When dealing with tortured Utah scream-pop kewpies The Used, it’s all too easy to smirk at the appropriateness of their name or at singer Bert McCracken ‘s tryst with Kelly Osborne (or, for that matter, his name in particular). But then, it’s fair game when the band is, in the midst of their umpteenth interview of the day, ordered to sign hundreds of posters and CD booklets to promote their latest emo goldmine, In Love And Death.
“It’s just stuff you have to do,” says mussed blond guitarist Quinn Allman, absently scribbling his John Hancock on yet another insert. “There are certain things you have to agree to if you want your music to reach as many people as possible and you just do them.”
Interviews, apparently, are one of those things. While McCracken is a little more animated, Allman sits sullenly through the whole of our discussion, seemingly bored with the entire known universe. Maybe, I hint, the dull mood is a product of that infamous Used friction, which throws the band members into fits of rage and violent aggression?
“It was just one reporter that ran with that,” says McCracken. “We’ve never really wanted to kill each other or anything. We get along pretty well.”
One wonders, listening to the band speak in the aural equivalent of muted taupe, where all the rage, frustration and pain found on In Love And Death came from. Was it neglectful parents?
“My parents have always been 100 per cent supportive,” says Allman.
“My parents are coming around,” says McCracken. “They don’t really understand why I have to curse so much.”
Onto more volatile subjects, presumably the real sources of the emotions that inform tracks like “I Caught Fire (In Your Eyes)” and “Cut Up Angels:” the recent deaths of McCracken’s ex-girlfriend Kate and his chihuahua, David Bowie.
“I lost someone close to me in the process of recording,” McCracken says. “It was a really difficult experience and a lot of what I was feeling came out of that.”
Perhaps, when it comes to The Used, it’s best to forego conversation in favour of a more visceral kind of emotional exchange: the one that happens between the band and the audience at one of their enthusiastically hyper live shows. Perhaps The Used are just shy, more comfortable expressing themselves through their heartfelt if ham-fisted emo-pop anthems than in awkward, impersonal interview settings. Perhaps their genius can’t be conveyed with words alone.
“What is this for? Chirt magazine? That’s a funny word. Chirt magazine! Chirt!”