Bert McCracken has spent enough time in Hollywood hanging with hipsters and hitting hotspots, so the Used frontman and his bandmates decided to get away from the glitz for a few months and write their new record back home in Orem, Utah.
"We figured it would be best to be in an environment we were really used to," McCracken said. "We're just some regular kids from a small town who blew up out of nowhere, so we wanted to go back to where we started out."
In mid-March, the band will return to Los Angeles and hit the studio with producer John Feldmann, who worked on the Used's 2002 self-titled debut. While the forthcoming record will be turbulent and ripping at times, McCracken said it will offer more diversity than its predecessor.
"There are a lot more piano-based songs than guitar-riff rock songs," he said, "but I wouldn't say they're more mellow. Really, I'd say they're a little heavier in a different way. We're just moving away from the sound that everyone's accustomed to."
One reason for the change is the Used want to grow and develop as musicians. Also, the individual bandmembers have distinctly different tastes in music, and each wants to have his voice heard. "Being in a rock band is all about getting better at what you love to do," McCracken said. "We definitely want to keep it eclectic and mix it all up and have a little bit of fun."
The singer said there'll be a lyrical theme running through the album and that the songs will address key issues in his life, including the pressures of success and the emotional roller coaster of romantic relationships.
"Just like the last record, a lot of the songs are personal but have been written in a way that you're not gonna necessarily know what I'm talking about, but you'll definitely be able to get involved and make it your own," McCracken said. "It's all about loss and love and tragedy and just regular everyday things we all go through. Feeling used is definitely a big part of my life."
One topic he won't address, though, is his relationship with ex-girlfriend Kelly Osbourne. "I don't feel like it's worth my time to write about that stuff," he said. "I'm definitely over that. It's in my past. It was just something that happened, I guess."
As for the disparaging comments Ozzy's offspring has made about McCracken being "selfish" and "sick in the head," the singer turns the other cheek. "I respond to their comments with love, like Gandhi would," he said. "I know they [said some negative things], but I'm still friends with Kelly regardless, and we hung out last New Year's."
The Used's still-untitled next record is due in June or July, which doesn't leave the band much time to finish up the songs. Naturally, the singer is nervous about creating a solid record, but he refuses to get too wrapped up in the pressure.
"The second record is supposedly a huge deal, but [we're not worried]," he said. "We never expected the success that we had already, so it's been good. If our second record flops — which it won't, because we kick ass — then that's what happens, and that's what was supposed to happen."