Living End Loves Jebediah

Author: Lauren McMenemy

Home-grown acts have always been an integral part of the Big Day Out. Lauren McMenemy talks to just a few of this year’s Oz representatives.

On its third “very well-paid holiday” – that which is commonly referred to as the Big Day Out – Jebediah is having a blast.

“It works on many levels,” grins drummer Brett Mitchell.

“Absolutely,” agrees singer/guitarist – and Brett’s brother – Kevin. “I don’t think you would find a single band in Australia, or even overseas, that would say no to a Big Day Out.”

“It’s definitely got that kind of iconic status,” says Brett.

Get these two together and the jokes fly – more evidence that after eight years, morale in the Jebediah camp is going strong. This BDO, after its shot at the mainstage, the Perth outfit is playing on the smaller Essential Stage, and the crowds so far have been very receptive. “Maybe my memory’s not that good, but I think I’ve enjoyed doing the Essential Stage more than I ever enjoyed the mainstage,” says Kevin. “Because the mainstage has got the thrill of the sea of people, but the intimacy just gets completely lost.”

“The mainstage is like a status thing,” says Brett. “We’re happy to lose a bit of status for a bit of vibe.”

And with that intimacy and this year’s huge line-up, the Jebs are having the time of their life.

“I reckon of all the Big Day Outs we’ve done, this is the best one ever,” says Kevin. “The other ones we did were predominantly heavy metal – your Korns, your Marilyn Mansons – which, you know, isn’t really our schtick.” So that just leaves the seasoned BDO experts to give their tips to the kids heading to the Royal Adelaide Showground tomorrow.

“My special message to Adelaide would be almost a two-barbed message,” says Kevin

“Two-pronged, even,” interjects Brett. Kevin: “A two-pronged message. After today’s gig…”

Brett: “This is prong one.”

Kevin: “Prong one. After today’s gig being so amazing…”

Alas, Kevin’s prong could not be exposed, as The Living End’s Chris Cheney spies the band and – in what will later be revealed as deliberate sabotage – answers the advice question after much ado.

“Sunscreen’s a good one isn’t it?” asks Cheney.

“Oh damn, that was mine!” Brett is clearly unhappy.

Cheney’s sabotage over, he then makes his escape. After he leaves, the cheeky smiles come out.

“I hope you put in your interview the Chris bit,” says Kevin. “Because you don’t get your interview sabotaged by a member of the Living End every day.”

“And that was a deliberate attempt to poach publicity from us,” adds Brett.

So we’ll just lead off with the Living End, and have Jebediah as an afterthought? “Maybe your headline could be Living End loves Jebediah,” laughs Kevin. “Then people might read it.”

End Of The Beginning

Author: Lauren McMenemy

The Living End has overcome a near-death experience and the walkout of a founding member. Now, it is ready to reclaim its place atop the Oz rock heap, writes Lauren McMenemy.

For more than a year, it seemed like the odds were stacked against the Living End, one of Australia’s premier rock outfits. The band had been on top of the world, with hit albums, sold-out tours and inroads overseas. Then the world came crashing down.

Frontman Chris Cheney almost lost his life in a car crash towards the end of 2001. Unable to walk, it put an end to the band;s plans for recording and touring. Then, just as Cheney was mending, drummer Travis Demsey walked out. Back to square one.

But bass player Scott Owen says the band never lost sight of the dream.

“We knew that we were definitely going to go on, but it did seem like the odds were stacked against us,” Owen says. “It’s all a bit of a blessing in disguise… I can say that now – I didn’t think that when it was happening.

“They say everything happens for a reason, and when Chris had his accident, we really hadn’t had any time off for a long time, so it was a bit of a blessing in disguise in that we were actually forced into a break.

“We were pretty much ready to just go into the rehearsal room and start making new songs and get straight back out on the road again. We were all pretty tired by that stage because we had been going so hard. So it meant we got to have a bit of a rest.

“I’m sure it wasn’t anywhere near as enjoyable for Chris as it was for me and Travis but, yeah, that worked out for the best; it meant we got to sit down and reflect for a little while.

“And then Travis leaving – it was something he had to do; it just wasn’t working out for him personally. Now we can look back and it all happened for the right reasons, and we’re in a much better place for it.”

Andy Strachan, formerly with Pollyanna, stepped behind the skins, and the Living End was granted a new lease on life.

“We all feel really refreshed,” Owen says. “All that stuff that you miss when you’re out on the road all the time – like just seeing family and friends and stuff – it’s been good after years of touring to just have that back for a year. Now the batteries are recharged and we’re ready to go out and do it again.”

