Formation and Demos from the Basement (2001)
The Used were founded in January 2001 with the recruitment of members Branden Steineckert, Quinn Allman and Jeph Howard. They had music already prepared, but did not have lyrics and required a vocalist. They held auditions at Howard’s residence, but the band was not satisfied with any of the vocalists, describing the auditions as “terrible”. Allman then asked Bert McCracken if he was interested in joining the band. McCracken was impressed with the material the band had created. After being given music that the band had written, McCracken wrote the lyrics to what would become “Maybe Memories” and returned the next day to record a demo version of the song. McCracken was then officially confirmed as being the band’s vocalist. Throughout all of this, the band members suffered from poverty, and homelessness, panhandling for change in order to buy food.
The Used continued to write songs together and recorded a demo album in Steineckert’s bedroom. Which had no title at the time, until it eventually surfaced in late 2002, and theUSED801.com titled it Demos From The Basement, and the title has stuck ever since. Steineckert sent their songs to producer John Feldmann lead singer from the band Goldfinger. On hearing the song “A Box Full of Sharp Objects”, Feldmann helped The Used find a record label. Feldmann flew the band to Los Angeles, taking them out of their home state of Utah, for the first time in their lives. They played for various record executives, but received little interest. Eventually, after sending copies of their demo to many record companies, they began to receive offers. With many labels at The Used’s choice, they decided to sign to Reprise Records in late 2001.
Self-titled album and Maybe Memories (2002-2003)
In 2002, it was discovered that a Boston band had already trademarked the name “Used.” The band decided to add “The” to their name, thus deciding “The Used”. Their self-titled debut album, produced by John Feldmann, was released on June 25, 2002. The album featured four singles: “A Box Full of Sharp Objects”, “The Taste of Ink”, “Buried Myself Alive”, and “Blue and Yellow”, with the latter three entering the charts. The album has been certified gold. The Used went on to play Warped Tour, Ozzfest, and Projekt Revolution, as well as Boxcar Racer’s first and only tour. During these tours, they employed a touring guitarist named Greg Bester. He was later forced to return to his home country of South Africa when he couldn’t get a working visa. The band received much recognition when Bert McCracken dated Kelly Osbourne. McCracken was also on an episode of The Osbournes in December 2002. In July 2003, The Used released a compilation CD/DVD combo package titled Maybe Memories. The CD features live, rare, previously unreleased tracks, and demo material, while the DVD features the history of the band, member bios, and part of a live concert. Maybe Memories has been certified platinum.
In Love and Death (2004-2005)
In 2004, lead vocalist McCracken’s ex-girlfriend died of a drug overdose while pregnant with his child. Their second studio album was thus named In Love and Death, released as a reference to the tragedy McCracken dealt with during the recording. The song “Hard to Say” was a reference to McCracken’s ex-girlfriend; although the song was written years earlier, its dedication was only then declared. In Love and Death spawned three singles: “Take It Away”, “All That I’ve Got” (which earned them their first MuchMusic Video Award nomination), and “I Caught Fire”, before being re-released in 2005. “Under Pressure” (a Queen and David Bowie cover song performed with My Chemical Romance) was featured as a bonus track on the re-release. The album has been certified gold. After finishing up an international tour for the album, The Used took about eight months off before starting to work on their next album.
Lies for the Liars (2006-2007)
On September 12, 2006, The Used announced that Branden Steineckert was no longer a member of the band. They said they felt they needed to move forward without him. In late 2006, it was announced drummer Dan Whitesides of New Transit Direction would replace Branden Steineckert. Branden Steineckert has since joined his favorite band Rancid.
