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The Lowdown: The Used

The Lowdown: The Used

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Last Edited by: Candi H May 8th, 2012.

The weather is horrible in the UK. I know what you’re thinking: No shit Sherlock. However Mother Nature seemed particular pissed off on the day that I travelled to meet The Used. Seeing as I was heading to North London to hang out with quite possibly one of my favourite bands of all time, I wasn’t going to let a little dampness...well, dampen my spirit. To say I was excited is the understatement of the decade. The rock band from Utah, USA were fortunately in town finishing a very brief (and very long over-due) UK tour which consisted of four surprisingly intimate sized shows. London played host to the finale, with rising British bands Marmozets and Don Broco supporting. And as you’ll find out from my gig review very soon, it was simply put: the cat’s pyjamas.

Once I arrived I was told that frontman Bert McCracken wouldn’t be present as he had (quite rightly) been given the day off press duties to rest his voice. Or as his bandmates put it, “He’s taking a man nap”. And so one man down, the three remaining members - Quinn, Jeph and Dan welcomed me into their dressing room at the humble O2 Academy, Islington to discuss their new-found positivity and a return to form with their amazing new album, Vulnerable. Of course it wasn’t all serious talk as they happily conversed about producer and close friend John Feldmann’s genitals and how crap Pepsi tastes. And it wouldn’t have been the same if I hadn’t made them answer some of the universe’s trickiest questions. Like is Super Mario better than Sonic The Hedgehog? Snoochie Boochies! Don’t worry, all will become clear.

AltSounds: So when you announced this four show tour in the UK, did you expect the amazing response that you got? They all sold out so quickly!

Quinn: I wouldn’t say it was expected.

Dan: Appreciated!

Quinn: Yeah it’s very cool. We’ve been pretty stoked at the responses. This record is doing really well compared to the last two– it’s definitely had a big push. A lot of people are reacting well to it. I think it’s because it’s a more positive record and generally more enjoyable; for people to live with and share and love.

Quinn Allman - Faster than the speed of light

AltSounds: You’ve played much bigger venues over here before, so was it intentional to make it more of an intimate tour this time around?

Jeph: This tour was set to be intimate definitely. It’s a chance to see us in that element again for those that didn’t have a chance to before.

AltSounds: You must be seasoned pro’s at touring by now but do you still find it hard being out on the road a lot?

Quinn: There could be worse things! Everybody has their days and it can feel like the same thing over and over. We’ve been touring for about eleven years (long contemplative pause). It feels really good now although there was a period where it went into a lull. There have been a lot of changes. We left our label and started our own and we’ve had different Managers over time; people coming in and out.

At this point we’ve learned a lot and we know how to ride out the storm and endure it. We’re making a lot of good decisions now so we’re going to try and keep on a good course.

Jeph: Wow. Well said! “Ride out the storm” That’s the quote.

AltSounds: What do you like to do in-between shows? Is there time for exploring new places?

Jeph: We try to. We usually get a day off every three or four days, which is actually quite a lot. I wander a lot! I’ll try and explore as much as I can of the cities. Since I’ve been in London I’ve been in three museums this time! I’ve been to the Natural History before but I didn’t really spend that much time there, so this time I actually got to stick around and breathe it in. A lot of the time you just can’t experience it because you fly into one area and you’re stuck.

AltSounds: Congratulations on Vulnerable! I think it’s one of your best albums. What are your feelings now that it’s out there? Are you relieved?

Quinn: Yeah I’d say relieved! I’m proud of it and I’m proud of us for continuing on. I’m glad that we made a record that speaks to people in a way that they can take and apply to themselves in a positive way. We took some different approaches to making this record. There was a solid year where we just wrote and did just a few shows here and there.

We went into the studio after we had left Warner and Bert really took control. We’d come up with lots of little ideas then we’d pass them onto John (Feldmann) to cook up. I feel that Bert really stepped up to get involved on this record. In the past he’d not really been there; it was sort of up to the band...We’d record the music and then he would come in. So it’s definitely been more of a joint effort.


Dan:...Lots and lots of joints.

Quinn: (Laughs) So it was cool to go through that and to try something different and connect with people. It’s actually a long record too.

Jeph: Yeah it took us three years to finish. We wrote 60+ songs before we started recording and before we went near the studio. And it was done about four or five months before we even put it out.

AltSounds: So your first single from the album was “I Come Alive” which has a very powerful message in it and the music video definitely conveys that. Whose idea was the video’s concept?

Jeph: It was really all of our idea.

Quinn: Yeah. At the time we didn’t have the artwork for the record done yet but we had the idea that we wanted to use a kid and have war paint on him. Dan and I were discussing it and we said, “what if we had a kid who’s fighting back?” We originally wanted it to be like Lord of the Flies but then decided on a more modern setting. We talked about the bully aspect of things and how it’s very relevant right now...So yeah, we all came up with it.

Watch "I Come Alive":

Jeph: It’s intertwined too because the bullied becomes the bully – like a figure of eight cycle.

AltSounds: It’s a very strong performance! Did you have to audition a lot of kids for that main role?

Jeph: There were about 10 kids and the boy we chose was incredible. He really is a great actor and if he keeps going, he’ll be someone really special in the future. The other kids...were okay! The guy who played the dad was also incredible. He was actually in a Mastodon video too and we didn’t even know that!

AltSounds: Do you have a favourite music video amongst your own so far?

Quinn: I would say “Bird And The Worm”. When I’m around my friends and family or kids and I play that video, they go really...(pulls “wow” face). It was styled well and it was our first time working with Lisa Mann. It was just a really cool experience.

