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The Lowdown: Bert McCracken of The Used

The Lowdown: Bert McCracken of The Used

"Weíre all family and we fucking hate each other just as much as we love each other"

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Last Edited by: Candi H September 17th, 2012.

Back in April this year I was given the opportunity to interview one of my favourite bands of all time, The Used. Hours before their triumphant show in London, as part of their hugely-anticipated mini UK tour, I grilled Jeph, Dan and Quinn about their amazing new album, Vulnerable. I found them to be the genuine, big-hearted and passionate bunch that I hoped they would be. The Utah residentsí infamous leading man and vocalist, Bert McCracken however was unfortunately absent as he was resting his vocals prior to the gig. And for anyone who has seen them perform live before, the guy pushes himself vocally like no other; sometimes to the point of actually throwing up mid-set, to the disgust or amusement of the crowd witnessing. Itís a fact that if anyone would die for their art, Bert would be one of them.

Five months later, I was therefore in a state of euphoria when I got the chance to interview the man himself whilst he and the band were taking a well deserved break from the mammoth schedule of The Warped Tour. An evening phone interview from the UK meant it was an early morning start in the US and therefore the thirty year old singer was a little groggy and croaky at first. After warming up and putting on his professional interview act to start with, the olí Bert I knew and loved came out to play; that well-known throaty chuckle and all. Talk consisted of the album, solo plans, his unwavering love for one particular man and of course the anticipation of an upcoming UK arena tour with the unlikely tag-team partner of gothic rock heavyweightís Evanescence. Oh and a butt baby came up...ever the showman, I give you Mr Bert McCracken!

AltSounds: So howís life been treating you at the moment?

Bert: Really good. I feel amazing, Iíve had a little time off since The Warped Tour and itís been vocally relaxing. Itís a beautiful day here in Southern California!

AltSounds: Awesome. Itís not that great here...the rain has returned. Many congrats on Vulnerable by the way, itís a fantastic album (My full review can be read here).

Bert: Cool, appreciate it.

AltSounds: So itís been about six months since its release. What are your feelings about it now that youíve had some time to reflect on it?

Bert: Yeah Iím still very excited about it and I feel like it was a ďthe right place at the right timeĒ kind of situation with the record. I wrote a lot of things that I needed to hear in my life and I feel like a lot of our fans and maybe a lot of new people are sharing those same feelings with me.

AltSounds: What was the album process like now that youíve moved to an independent label (Anger Music Group/Hopeless Records)? Was it hugely different?

Bert: The process was a lot different but not necessarily because of the lack of a major label or the introduction of our own thing (The Used created Anger Music Group). I think it was different because of circumstances. Everyone was busy with their own thing - Quinn had just got married, Jeph got engaged and Dan had just had a kid so people were all over the place! So it was up to me to bring the record into full view. I did a lot of the writing on my own and the majority of the songs that went down were most of my ideas, so in that way itís a very different record.

AltSounds: I fell in love with the track, ĎPut Me Outí. You released a lyric video for it just over a month ago but will you be filming an official video for it?

Bert: Yeah it should be coming out this week or next week. Weíre just finalising everything for it. Itís a totally different vibe to the first video (ĎI Come Aliveí). The Used have made a lot of serious videos in the past so we wanted to do something that was fun and care-free and that you could just enjoy. So yeah keep your eyes out for it...

Shortly after my interview the full 'Put Me Out' video emerged!

AltSounds: Do you have a favourite music video of all time?

Bert: Ooh thatís a cool favourite music video of all time is Michael Jacksonís ĎThrillerí. When I saw it when I was about 8yrs old, it scared the shit out of me and I fell deeply in love. I mean I already loved Michael Jackson and The Jackson 5 before that but I think thatís when I really fell in love with music videos in general.

Still from 'Thriller'

AltSounds: So youíre coming back to the UK in November to tour with Evanescence. How did that come about?

Bert: Iím not quite sure! Theyíre heading out all over the world - going down to South America and doing this UK run and they just asked us to join in and we said ďgladlyĒ. Weíve met them before and played some radio festivals together in the past and theyíre really cool people. So yeah we were stoked to be invited and be a part of it.

