It seemed appropriate to be conducting an interview on New Year's Eve with what's shaping up to be one of the hottest new acts to arrive on the scene via Warner Brothers Records.
Two of the members, Bert McCracken (vocals) and Quinn Allman (guitar) aren't even old enough to drink at many of the venues where they often perform, but when you're on a major record label and poised to make the company millions of dollars, the security around the backstage coolers isn't necessarily tight.
It was about noon Utah time when bass player Jeph Howard was kind enough to roll over and pick up the phone to chat about the usual hum drum rock 'n' roll life: Touring. Producers. Kelly Osbourne?
“We'd like to keep that separate if possible,” Howard sighs into the phone from his home in Provo, Utah. Apparently the aforementioned vocalist of the group (MC Bert McCrackester) is currently dating the starlet child of Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne. Being the chosen band of reality TV's darling daughter could be a contributing factor to the Used's rising status among the n¨u metal masses.
Another factor is that, well, they just flat kick out the jams. Not in an MC5 kind of way, but more so in a Helloween/M.O.D. sort of hell-raising way. Knowing that the whole band has undoubtedly been grilled about their Osbourne ties, this CityBeat interview focuses on the irony of hard rockers thriving in a state whose idea of a good time is milk and cookies with the Mormon tabernacle blaring out of the temple stereo.
“The hardest part about playing in Provo is the venues, because everywhere in Utah County venues will go up and down within like a month,” Howard gripes. “To even play a show is kind of scarce. It sucks up here. Kids will go to shows, the venues just can't think of ways to keep enough money to stay open for some reason.”
One would think that, in pure Footloose fashion, the strictures of Mormon life would yield a rampant counter-culture. At the very least, all-ages venues-the safely patrolled dens that don't serve the demon's alcoholic brew-would thrive. Yet Howard attests otherwise.
No matter. Maybe Memories, the bands' debut, is transcending the Utah state line. The razor-sharp release boasts cutting guitar licks and a temperamental flow that is in true alignment with the Used's live persona.
“It was originally just us three [Howard, Allman and Steineckert] who actually wrote all the music for Maybe Memories,” Howard explains. “[We had] the music part of it and we were looking for a singer that had ‘that song.'”
They found McKracken, an undeniably strong frontman. They recorded at the home studio of legendary producer John Feldman, who gave the eager-yet-green Utah lads some much-needed guidance in the process of laying their particular brand of music onto tape.
That and a memorable trip to Olympic Studios in London gave Maybe Memories the finishing touches on what would be their calling card to the musical community.
“One day, [Feldman] is like, ‘I'm gonna try and talk to your guys' record company into letting us fly out to England.'
“We were like, ‘What!?' It actually turned out for the best. We recorded three songs out there, my favorites on the album.”
Kicking off their first headlining tour in early January, Howard seems content to be on the road as opposed to home in Utah.
“I hate getting off the bus!” Howard laughs. “I'd rather sleep in a bus than my house.”