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.”