After watching them crank out albums every few years, it has been no secret that The Used had a propensity to consistently create groundbreaking music. They gave us a taste of their new record with their latest single “Cry,” in January. It received over 700,000 plays within less than a week of its release. This was only a hint of the reckoning that new Used material would bring. So far, their impending tour sold out 18 dates, and they have not stopped there. Indeed, they had already made it a success. “You can inspire people because you took a chance and succeeded. You never know until you try.” These immortal words came from The Used’s lead singer Bert McCracken. The day before they set out on a co-headlining tour with Taking Back Sunday, we sat down with McCracken at SXSW to talk philosophy, life’s mysteries, and to get a feel for the new album Imaginary Enemy, out April 1st.
What can we expect to see from the album on tour?
Well, The Used is a really, really passionate live band. We play from the heart. We know that great music shouldn’t be perfect. It should be human. So you can expect to laugh and cry– not literally. But my favorite thing is enthusiasm and that ability to let go and be foolish and be silly because where do we get the opportunity to not be judged? Rarely anywhere. So, you can expect us to be willing to be ourselves and allow you to be yourselves in return. We’ll play a few songs from the new record, and when it comes up, we’ll come back for a more exclusive tour for the new record.
You’re touring with Taking Back Sunday. How do you feel about that?
I love Taking Back Sunday. It’s inspirational that there are still bands around that have been doing it for so long. It obviously can only be the passion of the music that’s kept these bands [relevant].
I feel like you two have some of the most diehard fans I’ve ever seen at shows.
Yeah, it’s awesome. It’s a great combination and we get to take out a really cool Australian band called Tonight Alive. They’re fantastic. I don’t get how there are people in bands who get to complain about traveling the world and meeting people and talking to people and doing what they love. Fucking shut up and quit if you’re going to complain about it because how many people would take your place in a heartbeat to be able to do what we get to do? We’re very blessed or lucky, depending on what you believe.
Who do you draw your inspiration from?
Old philosophers – Thales, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Alexander the Great. Less old philosophers – Bertrand Russell, Karl Marx, Hegel, Kant. Just a few guys, mostly authors, though, mostly writers. I guess I’m kind of a writer first. Lyrics are first in my world.
How do you feel that channels into your music?
I think everybody appreciates a good poppy melody with a really nice message behind it. I mean, Michael Jackson was so big because he did that so well, and that’s where I kind of came from. I like to create music that I would love to listen to and gets caught in my head. So, that’s kind of where I come from and what I strive to do.
What would your ten-year-old self tell you now, or what would you tell your ten-year-old self?
Ten years old? Don’t be afraid of that stuff, buddy, because it’s not real. Don’t be afraid of that guy in the sky who punishes people because he’s not real. I would say that mistakes are important, and you learn a lot more from losing than you do from winning.
Everything happens for a reason?
Yeah, or maybe not. But we can make a reason of everything.
I feel like when some things happen, I don’t really see why it happened until a few years later because that happened to get me to this point.
And you took the opportunity to take perspective and make something of what happened, right? I think that if we live our lives in that kind of reflection, then we’ll be better off. If we always learn from history, we’ll be better off.
Do you believe in the butterfly effect?
I have a belief in doubt, and that’s kind of where I’m at with beliefs. But who knows because I doubt it. But I don’t know. Who knows? There are some things out there that are definitely unexplainable. But, yeah, I think everything affects everything in some kind of subtle way. Maybe not.
Looking back over the span of the years, you’ve gone gold and you’ve gone platinum. Would you change anything, and what would you change if you could?
No, I wouldn’t change anything. Just like I said before, I think mistakes are very important. It’s how I learn to be more conscious and more present. It’s just how I’m learning from mistakes.
What’s your favorite lesson that you learned?
That everyone has an opinion. So, I guess, logically, if there are 7 billion opinions, none of them are important, including mine.
Do you feel that you’re special?
No. No more special than her or you or you. I feel like everyone’s special. What makes someone special? Being alive on this planet. Like, just being alive means that we won. We are the one sperm that won the race. We are survivors just because we’re alive. You know, we made it. We’re important. We’re special, all of us.
What do you do to make yourself feel special everyday?
I love to read, so I take a little bit of time to read for myself everyday. And I try to keep myself well-informed about other people’s suffering because I believe that if they’re suffering, I’m suffering somehow.
What do you do about that?
You can spread the word of consciousness. That’s the beginning, and you can never say that you won’t be able to do anything because then you really won’t. It’s just solidifying the fact that you won’t. So, I’m always saying, “Yes, I will change the world. Yes, I will change people’s opinions about the world and yes, we can fix it.”
Do you feel like you accomplish what you’re setting out to do?
Slowly, yeah. I mean, I think us just talking about it right now is on the path to helping fix it, really. Thoughts into action, what more can we ask for?
Keep up with The Used and Taking Back Sunday tour information here.