The Living End

Author: Emily Kelly

When Chris Cheney, front man for The Living End, tells me that he is counting down the hours until “things start up again”, I can’t help but sympathise with him. If history is any indication, things are about to become incredibly busy for The Living End, with the release of their new album, due out February 6.

“Things are just starting to get really busy,” he says of the recent release of the album’s first single, What’s On Your Radio? He explains that, contrary to popular opinion, the song does not deliberately and literally discuss the medium of radio itself.

“It wasn’t supposed to reference radio, like radio stations. It was about where your headspace is at, or what you’re tuned into. Initially, the first line popped into my head, the radio idea of ‘what’s on your mind’, like talkback. It’s more about everyone’s different directions in life. Hey, it’s not the best thought out song, but that’s rock and roll!”

Keen observers of The Living End’s career would notice that many of their most successful singles delight in imparting elaborate stories and social commentary instead of more personal tales.

“Yeah I think that we have done that in the past, but I definitely think this album has changed. I’m fully aware of that, but I’m not sure why that is. For me, from a songwriting point of view, I always enjoy trying to write things from an outsider’s point of voice. Commentating on something that’s happening to someone else, like Second Solution where a character is on the run. I’ve always enjoyed that kind of thing, make believe worlds. But with this album there are more personal songs on there. I wanted to write songs that are more from within.”

Interviews with Cheney conducted after the release of their previous album, Modern Artillery, didn’t exactly reveal an incredibly confident character. He spoke of his desperate desire to create the perfect album, and hinted his disappointment that Modern Artillery failed to live up to his incredibly high expectations.

“I really think with the last one, I gave it everything I could, but the songs weren’t executed properly. They were really lacking. I’m not really disappointed by it, but there are parts of it that I wish we’d done better. We were too ambitious on the last album, which is fine, but I think you have to back it up with confidence and we didn’t really do that. But we learnt from that and we did that this time.”

Cheney’s feelings on their newest creation, however, are completely different and he is brimming with confidence as he discusses the album. There is a hint of uncertainty that becomes occasionally apparent, but his attitude remains incredibly positive.

“Even when we were mastering it, even though we’ve heard it 6000 times, it still sounds good. I thought we’d be well and truly sick of it by now. I’m pretty excited because I don’t think our albums have ever captured what we do on stage. With this record, underneath all the live energy, we tried to have killer songs and killer hooks. It was really important that we have a pop moment this time. It has to be really satisfying. You have to get it. It has to be done properly or there’s no point. The crafting of each song this time was good, and then we put that energy on top of that. We have narrowed this album down to 14 songs, we have thrown away so many songs and been so meticulous with this album. It feels like we have it right. It’s about to take off, I can tell. It’s just a matter of getting out and playing live and having an album we’re really proud of. That’s the feeling behind it at the moment. Let’s get this one right.”

I ask Cheney whether he thinks the band may put too much pressure on themselves to create something brilliant.

“Yeah well, I do kinda wish it wasn’t the case because it drives me crazy. There are a lot of sleepless nights and blood, sweat and tears, but we wouldn’t work any other way. It’s a combination of a few things, a hunger, a drive and an insecurity. We’re never really too confident in what we’re doing, so we strive for excellence. It’s like a double-edged sword, it’s really an ambition thing, trying to prove that you’re still relevant. It’s a matter of not getting lazy because we still have so much to learn. People think ‘Oh it’s your fourth album!’, but I think its only the fourth album, we’re still leaning how to do things properly!”

Throughout The Living End’s 11-year career, they have been incredibly successful, and not only within Australia. Their appeal has reached the furthest corners of the globe, including the notoriously fickle US music industry. Despite this success, they’ve prompted very few imitators. The punkabilly genre, it appears, is currently their own.

“I don’t know, I have theories on it! One is that…how do I say this politely…if you’re into rockabilly, like 50s rock, you live for it. You don’t care for anything else. There are a lot of people like that who hated The Beatles, Sex Pistols, Nirvana. We loved them. We always wanted to be more than a rockabilly band. I could never understand why people wanted to limit themselves to one style of music. It is a shame to miss out on so many albums and bands that are there to discover. I don’t really know why there aren’t more bands doing this, but it makes us look better!”

What’s On Your Radio? is out now and you can also catch The Living End at the Big Day Out.

Definitely On Your Radio

Author: Tom Wilson

A certain well-known Australian band once sang “It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock & roll:. And The Living End would be the first to agree. Since gaining their current moniker in 1997 following a stint as cover band The Runaway Boys, they’ve gone through two drummers and belted out three full-length albums. And they’re about to make it four. Upright bass maestro Scott Owen spoke to Dave Williams, taking time out from phone interviews to…well do another interview.

So what have you been up to today?
Doing interviews, pretty much! (Laughs) Just on the phone at home. It’s all good.

Well the new single came out yesterday, so that would be all you’d be doing I guess, just promos?
No, not really. It’s pretty much just today. We’re heading up to Brisbane and then to New Zealand later on this week for a couple of gigs.

You’re playing in New Zealand?
Yeah. We’ve got a show up in…Christchurch, I think it is? On the weekend.

You’ve been there before?
This would be the fifth time over there, I suppose. But yeah, we’re playing some festival thing at Christchurch on the weekend and the Hoodoo Gurus are playing so I’m excited.

Were you a big Hoodoo Gurus fan as a kid?
I wasn’t really a huge fan as a kid. I can see a few similarities between their music and our music and I’m getting into it the more I hear it.

How long ago was the last time you were down here?
About two years, I think.

