For more than a decade, post-hardcore act The Used has remained constantly on the go, touring seemingly endlessly and releasing albums at a similar pace, with their most recent record, Imaginary Enemy, dropping last spring. They shocked fans earlier this year with the announcement that guitarist and founding member Quinn Allman would be taking a temporary leave from the group, calling upon Saosin’s Justin Shekoski to take his place.
Now embarking on a headlining tour alongside Every Time I Die with direct support from Marmozets and The Eeries, the band has a special live show planned for the crowd, promising to make the concert a night to remember. Bassist Jeph Howard, also an original member, took time to discuss the new positive energy they have discovered, what Shekoski brings to The Used, and a possible 15-year anniversary tour in the works.
So the band is heading out on tour with Every Time I Die. What are you most excited about for this run?
For one, we’re excited about being on tour with Every Time I Die, which is an excellent band with excellent records, excellent songs, and they’re awesome live. Plus, they’re good dudes, and it’s just going to be great being with them. In our own camp, we’re really excited to be playing some different songs on this tour. We try to play different songs on every tour, but because we have so many records it’s hard to play everything we want and everything everybody else wants to hear in the small amount of time that we get. So we definitely added some different things. We’re still playing the favorites that everybody else wants to hear. I think we’re trying to play at least three songs per record, maybe even more for some.
We have some pretty cool live stuff too, like we have an awesome lighting setup that we’ve been working out for the past week or so, which we’re really excited about. We want it to be an experience. We want fans to go to a Used show and have an experience that when you leave you’ll remember.
Going off what you mentioned before, about choosing different songs, do you have any personal favorites that you enjoy performing live?
It’s hard, because there’s a lot of songs that we want to play as a band but we just can’t fit them in there. And no matter what, if we don’t play certain songs like “The Taste Of Ink” or “All That I’ve Got” people get mad at us. They come to a show, and they want to see their favorite song, so we try to add everything in. We love playing those songs, don’t get me wrong, but then there are songs that weren’t as popular off of all those records that are fun for us to play that we need to sneak into the sets.
I don’t want to ruin it, as far as which ones we’re going to play, but there’s definitely a couple from old records and middle records and even newer records that we’re trying to throw in without cutting out any of the songs that everybody wants to hear. There’s never enough time.
How do you prep for being on the road for so long?
I personally just try not to think about it (laughs). I know why a lot of people have problems touring, I mean, you’re leaving your family behind. This next tour is two months long, so we’re leaving our family for two months. But the way that we are, everybody on tour is a part of a family. We want to tour as a family unit, and we’re all friends first, and that really helps, actually.
Ultimately, we love touring. We love playing music. We love playing shows. That’s what we are. Just being able to do this is exciting enough and having people come out and wanting us to play is all the reason to keep doing this. It’s more like a responsibility at some point.
It was recently announced that Quinn Allman would be taking a leave from the band. How did you guys go about recruiting Justin Shekoski of Saosin as his stand-in?
Oh, it was really easy. Justin is a really good friend of ours. He’s an incredible guitar player, and an incredible musician—period. We’ve been connected to his band Saosin for years now and their other guitar player, Beau [Burchell], has come out on tour many, many times doing in-ears for us. He is definitely one of our really good friends, and Justin is the same way. He’s just such an incredible musician, and he has brought so much to our band that I can’t even tell you. He’s singing back-ups and harmonies with Bert [McCracken] that sound amazing, and brought in this whole new energy that you really have to see. There is so much positive energy, which is incredible.
The 2014 release, Imaginary Enemy, marked the first on the band’s own GAS Union. Has there been anything new going on with the label?
Not right now. You know, it’s a tough thing. We want to focus on writing. We don’t really want to focus on business. But the problem with being in a band nowadays is that there is so much business involved, and we don’t care (laughs). We just don’t want to, you know what I mean? Everybody is just burning records or putting them on YouTube and listening to them for free. We’re like, we should just give our records out for free, and that’s it. Like, we should just get enough money to be able to make a record, and then that record should be for free, so nobody has to pay for anything. We write the songs, and it all just goes free everywhere, which is a little more difficult to do than it sounds.
That’s kind of where GAS Union was going, in a way. We wanted it to be a free music label. But that’s our other problem, so many other people don’t want it free. You look at Spotify, which is kind of free, but it’s really not free, because all that money is going to the heads of Spotify. But did they write any of that music or any of the songs, and do the bands gets money? No, actually. I think each play a band receives you get .0001 of a cent.
I knew it was really low but never that low. That’s crazy.
I could be wrong, but it’s pretty low. It’s so low that you get a million plays and you get like $100 or something like that. It’s pretty sad. It wouldn’t be sad if the music was free; it’s only sad because those who had nothing to do with the music are making a bunch of money off people who are trying to get the music from a band. I’d rather have people listen to us on YouTube. I mean, I’m guilty, I have Spotify. But it sucks, because I don’t really want to have that. I’d rather not have that. But how else can you learn about music right now? I guess YouTube is the best way. What non-corporate monster can you go to for music? There has to be a way, we just haven’t figured it out yet. There definitely needs to be a band music revolution. It needs to happen.
It’s been 10 years since In Love And Death was released. Is that a weird feeling?
Yeah, it’s definitely interesting. We’re talking about doing a 15-year tour coming up, which would be next year, and that’s really interesting too. It doesn’t feel like it because we haven’t really stopped touring long enough to realize it, but at the same time I’m looking forward to the future rather than the thinking of past, if that makes sense.
It does. How do you feel the band has grown since then though?
We went up and down—a lot. We’ve had moments of hating each other. Actually right now, right at this very moment, is the most positive and the most excited we’ve been as a band since the first record. And I’m not sure where all of that is coming from, but it’s just so positive. Every day we come in, we’ve been practicing in a studio for the past week for this tour, and it’s been so exciting just to practice. The last tour we did, the United Kingdom tour, was just amazing; it was incredible. There’s so much positive energy, and everyone is just so excited. It’s level two of what we’re used to.
That’s really great though. What are the plans for after this tour and the rest of spring and summer?
After this tour we’re doing some tours in Asia, and we’re slightly going to Southeast Asia, but not quite all the places that we want to go to in Southeast Asia. I think we’re only doing the Philippines and Thailand. We miss all of the other countries, which is unfortunate, but those two are always fun. And I guess Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, some of that in between there too. Then, I’m not sure. I told you, we’re talking about doing a 15-year tour next year, maybe. It’s not 100 percent confirmed, but it looks like it might happen, which would be incredible. I mean, we would be touring with maybe the first two records, so that’s something you don’t want to miss out on.
The Used will be performing with Every Time I Die, Marmozets, and The Eeries on April 21 at Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ, April 24 at Warsaw in Brooklyn, April 25 at Webster Hall in New York City and May 12 at Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg, PA. For more information, go to theused.net.