It seems the public are ready for it as well – the band released a B-side, What Would You Do, to Triple J late last year and as a welcome back present for the boys, it went straight to the top of the youth station’s internet-voted countdown, the Net 50.

“We didn’t really know what people were going to think,” Owen says. “It was nerve-racking putting out the first thing and waiting to see what would happen. We were over the moon about that reception.”

Phase one was complete. Phase two is now in gear – the first Living End single proper in more than a year, One Said To The Other, is in stores this week. A local headliner slot on the Big Day Out tour is in progress. Plans are afoot for recording a new album.

“(Songwriting is) all we’ve had to concentrate on, so there’s a hell of a lot of good stuff there,” Owen says proudly. “The biggest problem’s going to be picking out which songs go on the album because there are so many that we’re married to and we like so much. It’s not a bad problem to have.”

It seems now it’s all falling into place – and the Living End couldn’t be happier. “It’s a pretty daunting thought to think that we’re going to be walking out on stage in front of that many people, and I guess the expectations are going to be pretty high,” Owen says of the BDO.

“It seems like it’s going to be very nerve-racking but – and I hope this doesn’t come across the wrong way -we’re all pretty confident at the moment. We’re feeling pretty good. We’ve had a whole year to just really put ourselves under the microscope and figure out what we’re doing and how we can do it to our full potential.

“We’re just ready to go. It couldn’t happen soon enough.”

One Said To The Other is out now through EMI. The Living End plays at the Big Day Out next Friday.

Summer’s Biggest Day Out Rolls Into Melbourne

Author: James Norman, Patrick Donovan

While safety dominates the news, this year’s Big Day Out line-up is being touted as the best ever, writes James Norman and Patrick Donovan.

Roll up! Roll up! With what is being touted as the biggest line-up ever, the Big Day Out kicks off on Australia Day for its 11th rockin’ year at the Melbourne Showgrounds, boasting the best contemporary local and international musical entertainment.

Chris Cheney from local punk/Oz rock band the Living End, who played two Big Day Out shows last week in Auckland and the Gold Coast, says Melbourne audiences can expect a “more relaxed atmosphere” than previous Big Day Outs.

“The vibes are better this year than in recent years because there’s no real angry bands on the tour – there’s not a crowd full of macho-ness,” he said.

Big Day Out organisers Vivian Lees and Ken West have instituted rigorous safety and crowd control plans.

Safety measures include a “D” barricade in front of the main arena stages, creating an alcohol-free zone in which security staff will have the power to remove crowd surfers, moshers or people who are intoxicated or aggressive. The area will be cleared at 4.30pm to allow a fresh group of moshers in.

Water will be sprayed on the audience to minimise the risk of dehydration.

“People are there to see damn good music,” Cheney said. “The line-up is awesome … PJ Harvey, Queens of the Stone Age, Foo Fighters, Pacifier, Rocket Science, You Am I and Us, a great blend of Australian and international bands.”

The Living End formed in 1992 in Melbourne fresh out of high school. They released their first self-titled CD in 1998 and have made a name for themselves worldwide, touring America and Europe in in 2000-01.

But success has not come without its hiccups.

“All our plans were put on hold after I had a bad car accident in September, 2001, and smashed up my leg,” says vocalist Chris Cheney.

“But I think we’re a better band now than we’ve ever been.

“We’re a good little rock show. We go out there and give it our all – it feels really positive for us. People know us; we just have to do our stuff.”

Big Day Out organisers have also reminded people to wear sunscreen and a hat and to keep up their consumption of food and water throughout the day.

The first two shows of the 2003 Big Day Out tour, which took place in Auckland and the Gold Coast last week, were incident-free.

“There’s no room for macho guys with tops off muscling in on other people’s space,” said Living End drummer Andy Strachan.

“At the Gold Coast and Auckland shows people were really looking after each other . . . everyone is there to enjoy the music.

“It’s just a matter of being aware of whose around you and making sure everyone has the opportunity to enjoy it as much as you,” he said.

Mr Lees said the hardest part about the Big Day Out was squeezing so many good acts into the bill.

“We have a lot of bands who want to come to Australia in the summer, and we often find ourselves with too many bands,” he said.

For the bands, it’s the No. 1 gig on the festival circuit.

Dave Grohl, singer with the Foo Fighters, said: “We play the Big Day Out because it’s the best tour in the world. You ask any band in the world – they all want to play the Big Day Out, every single one of them.”

