2000.03 - RockRage.com
Date: March 2000
Featuring: Chris Cheney
Archived from: Link Expired
Chris Cheney of The Living End
Veterans of the Van’s Warped Tour here in the States, The Living End are reaching beyond their native land down under and brining their brand of punk-rock to American mainstream radio. With their new album Roll On approaching its release date, RockRage.com had the opportunity to talk with TLE vocalist/guitarist Chris Cheney about the Australian band and their plans for a U.S. invasion.
RR: I want to talk a little bit about the album Roll On, which comes out here in the States on March 27th. For those who are not familiar with The Living End, how would you describe the overall sound of the album to them?
CC: Well, the idea was for it to sound like we do live. It’s very kind of ferocious in class I think. We really wanted to try and get the kind of raw energy and stuff that we kind of get on stage down onto the album. So, I mean, it’s just kind of, I guess it’s kind of rock and roll sounding stuff but with more sort of honest kind of lyrics and sort of addressing the issues and stuff. You know, most of the time it’s pretty sort of four on the floor rock and roll sort of stuff.
RR: I haven’t had the chance to hear the entire album yet. All I have is this three-song promo. But a couple of the songs on there are the title track “Roll On” and “Blood On Your Hands.” What’s the first single for the U.S.?
CC: It’s going to be “Roll On” I believe. One of the things about the album is that there is a few sort of different styles on there. So I wouldn’t know what to sort of call it overall. I think we have kind of got our own style on this album.
RR: From what I read and from what I heard on the promo disc, “Blood On Your Hands” has that reggae sound to it. Then “Roll On” I find interesting because I don’t know how to describe it. It gives me two visuals. At first, I kind of flash back to when I was a little kid, but then I have this image of all these Irish guys holding their beers up in the air and chanting. It’s a fun song. So is it like that throughout the album?
CC: We’re not sort of trying to do a Faith No More or a Mr. Bungle or something in mixing styles that way. We kind of do it in more of a classic kind of sense I think. And, yeah, a song like “Roll On” is definitely kind of, you know, a beer-drinking sort of song. It’s supposed to be a bit of a pub chant. It’s got all the elements of what we do, you know. It certainly got an Australian sort of feel, but it’s got that kind of fist in the air punk kind of vibe about it, which is what we love.
RR: Is that completely intentional to have all these different styles of music? Or is that something where that’s how the songs came out?
CC: Yeah, it just kind of works like that as far as not sort of intentionally. I think it’s something that’s kind of built in, especially with me and Scott the bass player. Because when we started out playing, we were very much into straight fifties rock and roll. But then we started to just mix a lot of different styles in because we were playing with different bands and stuff. It was kind of opening our eyes a little bit to different forms of music that we never really experienced before. I just fell in love with the whole sort of punk rock thing and I’m just a sucker for a really good pop song. So I love the Beatles and all that stuff. When I write a song it just subconsciously kind of comes out with pop hooks and semi-choruses and kind of thrashy stuff. It’s kind of a weird mixture, but it’s just kind of our style I think.
RR: Who were your influences?
CC: The first kind of music that I really fell in love with was probably ‘50s rock and roll. It was stuff like Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran and all that stuff that had a whole package surrounding it, which I found really appealing at the time. Just being a teenager and stuff. It already had a look. It had an image. It had great lyrics. It was like an escape and I just sort of loved that whole thing. I think what I found, the same sort of thing in discovering the English punk rock movement and stuff, you know, in like the Sex Pistols and even The Who and stuff. It’s a similar thing for like Eddie Cochran was thinking about with “Summertime Blues” and stuff. It’s all relative. So I guess all those bands and stuff really influenced me, but more so probably just their attitude and their image and everything.
RR: Your bassist, Scott Owens, plays the upright bass. I know from bands like The Stray Cats who made their success off the rockabilly sound as well, is that something that is just standard opposed to playing the regular electric bass for that kind of sound?
CC: Yeah, I think so. It’s just one of the things from the scene that we came from. If you played in this kind of band you played a double bass and when we started to infuse different styles and different elements and stuff. And even now I wouldn’t call it a rockabilly band by any means and I don’t mean that kind of disrespectfully or anything like that. I just think that we had far too much and we’ve taken it in such a new direction that it would be just ignorant to call it that. But Scott really cannot play electric bass at all (chuckling). He went straight from piano to that. So he’s like well why change now, you know? He feels comfortable. It looks great. It sounds enormous. Yeah, we’re just going to stick with it. I don’t think he’ll ever play the electric bass.
RR: That’s cool. That also helps make the band stand out from the others too.
CC: It is. I don’t feel like it’s something that we’ve kind of just taken on. I feel like this is kind of a natural thing for us. People always get freaked out by the bass, but because we’ve done it for so long this is just something that we do.
RR: You’re touring around the States in the beginning of March. Will this be a headlining tour?
CC: I think we’re doing a headlining tour first. We’ve got like a few trips planned. As you can just imagine there’s not much time spent at home. But the first tour I think is just going to be like sort of club shows. Almost like a promo kind of thing. I think we’re coming back a couple months after that or something to play a tour with some other bands, but I don’t think anything is fully confirmed yet.
