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Bert McCracken: The Revolution Will Be Televised

Bert McCracken
hoto by Sandra Markovic.

Back in 2001 when The Used was formed, “Channel [V] Presenter” probably wasn’t a goal frontman Bert McCracken was building towards. But it’s 2015 and here we are. As part of Channel [V]’s new programming block, McCracken will be hosting The Revolution, a show dedicated to all things rock, punk and hardcore. We caught up with him to find out just what exactly The Revolution is and what we can expect to see on it each week.

How did your involvement in this series come about? Is hosting your own music talk show something you’ve thought about doing before?
Channel [V] asked me to help out last year with the hosting of Soundwave, and I had a blast talking to other artists. I found it really comfortable; it didn’t feel like work at all. But along the lines of the themes of our new record, this consciousness movement and the awakening of awareness of the planet is where we’re headed, so I think a talk show is the perfect kind of outlet to discuss important ideas and also bring awareness to up-and-coming bands and bands that are already out there.

Is that awakening of awareness where the name The Revolution comes from? Is it more of a revolution of thought rather than music?
I think in the world we live in, with the way the systems work – which are all run by corporations – I think the only chance for the people at the bottom – the common man, the working class proletariat – is to have an evolution of human consciousness, and that’s definitely the revolution that we’re talking about. In this world it’s really hard to find a racist, homophobic bigot who has all the information and is well-educated. We’re trying to push truths, but at the same time not trying to sell specific ideas. We just want to get people thinking.

You’re pretty outspoken when it comes to politics; I noticed in the promo footage we were given you’re wearing a “Freedom for Gaza” T-shirt. I feel like addressing those types of issues is something you don’t see in the average music talk show.
There’s so many good distractions going on in the world, particularly in Western society. I think everyone should understand issues like Palestine and the occupation. Like I said before, we just want to bring a little bit of awareness with a whole bunch of really awesome music. It’s actually really fun and carefree too, in its own way.

How does it feel to have the shoe on the other foot, being the interviewer instead of the interviewee?
It’s really nice. I’ve done a lot of interviews so I kind of understand the difference between a good question and a bad question. I guess I have a deeper sense of awareness of what people want to hear about in what’s really going on in an artist’s life. We get so many general questions, and I think I’m pretty good at avoiding a boring interview. Also, a lot of people I’ve talked to I’ve already met before or already know or we’re just very like-minded individuals. It all really seems carefree and that helps us get a little deeper.

Apart from interviews and curating the music that gets played, what else do you have planned for the show? Any fun surprises?
We’ve got a really cool anti-social media segment where we focus on things that should be talked about, other than Kim Kardashian’s arse or Kanye’s ignorance. There’s tons and tons of cool surprises that I’m not going to give away, but it’ll be worth watching the show. It’s just so much fun. Plus, we’ve gotten a little help from Vice, so that’s good too.

I feel like Channel [V] has drifted away from showing heavier music over the past couple of years, so I find it interesting that they’re dedicating an entire show to that specific type of music. As someone who’s been living in Australia for a couple of years now, have you found that the coverage of the more alternative heavier music on TV, and radio stations like triple j, isn’t as prominent as other genres?
It’s maybe just not as marketable, or there aren’t enough ways to capitalise on it. I think there’s kind of a movement of heavy music coming back. There’s a new sound to a lot of stuff that we’re familiar with, and that deserves to be heard – there’s a lot of old ’90s sounds coming back. There’s a new idea with rock music, and I think it’s focusing more on music as a weapon that’ll shape the world we live in instead of being just a sad reflection of the society in front of us. As far as what Channel [V] has been up to, I’m not too sure but I know they’re branching out and doing five different genre-specific shows. They have their indie show, their hood show and their dance show. I think they’re just trying to cover all bases.

What makes now the right time to bring that type of music into focus? All of this music comes off as a reaction to the society that it’s in. Do you think the show itself is a reflection of Australia at this moment in time?
In a way, but I think we cover a bigger world in general. Me being from the United States, that’s kind of what I’m familiar with. I mean, I am familiar with Australian politics, but not as familiar as I am with American politics. It’s a nice juxtaposition; it’s not so Australian specific, we’re trying to look all around the world. We are focusing on things that are close to home, like Aboriginal land issues and the movement of organic and local food in Australia, which is a really refreshing thing to see, especially being from the United States. We’re touching on things that are close to home, but we’re also trying to broaden people’s horizons. And as far as the time and place for music, I think there comes a point in time where people have had enough and whether they need to get on the Internet and join a radical terrorism organisation or they need to hear some music about some refreshing new ideas, I think there’s a huge separation right now. And they want it separated, the powers that be. They want to distract us and separate it as much as possible. It’s probably getting close to that time where everybody comes together once again, you’ve seen it throughout history. In the late ‘60s early ‘70s there was an evolution in the way that people perceive the world, and I kind of think we’re coming back to those times.

You spoke about the “powers that be” and Channel [V] itself carries an image of being a bit for pop music-centric and mainstream. How much creative control do you have with the show? Did [V] let you talk about whatever you want and express any opinion, or was there a tighter squeeze on what you can and can’t say?
Not at all – that was the point from the beginning. I wouldn’t do something that was censored and they really allowed me to say what I wanted to say. Like I said before, I’m not selling ideas, I’m not trying to rally the troops to war for a specific purpose; I’m just trying to open their eyes. I’m working with the coolest people ever. Our producer is one of my new favourite people in the world, and we have a lot of really like-minded ideas and a lot of positive energy. I haven’t been censored and no one is trying to dictate what’s going on. It’s pretty cool.

Will there be a bigger focus on Australian-grown music? Will we be seeing bands like Corpus or Parkway Drive on the show, as both music and interviewees?
We have an amazing interview with Corpus, and a ton up-and-coming artists from Australia. That was one of the main objectives, to kind of prop up local artists as much as possible.

If we could step away from The Revolution for one second and talk about The Used, you’ve just released a vinyl pressing of Shallow Believer for the recent Record Store Day. How did that come about, and why release Shallow Believer specifically?
It was always a digital release, and never a tangible physical anything. So it’s been a long time coming; we were going to do it last year but we had a few other releases coming out. This was the year, this was the perfect time and we’re stoked people want to support it even though they’ve probably already heard it.

What’s your take on the reemergence of vinyl collecting over the past few years, especially with the boom of digital music streaming services? I think that the fact limited edition vinyl is still released and highly sought after when everything is available at the click of a button is a really interesting contrast.
It shows the true passion for the music. Music fans out there still want to support the artists that inspire them, and vice versa. It’s a strong community once you’re inside the love of music. This resurgence of tangible music is awesome. It’s one of the most beautiful things happening in music right now.

Do you think the physical copy will ever go away? We’ve lost older formats like the cassette tape, but do you think the CD or vinyl record will ever stop existing or will it just always be there?
In the history of the world we’ve seen a lot of drastic things happen. Who knows what the world will be like in another 3,000 years from now. But if you want to talk about the immediate future, I don’t think records are going anywhere in the next 50 years.

How is your role on The Revolution going to affect your role in the Used? Is time management between both of them going to be an issue?
No, there’s a lot of time for everything in the world if you make time. What I do in the Used and what I’m doing with Channel [V] doesn’t feel like work, it all happens pretty organically. I’ve never felt pressed for time.

Catch Bert on The Revolution every Wednesday
night at 9pm on Channel [V].

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