The Big Day Out will also see the return of Perry Farrell, whose band Jane’s Addiction has recently re-formed.

Farrell is credited with conceiving the first modern day alternative rock festival, Lollapalooza, in the US in the early 1990s.

Mr Lees said: “I’m pleased to have Perry back. He’s one of the great characters of rock. Some of the stories that came out of last time he was here, I can’t even speak about them.

“Perry is the creative spirit behind Lollapolooza, so he really knows what it takes to produce a festival and to actually be the inspiration behind a festival and I felt that when he came out with his band Porno for Pyros in 1996.”

The Living End

From the Big Day Out Programme 2003

The Living End’s story is already Australian rock & roll folklore. And they only released their debut album in 1998! It’s an inspirational tale of punk ethos, classic songwriting values and road-hardened live energy which has struck a blistering chord with a massive audience, both here and OS. And what makes this band so goddamn sticky? So likable? Well, there’s the tunes, natch. But here’s what singer/guitarist Chris Cheney has to add: “I think people know we do everything ourselves, we do what we think is right and it’s all about the music. We’ve never put that second to anything.” This is a band as much inspired by Midnight Oil and AC/DC as the rockabilly heroes you might think of on first listen. And that shines through for Aussie audiences, who’ve never been able to get enough of this tight-as-they-come trio. No compromise. No prisoners. No worries.

The Living End

Author: Polly Coufos

After a long and enforced lay off The Living End are set to make their way back into the country’s music venues and into your hearts. Perth will see the Melbourne based three piece for the first time in two years when they take their place in the lineup for Big Day Out 2003. It will most likely be the last time for quite a while too for soon after the national tour the band (guitarist Chris Cheney, bassist Scott Owen and new drummer Andy Strachan) head to the US to record their third album, which is scheduled for release later this year. Cheney has always been seen as the band’s designated leader. Rising with the popularity of pop punk The Living End were a typical near-on-10-years-in-the-making overnight success. Fortuitous the timing may have been, there was always much more about this band than their peers. Prisoner Of Society took rockabilly back to a time when the Stray Cats played with edge as well as fire and Cheney’s playing drew praise from all corners, especially The Offspring. Following the release of album number two Roll On, the band spent a lot of time Stateside and had just returned home to spread the word locally when in September 2001 Cheney was involved in a road accident which left him with a badly broken femur. During the time off the band’s then drummer Travis Dempsey left the fold and so it is a slightly new and definitely reinvigorated The Living End which will release new single One Said To Another next Monday, January 20.

Going on a profile from your website it appears all your interests seem to be totally involved with music. Is that true? 
“Yeah, well they kind of are. I don’t know whether I am narrow minded or I just try to bring everything that I like into it, which is probably more to the point, you know as far as I always did art at school and was always interested in that and did a bit of drama and I think being in a band sort of gives you the opportunity to do all that, as far as art work and t-shirts and poetry and lyrics and just expression. It doesn’t get much better I suppose being in a band if you want to do those sort of things so we are pretty lucky really to be able to do that and get paid for it.”

The new single One Said To Another sounds distinctively like The Living End. Is that something consciously planned? 
“I don’t think that it is something that we over think. I think we do want to try and sort of keep things sounding natural and from the heart and that comes down to writing songs I think and also just performing shows and everything. We would never sit down and really analyse our sound, we have never really had to and I am glad that we have never had to get the whiteboard out and try think of how we are going to move into the next stage of our career or whatever. I think it just kind of happens naturally. I think that bringing Andy into the band has probably made a slight difference, but as far as I can tell it’s a good thing, ’cause we are really happy with the way that he plays and I think that as a unit we play better than what we ever have and so it’s a difficult question, I think it is something that people on the outside can probably see more so than us but all reports have been good so far and we just sort of stuck to our guns and do what we do best. But at the same time trying to improve in certain areas, so maybe that will affect the sound.”

Let’s go with Andy for a minute. How has the changeover been? 
“Well, it’s been really great actually, it’s been a breath of fresh air and it probably could have gone either way, especially with a three piece with bringing in an extra member. I don’t think that you can ever tell how it is going to turn out.” 
Especially with Travis, because he was such a visual part of the show as well as obviously playing the drums… 
“Yeah, exactly and I think that Andy knows that he has come into a band where he has probably got big shoes to fill or whatever but it is definitely going in the right direction. There was probably a stage there where we probably thought that this was going to be really difficult, but I don’t know whether it is luck or hard work or what but he is fitting right in really well and he is playing. We have done a couple of gigs, we did some small pub shows just sort of unannounced where we could get up and play the new songs that we had learned that week, and it was great. It was sorta full house and I think he proved to a lot of people who were there to see what would it be like, to prove that he can cut it. I just can’t wait to get out there and do it properly.”

