Who Are The Used?
They hail from Orem, Utah. They have toured everywhere from New York to Australia to Japan. Their fans are scattered all over the world. They have overcome poverty, homelessness and drug abuse. They have gone from underground basement band to world famous headlining stage crew. They are strong and talented. They are The Used, and they’re my favorite band of all time and are performing tonight at Northern Lights!
The Used formed in January 2001, and have been ravaging the world city-by-city ever since. The Used is made up of four members: Bert McCracken (vocals), Quinn Allman (guitarist), Jeph Howard (bass) and Dan Whitesides (drums). This was not always the case, however, and neither was their name.
On October 5, 1999, a four-man band known as Dumb Luck was formed by Allman, Howard, Branden Steineckert and Ashton Johnson. Not long after they formed, they went through a few different members and were then forced to change their name. Howard, who was on vocals at the time, moved to bass, and Johnson left the band completely. McCracken was then introduced as the vocalist, after he tried out for the position in Branden’s bedroom closet. The four then changed their name to Used, but added “The” after it was discovered that a band from Boston already had the name Used. Later, on September 12, 2006, it was announced to the world that drummer Branden Steineckert would be leaving the band due to creative differences. He went on to become the drummer for the band Rancid. Since Steineckert’s departure, Dan Whitesides took over, and has been a part of American alternative rock band The Used ever since.
Vocalist Robert Edward McCracken, 30, was born February 25, 1982 in Provo Utah, but was raised in Orem. He has three sisters, Katie, Melanie and Rachel and a younger brother, Joseph Taylor. He was raised in a strict Mormon family and lived as a straight edge community member until he was 15. (He was even a gymnast from the age of seven until 14). A year later, his life began to fall apart. He attended Timpanogos High School and did not cave in to peer pressure. However, his views started to differ from that of his parents and he would often visit other churches. McCracken was then involved in a fight with other straight edgers, which impacted his life in a negative way. He dropped out of school at the age of 16, began to drink frequently (usually up to two bottles of Jack Daniels daily) and quickly became addicted to crystal meth. Shortly after, he was kicked out of his house for going against traditional Mormon values.
Things, only got worse, however, as McCracken was homeless for some time. Eventually, he was able to save up enough money to afford an apartment, which he rented with his girlfriend Kate. After the two broke up, McCracken was once again homeless and deeply into drugs. Eventually, in 2000, McCracken chose to return to his parents’ home. He continued to see Kate on and off, but on July 4, 2004, she was killed in a car accident, as she was under the influence of drugs at the time. Kate was pregnant with their daughter, whom they were going to name Page.
A year later, McCracken stopped doing hard drugs, and slowed down his alcohol intake. He suffered from acute pancreatitis (a condition most often caused by alcohol abuse in which inflammation of the pancreas is caused by auto digestion of pancreatic tissue by its own enzymes). The condition forced McCracken to abstain from drinking for long afterward.
Since Kate’s death, McCracken has had a few relationships, including public figure Kelly Osbourne. He (unfortunately for me) married his longtime girlfriend in 2008.
In addition to vocals, McCracken also plays guitar, piano, and trumpet (which he began playing at the age of 12 in a band called I’m With Stupid).
One thing that Bert has been known for is that in the first few years of The Used, he would often scream so hard and so loud that he would actually puke on stage. Instead of the crowd frowning against this, it only made them cheer harder.
Jepharee Michael Howard, 33, was born on January 4, 1979 in Orem, Utah where he was raised as an only
child in a Mormon family. Growing up, Howard was an avid Eagle Scout in his Boy Scout troop. He began playing the bass at a young age after his childhood friend Korby Connell played guitar. He has a high school education. For a time, Howard worked as a cook and baker before getting involved with The Used.
Today, Howard is an active vegetarian and member of PETA. Howard enjoys video games, and is known for his obsession with green tea, as he drinks up to eight cups a day. He also has 15 piercings all over his body, including snakebites and gauges. In addition, Howard is mostly covered with tattoos. He was also a member of bands Dumb Luck and Strange Itch. He has a daughter named Lillian.
Quinn Allman, 30, was born on January 18 (the same day as me!) 1982 in Orem, Utah. He has an older sister, Rondee and two younger brothers, Ian and Riley. Not much is known about his childhood. Allman enjoys photography and making short movies. He is also a vegetarian and member of PETA. He is an open bisexual. He has only two tattoos, and smokes. He is best known for getting naked on stage during shows, and is known as the “dirty kid” who never washes his hands. He was also part of the band Dumb Luck. He even produced a band named Evaline. He married former American Idol contestant Megan Joy in August of 2011.
Daniel Whitesides, 31, was born on July 7, 1980. He began playing drums at age 14, after he got a drum set from his father for Christmas. He took snare drum lessons in seventh grade, which is where he learned the techniques that he still uses to this day. He was already a big fan of The Used before joining them in 2006, after he had played for the band New Transit Direction for seven years.
