The End Is Nigh
The Living End have gone from relative obscurity to one hit wonders to Australia’s band of the moment.
“It’s impossible to compare it to the hype of silverchair or other Australian bands that have done very well,” said Living End vocalist Chris Cheney in the lead-up to the release of what became the bands’ number one charting debut album. “It’s impossible to say, ‘Yeah, we’re in that situation now.’ You can’t get a grasp of it, so why even bother.”
“We would be amazed if a band like You Am I even knew our material,” adds drummer Travis Dempsey. “We would look up to a band like that and go, fuck, it would be good to be as big as them.” “Or as good as them” Cheney concludes, without false modesty.
It has been a big year for the Living End, as Cheney’s highlights list indicates. At the beginning of the year they were Australia’s most hyped, still in confusion thanks to a sudden influx of interest from record company types, many of whom had already passed on plenty of opportunities to sign the band
“If they’re not interested in a song like ‘From Here On In,’” says Cheney, “when that had all the elements that worked for us, if they couldn’t see it then, as far as I’m concerned they can’t see it now. They’re just jumping on the bandwagon”.
Mid-year they were in denial of the hype. “Really?” said Cheney when informed that the debut album was inspiring calls in the line of ‘greatest Australian album ever.’
By the time they’d appeared at the ARIAs in October, headlined their own sell-out tour with Area 7 and made Number 1 in the charts, there was no ignoring the fact. They won the ARIA for best-selling single ” over 150,000 copies, without any help from a major record company. “it’s good when bands have some hype about them,” Cheney shrugs, “as long as they can back it up.”
Highlights of the year included Cheney’s meeting with his all-time favourite star, Brian Setzer, formerly of Cheney’s much loved Stray Cats. After all, the Living End started out as a Stray Cats covers band named after a Stray Cats tune, the Runaway Boys.
“Everyone was like, ‘Did you just freeze up?’” says Cheney. “He was pretty cool about it, really. We told him we were on this (Vans Warped) tour and he said it was cool to see a band mixing punk and rockabilly.”
Cheney listed their US tour with the Vans Warped travelling punk rock festival as a highlight, but compared to their local tours later in the year, it was tough going.
“Playing in America to no people really kicked our arse,” says Cheney, with a hint of exhaustion. “Playing to ten people, you just have to really play your arse off to impress them, because there’s no vibe otherwise.”