Living And Learning
Author: Michael Duffy
Despite ongoing success at home and a growing fan base away, The Living End are still pupils and the “Dacker” school of crowd control. MICHAEL DUFFY reports.
Two children aged no older than 12 lunged for their buzzers on children’s television game show Download last week.
Even though only three letters had been exposed, they immediately knew the answer to the hidden band’s name – The Living End. Now touring the US with a band curiously named Flogging Molly, upright bassist Scott Owen is genuinely astounded at hearing about their mention on the mid-afternoon children’s show.
“It’s quite a benchmark isn’t it?” he says.
“It’s kind of a mind-blowing thing. Three or four years ago it didn’t occur to us that this sort of thing could happen.”
But for the past three years at least, life has been “rolling on” at an incomprehensible pace for the Melbourne trio.
Though the group has been together since 1994 and achieved national popularity in 1996 from the release of its self-titled debut album following its tour with Greenday, The Living End still seem to be everywhere.
In June the group will tour Australia during a two-week break from working in the US, where it is building a formidable reputation. “We’ve been playing to crowds of between 500 and 1500 people and this time we’re headlining,” Owen says.
“Last night we played in LA at a place called The Places which holds 1450 people.
“We’re happy, we always think back about how it took us years to play somewhere that big in Australia – so it’s great.”
And Owen says the Australian novelty factor seems to count for little in the US. “I don’t want this to come across the wrong way but I think Americans are too vain to really notice we’re Australian or really care where we’re from,” he says.
Meanwhile, the group has not been neglecting Australia, touring regularly and giving generous time to the nation’s media.
Recently, a new demographic was introduced to The Living End’s infectious rock when it supported Aussie rock legends AC/DC on its national tour in January.
“When we were asked to do it there was no way we were going to say no,” Owen says.
“Who would say no to AC/DC?
“That’s something we’re going to take to the grave… to rock music they’re going to end up being as important as Buddy Holly. We’re going to be able to look back and tell our grand kids we played with them.”
Once the group had overcome its awe, Owen says The Living End learned some important lessons from the “Dacker”.
“There were these big stadiums, entertainment centres and tennis centres and the places were only half full,” he says.
“We thought stuff it, if people are going to be just finding their seat while we’re on, we’ve only got half an hour, let’s play the best set we can. Make the people go away with something more than just having seen a band they’ve loved for 10 or 15 years.
“(But) no one else can get out there and do it the way AC/DC can. To have that impact you have to get out there and feel that no one can do what you do quite like us.”
The Living End will perform in Adelaide on June 3 at Heaven II Nightclub with Lash and Area 7