On February 6, 2007, The Used released a live double-album, Berth, which includes a DVD that features video of their performance at the Taste of Chaos 2005 tour in Vancouver and a CD that features it on audio. The DVD also includes a biography of the band and four music videos. The biography depicts the band after the release of Maybe Memories, leading into the creation of In Love and Death. The sale of Berth lead it to be certified as gold. The Used spent most of the early part of 2007 on the Taste of Chaos tour before their third album, Lies for the Liars, was released May 22, 2007. They headlined the Give It a Name festival. In June, they played the MuchMusic Video Awards for the first time ever, and received their second nomination for Best International Group Video, for “The Bird and the Worm”. The Used were scheduled to play Warped Tour in June and July, in support of their album, but were forced to cancel due to McCracken’s vocal cord surgery. After McCracken recovered, the band played the Reading and Leeds festivals in August, and went on to tour the United States in September. Lies for the Liars charted in the top five in more than seven countries, and featured four singles: “The Bird and the Worm”, “Liar Liar (Burn in Hell)”, “Pretty Handsome Awkward”, and “Paralyzed”. Although Whitesides had been chosen as the new drummer, Dean Butterworth of Good Charlotte recorded drums for the album. The six-month recording process was the longest The Used had ever undertaken. Originally, Lies for the Liars was expected to be a double-album. Nineteen songs were recorded, but they instead decided to save the songs for a future release. On February 19, 2008, The Used released Shallow Believer, an EP containing the band’s B-sides. It was only released on digital music stores and it has charted #14 on iTunes’ Top 100 albums.
The Used worked on Artwork, their fourth studio album, throughout 2008. They took several breaks while working on the album to headline the inaugural Get a Life Tour and the Spare the Air Festival in California. The album was produced by Panic at the Disco’s producer Matt Squire, making this their first studio album not produced by John Feldmann. It was also the first studio album by The Used to feature Whitesides as the drummer. In Alternative Press, McCracken stated “In the past, we’ve always kind of brought pop sensibility into heavy rock, but this is going to be all that much more tantalizing and brutal. Our songs are ten times messier and noisier than they’ve ever been.” McCracken explained the meaning of the album, saying, “This record is about coming to grips with how much you really hate yourself and knowing you can never hate yourself to the full extent, so you’re free to hate yourself as much as you want to”. McCracken went on to say “we [have not] been this excited about an album since our self titled back in 2002.” The album released along with a DVD for the pre-order and first run of the album in stores. A cover version of “Burning Down the House” by the Talking Heads was released on the cover compilation album Covered, A Revolution in Sound, and was also featured in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen – The Album. They played at The Bamboozle in May 2009. The single “Blood on My Hands” was released on iTunes in June, and was streamable for one day on the band’s website. On July 21, the pre-order was available. Artwork became available worldwide on August 31, 2009. The band played a major U.S. tour in October and November 2009 with supporting bands The Almost and Drive A, and another in early 2010 with Atreyu and Drive A. They later joined an arena tour supporting Three Days Grace in Canada. The band premiered the music video for the song “Empty with You” on December 9, 2009 via Twitter. In April 2010, The Used began another US tour along with Chiodos and New Medicine.
Hopeless Records, Anger Music Group and Vulnerable
In April 2010, The Used cancelled their upcoming international tour dates to began writing material for a follow up to Artwork. Recording and officially releasing the new album was significantly delayed after The Used left Reprise Records—their record label group of ten years. According to Howard, “We were kind of waiting to see if we were going to do this record on Warner or not. We kind of had to wait and see what happened about that before we started recording.” Deciding not to release the material through Warner, The Used announced in September 2011 that they had formed their own label dubbed “Dental Records”, and would release their fifth studio album Vulnerable in February 2012.
However, by December 2011 the release plans for Vulnerable had changed. The name “Dental Records” was already taken, so the group quickly came up with a different name instead: Anger Music Group. Anger Music Group is an imprint of the independent record label Hopeless Records, which handled art design, merchandise, and video direction for the band. The release date of Vulnerable was again delayed to March 27, 2012. The album’s first single, “I Come Alive,” was released digitally on January 17. Vulnerable’s second single, “Hands and Faces,” was released digitally in February 2012.
In support of Vulnerable, The Used will embark on a North American headlining tour in May and June 2012, and will also perform on the main stage of Warped Tour 2012 in June and July 2012.