Pretty In Punk

Author: Bernard Zuel

Roll On

This Terrible Place

New punks find rock; old punks find style. Odd but true.

The Living End still have the upright bass but they have shed the last vestiges of the rockabilly past, which were growing tenuous even on the previous album. In their place is a firmer commitment to their real love – the sounds of The Clash and bands who inspired The Clash, such as The Who, with the odd nod to Van Halen of all people.

Lyrically, this is evident in attempts at wry character studies (Uncle Harry who is “pissing in the bath again” and Dirty Man who is “on the run, thought you could get away with it”) and a strong political line. It’s unsophisticated (the occasional clumsiness of Riot on Broadway and the obviousness of Revolution Regained) but singer/guitarist/ songwriter Chris Cheney is at least well intentioned, waving the flag for jobless wharfies in the title track and the stolen generations in Killing The Right.

It’s musically that Roll On will confirm this band’s status as one of the biggest in the country. Boasting a beefier sound and a more consciously melodic vein, these songs have taken the pop/punk energy and grafted on a pair of heavyweight bovver boots, crunching chords like good pub rock of yore and offering plenty of chant-along choruses. The only thing missing is some Mick Jones relief from the Joe Strummer parade: some change of pace for anyone a bit older than 14 with testosterone rising.

Amazingly, it’s there in spades on the new album from Sydney’s original rude-boy ’80s punks, the Hard-Ons, who have been threatening to do this for nearly 20 years.

Here is an album of sometimes-bubbling. sometimes-lethal power pop mixed with brutal moments and frat-boy humour, a combination that succeeds more often than is reasonable. Ice Cream could be the dreamiest of the lo-fi American bands; Time Won’t Let Me and I’m Bringing You Death are underground metal; Sadly Ever After is Jonathan Richman on steroids; and Birthday is what the rising band Lo-Tel are aiming for – a balance between My Bloody Valentine and The Archies.

From Oyster Sauce, the garage-band homage that opens the album to the Syd Barrett-ish faux silliness of I Hate Clubbers that closes it, This Terrible Place sounds classier than the Hard-Ons have ever sounded.

And being able to have the words classy and Hard-Ons in the one sentence is bizarre enough to recommend this album.

Music Feast’s A Steal, Baked Here For Half Price

Author: Peter Gotting

It’s the ideal time for an all-Australian music festival. With the dollar so low, promoters are having difficulty attracting overseas acts but for today’s Homebake the exchange rate doesn’t matter.

As the name of the annual youth festival says, the acts that will perform today were baked right here – all 41 performing on the four stages at The Domain are Australian.

Organiser Ms Jessica DuCrou realises the fortunate position she is in. Promoters for festivals such as the Big Day Out have had difficulty securing big-name overseas acts for next year.

And it’s a good time for an all-Australian line-up anyway, given that Sydney is enjoying some post-Olympic patriotic fervour.

“People feel ownership of the show a lot more than other festivals,” Ms DuCrou says. “And I don’t know whether the whole Olympics this year has added that extra Sydneysider thing. I think it could have.”

About 20,000 people are expected at the Domain from 10 am for the sixth Homebake festival, featuring the likes of Spiderbait, Resin Dogs, Sonic Animation and Friendly

The headline band this year is Melbourne rock band The Living End, although they don’t like to refer to themselves as such.

“We wouldn’t say headline,” says drummer Travis Demsey. “We would say the last act. We are just at last.”

He says Homebake is the best festival in Australia “because it’s all Australian”. Bassist Scott Owen calls it “kind of a patriotic moment – it’s just good that Australia can put on such a strong festival”.

With weather forecasts predicting early showers clearing to a fine day, the band advises punters to “slip, slop, slap” and drink lots of “beer, water, beer, water, beer, water, beer, beer, beer” to get them through the day. At these festivals, the threat of overheating is just as scary as the threat of heavy rain.

As well as the traditional rockers, electronica acts are making a big splash this year. Ms DuCrou says electronica and dance music acts have “come of age” over the past 12 months, which is why acoustic and “lo-fi style” acts and DJs will have their own big top, the Hopetoun Stage, named after the Surry Hills hotel – one of Sydney’s most prominent live music venues.

And extreme action sports will be carried out in the middle of the park, with the Max Team showing off “trampoline boarding”, motorcross and inline skating.


