2001 - Rolling Stone (US)
Rolling Stone (US)
Date: June 2001
Author: Matthew Hall
Featuring: Chris Cheney & Travis Demsey
The Living End Roll On
They've been hitting America hard - and America has started to listen.
It's four PM on a San Francisco friday and The Living End's drummer Travis Demsey is crouched on the dancefloor of a nightclub in the city's warehouse district. Demsey is tinkering with his drum kit, adding an extra headache to the one he already has from last night's sold-out show at the Roxy in LA.
"Stuff the girls, stuff the drugs, stuff getting pissed after a show," says demsey, as he fixes his drums, damaged by travel. "If the kit is no good and I don't think it's been a good show I'll just go home and do push-ups all night."
It's only the second city of The Living End's sixth foray into the US and already the band are edgy. This current tour consists of visiting friendly cities known as "adds". In rock-speak that equals places where major alt-rock radio stations have added "roll On", the first US single off the album of the same name, to playlists. At the time of writing, more than 50 radio stations have done just that.
After stints on Vans Warped tours, festivals and support slots, the band are now headlining their own shows in America: LA, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Denver, Chicago, Toronto, New York City and Boston. All shows are sponsored by radio stations like tonight's heavy hitters KROQ. All gigs where the band have to cut it.
"The review's we're getting are great but it means that our reputation as a great live show means we can't put on a bad one," explains Demsey. "We've got to be spot-on every night."
Tonight's sold-out crowd is beginning to get a little restless with the intro tape of AC/DC hits. The band take the stage and fire off their repertoire of three-minute rockabilly punk hits. The crowd could be any bar in Melbourne: old guys out to see a double bass, surfers standing at the bar, skaters drinking beer.
"How many of you guys are drunk?" front guy Chris Cheney asks the crowd. A vocal reaction comes from a group of slam-dancing young guys at the front.
"It's no secret we're from Australia," adds Cheney. "We like to get pissed!"
This week, The Living End have already played two shows in New Zealand, four in Japan, flown to Los Angeles and now find themselves in San Francisco on a Friday night. They've also appeared on David Letterman and Conan O'Brien's high-rating TV shows.
"It does get tiring," says Cheney. "Late nights, early mornings, the back of vans. Me and Scott have been doing this for about 10 years now since we left high school so we are finally getting some rewards. I guess I could work in an office."
Instead, tomorrow he will be paid to play Seattle.
"We're just trying to do what many Australian bands have before us," says Demsey. "And that's crack America."
If perseverence counts for anything - and it should - The Living End and America should soon be on friendly terms any day now.