---I had the honor of interviewing Strung Out's guitarist Jake Kiley at Irving Plaza in New York City on November 11th 2004. Jake arrived to the venue about a half hour after I did and we paced around looking for a solid environment to get this interview done. After about 15 minutes we settled on upon a leopard skinned couch and an abnormally tilted bar counter. Hope you enjoy it.
Frank: What's up bro? If you could just introduce yourself and state your role in the band that would be awesome.
Jake: No problem, I'm Jake, I play guitar in Strung Out.
Frank: Well I know you guys have been doing a lot of press lately to promote your new record "Exile In Oblivion", so if you get bored with me just let me know and I'll either refer to another question, or end the interview. Sound good?
Jake: Yeah dude, we have been doing a lot of press lately, and a lot of the questions and stuff cover the same ground, but it's all good dude, don't worry about it.
Frank: All right, well I know Strung out has been together for well over a decade.
Jake: Yeah, it's been a while
Frank: How does it feel to be one of the few bands in the scene that have managed to stick around for so long and keep a solid fan base in an era where bands tend to break up 4 to 5 years after they've formed?
Jake: I've always been kind of surprised that we've outlasted a lot of these bands, not in ourselves so much because we've always enjoyed what we've done, like we've never been close to calling it quits, you know? It's never been that type of a thing; we've just always loved doing it and never thought twice about stopping. Honestly, I don't know why some bands haven't lasted the amount of time we have. For us, it's kind of like, we don't hang out all the time at home, we're friends, but we're not 'buddy buddy' friends. When we're at home we hang out with our other friends and do our own thing, then when we get together and do the band it's like, more of a business kind of thing for us. We love it, but we treat it more like that, so we don't burn ourselves out on everything so much, it's a little bit cooler. We just love doing this and if we were like ten times our size or playing in front of five people, we'd still be doing it just because of our love for it.
Frank: I respect that a lot man. Since you guys have been around for so long, you're music has evolved, and with evolution comes old school fans sometimes saying, "Strung Out sold out, they changed to suit mainstream crowds etc.". Was that ever a big issue and does that stuff bother you guys at all?
Jake: We've been fortunate because most of our fans have been really accepting with the changes we've made and the direction that we've taken each of our records. You know, we've never really ever gotten the sell out thing too much, because honestly, we've always stayed on a true independent label and we've never fucked around with things like videos on MTV. It works for some bands but for us it was just never really something that we were ever that interested in and for a band like us, I just don't think it would work that well. Some kids prefer older material as opposed to the newer stuff, that's natural and some people are always going to like a certain type of style better than others, I feel the same way with my favorite bands. So I have to expect that but at the same time, I like to think a lot of our fans are open minded enough to listen to the new stuff and at least give it a try and we've been getting such great responses to all of our new albums.
Frank: Live, the response has been good?
Jake: Yeah, Live, and e-mails I've gotten from kids who have bought the new one already. I mean, we write for ourselves and to make ourselves happy but at the end of the day, it means so much to have the fans love it too.
Frank: So the fans are happy with your new record, but how are you guys with it? Recording wise and production are you guys content with the results?
Jake: Dude, we've never been happier with a record in our lives. We really worked hard on it and I think it shows on the way it came out, so we're super psyched. We really appreciate everyone going out and getting it early and pre-ordering and stuff, we've had a great first week sale, so it's nice.
Frank: I know this a touchy subject and it's been heavily under fire as of late, but since we're on the topic of new CD's I'd like to hear your feelings on advanced CD's leaking to the net and stuff like that. Personally, I think leaking any band's hard worked disc months ahead of the release date is ridiculous and disrespectful to the band, label, and anyone who's associated with the release. I was wondering if you guys have had any issues with that and what's your take on it.
Jake: You know, there is good and bad to CD downloading and for us, it hasn't really hurt us much. In the big picture I don't think it's really cramped out sales or anything like that. This new record I was really happy it didn't get released until about two weeks before it came out, it wasn't up on any of those sites. So we did a really good job and we were really careful about giving it out.
Frank: A lot of bands, Jimmy Eat World being the first one that pops into my head, have had their low bitrate/unmastered CD's leaked 3 months before the release date. It's seriously not right.
