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Long before the band's brand of screamo fell out of grace as the music genre de rigueur of disenfranchised (but still MTV) youth, frontman Bert McCracken spent time homeless, abusing drugs and alcohol, and panhandling for food. In retrospect, it almost seems too much of an up-by-your-bootstraps success story: McCracken went from editing an anti-drug publication in Orem, Utah, to doing crystal meth, only to emerge a rock star after cleaning up.
The bruised backstory played heavily into the success of The Used's self-titled 2002 album for Reprise Records. McCracken roared and emoted at the mic, backed by guitarist Quinn Allman, bassist Jeph Howard, and drummer Dan Whitesides. His street-level anthems of self-disgust and frustration resonated with listeners, and the band's lean toward melodic metal ensured that fans of Thursday and Papa Roach would find something to grab on to. The record was a smash hit.
The band's subsequent albums failed to match that success, and they knew its days on a major label were numbered. With 2012's Vulnerable, the band gracefully made the transition to an indie, Hopeless Records, and the move did them good: Thick with hip-hop qualities and shifting tempos, the record explored new territory while returning to the band's melodic post-hardcore roots.
"I wanted to make a record that reflected the energy and emotion of the first record but also gathered from our eclectic influences," McCracken says. "We're all fans of eclectic music old hip-hop, R&B, funk, and jazz. I grew up on Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey, and classic rock like Journey, Heart, and The Beatles."
Growth and maturity aside, McCracken still can't suppress some of his street-urchin tendencies. In fact, McCracken has some advice for those thinking of picking up the band's newest album:
"I encourage people to go steal it from Walmart." -- Lauren Wise
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