It's safe to say that the Used is doing better than it ever has before. Currently, it's co-headlining a U.S. and Canada tour with Taking Back Sunday, and shows are pretty much all sold out. If this success wasn't enough, the band has hit number one on the Billboard Independent Chart. Yet, the Used seems to only care about their time on the road. "We're not sure about CD sales, which is whatever, but we rather have people feel our music than spend money at Walmart any day," says Jeph Howard, bassist. "It's an evil corporation, they don't help anybody."
Wait, what? There's a band out there that actually cares about the good of people and not for their own publicity? "I'm all for people buying records and supporting bands." Howard continues, "But I'm against supporting the wrong people, like a corporation."
Not that this should be a surprise to anyone. The Used is known to never shy away from addressing wrongdoing in the world, and they openly express that in their music. Their lyrics are the opposite of radio sounds that brag about hoarding money or throwing it at strippers, humping, and Tom Ford.
The members are pretty clever as well, intentionally releasing their sixth album, Imaginary Enemy, on April Fool's Day, which is critical of the media. "You have to look at the cover illustration and see what's on TV and the news," he explains about the purpose of the release date. "Watching the news is like a joke. They show the same thing over and over again and it's like 'Is this really going on? Where's the focus?' There's something crazy going on, and I feel like the mafia controls everything. Money controls everything... People blame guns for murders, but it is the person holding the gun. Greed is the power behind all evil. The banks seem to fund both sides of the war, but who wins?"
And Howard was just gaining momentum: "When you look at the news, I feel like it's taking the focus off everything going on, like an April Fool's joke, except we don't get to the punchline. We never reach it and when we do, people get killed or disappear."
Alas, the musician remains optimistic. He states that Imaginary Enemy, lyrically is created to move folks in the direction of positive change and that people are good. "Well, not all," he corrects himself. "Until greed settles in." Howard just wants his fans not to be hypnotized by the hype and think for themselves. "I want people to wake up and realize that everything they are being fed is not true," he says. "Not everything is true. Look into it! 'Columbus discovered America' -- no he didn't! Everyone knows it, but it's in the history books. Change it. Just question things is all I'm saying. I'm for the people, people are good, but people need to wake up and start taking care of each other."
Besides standing out from their peers in the industry with their quest for social change, the band also has a different style of recording. According to Howard, the band originally had plans to record 27 songs, but decided to start from scratch because they "weren't feeling the vibe." Instead of recording drums first, which is standard for bands, vocals were recorded, then drums, then bass, then guitar. Howard was even taken aback by the order of events: "I normally wouldn't want to do it again that way, but it came out pretty good."
Before ending our conversation with the opinionated bassist we ask him if there's anything else he'd like to add. Without hesitation, and in one breath, he says, "Positivity changes things. People can make a difference. Changes do matter. Why shop at Walmart when you can go to a mom and pop shop and help a family? It's not a war against each other -- we should help each other. War pisses me off, it really does."
If you weren't a fan of the Used before, you probably are of their values now.
The Used with Taking Back Sunday, Tonight Alive, and Sleepwave, 6 p.m., Saturday, April 26, at Revolution Live, 100 SW 3rd Ave, Fort Lauderdale. Tickets are sold out. Visit jointherevolution.net.