The Bid Day Out In December

Author: Mark Neilsen

Rock stars celebrate Christmas too you know. Just what happens for them around yuletide? Well before performing at the Big Day Out in January, here are some of the acts to talk about the big day in December. There’s Nfamas from 1200 Techniques, Jay from 28 Days, Bexta, Lindsay from Frenzal Rhomb, Ray from the Hard Ons, Kid Kenobi, Pinky from Machine Gun Fellatio, Jon from Pacifier, Geoff from Resin Dogs, Andy from The Living End, Josh from The Waifs and Juanita from Waikiki.

Which relative of yours is most likely to get sozzled at the family Xmas get together?
“I’m the one that gets sozzled!”
Jay: “My mad old uncle Jack always gets blind and then tried to cop a feel of everyone’s wives and girlfriends, then my auntie Elsie gets upset and cries and says what a bastard he is and then there’s an all in or something like that. Doesn’t everyone have a story like this to tell? Everyone’s got a variation on the theme of the pissed uncle haven’t they?”
Bexta: “Me. No, I think it’s more a question of who won’t!”
Lindsay: “My younger brother’s mother’s oldest son.”
Ray: “All my relos are in Korea and most of them don’t drink.”
Kid Kenobi: “Dad. His boys are always an excuse for one too many cases of beer.”
Pinky: “We don’t get sozzled in my family, we get stonkered.”
Jon: “Dad and Auntie Jean.”
Geoff: “Granny.”
Andy: “We all take turns. I think it’s dad’s turn this year.”
Josh: “My eccentric great Aunt Gladys. She gets sozzled every night on Chivas Regal – family get together or not.”
Juanita: “My dog, Jasmine.”

When’s the latest you’ve taken down an Xmas tree?
Nfamas: “I put an Xmas tree up in Easter one time. Don’t ask me what I was on.”
Jay: “You mean you’re supposed to take it down?”
Bexta: “Well, I had a live tree fir a couple of years. One year it took six months to take all the decorations off.”
Lindsay: “It’s been sitting there since December ’99”
Ray: “You’ll probably get a lot of people telling you the same answer. We’ve kept it on display until the following Xmas. It’s like making the bed- you’re going to mess it up later in the night anyhow. Yeah I know we’re talking one year but on another planet further from the sun, that would be nothing.”
Kid Kenobi: “It was dead and brown.”
Pinky: “Don’t be stupid. I don’t take down Xmas trees. I have minions for that sort of shit.”
Geoff: “About 1.30am.”
Andy: “When all the needles have fallen off. About February/March.”
Josh: “Don’t even have a house to put an Xmas tree up in.”
Juanita: “Never.”

What’s the best Xmas present you’ve received?
Nfamas: “My mum always use to buy me jocks at Xmas, usually I’d get ‘Target’ jocks, but one year she stepped it up and bought me some ‘Holeproof heroes’.”
Jay: “My son, three and a half weeks after Xmas.”
Bexta: “An above ground swimming pool when I was six. My parents spent all night putting it up for Christmas Day.”
Lindsay: “I remember once we woke up and there was a newborn baby on the doorstep. All wrapped up in swaddling clothes. He was so cute, all pink and wrinkly. Obviously some unfortunate mother had given him up and we were blessed with his arrival. Best Christmas dinner we’d had in years.”
Ray: “Money from my parents. That’s right, cold cash. Mmmmm…”
Kid Kenobi: “Transformers.”
Pinky: “I don’t generally talk out of school, but let me say, she was really good. She was really, really good.”
Jon: “Time off to hang out with my family followed in a close second place to my first half sized acoustic guitar at the age of eight.”
Geoff: “Money.”
Andy: “A radio in the shape of a naked lady (thanks Pop). You have to tweak her nipples to control the tuning and volume.”
Josh: “A kiss from a pretty girl.”
Juanita: ” A smartie.”

