The Used: New & Improved

The members of the post-hardcore outfit The Used have paid their dues to rock ‘n’ roll. The band plays the House of Blues Feb. 2. 

By Ed Condran
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Jan. 30, 2013

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The Used could have been called the Abused. The post-hardcore band has been battling ever since it emerged out of Utah with its fiery eponymous album a decade ago.

The band overcame poverty, homelessness and chemical abuse.

“We had it rough,” bassist Jeph Howard says while calling from Pittsburgh. “We are not of privilege. We were literally hungry during the early days of this band. We slept on friend’s couches. [Vocalist-keyboardist] Bert [McCracken] slept in the park. It was pretty extreme but somehow we made it. Somehow we survived all of that. You think if we made it through that, we could make it through anything.”

Well, the band has hit a number of speed bumps but it absorbed its biggest jolt when it was about to release its 2009 album, Artwork.

All was good until the band’s former record label, Reprise, leaked the gloomy, dramatic songs. “If it’s a week early, I can live with that,” Howard tells AC Weekly. “But the songs came out three months early. And then we just didn’t get a push. It was so frustrating.”

The band hit its nadir three-years ago. Aside from record label trouble, McCracken was battling alcoholism. “It got to the point in which we didn’t know what the future held for us,” Howard says. “It was pretty scary.”

The Used, which also includes guitarist Quinn Allman and drummer Dan Whitesides, could have folded or tried to overcome the adversity. The band, which will perform Saturday (Feb. 2) at the House of Blues in Atlantic City, chose the latter.

“We were reborn,” Howard says. “Bert just became this different person two years ago. He cleaned up and came up with this new aura. He was so intense about the band.”

The Used worked around the clock in its practice space in Los Angeles. “It was incredibly productive,” Howard says. “We came up with 60 songs.”

However, each of those cuts was scrapped by McCracken. “But we came up with a whole new set of material and that became 2012’s Vulnerable,” Howard says. “It all came together pretty seamlessly.”

Vulnerable sounds very similar to the band’s debut release. The overly earnest rock songs are loaded with hooks and energy.

“I think that has to do with the fact that we were so excited to make this album,” Howard says. “We feel like a bunch of survivors. It’s a special thing since we’re friends first, musicians in a band, second.”

The Used will release a DVD, You’re Welcome, during the summer, according to Howard. The project covers the band’s first dozen years.

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