Late April 2020 will see The Used released their 8th studio album Heartwork. The album is incredible with a real immediacy to every track encapsulating all that made us first fall in love with The Used. This album is the spark the world needs to reignite us through these current dark times and an early contender for SCENEzine album of the year. We caught up with The Used vocalist Bert McCracken to learn more about Heartwork.
 
SCENEzine
Firstly huge congrats on your new album Heartwork. We are loving it. You must be proud of how it all turned out?
 
Bert McCracken
I am beyond proud and glad it’s getting the same feeling. When I first had the record I listened to it four or five times through. I am so stoked it’s such a cool, positive nice escape full of The Used. It feels like a record that celebrates music. It’s crazy how much fun we had making it and how positive the whole thing felt. It’s cliché for a band to be the most into their recent thing but it’s the best time we ever had in the studio. This is the best Used album of all time in my opinion. It’s got so much heart and that’s part of the reason why it had to have the name it did. 
 
 
SCENEzine
There’s a really good mix of pop style tracks and heavy ones on the album. Sometimes bands can come from a heavy genre then become too pop sounding but you guys seem to have struck a perfect mix. How did you get the right balance? 
 
Bert McCracken
It’s the honest influence from the four of us trying to get in touch with who we were when we first fell in love with music. It’s a mixed genre picture, everybody came from such crazy different worlds growing up. What saved my life growing up was not only hardcore bands like Converge but also Janet and Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. Some of the best eighties pop when songs were pure and it was about having fun and dancing (laughs). When you find all those inspirations it gets a chance to sound like anything, which is cool now nobody cares that much about genres. The whole world is wide open, people have a lot more open minds than they used to, especially when I was a teenager. 
 
SCENEzine
The track “Blow Me” is such a great partnership of yours and Jason’s vocals. What point did he arrive in the writing process for that song? 
 
Bert McCracken
We were about half way through the song. I had already done all the lyrics so we had the concept of the double entendre done. Something as volatile and close to home as gun violence spoke to the world of Jason and I. While touring with Fever 333 Jason and I were able to have some really deep and meaningful conversations about the world in general. He’s such a smart guy, he’s so well spoken and mesmerising to watch on stage, he’s a force. Ever since I saw Letlive seventeen years ago I was hooked on Jason.

SCENEzine
Was making the video for “Paradise Lost, a poem by John Milton” a fun experience?
 
Bert McCracken
Fun is a tricky word when your on psychedelics (laughs). We had a blast. No one felt like we were working ever, while we were making this record or shooting the video. When you get to work with your friends and hang out and create things that you would love to see it’s a phenomenal time. Brian is one of the coolest new creative directors, the stuff he does with Bring Me The Horizon is fantastic. We’ve known him for a long time but his work is incredibly eye catching. We are lucky to have such talented friends. It was a really quick shoot actually we got it all done in one day. 

SCENEzine
I was really drawn to the track “Lighthouse”. Is the message behind that song to always give yourself hope? 
 
Bert McCracken
There’s a bit of both sides in the track. You can also see how we also need people in our lives. I think that’s a cool little way The Used tries to look at both points of view. There’s a funny story behind that song when we were initially writing the song the lyric was I can’t be your lighthouse, so it had this completely different tone. Then when I sent the demo home for my wife and daughter to check out. My six year old said dad can it be I can be your lighthouse because you can. It was the most adorable thing I ever heard so of course I change it to I can be your lighthouse. The cool thing about The Used is these songs aren’t about anyone but they are about everyone. These songs are about this person that we all know who feels a little bit like us . There’s a familiarity that runs throughout the whole thing in my mind. It’s cool to think like you belong somewhere. 
 
SCENEzine
I guess the track “to feel something” really sums up the connection The Used have with their fans?
 
Bert McCracken
I wanted to create a selfless moment. I think that a record is just a snap shot of the artist in that moment. Music has been coming back full circle to what is pure and honest about the human experience. Humans make mistakes and are vulnerable and are flawed. Humans are so bad at adapting to new technology that when we first discover pro tools and auto tune everything sounded like everything else. I think everybody has the same tools now so it’s starting to fall back on the artist and the personality of the individual and what’s human about art again. So in that song I’m wanting to express the void and emptiness first world instagram problems have amounted to. Instead I just want to feel something. 
 
SCENEzine
This must be the strangest album release you’ve ever done because usually you would say here’s the new album and immediately go on world tour dates to support it but that’s not possible right now. 

Bert McCracken
I know it’s a devastating feeling. I’ve never wanted to play a show so badly in my life. The whole worlds in the same boat so stay positive and for now we can listen to music on our headphones. What’s driving me to look a little bit further down the road and stay positive is I know you can’t stop the world from moving on. Eventually we will get through this thing, science will help us through it and we will be back out there in no time. Let’s all really stay positive and find something to live for. 
 
SCENEzine
Lastly I was lucky enough to be in USA last year and watch The Used play one of the final Warped Tour dates in Atlantic City. What was it like for you playing in front of 60,000 people on a beach? 
 
Bert McCracken
It was insane. Those kind of crowds don’t make it feel as real as a small show. It was definitely less nerve racking because the gigantic sea of people just ends up being no people at all. To celebrate the end of Warped Tour in that way what a fantastic show I don’t think I’ll ever forget that one. It was such a beautiful day, you’re lucky you got to be at that show.  
 
(interview by Christian Ross)

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