, I’ve seen fights on stage, a kid got electrocuted on stage really bad, that was really fucking crazy. I’ve had a drummer fall off stage because he was having a nervous breakdown.  Shrooming onstage and having a bad trip in the middle of a show and running away in the middle of a show.

MS: You survived all this, what would you tell someone that wants to do this? What would you tell someone who wants to be where you are?

JC: I say start young and have nothing to absolutely lose. With this kind of life you have to start out young and dive into it 100% and hopefully you’ll get lucky. I got lucky in the fact that I still get to do this and I don’t take it for granted for a second. You just got to do it and give it an honest go with everything you got and at least you can say that you did it. You can’t have one foot in a safe placeand try to…it’s not going to work.

MS: On that same note, what advice would Jason Cruz of today tell a younger Jason Cruz just starting out?

JC: Oh my God! Become an architect. (laughs)

MS: Crazy question. Crunchy or creamy peanut butter? What do you prefer?

JC: Crunchy.

MS: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

JC: If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready.

MS: Is there anything you want to add for the die hard fans that are coming out Sept. 11 to Vinyl Music Hall in Pensacola, Florida?

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JC: Expect a really long show and don’t get too buzzed too quick; pace yourself throughout the course of the night. It’s going to be a really long show. And we look forward to you guys coming out and it’s going to be good.

MS: I’ll be there. I’m looking forward to it. The last time I saw you, I got in the pit while you guys were playing and a dude hit me in the back of the head and knocked my glasses off, but it was worth it.

JC: Well, we’ll see what we can do for you this time.

– Michael L. Smith

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