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!”