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19 years, seven albums and countless tours—The Used have earned their status as scene icons and they’re showing no signs of slowing down.
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Now, following the release of their latest single Blow Me, the Utah natives are ready to put pen to paper, and write their next chapter.
Hysteria caught up with frontman Bert McCracken to chat about the new era and everything in between.
Hysteria: Tell us about Blow Me, your first song in over two years.
Bert: It’s out, you can hear it. There’s probably a few comments about the song if you’re interested in that kind of thing. Social media seems to have a lot of capability in expressing individual, important opinions.
We’re really excited about the track, we got to work with Jason Butler (of FEVER 333). It was an honour and a dream come true to work with the man. In my mind he’s one of the greatest in the rock and roll business, he’s a legend. He’s a spectacle in the most prime, furious way, you can’t take your eyes off him. The way he works is just the same, he’s got a different approach to writing music than I’m used to. It was really cool to bounce ideas off him, for a song that started out being about one thing in particular (gun violence) and then turning it to what the song is really about, a beautiful metaphor for the power of words.
Just like all The Used songs, it feels general enough to be about so many different things. To me, it’s about four or five different things. It’s kind of more about what A Box Full of Sharp Objects and a lot of our songs have been about. I think words are so incredibly powerful and, I’m often reminded that I wouldn’t be in this band and be able to do what I love to do for all these years if I didn’t have the relationship I do with literature, words especially.
How’d the collab with Jason Butler come along?
I’ve been following Letlive for a while, and we’ve been on tour with FEVER 333 and it was insane, it’s hard to follow a band like that! I wanted to work with Jason for a long time, I regret not being around when they made that last record, I would’ve slept outside the studio and begged to be on it. Hopefully, in the future, we can do more things together. He’s just a beautiful human being.
We recently saw you partner up with The Veronicas at Good Things Festival, one of the standout moments of the day.
It was a standout moment of my day. I’ve known The Veronicas since 2005, I met them the night after I met my wife. We’ve been friends for so long. We were talking back and forth, and they asked if it would be weird to cover the song and have me come out and I thought it would be the exact opposite. I thought it would be so much fun.
We made a record that addresses what we’ve always tried to address: love, mortality, spirituality and the space between everything.
[ Bert McCracken ]
Did you really teach Jess how to scream?
(Laughs) That’s what she says, but I don’t really remember the story. I don’t really think you can learn how to scream, I feel like you’ve just got to do it—maybe that’s what I told her.
As you were saying earlier, Blow Me is about so many different things. Can you tell us what themes might carry across to the new record?
It’s just classic Used. The band has always encapsulated this philosophy of songs that ask the real questions like what is it all about and the behaviour and interactions of human beings. In this period of time that we’re in right now, society is completely bombarded by media and marketing. I think that there’s a lot of people who feel very similarly about the state of things and feelings in general. People just want to feel something real. We made a record that addresses what we’ve always tried to address: love, mortality, spirituality and the space between everything.
When can fans expect to see the new record out?
There’s not a specific date yet, mid to late March would be a sure bet though. We’re so excited about this whole record. We didn’t intend on having such a massive amount of songs to pick from, we wanted to make a small record, but it just became so gigantic. We’re going to put out a really cool b-side as well.
How many songs are we talking?
I think it was around 27 (laughs). There might be 15 on the record and 12 on the b-side.
What was it like working with John Feldmann again?
He is one of the most creative, hardworking individuals you could possibly meet. I’m sure there’s a lot of people who’ve said the same, he’s just beyond driven. He wakes up every day and is ready to go, he never has an off moment and he never takes time off. He’s just such an inspiration to be around. We’ve had a relationship for a couple of years now and I’m really surprised he still wanted to be my friend after making Imaginary Enemy (laughs). I’m such a pain in the ass sometimes and I was pretty wrapped up in the political nature of the world in 2014. I felt like something really bad was going to happen, like a reality TV show host was going to be elected president or something (laughs). We have maintained a beautiful friendship, and it works so well in the studio. It’s always magic
How can fans expect this new record to differ from The Canyon?
The last one was a bit of an art project for me, I wanted to test music’s ability to help me grieve through the loss of a friend. There was no thought to any type of catchiness, singles or anything that record labels talk about. It was pretty much a record for me. We recorded it all on tape, live, and left all the mistakes in. You’ll notice a huge difference if you listen to it and anything prior to it. It was fun to do, it was just time-consuming. The new record’s the opposite of that, we wanted to write songs that were fun and catchy—going back to the basics. I’ve come from pop music. When I was little my parents weren’t hip to rock and roll, it was all about The Jackson 5, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. I want to hear really catchy melodies in music. I feel like if it gets stuck in your head, it’s a good song.