On The Inside

Author: Jesse Lilley

I always thought that, in the last episode of Prisoner, Bea and the gals should do a super thrashing electro punk version of the show’s theme song. Their yellow skivvies and denim smocks would dramatically self destruct, and be replaced with vinyl, tasselled stiletto booties and a zipped up, chained down, all shining black, acqua and hot pink combo with Lizzie on electric keyboards.
Whilst Joan Kirner almost gave body to such a vision on the D-Generation a few years ago via Joan Jett, Cell Block H never got the opportunity. Fortunately, though, a band (or rather a record label) has had the foresight to record the tune. In keeping with the locked down theme of their latest EP, Second Solution, The Living End have immortalised a rockabilly frenzy, a song which paved the way for Australian popular culture as the UK knows it. Vocalist Chris Cheney tells us why…

“Our drummer, Trav, is the biggest fan ‘cos he’s a little older than us. But really, it’s just a classic song. We wanted Second Solution and Prisoner Of Society to be the feature (tracks) of the EP and I just thought it’d be really cool to do a concept EP, if we could get some artwork that made it look like we’re in a prison and make it a package.”
Their record label, MDS, took the idea a little step further, and hit on the telly tune Prisoner On The Inside as the third track.

Second Solution is the third recorded outing from this young Melbourne rockabilly outfit. Personally, I think that the first, Hellbound, is the best, but their second album, It’s For Your Own Good, produced the song that had the goods for high rotation.
“Everyone though (the album) was a single. From Here On In definitely got that one hit wonder syndrome. For some reason they loved it, they played it to death. It would’ve been great if they picked up something else, but I guess we can’t complain.” Someone once described The Living End to me as Fireballs for the kids. This comparison is a contentious issue for the band.
“We continually get compared to them, which is fair enough because we’ve got the double bass and the whole bit and people just don’t realise that there are a whole lot of other bands like us, but it gets a bit frustrating. At first we got our backs up and went ‘you know, we’re different!’ and got angry, but that’s just the way it goes.”
Surely being compared to The Fireballs though, isn’t such a bad thing. But i suppose we should qualify the differences.
“Basically, we don’t have a metal guitar. They got more into heavy metal overall wheras we got in to mixing rockabilly with punk. We don’t care if we write a ballad and stuff but I don’t think The Fireballs are a ballad kind of band. They’re more ska oriented where we went for the more English approach.
“The early psychobilly bands in the 90’s were from England and mixed a lot of ska and punk and stuff whereas I guess The Fireballs have taken the next step and mixed it with American sounding guitars and stuff.”

Well, they may not reckon they’re anything like The Fireballs but they certainly appeal to the kids. Already down for a second year running on The Push Over bill, they have made appearances on Recovery and been rotated rather heavily on one national youth broadcaster. The second song on their current EP is also one for the kids.
Prisoner Of Society is “supposed to be a 13 year old’s view of his or her surroundings. There’s the line, ‘you’ll see we’re not the enemy, just prisoners of society’. They’re rebelling against everyone telling them what to do. They don’t mean to come off sounding rude or anything, but they do.
Teenagers think the whole world is against them, and it’s about rebelling against that.”

As to how and why the jailhouse theme emerged in the first place, perhaps we can look to the notes made by bass player, Scott, for the preface to the EP’s press pack, “prisoner is a good way to describe being ‘one the inside’.”
“Being on the inside to me means not being involved in the mainstream. It’s being forced to live in a cell that you have chosen. We each have our instrument that we have chosen to express the sort of noise we want to make. Feeling like a prisoner of society gives you that insane amount of time to discover the variety of appealing sounds within the instrument. Feeling like a prisoner also drowns out the outside influences so these sounds really come from you. Your second solution.”
Second Solution deals with the goings on of a man on Death Row trying to escape. According to Chris, who penned the lyrics, “Second Solution is purely fictional. Just that whole thing about convicts or something. It’s a nice little story about someone running from the law.”

It’s worth going to a Living End gig just to check out the crowd. Without a doubt there will be a number of die hard rockabillies with hairdos like the five foot cone whittled down to a pin pointed end.
“Those people are just full on. They’re great. They just live for it and it’s awesome. When we play we get rockers, punks and ska people and it all works really well together and that’s what we always want to have; a really mixed crowd.
“[The music] appeals to so many different people. But that’s what it was like back in the 80’s. A lot of punks and stuff could listen to Madness and then they’d listen to The Clash and then they’d listen to the Blue Cats or the Pole Cats or something it really just crosses over.” The band seem to be encouraging a resurgence of this attitude as they tour the country with power pop punksters Bodyjar.
But they’ll always be keeping that rockabilly subculture alive.
“I know guys who don’t buy anything [that was made] after 1955. The underwear and the whole bit.”

The Living End play with Bodyjar as part of the Nervous Wreckage tour on Friday September 26th at The Corner Hotel; September 27th at the Barwon Club, Geelong; September 28th at The Corner Hotel (all ages). The Living End’s EP is out now through MDS.

