Monday, May 18, 2009

Strung Out

Another one for Monday Magazine, where I wrote weekly and proofread every week until budget cuts and a tough economy found me and the paper saying goodbye. This one was a blast for me, and I think that comes through in the piece. My last few pieces for Monday were some of my favourites I ever did for them.

Punk-Rock Carpet Cleaners
Strung Out change to stay the same

Talking to Strung Out drummer Jordan Burns is a lot like talking to any number of dudes who play in California punk bands. He seems happy. Says “gnarly” more than the average person. Is content with where his band is at, some 17 years into their career, even if it hasn’t brought him to our city that often.
“We’ve only been to Victoria once,” he says while driving to the studio for day one of recording his band’s new album. “Do you remember the time? I do.”
I do too. It was around ’94 or ’95. It was at a venue long-since shut down; I was a young punk rocker and Strung Out was playing with one of my favourite bands, Lagwagon. I had the poster up on my wall for years; at some point I decided to throw it out, which was a mistake. But my memories—however foggy—remain.
Burns has memories of that night too; they involve Derrick Plourde, then-drummer of Lagwagon, who killed himself in 2005.
“We got to the club and they didn’t have a drum carpet for us. So me and Derrick created this plan where we went to a convenience store, walk in and tell the lady we’re here to clean the carpets. Then we grabbed a carpet and just walked out of there with it. We took the carpet back to the club and had a carpet to play on. That’s what I remember about our show in Victoria with Lagwagon,” says Burns, lost in the memory of Plourde. “It was so much fun touring with him; he was such a character.”
For a split second, my mind is elsewhere; it’s 1994 again. Long hair, cassettes, high school. I snap out of it, ask if they took the carpet with them; both Burns and I laugh, but it’s a bit too quick, too loud. We’re both elsewhere.
“Yeah. I got that in storage,” he says. “It says ‘Victoria’ on it.”
I ask about his band’s new B-sides and rarities collection, Prototypes and Painkillers, and get an update on their upcoming studio album almost as an afterthought. Because we’re really not talking about the present anymore; we’re talking about the past. But one thing about Strung Out is that they refuse to live in the past when it comes to their music.
“We’re always challenging ourselves to mix it up,” he says, now stuck in traffic, cursing, late to get to the studio. “This new album is doing that again, it’s completely different. We’ll keep making different sounds, but we always sound like Strung Out.”

-Greg Pratt


  1. I like the writing, Greg. Here's hoping you're getting some major coinage per word. ~ Josh (he of Daddy Drop-in affiliation)

  2. Thanks Josh! Hope all is well.


  3. DeliiriiiumsDelight asks what to listen to next ...