The Living End
I can still recall a night many, many moons ago, when I went to a gig at the Glenelg Lifesaving Club. It was the first time I ever saw or heard of a little band called the Living End. They were completely unknown and supporting the Numbskulls, and I thought they were awesome – I still do.
That night they certainly stood out from the crowd, sporting both a drummer that played standing up and an upright bass player. They’ve since lost the stand up drummer but have retained their trademark double bass. Scott Owen, the man behind that double bass, expains why he chose such an imposing instrument.
“I’ve been playing that thing since I was in high school, over ten years now,” he explains. “When I was in high school I just got right into rockabilly music and became obsessed with ‘fifties music, and that’s just the instrument you need. Back then when Chris and I decided that we were going to start playing 50s-ish rock’n’roll together it was just essential to have a double bass. I just couldn’t see that we could be a decent rockabilly band if I was going to play piano or something like that. I have actually tried a normal bass before and I am not very good at it at all,” he laughs.
More recently The Living End lost long time drummer Travis Demsey. “He just wasn’t up for the whole touring thing,” Owen shrugs. “Basically he wanted to spend more time at home. Our batteries were all pretty low when we finished touring at the end of 2001. We’d been on the road pretty solidly for a few years up until then and I think Travis had just had enough of being away from home all the time. He wanted to spend more time at home with his girlfriend and his dogs and lead a bit more of a normal civilised life.
“I love touring personally. I can’t think of anything I would enjoy more than getting out there and playing every night and experiencing different things from day to day. It does get really tiring though. There is the part of me that really loves it and then there is the part of me that gets a bit homesick now and then, but it only takes a couple of weeks at home before you realise nothing has really changed and you get that hunger back to just get out there and do it again!”
The Living End are well renowned for their level of musicianship and hence losing a member must have been like losing a limb, but Scott explained that the transition between drummers was actually quite smooth.
“We were pretty lucky actually. We met our new drummer Andy [Strachan] who is actually a South Australian boy, through a friend of ours who had played in a band with him before. As soon as Travis quit the band, this friend said that he knew somebody who would be perfect for us, a great drummer and a really lovely guy. We got together and it felt really good straight away as we got along really well with him, and it was the same when we got together in the rehearsal room: he was a really solid drummer and could play anything we asked.
“When we first met him, he was in the process of finishing up a tour with another band, he still had a couple of weeks to go on the road. In that time, Chris and I thought we had better just satisfy our curiosity and see what else was out there. We ended up auditioning about forty guys but nothing topped Andy. It’s a bit like buying a new car, even if you feel like the first one you see is the one you want you still feel like you should check some others out.”
Their new album, ‘Modern Artillery’ has some noticeable differences to its predecessor, ‘Roll On’.
“I think that on the new album, the arrangements are a little bit more simple and straightforward than the songs on ‘Roll On,'” Owen considers. “I think that at that time we felt like we had a point to prove, that we weren’t just the Prisoner Of Society, three-chord punk band that people might have thought we were. So we wanted to show the eclectic side to the band. That we could play fast, that we could play tricky stuff and that we could arrange our songs in bizarre ways. On the new album we have taken a more simple approach without the songs being any less interesting, but just a little more simple and direct I think.”