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The Used Frontman Goes Through ‘Artwork’ Track by Track

The Used‘s Bert McCracken graciously broke down the emotion behind every song on ‘Artwork,’ out now on Reprise, exclusively for Noisecreep when we chatted with him. McCracken’s descriptions of the songs were stream of conscious and free association; they were often confounding, but always provocative and captivating. You’ll see what we mean as you read along.

‘Empty With You’: “It’s perfectly a Used song, about broken hearts and the fact that we can come together, celebrate and be excited. The same thing happens at a funeral or a family reunion and that’s what it is about. It is inspired by that creepy movie ‘Doubt,’ since through doubt, people can feel that strength of being lost together.”

‘Meant to Die’: “It was directly inspired by Heath Ledger. My friend Edward [Sharpe] of the Magnetic Zeros, the coolest band, was good friends with Heath and lived next door to him in Laurel Canyon. Six months before he passed away, I was on tour the whole time and Edward was talking to me, saying, ‘Dude, you will be so stoked to hang out with Heath. He is the coolest guy ever.’ I love everything he has ever done, despite ’10 Things I Hate About You,’ which is lame, but he is rad.”

‘Born to Quit’: “Let’s talk about another one. That got manipulated and is a record label tragedy. I like it, though. It’s about coming to grips with who you are. You realize s— that you hate and you can hate yourself the right way and hate yourself instead of being like ‘I suck.’”

‘Kissing You Goodbye’: “It’s also about tragedies: where we go and what happens to us along the way. The strongest part of being in love is how much you hate someone. That is the strongest part of love. If you can hate on a person for real, instead of nonchalantly … It can be, ‘I am outta here, f— this’ or ‘I am giving it all I have,’ or ‘I am never leaving.’ It’s like the banana tree that won’t stop growing in my yard.”

‘Sold My Soul’: “It’s three minutes and 20 seconds long.”

‘Watered Down’: “I like to write more general for everyone, but not when people know exactly what it is about it, but it speaks for itself. Nothing we possess and attain in life that we feel we deserve is really worth anything. It’s trivial and makes no difference. Wasting time, wasting dreams. It’s not important. I want to live off the land, raise animals to kill and eat and be a part of the earth. Instead of dreaming of the car I can buy, if I have more money.”

‘On the Cross’: “I have a hard time believing in the Easter bunny, Santa Claus or Jesus Christ. To be so harsh, half of America is insane to me. I don’t understand it; actually I do, which is why I feel this way. I have read the Bible 10 times. I was raised Mormon, which is a cult religion.”

‘Come Undone’: “It’s not fair, not illegal. Let it bleed. I have fresh basil in my garden, with bumblebees, and I wanted to capture how it feels to be a basil plant and bumblebee! I don’t even know! That’s a love song. It’s about hating the person you love the most, and hating yourself the most.”

‘The Best of Me’:
“It’s a serious revenge song inspired by an English movie called ‘Dead Man’s Shoes,’ with Paddy Considine, who plays a guy with a mentally retarded brother who goes off to war, and they f— with his brother so hard. He comes back from war and gets his revenge, and it’s perfect.”

‘Men Are All the Same’: “The difference between men and women and how messy it gets. If there is a God, a man who is a God, looking down, he is laughing to make us get along with women and women get along with men and make babies. It was his ultimate ironic, joke. In my journal, the day they found Kurt Cobain’s body, I wrote this big long thing where I said, ‘I will make the music that makes the world go around and when I am 27, I will kill myself, just because.’ Well, I am 27. I am still alive, got a few months left.”

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