2003.07.11 - The Age
Date: 11th July 2003
Featuring: Scott Owen
A blessing in disguise for Living End
Not many people would describe an accident which almost killed their best mate as "a blessing in disguise".
But then, Australian rockers The Living End have come through such a torrid couple of years, maybe they've attained a new sense of perspective.
It's been almost two years since the punk/rockabilly band's singer and guitarist Chris Cheney was involved in a near-fatal accident which put the band out of action for months.
He's since recovered and the band is now putting the finishing touches on their third album, believed to be named Modern Artillery, and desperately inching towards a long-awaited concert tour.
Getting to this point was tough going, according to double bassist Scott Owen.
Not only did Cheney's accident force a debilitating break from recording and touring, but the band had to find a new drummer following the departure of Travis Demsey.
The trio had experienced so much together - ARIA awards, huge record sales, a relentless tour schedule - and Owen says he and Cheney didn't quite know what to do with themselves when their old mate quit the band.
"It kind of felt like it was the end of the world," he said.
"I guess it would feel different if we were a five-piece band, but when there's just three of you and you know each other so well, it really did seem like the end of the world."
Enter Andy Strachan, and all their fears about what would happen when a crucial piece of the puzzle disappears, vanished.
Despite all the problems, Owen says Cheney's accident "kind of had its pros and cons".
His long-time buddy and the band's co-founder went through the most gruelling time as he was forced away from his guitar for months.
But it forced the band to stop, breathe, relax and reassess their priorities.
"I guess the upside for the band was that we had just been working so hard for so long we never really had a break," Owen said.
"It just forced us to ... think about other things in life other than the band and music we make, which is always healthy, and I think we've come out of it more broad-minded and with a bit more understanding about what we're doing all this for."
The Living End's renaissance is evident as Owen talks up the band's upcoming gigs and it's easy to see they are now just champing at the bit to hit the road.
"It was a little bit of a blessing in disguise, and it brings the hunger back, it gives you time to sit back, catch up on some rest and get back into it again."
Owen says the high-energy band was teased by a smattering of gigs in January, which were meant to be a preview ahead of the new album's release - but the inevitable polishing and finishing touches mean they'll have to sit on their hands until about September.
The as-yet-untitled album is a typical offering from the three-piece outfit, "a mixed bag" of fast and slow songs and lots of high energy rock, he says.
"I think the songs are a lot more positive now, more feeling-based rather than topic-based, it's a real positive feeling," he said.
"I feel like we've had a couple of knocks and we're still on our feet."
But don't think any of their political edge or satirical look on life will be lost in the wake of this newfound outlook.
"Lyrics are important, topics are important - it's not worth singing unless you've got something to sing about - but songs can be pure fun as well," he said.
That's one thing The Living End's fans will finally see again when the band bounces back onstage at Byron Bay's Splendour in the Grass festival, on July19 and 20.