The Used have issued five full-length albums, one live album, one compilation album and one demo album, as well as an EP released only in digital music stores. CD/DVD packages have also been issued. 11 music videos have been created thus far.
The Used’s debut, self-titled album was released on June 25, 2002. The group picked producer John Feldmann of California-based punk act Goldfinger for their album (Feldmann had gotten The Used signed with Reprise Records a year earlier). The album was recorded in Feldmann’s home studio as well as Olympic Studios in London. The album featured four singles: “A Box Full of Sharp Objects,” which first caught Feldmann’s attention, “The Taste of Ink,” “Buried Myself Alive” and “Blue and Yellow.” The tone of the album was raw, screaming lyrics full of metaphors and awesome guitar riffs. Over 200,000 copies were sold, and The Used was certified gold. In 2003, the album was re-released with a DVD titled Maybe Memories, which featured live footage of the band and concerts, in addition to member bios. This release was certified platinum.
The Used’s second full-length album was titled In Love and Death. This album, released in September of 2004, was referenced to Kate’s death and the tragedy that McCracken dealt with during the recording of the album. Three singles came from their sophomore album: “Take it Away,” “All that I’ve Got” (which is dedicated to his Chihuahua David Bowie who got hit by a car and died) and “I Caught Fire.” The album was again produced by Feldman. The song “Hard to Say” is dedicated to Kate, as it says “it’s hard to say how I feel today, years gone by.” This album was also certified gold, as its mixture of screamo, to-the-point lyrics and mellow softness songs won the hearts of thousands of their fans. A year later, a re-release was issued with a cover song of “Under Pressure”, (originally by David Bowie) included. An international tour followed the release of In Love and Death, as well as the departure of Steineckert and replacement by Whitesides. The record peaked to number five on Billboard’s Top 200.
With their new band member in check, The Used continued to take off with their fame and talent. On February 6, 2007, The Used issued their second (live) CD/DVD package titled Berth. The DVD showed what The Used had been doing since the Maybe Memories DVD. The CD included a full live concert shot in Vancouver in 2005. This package was certified gold.
At the same time this was going on, McCracken was going through another health crisis. He had a node on one of his vocal cords that was the size of a cigar. He underwent surgery to remove it and The Used had to cancel a handful of their shows because of it. However, McCracken recovered wonderfully and is doing better than ever.
Later that year, on May 22, 2007, The Used’s third full-length album, Lies for the Liars, was released. The album took over six months to record, making it the longest recording session The Used has ever had. Four singles emerged from the album: “The Bird and the Worm,” “Liar Liar (Burn in Hell),” “Pretty Handsome Awkward” and “Paralyzed.” The voice of this record was different from the others, as McCracken drew his inspiration from something unusual.
About a year earlier, McCracken moved to Los Angeles from Orem and moved in with his fiancé (at the time)
Alison. He was quickly fascinated and disgusted with the people of LA. He recalls meeting the most fake people ever, and that everyone around him just lied about everything all the time. He felt that they didn’t even know they were lying, because they were so used to it. An example of this is when The Used were told by a native of LA that there was this amazing, delicious healing fruit (name unknown) nearby. McCracken searched and searched for he fruit, only to find out that it didn’t even exist. This invoked a vicious tone into the album, as lyrics such as “go slit your own throat slit your own throat” were present.
Lies for the Liars almost became a double album featuring 19 songs. Instead, Shallow Believer was released February 19, 2008, and contained the additional recorded songs that did not make it on Lies for the Liars. This EP was released in digital stores online only. Shallow Believer charted no. 13 on iTunes’ top 100 albums. Lies for the Liars charted in the top five in more than seven countries.
The Used’s fourth album Artwork, debuted on August 31, 2009. This was the first record that was not produced by Feldmann. Instead, it was produced by Matt Squire, producer for the band Panic! at the Disco. The Used chose to go a new route because they wanted their newest album to sound different from everything else they did in the past. Artwork was also the first album recorded with Whitesides as the drummer, as Lies for the Liars included Dean Butterworth of Good Charlotte as the recorded drummer. The tone of this album is a lot messier and noisier than the past album, and includes lyrics such as “beautifully so disfigured” and “there’s blood on my hands like the blood on yours.” Artwork is about coming to grips with how much a person can hate them self, but knowing that they can never hate them self to the full extent. The record was released with The Used’s third DVD available through pre-order and during the first run of the album in stores. Two singles, “Blood on my Hands” and “Born to Quit” were released and available on iTunes for digital download.
Vulnerable, the newest and fifth studio album from The Used was released March 26, 2012. For this album, the band made a smart decision and returned to producer John Feldmann. The album was released via the band’s new label, Hopeless Records and peaked up t the no. 8 spot on the billboard 200 chart. The album has so far featured two singles, “I Come Alive,” which was available on January 10 and “Hand and faces” which was revealed to the public on February 21. Five bonus tracks, most of which were acoustic versions of the songs, were included in the pre-order version of the album. The Used returned to some of their old and awesome ways with this record, but they also put gross pop (as Bert would say) spin on some of the songs. Read my review of the album here.