AltSounds: So when youíre out on tour is there a group dynamic where one of you is like the dad and keeps the others in line? Or are you all on a similar wave length?

Bert: We all kind of take care of each other and act like brothers. We all know when to keep our distance from each other! You get to know someone so well so weíre all family and we fucking hate each other just as much as we love each other. Itís easy for us to function out on the road just so long as I keep my wits about me...

AltSounds: Keep one eye open!

Bert: Yup!

AltSounds: So will it be the first time youíve played arenas in the UK?

Bert: I think so...Iím not 100% sure. (After a little deliberation) Yes I believe it is!

AltSounds: Do you have a favourite part of the world that you love to tour?

Bert: I love touring in the US because itís so comfortable and simple and easy for us. I also love touring in Australia; itís such a beautiful place and has really rad people. The first time we went to South America was incredible so Iím really looking forward to going there again.

Oh and I always have a good time touring in Europe and the UK, especially when we get to play to such a massive amount of people which Iím completely excited I guess it depends what kind of mood Iím in!

AltSounds: So you can't quite make up your mind! Moving on, I spotted a tweet recently from Black Veil Brides saying that youíve been in the studio with them. Can you reveal some details about that?

Bert: Yeah, weíve been working on a song together and I sing on it. Itís really cool; itís kind of a new vibe for Black Veil Brides. It was interesting because Iíve never really hung out with them before and wasnít that familiar with them. The track reminds me a lot of old punk stuff that I love like the Misfits, so itís exciting.

AltSounds: Great stuff. I heard theyíve been working with John Feldmann who you've worked with numerous times. Whatís your relationship like with him now? Are you still really close?

Bert: He is tighter than family. He is an amazing person and an absolute inspiration to me in my life. Rarely do you meet someone in this world who works as hard as John Feldmann does and inspires as many people as he does. I really owe him a lot because without him who knows where The Used would be. He pulled us out of Utah, recorded the demo for us and got us a label and management. He really enabled us to live our dreams so I will be forever indebted and grateful to John. I love him to death.

The ultimate bromance - John and Bert

AltSounds: So apart from the UK tour, what other plans do you have before the end of 2012?

Bert: Weíve got a West Coast tour coming up of places that we donít normally hit as well as the European dates with Evanescence. Thatís pretty much it until the end of the year...(just remembering) Oh weíve been asked to play one show in Goa, India which will be amazing! So weíre really looking forward to that.

AltSounds: Do you have any goals for yourself outside of the band in a musical sense?

Bert: Musically? Yeah. Iím always writing and Iíve recently met with this DJ who is incredible and has got his own vibe. Itís a form of industrial 90ís Nine Inch Nails sounding electronic music. So weíre gonna try and collaborate and do something in the future. His name is DJ Kratty (Spells it out letter by letter). So yeah thatís something to look forward to; some solo stuff from Bert in the next year/year and a half or so too!

AltSounds: Sounds really cool, I can't wait to hear! Lastly I have a Quickfire Round for you...

Bert: Cool!

AltSounds: Halloween or Xmas?

Bert: (Quickly) Halloween!

AltSounds: Night in or night out?

Bert: (Long pause)...Umm...night out.

AltSounds: Refused reunion or At The Drive-In reunion?

Bert: Refused reunion.

AltSounds: Monopoly or Pictionary?

Bert: (Very loudly) Hmmm!...Pictionary.

AltSounds: Ok and finally, Swarzeneggar or Stallone?

Bert: Oh thatís a great question...(To himself a couple of times) Swarzeneggar or Stallone? Maybe like Swarzeneggar and Stalloneís butt baby. If they butt-fucked and had a baby! (Big continuous laugh)

AltSounds: Nice! Thatís a great image and the best way to end the interview.

Bert: The best way to end anything I think involves sex!

AltSounds: Haha! Thank you so much Bert, take care.

Bert: No worries, thanks a lot and have a great day.

Vulnerable is out now via Anger Music Group/Hopeless Records

For a full list of The Used's upcoming tour dates click here

Photo credit to
Alex Stone (cover photo and last photo)
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