The line, intertwined and braided with Hot Topic apparel and neons, stretched from Fire and Ice to the back doors of Vintage Vinyl. Kids were playing double-dutch with black plastic tubing in the parking lot while others patiently stood online staring at Bert and Quinn who were just hanging out smoking cigarettes by the back door. I think the last time I had seen The Used was at Warped Tour in 2004 so I was excited to witness their acoustic performance to promote their highly anticipated album, Vulnerable.
Although I found the idea of fitting this ever-elongated line into Vintage Vinyl futile, they piled the kids in, one-by-one, until each aisle was filled from “death metal” to “pop” around the stage. There was uproar when Bert and Quinn walked on stage and fans empathetically shouted, “How are you feeling?” Where Bert apathetically responded, “I feel fine actually, just have the flu…”
Bert did seem fine aside from the coughing, but every time there was a hint of a wary voice, the audience sang louder. During “Taste of Ink,” Bert admitted, “I must say you have beautiful singing voices. I should take you on tour and make you my choir.”
There was a real connection between Bert and the audience that you could feel emanating off them both. Steffany Dossantos, 19 year-old from Old Bridge, NJ, told me about her personal experience and connection with the The Used…
“I saw them live too at Starland and they took the people on stage! That’s what I love about the band, they try to get the connection with the fans. I love that. I love bands like that because they know if it weren’t for us, they wouldn’t be around. And I know he loves us and it shows.”
It absolutely did show. Bert not only was taking pictures of the crowd on Instagram, but he propped up his phone with a water bottle and recorded them during the end of “All That I’ve Got.” Bert and Quinn wore a constant smile as the fans enunciated each and every ad lib of the song.
“On My Own” was the last song they played and Bert admitted, “A lot of this song was written about my friendship with Quinn and how important he is to me.” During the little breakdown where Bert screams, “I’m on my own,” the audience stole the words from Bert’s hoarse throat and were completely on point with the vocals, some even yelling in a Bert-like manner. It gave me chills.
After the performance was over, everyone piled out and withdrew to their positions on line once again wrapping around the building so they could collect the rest of their Vintage Vinyl experience; the meet and greet. I walked out into the déjà vu image of earlier and spoke to some of the fans about the band and the new album.
Blasé Cafasso, 19 years-old from Sayreville, NJ, admitted, “I’ve been a fan of them since their self-titled came out forever ago when my sister showed it to me. They’ve never disappointed me. The first time I saw them at Starland Ballroom it was mind-blowing. Their lyrics are fucking great. They really hit close to home.”
His friend John Cartagna, 19 years-old from Old bridge, NJ, added, “Pretty amazing [Vulnerable], I’m not gonna lie. I’m very impressed with it. When I first heard the single, “Hands and Faces,” I was fairly impressed with it.”
Besides being able to talk to some of their fans, I was lucky enough to catch a short interview with Bert. On the topic of the new album Vulnerable, he explained, “We’ll always write music that’s the music we want to hear. And we really had the ability to go outside the box and bring in a lot of influences from hip-hop to pop to r&b to electronic. A majority of the record was written on a keyboard and a computer so it was definitely a different approach for us.”
Interested in how this new sound would affect their fans, I had gotten some good feedback from Catagna who disclosed, “It definitely is different, but I think that’s good because a band like The Used, they have so much to offer and they cant offer it all on to one cd so it’s like they make it different on each cd.”
He also added, “They keep drawing in new crowds whether its younger people or older people. There’s always an album by The Used that someone can be like, ‘Oh, hey I love this album or I love that album.’ All their songs are just great.”
I also asked Bert about his hospital visit, which he had quoted was an inspiration for Vulnerable. Bert responded, “Yeah it was definitely. I mean like four months later I was really out for the count for a while, and I didn’t really like myself anymore, and I just needed to create something. I mean, I hadn’t done anything in four months, I had two surgeries, and was on pain pills and living yucky.”
Prior to the album, The Used went ahead and established their own record label called Anger Music Group. When asked about it Bert described how it came about…
“Well in our career and our lives we want to work with people we like. Working with a major label, you’re working with a bunch of people you don’t like. If we could influence bands to do it themselves and maybe help them out along the way, that would be awesome. “
In addition to Anger Music Group, The Used have teamed up with Hopeless Records. I asked Bert what it was like working with them and the label’s renowned amount of charity work…
“It’s great. They’ve been amazing. The reason we got involved with them to begin with is because of all their extensive work and charities. But they’ve been amazing people, great with ideas, and I’m glad we got them on board.”
For more information on The Used check out their official website.