So, I know that you are coming over here for the Big Day Out. Is that going to be the opportunity for most people to see you? 
“Yeah, we are not doing another tour probably until we get back from the States, we are going over there in February to record and then we will probably come back over here and probably do a proper tour of our own. At this stage that is the only chance.”

So who have you lined up as producer? 
“Mark Trombino.” 
He did Blink 182, Jimmy Eat World and a bunch of pop punk… 
“Yeah, and that is not really our cup of tea even though we are likened to those sorts of bands, but I think that without saying anything against them I think we’ve got a bit more to offer as far as versatility and whatever. You know, that is only one part of us is kind of fast punky stuff, but we definitely want to keep moving in a different direction and try lots of different stuff, but you know he has done a range of things and we have spoken a couple of times on the phone but we haven’t actually met him in person yet, but he seems like a really nice guy.” 
Is it a daunting prospect? Is there a point that you can say, like, “two weeks, if there is no sign of life by then, it’s not worth it, not what we thought it would be, we’ll back out,” or is the scheduling so tight that you need to go over and it needs to be done and it needs to be released? 
“Well, the schedule is tight but it is our schedule. I suppose we want to get it out quicker probably than anyone, ’cause we’ve got songs ready and we are all set to go but I suppose if it wasn’t working I would just pull the pin with him ’cause you are stuck together for a while and you have got to get along and more importantly I think he has gotta be there to offer ideas and suggestions when we get stuck. I figure that if we have got our stuff together, as far as what we have got and where we are headed and songs and so forth then the idea of him is to maybe just add a little guidance. I don’t want to rely on him. I think that we can pretty much produce our own albums if we had to, but yeah it’s a risk each time I s’pose, but I figure any of those guys at that level are going to have done enough albums to be pretty easy going I would think and to try and adapt to each band. And he loves the band, he has seen us before and was really excited to do it, so it has gotta be a good thing.”

You only did two shows to promote Roll On in Perth. Your accident put paid to any roadwork for a long while. How much did that hurt the album? 
“Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, so we never really got a chance, we were supposed to come home (to Melbourne) to do a video clip for the Dirty Man single and various other things, and then it obviously all happened and that was it for that album. I also don’t think that it was a very easy listening album. It was difficult in a way but we planned it that way because we wanted it to be a bit of a challenge, and not just this instant throw away pop thing. We have learned that this was a monster after we had created it, as far as reproducing it on stage every night, so it was good in a way because we learned and so with this album we have left it wide open, people don’t know what to expect.”

Have you had periods where you have just cursed your bad luck? 
“Definitely. The bottle always gets you through though (laughs)… Yeah, we have ’cause we, I mean people have bad luck all the time and our bad luck is nothing compared to what some people have. I mean that (the accident) is bad luck, but I don’t know, I think it is something that had to happen in a way ’cause we had been pretty much touring constantly since 1992. Me and Scott formed the band and we had never let up really, it was just a continual thing which just kept going from strength to strength and it was almost like we couldn’t put a foot wrong, every EP sold better than the previous and the album went crazy and we got to tour all over the world and all of a sudden it came to a grinding halt, which I think in a way has been a good thing after all this time. It made us stop and probably think about it a bit more and appreciate it and take a bit of time to really put some good solid work into this album so in hindsight I wouldn’t want to go through it again.”

How is your health? 
“Yeah, it’s pretty good now. Yeah I am sort of all up and about now. You wouldn’t know that anything had happened other than a few scars here and there but otherwise I can’t complain at all.”

While you have been off, you have had a small part in a very successful Australian album, Kasey Chambers’ Barricades And Brickwalls. 
“Oh yeah Crossfire. That was a little country album wasn’t it? Yeah, well that was great doing that, we did that when we were touring with AC/DC, that was how long ago that was ’cause we actually went to the studio after one of the shows with AC/DC that night and did it with Kasey. That was great, we had sort of met her a few times before that and knew that she was a fan and she wanted to do a song. We were rapt ’cause I am a huge country fan anyway and most of my favourite guitar players are all country players from the ’50s and ’60s, so we just went and did that and she wanted us to play as we do, she did not want us to play like a country band or anything, that is the cool thing about her I think. She is willing to move with the times, so to speak and yeah she is an incredible singer. She just nailed it basically on the spot there and then, we only did probably a few takes. We wanted to get a live feel and she sang a live vocal with it. Yeah it was great, it was a great experience and of course it has gone onto sell gazillions.”

