Exclusive Q and A: The Used Get 'Vulnerable'

OurStage Exclusive InterviewsTen years ago, The Used exploded onto the modern alternative rock scene with their edgy and emotionally-charged debut album, The Used. Led by versatile frontman Bert McCracken”a vocalist who’s sweet and smooth pop voice can be easily turned into an ear-shattering scream” the group made a name for themselves with singles like “Taste of Ink” and “Box Full of Sharp Objects.” The Used saw further mainstream success with their subsequent records, In Love & Death and Lies For The Liars, as their shows became bigger and bolder than ever before. In 2010, they released Artwork, a strongly negative and dark album on which the band had struggled for creative control.

Never ones to quit when the going gets tough, The Used decided to take matters into their own hands and go DIY for their upcoming release, Vulnerable. Both McCracken and guitarist Quinn Allman took the time to meet up with us at SXSW in Austin, TX, to discuss the new album and how the band has grown, musically and personally, since they first began.

OS: You just returned from Soundwave in Australia. What was that experience like? How did the fans respond to the new single?

BM: It was amazing. It was the biggest, craziest festival. I mean, there’s like, one million bands on it, I think? 1,200,000 bands? [laughs] A lot of metal bands, so for a band like us¦we kind of had to watch where we walk and not get beat up by all the metalheads. But it was so fun. We’re just doing I Come Alive right now from the new record, since it’s not out yet¦but the feedback we got was amazing. Australian fans are fucking crazy.

OS: I hear that from a lot of people, that fans overseas are so much more excited¦

BM: It’s weird…England and Europe and Australia are really crazy.

OS: You’re about to put out your brand new record, Vulnerable, and you’ve taken a DIY approach to this release. Can you talk about the advantages and disadvantages of releasing your own record?

BM: I guess the only disadvantage is we have to do pretty much all of the work ourselves. We teamed up with Hopeless to handle the distribution of the record, which is really cool. They’re really on it. I’d say the advantages are¦everything else in the whole world. We get to do whatever we want with our own music, we get to create the type of things we want to create, no one can tell us what to do or how to do it, we get to make our own music video the way we want to make it¦I mean, just 100% creative freedom. It’s incredible.

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Soundcheck: Killer Collabos

It’s time to review another round of hot collaborations from some of hip hop’s most famous faces.  This list features some unlikelypairings and some unstoppable up-and-comers as well as some old favorites with some new tricks.

The Cataracs featuring Waka Flocka Flame: All You

This up-tempo single is a guilty pleasure with a contagious new age sound and a techno-enhanced baseline that is hard not to dance to.   The Cataracs don’t disappoint with their complex production, and Waka’s signature hollering is equal parts offensive and harmless; with an undeniably appealing result.

Melanie Fiona featuring Snoop Dogg: Gone (La Dada Di)

A single from her debut album, The MF Life, (out today) features Fiona’s intense vocal delivery and powerful lyrics of loss and longing for her man.  Her smooth, soulful style is sure to stick around for a while; and her knack for story telling gives me the feeling this album is a winner. Snoop’s verse lends a familiar touch to the unusual offering; rounding out this delightful surprise.

David Banner featuring Big K.R.I.T.: Believe It

A single from Banner’s upcoming EP Sex, Drugs & Video Games, the album will be free to download with an option to donate to charity.  The hook sounds like its sung by a gospel choir; although the subject matter is a bit too risky for a Sunday morning.  Still, the song is hot” if not a bit aggressive” but what else would we expect from this mash-up of Southern gentlemen?

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Lady Gaga on Media Blackout

In an interview with Oprah Winfrey on Oprah’s Next Chapter, Lady Gaga announced her decision to sever all communication with the press.

“I do not intend to speak to anyone for a very long time,” she says, stating that it was just as much a personal choice as it was a creative one. Following the success of her latest album Born This Way, the singer has chosen to lay low in 2012, instead focusing on a new album and an overseas tour, as well as her Born This Way Foundation.

As for her own media consumption? “No press, no television,” says Gaga. “If my mom calls and says, ‘Did you hear about?’ I don’t want to know nothing about anything that is going on in relation to music. I shut it all off.”