First act starts at 11 am today The line-up includes: The Living End, Regurgitator, Magic Dirt, Spiderbait, Tumbleweed, Resin Dogs, Alex Lloyd, Jebediah, Bodyjar, Something for Kate, Screamfeeder, Augie March, Wicked Beat Sound System, Pnau, 78 Saab, Rocket Science, Skulker, Endorphin and Frenzal Rhomb

Tickets: $50


The End Justifies The Means…

Author: Murray Engleheart

Murray Engleheart spoke to the boys from the End about their new album ‘Roll On’, U2, AC/DC and real rock ‘n’ roll…

Listen to me. This is important. The Living End’s performance at Livid in Brisbane in October before 40,000 plus bodies was right up there with seeing Nirvana and Metallica at the Hordern Pavillion in Sydney in 1992 and 1989 respectively. What made it all the more amazing was it was virtually the band’s first show in this country for the year and they pulled it off while testing new songs from their excellent Roll On album and a new in ear monitor system. But it wasn’t just the size of the crowd or the occasion that was daunting for the trio.
“The Cure, Green Day, Lou Reed and The Living End!” says still amazed drummer, Travis Dempsey of their prime billing position on the day. “And No Doubt. We just went, fuck! They’ve all sold millions in America and that’s when it really hit home.”
Exactly how hard it hit was saved not so much for the classic, Prisoner Of Society but a stunning damn near life changing version of U2’s Sunday Bloody Sunday that had the massive audience singing at a volume that eclipsed the band themselves. “I said to (singer and guitarist) Chris (Cheney) I think we should do this song because it would suit his voice.” continues Dempsey. “I just think it’s a very political song. The lyrics and the way the drums are very Topper Headon. It’s very Clash, they’re much the Clash basically because that’s what their big thing was when they first started in Dublin. I thought fuck, I think we could do this song justice.”
That one straight out of left field song is a firm indication of the surprises that the band’s utterly killer Nick Launay produced Roll On album has for some folks. It puts to bed for good the spectre of the Stray Cats and much of the early Clash comparisons and replaces them with the Powerage crunch of AC/DC, the raunch n’ roll of The Sex Pistols and Rose Tattoo’s pumping working class anthem swing. Essentially it’s damn fine rock n’ roll which really has always been at the core of the band as opposed to simply punk rock. Dempsey’s typically straight up when it comes to what he wanted from the recording. “A fucking rock n’ roll album that proves to everyone that we’re no fluke. We’re very, f..king serious and if you don’t believe us listen to the album. There’s not many bands that are really, really playing good rock’n roll with good musicianship and great songs that you can sing along to. The process has had its benefits, like mixing the album in New York and finding that while you were in town AC/DC were doing a string of nights at Madison Square Garden. That night ironically turned out to be one of the most stressful of the entire trip. “We were stuck at the studio because we had to listen to a mix before we left.” recalls Owen. “We were like, ‘Come on (mixer) Andy (Wallace)! F..king hurry up and finish twiddling your knobs! We listened to it and we were like, fuck! We’ve got to talk about this! So we talked about it and then we were like, we’ve got to go! The support band had just finished and we had to get a cap through the middle of New York. We were like three possessed men.”
“Three possessed, pissed and stoned men!” clarifies Dempsey. “Then we got stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. We’re like, sorry mate, we’re getting out here. He’s like, what? We’re like, Let’s go! We’re stoned and trying to run! Then we had to pick up tickets and they weren’t there! Oh, your names aren’t here. Yes they are!”

The Living End – Roll On

Author: Michael Owen-Brown

The Living End
Roll On (EMI)

When did The Living End transform into the heir apparent to AC-DC? The opening riff of Silent Victory sounds more like Acca Dacca than most songs written since Back In Black. It’s just one of a handful of driving hard-rock anthems on this latest album which are totally unexpected. More unexpected is that The Living End pulls off this potentially disastrous experiment with confidence and panache. Roll On is one of the most brash and catchy albums this year. The band’s superb musical abilities – particularly Chris Cheney’s blistering guitar licks – allow it to traverse various styles and tempos. Development in the band’s songwriting since it’s 1998 debut album is immediately noticeable. Perhaps some songs are too cluttered, but the album works brilliantly as a whole.