Growing Up Is Hard To Do

Author: Vanessa Bowden

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The signs at the door say Sold Out. If you were to linger around the entry way for long enough, you’d see more than one person trying to scam their way in and even the occasional teary pleader. Moving in to the venue, 400 kids are  screaming at the top of their lungs “Well we don’t need no one to tell us what to do”. It wouldn’t make a difference if The Living End forgot the words to this song. Even people who aren’t fans know them by now.

“When that song first came out I was a bit worried that people would take it too seriously, that they’d think… it was us trying to make really big punk statement.” Says Chris Cheney of the song responsible for such scenes, ‘Prisoner Of Society’. “I just thought it was kind of weird that teenagers are always complaining about their parents, but… they often grow up and go ‘sorry for giving you such a hard time.”

Originating as a ’50s rockabilly cover band, three EPs later and The Living End have found themselves at the forefront of Australian music. ‘Prisoner Of Society’ has become somewhat an anthem for many young people and the band found themselves in the middle of a bidding war for their debut album. “We were originally going to record for Murmur and then someone got hold of our CD in America – I think it was due to playing with Green Day and The Offspring because a lot of those bands who knew who we were – and then all of a sudden they just started flying out here to see us.” The result is an American deal with Reprise. Locally, the band’s album will be released on Modular Records, an EMI subsidiary run by Steve Pav of Golden Sounds and Pav Presents fame. Chris says the decision to go with Modular came easy for the band “We knew Steve Pav and we liked his thoughts and ideas on what he could do with us and it just felt comfortable.”

The band recorded their album earlier this year, before going to do the American Warped tour, and had it mixed while in the States. While happy with the CD, Chris isn’t a big fan of the studio. “You’ve got to be spot on and precise and it’s really hard to keep that energy in there because live, you just thrash it out and three minutes later it’s over, mistakes and all but with that energy. But it’s just something you’ve got to do… It’s great to finish recording and have a CD in your hand.” With the band not wanting to vary too much on the style fans have come to love, Chris says the album is “pretty much an amalgamation of the first three EPs. It’s got a couple more traditional rockabilly sounding songs, a couple of thrashy songs and some jazz – it’s got everything we love all mixed up and churned out the end.”

With so many influences, the band find it interesting – but also a bit limiting – to be categorised under punk. “People call is a punk band and we seem to fit in with those bands but it’s really strange because we never considered ourselves a punk band we started off as a ’50s rockabilly band and just played kind of punk style – really rough and fast.” While Chris says he loved punk, one of the things that could be attributed to The Living End’s success is the range of influences the band have – from jazz and blues right through to punk, The Living End have found themselves on bills ranging from Jebediah to Rancid. When asked if he’d be happy if The Living End became responsible for a resurgence in the popularity of ’50s style rockabilly, Chris is thoughtful. “It’s always a bit of a bummer when you like something and it’s kind of special because it’s not something that everyone else listens to. I think it’d be good if it came back in a big way because you listen to a lot of the stuff around at the moment and no one seems to be doing enough experimentation if you ask me.”

Surprisingly, Chris says that America doesn’t seem to have any bands similar to The Living End. Obviously, this was a bonus for the band when they went over there for the Warped Tour. “We got a good reaction. We played on the local stage and sometimes there’d be like 2000 people and sometimes there’d be ten. They put the stages in different places every day and sometimes it’d be a ten kilometre walk from the main stage to the local stage. Well, maybe not ten kilometres…”

Currently The Living End are finalising artwork for the album which they’ll then be touring for, including Canberra. Tickets are only $12, something very surprising for one of the country’s biggest bands. “We have total control over that and we always try to keep it as low as possible. Just things like keeping ticket prices down, keeping t-shirt prices down, you’ve got to make sure you can get everyone in. It was awful when we played at The Corner Hotel here because so many people go turned away, we felt terrible. But it is important to us and it’s just the way it should be. I don’t understand how bands can say ‘yeah we don’t care what you charge, we’ll just get up and play’ – it’s ridiculous. Unless you have that many costs to cover that you have to charge more, like when you play a really big venue or something. I mean we played Festival Hall with The Offspring and Green Day, they had to charge $20 something, it was out of our hands.” With such a considerate attitude, it’s no wonder everyone is loving this band.

The Living End play at UCU on October 24 with Area 7