What Xmas carol would you cover?
Nfamas: “Jingle Bells. It’s the only one i can think of, plus it’s annoyingly catchy.”
Jay: “We’ve already done a Xmas carol. It was a big hit. You may have heard it, it’s called Rip It Up, it’s about opening presents on Xmas morning and ripping off the wrapping paper and then checking out what you got.”
Bexta: “I wouldn’t.”
Lindsay: Here comes Santa’s pussy by the Frogs, or the traditional hymn, I saw daddy fisting Santa Claus.”
Ray: “You know what, I have the Phil Spector Xmas album and Darlene Love does White Xmas. It’s unreal. But as a whole I hate covers so I personally would not like to be involved.”
Kid Kenobi: “We Three Kings would make a good trip hop song.”
Pinky:O Come All Ye Faithful because it’s just so GODDAMN FUCKEN DIRTY.”
Jon: “I fuckin’ hate Christmas carols but I’d do the one that goes ‘pa rup a pum pum’ just ’cause it rhymes with bum.”
Geoff: Jingle Bells, mixed with LL Cool J’s Rock The Bells“.
Andy:The Little Drummer Boy. Anything but Jingle Bells!”
Josh: “Don’t know any. Maybe I’ll try to write one.”
Juanita: “I don’t know any.”

Did you get any Xmas presents from your bandmates last year?
Nfamas: “Nup, the cheapskates! Well they are musos.”
Jay: “You are talking about the biggest pack of tight arses known to man. There is no way on earth anyone in this band would spend a cent on any of the others or anyone else really. Why would you spend money on presents when that would mean less money for booze and cigarettes for yourself? Come on guys, I’m sorry but you know it’s true.”
Lindsay: “Just the usual: headache, hangover, herpes.”
Pinky: “Yeah Widow Jones gave me a present. The rest of ’em are right stingy cunts.”
Jon: “Yes. Time away from me.”
Andy: “No, we didn’t even know each other.”
Josh: “No. We are usually trying to get a long way apart at Xmas cos’ we spend all the rest of the year together.
Juanita: “No! We hate each other.”

The Big Day Out happens Saturday 25 January at Sydney Showground.

The Living End

Author: Brad Arundale

Change. It’s an unsettling thing for any Aussie band to have to deal with, especially one that’s riding a wave of success and receiving loads of acclaim, both here and overseas. The Living End rose from suburban obscurity to become one of the country’s most beloved rock groups. After arousing much interest on the back of a brilliantly filled support slot for Green Day, and the EP It’s For Your Own Good, the End ingrained themselves into the consciousness of the music-loving public via their anthemic hit Prisoner of Society, which helped steer their debut, self-titled album to the top of the charts. A feast of rockabilly, punk and rock all fused together, the record introduced to a large audience the extraordinary talents of guitar maestro Chris Cheney, double bassist Scott Owen and drummer Travis Dempsey. Tracks like Save the Day, All Torn Down and West End Riot became cherished classics. Then, two years later, we were hit with the massive-sounding, political-savvy ‘Roll On’, which spawned the memorable title track, the galloping Pictures in the Mirror and the easily likeable Dirty Man. Punters across the world lapped up the band’s unrelenting live shows (they even sold out a gig at the famous London Astoria a month before playing there), and life for the trio couldn’t have been better. But no one could forsee what was to follow. In September of last year, after the band had returned from performing at a number of festivals in Europe, Cheney was involved in a serious car accident while driving on Victoria’s Great Ocean Road. The brush with death left him hospitalised with a broken femur and on his back for weeks, bringing to a halt the hectic schedule of the band and relegating music to the backburner for a while. Sure the boys’ touring legs had been growing steadily more tired, but anyone will agree that a near-death accident is one hell of a harsh way to be forced to take a break. Still, Cheney’s recovery over the past year has been remarkable to say the least. Unfortunately, mid way through this year, another blow was struck to the band, with Dempsey realising life with The Living End just wasn’t for him. Another strange blessing in disguise? Perhaps, since luckily, there happened to be someone on call who didn’t need to think twice about becoming one third of one of the most exciting outfits on the planet. His name: Andy Strachan.

