15 years ago the current wave of heavy music was hardly even a ripple. In fact, chances are it wasn’t even a reality yet given that The Used had only just released their 2002 self-titled debut.

A little while later, in 2004, they released their sophomore album In Love And Death and by this stage it was overwhelmingly clear – the misfits of the world born in the 90’s now had a safe place. Combining the accessibility of pop music with the grit and voltage of something far, far darker, The Used created a sound and a message that simply didn’t exist before them.

The band will be performing their first two albums in full later this year, celebrating the anniversary of when substance and meaning was well and truly embedded in music. Before they hit the road, we caught up with vocalist Bert McCracken to chat about the albums, why music seems to be getting better again and what’s next for the band.
 

 
The Neversphere: The Used and In Love And Death were such formative albums for the fans, I dare say a lot of people found themselves in them. Are these albums just as special for the band?
 
Bert: This first and second record got our foot in the door. These songs speak to a generality of human experience that a lot of people connected with. I’m very humbled and I mean, the fact it’s 15 years later and people are still coming out and singing along so loud…

Truly music is only as important as we make it. To put any emphasis on the individual, I think, is ridiculous. These songs are bigger than the four of us. It’s an amazing and cathartic experience for those of us who understand how much impact can have on an individual life.
 
The Neversphere: How aware were you at the time that the songs you were working on would grow into such a big movement?
 
Bert: It felt very special but it also felt very genuine and honest. It came from us so freely and I think it’s a combination of so many different influences that shaped this poppy-yet-gritty and kind of heavy on so many different levels kind of sound. If you dissect genres and the flow of music, post-hardcore was beginning to turn into what was called Emo at the time – it was definitely the natural evolution of music.

It was also something we just stumbled on. It wasn’t like we were in a lab creating an atom bomb, it’s not like we were revolutionising the wheel, it’s just this natural process that happens when you’re making music for fun.

That’s what puts us in such a good place now. The emphasis truly isn’t on us. We don’t have any need to hold onto the idea that we’re rock stars. It’s about the human experience and the collective consciousness, really.
 
The Neversphere: That’s a good point, I remember seeing you guys on Channel V once when you first came here. I was young and remember you being fairly wild, and that what I saw before me matched up with your music I had been listening to…
 
Bert: I think in a lot of ways we were just like everybody else at that time. We were four kids from nowhere; we weren’t the cool kids growing up. So in that way it spoke to a lot of individuals. There’s always been this misfit vibe and that’s always where punk rock music has had a place, which is cool. There’s nothing more important than defiance and youthful questioning. Hopefully we can remind people that that can stay with us until we’re long gone.
 
The Neversphere: It did feel as though misfits from all walks of life all gravitated towards The Used. I did always wonder what it would have been like for you guys, as the band, to exist in this community but not being able to enjoy The Used as the sub-culturally important talisman it became…
 
Bert: I was living my dream. Since I was young enough to really actualise in my mind what it meant to be on stage and to be on tour, it was all I thought about constantly.

It was a lot easier for me to go and hang out in the front of the venue at that point and have candid, casual conversations with fans. We had so much in common every day, meeting so many like minded people…and there’s always been music in my life, poetry, literature, things that push me to be more creative. So, I guess I never really missed out on anything.
 

 
The Neversphere: You mentioned before it’s been 15 years since these albums dropped. Many people still have you music on high-rotation in their headphones. Over the years, have the fans picked up things in these albums that you as the band weren’t even aware of? Or maybe had forgotten about?
 
Bert: That’s a really good question. I’ve always been a words first kind of guy as far as music is concerned. I love a strong message tied to a catchy melody. To realise that response and so many people were just as passionate about the message behind the music as I was…Maybe that was why I felt I fit in?

It opened up a world of like-minded individuals who had lost themselves in the cathartic experience of ingesting an entire record and living to that record, and not being able to live without it. When we find those kinds of records we should take the time to immerse ourselves in lyrics and really feed our souls. I hope everyone has one of those records right now.
 
The Neversphere: Do you have one of those records right now?
 
Bert: 22, A Million, that Bon Iver record. That record is so dark and vivid.
 
The Neversphere: Ah man! That album is on the top of my pile but I feel as though once I start it, it’s going to be such a consuming commitment…
 
Bert: I guess I thought the same thing. I really slept on it for a while. I have a hard time getting into popular music [Laughs]. I’ve always been that kind of defiant but when music’s good, it’s good, period. It took me a long time to listen to that Twenty One Pilots record too. That record is quite the little experimentation of song writing, I really enjoy it – There’s a lot of good music out there right now.
 
