The Used's Bert McCracken has officially crossed two names off his Christmas list: President George W. Bush and My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way.
It's really no surprise that Bush won't be getting so much as a card from the Used lead singer, thanks mostly to the ongoing war in Iraq ("It's f---ing bullsh--," McCracken opined), but Way ... well, that's a bit of a shock. It wasn't that long ago the two were exchanging verses on a charity version of the Queen/ David Bowie classic "Under Pressure" (see "My Chemical Romance Cover 'Under Pressure,' Plan 'Big Rock' LP"). But those days are ancient history now, according to McCracken. Just don't expect him to explain the reason why.
"Um, I'd prefer not to say anything about My Chemical Romance, except that we did have a falling out. We don't speak at all anymore," he sighed. "It's got nothing to do with their success. I'm completely comfortable with where our band is at. We used to be very close, but no more. We had a falling out. The rest of my band, they're still mates with all the guys in that band. But I'd prefer to say nothing more about My Chemical Romance."
While he might be mum on his feelings about Way, McCracken is more than happy to let it rip on President Bush, especially with his side project, the Street Drum Corps, which he started with his friends in S.T.U.N., Circus Minor and the Start (see "Used Frontman Warms Up For Tour By Playing With 'Punk-Rock 'STOMP' ' "). They contributed a cover of John Lennon and Yoko Ono's "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" to the just-released Taste of Christmas comp and recently shot a politically charged clip for the song at a church in Brooklyn, New York.
"The video is about a family, and the dad goes off to war, and it shows how big of a bummer it could be to have someone fighting in a war that makes absolutely no sense to anybody, especially us Americans who would love to see the rest of the world have an idea about how good America could be, as opposed to how rotten it actually is," McCracken said. "It's perfect for the song because it's all about war, sadly. But the song to me is barely a Christmas song, it's more about, 'What have you done with your year?' It's got a message."
McCracken is also hard at work on a full-length Drum Corps album, which he said mostly features found instruments. He hopes it'll also have a whole lot of guest stars.
"So far we've only used three drums on the whole recording. Everything else was stuff we found on the street: garbage cans and satellite dishes and big, heavy chains and propane tanks. And it turned out really well," he laughed. "We hoping to get a lot of different artists to be on it. Hopefully Daryl Palumbo from Glassjaw will be on it, hopefully DJ Shadow is going to jump on it too. Daron [Malakian] from System of a Down said he's going to do a track. The Street Drum Corps was pretty much the most punk-rock thing we saw on the Warped Tour, which kind of bums me out. But it's also encouraging that there are so many artists looking to help out with it."
The Street Drum Corps should be out in February, just around the time McCracken and the rest of the Used are scheduled to get to work on a follow-up to last year's In Love and Death (see "Tension, Tragedy Spawned The Used's In Love And Death"). And while he's not quite sure just what the new material will sound like, he's certain that it won't contain the same political edge as his work with the Drum Corps. And that's on purpose.
"[The new Used album is] definitely not going to be political at all," he said. "I do think it will be more emotional than anything we've done before, and more experimental too. The only thing we've come to terms with is that it won't sound like anything we've ever done before."