Earlier this afternoon, I had the pleasure of getting a chance to chat with Dan Whitesides, drummer of The Used, for a few minutes on the phone. With the upcoming release of their 4th full length, there was much to talk about.
MindEqualsBlown: Hey Dan, I’m Mat and I write for a small, up and coming review site: MindEqualsBlown. Thank you so much for taking some time out of your day to chat with me. This is my first interview so bare with me. But if you’re ready, I know I have a few questions for you whenever.
Dan Whitesides: Absolutely, let’s go ahead.
MEB: This is The Used’s 4th album since you began and you have always had an amazing ability to fuse pop sensibility into heavy rock and hardcore. What have you guys done this time around to bring something new to your music as compared to the past records?
DW: This album is, as far as the writing process went, closest to the first album because we wrote it before we went into the studio. With the last few records we wrote it while we were in the studio, it wasn’t like that this time. Also, we also took more control on this record. In the past we were in charge still, but the producer was a little bit louder than on this one. This time we went in and wanted to make a dark, heavy record but with the pop sensibility like you said. We were able to take our time in the studio because we weren’t in any kind of rush. If we were feeling creative, we would go to the studio. If there was a day that someone wasn’t feeling creative, or a few of us weren’t feeling creative, we wouldn’t go to the studio becaus there wasn’t any kind of rush.
MEB: What were you listening to yourself during the recording of this record that affected your playing as a drummer?
DW: Well I always listen to Refused. I could listen to them everday, all day. At that time I was listening to a lot of In Flames and some Tom Petty for some reason and ETID’s album at the time. Mainly A lot of harder or heavier stuff. When I want to get creative on drums I’ll pop in a Lifetime CD or a Mars Volta CD because the drums are really cool and all that stuff.
MEB: This is the first album not produced by John Feldman, which came as a surprise to many fans, myself included, seeing as he has done all of your other albums. Instead, you went with a producer known more for his work with powerpop acts like Panic! At The Disco and All Time Low, Matt Squire. What caused the change in producer and what did Matt bring to the table that made you want to work with him?
DW: Well we wanted someone that was laid back. Someone brought him to our attention and we talked to him on the phone and he seemed really chill. I looked at his resume, and I’m not into any of those bands that he did. The thing with us is we just wanted a guy who was gonna let us do our thing and that’s what he did. He was pretty silent most of the time, there was just a few occasions where’d he go “well, try this, try that” he was definitely just kind of facilitating things for us and he’s really laid back. And like I said, the album was already done, we knew what we wanted to do. We told him, “This is what we want and can you do this?” It just kind of worked out. And we just wanted a change, that’s why we didn’t work with Feldmen this time. Just to kind of mix it up, we kind of cleaned house in a bunch of different ways with management and all that.
MEB: There was also some rumors early on before recording that you may have been working with Rivers Cuomo of Weezers. What were the plans back then?
DW: Oh yeah, we were talking about that for a while. We were talking about him, we were talking about Dave Grohl. We just wanted to work with someone we admired, ya know? And we all love Weezer and we all love Foo Fighters. But, by the time we actually got around to doing it and working on all the details everyone was just way to busy. Weezer’s album had just come out, Foo Fighters were writing.
MEB: A fan asked for me to ask the age old question, Dan. Boxers or Briefs?
DW: *laughs* I’m actually a boxer brief man. I wear the same clothes to shows as I do during the day, but I’m trying to change that since I end up sleeping in those clothes and it’s kind of gross. But yeah, definitely a boxer brief guy.
MEB: With the album being released on August 31st, you guys are having what is deemed a ‘twitter listening party’ at midnight that has a ‘cost’ of 1 tweet. How did this idea come about and end up executed?
DW: Well Jeff, our bassist, is the one who handles our twitter, so I think it was his idea along with someone at our label. We’re actually really excited about it because we’re the first band to do this through twitter. It’s really cool because all you have to do is send a tweet and you are sent a link and it’s like a little virtual listening party.
MEB: With the release of Artwork, there is obviously going to be some touring. Can you tell us about those plans?
DW: If you go to our myspace, you can check all the dates there. We’re doing, I think, 10 days in the UK and thenstarting our headlining tour in the US and Canada with The Almost.
MEB: So, if you were a vegetable, which would you be and why?
DW: Hmmm, well I’m not much of a vegetable guy. *thinks* I think I would be a cucumbuer. And you can take a guess as to why yourself.
MEB: I had the pleasure of seeing you back in May at my college campus and before playing one of the songs, Bert ripped the heads off of two dolls right in front of thousands of us. Which was ridiculously amazing, by the way. But do things like this happen often on stage and should be expect the same Bert antics on this tour?
DW: There are actually never any plans for stuff like that. Sometimes a kid will throw a hat up on stage and Bert will put it on for a few seconds, but anything like that just sort of happens and is what makes a Used show interesting. That is Bert for you.
MEB: While it has been 3 years since you joined The Used, you are the first member to have joined the band since it’s inception in 2001. How did having to prove yourself to the large fanbase The Used have go? Were the fans receptive to you?
DW: Yes, it was actually very smooth. There are definitely some kids still out there that will never like me as their drummer, but it was real easy to get into things. I’ve known the guys in this band for a long time. When Quinn was on break from tours we would get together and jam, so it was real easy getting into the groove of being with them. Bert was always very skeptical about me joining the band up until our first show with me as the drummer and afterwards he was like “Okay, I get it. This kid’s bad ass”.
MEB: What are you favorite tracks on Artwork?
DW: To play live, I love playing “Blood On My Hands”. But to listen to, I like “Watered Down”. The lyrics in that song are amazing. There’s this part where Bert is whispering and he’s telling a story about a friend of his who got into a real bad car crash and coming to grips with that.
MEB: Who influences your drumming style the most?
DW: Dave Grohl. I had a picture of him on my drumset for the longest time, I think I even still have the picture somewhere. He’s always been my biggest inspiration for drumming.
MEB: Well, that’s all I’ve got for you. Thank you so much for the interview and baring with me through my first one. It really does mean a lot. Do you have any last words?
DW: Not really, just hope everyone comes out to the shows and has a fun time and checks out the record. Thanks for listening.