JAKE Kiley needs Strung Out to feel complete. Even 27 years after the band rose out of the southern Californian skate punk scene, that produced Bad Religion, Social Distortion, The Offspring, Green Day, AFI and Blink-182 they have remained true to their punk ethos.
While some of the aforementioned acts strayed towards more commercially attractive avenues, Strung Out remained steadfast in their intent.
Kiley, who is one of three original members from when the four-piece formed in 1989, said he could not imagine life without Strung Out.
“We all need this in our lives for some reason,” Kiley said from a beach in Perth during the opening leg of their Australian tour to promote their eighth studio album Transmission.Alpha.Delta.
“There’s something that’s kept the four of us together making records for 25 years now or something crazy. We need it in our lives and hopefully the rest of the world want us to keep doing it.”
It was that desire that pushed the band to release Transmission.Alpha.Delta last year, their first new material since 2009.
“The creative process is like therapy, to write and record and do something you’re proud of is a very therapeutic experience. To go and perform it and have people connect with that and sing it back to you every night that’s really everything. It drives it home and makes you realise it affects someone else. These songs aren’t even ours anymore. Now it’s like we’re working for them and we want to live up to what our fans have allowed us to do.”
That demand for Strung Out certainly remains in Australia, where crowds have always strongly supported Californian punk since its halcyon days in the mid-1990s.
“Australia reminds me a lot of back home,” Kiley said. “It has that laid-back culture, very surfie and very open, which is great. We love that and it definitely feels like home, but it’s a lot cleaner and safer, so that’s nice.”
Despite the members of Strung Out having all reached middle age, there are no signs of stepping off the pedal. The current Australian tour, which includes 21 dates in far-flung towns like Warrnambool, Bunbury and Windsor, is the second biggest of their career.
On Easter Saturday Kiley and the boys will perform at Newcastle West’s Cambridge Hotel for the first time since 2010.
“We really appreciate people coming out after all these years and we see a lot of familiar faces in the crowd, which is really nice,” he said.
“Newcastle is always a great crowd. A real rager."
Kiley’s guitar playing has always given Strung Out a distinct difference from their punk peers. The traditional punk boundaries of three chords and no solos have never fitted for a guitarist who grew up idolising metal gods Slayer and Pantera.
“You like to put all the products of what we grew up with into our music,” he said. “I listened to a lot of more technical music when I was younger and heavy metal guitar players and guys who were pushing elbows and playing to the edge.
“I’m still very much a fan of that. I want to inject that into what we do. A lot of the bands from our scene came from the same thing, but are a little afraid to wear it on their sleeve. I have no fear of that and like to carry the torch and put a little bit of shredding in there.”
Joining Strung Out on their Australian tour is New Orleans punk-hardcore band Pears, who recently became their stablemates on Fat Wreck Chords.
Kiley said he sees plenty of similarities between Pears and Strung Out when they first broke onto the scene with their debut record Another Day in Paradise in 1994.
“It’s their first time out here,” he said. “It’s great having younger dudes who are fresh to the experience. You get to see the excitement you once had being here for the first time and kind of see how much it means.
“I still really appreciate it and try to think about it every day to keep it in perspective, but the more you do it and less you’re going to be blown away by it. It becomes more routine. With that, you learn to appreciate other things with it. They’re having a blast and they had a couple of bad luck things happen to them, but they pushed through.”