The Used

Goldenvoice & KROQ Presents:

The Used

Twin Atlantic, Stars In Stereo

Tue, September 18, 2012

7:00 pm

Fox Theater Pomona

Pomona, CA

$26 ADV / $28.50 DOS

The Used
The Used
Bert McCracken – Vocals
Quinn Allman – Guitar
Jeph Howard – Bass
Dan Whitesides – Drums

Vulnerability is commonly defined as "the inability to withstand the effects of a hostile environment." It can be a time frame, when "defensive measures are reduced, compromised or lacking" or more personally, the soul-shaking moment when we stare in a mirror, finally seeing every last flaw. The answer is to somehow find the strength to heal, repair and improve, and for the Used, music is that salvation.

Turning personal adversity into art is the Used's trademark, and the band's fifth full-length, Vulnerable, was a record that simply had to be made. It marks a particular triumph for singer Bert McCracken, who is now reenergized after suffering a broken hand and elbow last year, falling from a stage in Orange County, Calif., and then spending four months getting surgery and recuperating. The experience partially birthed the title and concept of Vulnerable.

"Me feeling that vulnerability kind of sparked this creative fire inside of me," says McCracken. "This record's really about becoming more than just who you are, and allowing yourself that vulnerability to be a more powerful person. It's a lot more positive than a lot of records we've written in the past. I think everyone could use some positivity nowadays."

The Used—which also includes guitarist Quinn Allman, bassist Jeph Howard and drummer Dan Whitesides (who replaced original drummer Branden Steineckert in 2006)—formed in Orem, Utah in 2001, signing to Reprise Records that same year. Championed by producer and collaborator John Feldmann, the band issued their gold-certified Self-Titled debut in 2002, quickly cementing the Used as leaders among the post-hardcore elite, thanks in part to unforgettable singles like "Box Full of Sharp Objects," "The Taste of Ink" and "Buried Myself Alive." The band then released the CD/DVD combo Maybe Memories in 2003, now certified platinum, featuring B-sides, live cuts, demos and unreleased tracks, while still another gold record followed—2004's In Love And Death—spawning singles "Take It Away," "All That I've Got" and "I Caught Fire."

After Steineckert's 2006 departure, the band regrouped and issued 2007's Lies For The Liars, hitting #5 on the Billboard Top 200, later naming Whitesides as their permanent drummer. The retooled outfit's newfound solidarity led to 2009's Artwork, which peaked at #10 on the Billboard Top 200, and featured Whitesides on the recordings for the first time. As if that weren't enough to keep a band busy, since 2001 the Used has also destroyed countless stages the world over, touring with a who's who of modern rock and heavy music contemporaries, and have been featured acts at major festivals like Warped Tour, Taste of Chaos, Ozzfest, Projekt Revolution and the UK's Reading and Leeds festivals.

Still, after more than a decade's worth of relentless touring and recording, the Used's members recently needed to take some much-deserved time off. McCracken's longtime writing partner Allman tied the knot, while Whitesides also exchanged vows and welcomed a baby into the world. McCracken spent much of his recovery in a haze of painkillers, then "awoke" to a creative limbo, in an entirely unfamiliar emotional space. At this point 2 years had passed and the band had completed numerous writing sessions that would last for 2 months at a time and in the end came out with more then 60 songs ideas. Thus when McCracken's inspiration struck to record the songs, it came about in an entirely different fashion than the band's previous method; with his drummer and guitarist temporarily unavailable, McCracken and Howard teamed up with Feldmann to take on the initial writing on their own while incorporating the 60 ideas they had previously worked on.

"We went in with Feldmann and wrote 11 songs and recorded them in 11 days. It was pretty magical," says McCracken. "It was a bit more of the record I wanted to make. I think Quinn and Dan were stoked about that. I could go in one day and be like, 'I really like the vibe of 'Bombs Over Baghdad,' so let's start with a bass line and a drum beat like that.' It was the most amazing time; the most fun I've had making a record."

