PropertyOfZack is stoked to be posting a new interview with The Used that reviewer Jesse Richman conducted at this year’s SXSW Festival. In the interview, Jesse and the band discuss the release of Vulnerable, possible touring with Dance Gavin Dance, plans for the future, and more. Check out the great interview below!
Can you state your names in The Used?
Quinn: I’m Quinn I do guitar.
Bert: I’m Bert.
How were things at the showcase last night?
Bert: It was so good man. It was cool man, we don’t get a chance to do acoustic stuff very often so it was really exciting and new for us. Really a lot of love and a lot of positive music. How it should be: Music fans in love and smiles.
You guys have a couple other acoustic sets coming up, right?
Bert: Yeah, tomorrow we’re doing a couple. Doing the signings for us like we usually do gets a bit boring, so we’re going to do a few songs.
Beyond that, do you guys have touring plans? A US tour coming up?
Bert: Yeah, we’re doing a full headlining tour in May and we’re doing some stuff in the summer time.
Do you know who you’re going out with?
I think it might be Dance Gavin Dance.
Bert: Yeah, and they seem to be kind of blowing up right now. They’re like a prog-screamo-indie…
POZ: Yeah, I know them well. I don’t know who’s singing for them right now.
Bert: Yeah, I heard that it was a bit of a confusing thing. But I kind of dig it, and they were on the top of our list. It’s all up in the air right now, but we’ll see.
Vulnerable is coming out in a couple of weeks. You’ve got two singles that are out so far. How are people’s reactions to the singles?
Bert: I think really well.
Quinn: Yeah I think people really like it or are confused by it.
Bert: Yeah, in our new single “Hands And Faces” we have some vocal effects and stuff. People are “What’s this? I’m a fan of their first stuff!”
I know you guys have said you aren’t the biggest fans of Artwork anymore.
Bert: I’m probably the only one that’s said that. I don’t know how these guys feel about it. But it was really a negative record for me. I tried to make it very therapeutic, but it kind of backfired.
POZ: Took you to that place further instead?
Bert: Exactly. With Vulnerable, I really just needed to make something that could lift me up at all times and could inspire me the way that people should feel inspired by music. This is the record that I think we needed to write right now.
Do you go in when you’re writing thinking, “I want to write about these kinds of topics?” Or do you just do what flows?
Bert: Yeah, it all kind of flows but there is definitely something on the back of your mind at all times when you approach a song or approach writing.
When approaching an album, do you come across it conceptually? Or do you just start with a couple of songs and see what direction it’s headed?
Bert: I think it’s all different. It depends. Sometimes I go in with a song in my head and “maybe I want to try a song like this.” Even though it’s always going to sound like The Used once we put our final stamp on it. Conceptually, I had a bunch of really positive lyrics and poems and thought that this record should be more about embracing the positive side of vulnerability. Living your life with an open heart, you know?
Since you guys went into the recording doing it all on your own, did you feel more freedom to kind of try new things? Go different directions?
Quinn: Yeah. We had just taken a year and done the regular thing in our practice space. You know, we were coming up with jams and stuff like that and music to kick start things, but once we got in to the studio we were just like, let’s just relax. Here’s a keyboard with every sound that’s ever been made. Somebody call out what they’re feeling and let’s do it and talk about it. Have fun with it. So we more or less had fun with it and worried about the melody and the song, instead of “what chords are you playing here? And what’s this part?”
Bert: Yeah, it was more about entirety than the small, scrutinizing, agonizing parts of music that no one really has fun with.
So, along those lines. I know Anger was conceived as being more than just a record label. For you guys, do you have plans in terms of video, multimedia, or other stuff that’s around the new album? What’s in the works?
Bert: Yeah, right now we’re focusing specifically on Vulnerable. In the future, there is so much going on. We’ve talked about writing screenplays and being involved with film for years. And I’ve been working on a cookbook for the last eight years.
POZ: Tell me about that.
Bert: Well, I love to cook at home. It’s just a different creative outlet for me when I’m at home and I love to eat food.
POZ: What kind of food do you like? Anything particular?
Bert: Anything. I like comfort food. I like a lot of Spanish cuisine. I love cooking seafood, my wife’s Australian. Especially comfort food. Like her type of comfort food is clams and white wine with linguini.
