When the Used's most recent album, In Love and Death, hit stores in September 2004, Fall Out Boy were just a bunch of kids from Chicago, My Chemical Romance were in their "Gerard-is-chubby" phase and Panic! at the Disco were still a Blink-182 cover band.
Needless to say, things have changed.
Now, as the Used gear up for the release of their still-untitled third album (due in early 2007), they find themselves no longer at the forefront of the emo/Warped/MySpace/whatever punk revolution. Which is perfectly fine with them.
"I don't really understand the scene today," bassist Jeph Howard laughed. "I mean, I love My Chem — we used to tour with them all the time, so I'm stoked for them and I'm really excited to hear their new album. But I don't think any of us are really into a lot of those other bands. In all respect to them, I personally don't like their music.
"I mean, we were doing pretty good for a while there," he continued, considering his band's impact on the scene. "We were on the radio a lot more than our friends' bands, and that sucks that some of them didn't get as big as they should have. So you never can tell what's going to happen. And, really, I don't have any idea about how our new record will do. But if we don't sell as many copies, that's OK with me."
Expectations were perhaps absurdly high when the Used launched In Love and Death (see "Tension, Tragedy Spawned The Used's In Love And Death"). After all, it came on the heels of the breakout success of their self-titled debut, which sold more than 770,000 copies and established the group of four Orem, Utah, punks as an act to be reckoned with. And while Death sold roughly the same amount — and included the hit "Take It Away" — many within the industry viewed it as a disappointment.
So when the Used reconvened in Los Angeles in June to begin work on the new album with producer John Feldmann, who helmed their last two discs, they did so as decided underdogs — a position which, according to Howard, freed them up to make the album they've always wanted to make. And the results — somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 songs, with names like "Earthquakes" and "Slit Your Own Throat" — were certifiably, well, "rocking."
"It's really difficult to describe the new songs, but they're really rocking, and we're so in love with them. You'll definitely know that it's a rock record," Howard said. "Quinn [Allman's] guitar licks are insane and so brilliant. And the vocals are the most incredible that Bert [McCracken] has ever done. It's like everything he's ever sung, except, like turned to 11. Everyone who loves his voice is going to love it even more, and, well, everyone who hates it is probably going to hate it even more."
Of course, this wouldn't be an article about the Used if it failed to address both their many detractors and the copious amount of drama that seems to buzz around them like a swarm of hornets. While the hating is usually constant — Internet rumors that McCracken has died of a drug overdose pop up monthly — lately, things have been percolating in the drama department, thanks largely to former drummer Branden Steineckert, who the band parted ways with just last month (see "The Used Part Ways With Drummer So Band Can 'Move Forward' ").
The split was, shall we say, a bit less than amicable, and seemingly stirred up a new round of Internet hateration. But the remaining members of the Used have resolved to ignore it all, naming a new replacement for Steineckert — Dan Whitesides, formerly of Salt Lake City's the New Transit Direction — and working hard to wrap up the sessions for their new album by the end of October.
"There's been a bunch of drama happening with us, so we decided just to put our heads down and power through this album. And it's the best thing we've ever done," Howard said. "If people hate it, fine. We're still doing what we love. As long as we're happy, that's all that matters."