Andy, on the phone in the first of a bunch of media chats he’s having today, discusses what it was like to hear about Chris’ mishap, even though he wasn’t close mates with the singer/guitarist at the time. 
‘I had never met them really. But I do recall the night just prior to Chris’ accident. I went and saw Eskimo Joe at the Corner, and Chris was there also. I was having a drink backstage and he was there, and then we all went to Cherry Bar, and I saw him for the last time at about 3 o’clock. And the next day I hear he’s nearly dead. It was a really weird kind of feeling.’

Fortunately, after months of physiotherapy, Chris is well and truly on the mend. 
‘He gets the odd aches and pain here and there, but I think in general he’s fine. He got the last operation just a couple of weeks ago to remove the metal rod that they put in his leg. This thing was fucking huge. I couldn’t believe it. The fact that they had to put that big bit of metal down his leg, then rip it out and he’s walking around the next day – Crazy! I don’t know how I would have dealt with it myself.’

And so it seems nothing, not even a debilitating accident and a lineup change, can really stop the juggernaut that is The Living End. To prove that they’re as popular as ever, just look at what happened to What Would You Do, a short and sweet rocker, when it was recently released to radio. Despite the fact that it’s actually a b-side on the upcoming One Said to the Other single, it instantly rocketed to the top of Triple J’s vote on-line chart, the Net 50. And the guys couldn’t be happier. 
‘Yeah! I know!’ exclaims Andy. ‘The recording was fairly rushed and we did it here in Australia. And that is one of Scotty’s songs as well, so he’s stoked. It’s only a minute thirty or something. So we’re really happy about that.’

As for the single itself, which is out January 20, it’s just become one of the most added songs to radio, and is an enticing preview of their third album, to be recorded in L.A. with Mark Trombino (Jimmy Eat World) early next year and then released around June/July. So with Andy taking up the sticks and the band’s momentum on the rise once again, what’s the feeling in the group, and how are the new tunes shaping up? 
‘It’s pretty damn good I think. We’re all pretty happy and we’re going to try and do our best. Who knows what’s to come? We have to wait till we get over there and press the record button before we know how it’s going to sound.’ Maybe I’m too close to it, but you can’t really mistake Chris’ voice, that guitar sound and the double bass thing. But I would say the way it’s shaping up, it’s a definite mix of old and new. I suppose ‘Roll On’ was a complete departure from the self-titled album, which was really funky and rockabilly whereas ‘Roll On’ was more ACDC. Perhaps the (new) songs are a little more simplified. We’ve really been conscious of that – we don’t need to put all the trickery in there. Which is what made ‘Roll On’ slightly harder to listen to.’ Andy continues to reveal just how busy the band has been, despite the major setbacks. ‘There’s around-about 45 demoed songs. It’s like a big bag of mixed lollies really. You have your favourites in amongst that bag of mixed lollies, and there’s some that you leave aside for later. I think we’ve got it down to a short list of about 22 or 23. Obviously we all have our favourites, but we’ve luckily agreed on the bulk of the album I would think. There’s some real standouts in my mind anyway, but it’s always a different situation once you get in there and record them, they always come out differently. There could be a couple of dark horses that come out of nowhere.’

And what about band chemistry? Has it been easy for the new guy on the block to gel with Chris and Scott, who have been friends since high school? 
‘Our humours kind of match up in a sick sort of way,’ informs Andy. ‘Most of the time spent together is laughing, which is great.’

And how is he finding the task of keeping up with their frantic musical pace, in addition to their personalities? 
‘It’s completely inspiring,’ gushes Andy, in reference to his bandmates prowess. ‘It’s been a long time since I’ve been challenged musically. It freaks me out day to day. Chris or Scott will do something absolutely phenomenal and my jaw will drop. ‘But I think I’ve adapted fairly well to it. You can’t really go and try and emulate exactly what Trav would play, so I’ve definitely just tried to fit in in my own way. It certainly is a workout. But no, it’s good – I’m getting fit!’

Just wait till he gets on the road with the guys for this year’s Big Day Out festival. The Living End, a band somewhat born to to appease huge crowds of youths frothing at the mouth for some feel good rock to chant and mosh along with, will surely be one the highlights of what is a very impressive line-up. 
‘I’m looking forward to it, because I’ve never had the opportunity to play such huge events,’ says Andy. ‘I’m also very nervous and scared. Last time I went was the last time the Living End played. And it was just crazy. I like my space, and there was no space there.

