Interview: The Used

lauren stern and joe zorzi gets up close and personal with The Used…

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The Used are a lot like Pearl Jam.

Now before fans of either band get their blood in an uproar or decide to reign fire from above down on us, let us explain.

The Used, like Pearl Jam, were one of the most vital and vibrant parts of their particular musical genre’s domination over the world of rock ‘n’ roll. And even though their genre’s reign of glory might have been replaced by the newest trend in alternative and rock ‘n’ roll, both bands are still out there — touring, making music, connecting with fans, touching lives, melting faces.

Jeph Howard, The Used.
Jeph Howard, The Used.

Pearl Jam remained relevant as tragedy struck Nirvana and Alice in Chains down and personalities and problems caused rifts in Soundgarden and Stone Temple Pilots. In today’s era, The Used has been the rock in the storm, never long gone from the hearts and ears of their fanbase while contemporaries like Taking Back Sunday, Glassjaw and Fall Out Boy are all doing reunion tours and comeback albums.

But like clockwork, every year, you can count on The Used, to be on the road, like warriors, playing their hearts out — which includes right now in the midst of winter on their annual Take Action Tour featuring: We Came as Romans, Crown the Empire and Mindflow.

Pop-Break’s staff recently caught up with The Used’s bassist Jeph Howard to talk about Peruvian shamans, the Take Action Tour and their classic record, Vulnerable.

The Used - New Press Photo by Alex Stone

Pop-Break: Why did you decide to re-release Vulnerable? Why not save the b-sides, acoustic tracks, and remixes for a new album?

Jeph Howard: We would rather write and record a whole new record. Those songs were meant for vulnerable, they were written and recorded during a certain period. We now how moved into a new area.

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Pop-Break: Vulnerable was such a huge success for you guys. Was that something you initially expected?

JH: We are just happy that we love the music and we love playing it live, anything else is a great bonus.

PB: A while back you mentioned in an interview that you are working on an 12 year anniversary edition of your self-titled album. Besides the DVD release, can you give away any other details?

JH: It’s going to include, footage and interviews from other bands, interviews from people who helped us along the way, live footage, interviews with all of us and our old drummer, it’s pretty much a recap of the last 12-13 years of the used.

PB: A few years ago you decided to move to Hopeless Records. Why the switch?

JH: we actually started our own label Anger Music Group. Hopeless is distribution. We needed to be free, we’ve learned a lot about the evil music business and we would rather drink blood than Kool aid.

PB: Speaking of labels — has label pressure or outside pressure (fans, media) ever had an effect on the band when you’re creating a new record?

JH: Warner definitely tried to put pressure on us in the past. We always do what we think is best for the band and not was is best for someone else.

PB: Why did you decide to partner with the It Gets Better Project for this year’s Take Action tour?

JH: We enjoy helping people and allot of our fans come from similar backgrounds as we did growing up. It gets better is a great place for help and a chance to see that everyone is special and different which is the one thing we really all have in common.

PB: We Came as Romans, Crown the Empire and Mindflow are out on this tour with you. Which bands has surprised/impressed you, in terms of how good they live?

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JH: They are all great live but my favorite is a band that’s been playing back stage for all the bands. “Jesus Blue Jeans” great live and lots of great songs about passive aggressive anger.

PB: Let’s talk about your song selection on this tour. Do you ever tire of playing your hit songs? Also, will you guys be playing any deep cuts or rarities on this year’s Take Action Tour?

JH: It’s hard to get tired of playing songs when people are singing along and having a good time. Even when we have been playing those songs for 12 years. We have been playing an old song off our first record that we haven’t played in 8 years or so. And also were playing a new one off vulnerable that we haven’t played either. If you wanna know what those are you’re going to have to come watch.

PB: Here’s some lighter questions about the tour — what items are essential to bring out on tour? Also, how do you keep your voices in shape — you guys are constantly performing, it’s gotta be rough on the vocal chords.

JH: Must haves= full body black rubber suit filled with organic vegan mayo, 13 pairs of left socks. 6 slick six-inch acetylsalicylic acid tablets, 25 liters of ayahuasca (as made by a Peruvian shaman) and some organic lemons and a shovel. The best way to keep a voice in shape is exercise, 100 chin push-ups (you use the chin to lift the body) 120 throat sit-ups, then we all usually gargle water blessed with love and positivity by a middle aged monk form the hills of the Morrowind. We usually do that daily. Yes tour is very rough of the voice.

PB: Are there plans for releasing any new music in 2013? Also will we be seeing you guys involved with any of the big spring/summer festivals?

JH: Yes. We’re releasing a DVD sometime this year and also were starting on another record pretty soon as well. Lots of newness-ness coming from the used this year. And we also will be doing some summer festivals as well as some (hopefully) Southeast Asia, Japan, Australia tours. Woowoo!

additional reporting by bill bodkin

Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.

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