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The Used’s Bert McCracken: “A Lot Of Things On This Record I Never Talked About To Anyone, Ever”

With cathartic new album 'The Canyon' set for release this month, The Used's Bert McCracken joined us on the Rock Sound Podcast in an honest and brave chat to discuss the story behind it and the emotional depths he had to go to during its creation.

"I had just lost a really really close friend and it's connected in such a huge way. For a lot of old school The Used fans that know about my relationship with my first love, this was a person in my life who kind of took it upon himself the responsibility for her death because he was the one who provided the methadone that she overdosed on and he was never able to forgive himself, but - bigger story - he was on prozac for about 10+ years and, classic story, he stops taking it and seven days later drives up into Provo Canyon - which is where I grew up, it's my childhood, every good and bad memory I've ever made kind of comes from there - and he put a gun to his head and took his life up there.

"Justin [Shekoski, guitar] also lost his father about 10 years ago and we were thinking about what music is capable of. Just like I say in the beginning of the record - we wanted to write a song that captures that moment. If I had five minutes, 10 minutes left of time to say anything, not just to Traegan - the person who I lost last year - but anyone I've lost. I think humans can all connect on that level, love is very painful and that's the duality I'm trying to capture in the metaphor in 'The Canyon' - what creates a canyon is deep, deep time, hundred of thousands if not millions of years of water cutting into rock, I thought that was so powerful, it also represents both sides of love and pain and happiness and all of it. It was really scary, but I'm glad I did it."

"A lot of things on this record I never talked about to anyone, ever. But during the first record we were in LA for John Feldmann's wedding and I was with Traegan and Kate and we had rented a motel room at the Jolly Roger Inn - completely beside ourselves shall we say, intoxicated, missed the wedding - but there was a really kind of crazy moment that happened that night, a very intimate moment, the only truly personally intimate connection I've had with another male on this planet in a physical way and Kate was asleep in the room. The reason I met Traegan was I got transferred early on because of this dropout programme in my high school. I got kicked out of the one high school because I was missing too many classes - how ironic! - so I went to an alternative learning programme where I met him. So the idea of this kiss and really intimate transfer, for a long time he thought a lot of the songs on the first record were about him and it brought him a lot of peace in his life, it means a lot to me."

"We wanted this record to tell the story, the first half of the story representing his side of the struggle and me contemplating my own mortality - am I following my friend home? Or am I here to learn from the pain and take the pain as I take happiness in my life and let it make me a better dad, a better reader and writer and protector of ideas?"


Listen to the full, moving interview with Bert below and subscribe on iTunes here.