McCracken and Co. emerged from Feldmann's studio toting the 12 tracks that comprise Vulnerable, the band's first full-length since departing Warner Bros. Records. Without a label for the first time since their debut, the band opted to go indie, forming their Anger Music Group imprint, which will be distributed through Hopeless Records. The release of Vulnerable marks a new chapter in the band's enduring career, at a time when the Used's music is organically evolving, as well.

"I think [Vulnerable] is really new for us. There's a lot of hip-hop influence, beats and drum and bass kind of stuff, but it's also still a Used record, by all means," explains McCracken. "Just like any other Used record, it's a horse of many colors: There are a lot of soft and heavy sounds, there are a lot of brutal, sharp, bright sounds, and the tempos are anywhere from ultra-slow to super fast and heavy. There are a lot of different conceptual feelings on the record."

Opening track and leadoff single "I Come Alive" sets the tone for the record from the start, with the sort of "down, but not out" sentiment McCracken has always channeled into his lyrics. "The song, for me, is about falling down or hitting the ground; when things happen to you in life," says McCracken. "That's pretty much what 'Box Full of Sharp Objects' was about as well, on the first record. Taking a hit can be the most inspirational thing that can happen to you."

The drive to overcome all obstacles, whether physical or emotional, also informs "Put Me Out," which McCracken says centers on "the turmoil from a relationship you could have with anyone in your life; how people just kind of feel cheated and fucked over sometimes. Falling down and rising above that can make you a more powerful and stronger person."

Album closer "Together Burning Bright" ends the journey on a romantic, yet appropriately darkly tinged note. McCracken says the song was heavily inspired by the Chuck Palahniuk book Damned, as well as the film Melancholia.

"Maybe the end of everything, so long as you can be with the person you love, everything will be alright, no matter what," McCracken says. "It's kind of a sappy, end of the world song."

That may be true, but for now the Used's world is far from ending. With Vulnerable slated for a March 26th, 2012 release, a world tour behind the record will follow, including appearances at Warped Tour, Soundwave in Australia, dates in Asia and Europe, and full headlining runs through the U.S., not to mention a DVD in the works to commemorate their decade-plus anniversary. The Used may have spent recent years nursing wounds and taking honeymoons, but 2012 and beyond will be all about bringing Vulnerability, and its uplifting message, to the masses.

