The Used's Bert McCracken Wants You To Steal the Band's Album From Walmart
Post-hardcore rockers The Used have been put through the wringer more than a couple times during the 12 years they've spent together as a band. It's hard to imagine that even before the time spent addicted to drugs, label shifts, and the on-stage injuries, the members had already experienced homelessness, poverty, and bullying.
Frank Maddocks The Used
But, like any great set of musicians, vocalist Bert McCracken, guitarist Quinn Allman, bassist Jeph Howard, and drummer Dan Whitesides have a way of turning malaise into great songs. The music isn't intended to just to only heal the guys playing it; they want listeners to translate the lyrics in whatever way they see fit to help their own mending.
After the release of 2012's Vulnerable and 2013's expanded Vulnerable II , the band is as primed as it's ever been for success. The Used is currently headlining the Take Action Tour, which has brought together bands (this year, it's We Came As Romans and Crown The Empire) for more than a decade to raise money and social awareness for charity.
Up On The Sun talked with vocalist Bert McCracken about not having to worry about a label, the band's surprising influences, and how addiction continues to fuel his songwriting.
Bert McCracken: There were a lot of songs that were not put on the Vulnerable record that we thought deserved a chance. There's four unreleased tracks, there's acoustic tracks, and then we got some friends to do three remixes for us. So it's stuff that people haven't heard. Every night on stage I encourage people to go steal it from Walmart.
While listening to 2012's Vulnerable, I felt like there were some hip-hop qualities and the tempos all over the board, but it also like you guys were reaching back to your original roots. What was the concept behind that album?
Yes, I kind of wanted to reflect the energy and emotion of The Used's first record. We were in the studio while Dan and Quinn had a lot of stuff going on, so the majority of the record was written on a keyboard and bass guitar, and, you know, us throwing beats around. Any element of music that came into the top of our heads influenced it. You know, we're all very eclectic music fans. We all love old hip-hop, R&B, funk and jazz...so we took influence from everyone's tastes.
Yeah, I heard you guys are inspired by the music of James Brown and Outkast. What are some other influences that fans might find out-of-the-ordinary for The Used?
Well, for me, growing up I always loved Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, and Mariah Carey. I grew up listening to pop music and classic rock music. My dad was into Heart and The Beatles and The Stones. But everyone's into different stuff: Jeph listens to like, Mr. Bongo and his weird projects, Dizzee Rascal, and British hip-hop.
You've said that you had a burst of creativity while recording Vulnerable. Did that have to do with you getting off pain meds from your 2011 injury?
Right. I reached a point where I was not happy with myself and the way I looked. My creativity was non-existent. I snapped and kind of became the Bert that everyone knows from childhood, and started working all day -- every day -- on something I could love and listen to. I think artists [are] especially [prone] go through lulls of progressive creativity, and being an artist for my whole life I've always had a strange way of approaching creativity. I procrastinate a lot like most artists do, but it couldn't have been more perfect timing. I had a lot of support.