The Used at The Van Buren

November 21, 2017
7:30 pm
Phoenix, AZ
The Used at The Van Buren
The Used at The Van Buren

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.”

The group worked with Hiro Goto on the strings and harp to help bring out a fresh energy in these songs. Together, they arranged the various musical elements and helped the band bring out dimensions in these songs that they didn’t even know existed. “We’ve always wanted to do something like in the sense,” Howard explains, “we’ve played ‘Taste Of Ink’ every night for the past fifteen years but revisiting it and making an acoustic version was like starting the song over in a different way.” In fact, not only did this experience inspire The Used to add symphonic parts to completely reimagine their hits but it also allowed them to revisit songs they rarely if ever play live. “I would say more than half the songs on this album we haven’t played since we wrote them but they actually come off better in an acoustic sense then they did as big rock songs so it worked out in a really interesting way.”

McCracken adds that his current gig as the host of the Australian television show The Revolution With Bert McCracken has given him a new appreciation for his role in all of this. “I’ve found the one common thread with really successful people I’ve interviewed is this honest humility when it comes to what they get to be a part of” he explains. “Singing songs like ‘The Taste Of Ink’ today is very empowering and humbling because that song means so much more to me today than it did 15 years ago when I was writing it as a self-obsessed teenager who needed to escape this mundane reality that I thought was the ultimate nightmare,” he continues. “Now I know there are real nightmares in the world, but it’s refreshing to look back at where I was then and have that new perspective.”

“We felt like a different band the night we played this acoustic show in the sense that I haven’t been nervous in that way to play a show in over a decade,” Howard recalls, noting how rare it is for a band with the type of history and catalog as The Used to ever feel that way again at this point in their career. “I got strength from seeing all of my friends onstage and everyone was so easy to play with that it wasn’t stressful at all,“ he continues. “We definitely had a revitalization of the band through this performance in the sense that it brought a whole new dynamic to not only these songs but The Used as a unit. It was a very magical night.”

The exposed nature of acoustic music is something The Used sought to encapsulate within their performance. “We’re an honest band and that was an honest show. We did it for the right reasons, which were to give everybody a little something different – including ourselves,” Whitesides reflects. “I just hope that people really watch it, because I think that watching it will give you a better idea of everything that went on.”

Shekoski, a longtime friend, fellow touring musician, fan, and the newest member of the band adds: “I heard the self-titled record and I knew that it was going to change the state of music, shifting the direction of rock to come.” He continues, “These songs mean so much to so many people for so many different reasons, I hope they can listen and watch this performance and maybe experience the songs in a way they haven’t before.“

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.”

Glassjaw is a highly influential  band from Long Island, NY. They formed in the summer of 1993 after Palumbo and Beck met each other at camp. They recorded some demos before releasing the EP “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” in 1997, and recorded their first full length album “Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Silence” in 2000 on Roadrunner Records. The record brought the band out of Long Island and into the hands of a dedicated grass-roots following. The band has been influential in the progression of the underground music scene in the eastern United States and United Kingdom and on the post-hardcore genre, and are known for their intense live shows and constant line-up changes.

Their sophomore album “Worship and Tribute” was released in 2002 on Warner Brothers Records. Although it received some MTV airtime, a Grammy nomination and a peak at #82 on the Billboard top 200, “Worship and Tribute” was a departure from the debut and was met with mixed reviews from fans. Since then, Glassjaw have not recorded any new material, releasing the digital-only EP “El Mark” in 2005, a release that consisted of three unused songs from the “Worship and Tribute” sessions.

In 2005, all members spare Palumbo and Beck left the band for reasons which remain unclear. It is supposed that they left involuntarily. Ex-drummer Durijah Lang and ex-bass player Manuel Ragoonanan Carrero were soon inducted back into the band, so there was once again a functional lineup for playing shows. Indeed, the new four-piece Glassjaw played a handful of shows in Summer 2005. A new album was apparently in the works for a release in 2007, but never surfaced.

Daryl Palumbo also fronts electronic pop-rock band Head Automatica, and ex-Glassjaw drummer Larry Gorman also played for them; however, Gorman is no longer a member of the band for unknown reasons.

