The Living End
Author: Nathan Jolly
Issue 8 2004
Andy Strachan of The Living End talks to Nathan Jolly about the state of Australian rock, greatest hits sets and Craig Nicholls, amongst other things.
The Living End story is deeply ingrained in Australian folklore; the rise from obscure rockabilly covers band, to their independent release of the 3rd highest selling single in Australian music history, through to the car-crash that nearly claimed front man Chris Cheney’s life, and forced the band off the road for a year. And of course the comeback album and the greatest hits set to curtail the eight-year recording career. But according to drummer Andy Strachan, the best is yet to come. “The title of the record (From Here On In) sums it up. It covers then til now, and the future is open.”
Andy Strachan joined The Living End in 2001, and he still holds the enthusiasm that he had when he was a fan of the band. While very much a fully-fledged member of the group, he is still able to talk gushingly about Chris Cheney’s abilities, and the amazing back catalogue of songs that the band has amassed. He says it is this profilic streak that forced the best of compilation.
“There was so much stuff, that our manager came to us and said ‘we have so many hours of footage that if we don’t use it, it’d be a real shame’, and then we went back through the archives, and discovered ‘Fuck, the band has had that many singles!’ So it was just a bit of spring-cleaning, and the fans on the site have been asking for a DVD for ages. Plus it leaves the next album open. I think it’s long overdue. We’ve spoken about a rarities collection too. There’s so many songs that deserve to be on an album, but for whatever reason they haven’t. Such a huge backlog of songs. Maybe we’ll release a collection of demos.”
“If you were in Australia in ’98, you were a fan of this band. There’s no way you could have lived in Australia, and not known about The Living End,” he continues. It is clearly evident throughout the entire interview that Strachan considers it an honour to be in Australia’s premier rock band, and it’s a distinction he is happy to put in the yards for. A few months ago the band toured America with fellow Australian bands “Jet” and “The Vines” as part of the “Oz Invasion” tour, a tour that saw the band playing a string of sold out shows across America. “It was fantastic, Best tour ever”, he enthused. “It was fun, challenging, bloody exciting…every show sold out, nothing like it has happened for many years. It was good to be Australian.”
“The fact that all the bands are Aussies says a lot really. Everyone got on great. Craig from ‘The Vines’ gets seen as a little out there-he’s not really. He’s a very gentle, lovely guy. Just because he goes a little weird on stage…the Jet guys love a drink and partying, and they are genuine guys as well. How many millions have they sold? They appreciate it all as well. Made me proud to be Australian.”
In the spirit of this patriotic display, it comes as no surprise to hear that a bit of good old-fashioned one-upmanship played a key role on the tour.
“We all took it like a competition, trying to get one up on the next band. Trying to make it hard to follow our show. It was healthy and meant we all played really well, at every show. Everyone was at 120% throughout the whole tour.”
With three Australian bands loose on the road, it would come as no surprise to hear the tales of rock and roll debauchery, of televisions thrown out hotel windows, and drinking blasts. According to Strachan, this isn’t the case with The Living End.
“We are pretty well behaved. I wish I could tell you otherwise,” he laughs. “We’ve a job to do, and we enjoy it, and don’t wanna piss it up against the wall. There’s some bad comedy going on when we tour. That’s about it.”
In America, The Living End found themselves outselling the other two, more established bands at the merchandising table most nights. I was surprised to hear that the fans were already well acquainted with the band.
“Yeah absolutely. There is a big cult following over there. We haven’t had any radio success, and to be that far from home, and have people singing along to every song, it shows that once a fan, always a fan. The Living End has always been a band that’s exciting to watch and to listen to.”
The reasons for this loyalty are varied, from great songs, an energetic live show, the raw energy of the punk-fused sound, or maybe it’s the Aussie spirit that was captured on the tour. But Strachan is happy to simplify it all.
“It’s The Living End bug, you catch it, and that’s it. Don’t worry I was like that too. I caught it.”