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The Used is an American alternative rock/post-hardcore band from Orem, Utah. Their sound has been classified under many sub-genres of rock. They signed with Reprise Records in late 2001 and rose to fame in June 2002 after releasing their debut self-titled album, The Used. Soon after a CD/DVD package named “Maybe Memories” was released containing unheard demos and a “behind the scenes” story of the band/band’s past. They followed up with their second album, In Love and Death, in September 2004 and their third album, Lies For The Liars, in May 2007. An EP, Shallow Believer, was released in February 2008 that featured most of the band’s B-sides to date. They spent the entire year of 2008 working on their fourth studio album, Artwork, which was released September 1st, 2009. The band has achieved both Gold and Platinum statuses in over 6 countries worldwide. Speaking with Songfacts in a 2012 interview, The Used bassist Jeph Howard said that “A Box Full of Sharp Objects” is probably his favorite song by the band.
The group started writing the album Artwork after finishing the Taste of Chaos International tour in 2007, slowly collecting and jamming out ideas with no concrete intention beyond making the songs as dirty as possible. The Used, whose last album, 2007’s Lies For the Liars, debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard Top 200, spent the first half of 2008 in LA exploring and refining these ideas, eventually piecing tangential riffs and melodies into a scattering of songs that contained a surprisingly cohesive sensibility. The band members dubbed the music they were writing “gross pop,” their own new genre of hook-laden numbers that pushed the boundaries of the grotesque. Tracking for the album began in June of 2008 with producer Matt Squire and eventually concluded in February of 2009, primarily at LA studios The Lair and NRG. Between a few sporadic tours, the band spent about three months total recording with Squire where they allowed their creativity to dictate when they worked on something.
In the studio Squire approached the recording process with a laid-back attitude the band both appreciated and needed. The decision to work with a new producer after establishing a longtime relationship with producer John Feldman, who was at the helm of the band’s past three albums (Lies For the Liars, as well as 2004’s In Love and Death and 2002’s The Used, both of which were certified gold), was derived from a simple desire for change. The Used wanted to see what would happen if they entered the studio with someone different, a process guitarist Quinn Allman compares to “breaking up with your girlfriend not because you don’t love her but because you need to try something new.”
The result is a raw collection of twelve songs that not so delicately teeter the line between being aggressively discordant and charmingly hooky. The first single “Blood On My Hands,” which Quinn describes as the song that “sums up everything about The Used,” is confined chaos, brutally thrashing one moment and proffering a pop-driven, sing-along chorus the next. “Empty with You,” a track Bert says is “about feeling empty and lonely but as long as you have someone who can feel lonely with you then everything’s okay,” surges with passion and gripping honesty, while “Cut Yourself” balances the album’s predilection for propulsive rage with its quieter, piano-driven exploration of what it means to have someone to lean on. “This record is about coming together,” Bert adds. “Whether it’s through positivity or negativity, it’s about coming together through anything.”
Artwork encapsulates the past eight years of a band that’s played tours and festivals like Warped Tour, Ozzfest, Projek Revolution, Give It a Name, Reading and Leeds and SxSW, and sold over two million albums in the States alone, while simultaneously urging them forward. It’s a collaborative effort that drew The Used closer together during its creation. It’s about love and mortality and the basic human emotions we all experience every day. It’s biting and gritty, and it’s melodic and catchy. It’s a new chapter for a band that’s constantly sought to redefine the bounds of pop music—and have always successfully done so. It’s a reminder, as Bert says, “we’re all artists creating our own art just by living it.”
“I Come Alive” is the first single from The Used’s fifth album, Vulnerable. It is the first release on the band’s own label, Anger Music Group, an imprint of Hopeless Records. The song was released on January 17, 2012.
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