Being a longtime fan of The Used, it was my please to get to speak with front man Bert McCracken to discuss the long road to success, what keeps them ticking and the release of their new album Vulnerable.
A truly inspired group of guys who have been through the trenches and back and have put their life on the front page of their music, you wonder what keeps them trudging through to get to the light at the end of the tunnel. Since forming in 2001 and having dealt with some very serious life issues such a poverty, substance abuse and loss, Bert explains that “each record is a representation of what I’m going through at the moment…this record is a piece of my life right now, a snapshot of this moment”. Their honesty through song is sure to be the reason audiences over the last decade have been captivated and stay true to being a fan. I feel as though if you were ever a fan of The Used, it’s something that never goes away and every time you listen to an album, be it 2002’s self-titled The Used, 2004’s In Love and Death or 2009’s Artwork, you are reminded how you got there in the first place.
“It’s cool how the fans change, we still see the old school fans that were there and maybe they bring their little babies out to the show, but it’s cool the fans seems to get younger and younger which I think is a good thing…I think it’s those younger kids that really need the music in their lives more than adults do.” In saying that you understand the drive behind these guys, making the kind of music they want to listen to, staying true to who they began as and creating a world for the younger generations to express themselves through song.
For a band that seems to have marked their spot in music, always delivering exactly what the fans want to hear from The Used, there was no surprise to hear that their interests in music were as diverse as it comes. Listening to everything from hip-hop, pop, classical and electronic, their musical influences are evident in the sound they create. With the direction that music has taken over the last few years, incorporating electronic tones into all genres, they’ve also given the style an opportunity to prove itself. Vulnerable brings The Used into this new era of music where genres collide to excite the fans. ‘Hands and Faces” is a great example of that. With an electronic intro that leads you into true Used lyric, riffs and drum beats the experimenting of sounds has definitely worked. “This time around we took a way different approach to writing, the majority of the record was written on a keyboard and a computer so we got to definitely play around with a bunch of different influences”.
After years of growing with the fans and growing from the music, the journey for them has been a learning experience, “my musical journey has been quite extensive to this point, but it’s only the beginning so it’s really exciting.” Within this journey, The Used was tired of listening to people at the record labels dictating their direction where no experience themselves was there, so they took it upon themselves to start Hopeless Records and be the leader of their own musical destiny. At the end of the day Bert explains that making music for themselves and the fans is what its all about and they have no plans of slowing down, “ we will always make music that we want to hear…we all came from a different place musically and for us we understand how it feels to need music in our life and for me growing up music was my saving grace and so I think we’ll always be those type of fans first.’
An inspired and heart driven conversation with the talented Bert McCraken from The Used, we are sure to expect much more. With so much material to show the world, these guys plan on sticking around for some time and there’s a large fan base out there from over the decades that will be happy to hear it.
Playing this Tuesday at McEwan Hall.
Story by Sarah Little