Interview With Bert McCracken From The Used
Written by: Madeline McPhail
When tragedy and loss fall on us, it’s easy to get lost in but sometimes it’s the pain we experience that reminds us why we are here. For Bert McCracken, lead singer of The Used, his recent loss inspired the band’s newest album, The Canyon. “While we were touring last year around this time one of my very best friends on the planet committed suicide and so this record and the idea of catharsis and the musical expression of humanity was so much more important and specific on this record,” Bert shares. With guitarist, Justin Shekoski, also experiencing loss after losing his father 10 years ago, the band spent a week in the studio writing. “In that weeks worth of writing we had this idea which became the monologue in the first track of the record, which is that if we had five minutes, to do something impossible with the person we had lost, what could we possibly say to express the feelings to say it all.” But the album also touches on a much deeper subject, immortality and facing the fear of death. “It’s a reflection of what it means to love hard in the face of death and be courageous when we know we will die. The fact that we die, gives us that ability to love harder, to be brave to be better fathers, to be better sons, and better lovers.”
Bert is a lover of books and definite seeker for knowledge. During his interview he spoke on how he turned to books when he decided to quit drinking, and as he listed some of the titles and their complexity he also shed light on how reading has influenced his writing. “For me this record is different, for me it’s a novel. The writing is a full reflective parabola, you’ll notice that if you take the the divine absence as the vertex of the record each song kisses side by side on this reflective parabola, so For You is the exact same song as Mouth Of The Canyon in my mind.” Bert continues to explain the album as his story reflecting the story of his friend whom he has lost. And though the idea is challenging to wrap your head around, it was entirely purposeful and meant to challenge listeners. “The book Infinite Jest was a major inspiration, I was inspired to challenge my listeners like that book challenged me.”
You can tell that Bert cares deeply for his fans and humanity when he talks about his intentions behind the record and even just the band’s music in general. “We don’t make music for people to escape their problems, we make music for people to jump head first into and figure them out.”
It’s somewhat of an irony how connected yet disconnected we are in today’s world. As a society we’ve exchanged human connection for virtual satisfaction and though it gives us access to infinite knowledge, it also can overwhelm and distracts us from what is really important, that connection each and everyone of us shares unspokenly. Bert has noticed his ability to connect with people comes from his ability to open up and share. “The only way I know how to give on this little time I’ve been given is to tell my story brutally honestly.” And sometimes just that simple act of letting someone know they aren’t alone touches deep and resonates.