1998.04 - Juice Magazine

Juice Magazine

Date: April 1998
Author: Simon Woolridge
Featuring: Chris Cheney

 

Not The Enemy

The Living End make an unlikely addition to mainstream radio

So how does a '90s musical initiate end up ignoring current trends in favour of obsessing over '50s rockabilly? Living End frontman Chris Cheney can only offer a shrug in explanation. "I dunno," he admits. "At the end of primary school I was discovering Elvis, and then from there all the '50s guys, and the rockabilly guys... Eddie Cochran, Johnny Burnette, Cal Perkins." Formed at Wheeler's Hill High School in Melbourne and influenced by the '80s revival of British neo-rockabilly (Polecats, Stray Cats) as much as the original masters, the Living End - then named Runaway Boys after the Stray Cats tune - got sidetracked into punk and ska, and tried to incorporate that into a reinvention. The movement in style eventually saw them change their name in 1995 and turn their back on Melbourne's longstanding dressed-up, quiffs-and-hotrods rockabilly scene, as well as the '50s dances and family country gigs at little town halls that had been their staple. Now they have their double A-side single "Second Solution/Prisoner of Society" in the Top 40, while their It's For Your Own Good EP is not far behind in the local alternative charts. Thanks to the pop punk-meets-thrashabilly hooks of the two single tracks and an inspired cover of the theme from Prisoner, "When The Morning Comes Around", the Living End is something of a local phenomenon. They've had murmur music and Interscope in the US duking it out over recording contracts and they are recording a new album with Lindsay Gravina (who has produced Magic Dirt and Spiderbait), due out in June.

Until the album is released, Cheney and bandmates Travis Demsey (drums) and Scott Owen (stand-up bass) have to be satisfied with the high rotation repetition of "Prisoner of Society", which with its chorus ("I'm a brat, and I know everything and I talk back") is a teen-rebellion anthem that ill-suits the band's present mood.

"People took 'Prisoner of Society' seriously at first, as if it was supposed to be a Sex Pistols remake," says Cheney. "But it's not supposed to be coming from us, it's from the viewpoint of a teenager, or someone who's going through adolecence's point of view. When kids are growing up and they hate their parents, or they realise they didn't mean to come off nasty or be like that, it was just the surroundings of peer pressure and that sort of stuff - they don't mean to be the enemy, they're just prisoners of society."

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