1998.11 - Recovery Magazine
Date: November 1998
Featuring: Chris Cheney, Scott Owen, Travis Demsey
They are the most raucous rockabilly/punk/pop around today, but Living End - Chris (vocals), Scott (bass) and Travis (drums) - are not punks!
With the rush of success the Living End have enjoyed, you could forgive them for being a bit swept up in the glory. They aren't. Sure, they're loving the fact that the band is going off in a big way but their feet are firmly planted here on planet earth.
Rather than 'sex, drugs & rock & roll', the Living End will tell you success is more about hard work, dedication and patience. Their latest achievements come after seven long years of slog.
"People come up and they think you're larger than life and really rich," explains Scott. "But no way, we're probably on lower wages than they are and if we had day jobs we'd be making more money."
If the response to their blistering debut album, The Living End, is anything to go by, they won't be needing to look for day jobs any time soon.
The Living End have had a string of songs flogged on the radio, including "Second Solution", "Prisoner of Society", their covers of Prisoner theme-song and Soft Cell's "Tainted Love", and now their new single "Save the Day". And with their spots on the Vans Warped tour's American and Australian legs, they're in with the punk crowd. But they never really expected to be part of either.
"For some reason (we've) been picked up by a commercial suburban audience, which was real strange for us at first," says Chris. "How the hell are we getting played on Triple M? We'd be lucky to get played on Triple J. Now we just accept it, it's weird."
"We find it hard to understand when people call us a punk band," he adds. "We're not - it's rock & roll guitar music."
Travis especially dislikes the punk tag.
"Some of the bands on Triple M are so much punkier than the credible bands," he says. "People slag off Chisel, AC/DC, Screaming Jets. I like those bands because they've stuck with what they started doing. They're still doing it, regardless of how cool it is...
"Farnsie and Barnsie are still doing the same shit they started doing, and John Farnham is one of the nicest people you'll ever meet, even though he's a rock star. Some of these so called punk bands that I've met are not rock stars but they'll treat you like they are. Anyone who treats me with respect is cool. Credibility sucks."
Who needs credibility when your first album has blitzed the Australian music scene and confirmed you as one of the hottest Australian acts today? "Yeah, we're happy, but y'know, you always feel you can do better," says Scott.
"I reckon recording-wise we'd be one of the most difficult bands. Because we've got old instruments and we like old sounds and we want to make it sound old and authentic, but we also want to have a new edge to it as well. We're into both equally."
A political slant can be heard in songs like "Prisoner of Society" and "West End Riot", but Scott insists that politics are not a priority. "Sometimes Chris will write a whole song on a pretty political subject over one newspaper article. And it'll sound like it's something he's been into for ages, some political issue that he's been concentrating on for years or something. Not at all. It's just a little flash-in-the-pan. He's just managed to get a whole page of lyrics out of it."
An example is the album track "Monday", which like the Boomtown rats song that shares some similarities, is about a schoolyard shooting incident, this time the infamous Dunblane massacre. "Bloody Mary" is about a mentally disturbed Melbourne woman known for mutilating herself to lure would-be assistants, only to then attack them with a razor blade! ("She thought of it as a game," says Chris.)
"All Torn Down" is about re-development that's left Melbourne looking trashy and modern. "It's like old cars," Chris explains. "All the new cars are plastic, they look terrible, you don't see nice new cars with all chrome on them anymore. There's no pride taken in them... This city used to have so much character and class years ago. It's just saying be careful. Once it's gone you can't get it back."
And "Fly Away" is "about an argument I had with my girlfriend... a Beatles kind of song, the whole love/relationship... making a fool of yourself, saying the wrong thing, I'm a dufus. The line, 'Should I stay or fly away?' - am I really doing the right thing here, or am I making it a miserable time for both of us?"
While the lyrics play an important part in the Living End recipe, it's the raw energy that is sending the mosh pits all over Australia into a frenzy.
According to Travis, "People feed off fun. One thing we're against is being 'the perfect band'. Coz I've gone to see bands and they were too perfect. Like, I could've just listened to the CD."
Perfect or not, the Living End are doing something amazing, as listeners around the country will happily testify.