Ever since their breakthrough, self-titled album in 2002, along with 2003â€™s Maybe Memories, The Used has been creating raw, relentless rock music for adoring fans worldwide. Here, I talk with drummer Dan Whitesides about the bandâ€™s newest release, what fans can expect from the new tour and what really keeps The Used making music to this day.
For fans, how would you describe this yearâ€™s album Artwork in comparison to other albums? Can you describe in detail some of the changes or challenges this album presented? (I heard you guys used a new producer and have a new band member and management?)
Well Artwork, to me, is a combination of all of the albums put together, but lyrically and vocally it reminds me a lot of the self-titled and In Love And Death. The one big difference is we wrote this album before we went into the studio, which was only done once before for the self-titled album. We had an idea of what we wanted this album to sound like, and that was big, live, raw and beautiful, with a pop sensibility, and we accomplished that. Artwork is a very honest album, and it turned out exactly the way we wanted it too. We worked with [Producer] Matt Squire, who was pretty much laid-back and let us do our thing. He was what we like to call â€œthe ultimate facilitator.â€ I know that the entire band was more excited about making this album than any other album.
Definitely. If you donâ€™t mind me asking, what happened to working with Weezerâ€™s Rivers Cuomo? Have you or do you plan on working with him on future projects?
We asked about working with him, someone said it was a possibility, and it turned out that it wasn’t, due to our schedules. We all love Weezer, and we would love to work with Rivers in the future.
Can you describe the main concept or theme of Artwork and what the thought process was as a band when coming up with these songs? (The cover itself is provokingly creativeâ€¦I like it!) Were there any social or political events in the news and media that influenced this album at all?
Before we went into the studio, we made a conscious effort to destroy a genre of music called “screamo.” We have never been a part of the “screamo”/”emo” scene; we’re a rock and roll band. That being said, when we finally got into the studio, we told Matt we wanted to make a raw, dirty record, and we wanted it to sound how it should sound; not all polished and letting the mistakes shine through. There are bands doing this but not too many. Artwork is sort of a FUCK YOU to the media. A lot of people get so hung up on being rich and famous that they forget about the art and the craft of what they do, whether it’s music, painting, acting or whatever.
I agree completely. Are there any songs from the new album you prefer to play live?
I love playing “The Best Of Me.” It’s a heavy jam, and it really flows live. “Blood On My Hands” is also a heavy jam, but with a swingy vibe; the bridge and outro kick my ass every time I play them.
Collectively or individually, what artists or bands have you enjoyed performing or working with thus far? Any musicians you would personally enjoy collaborating with in the future?
The Bled are always badass dudes to tour with. They put on a rockinâ€™ show, and they know how to party. I think that Rob Zombie, Tom Petty, Dave Grohl and Rivers Cuomo are just a few guys that we would love to work with. We have so much respect for those guys, and it really seems like they do things the right way.
Awesome! So you guys have witnessed success through a loyal fan base and three albums, which have been certified gold. As a band, what keeps you
driving to create new music?
We write and play music for us and no one else, and we have fun playing music with each otherâ€¦ so we have the most amazing job in the world. We all know that we’re very fortunate to write music that some people can get into and to have such great fans. We love and respect our fans more than they will ever know, so they should come give us a big-ass kiss when they see us.
Iâ€™m sure they wouldnâ€™t mind that at all!…On a more serious note, often musicians come to a crossroads in their career, where theyâ€™re forced to choose between living as a starving yet creative artist or selling out to the record industry in order to pay the bills. From your personal experiences, do you feel there is a middle ground between the two? What advice, if any, would you give to up-and-coming bands in the midst of this dilemma?
Well I think The Used has done things our way from the beginning. However, the bandâ€™s ideas aren’t always the best, so working with a good producer helps. It’s always good to have an outsiderâ€™s opinion or idea. For up and coming bands, I would say be yourself, and try not to do something someone has already done just to be famous or to get rich. The most important thing is to have fun.
Amen to that. Now besides the album itself, what else can fans expect from you guys? Specifically regarding your live performances, do you have any tricks up your sleeve? Do you plan on playing a variety of songs from all four albums?
The album comes with a bonus DVD that sort of has a documentary vibeâ€¦ it’s really cool. We’re going to the U.K. mid-September for a badass tour, then we come back and do a U.S./Canada run with The Almost and Drive A. I’m so excited to tour againâ€¦we’re going to be playing a lot of older stuff that we haven’t played in years, as well as a lot of new stuff. Our set will be a lot longer than what it used to be, and we have a few special things that we’re going to do that we’ve never done before.