The Second Coming of Ben Folds Five

Let’s face it, sometimes the past should stay dead. But when an awesome artist fades from popularity, their fans later wonder, Where are they now?  You may not know it, but many artists you’ve loved in the past are still hard at work writing new albums or preparing to tour once more. Fortunately, you now have Second Coming to reintroduce some of your favorite acts of the last few decades and give you the scoop on what you can expect from them in the future.

THEN: As we know, the early 90’s saw an alt rock explosion. Singer-songwriter Ben Folds jumped into the fray with a band of his own, Ben Folds Five. An indication of Folds’ off-kilter humor, the band was actually a trio (an in-joke unsurprising to anyone who knew that Folds’ first band, Majosha, released an EP called Five Songs About Jesus, which included four secular tunes). The band’s self-titled debut LP garnered them a significant amount of buzz upon its release in 1995, but it was their sophomore effort, Whatever and Ever Amen, that spawned the hit “Brick.” Though they went on to record a third record (and most of a fourth), but decided to “amicably” split up in 2000. Folds, of course, went on to rock the suburbs with a successful solo career, but it seemed as though the world had seen the last of the Five.

NOW: In 2011, Ben Folds Five reunited once more to record three tracks for Folds’ compilation album, The Best Imitation of Myself: A Retrospective. A few months later, Folds announced via Twitter that they would be writing and recording a brand new album: “It’s happening fo sho – Day 1 in studio with Robert and Darren through March #NewBenFoldsFiveRecord.” Looking ahead to the rest of 2012, BFF are slated to headline New York’s Mountain Jam, as well as perform a set at the legendary Bonnaroo Festival in Tennessee. The new record’s title and release date are still TBA, but we’re excited to hear what they sound like thirteen years after their last album.

Who could forget the wild video for “Underground?”

Southern Comfort

Sean Waterman

 

Those who attend the Citadel in South Carolina get a double dose of ROTC and regular academic courses, so it’s understandable that many spend their free time studying. But not Sean Waterman. The former cadet skipped the books and headed straight to open mics around Charleston, guitar in tow. And he hasn’t stopped playing since. Waterman’s music is largely acoustic fare. Every once in a while you’ll get a whiff of an electric guitars or keys, but for the most part it’s just a man, his voice, his axe and his heartache. Wrong is a dreamy, dusty affair made up of cascading guitars and Waterman’s languid vocals. Unlike the sharp metallic edge that the name implies, Aluminum is all gossamer and ether, while Sour Patch Girl delivers lustrous swirls of acoustic and electric strings. If Waterman has applied any small part of his military background to his songcraft, then it’s clear what the command is: at ease.

 

Metal Monday: Black Sheep Wall Q&A

Bands break up and bands reform, it’s a pretty normal thing. What isn’t normal, however, is how Black Sheep Wall went about things. BSW put out an album, got loads of buzz, were approached by a reputable label, turned them down, did a one album deal with some other label, then imploded and disappeared off the face of the Earth. The good news for everyone is that they’re back on track and are about to release one heck of an album with the aforementioned reputable label (but I’ll let them fill you in on that). When we caught wind that they were back in full effect we reached out to them to get the skinny on what they’ve been up to since their debut record, and guitarist Scott Turner was happy to provide the details.

OS: You guys did one album with Shels Music back in 2008 [I Am God Songs] and are about to release your second record, now with Season of Mist. How did the transition between labels go?

ST: The transition was just a matter of getting in contact with Season of Mist since they had initially contacted us when I Am God Songs started getting a lot of buzz on the Internet and they wanted to release it, actually. I mean, we were young (I was like seventeen or eighteen), and we were already kind of crumbling at the seams so the idea of a multi-album deal they wanted to give us was kind of daunting, and Shels parlayed our fear”or, not really fear, our reservations”by saying Hey, come with us, we’ll give you a one album deal and we’ll see where we’ll go from there. Shels was kind of a new label at the time so the idea of growing with Shels was cool.

Check out the rest of the interview after the jump!