Philadelphia Inquirer

New Beginning For End

Author: Patrick Berkery

It’s pretty macabre to call a head-on car crash a blessing in disguise. But that’s how the Australian punk-pop trio the Living End views the summer 2001 wreck that injured singer-guitarist Chris Cheney, and sidelined the group as a whole.

Fresh off the tour behind its second album, Roll On, the trio was set to head into the studio when Cheney broke his leg in the accident. While the Living End leader was forced to rehabilitate for five months, the band had time to reflect.

“I guess Chris’ life flashed before his eyes when there was a car coming toward him,” bassist Scott Owen says from a tour stop in Atlanta. “Him not being able to play guitar was a forced opportunity to have to put himself, and his health, and mortality first.”

The unplanned respite clearly sparked a creative fire in the Living End. Its just-released third disc, Modern Artillery (Reprise), is sophisticated and multidimensional, while maintaining the band’s signature hooligan snarl.

Produced and mixed by Mark Trombino (Blink 182, Jimmy Eat World) the record packs a ferocious, radio-ready punch. But the timely message of “Who’s Gonna Save Us?” and the smart chord progressions of the Police-like “Jimmy” balance the sonic brawn with brains.

“There were a few ideas we were chasing as far as what sound we wanted,” Owen explains. “But that album [Trombino] did with Jimmy Eat World had such a powerful, modern sound. We thought that kind of cleanness and bigness, and our back- ground in making our parts sound kind of timeless, would be a good combination.”

The Living End, with the Vines, Jet and Neon, at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at the Electric Factory, 421 N. Seventh St. Tickets: $23; $19.50 advance. Phone: 215-627-1332.