You were set to play it together at the 2001 ARIAs weren’t you? 
“Yeah we were. It was all hooked up and we were really sorry that that never happened and then it’s funny because we got over that and then Kasey was here a couple of months ago when she did a big tour and I was going to get up and play at a Melbourne show with her but I had to get the rod taken out of my leg that week so that didn’t happen either, so who knows, maybe in the future. We’d actually love to do an album with her, a full album at some stage. We have talked about it with her ’cause we’ve got so many left over songs and so has she and I think it would be really good just to sort of see the collaboration and show different sides of what we both do. We have spoken about it a bit and it’s just a matter of getting time, ’cause we are just starting to get under way again and I think that she is just winding down again with the new baby and all. You never know.”

How typical of the new material is One Said To Another? Who produced the single? 
“Lindsay Gravina, who did the first album. That came about just because we wanted to try again something that was so totally opposite to Roll On, we wanted to just get back to a three piece sounding song that had all the rawness and everything that we liked about the first album, that perhaps we lost a bit on the second, so we figured who better to do it than Lindsay and we got along so well the first time and it was great ’cause he has got so many good ideas and he does keep it raw and it’s all about the passion and everything which I think that you can sort of forget about if you have got too many options in the studio and too many buttons to push, you can sort of forget about getting the song down and getting the heart into it and he’s really good at keeping you grounded there and keeping the little mistakes and new ones and whatever.”

It sounds like you are down on Roll On. Many people love that record… 
“That’s good. You know I’m probably a bit too negative about it. Maybe in time it’ll grow on me. I mean I wouldn’t know the last time I listened to it. I just think that we have probably tried too hard to distance ourselves from the whole Prisoner Of Society three chord punk rock thing, but in a way I’m really glad that we did do it and we did try and completely outdo ourselves because people really liked it I s’pose and it left this one wide open and we don’t really know what we are going to do or anything including us I s’pose but I just think that maybe some of the rawness of the band is probably lacking a little bit, but that’s alright. I’m glad we did that album and it was still a good experience.”

Unlucky Strikes

Author: Christie Eliezer

A car crash and a split in the ranks – but the Living End are back with a vengeance.

A horrendous car smash, 12 months in physical therapy, a member quitting, and more endless frustrating delays. But that hasn’t stopped the Living End. All last year, they met every day to rehearse new songs. “We haven’t been visible in the public eye but we haven’t had a break, as such,” says bassist Scott Owen.

They actually did some secret gigs around Melbourne under names like Redwings, Longnecks and Checkout Chicks. This month they burst back onto the scene. There’s a new single “One Said To The Other” which has all the Living End trademarks. Then there are dates on the Big Day Out around Australia where they’ll introduce their new drummer and some new songs like “Maitland Street”, “What Would You Do”, “Blinded” and “Fond Farewell”. They’ve dropped the experimental style of the second album and returned to their early simplicity.

At the end of February, armed with 50 new songs, they head off to America to start work on their next album with producer Mark Trombino. “Mark’s a good rock ‘n’ roll producer, he gets big fat powerful sounds.”

Until 16 months ago, the End’s rise to international fame seemed unstoppable. In September 2001, guitarist Chris Cheney and his girlfriend were driving down to the coast when they were involved in a near-fatal car crash. He was on his back for a month, and had rods put into his broken leg. He was on painkillers for ages, moving around with crutches, and then a walking stick.

Says Scott, “He was lucky, it could have been worse. The first few rehearsals were nerve wracking. He couldn’t stand up for too long, he still gets a bit sore and stiff.”

As the new songs emerged, drummer Travis Dempsey realised the new songs didn’t fit his style, and quit last July. His replacement was Andy Strachan, formerly with Pollyanna and The Boat Show.

In their absence, a new breed of guitar bands like the Vines, the Jets, the Datsuns and the Casanovas have emerged. Scott likes them, thinks it’s funny when they’re seen as ‘new rock’ when they sound like traditional bands. “It’s great to hear guitar music on the radio again, rather than electronics or wimpy pop!”

As to suggestion these new bands are gunning for the Living End’s space, Scott is amused. “We’re not trying to compete with anyone. We still have the energy, the passion and the heart. We’re coming out with all guns blazing.”