Ex-guitarist Todd Weinstock now plays in the similarly-styled band Men, Women, & Children.

After a two-year hiatus, the band played three shows in 2005, two at the now-defunct The Downtown in Farmingdale, NY, with proceeds going to charity, and a spot on The Used‘s tour at the Hammerstein Ballroom.

After some mysterious updates on their website, the 2007 Glassjaw tour had gone and ended, already hitting up spots including yet another venue in Farmingdale, NY, playing 2 shows in one day at The Crazy Donkey.

Glassjaw’s next album is highly anticipated, not only due to their last full-length release dating back to 2002, but also the delay and lack of information regarding its status and/or release. In an interview with Palumbo in the July, 2006 issue of AP magazine, he stated that the band were in the process of writing and recording new material for the next album, which they hoped to release in 2007. Palumbo hinted that there could be a unifying concept behind the album. In November, 2007, in the first Glassjaw interview in years, Beck revealed they had written “about eleven good songs – seven i love, and four to six half-baked ideas we need to finish”.

In an interview with Kerrang!, Palumbo stated that the new album should be released by “The end of this year or early 2009…I hope.” Details emerged from The Grixer in May, 2008 that the album was “awaiting vocals” and “should be wrapped up and completed in the coming months”. In a May, 2008 interview with Verse One magazine, Beck said: “Right now I’d just be happy to finish up this record. I’m sure if it’s not a giant pile of shit, we’d love to play it live. Exact dates, plans, don’t know yet.” In a June, 2008 interview conducted by Glassjaw.net, Beck stated, “As far as I am personally concerned, there will be a release well before the end of the year.”

On August 6–8, 2010, the band released a 7″ vinyl single for “All Good Junkies Go to Heaven” spraypainted green and pink on either side of the vinyl at the UK’s Hevy Fest. This is the first official Glassjaw release since 2005’s El Mark EP[/album. On August 8, 2010 via MerchDirect, “All Good Junkies Go To Heaven” became available for purchase. Within hours of availability, the vinyl had sold out. Shortly thereafter, in addition to the launch of the single, a “one-take” live video of their 2008 song “You Think You’re (John Fucking Lennon)” was posted on the official Glassjaw website. On September 8, Glassjaw announced the release of another vinyl single for release on September 9, 2010 for the song “Jesus Glue“, as well as a digital download for “All Good Junkies Go To Heaven” in various formats. On September 23, GlassJaw posted a video for the song, “Stars“, a reworked version of “Star Above my Bed“, a fan favorite. As they did with “Junkies” and “Jesus Glue,” October 10 saw the release of yet another vinyl, “Natural BornFarmer” and the digital release of “Jesus Glue.”

At 11:11AM on January 11, glassjaw.com began streaming a studio recording of “Gold“. The website’s background was changed to a live band photo with the text “coloring book, the extended play. available exclusively at venue. gratis.” After the first concert on their 2011 tour, February 13, 2011, the new EP Coloring Book was given away free to each fan that attended the concert. Glassjaw played two shows in the UK, at the London HMV Forum (March 30) and the Cardiff Solus (March 31), with support from Napalm Death and also headlined Soundfest (June 10), playing alongside other artists such as Brother Ali, Del the Funky Homosapien and If He Dies He Dies. The band also played the Radio 1 / NME Stage at Reading and Leeds Festival in August 2011.

Glassjaw played their first and only scheduled show so far in 2012 in support of Rise Against‘s Endgame tour. It was the only show Glassjaw opened for them on the tour. A Day To RememberThe MenzingersArchitectsTouché Amoré, and Title Fight are also supporting selected dates. Glassjaw have been added to the Sonisphere festival line-up and will perform Worship & Tribute in its entirety during their set. However, it was announced on March 29, 2012 via Sonishere’s website that the festival was canceled due to issues in setting up the festival. As a result, the band have scheduled a date at New York’s Irving Plaza to play the album in its entirety. The band have also been announced to be playing Hevy Festival 2012, alongside acts such as ConvergeRolo Tomassi and Will Haven. This will mark Glassjaw’s second time playing at the festival, and the first since headlining it in 2010.

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