It's almost safe to say without empirical evidence that The Used's fanbase is comprised mainly of 18-year-olds with side fringes and masochistic tendencies. Disregarding the age, this is reflective of the band members themselves. But for all his wrist-slitting, fuck-the-world lyrics, front man Bert McCracken (who actually doesn't have a typical side fringe and looks more like the love child of Kurt Cobain and Fred Durst) is surprisingly compassionate. His first words to me when our call is connected are, "It's early there for you right?" I tell him it's 9:30am on a Saturday morning.
"Oh fuck that!" he says. "I'm so sorry. I feel like I ruined your day but thank you so much for doing this interview with me. You don't even know how much it means to me."
So how much does it mean to him, I'm curious? "It means umm, the Atlantic ocean to me. It's that epic, it's that big." The bullshit talk continues. McCracken has just moved house that day. "We hired these guys called the real rock 'n' roll movers. They're musicians who just move people on the side to make money." I laugh. "Yeah, LA is fucking awesome!" LA might be good, but is he looking forward to coming to Australia? "Always, I can't wait. It's my favourite place to be in the world." This lack of hatred for life is unexpected after watching video clips of gushing blood and crawling skeletons. Turns out there's a reason for his newfound joy.
"I've just had a big change in my life. I'm on this new positive kick," he reveals. It happened in March when The Used played at the OC Fair and Event Centre in Southern California. "It was this music festival, which is like a tattoo convention. And there was some water on the stage, I slipped off the front of the stage and broke my arm, broke my hand, broke my wrist, broke my elbow. I've had three surgeries since then and I got all fucked up and addicted to pain pills and one day I woke up and had to really detox myself. I was sweating and shitting and puking and just like, miserable. And when I came out of the whole thing, I took a hard look at myself and I didn't like what I saw anymore."
And so McCracken was reborn. "I found my love for music all over again. I've never been more passionate about The Used and about music in general. And just to let you know, it was about four songs in and I got back up and I fucking finished the show with bones sticking out of my skin," he laughs. This would definitely not be the kind of performance The Used fans are familiar, considering McCracken is known for his stage flips and occasional bouts of vomiting (although I think this happened once and evolved into some kind of presumed stage quality). "I'm healing up fine. I'm not in any casts and it's getting progressively easier for me to move.
"I'm just full of like pins and needles and screws and wires holding my bones together. I'm a bit of a machine which kind of fits perfectly because in the last three or four weeks I've really felt unstoppable. I feel like more than human, like I am a machine," he laughs.
And in this machine-like state, McCracken has been working studiously on a new album which he says is about 90 per cent finished. "I'm on this path of destruction. I went in and recorded all of my songs in like a week and a half which has never happened before. I just feel unstoppable."
The Used's last album Artwork was released in 2009. Was there much that happened in the last two years that led to the creation of this current, fifth?
"We've had a lot of time off and we got back together and started writing again but I think in a big way, everyone's head was in such a different place. Our drummer (Dan Whitesides) just had a baby. Quinn (Allman - guitarist with a mean side fringe) just got married and so it was really more about me just picking up the ball and running with it. Like I kinda went for it and just wrote a bunch of songs," he pauses to burps, "by myself and recorded them all and let everyone else play catch up cause no one cares more about this band more than me."
Since The Used's first and self-titled album was released in 2002, the four members have enjoyed a steady stream of success with the first and second album In Love and Death going Gold in the US, Australia and Canada. Currently, their number of fans on Facebook is 1,130,519 which is, relatively speaking, pretty damn high.
How are they coping with their success? Are they sick of it yet? "I'm not sick of it because I don't care about it. I never really wanted anything to do with fame. It was all about the music from the beginning so I kinda kept myself, you know, at Bert's level. I'm just like a normal, fucked up dude, from a normal little town and that's maybe why a lot of people can relate to The Used because we never trying to be something we're not, you know?" I ask what he's drinking. "I'm drinking a beer - sorry. Am I burping that much? Well, pardon me," he says jokingly.
The Used were going to be playing the Soundwave Revolution Festival on Friday September 30. But obviously not now. All the same check out soundwaverevolution.com for details.