It’s A Living Thing
Author: Craig New
With a new album, a new drummer, and currently in the midst of a huge national tour, The Living End are back, and at their blistering best.
There’s nothing more frustrating for a music fan than their favourite band taking a leave of absence that lasts for over a year, just when it seems their hard work is finally paying off. It’s even more frustrating for the band themselves when that break is the last thing they expected.
So it was with Melbourne rockers The Living End, who were forced into a hiatus throughout 2002 after vocalist/guitarist Chris Cheney’s well-documented and brutal car accident that nearly cost him his life. But, as the old saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining, and it was during this break that MODERN ARTillery, the band’s third and most accomplished release, was created. Following 2000’s Roll On, it’s more solid songwriting, a return to their roots with a breath of fresh air that highlights the band’s passion.
“It’s really hard to describe how that happened,” laughs Cheney. “We’re so close to it that I don’t really know any more what the bloody thing sounds like! I guess the freshness thing is just to do with Andy [Strachan, drums] being in the band now, and to do with all that we went through, that once we went into the studio to make this album. We were like, this is it, take no prisoners. I think we had a bit of a point to prove with this one, we couldn’t just ease back in. We had to make sure that we had a good bunch of songs and do it properly or we’d risk losing all that we’d built up.
“I think the songs are a lot better than what we had for Roll On. They were more written from the perspective of trying to impress people with the musicianship. With this one it was all about having more simple kind of songs, but still keep the listener’s attention, which is hard to do without a lot of fancy stuff going on. There’s still a little bit of that, but as you can hear, it doesn’t dominate the songs, there’s a good song underneath everything else first.”
And as self-deprecating as Cheney can be at times about his own songwriting abilities, there are fans everywhere around the world who would argue otherwise.
“The good thing now is that I don’t have to worry about [songwriting], and I think that the trick is just letting it come when it comes,” Cheney ponders. “I just don’t think you can force yourself to write a song, let alone a good one, if you’re scratching your head and trying to force things. I don’t know, maybe I’ve just got high standards, but I don’t find it the easiest task in the world – but I probably make it hard for myself because I’m always trying to write the next epic song or something! I’m always wanting it to have lots of hooks and lots of weird chords, I don’t know – just trying to surpass what I’ve done before I suppose.”