As a warm up for The Big Day Out tour, The Living End will be road-testing some new tunes, as well as pulling out some old favourities, at The Brass Monkey, Fountain Gate on January 9.

© Buzz Magazine 2003

When The Carnival Comes To Town

Author: Mark Neilsen

There’s a romantic idea that everyone would come out in force when a carnival rolled into town. People would be wide eyed at the wonders on offer, startled by some strange sights, maybe even scared by some things. Well, there’s something else everyone experiences similar feelings with that they flock to when it pulls into town once a year, and that’s the Big Day Out.

With a circus theme for this year’s festival, we find some of the artists performing dressed in carnival clobber, appearing as if they could almost form their own travelling sideshow. Chris Cheney from The Living End is the ringmaster with his lairy jacket and bow tie. With the addition of a bowler hat and cane he looks like a technicolour version of one of the droogs from A Clockwork Orange. Juanita Stein from Waikiki is a fairy and although angelic looking there’s surely a hint of mischief behind it all. Jon Toogood is decked out as the stereotypical strongman, resplendent in leopard-print, caveman-like outfit with mini handlebar moustache and hair plastered down as it probably was in his year four school photo. It’s quite funny that Jon’s the strongman considering he’s arguably the skinniest man in rock. Then there’s Jesse Dessenberg, aka Kid Kenobi, who’s the sad clown, with the face makeup still on.

Going to the carnival is associated with a fun time, so would the assembled troupe enjoy their Big Day Out experience as much as a carnival? “If you compare it to a kid at a carnival and an adult at the Big Day Out, it’s pretty much the same thing. A carnival/circus for big kids, I guess,” Jesse says. “It definitely has a circus vibe about it, particularly with tents. They even had a big top, haven’t they? It was weird actually, the first time I played the Big Day Out I played in the Hothouse and that was actually in a tent and it was all grass on the dancefloor so it did feel like you were in a circus act almost.”

Chris: “I don’t know whether I’ve ever been to a carnival. I’ve been to a couple of circus things, but I’ve had much more fun at the Big Day Out, that’s for sure, because you can get alcohol at the Big Day Out. You can’t even get it at the circus. Still there’s something about seeing people on a trapeze with their life in their hands. It’s one thing seeing a good gig, but that’s definitely a special moment.”

Jon: “I reckon, without sounding like an arse-licker, it is definitely the best experience for a band because you’ve got at least a day off to recover after every show, and you can party and it’s so social the way it’s all set out back stage. You can’t actually avoid dealing with people, which is good. Everyone gets in each other’s face, It’s really good. And what a great way to play in front of 45,000 kids. It’s the rush, it’s like jumping out of a plane.”

For Juanita, carnivals have negative connotations and hence she hates circuses and the ilk. “i never wanted to go as a kid,” she says. “The idea of training animals scared the shit out of me and you don’t get much more evil than clowns as far as I’m concerned. I think I was scarred when I was about 13. My friends made me watch this movie called IT. My god, how could you ever got to the circus after watching that movie?”

Then again, this whole musical lifestyle that these artists lead would seem like a carnival at times. “Without a doubt,” Jon states. “We were talking about it the other day. It’s the only job in the world where you can abuse yourself and drink copious amounts of alcohol, take as much drugs as you want, as long as you do your job really well when you walk back on stage. If you’re a lighting guy, or a sound guy, it’s the same thing. It’s the only job in the world where it can be a carnival as long as you do your job really well. But still, in saying that I find that doing too much I find my job starts to suffer so at the moment I’m in the medium ground. I’m behaving myself. It means the shows are really good.”

Chris similarly agrees to the carnival nature of rock and roll. “There’s been quite a few bands that have done tours with the circus/sideshow theme, and some more so behind the scenes than the band sometimes. Have you seen the roadcrews of different bands? Even the road crew we used to have, they were a pretty funny looking bunch. There’s definitely a similarity though, isn’t there? Especially in this day and age, the more bizarre you are, the more people turn up to see you,” he says.