"This record is for all those people who weren't the coolest people around. We never were. This record's for kids like us, who just love music, because it saves their lives every day," McCracken says. "At the end of the day, I'm the only one who has to live and die with myself. I want to make it a good one for me. I only have one life to live."
Twin Atlantic
Twin Atlantic
When Glasgow's Twin Atlantic released their 2009 mini-album, Vivarium, it immediately found an awestruck audience. The reviews were uniformly ecstatic. Grand, sweeping and eloquent, it was a collection of songs with a heart and soul, crafted by passion and informed by staunch lyrical and musical frankness. It set Twin Atlantic on a rollercoaster - one that has led, now, to the release of their full debut, Free, on Red Bull Records, an inspiring collection of songs full of ambition, pain, belief and soul. In a world of music dominated by talent show winners, mass-marketed bands and meaningless music, here, finally, is a band in which to invest your heart.Formed in 2007 in Glasgow, and infusing their music with their Scottish heritage, Twin Atlantic found themselves caught in a whirlwind in the months that followed Vivarium's release. Support slots with the great and the good - from blink-182 to My Chemical Romance and The Gaslight Anthem - followed tours the length and breadth of Britain, Europe and America. Interviews, photo-shoots, magazine articles and newspaper pieces amounted to a blur of excitement and hype. "We had three years where we've had this barrage of dream scenarios which we grasped with two hands," says frontman Sam McTrusty.But, in the grasping, Twin Atlantic worried they had strayed from the ethos and ideals with which they had started their band. "We suddenly thought, 'What are we doing?'" adds McTrusty. In that moment of realisation, Twin Atlantic did what only the best bands do. They rediscovered their love for music and for pouring themselves, their feelings, fears, hopes and dreams into it. The results are their brilliant new album. "This band was meant to be based on integrity," says McTrusty. "We wanted there to be a brutal honesty in the lyrics. I think we've done that."The quest to deliver authenticity in their music led them to the influential producer Gil Norton ("a fucking dude-and-a-half," according to guitarist and cellist Barry McKenna) with who they teamed up in the Red Bull Studios in Santa Monica, California at the end of 2010. "We really trusted that he could help us make an honest record because he's already achieved that with other bands like Pixies and Foo Fighters early in their careers. You can hear the genuineness in the bands he's worked with."And with Norton, they set about crafting an exceptional album. "I was unbelievably excited to be working with Gil - he's been at the helm of a handful of my favourite records, including The Colour And The Shape which single-handedly made me decide that I needed to play in a band," says drummer Craig Kneale. "When we got in the studio with him, it was just a complete dream. We're so confident in each of the songs, and there must have been about 100 points in the studio where we would listen back to something and all get goosebumps."And throughout, that all-important sincerity was there. "We can hold our heads high and say we did exactly what we wanted, and exactly how we wanted. At no point have we compromised as a band, as musicians or as people," says McKenna. "I think all great music has to be truthful and we have certainly achieved that, to one another and collectively outwards."Free is an album of experiences. Having had their horizons broadened by touring the UK, Europe and America, McTrusty, in particular, spent time gazing from aeroplane and van windows fearing the world he was seeing was becoming a more uniform place. "We haven't written a political record," he says, "but there are issues in there like globalisation because that's something that freaks me out. Perhaps that's come from touring and feeling that everything sometimes seems the same."It was a train of thought that unfurls masterfully throughout the record. "There are songs about how the media and big corporations manipulate and mould your opinions," he says. "You end up becoming a lesser version of yourself as a result." But if this is a record that takes a more worldly view than before, it is still one that remains steadfastly personal too - yet it's one that could be personal to all their fans. "Sam discusses a lot of issues not only personal to him, or even the four of us, but to the modern generation," says McKenna. "Many people will be able to relate to these songs, and hopefully they will." "Lyrically these are not my stories," adds bassist Ross McNae, "but I do feel more of an attachment to some of the messages within certain songs. I can personally associate more with the lyrical content of these songs."Musically, too, they were ambitious. Forging on from Vivarium's expressiveness, Twin Atlantic wanted to make an album that was both vast and encompassing. "There are love songs and relationship songs, there are some with a party vibe, there are some that are weird, heavy and grungey pop songs," says McTrusty. Hence Free's stunning vision, one built on intricate songwriting aimed at the emotional core of its listeners. In each track, in each guitar line or beat, each lyric or phrase, it's an album in which the band's hearts beat and their souls shimmer. You can hear such personality in even the simplest things: the fact that McTrusty's Scottish accent shines through is just one. "Why," asks McTrusty, "would you tell a personal story in anyone else's voice but your own?"But, most of all, the album has an emotional honesty that speaks straight from the heart. In all its twists and turns it embodies its creators. "I don't know if we could live with ourselves if we were to make a song that didn't have the four of us in the music," says McTrusty, before McKenna adds: "Personally the only thing I wanted to achieve from this whole process is an album the four of us could stand by and invest ourselves in. We have done that."And it's because of music like this that the sense of expectation around Twin Atlantic is developing rapidly. This brilliant record, one of the most anticipated of the year, has been tipped by tastemakers and fans alike. If Vivarium left the band poised for greatness, 2011 will be the year in which they attain it."Music's been dumbed down and homogenised. There are lots of people who don't believe in it anymore. But we've made a record with substance," says McTrusty finally. "We're giving people something to believe in again."
Stars In Stereo
Stars In Stereo

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Venue Information:
Fox Theater Pomona
301 South Garey
Pomona, CA, 91766
http://www.foxpomona.com