The Living End

Author: Unknown

When The Living End started out they were planning on an album, they did some recording of twenty songs, but felt “they just weren’t up to quality.” About to tour with Bodyjar, a band with a new product to sell, the guys from Living End felt they too should have something for their fans, hence the collection of B sides ‘Second Solution/Prisoner Of Society’ just released for the tour.

On the EP there’s one cover song, two live songs and two new original songs and so it has been ‘Prisoner Of Society’ that has turned out to be the single that has received airplay.

Travis admits that the tracks aren’t really “Great indications of technical proficiency, they’re just more what the band is live. It’s a bit rough, a bit all over the place, but the songs have a bit of energy, value for money.”

So is the band changing styles? “I think so to a small extent. The other two certainly still have rockabilly influences and that’s never going to leave, we don’t want it to leave. We’re trying to be a bit more dynamic, rather than volume to 11 from the very first song to the very end song. We want to be able to put our music across to a wide age group. We don’t want to be the band that caters for the fifteen to twenty five year old age group. Once everyone gets a bit older and the years start hurtling they can’t listen to us. Chris the man songwriter had about fifty completed songs and they’re all over the place. They’re Reggae, punks songs with no drums in it. For a band, you can’t keep doing the same thing. We still want to be as diverse as we want, but there is always going to be rockabilly as the basis to our style of music. We’re three guys that really like to play simple, catchy songs, but at the same time we like to challenge ourselves a little bit. We’ve all had schooling on the instruments and we’ve all gone beyond being good players.” At just twenty years of age, Living End guitarist Chris set the record college exam score with a 99/100 at the famed music course at Box Hill TAFE (very well known for its classical training.)

Faced with a lot of industry interest in their product, the first Living End album is expected next year though Chris admits that they will probably maintain their independence by financing their own release and banking it themselves. The guys are working on about twenty songs that they’re all happy with, “wanting every song to be good.”

Look to the album some time towards the middle of next year. “If we put out an album now and everyone goes ‘Oh, yeah, it’s alright but we expected better’, we’d be crushed. Whereas if we do the absolute hardest 100% work we can do and spend time in the rehearsal studios and we slave over it, if people say ‘well, it’s alright,’ we can say ‘we don’t care, we love it.’ That’s what you play music for. People don’t care about the time frame, as long as the products good I feel.”

Do you get tired of some media images of you with only the sideburns, brothel creepers, brylcream, rockabilly?

“I’m still into that look but can’t carry it off. I would like to have that image, but i’m only faking myself and people if i have a huge three foot high quiff. It’s just not me. I’m more than just the drummer in Living End. I have other interests. If people like your music that will accept you for however you look. The other two guys wear that stuff all the time. As far as clothing for them that’s all they have in their wardrobe. If we went to get to kick the footy, I have the proper Nike sneakers, Nike running shorts etc. The other two would turn up in jeans and brothel creepers. The interests are just clothing and their music. I like the image more of suits and stuff. I’m a bit of a Rolling Stone fan. I’m getting a couple of suits made up in cotton so I can drum and stuff. They’ll have leopard skin lapels and they’ll be in cool colours. That’s sort of my image. A lot of bands would say ‘we’re the band and this is our look.’ The Living End are so diverse as individuals that if you were to meet us as a band you’d wonder how do these guys get along? I like hot cars, I swear and I drink and I’m pretty outspoken, the other two don’t do any of that yet they’re the two that look like they’d do that. I buy the surf skate magazines, they hate that side of it. We’re so diverse, yet the best bands are those that don’t hang out together for the rest of their lives. Passion holds us together. We’ve toured with bands that are like brothers and because they’re like that they really do get hurt when the fighting starts. They take it to heart. We know that he’s just shitty because he’s tired type of thing.”

“When people see the band, they see three young looking guys, they say ‘rockabilly, oh yeah,’ but when they come to a gig we throw in cover songs like Tainted Love and many of these eighties songs they’ve grown up on. We don’t try to be too fancy, just a good beat to dance to. People then say ‘Oh, they’re a fun band,’ rather than a rockabilly band. That’s what we try to get across when we play. It’s about having fun.”

So what new bands does Trav recommend? “Dogboy from Sydney, Bzaark from Melbourne, Pre-shrunk, Reef and “a lot of Ben Harper.”

Must be working, recent Living End gigs in Melbourne have been crowded out with up to 800 people there to see the band. There’s a mailing list now over the 8,000 mark and demand for a web site, that hopefully will be online for Christmas.

Second Solution

Author: Mark Fraser

With their latest E.P. For Your Own Good, receiving plenty of deserved airplay, Melbourne’s rockabilly tinged scourgers Living End began to come into their own. Constant touring has brought them up to Sydney on the odd occasion, and they’re heading our way again this week with a brand new E.P. in tow.

