The Used

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Emerging as a voice for the damaged masses in the early-2000s post-hardcore scene, Utah-bred rock group the Used connected to their audience with a potent mixture of feral rage and unabashed vulnerability. Their breakthrough platinum debut, The Used, gained popularity on both radio and MTV, bolstered by hit singles like “The Taste of Ink” and “Buried Myself Alive.” As their presence on the touring circuit increased, they hit a mainstream peak with 2004′s platinum In Love and Death and its follow-up, 2007′s Lies for the Liars. While they remained a respected name in the scene and were a fixture in the Top 20, latter albums were less visible outside of their devoted core fan base. With each set, their sound evolved and bandmembers matured, reaching creative peaks on their seventh effort, 2017′s The Canyon, and 2020′s Heartwork.
The members of the Used had to overcome poverty, homelessness, and substance abuse, as well as the conservative attitudes of their hometown of Orem, Utah, to bring their screamo-tinged brand of post-hardcore to life. But they persevered and earned a contract with Reprise Records, releasing their self-titled debut album in June 2002. The Used proved to be their major breakthrough, going platinum in the U.S. upon the strength of hit singles “The Taste of Ink,” “Buried Myself Alive,” and “Blue and Yellow.” Having only played a handful of shows around Orem prior to their record’s release, the band — vocalist Bert McCracken, guitarist Quinn Allman, bassist Jeph Howard, and drummer Branden Steineckert — began relentless nationwide touring that quickly saw their fan base multiply. Club dates soon turned into successful stints on larger-scale festival/package tours including the Warped Tour, Ozzfest, and Projekt Revolution alongside Linkin Park and Snoop Dogg. In the summer of 2003, the Used issued the introspective compilation set Maybe Memories, another platinum release that contained unreleased songs, live material, behind-the-scenes footage, and more.
The Used’s official sophomore offering arrived in September 2004. Debuting at number six on the Billboard 200, In Love and Death shot them even further into the public consciousness. The singles “Take It Away” and “All That I’ve Got” were Top Ten U.S. Rock chart hits, and the set was soon certified platinum. Around that time, they also recorded a version of the Queen classic “Under Pressure” with My Chemical Romance to benefit victims of the devastating tsunami of December 2004. Outside of the band, McCracken has also lent his vocals to the punk rock drum troupe Street Drum Corps. As the Used readied their third album, Steineckert parted ways with the group over creative differences in early fall 2006 (he went on to join Rancid).
The live CD/DVD Berth appeared in February 2007 to tide fans over a bit longer until their third proper full-length, Lies for the Liars, came out in May. Though he didn’t perform on the record, drummer Dan Whitesides joined the band as an official member just in time for the supporting tour. The group’s fourth full-length album, Artwork, was produced by Matt Squire (Panic! At the Disco) and released on Reprise in 2009. Arriving in 2012, Vulnerable, the band’s fifth studio outing and first for new label Hopeless, was preceded by the single “I Come Alive.” It was reissued the next year as Vulnerable (II), with a bonus disc stocked with B-sides, remixes, and acoustic tracks. Imaginary Enemy followed in 2014.
Allman and the band amicably parted ways in 2015, and Saosin guitarist Justin Shekoski was recruited as his permanent replacement just in time for a tour in celebration of the group’s 15th anniversary. On each stop of the tour, the Used performed two shows, one for each of their first two LPs. A live album commemorating their acoustic stint at the Palace in Los Angeles was released in April 2016. Live and Acoustic at the Palace was recorded in October 2015 and featured accompaniment by a string quartet, harpist, pianist, and gospel choir.
The band’s seventh studio album, The Canyon, arrived in late 2017. The critically acclaimed set marked an evolution in both style and content, inspired in part by the death of one of McCracken’s close friends. When touring concluded for the album, Shekoski parted ways with the group and they began work on a follow-up. 2020′s Heartwork, a nostalgic callback to their first three efforts, was another step forward for the Used. Produced by John Feldmann, the LP was the first with guitarist Joey Bradford and featured guests Jason Aalon Butler (Fever 333), Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker (blink-182), and Caleb Shomo (Beartooth). ~ Neil Z. Yeung & Corey Apar