The Neversphere: That’s true. When you look at some of the other bands that were around when we were discovering The Used – Avenged Sevenfold, Sum 41, further even right back to Metallica – everyone seems to be releasing the best shit they’ve done in years. Are you feeling that?
 
Bert: Yeah! I mean, I never judge anyone else’s music but I think there’s been a really mundane and maybe morbid message behind music and that’s like…consumerism, really, is the message. It’s been sucking the life out of people, I can feel it. I’m not bagging on any music in particular but being in atmosphere where there’s a beat and a constant rhythm is a great thing for what it’s worth, but it always comes back to missing the emotional connection behind music. I think that people really need that.

I think people need somewhere to go. People really need religion, and we all know religion is a lie. So we better make some good music then.
 
The Neversphere: On that note I have to ask, do you think now that Donald Trumps reign as commander of the free world has started, will there now be a wave of incredible punk rock music?
 
Bert: If you look at when George W. Bush was first waging war on terror, a lot of cool music came out of that. I mean, if you look at Vietnam that was almost the best period for rock music in the history of the world. Let’s hope that there’s not any huge wars but I think whatever happens art will reflect, hopefully, the society we all want to be a part of and not mirror the society that’s upon us.
 

 
The Neversphere: Sorry, man. I got way to existential on you just then. Let’s get back on topic…
 
Bert: [Laughs] No worries.
 
The Neversphere: When I think back to what I was like as a person when these albums came out, it’s a bit of a wig out. I mean I was 12. What’s it like for you go teleport back to that time when you perform the songs? Is it a bit of a trip?
 
Bert: It’s really cool. Music can bring some really powerful nostalgia. I think there’s only a couple of other things that can really take us back – like sometimes you get a smell that can take you back to when you’re a kid. For me it’s the worm smell after the rain and the wet dirt. I immediately feel like I’m in sixth grade. I think music has that power.

A lot of the stuff I was dealing with when we made the first and second record was just so heavy. It kind of shaped who I am so much that I can sing these songs and understand a whole new meaning behind them. I really never thought that these songs would be more important to me now than they ever have been.

I think that perspective is everything. All of us that are still here and still singing along, we’re a testament to the power of music. We’ve all made it through these tough things that we needed help with and that’s such a special and cool thing. Like I said before, I’m grateful to be part of a bigger picture. It’s beyond therapy, that’s for sure.

So, if I forget where I am on stage and lose myself in emotion then good for me man. And good for everyone else there too…Come for the ride!
 
The Neversphere: Once you wrap up the dates, what’s next for you and the band?
 
Bert: We’ve had about three writing sessions in the past year. We’ve been working on this new record for quite a while and we have so much cool stuff for the diehard Used fans, they’re going to lose their shit.

We have about 30 ideas right now that we’re working with and I’m slowly trying to whittle down. We’ll probably be in the studio come February and March, and then we’ll keep kicking it next year. We’ll tour with some of our friends hopefully. There’s some talks of maybe a Sum 41 tour, a Rise Against tour…All these really cool ideas. A lot of bands have records coming out next year.

…Man it’s going to be not only tonnes of fun but a very good year for music in general.

 

The Used Australian Tour 2016
Supported by Storm The Sky and Corpus
Tickets on sale now.

Monday, November 21st
170 Russell St, Melbourne – 18+
Tickets: Destroy All Lines

Tuesday, November 22nd — SOLD OUT
170 Russell St, Melbourne – 18+
Tickets: Destroy All Lines

Friday, November 25th
Metropolis, Fremantle
Tickets: Destroy All Lines

Saturday, November 26th
Metropolis, Fremantle
Tickets: Destroy All Lines

Tuesday, November 29th
HQ, Adelaide
Tickets: Destroy All Lines

Wednesday, November 30th
HQ, Adelaide
Tickets: Destroy All Lines

Friday, December 2nd
Enmore Theatre, Sydney
Tickets: Destroy All Lines

Saturday, December 3rd
Enmore Theatre, Sydney
Tickets: Destroy All Lines

Monday, December 5th – SOLD OUT
170 Russell St, Melbourne – 18+
Tickets: Destroy All Lines

Friday, December 9th
Eatons Hill, Brisbane
Tickets: Destroy All Lines

Saturday, December 10th
Eatons Hill, Brisbane
Tickets: Destroy All Lines