RR: No names as to who you might be touring with?
CC: No. I don’t know exactly. I think there was talk of like a punky kind of tour, as opposed to a classical tour (laughs). I think there might have been talk of the Warped tour or something and also some other shows with other bands.
RR: You guys actually did the Vans Warped Tour back in ’97 I believe.
CC: We’ve done it twice I think. We’ve done it three times ‘cause we did it once here [Australia] also.
RR: At least here in the States, how have those tours gone for you guys?
CC: Well, they were good. They were perfect for us. The thing I liked about it is that it’s really kind of a mixed audience. I think a lot of people think that it’s purely a punk tour, but I don’t think it is. You had people like Black Eyed Peas and the Deftones and stuff who aren’t straight ahead thrash punk sort of bands, you know, and it was great for us because we’re such a sort of mixture. We don’t really appeal to one set audience. We found that we had a real cross section of people coming to see us every day. It’s just a great opportunity to get up and influence a whole lot of people who might not ever come to see you.
RR: You’ve also toured with Offspring and Green Day as well. How are those shows like in comparison to your shows in Australia?
CC: Well, the Offspring tour that we originally did over in the States was probably, you know, it was kind of different. Obviously the different population is a huge aspect. But in comparison, I guess it’s similar size for us. We do some festivals and stuff over here that are like twenty or thirty thousand or whatever. Most of our club shows are maybe a couple of thousands, which is pretty big for over here, but obviously not for over in the States. It was really great touring with those bands because the crowds were just enormous. Very much there to see the Offspring and Green Day, so it was a bit of a challenge to try to win them over, you know?
RR: Back in Australia you have sold over 5 million albums and won numerous awards. When you come to the States is it like starting all over and having to re-establish yourselves?
CC: Yeah, but we know that already. It’s not like we’re going to go over there thinking that we’ll be megastars and won’t be able to walk the streets. It would be pretty stupid. But I think of it as a good thing. I remember we went to Germany one time and we played this little club. There were probably like five people there or something, but it was the most nerve wrecking gig we had done in a long time. Because when you got 20,000 people all going crazy if you lift your arm in the air. That’s all you have to do and they all scream. So to go to a different country and sort of start from scratch, as much as it would be nice going over there and play to a bunch of people, it is really good for your playing. It kind of gives you a kick in the ass. It’s like you really have to try again and you really have to play well to impress them. And that just goes for bands in general I think. I think everyone should start out like that. You appreciate more if you do get somewhere and it kind of separates the men from the boys.
RR: Makes sense. You’ve worked for it so you’ll value it more.
CC: Exactly. Yeah. I think there’s a lot of bands these days who just get it given to them on a silver platter. And that’s all find and dandy, but when there gone tomorrow and they wonder why I think there’s no longevity and there’s nothing really there to offer. And you need that kind of foundation and we’re willing to do that.
RR: Talking about the States, besides the massive amount of people here. You don’t here much about bands saying that they need to make it big in China or India or whatever. What is it about the U.S. market that appeals to bands that makes it desirable for them to make it successful in?
CC: Personally for me, I really like the country and I really like the people. As far as spending a lot of time there that’s really appealing to me. I think for a lot of bands, even just in the entertainment industry all over, like Australia especially is dominated by American bands and American TV shows and American movies and stuff and also European bands and European movies, but I guess in a sense we want to go over there and show that we’ve got just as much to kind of offer and stuff. We’re so far away from everything else and to be able to go to America where some of the best bands of all time have come from and play is just kind of a dream. Everyone just wants to go to America and do well over there. I don’t know what it is, you know what I mean? We’ve got a big drive to just sort of do as much touring over there and just see what happens. But, maybe that’s ‘cause we signed on to an American Record label (chuckles).
RR: And that’s kind of your motto too. I see it all over the place ’On Tour Forever.’
CC: It’s like that for us. We just don’t spend much time at home.
RR: Well, you do what you love, you know?
CC: Yeah, yeah. That’s right. We do. That’s why we got into this in the first place because I liked playing the guitar. Playing the guitar on stage in front of people and getting paid for it is a great way to make a living. The minute you sort of start to complain that you’re away so much you just gotta stop and not take it for granted. There’s plenty of other people who get up everyday and have to go work shitty jobs. All we have to do is play our instruments and have fun.
RR: How much of a challenge is it to keep up that energy when you’re on the road for a number of months? I assume that’s exhausting.
CC: It is, but it’s not a challenge. It’s not something that’s kind of fabricated or manufactured. We just come from the kind of scene I think where you don’t play our music with the same sort of aggression, you really thump it out, it just doesn’t have the same impact, you know what I mean? We’ve written the songs so that they come across that way. So when we play them, we just play them hard. We don’t sort of think alright, I’ve gotta jump around a lot tonight or I’ve gotta make sure I run over to that side of the stage. That’s just too kind of formulated. Even when you are kind of exhausted and you think man, I don’t know whether I could do a good job tonight. As soon as you get out there and there’s an audience and you kind of get in the moment it just takes over.
We’ll be there feeling the energy when you come to Chicago. Thanks Chris.