The Used was one of the first Utah rock bands to gain traction in the burgeoning post-millennium, post-grunge period a decade ago. Now the band is using its stature to call attention to a pervasive problem that afflicts Utah and other states.
The quartet is headlining the 2013 edition of the Sub City Take Action Tour, in Salt Lake City on Saturday. Every year, the tour raises funds and awareness for a different group.
As the headliner, The Used was given the opportunity to pick a pet project and chose the It Gets Better Project, a national organization created to show young LGBT people the levels of happiness their lives will reach if they can just get through their teen years.
"It's a very important, positive charity," said Used singer Bert McCracken. "In high school, I was bullied for being different."
McCracken said he harbors no bitterness or resentment to being raised in Utah County, but said he knew closed-minded people who believed that the LGBT community was sinful.
After several years of inaction, The Used is experiencing an upsurge of popularity with "Vulnerable," its first album in three years. Released in March under a new record label, Hopeless Records, the album represents a level of control the band has sought for years.
The previous album, 2009's "Artwork," represented "the end of the end of the end of our record label [relationship]," McCracken said. "They were even going so far to tell me not to swear. Instead of saying 's-, they wanted me to say 'it.' "
The sour relationship resulted in dangerous habits. "I was in a dark place, drinking from sunup to sundown, even when the sun wasn't up," McCracken said.
In contrast, McCracken said the majority of the new album is about deciding to make choices about finding a better way to live. "It's about taking the first step."
Opening for The Used on this tour is We Came As Romans, a Michigan-based metalcore band promoting its 2011 album "Understanding What We've Grown to Be." Guitar player and lyricist Joshua Moore said had heard something about the It Gets Better Project, but once he learned more, was ecstatic about the project's mission. "Being a part of this inspiring positivity is a great thing to be involved with."
Being involved with a tour that has a charitable arm fits firmly with the band's worldview. Darkness will always be a part of its music, yet early on the band "decided that if we weren't about something, we shouldn't be a band at all," he said.
The band is recording a new album, but doesn't plan on playing the new songs because Moore said he wants fans to be familiar with the lyrics first. Again, the new songs have a message. "It's hard for people to find the message in a live show," Moore said.
Except, he hopes, with this charitable show.
2013 Sub City Take Action Tour
Utah band The Used will perform a concert with We Came As Romans, Mindflow and Crown the Empire.
When • Saturday, Jan. 12, 7 p.m.
Where • In The Venue, 579 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City
Tickets • $27.50 in advance, $30 day of, at SmithsTix
Info • Ten percent of the cost of each ticket purchased will be donated to It Gets Better and Sub City. The previous Take Action Tour raised nearly $50,000 to help further the mission of its nonprofit, with more than 19,000 fans attending the 30-stop tour. Previous benefiting charities of the Sub City Take Action Tour include Driving For Donors, Do Something, America's Youth Hotline, ReachOut.com and The National Hopeline Network. To date, Sub City and the Take Action Tour have donated more than $2 million to some 50 nonprofit organizations.