Juanita believes music festivals, such as the Big Day Out, are particularly associated with carnivals. “I can’t talk for experience because I’ve never been in the circus but I imagine they’re similar. I think circuses are very rock and roll. Circuses scare me though. That’s one element that’s not in rock and roll. Rock and roll doesn’t scare me. There’s something very dark about circuses. It’s the same with music. It’s a raucous, crazy, electric energy and very, very unpredictable and anything could go wrong and it’s all based on the nature of performance. Very colourful, very alive,” she says.

“It does get pretty crazy,” Jesse admits. “Nothing too outlandish, no great sex, drugs and rock and roll stories, it’s something you get used to after a while. It’s not like a normal nine to five thing.”

Not that any of the acts have felt so strongly about carnivals that they wanted to be adopted by carnies. “I always thought it looked really seedy and dodgy and the thing is in New Zealand we didn’t have many circuses so I never really got to see one. I would have liked to hang out with the animals and stuff but I actually feel really sorry for the fuckers,” Jon says. “It’s very similar. Thinking about it now It’s the whole Gypsy lifestyle of getting in a caravan and driving from town to town,” Juanita adds. “I wasn’t that adventurous. I think I was a bit too much of a sissy,” Jesse laughs.

“I don’t think I was much of a freaky thing,” Chris says. “I always thought that being a musician there’s not much call for that in a circus really, because they just put the needle on the record and off they go. I wasn’t going to get involved in all the theatrics and stuff, it was never a dream of mine. Just to run off with a band.”

The Big Day Out happens Saturday 25 January at Sydney Showground

Living End Fired Up For New Beginning

Author: David Nankervis

Few bands have exploded on the music scene as three-piece punk/modsters Living End did in the late 1990s.

A swag of awards and huge record sales greeted the Melbourne outfit’s first forays into the music world.

Support tours for Australian icons AC/DC as well as US rockers Green Day and Offspring had the trio in the box seat for a mega-career.

So it is surprising that singer/guitarist Chris Cheney says his serious car accident in September 2001 – which has put the band’s stellar success on hold since – may have been a blessing in disguise.

Not that Cheney would ever wish to endure a repeat of the terrifying accident on the Great Ocean Rd in Victoria 14 months ago when his car was hit almost head on at 100km/h and spun off the bitumen and down the embankment before being stopped by a tree.

Cheney and his girlfriend were lucky to be alive, with the vocalist having a pin inserted into his shattered leg.

An upcoming appearance at the 2001 ARIA awards was cancelled and the band had an enforced lay-off for most of 2002 before undergoing a change of drummers with Andy Strachan replacing Travis Demsey.

However, the time off from a busy recording/touring schedule may have been a silver lining following the accident, Cheney said in hindsight.

“it was almost a blessing in disguise,” he said.

“At the time we had planned to come straight home from the UK, got straight into recording the third album and take off on tour again to support the new release.

“Even then we knew it would be hard going but accidents happen and the plans all changed.

“We were grounded for a year and people probably thought we were finished.

“But the break has given us time to write new songs and the feel of the band is better than it has ever been.”

Cheney will soon find out if the sometimes fickle music market agrees when the band’s first single since November 2000 hits the record stores on January 20.

The single, One Said To The Other, has already received some airplay and listener feedback will soon show how fondly the band, which achieved quadruple platinum sales with it’s self-titled debut album, is embraced the second time around.

Living End, however, won’t be sitting idly by when the single is released as the trio will join the national Big Day Out music festival next month.

It’s a gig the new line-up is looking forward to, Cheney said.

“We did the Big Day Out in 1999 and had a great time,” the 27-year-old said.

“When you play early in the day’s line-up it gives you a chance to sit back later in the show, relax and enjoy things.

“You also get to play to a crowd that doesn’t necessarily know who you are and you have the challenge to win them over.

“We’ve played lots of festivals in Europe and Japan but there is something about playing at home.

“There is something about Aussie bands, they are laid back and naturally bond together.

“Maybe the international acts don’t have as much time to mingle but the Aussie bands know how to have a good time.”