The Used Announce New Album ‘Heartwork’
The American rock band’s bassist Jeph Howard talks about making epic-scale records and the ‘emo’ categorization
In the early and mid-2000s, emo and screamo remained top of the lexicon thanks to bands like The Used. More than a decade on, bassist Jeph Howard says the Utah-origin based band never really associated with the ‘emo’ term and won’t be ones to ride on any nostalgia value attached to the subculture even now as they prep for their upcoming album Heartwork.
Howard says over email from Sacramento, part of their ongoing U.S. tour. “We’ve never considered ourselves an emo band, what is emo anyway? Emotional? Isn’t all music and art emotion-based? But I totally understand that people love to attach labels to things in order to classify it. I always just say we are a rock band.”
Currently comprising Howard, vocalist Bert McCracken, drummer Dan Whitesides and guitarist Joey Bradford, The Used are now spread out “all over the world.” McCracken lives in Australia, while Whitesides resides in California while Bradford lives nearby in San Diego. Howard adds, “Our gear lives in Los Angeles, we meet up there to practice, record, write. Plus, the internet makes everything easy to do. We can still send music ideas to each other and plan out tours no matter where we live.”
When they released their 2017 album The Canyon, few had expected a 78-minute epic that was produced by veteran engineer Ross Robinson (KoRn, Slipknot, Limp Bizkit). It obviously set up big expectations for what came next. When “Blow Me” released in December as a stand-alone single, there was news that The Used were working with producer John Feldmann this time around, signaling a return of the team that’d put together albums like In Love and Death (2004) and Lies for the Liars (2007), some of the band’s seminal work that played up chaos, angst, betrayal and a flair for the melodramatic like few other bands.
The Used are now releasing Heartwork on April 24th via Feldmann’s recently started record label Big Noise. McCracken said in a press statement, “The new album plays on the emotions, the sincerity, and the vulnerability of the ﬁrst record [self-titled] and In Love and Death, with a little bit of the ﬂair from Lies for the Liars.” In an interview with Rolling Stone India, Howard fills us in on the rest of the details, touring the U.S. and thoughts on India. Excerpts:
You had Jason Butler (from rock/metal band Fever 333 and previously of post-hardcore band letlive.) on the lead single “Blow Me.” How did it come about?
We’ve toured with letlive. and with Fever 333, Jason is an incredible human being as well as an amazing singer. We had an open spot on the song and hit him up at the last second to see if he was in town, sometimes the best things work out with the least effort. He showed up and blasted out his part in less than an hour.
“Blow Me” is definitely one of the heaviest songs by The Used to date, and it comes after making a mammoth album like The Canyon. How did you start of thinking about future material?
Working with Ross was incredible, and we needed that release to get to where we are now. Heartwork our new record is one giant leap back to the start of The Used, really reminiscent of the first three records. Recording [and] writing this record felt so easy.
Watch the video for “Blow Me” below.
You have more than 20 songs in the bank for the next record and maybe even the one after that. What can you tell me about how the sound is shaping up, and whether you’re thinking of road-testing some of them on the current run of shows?
Yes, we went into the studio with 20 plus solid ideas, decided to scrap them all and start over. Also while in the studio, we ended up teaching and recording around 20 more songs. Looks like we will be releasing a loaded record with a bunch of B-sides, plus we might go back and relook at the 20 we starred before. So much to be creative with!
As a band that’s played the Warped tours, played the big festival stages and toured the world, what is it like coming back to some venues after a while and playing there again? Is that happening on this tour?
Warped was great, and I will definitely miss some of the aspects. We’ve usually ended up playing those venues at some point during touring, but this current tour we are on is scaled down to super small venues. We decided to make a full U.S. tour in 500 cap rooms, which is very small for The Used. We wanted to do it for our diehard fans, super limited tickets and we’re playing a bunch of songs that we never play or haven’t played in years. So it’s a rare treat for the special few.
Have you ever had any offers to play in India? Has anyone from the band visited here before?
We’ve had two or more offers in the past that obviously didn’t work out. I myself have been drawn to India and wanted to come visit for a very, very long time. The only reason my wife and I haven’t visited yet is because we would like to come for at least a month and there hasn’t been the time. But there is always time in the future, for touring and for visits.
Watch the video for “Paradise Lost, a Poem by John Milton” below. Pre-order ‘Heartwork’ here.