Literally recorded last week and out the next, Second Solution / Prisoner Of Society sounds as fresh and as urgent as can be, and in short, it’s one killer E.P. Second Solution is as catchy as f–k and just bounces on down the highway, while Prisoner Of Society is typical Living End with its rockabilly dirge and anthemic stance. Snarling down its nose at mainstream society, it sings the agonies and isolation of teen suppression. The real coup de Grace, however, is the awesome version of Prisoner TV Theme. Beautifully scourged, we start out all soft and rosey, and then burst into that ratatat, chunk rockabilly drive. Magic. Throw in a couple of live tracks in the rabid, raw Misspent Youth and the party-punched Strange and you have the makings of something really special.

Literally having just hopped out of the van in Mount Gambier, the first leg of their present tour, vocalist and guitarist Chris Cheney explains that given the theme of the E.P. then the inclusion of the Prisoner theme was an obvious choice. “We thought that seeing as the songs were about prisons and that, that we’d make it almost a kind of concept E.P. But yeah, that’s a classic song, we all love it. It’s great.”

Recording Second Solution seemed an obvious move to, despite it being a rather old live number. “It’s a bit of an old one that one. We just sort of played it live, and never really got around to recording it. Everyone sort of asked for it, and it’s a pretty strong song, so we thought we’d do that one. We did it on Recovery a few weeks ago, and it went over really well.”

Touring pretty much constantly since the release of last year’s For Your Own Good E.P., the trio decided to have a month off prior to this tour and get down to some writing, and put some new demos down. Back on the road all fresh and revived, this present tour takes in Adelaide, then back home to Melbourne for a few days before hitting Coffs Harbour, Brisbane and The Gold Coast and Sydney. With no less than 22 gigs in 30 days or so, it’s obviously going to take its toll on the band’s health.
“Yeah, we’re not really worried about it,” says Chris. “It’s just a matter of the voices and all the equipment holding up. But, ah, it should be a good workout.”

September will see the band back in the studio to work on their forthcoming album, a collection of newies, which should be out early next year. In the meantime, Second Solution / Prisoner Of Society is out next week on TWA records.

The Living End hit town this week, playing Macquarie University Thursday September 4, Brookvale Hotel Friday September 5, and Manning Bar Saturday September 6, with an all ages show that afternoon. Bodyjar and Nervous Wreckage will be keeping the guys company on all dates.

The Living End

Author: Steve Tauschke

The Living End cap off a month of touring with a new EP Second Solution accompanied by a few shows. STEVE TAUSCHKE speaks with double bassist Scott, on line from Newcastle.

Beat: You always seem to be busy touring or am I just imagining it?
Scott: “We haven’t done a helluva lot. We’ve packed a fair bit in, in the last year, we’ve done a lot of km’s in the last twelve or eighteen months but before that we hadn’t done much touring. So, it’s still new to us, it’s still a novelty.”

Beat: Last year you toured around with Southern Culture On The Skids. That must have been whacky?
Scott: “Yeah, just for the Sydney and Melbourne shows. The one up in Sydney we got to spend a little bit of time with them, hanging around. They were really nice, the drummer’s a really funny guy, and they’re into the same sort of stuff as us, the rootsy rockabilly bands from the southern states (of America). They’re all bright, sparkly people to be around. And they rock too!”

Beat: What draws you to the whole rockabilly thing?
Scott: “I dunno. It started a long time ago. We were more drawn to it than we are now. When we first started playing, me and Chris, the singer, we were just playing rockabilly, we weren’t interested in anything else at the time. This is when we were just finishing high school. There was just something drawing us to it.”

Beat: Stray Cats was a starting point for the band wasn’t it?
Scott: “That was our big introduction but then we tried to figure out where they were coming from and getting all these weird licks, just how they made it sound a bit different you know, where the originators got their ideas from. I think Stray Cats went off on a few different tangents, especially Brian, he had some really crazy ideas in some of those old rockabilly songs. I think they were so big in the early 80’s cos they were kind of an on-the-edge punk band who played rockabilly style.”

Beat: The new EP seems to be full of themes of incarceration…
Scott: It’s just a coincidence. We only realised before we decided to do the cover of the Prisoner theme song. We thought ‘the first two songs are about death row and being a prisoner of society so lets do the theme song to Prisoner and make the album cover look like we’re in jail with the fingerprints and shit’ …we only recorded the theme song two days before we went into record at Birdland and when we played it in rehearsal we realised it was such a strong song. We just thought we’d chuck it on.”

Beat: You guys must have taken the Pentridge guided tour recently?
Scott: “Chris saw it, a couple of months ago. Yeah, he did it.”

Beat: Do you have a full album ready to go, say, before Christmas?
Scott: We did a big demo tape before we did this single with 14 new songs and we’ve even got a couple more new ones since then so we’ve definitely got enough for an album. We can even be a bit picky about the songs too. We’re looking forward to it. Hopefully, it will be a good debut, one we’re all happy with.”

Prisoner Of Society is available on MDS’s Rapido label. The Living End play the Annadale on Sat Oct 4 & support Millencolin at the Manly Youth Centre on Oc 6 for an all ages show.