On The Roll With The Living End
Author: Glenn Fowler
Prior to catching The Living End at The Garage in Glasgow, I had the opportunity to speak with Chris, Scott & Travis about the current tour, the new album and what they think about being compared to other bands. Among other things.
How has the UK tour gone, and what have been your highlights?
Travis: The tour has been sold out at almost all of the venues almost every night. We’ve been to England before, but this is the first time that we’ve played in Scotland. We haven’t really been promoted that much over here, but people are still showing up at our shows. So all of the hard yards that we are putting in touring and playing is paying off and that is what The Living End do best, we’re not so much a radio band.
Chris: My standout memory would be lack of sleep. No, hang on. That’s every tour!
Travis: The sold out show at the London Astoria is hard to top. – To sell out such a famous rock and roll venue as quickly as we did and a month before we played there was awesome. The Astoria wasn’t just full of Aussies either, the locals had come along to have a listen as well. Up to the Astoria gig we had a few problems with equipment and stuff, so the Astoria was just a killer gig for us.
Scott: The gig with Aerosmith in Munich was pretty memorable. Aerosmith had heard about us somewhere and asked for The Living End to do the support for a warm up show before they went on tour. The Aerosmith guys didn’t play as much rock and roll as we thought they would, more bluesy stuff. But Aerosmith are really good at what they do.
The new album has a lot of variations.
Travis: We were going to make the album more eclectic, but we made a conscious decision to make it how we have. Each song grows on you rather than being an instant hit and all of the songs sound different. So that way you don’t get sick of the whole album as it all sounds the same and you will still have a favourite song in a months time, but it will be a different song. The next album we hope will be more of everyone’s outside influences.
How do you generally work when writing and recording an album? Do you have a formula that you work to when recording?
Scott: Last year we started writing and recording Roll On and then we started touring, but the next time we will break it up a bit. Spend some time at home, then back on the road to break up the writing thing. We had heaps of songs for Roll On, so we weren’t suffering from a lack of material and we had heaps and heaps of songs that we had confidence in. But being at home for as long as we were while recording just makes it even harder to be away from home for this long now.
Travis: We haven’t had a holiday for a couple of years and sure we were recording the last album at home, but that meant 4:00 am finishes. Then get up early to have a life, see girlfriends, pay bills etc. and be back in the studio by 12:00 lunchtime and the same process again day after day.
Chris: We did some shows while we were at home, but it didn’t feel like we’d had a break at the end of that and now we are back on the road for this tour.
Travis: We released the album earlier in Australia to get a head start there. Then started shows in November, so we’ve been going for 4 months now.
How do you deal with the Clash and Green Day comparisons?
Travis: We could be compared to worse bands. But both bands are diverse, so it’s a compliment. The Clash were very eclectic, so that’s a good comparison. And Green Day do their stuff well, but they concentrate more on the style that they play. To be compared to both outfits is almost a contradiction in itself.
Scott: We have a powerful punky element as well, so I think that it’s weak to compare us to Green Day. But if we sound like The Clash, then which point in their career do we sound like because they changed so much and sounded different on each album.
Travis: They have to label you as something. But those bands paved the way to make punk more commercial. Punk is very educated about the world and politcal differences, where rock and roll is just about music, drugs and girls. Punk rock has a message. There are a hell of a lot of differences between the personalities of the Green Day guys and us. I would say that we are more like The Jam than anyone. But all in all we are The Living End.
Roll On is a very guitar oriented album.
Chris: Hellbound had lots of guitar riffs and lead breaks on it, as does the new one, but I think that we are just playing better now. We are definitely more rock rather than rockabilly these days. So the guitars have come to the forefront more. The songs on Roll On were intended to be more simple and therefore easier to play live. But I don’t think that they came out that way, but there are certain bits that are more straight ahead rock and guitar. Pictures In The Mirror may be more complex but basically it’s a rock song. Where as some of the rockabilly and psychobilly stuff that we’ve done in the past just doesn’t sound big and powerful enough in comparison.
Are there songs that you’ve recorded and you wished that you hadn’t?
Chris: Yeah, there was a track on the Hellbound EP the ninth track and it’s a daggy sort of song. There were problems with the pressing of the album and 500 copies were pressed wrongly. If you own one of the 500 copies you’re lucky, because they go for big bucks on eBay and I don’t even think I have one!
Travis: I don’t think that we’ve done our best work yet, so there will always be something that we wished we hadn’t done.
How have you been received in the UK and US?
Chris: I feel that we’ve got more in common with the UK Rock and Roll scene, we probably aren’t gimmicky enough for the US market, but they are still listening to us.
It feels almost like a cult thing, like when we first started in Australia. The people who are showing up at our shows are more fanatical over here and playing smaller venues is refreshing. Don’t get me wrong though, we love playing to 40,000 people as well.
Scott: We are generally treated the same in the US as the UK, but California’s a little bit different, because we get some more radio airplay. So there at least we have more of an audience.
Do you find song writing an easy process?
Chris: I find song writing very difficult. It’s really fun but lots of work and when it;s finished it’s a big relief. I find that it’s the human factor coming through in the music. The lyrics just come out in my thought process, and now people think that’s our thing but the next album might be totally stupid.
What you want with rock and roll is for people to get lost in your little fantasy world. We always try to have double meanings in our songs, so that if you want to read something into it you can.
You tend to play a lot of covers. Why, when you have so much of your own material?
Travis: We try to do things a bit left of centre. It would be very obvious if we did a punk rock song. But maybe we should, as we haven’t done one yet. It’s a bit of light heartedness and to have fun. It’s also just so that the audience has fun, cause you just can’t buy fun.
Chris: We used to be a cover band and knew 300 odd songs. It would be cool to throw in a few more now, but we are trying to promote us. We mainly throw in cover versions to try to vary the nightly routine and keep it interesting. Otherwise we would come off stage thinking, ‘Well we played the same thing again.’
The Living End are far from routine or uninteresting and the songs from Roll On are showing a greater maturity in both musicianship and song writing. Thanks to Chris, Scott and Travis for taking the time out to have a chat.