‘We’re gonna rock’

Pamela Crimbchin

The Used’s Dan Whitesides said the band anticipates playing

Photo courtesy of Joanne Klimaszewski

Credit: DKS Editors

FlashFest is The Used’s first stop of its United States tour of both small venues and large arenas. The band is excited to play at Kent, and the fact that FlashFest is free excites them even more.

“I think colleges are cool because, for example, this concert is free to anybody; that’s awesome,” Whitesides said. “We love doing stuff like that. I think more people will come, especially now when everybody is broke.”

The band stopped touring for a while to work on finishing its new album “Artwork,” which will be out sometime this July.

This is the first album Whitesides has recorded with the band. Founding member and drummer Branden Steineckert left the band in 2006.

Whitesides has been friends with guitarist Quinn Allman since Allman saw Whitesides’ former band, New Transit Direction. The two jammed for years before Whitesides joined the band in 2006.

“There is actually one song in particular that is going to go on ‘Artwork’ that (Quinn and I) wrote like five years ago together,” Whitesides said. “But it never got used for anything.”

All four members of the band had equal parts in writing the new album. Once Allan, Whitesides and bassist Jeph Howard had some chords and drumming they liked, they handed the song over to Bert McCracken, the band’s lead singer and songwriter.

McCracken has said in several interviews that he pulls inspiration from different events throughout his life, such as drug abuse, deaths of loved ones, being in relationships or rebelling against his Mormon upbringing. When writing, Whitesides said McCracken makes sure he is in love with his lyrics and does not let anyone rush him, including management.

“Bert is a poet,” Whitesides said. “He doesn’t just like to crank out a song. We had a lot of the songs written, and we were just kind of waiting for Bert to write lyrics to it.”

The Used has a history of darker lyrics, which have meanings that are not always obvious to the listeners. Whitesides said he does not like to ask Bert what the lyrics are about, but instead interprets them on his own – this way the song has its own meaning to each of the band members and fans.

“I want them to mean something to me somehow,” Whitesides said. “I don’t want to know what they’re about because I don’t want to feel the way Bert feels about it. I want to feel the way I feel about it.

Whitesides said “Artwork” is the darkest of The Used albums.

“(McCracken) went above and beyond on this record,” Whitesides said. “. This album is, lyrically, probably my favorite (Used) album ever.”

Along with darker lyrics, The Used tried to go back to a more natural sound than that of electronic-infused 2007 “Lies for the Liars.”

“It’s kind of like taking a step back to the first two albums, but at the same time taking a step forward with the rawness,” Whitesides said.

The band left in the feedback noise from their recording sessions so the record was not as cleanly produced as some of the other bands coming out now.

“I think bands today are going for a more slick style, and this is a little bit more raw,” Whitesides said.

Students at the concert can expect a sneak preview of the song “Blood on My Hands” from the new album. The song is one of Whitesides’ favorites off the album. He said the song is “definitely angry.”

“There is a line in the song that’s like ‘Don’t make me be myself around you.’ That could mean anything,” Whitesides said. “To me, it’s like do you really want to know who I am? I don’t think you really do.”

The band may also perform a song off of the compilation album “Covered, A Revolution in Sound: Warner Bros. Records.” The album features The Used’s cover of the 1983 Talking Heads song “Burning Down the House.”

“You would never really be able to tell it was their song without listening to the lyrics because we totally changed it up,” Whitesides said.

The members of The Used expect a large crowd at the free concert but understand that not everyone is going to be into their music.

“If people dig it, cool,” Whitesides said. “If they don’t, you know that’s cool, too – because we dig it.”

Contact all reporter Pamela Crimbchin at [email protected].