dB Magazine

The Living End

Author: Ryan Smith

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It’s been far too long since The Living End graced us with our presence. But with a collection of singles and a DVD soon to hit our shelves, the band decided now was as good a time as any to make their triumphant return. And believe me, the fans are looking forward to it.

We also know singer/guitarist Chris Cheney is excited. “I’m really looking forward to the tour,” he gushes. “Some of the shows we’ve been doing overseas have been great, and I just feel we’re playing really well as a band. Better than we ever have before. Plus it’s always good playing your own bloody backyard, particularly because there’s so many more songs people back home know and get into. When you play overseas you sometimes struggle to get people into it. So I’m just looking forward to the usual Aussie craziness that’s usually at our shows.”

It’s true: the band’s shows are notoriously crazy. I have fond memories of punters literally hanging from the rafters of the venue on more than one occasion The Living End have visited our fair city. “It’s hard to explain really,” says Cheney. “It’s like when people come to our shows they just really let themselves go. And it’s quite a sight to behold when you’re up on stage. I don’t do anything else other than play in a band so for me it’s like an enormous release, it’s a great outlet. And I guess people go to our shows for the same reason. A couple of beers in the belly and off they go…”

Over the years The Living End have grown to be quite a big player in the Australian music scene. A lot of bands have come and gone, but The Living End seem to be here for the long haul. Cheney is quick to explain how that feels from a band’s point of view. “It’s weird because lately we’ve been getting a lot of younger people coming to our shows. It’s like there’s a whole new generation of kids who are becoming aware of the band. Maybe their older brothers or someone were playing our albums and they’ve caught on… But while we were in the States, all these American kids were coming up to us and were totally fascinated by the band; they were asking all sorts of questions about why we do this and why we do that. But to some extent we’re just emulating what they invented. Like having a double bass, and our rockabilly influence especially – it was all American so it’s weird to have American kids coming up to us and asking us to tell them all about it,” he laughs. “I just guess there aren’t any bands over there who are doing what we are – they’ll be a fully fledged rockabilly band, but the fact that we’ve always mixed things up makes us different. We still keep the visual aspect and style, but when we record songs, we like to throw it all into the basket and not stick to the one thing.”

Earlier in the year, The Living End treated the United States to a night of amazing Australian music touring with The Vines and Jet. “The Vines headlined every night, thought Jet probably should have,” says Cheney. “It was a funny situation though, because we were going on first. But it was fine actually, because The Vines have sold a lot more albums in the United States than we have, and Jet were starting to get really big there. So when we were offered a spot on the tour, at no time did we think we should’ve been headlining. We just thought ‘okay, we’ll go over there and play to our audience and their audience, and it’ll be a good combination of people in the crowd and we’ll try and win them back and give the other bands a run for their money.’ I mean – we had to. We were the Aussie rock veterans.”

The Living End have earned the rank almost pushing ten years of releasing music as compiled on the forthcoming ‘From Here On In: The Singles 1997-2004’. The CD will coincide with the release of a companion DVD. “It was strange,” admits Cheney. “When the idea for the DVD was first thrown out there, I said we weren’t really the kind of band who shoots a lot of footage of crazy stuff. We don’t get girls to take their tops off, we don’t smash up hotel rooms and film it just for the sake of a DVD. But then I was really surprised when it was all put together and the guy who collated it was saying it was going to be over two hours long and he was chopping a whole heap of stuff out. I think it’s good that it actually tells a story without having to resort to any of those cliche rock ‘n’ roll moments. I just never knew we had that much footage. I seriously don’t remember the camera being around enough to warrant a two-hour documentary.”

“I’d always said that if we ever decided to do something like this, we’d want to do it properly and not just have a half hour of us fucking around. But I guess after so many years you forget just how often stuff was filmed and how much has happened. Some of the stuff that’s on there I’d totally forgotten about. There was some moments where I was wondering if I really wanted to sit and watch it all again anyway… But there’s nothing too embarrassing in there,” Cheney chuckles. “Just a lot of hairspray.”

‘From Here On In’ documents the band’s entire career, from their humble beginnings in the Melbourne suburbs to the present, complete with the appearance of “new” drummer – Adelaide’s own Andy Strachan. When quizzed about how Strachan fit into the dynamic of the band Cheney laughs but is quick to point out he was just what they were looking for. “When Andy joined the band, of course we knew a little bit of his background and stuff. One of the main factors about him was the fact that he’d played in a band called The Runaways when he was sixteen or something, playing drums for a band that played fifties and sixties covers. And it’s funny because at that time we were doing the same thing in Melbourne but we were called The Runaway Boys. Plus, he’d also said that he grew up with a next door neighbour who was always playing Madness and The Stranglers. So he had a love of fifties stuff as well as seventies and eighties new wave stuff, which is the basis for our whole band really.”

“It’s funny though because the press still seem to refer to him as ‘the new guy’. We just do it on the rare occasion when we really want to rev him up,” laughs Cheney. “But i think Brian Johnson from AC/DC is still referred to as ‘the new guy’, and look how long that’s been…”