The Living End

Author: Yvette Chegwidden

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Sideburns, bowling shirts, brothel creepers and Brill cream. If you thought rockabilly was dead, you thought wrong. Taking their name from the line at the end of the Bill Hayley movie, Rock Around The Clock, Living End are a three piece rockabilly/pop rock outfit from Melbourne who have just released their second CD, It’s For Your Own Good, featuring a real rockin’ guitar version of the Cure’s 10:15 Saturday Night.

For some strange reason, Melbourne has always had a larger rockabilly scene than any other Australian city, but unfortunately over the last few years, even this has diminished. “It’s not really that existent any more,” bass player Scott Owen lamented. “When we first started playing it was pretty strong, but even then it wasn’t as huge as it was before. We didn’t even really know about the scene until a few years ago.” To what then does he attribute this demise, what has taken over? “Confusion and anarchy.” he laughs.

Owen did not grow up with fantasies of being in a band, he actually wanted to be a truck driver and fell into music quite by accident, when high school chum, singer/guitarist Chris needed a bass player for his band.

“Chris and I were huge rockabilly fans,” Scott recalled. “We just listened really narrow mindedly to rockabilly, you know Stray Cats, and then the more traditional stuff from the 50’s like Carl Perkins and Johnny Bernette, the guys who wrote a lot of Elvis’ songs. That’s what we started off playing and that’s why I bought a double bass because all the bands I was listening to had double basses, so I thought if you’re going to be a bass player, you have to get a double bass. When we first started we were just a straight rockabilly covers band just doing 50’s music, and then we started getting into like modern, alternative bands.”

These alternative bands included the Cure, hence their hardcore version of 10:15 Saturday Night. “We liked the Cure years ago,” Scott said. “Boys Don’t Cry was the first album I got, and 10:15 was the first song on the album, and I liked it the most and I just said ‘I think we should do it.’ It’s easy to work out, it’s only got two chords in it.”

It’s For Your Own Good was produced by Lindsay Gravina, and fellow band members Chris Cheney and Joe Piripitsi at Birdland studios in Melbourne. “We just listened to all the CDs that we really liked from local bands and thought he would be the best. He was great because he has an understanding of the music and knew what we were on about.” Scott said.

The high point of a year which has seen the Living End gain an increasing amount of exposure, was touring with Green Day. “They were great, they were really friendly.” Scott remembers. “We didn’t know what to expect because we’d thought about it so much. We had no idea whether they’d talk to us or not, but we went out with them a few times. They were great, but their road crew were just all stuck up Americans, they were all pigs. The band said we could have all the perks they got, but the crew didn’t want us to, they were like ‘leave us alone you little shits.'”

Despite the ups and downs of trying to make a living out of music, and going through a succession of drummers, the band have resisted all the pressure thrown in their face and are determined that one day they will be able to play any gig on any day of the week and pack it out. “There seems to be something that keeps us going,” Scott said. “I mean there’s been so many times when we could have been driven to the point of saying ‘bugger it, let’s chuck it in, I’m fed up.’ Even at the worst of times though, there’s still something there and it seems like a good thing to do with our lives, even when we are stuck in a shitty bus for hours on our way to a shitful gig. There’s so many bad ones, like twenty first parties for yobbo, blokish type people that we just don’t get along with. We used to go up to Mildura every couple of months and play at this pub and there’d always be people yelling out ‘play some Pink Floyd, play some Barnesy’, and I’d be like ‘Look at us, we’re a three piece band with a double bass, how do you expect us to play Pink Floyd.”

The band have just done the Pushover Festival in Melbourne, and are currently waiting to hear if they are on the bill for 97’s final Big Day Out, and are looking forward to playing the Rock Above The Falls Festival at Lorne in Victoria on New Year’s Eve. Stretching over three days, the festival features some of the cream of Australia’s music scene including Custard, Regurgitator, The Fauves and Pennywise.

The Living End will be playing in Sydney on Thurs 19th at the Annadale, and Friday 20th at Feedback. It’s For Your Own Good is out now on MDS.

