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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Don’t Call Them ‘Screamo’

Dont+Call+Them+Screamo

If The Used bassist Jeph Howard had to sum up the band in one word: “awesome”.The Used has had a pretty crazy couple of years. Switching management teams and producers and embarking on long tours, perhaps the biggest highlight has been the release of their fourth studio album Artwork, an album that bassist Jeph Howard calls a “more live, more rock, upbeat, easy to get into album”.A mix of in-your-face, guttural jams, enlightening pop-rock and even a piano ballad on which lead singer and cult favorite Bert McCracken demonstrates his surprisingly non-screaming pipes, Artwork has been the album that The Used has been itching to make. “We had a new way of thinking [with Artwork],” Howard explains. “We were sick of doing the same thing.” The reaction to the band’s latest release has been hugely positive. “All the new songs have gone over better than ever imagined,” Howard explains. “People are learning the words and really getting into it.” In fact, after its release, Artwork beat out rock behemoths Nickleback and Shinedown on Bilboards’ Top Hardrock Albums and debuted at number 10 on the Billboard 200 weekly-released bestselling album list, just falling behind Taylor Swift’s “Fearless”. This just goes to show that The Used has what it takes to survive as more than just an underground, “screamo” band of musical vigilantes.Their fourth official studio album, Artwork is the panacea to played out rock music and shallow lyrics that have come to inundate many radio stations. It is also a hallmark for drummer Dan Whitesides: “This is [Dan’s] first album that he has recorded with us –he wrote on ‘Lies for Liars’ with us and toured and stuff, but for him, it’s like his baby in a way.” While fans of The Used surely have not been let down, the band takes each album as its own entity and asks fans (and the anti-Used alike) to take this album at face value, regardless of their expectations from the band. “I think regardless of what we do, what sound we have, we are always gonna sound like The Used because of Bert’s voice,” Howard says, so fans of The Used will still identify with the band’s honest and open lyrics. And don’t base your expectations of Artwork on what you may have heard on prior albums, as Howard says, “this album has gone in a different direction and is really “different and easy to get into”.After months of touring the US, Canada, Europe and even Japan (a trip that was a bit of a letdown due to Jeph’s “insane intestinal bacterial infection”), the band decided to embark on yet another leg of their US tour to promote Artwork. They are staying true to their promise on delivering hardcore, emotional music, fans can expect not to be let down.While still planning their set list, Howard promises “a big variety of all our songs, more new songs than on our last leg of the tour”. Die-hard fans rejoice, the band is even talking about “playing songs [they] haven’t played on any tour”, Howard spills. Regardless of the set list, fans can expect to have a rockin’ good time. “Our shows are meant to be a good time, like a big like karaoke jam,” he explains. “So if you like having a good time, you probably wanna go to the show”. Having finished up touring with emo rockers The Almost and Drive A, and supporting Three Days Grace for a string of Canadian gigs, The Used will carry a supporting cast, metalcore favorites Atreyu—”We’ve been on tour with them before and they are a bunch of super-nice dudes”, Howard explains—and Drive A, who opened for the band on their first US leg of their Artwork tour, and who Howard calls “a bunch of really nice, fun kids” when they roll into Providence, RI on February 13. “We are stoked to play Rhode Island again, it’s been a while,” Howard muses.So amidst the craziness of touring and whirlwind successes the band has had, it’s actually refreshing that all the band members remain down-to-earth and put their fans first. In fact, since The Used knows that without the fans, there would be no band; they are offering fans the chance to meet the band and get their newest CD as a download. For ten bucks, fans can purchase download cards at The Used merch table and after the show, stick around to meet the band and get autographs. “It’s good for us because we are selling the CD, fans can go online and download the CD with that card, and it’s easier for fans instead of having to wait outside for hours to meet us,” Howard explains. “It’s really fun to meet the fans too and hear what they have to say and what songs they like.” Additionally, they remain jovial and approachable, posting videos of their on-the-road shenanigans on YouTube and answering fan questions and requests posted on their website. The fame and success clearly hasn’t gone to their heads and Howard doesn’t see the point in getting wrapped up in the rockstar lifestyle. “I think its more everyone else in the business [managers, producers] can get a big head when you sell lots of CDs and have success,” Howard says. “None of us really care…we are doing what we’ve always wanted to do and you know what? That’s good enough for me”.The Used with special guests Atreyu and Drive A are playing Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel in Providence, RI on Saturday February 13. Purchase tickets online at www.lupos.com or at the Lupo’s box office located at 79 Washington St., Providence. General admission tickets are $25 in advance/$28 day of the show, so save a few bucks, secure your spot and get your tickets now. For those who would rather not contend with the sweaty, flailing crowd down on the general admission floor, $8 more will get you a seat in the cozy balcony and a general admission option. Doors at 5pm, show at 5:30pm.

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