Rockaway Fest Special: Interview With The Used

Hailing from a staunch Mormon town, The Used has come a long way as a band in the last 10 years, fighting poverty and homelessness till the band signed on with Reprise Records to release their self titled debut album that has to date, sold nearly a million copies and counting. With 4 albums and one EP under their belt, The Used have toured all around the world and are finally making their way to Malaysia next week. Thanks to Rockaway Fest! JUICE had a chat this morning with frontman Bert McCracken who shared with us their stories about pre-show rituals, his Mormon upbringing and a little bit about their upcoming album Vulnerable. After the jump!

Interviewed by Miranda Yeoh Image Livescape Asia

Hi Bert! Thank you for taking the time do this interview. Could you explain about the whole issue with your previous record label and the management team?
There is no issue really, the record label was just failing that they didn’t have any money to pay bands. They cant afford it so record labels are kind of finished. I guess we’re just happy to be free and no one needs to tell us what kind of music we can and can’t make and we can do whatever we want. We have our own record label now.

Your new label is called Dental Records right?
Yeah, hopefully! We have some problems, we found out that there’s already a Dental Records in Sweden but we’re trying to be really nice to em’! Whatever it’s called, we’re just going to do it ourselves so we’re really excited.

Tell us about Rockaway. What is it going to be like?
We’re really excited to play somewhere for the first time so we get to play all the old stuff and all the new stuff, go crazy and feel like little kids again!

So we’ll be hearing some of the band’s new stuff from your upcoming album Vulnerable?
No, not yet because we put things on the internet and we want to wait until we might release a single in December but the record is going to come out in February so people will just have to wait. We’re going to play some of our old stuff and a lot of stuff from other different records.

Can you tell us more about Vulnerable and the idea behind the title of the album
The idea is about becoming more than human, more than just who we are and focusing on the positive and making ourselves better people and I feel that the only way to become a better person is to be vulnerable and allow yourself to feed off all the negative and the positive things in life.

Moving back to Rockaway, it’s the band’s first time in Malaysia. Do you guys have any special pre-show rituals at places that the band performs for the first time?
I think we just treat it like every rock show is important to us with utmost respect and caution then we throw all caution to the wind and we, you know, burn the stage down! But we have a little pre-show ritual, we all get together to hug and kiss each other and make sure everyone of in the band knows that we love each other as much as we possibly can and then we go crazy during our rock show.

There have been a few rumours online that ‘The Bird and The Worm’ is actually about Gerard Way from My Chemical Romance.
No I didn’t write any songs about Gerard Way. I’ve only written songs about me!

But you guys are friends, right? You both have worked musically together before in the past
Yeah, we’re totally fine. I don’t really see Gerard all that much and people like to talk about it a lot so that’s fine with me but, yeah no issues! [laughs]

There’s a lot of facts on the band online when we Google “The Used”. One particular interesting one was about how your parents kicked you out because you rebelled against your Mormon upbringing.
That’s true. I had a lot of issues growing up with religion but that was a long time ago. They didn’t really kick me out but they kind of gave me the option to not believe what they believe and I couldn’t live with them so I decided to leave but I’m sure a lot of people out there understand how hard it is to grow up with such strict religious beliefs no matter what type of religion it is, it’s always very strict. There are a lot of rules and guidelines and I don’t choose to live my life that way.

Growing up as a Mormon, were you allowed to listen to rock music or was it totally taboo?
Not all the time. They don’t really endorse craziness. My parents were really strict growing up but my dad is a fan of rock music. My dad likes The Beatles and he bought me my first Michael Jackson record so I guess I was a little stifled and influenced as well. They hated that I loved Nirvana and they threw out all of my Nirvana records but that was because they thought Nirvana was evil.

But your parents are cool with what you’re doing now?
Yeah, everyone’s grown up a lot. People are just people and my parents are just human beings but they are really proud of me. They see me travel all over the world and influence people in a positive way and they love that.

You and the band has had so many years meeting people and doing interviews. What is the most interesting question anyone has ever asked you?
[Pause] Um, that’s a good question! I think the most interesting question anyone has ever asked me is “What is the most interesting question anyone has ever asked you?” [laughs]

Ooh, yay!
[Laughs] I always like questions that are outside of the box that go like “Who is my favourite Three Stooges?” you know?

How about the worst question ever?
The worst question? “How is it like growing up in Utah?”

10 years as a band, you guys must have a lot of memories touring as a band. What was the craziest memory on tour?
Yeah, 1st time in Indonesia was pretty crazy. We played in Jakarta and security came on the plane and escorted us off the plane with AK-47s and took us right through security with guns. We got 3 police cars on each side of us escorting us to the venue. I was like, “We’re treated like The Beatles!” It was pretty crazy but there’s so many stories I couldn’t even begin to start.

I think that’s about it, we’re out of time. Thank you Bert! We’re looking forward to seeing The Used in Malaysia!
Okay cool, thanks for your time. Bye!

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