1997 - Beat
Author: Andrew McUtchen
Featuring: Chris Cheney
The Living End are not a punk band. Chris, (guitar vox) wants to get that straight from the outset.
"Everyone seems to think that that we are some kind of punk band, but we started off as a rockabilly band and punk was just another thing that we liked. Because there's no rockabilly scene in Australia, I guess we always get to play at punk gigs and people automatically think that you are a punk or ska band. We are against being labelled this, only because once people start saying we're a punk band, you get punk's saying 'Bullshit, they're not punk'. We didn't call ourselves that, others did. It might sound lie that way cause we're influenced by that type of music, but first of all we love that 50's rockabilly stuff. Y'know the Stray Cats, not the metal Fireballs approach, more the punk sort of angle."
Whether or not the Living End perceive themselves as reflecting the genre they're considered to be part of, it seems to me that the local punk profile still has a way to go before the NoFX T-shirts are traded for One Inch Punch merchandise. (Post Pushover edit; at least one thousand Frenzal Rhomb T-shirts would have something to say about that comment. Aus profile's doing ok, just ask the kids.)
"Yeah, your absolutely right, I think because of the way music's evolved as far as things getting heavier and faster, for them (kids) Californian stuff's the ultimate. Played at lightening speed, it's really heavy, and its still got that anarchy thing. The Sex Pistols doesn't appeal to them as much because they were more against different things like the 70's glam bands. A lot of kids probably can't relate to that now. They just wanna hear fast stuff to skateboard to."
In terms of the Australian profile?
"It's definately getting bigger here, but in the states, it's fucking huge. I thought it was dying down, but apparently it's bigger than ever."
Speaking of the mystifying neo-punk aesthetic, I wonder whether The Living End would have anything to do with increasingly corporate sponsorship of supposedly bonafide 'punk' outfits whose ethic initially revolved around the spurning of everything corporate. This is particularly made manifest in clothing sponsorships.
"It's funny you say that, cause recently at a gig, this guy from a new skateboarding clothes label turned up and asked us to wear his shirts, that was pretty weird, but we said yeah, what the hell. I guess if we liked the clothing we'd do it. I mean, it's hard to say whether all these bands getting sponsored have anything to do with punk. They don't look punk, but then again it's never been about the looks, it's just about individuality, doing what you want, not going with the establishment. So whether that means knocking back clothing sponsorships? It's such a prick of a question. Just the whole thing 'is this punk, is that punk' thing. It's definitely a state of mind, even though most people these days think it's chords strummed really fast. It's funny how its evolved into this fast playing and tight harmonies thing, when initially it was all about being different. It's weird. Half the time you don't know what they're singing about, but you say 'hey that's punk man', but a lot of the time, the songs are about girlfriends and love."