Over the years, The Used has been part of numerous tours, both as headliners and as non-headliners. They have been a part of the Taste of Chaos Tour, The Vans Warped Tour, Bamboozle Festival, Get A Life Tour, Ozzfest, Projekt Revolution and a plethora of other, less popular tours. The majority of these tours allowed The Used to travel all over the world and gave them the opportunity to see all of their fans in person and therefore, the fans got to see the band perform live.
While on stage, each member is in their own aura and does their own thing. Drummer Whitesides blends into the background and just does what he does best with his Zildjian cymbals and Vater drumsticks. He’s average weight and has just above shoulder-length messy black hair. His eyes are droopy and he often looks like he has no eyelashes. He has a small, odd mouth that hardly ever smiles, however, his small, straight teeth can be somewhat seen with his half smile. He often wears caps and hoods, and sometimes his bangs sweep across his face, hiding part of it.
Guitarist Allman stands at 5’11” and is skinny with short, straight dirty blonde hair and brown eyes. He mostly wears jeans and t-shirts. He is cute, as he has the face of a young boy with innocent eyes, but the finesse of a man, as he stands strong and tall in his spot on stage, rocking out to the playing of his own guitar, usually a Gibson SG or Gibson Les-Paul Custom, which he pairs with Boss Effects pedals.
Bassist Howard stands at 5’9” and is skinny with short-but-messy jet black hair and brown eyes. He often has
facial hair stubble and has very light eyebrows. He often looks tired, as his eyes tend to be droopy, puffy, or red. He sometimes moves around a little on stage while playing his Fender American Deluxe Precision bass that is backed up by two Aguilar AG500 amps, in addition to a DBX 160A rack compressor.
Vocalist McCracken is perhaps the most popular member, as he gets the loudest screams as he comes on stage, and is known for just being crazy. (He once held and ate dog feces in his hand during an entire interview that was aired on television. Whether it was real or not, it was funny). He is shorter, around 5’7”, skinny, and has blue eyes. He almost always has some kind of beard. He is the youngest member of The Used. He has been known for his hair, which has always been on the longer side, around shoulder-length. It has been pure black, blonde (he is compared to the late Kurt Cobain of Nirvana during this time), black and blonde dreadlocks, and even black with red in the back. It is always messy and out of control. It often looks wet or greasy, and as if he never brushes it. This only helps him however, as his female fans still swoon over him, especially me. He is handsome and has captivating eyes that are vicious, yet sweet and kind. He is often known for being the “smelly one” on tours, but takes no offense to it. McCracken goes crazy on stage, singing his guts out, sometimes literally, and dancing and running all over the stage. He usually is adorned with black shorts, a t-shirt, and Nike sneakers with white socks pulled up, making him seem juvenile. However, once in awhile, he will dress up in ladies underwear and black lingerie and parade around on stage for the entire show. His nutty sense of humor is necessary in a life of constant touring and living on an over-sized bus.
On May 27, 2003 in Covington Kentucky, McCracken proved just how much he loved his music, but it almost cost him his life. This was the time when he was a heavy drinker. This, combined with The Used’s non-stop touring, did not mix well for the young singer. At Jillian’s, after a long delay, McCracken was carried out on stage. He somehow still managed to sing one (slow) song, “On My Own” from the album The Used, but did it while sprawled out on the floor due to chest pain, nausea, and vomiting. He was then carried off stage and rushed to the hospital where he was diagnosed with acute pancreatitis. He probably should not have gone on stage at all that night, but McCracken is the kind of person who would not want to let his fans down, no matter what. From that day on, that has not happened to him again. Now, he is just a man living out his dream with three of his best friends by his side.
The Used were nominated twice for Best International Group Video, and won the Best International Band Award at the Metal Hammer awards in June 2005.
The Used overcame hurdles such as poverty, homelessness, and drug addictions in order to get to where they are today. The Used got their name after their friends claimed that they felt “used” after they lost contact with each other when the members began to become more involved in the band. However, the members are not “used” anymore, as they are loved by millions of people, just for being themselves. The essence of The Used can be summed up with lyrics from their first song together- “Maybe Memories:”
“As we trudged along through the mud
And we tried to call it home
But we weren’t alright, not at all
Not for one, for one, for one second
been one to write it down
Now I think I can
I know I’m stronger now
Who’s looking south
Not me I’m not looking back
I’m done denying the truth to anyone
Cause I’m alive
You showed me how
You seemed to find a hole
But I just laughed and smiled
Begged and rolled my eyes
And denied the truth to you
Just like the truth to me
White it out
wax butterflies, (butterflies, butterflies)
I’m not going to look back”