Jeph: “All That I’ve Got” was pretty cool too – All the sets for that were amazing.

Dan: I would have to say “All That I’ve Got” too.

Watch "All That I've Got":

AltSounds: You had William Control (the side-project of frontman of Aiden, Will Francis) contribute some vocals on the track “Now That You’re Dead”. Are there any other vocalists that you’d like to collaborate with in the future?

Jeph: Jimi Hendrix maybe.

AltSounds: (Laughs) Well if they can bring back 2Pac!

Jeph: He’s still alive, he’s in the Caribbean right?

Quinn:...No-one really comes to mind. I mean the reason that Will is even on the record is because we’re friends with him and he was hanging out in the studio and it just happened. So it wasn’t a planned thing.

Jeph: Yeah, the vocals were actually already done for it. So Will sang over a live stream and it was cool having him do it.

AltSounds: You worked with the one and only John Feldmann once again on the album. You must know him pretty well by now, so can you tell me an interesting fact about him that people might not know?

Producer, John Feldmann - In the firing line

Jeph: His feet smell really bad!

Quinn: He fucking loves coffee. You know if you’ve been sober for 20 years, I’d probably be hooked on coffee too! What else about John Feldmann?...He can suck his own dick (says matter of factly).

AltSounds: Ok, moving on then! Bert recently filmed a cooking show segment on MTV. Do you also have hidden talents aside from playing an instrument?

Jeph: Dan’s a really amazing basketball player (said with a hint of sarcasm).

Dan: I dabble, you know. I do it all really! Well we can all cook...

Jeph: (looks at me whilst hastily nodding)

Dan:... But none of us come close to being as good as Bert. I also like skateboarding a lot...and spending time with my baby and my wife.

Quinn: I like video and photography a little bit...I tend to just stick with music though. I don’t have any other hobbies that I’m really wild about. My wife’s a singer so I work with her a little bit too (Check out Megan Joy's tunes HERE).

Jeph: I travel a lot...but I guess that doesn’t really count as a talent! I play a lot of video games.

Quinn: You research a lot of stuff (talking to Jeph).

Jeph: But again, that’s not a talent!!

AltSounds: Researching is definitely a talent! Anyway going back to The Used - The album’s finally out and you’re touring it solidly for a while. What other goals do you have for this year?

Quinn: Apart from touring, we’re also going to put out a DVD.

Dan: And we’re going to play a lot of places we’ve never played and do festival’s we’ve never done before. Also we’re going to try and stay positive...and stay sober! We want to make all the right business moves and personal ones too. I think that’s a huge goal for all of us.

Quinn: Yeah I agree completely.

Dan: Keep our shit together...

Quinn:...And to have fun!

Jeph: That’s the most important part but it’s always the hardest to remember.

Dan: We’re going into all of these tours and playing more songs than we ever have; like probably 6 - 10 more songs, which is about half-hour extra than we’d usually play. Or longer actually! We want to give the fans a little bit more than we gave before. I mean we’ve given them a lot in the past but this time we’re giving 110%...whereas before it was 10%. I’m kidding!

AltSounds: Sounds good to me! Ok I have a few Quickfire questions to finish with...

AltSounds: Sonic the Hedgehog or Super Mario?

Let the battle commence...

Quinn: Mario.

Jeph: Hmmm that’s a tough one.

Quinn: Mario...and Luigi.

Dan: Ask me that 20 years ago and I would’ve said Sonic.

Jeph: I think the art from Mario is so much cooler than Sonic. Way cooler.

Dan: The games are so much different though.

Jeph: I would go with Mario. My bass cabinets at home look like big Nintendo controllers.

AltSounds: Impressive! Ok, Scrabble or chess?

Quinn: Chess.

Dan: Yeah (nods in agreement)

Jeph: Scrabble!

AltSounds: Tim Burton or Steven Spielberg?

Tim Burton - "Shall we take this outside?"

Quinn: Tim Burton.

Jeph: I’m going to say Spielberg...although that’s an extremely complicated one!

Dan: E.T.!

Quinn: Yeah I mean I’d pick Tim Burton now but Spielberg’s movies probably affected me more.

Dan: I know them both personally (AltSounds couldn’t confirm this) so it’d be really bad if I chose one over the other, so I’ll say 50/50.

Jeph: Yeah I’ll go 50/50 too. Tim’s hair’s cooler than Steve’s so that’s a bonus point for him!

AltSounds: Pepsi or Coca Cola?

Quinn: Coca Cola (immediately)

Jeph: Neither.

Quinn: I like vanilla and almond after-tones. I don’t like nes.

Dan: Well there goes our Pepsi endorsement! (laughs) No seriously, I don’t tend to drink soda but I’ll go with whatever’s lying around.

AltSounds: Ok and lastly, Jay or Silent Bob?

Jay - "The crazy fuck thinks he can persuade The Used with his Jedi mind trick"

Quinn: Hmmm....Jay.

Dan: Yeah for sure, Jay.

Jeph: Well if you’re talking about the person as opposed to the character, then that changes everything. (AltSounds confirms we mean the characters). In that case, I’ll also say Jay.

Dan: I heard that Silent Bob was part of the trench-coat mafia that had something to with Columbine, so fuck that guy!

(We all then quoted Jay and Silent Bob back and forth before we were reminded of the time)

AltSounds: Well on that note, I’ll leave you to get ready for the show. Thanks for your time!

Quinn: No problem.

UK fans who didn't make the tour may get another chance later this year (it's been hinted at on the band's Facebook). For all American fans however, you can click HERE for a full list of The Used's up-coming tour dates across the US.

The new album Vulnerable is out now. You can check out my full, in-depth review HERE.

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