Having sold over 3 million albums worldwide, connected with fans from across the globe and invented their own genre of music with ‘Gross Pop’ – The Used are still alive and kicking in 2012. Meghan Player and Emma Dean chatted to Bert McCracken and Quinn Allman at SXSW about ‘Vulnerable’, working with John Feldman and connecting with their fans.
You played an acoustic set whilst here in Austin, how did that go? It obviously feels different to playing a ‘normal’ gig?
Bert – It feels kind of ‘vulnerable’ [laughs] for us, but it was a lot of fun. It’s special because we usually don’t ever do it, but at the same time it’s that weird because we don’t ever do it, right? It was fun, it was amazing, there were people there. I felt a lot of love.
You have the release of your new album coming up very shortly – was the album a different direction [sound wise] for the band – considering the direction ‘Artwork’ ventured to?
Bert – Yeah, I mean, circumstances kind of lead us to kind of doing things differently. Everyone is kind of in a different place in their lives right now – you know, we’re all 30 years old or older – which is old, right?
I wouldn’t say it’s old..
Bert –But as far as music fans are concerned, I thought 30 was fucking old when I was a teenager.
It’s actually funny to go to your shows now, and see a new generation of Used fans there.
Bert –It’s wild!
So anyway, circumstances kind of lead us to write music in a different way – rather than just drums, bass, guitar. I kind of wrote the majority of the record on a keyboard and I think in the process, we were able to involve a lot more influences than we ever have before. We’re all into such different types of music. From hip hop to old pop music to R ‘n’ B, jazz, funk – it was much easier for us to allow ourselves to feel like we could do whatever we want. Plus we’re not on a record label anymore, we’re doing our own stuff, which is great.
With being on your own record label, does that allow more creative freedom?
Bert –100%. Yeah, exactly. The record label that we were with always promised that we could do whatever we want, but it’s such a lie. Like when it comes down to it. We’ve been waiting for this moment for a very long time, and now that it’s here, it feels really good.
Was it a natural progression to go from the gross pop sound of ‘Artwork’ to the new sound on ‘Vulnerable’?
Bert –Yeah, I feel that now we are really achieving what we wanted to with gross pop. I think that this music is a lot more melody based, and really kind of.. the music flows more with the melody than like … I donna, I’m not making any sense, but, I really feel like, as far as the flow of the album, once we got into it and started the creative process, it really began to flow. And it really came out, like diaoherra of the mouth. It just flows. Freely. [laughs].
It’s actually more like a rainbow. And you see it. And it’s there.
Quinn – It’s a promise.
What is it like working with John Feldman now? He’s been with you guys for a while now.
Bert –Yeah, it’s good. He’s had kids – so he’s chilled out a lot since we first worked with him. He used to be high-strung, but his work ethic is a little more relaxed nowadays. I mean, we’re family, so he’s like our older brother or our step-dad.
Quinn – He’s like a mentor in a way. He’s sort of there to make rough plans with, but he’s also kind of like disciplined really well with his work ethic and stuff, so if he says something, we’re all kind of like ‘oh yeah, sure, when’, and he’s like ‘yeah, in half an hour’.
Bert –Yeah, he really keeps everyone in line – which is nice. He’s got a dads work ethic – and we’re still kids.
You’ve sold over 3 million albums..
Bert –No we haven’t.
No, really? Let’s make it 5 million then.
Bert –Yes! I know! How did we do that? It was amazing, right? [laughs]
Is it still sort of mind blowing to see yourselves – this tiny band from Utah – selling this many albums worldwide, and connecting with these kids across the globe?
Quinn – Everytime we do anything I feel.. it’s still pretty crazy. It makes you think that you know, our music wasn’t part of a fad or a scene or a ‘thing at the time’. It seemed to explode pretty quick. We still have fans that love our band – and some may not like us as much as they did before but they’re still like, ‘Oh I’m not into you as much as I was before, but you’re a good band, and you’ve influenced me’. Just to hear that stuff, and to know that kind of had our place, and we’re still making an impact on people through our songs – that have touched people…
Bert –Like I was saying last night at our show, anytime I go anywhere with Quinn, we’re just really blessed. We just went to Manila and played a show to 9 to 10 thousand people – there is nothing more special than just understanding what we do, matters. We’re so pumped to do what we do, and we’re really lucky. Or blessed. However you want to look at it.
Quinn – Out here in space. Your rocket ship matters.
Bert – True that, dude.
A huge thank you to Bert and Quinn for taking the time to chat to us during SXSW.
‘Vulnerable’ is released Monday 26th March, 2012.
For more information, head to: www.TheUsed.net