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Jason Cruz: Howling For Change

Jason Cruz and Howl
7 July 2014

For Jason Cruz, Howl represents freedom as opposed to a mere side project. The Strung Out front man delved deep into his songwriting passion to finally bring Jason Cruz And Howl to fruition.

“Sometimes you get stifled and backed into a corner. I made myself a place where I can be happy now as opposed to before when I tried to force things and make Strung Out into something it wasn’t,” reflected Cruz.

Good Mans Ruin showcases Cruz’s versatility by boasting country riffs and bluesy vocal deliveries from a singer best associated with Metal. Offering more reflective lyrics and varied tempos, the traits proved puzzling for longtime Cruz fans.

“Our first few shows were interesting because people did not get it right away. I think they were expecting slow, acoustic versions of Strung Out songs. I really dig shit like Waylon Jennings; kids just don’t know or talk about that stuff. I think it’s important to learn about American music because culturally it’s the only original thing we got,” stated Cruz.

Despite his longevity Cruz believed he wasn’t a true singer unless he could command a room with just an acoustic guitar supporting him. Howl was his chance to rise to the challenge.

“I really felt like I wasn’t a true singer until I could sing acoustically for people in a small room. As a personal challenge, I had to try and when you pull it off you can do almost anything,” laughed Cruz.

With his renewed vigor Cruz has also returned to the studio to complete Transmission Alpha Delta, Strung Out’s first new record in over 5 years.

“Strung Out gave me everything and showed me the world. I owe it to these kids to sing my heart out to the old material and the new songs. I’m in a place where I’m happy. I’m stoked about the new record,” he exclaimed.

According to Cruz, Strung Out faced internal struggles that ultimately proved overwhelming to the band. He reflected on the lag time between records and his belief that record art is becoming a lost concept.

“We had some drug addictions, births, and deaths. During that time I learned just how disposable music became and it made me appreciate the positive stuff even more. I think as a thank you and a recognition for music lovers I’m doing paintings for each song; make a really cool package. When I was a kid I knew all the names of record thank you lists. We’ve gotten so far away from that now.”

Cruz may be a seasoned veteran but he approaches his career as if it were just beginning. For Howl, he stated that his previous success had little impact when originally introducing his new group.

“Shopping Howl’s record around to the old guard made me realize that the kids are the new guard, here and now. I’m not going to abandon them because they straight up made my career. I don’t want to alienate people, I want to learn and grow with them. If I can challenge the kids with this band then I’m all the better for it,” he said.

His belief that we live in a youth culture remains unwavering, thanks in part to the addition of his three-year-old daughter. Cruz also cited his dedication to his girlfriend as another major inspiration.

“My daughter made me work even harder because now I have someone totally relying on me. I want my daughter and family to be proud of me. When I saw my girl at 36, I just knew that was who I wanted to share my life with. With my music, I have to ask myself if what I’m doing is worth my family sacrificing.”

He added, “You have to decide if you’re going to make the jump, to wake up and say that you’re going to make your art into a career. If you’re young and starting a band you have to hustle. Getting in the van and hitting it hard is the only way I know,” stated Cruz.

For Cruz, recent introspection has seemingly directed every facet of his life.

“I want my music to reflect who I truly am. I know I won’t be able to keep singing like the way I do in Strung Out. I want my music to capture who I am and if I’m 60 I hope I’m making the music that’s reflective of who I am at that time,” he affirmed.