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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Interview with The Used

Cathartic music. Honest lyrics. Raw emotion. Not usually what one thinks of when they think of Mormon Utah. But after Quinn Allman of The Used sat down with The Mass Media, it made sense how four guys growing up amongst “fucked-up weirdoes and strict Mormons” and facing homelessness, poverty, and drugs could escape Hell and go on to become one of rock’s biggest underground bands.

The Used consists of four guys who love to play music and who just want to have fun while staying true to who they are in their music. Drummer Dan Whitesides, as Quinn describes him, is like “the older brother that’s really motivating and who works really hard and cares about everyone… versus one that would beat you up and shit.” The band’s bassist, Jeph Howard, is described as “the grandma and the nervous anxious” one of the band. Eccentric vocalist Bert McCracken is “the crazy cousin at the family reunion, the one that paints all the time,” Quinn laughs. “Bert doesn’t really talk to anyone. He’s really quiet, yet really outspoken.” And what about Quinn? He describes himself as the “ADD little brother who likes karate one week, then baseball the next week, then chess the next week.” Still, despite these very different four personalities, the band couldn’t be a more perfect match. “Dan, Jeph and Bert are the three people in my life that mean more to me than anyone ever could or ever will.” Their closeness and shared goal (to give fans honest, hardcore music) comes out in their music: “We’re just four guys who are just trying to do as much as we can and leave an impression and impact people and make a difference.”

While many sites have their own interpretation of The Used’s sound, from “screamo” to “emo” to “punk,” Quinn has his own take on the music they make. “We’re just pretty much a straight-up rock band. We do have a pop element to our music and sound, so maybe like a harder pop-rock band,” he explains. Anyone who likes honest, raw music (and doesn’t mind some screaming here and there) will fall in love with the Orem, Utah band.

From the days of their 2001 demo, Demons in the Basement, to their latest b-side release, Shallow Believer, the band has evolved into a first-class rock band. “In the beginning with the first album [2002’s self-titled debut], we just pretty much wrote as quick as we could, we had a hunger that came out.” On their follow-up album, 2004’s In Love and Death, Quinn explains the band “wanted to perfect it and get more into it, and the arrangement became more focused.” Now an international success and established rock band, when the third album, Lies for the Liars (2007), came out, the band acquired a new drummer, Dan Whitesides, and the album “was a lot bigger sounding with a lot more power.” And although the band has evolved into a more powerful-sounding band, with grand arrangements of instruments and powerful, heavy lyrics, Quinn explains: “I think now we are back to the point when we started. The passion is the only thing we talk about-it’s our life, our passion and it’s come around full circle. We’ve learned more about our instruments, about music in general, and that mixed with our life experiences, and it feeds the fire.”

Amongst the hard drums of Dan, the perfectly-tuned punch of the guitars of Jeph and Quinn, you’ll hear the pure voice of front man Bert, who is responsible for the inspiring, honest lyrics in every song. “Bert’s the melody master and lyrics genius 100 percent,” Quinn reveals. “He knows how to take a really shitty situation and turn it into something that maybe you can draw some hope from. Basically, like laying on your back and being broken and being in the dark, he turns around and says the only thing you can do is pick yourself up, brush yourself off and, you know, see the light.” And McCracken isn’t any stranger to difficulties in his life, Quinn points out, having faced everything from drug addiction to a girlfriend’s death and battle with anorexia: “He’s had a lot of shit in his life. He actually had a girlfriend who passed away [from a drug overdose while pregnant with McCracken’s child] who was anorexic, and he had a lot of issues with her and went through a lot with that; it was his situation, too.” And while it doesn’t need to be anorexia or drug addiction, Quinn praises Bert for “inspiring a situation to be good…by describing how bad it is.”

The Used will roll into Worcester to rock The Palladium on April 11 on the Rockstar Energy Drink’s “Get A Life” tour. Fans can expect to hear a large array of the band’s hits, plus “a lot of new stuff, stuff from Shallow Believer,” Quinn reveals. “We might play some new stuff now that we’re writing and recording. All I can say is I expect a lot of tears and a lot of angry moms.” One can only bet that they’ll be playing Quinn’s favorite The Used song, “Slit Your Own Throat.” “That’s my favorite by far. It’s the best Used song to date, I think.”

After completing their tour, fans of The Used won’t have to wait long before the band’s next album. Quinn says the band is planning some new material to be out before the end of the year. “We’re planning on recording in late May, early June, so we can have [a new CD] out by September or October, hopefully.” One can only hope their next release will be as good as their momentously moving albums of the past.

Just as I was about to hang up, Quinn randomly added: “Oh, and I love coffee and I love cats. I have 2 cats and I wanna get a hairless cat as my next one.” And what more would you expect from the “ADD little brother” of one of the best bands out there?

About the Contributor
Amy Julian served as the arts editor for The Mass Media the following years: 2008-2009;