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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.