POZ: What’s your favorite thing to make?
Bert: I like doing a Spanish Fidios with clams and muscle in a cream saffron broth.
POZ: That sounds really good.
Bert: Oh, it’s so amazing man. And you bake the pasta before. I’m starving!
POZ: Are you into food as well?
Quinn: Yeah, I’m the tester. I just get the table ready and do the dishes. I’m usually the one that cleans up.
Bert: I don’t do dishes so it works out good.
That’s a good deal. Do you guys have anything planned in terms of a new video for the album?
Bert: Yeah, there’s a video that we shot for “I Come Alive” that’s going to be coming out in the next week or two weeks. It’s really cool. We just wanted to make a really shocking piece of art. It’s not really a direct reflection of the record or abusing people. I think we are going to get some feedback, some lash, back from it. But it’s really just…It’s about the positive power of youth and vulnerability. It’s just about this kid that gets bullied by these bullies and gets picked on and his dad beats him up. So he takes matters into his own hands. There’s not really a lesson to it, it’s just kind of one kid’s reaction to it. Kind of a more realistic action, in a way.
POZ: Just retelling the story the way it needs to be told?
Bert: He flips out and bashes people’s heads in.
Quinn: It’s along the lines of a bully type of video.
POZ: Bullying has been such a hot topic lately.
Quinn: Yeah. Don’t tell anybody, but we thought it would be really good to get interviews like this and stuff.
Bert: I mean, I was severely picked on in school and I wore makeup and painted my nails and people wanted to beat me up for that. It’s kind of a statement about being yourself and daring to live your life the way that you want to. Facing the repercussions as they may come.
So you guys are doing SXSW for the first time in a while.
Quinn: Yeah, we did it two years ago for Artwork.
A lot of times, SXSW is newer bands, up and coming bands. You guys are already pretty clearly established. You’ve been at the top of the world as far as bands go. Are you here reestablishing yourselves?
Bert: I think so. We’ve been away for a while now so it’s cool to get out here. Especially doing these acoustic shows. To show people a different side and to show people that we love music as much as they do. And we’re in it just because we’re fans. Music first. It feels good to come out here and to be able to give that love back.
You get to see any music while you’re down here?
Bert: We’re going to check out We Are The In Crowd tonight and a few others. We didn’t really get to see any yesterday. We got in kind of late and headed straight to the venue. I watched a bit of Eve 6.
POZ: I saw them the other night. So good. I played the shit out of that first album when I was in high school.
Bert: Oh yeah. I lived with Tony, the drummer, for a while. We were roommates, yeah. He lived downstairs from me and my wife for like a year.
POZ: It was just good seeing them all back on stage together finally.
Bert: Yeah, exactly. It’s been a long time right? So, hopefully we’ll be able to see as many bands as we can, but for now we’re just drinking beer in the mornings and… cheers.
So is this the start of a full on 2012 after being quiet in 2011?
Bert: It’s the year of The Used, man. We’re back in a big way. Only because we love music. It’s all about the fans first. Like I’ve said before, we feel really strongly about what we do. But, there is a lot of people trying to do what we do for a living and trying to make serious money real quick. We like to say, if you’re not going to do it for free, than you should just fuckin’ quit. Because you’re not going to make any money anyways and we can all see right through it. We can all feel the insincerity and it hurts my feelings. So quit. Quit your band.
That said, since you guys came on to the scene, the industry has done a total 180. It’s like a whole new world. Has it been tricky navigating that change? I know a lot of older bands have a tough time dealing with the new realities of things.
Bert: I think it’s been fun for us. We got everything we needed from our major label. We have fans all over the world and we’re very blessed. But now, it’s time for us to start doing things our way, you know? And we’re lucky enough to be able to do that.
Any talks about working with other folks with Anger yet?
Bert: Here and there, but nothing solid. We’ll see what comes though. There’s a lot of exciting things in the future.
That’s really about it. Anything else you want to say?
Bert: Yeah I guess I could just say that this record is for the true hardcore The Used fans out there. The true and hardcore music fans. Anyone that never really fit into the cool scene or any scene at all. People like us. Hope you enjoy.
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