When a band announces plans to perform two of their most celebrated albums back to back, it’s natural for fans to get all kinds of giddy. So, when that band announces an Australian tour, with two shows in each city: one show for their self-titled debut, and one for their sophomore record, ‘In Love And Death’, we just knew fans would go into sheer overdrive. To coincide, Killyourstereo.com recently spoke with The Used frontman Bert McCracken.
So Bert, you’re in New Jersey, or at least on your way there now, right?
Yeah man, we’re here now hopping back between shows. We just did shows in Manhattan yesterday and the day before. We’ll be stationed here in Jersey for the week.
Right on, the joys of touring. I take it that this 15-year celebration tour has been going well?
The tour has been [going well], as 15 years is a long time. To see the amount of support we still have [is great], to see people coming to shows, smiling, singing along. It’s definitely the peak of the past 15 years of this band. We can’t wait to bring it down to Australia, as we know we have some ravenous, die-hard fans over there.
That’s a good way to describe the fan base, actually. With the ‘Live And Acoustic At The Place’ release and how you’ve re-arranged the instrumentation for the songs, it reminded me a little of a mix of that MTV un-plugged session Nirvana did and what Bring Me The Horizon did by playing with an orchestra last month.
Oh, that’s cool man, thank you. I’m glad you thought so, but, uh….who is Bring Me The Horizon?
Oh, you don’t know that band? Really?
Well, I’m not really sure who that band is…but we translate on a lot of different levels and I think what is missing from those first two records is a sense of realness. Back then, it was all…translating to Pro Tools and the records got really clean and shiny, and as humans we make mistakes, so as a band we wanted to showcase that everyone is human; that these songs, these stories are about all of us.
The acoustic setting opens up more vulnerability and honesty than you can with a typical live rock setting…and, of course I know who Bring Me The fucking Horizon is, Jesus Christ [laughs].
[Laughs] Yeah, I was gonna say…
Now, obviously, some songs of yours like ‘Lunacy Fringe’, ‘Yesterday’s Feelings’, and ‘Blue And Yellow’ would work better than say, ‘The Bird And The Worm’ in this arrangement. Did you find that to be case?
Yeah, actually. It was fun to play around with the intricacies of how light and heavy, and percussive songs can be, and the people we worked with for it and the talent involved was just awesome. We rehearsed this live record for about a week and it was one of the most special shows we’ve ever played. It was a huge piece of gratitude, not just for us, but for the hardcore fans as well. Oh, and you know, for Bring Me The Horizon too…
Oh, I’m sure they loved it [laughs]. I think more bands should do what The Used has done with this live release, as it gives these songs a whole new breath of life.
I think to really be a part of the music world, is to be able to really play. That’s what it takes for you to make it. It’s not supposed to be about anything else, you have to be able to play.
Exactly, and if you guys had never been able to perform the way you do, then you might not have made it this full 15 years.
Oh, thank you man. And first and foremost, we’ve always loved the music first.
Changing gears from the band, I imagine it was a bummer to know that Channel [V] was being shut down and amalgamated into Channel V hits, considering your work with them over the past year or so?
Well, I think it’s a really big debate about whether or not you can re-work a system within another system, as I personally think everyone is better off without watching T.V. But at the same time, it’s sad that Australian’s may now be missing out on a lot of musical content. I mean, I used to watch Channel [V] to watch music videos, so who knows what will happen now…
Yeah it’s a very exciting time for these digital avenues. It’s kind of funny, actually. The first time I ever heard The Used was when they played ‘The Bird And The Worm’ on a program on that channel called “Rock on [V]”.
Oh, nice! I think back then it was a bit easier and before the honest Facebook and Instagram takeover and having more products and ideas shoved down our throats. We all know that T.V. is dead, and they are only interested in money, so them shutting it down when they did was in their best interest.
Well, something like Netflix seems to be the future at the moment.
Well, we’ll see. There’s a fine line between entertainment and distractions.
That’s a double-edged sword, considering what people are capable of sometimes.
Well, The Used talks about revolution a lot and realistically we’re talking about the evolution of human consciousness, and I think that’s a hard thing to fathom [whether in] a few hundred years if this planet will still be here. That’s up to us right now, I think.
Well said. Finally, my man, I see this argument brought forward a lot when bands either do full album tours or if they do a reunion, and the argument centres on if the original members aren’t in the band or a part of the tour, then it’s not the same – it’s not as special. I saw that a lot with Refused and At The Drive In. Now, I personally think that’s a stupid argument, but I’ve seen that contention used with your band about Quinn Allman not being in the band anymore. What are your thoughts on that?
Well, we are all well aware that the songs we made 15 years ago are much bigger than the four people who first wrote them and who played them on stage. It’s a story about our lives. I’ve spoken with many fans that have nothing but the most humble things to say about those first two albums. So, it’s really for those fans who have made it that special to them in their own lives. That’s all it’s really about, and I don’t think it’s that complicated [laughs].
Yeah, as I said I think it’s a pretty stupid argument, and it won’t impact the tour, as Justin Shekoski [guitar] has transitioned into the band really well.
I understand that when you fall in love with the band and its members, but I think those kinds of comments are coming from young people. When we get older we understand more about relationships and how they change, and how some things are better left unsaid.
And yes, Justin has been great. He’s been a great influence on us, and I don’t think that The Used has been at a better point in its career.
Sounds good man, and with that we’ll leave it there, Bert. Thanks so much for your time today.
Hey, thank you dude. Have a good day.
‘Live And Acoustic At The Place’ live CD/DVD out now.
Catch The Used on their 15-Year Anniversary Tour this November/December. Tickets via: tickets.destroyalllines.com.