Jake: Oh yeah, that's what I hate. You know, what really sucks is when people get bad first impressions off of a low quality version, and it's not even the real fucking CD. It's really shitty on that end and it sucks that we can't even give our good friends early copies cause I used to love to get it and hook people up early and you just can't do it now, because it runs the risk of leaking and from there it's everywhere.
Frank: I know it's usually the labels that get upset when albums leak. Was Fat Wreck disappointed when it "Exile In Oblivion" was released two weeks early?
Jake: No, they were cool, we were all actually happy that it took that long to leak. Like you said before, a lot of albums are released months early, so we put out a couple of mp3s to try and hold our fans over and prevent a really early leak. When it comes down to it, I think a true fan will want the artwork and want the lyrics and the whole package, but at least the internet let's people kind of preview things and if you like it, I hope you go out and buy the record.
Frank: Out of curiosity, what does the title of your new record, "Exile in Oblivion", mean exactly?
Jake: Honestly, nothing too much that I know. Jason (vocalist) titles everything but I think it just kind of relates to being your own thing and not being a part of any scene. It kind of represents our band because we really don't fit into any one scene, I think we have elements of a lot of different styles and we try to write the best songs that suit our sound. I mean, sure we have hints of punk and metal and stuff but we kind of feel like we're in this weird no man's land in between all of it. The title kind of reflects that, but we try and let people get their own meanings from everything that we do.
Frank: What are your plans for after this tour?
Jake: Just more touring, after this, we go home and then we go out again and do the west coast with Wilhelm Scream and some other rad bands and then we do Florida and Texas with Evergreen Terrace and I believe The Explosion might do it too. We've been getting some really cool line-ups together and we're going to do that, U.S. tours till January, then go overseas to Australia and Japan.
Frank: Alright, my friend Chris from Saosin, who you guys are touring with right now, said he had some questions that needed to be cleared up publicly and that he feels people need to know, so I'll run a few of those by you.
Jake: (Laughs) This should be good, bring it on Chris.
Frank: All right he told me to ask you guys, how does it feel to have a gay merch dude?
Jake: (Laughs) Well, we have a long history of have gay merch guys, so as soon as Angel was picked up to do merch for us on this tour, he was automatically labeled as gay. He's a damn good dancer though, just so you know.
Frank: Yeah, the name "Angel" doesnt help much either.
Jake: (Laughs) Yeah, very true. Chris and the guys from Saosin always tease him about it, it's hysterical
Frank: He also told me to ask you, Is it intimidating that all of the members of Saosin have amazing physique and should be Ford contracted fashion models?
Jake: (Laughs) Yeah, I actually do find myself getting jealous of them quite often, I should probably hit the gym or something or maybe do some push-ups backstage.
Frank: How has the tour been going so far with them (Saosin), Love Is Red and Last Of The Famous?
Jake: It's been really good man, Sao are really funny guys, Love Is Red are awesome dudes and so are the other guys that have been involved in the line-up. We've been lucky because most of the bands we've taken out and that we've toured with have been really nice guys and I really can't say a bad thing about any band we've toured with.
Frank: Any tour stories are wacky things happen in the past 12 years?
Jake: Oh dude, I could sit here for 2 days straight telling you the stuff that's happened on tour. I mean, it's nothing too crazy and it's probably not as nuts as people imagine it, but yeah, something always happens on every tour. So far this tour has been pretty mellow, we broke down on the way out, but that's about it. These days we've really mellowed out, after the shows we pretty much just go back to the hotel, smoke some bongs and play Playstation.
Frank: Well I'd like to thank you a lot man, for taking the time out, I know you just walked in the venue and haven't had time to settle down or anything so I'll let you do that. Best of luck with the show tonight, any last words?
Jake: Thanks to AbsolutePunk.net, it means a lot that you came down here to do this thing with me, thanks to everyone, our fans, friends family, everyone. We plan to do this thing for a long time and we hope you all stick with us. Thanks so much for everything.
Frank: Best wishes dude.
---I'd like to thank Strung Out, Chris from Saosin, Brandon, Philips, The three obnoxious drunk girls, Mike Cubillos from Earshot and anyone else who helped make this interview possible. Go see Strung Out on tour with Saosin, Love Is Red, and Last Of The Famous when they come to your area. Also, buy Strung Out's new record "Exile In Oblivion", in stores now. Thanks to everyone who took the time to read this.