If you had told The Used back at the turn of the millennium that we’d still be talking about their self-titled debut 15 years later, there’s no way they’ would have believed it. The scrappy foursome from Orem, Utah, recorded this album as bored teenagers living in an oppressive environment who had no idea that songs like “The Taste Of Ink” and “A Box Full Of Sharp Objects” would become the unexpected face of a new generation of youth culture. However what’s maybe more impressive is the way The Used have been able to prevail for a decade-and-a-half. Their upcoming reimagined acoustic album recorded live with a full orchestra is a perfect example of the ever-lasting nature of the band’s music.
“I think this album originally came out during a time where music was allowed to be honest and brave enough in the face of emotional norms,” says vocalist Bert McCracken, who along with bassist Jeph Howard, drummer Dan Whitesides and new guitarist Justin Shekoski currently make up The Used. “This is for true music fans and diehards. It’s for people for whom music has been their gospel and their everything so I think that’s why there’s been a real resurgence,” McCracken continues, citing the massive lines outside of “emo nights” these days all over the country as evidence of this movement’s continued relevance. “We made this record when we were ten years less inhibited but the social realness of being an adult and we were young enough to dream.”
Since The Used released their incendiary debut, they’ve gone on to put out five more acclaimed full-lengths, but The Used has always had a special place in their hearts due to the feelings of youthfulness and angst it embodies. For that reason it only made sense for them to try to reimagine these songs during an intimate performance in Los Angeles earlier this year. “From the beginning of working on this project we took it incredibly seriously and it was so magical to be able to rehearse for a full week nine hours a day with such talented musicians,” McCracken explains, adding that they also wanted to make sure that these songs retained their raw emotive core. “Leading up to that show and listening back to it, it’s definitely the most special thing I’ve done in my career in music.”
Whether you remember watching McCracken defy gravity by jumping off stacks of speakers when The Used originally came out or were exposed to the album by an older sibling over a decade later, there’s no denying that there’s something special about this collection of songs and a reason why they resonate today as strongly as they did at the turn of the century. “I think we really captured the night perfectly and listening back to the mixes it reminded me how music can allow us to be children once again—and once you open yourself up to that emotion it’s like a virus, it’s contagious,” McCracken summarizes. “Nearly every eye in the venue was weepy the night we played with the orchestra because these songs are so emotional and this recording is a truly special thing that I can’t wait for everyone to hear. It still gives me goosebumps.”