Gig Review

Author: Dan Oakes

It's For Your Own Good

Last Friday night at the Esplanade saw the launch of the new Living End EP, It’s For Your Own Good. I expected a big crowd, and wasn’t disappointed. 
By the time the Living End came on the place was heaving. 
The Living End launched into their set with unbridled energy and enthusiasm, and within minutes were sweating buckets. 
The drumming was short sharp and in bursts, in the style of Keith Moon (before his bloated, dead in bed phase), and seeing the double bass in action made you realise that, visually, the more conventional bass has nothing on its older brother. As on the EP, the band mixed up punk and ska influences with a predominately rockabilly background, creating what is, in my mind, a pretty unique sound. The crowd was big and responded well to the effort the band were obviously putting into the set. It was interesting as well, to see the mixing of subcultures evident. There were punks, goths, rockabilly fans, indie kids, ska freaks, all getting into the music. The Living End are obviously a band that have a wide appeal, and it is good to see.

Fertile Imagination

Author: Teresa Bolster

The Living End and the Fireballs – they’re a genre of two, a very tight knit group battling it out for supremacy amongst the rockabilly/punk fans, competing against each other with the highest hairdos, the slappiest bass, the fastest drumming, the catchiest tunes. Then again, maybe not. It’s probably true to say that, in most people’s undisciplined minds the Fireballs and The Living End are interchangeable and most would likely perceive some kind of competition between the two Melbourne-base trios. But the reality, as revealed by the End’s upright bassist Scott Owen is far less sordid. 
Both bands emerged when there was a small but active rockabilly scene in Melbourne, although the Fireballs were years ahead of the younger Living End. The latter began as the Runaway Boys, a straight ahead rockabilly band specialising in traditional 50’s numbers and Stray Cats covers. 
“The Stray Cats totally inspired us,” Owen says, then adds “before they got old and fat.” 

Playing amongst the limited rockabilly circle, the two bands became friends and shared gigs. When the traditional rockabilly scene dwindled and both bands began discovering other influences, the Fireballs and The Living End developed in different directions. These days Owen sees little similarity between the bands. 
“They’re are so much heavier than us,” he says, “and the way we write songs, it’s so obvious how different our styles have changed.” 
Being older the Fireballs emerged on the wider scene first and the obvious comment that The Living End have ‘copied’ them has been made. Is it annoying to be compared to the Fireballs now? 
“It is when people don’t realise that we have both gone off in different directions. It annoys me when people say ‘You guys are the same as the Fireballs’ because that’s so naive. We’ve got the same roots, but lots of bands have the same roots. People think ‘double bass, same hairdos and clothes, it must be the same music’.”

If the Fireballs have developed a more metal edge in their rockabilly basics, The Living End are reveling in the joys of modern pop. When playing the support slot for Soundgarden last month (their encouragement award from Vivien Lees after missing out on the Big Day Out), Owen says the Living End were far more excited about playing with You Am I, the other support act. 
“We spoke to Tim Rogers and Rusty after the show, and they know where we are coming from, what we used to be into.” He perceives a parallel between You Am I and the Living End. “They’ve gone back to the old 60’s pop sound and put a new sign on it, and we have a done a similar thing with 50’s rockabilly. I love going back to an old style of music and making it contemporary.”

The Living End have now broken through to a whole new audience via the high rotation of From Here On In, lifted from their Lindsay Gravina produced second EP It’s For Your Own Good. For Owen and vocalist/guitarist Chris Cheney, hearing their song played frequently on Triple J is the highest peak of a collaboration which began five years ago, when they were both seventeen. 
“When we were getting played on local radio it was a thrill to be able to hear our music without having to put the tape on. We listen to Triple J all the time – everyone listens to Triple J all the time, so hearing it on that station nationwide was a huge kick. We still spin out whenever we hear it.” 
But by far the ultimate thrill for Owen, Cheney and new drummer Travis Dempsey is the prospect of playing with living rock and roll legend Carl Perkins. The old line up of The Living End have played an annual four day traditional rock and roll festival in Tweed Heads for the last few years as the Runaway Boys. Dempsey in unfamiliar with the old material so this year it’s The Living End who are heading north to play with Perkins. 
“That’s so much more exciting than playing with Soundgarden. People have been saying ‘Who’s Charles Perkins?’ and I’m saying ‘fuck off! What about Blue Suede Shoes?”