I first met Bert McCracken about 10 years ago in Maryland when his band The Used was just starting to break.
He's got a personality that's always reminded me of a modern-day Cobain, but fortunately has recently managed to curb his own potential trainwreck and build something new and meaningful for The Used.
This year's Take Action Tour raised around $100,000 for It Gets Better Project, and I honestly couldn't be happier it was done by this group.
Why did you decide to do the Take Action Tour?
At this point in our career we're all about giving back and being in that place to be able to help out. We understand what music really can do for people's lives.
What's the reason you chose to benefit It Gets Better Project?
I was raised in Utah with the tyranny of religious ethos making it almost impossible for someone to be happy and gay. I think that's tragic. I think people should be able to be happy whoever they love, so It Gets Better Project stood out in my mind as very important.
I think that ignorance is one thing that can really hurt people, and I don't understand why people are afraid of things that are different. Hopefully we can spread the word a bit, and help people understand that those things that make you different are the things that make you incredible.
What triggered your desire to start giving back?
A lot of it came from getting myself clean and sober from drugs and alcohol. I've been pretty fucked up, and a lot of people know that I've struggled with addiction ever since anyone began talking about the band.
In the past 10 years, the amount of alcohol that I'd consume on a daily basis was not a normal amount, and I'm not a normal drinker. I'm not a guy that can just have a couple of beers.
This is all really personal stuff, but really not being the person that I have been for so long, I get to see what I do from a different perspective. I feel that I get a new chance in life. Playing these shows and being clear headed and seeing the effect that our music has made on our country, on the world, is incredible. It's more than incredible, I'm awe struck.
How do you plan to continue your efforts after the tour?
I think as of now we just have to keep making music that we love and that is really personal to us. I think that's the touch that The Used has. I like to share experiences good and bad. I think that's what art is really all about.
I'm just taking it a day at a time as far as not drinking and looking to the future with nothing but excitement. We have the world at our fingertips. It's incredible the amount of love and support that still exists for The Used. It blows my fucking mind. I'm going to use that, and I'm going to keep making music. I think that with technology, the point is to be as prolific as you can, so that's what we aspire to do.
From this tour alone, the amount of love and support I've seen has overwhelmed me. I just want to say to the hardcore Used fans out there, this is for you. You've kept this dream alive for 12 years now, it's fantastic.
Are there other causes you want to support?
There's so many causes we want to support. A lot of the proceeds from this tour from our half go to the Make A Wish Foundation, which we've been really close with. We had a friend whose wish was to come and see The Used seven years ago, and he just passed away last month. We had a huge candlelight vigil for him at our show in Cincinnati. That charity in my mind is just making people's lives and inspiring so many people that see them.
Go to the website and watch a couple videos. It's just fantastic work they do. We know that music saves lives. To be able to work with kids who are sick, who have never really been around it, it's amazing to see.
How do you promote It Gets Better Project on the Take Action Tour?
I think that all we can do is be an example. From the stage, I try to influence people to go to the website to check it out. If they absolutely need help or if they need support they know where to go. It Gets Better Project has an amazing community of people who deal with the same things. Encouraging kids to be themselves, especially at a rock show, that's the chance you get to be yourself and not be afraid to be judged by everyone.
Truly we don't care what kind of clothes you have or how many friends you have on... fucking... whatever the thing is... and I encourage kids to maybe keep some of their opinions to themselves. When you're perusing the social networking sites, just fucking keep your opinions to yourself. I see a lot of kids ruining other kids days with like two sentences and it's tragic, but that's the world we live in.
Have any fans shared stories of how they've been impacted by the organization?
I got a letter in the mail yesterday actually from an amazingly smart girl from the east coast. She was wrongly diagnosed with autism when she was young, so she spent her life just kind of outside of normality.
She didn't know where she fit in anywhere, but she's also gay. Saying how It Gets Better was there for her when she was going to kill herself and she hadn't heard about the program other than through our website reading about The Take Action Tour. That kind of thing is impactful, man.
We're more than grateful to be a part of something like that and help people live life. It's bigger than words.
Shout out and special thanks to Louis Posen (Founder of the tour and Hopeless Records / Sub City charity group) who I had the opportunity to speak to before the show. I'll have my people call your people. Let's get causey.
Follow Brandon Deroche on Twitter: www.twitter.com/brandonderoche