You’d be about due for another trip back, wouldn’t you?
Yeah, well we’re going to release an album in about February, so when that comes out we’ll do a proper national tour, where we go everywhere.

Now the new song you’ve got coming out [is called] What’s On Your Radio? Do you reckon some people might say that’s typically your kind of music? That’s what you’d expect from The Living End?
Well that was one of the songs on the album that sounds most like the kind of Living End that everyone knows; we’ve been doing that fast punk rock, rock & roll kind of thing for a few years, you know? And that’s what we want to be the first thing that we put out. We haven’t put anything out for a while, so we wanted the first thing to come out to show that it’s still us. We haven’t done the Diorama thing where we’ve gone away and written a classical album or shifting-direction kind of album or anything.

You’ve been doing some touring in the States, too.
Yeah. We did a bit of touring over there earlier this year. The last time we were over there was February, March or something… We did a tour with Jet and The Vines, and another Australian band called Neon. And we also did some gigs with Blink 182 and No Doubt; some stupidly big stadium kind of things with them. So yeah, that was great.

That must have been a bit of a rush; going out on a stage to that many people.
Yeah, yeah. It was brilliant. It was a bit hard for us because obviously everyone was there to see Blink 182 and No Doubt, so it was a bit of a challenge for us, to go out and play for a bunch of people who’d never heard of us, and we had half-an-hour to basically try and win them over. It’s good to get out of your comfort zone and go to the other side of the world and play to people who don’t give a shit about your singles, they give a shit about what they see on stage in the next half-an-hour. So you’ve really got to fucking put your head down and give ’em what they want.

So you came back and have just been working on the album?
We started recording the album in June. We played up at Byron Bay the day before we started recording at Splendour In The Grass, which was excellent. But we did a few gigs under a different name before we went up there to record, just so we could try out all the songs that we were going to put on the album; try them out on an unsuspecting crowd, you know what I mean?

So what was the name of the band you played under?
We played under the name “The Checkout Chicks” once. And we called ourselves Glenn Waverly and the Meltones” because there’s a suburb called Glenn Waverly and a suburb called Melton, so that shows you how sharp our sense of humour is.

You’ve got the album coming out in February. Have you settled on a title yet?
No, we haven’t yet. Still in deliberations. We’re still kind of making jokes about it every day.

Okay. Thanks very much for talking with us. Enjoy the rest of your interviews.
Yes indeed. I will, I’m sure.

The Living End’s new single, What’s On Your Radio? is out now

The Living End On Your Radio

Author: Angelo Vo

There’s been a few hic-cups along the way – most notably a car accident – but The Living End are finally back with their latest release, ‘What’s On Your Radio.

Angelo Vo asks Chris Cheney, The Living End’s vocalist and guitarist what he plays on his radio

What’s On Your Radio is the first single taken from The Living End’s upcoming album due out February next year. But you shouldn’t take this song as a sign of what’s to come, says Chris Cheney on the band’s web diary. “For anyone that’s interested and is thinking this is the template for the new album then guess again! I would say this album is closer to Roll On [their 2000 release] as far as variety but it is so much stronger.”

Doing what all bands live to do, they’ll be playing at some of the summer festivals – Homebake and Big Day Out – and Cheney says punters should be gearing up for a mix of the old and the new at those shows. “We are stoked about playing the Big Day Out and can’t wait to play new stuff on that tour as well as [on] our own other upcoming shows. I think we all agree it’s time to play new songs and mix up the setlist some more. EP songs anyone?” writes Cheney.

“Having a new record about to come out means promo time and that means plenty of interviews. I guess it’s the worst part of the job but it’s still pretty easy and if all we have to do is talk about music then it’s all good.”

A wise one, that Cheney, because indeed we did interview him. And since The Living End are singing about the radio, we decided to ask some questions on the subject.

You’re on a road trip with a few friends, what’s playing on the radio?
Chris Cheney: “I hope we are, but probably The Eagles.”

We all did it, made mixed tapes with songs taped off the radio. What was the first song you taped?
Working Class Man
by Jimmy Barnes.

Late one rainy night a love song dedication is made. It’s for you. What song is it?
You Are My Sunshine.

You’re dedicating the love of your life a song, what would you pick?
True Love Ways
– Buddy Holly.

You’re listening to talkback radio and you’re compelled to ring up. What’s made you so enraged?
I dunno, people who want speed limits increased?

Select a three-song radio playlist you’d like to listen to as you get ready to go out on a Friday night.
Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey
– The Beatles; Rock This Town – The Stray Cats; Friday On My Mind – The Easybeats.

CDs, MP3s or transistor radio, what’s your indulgence?

Did the video kill the radio star?
Most definitely yes… it’s too complicated and I’m too tired to go there… blame Elvis.

You wake up in the morning to your radio alarm clock, what would be playing?
Good Morning
– You Am I.

Sarah McLeod

Author: Nina Bertok

When Sarah McLeod named her debut album ‘Beauty Was A Tiger’ she couldn’t have found a more appropriate name – the record roars, yet maintains a serene beauty throughout. “That song was based on a dream and I didn’t even know what it meant at the time, but then I started thinking of all the different connotations that could go with that, and I was like ‘yeah, I’m going with that!’

“It was just really strange… I was lying there, and I happened to have my dictaphone by the bed for once, and the whole song just came out in one hit. I knew exactly how the drums would go, what the guitar would do, I even started singing the first line. ‘Beauty was a tiger’ was the first thing I started singing when I dreamt of the melody. The weird thing is that usually I’m so lazy that I hate getting up to go find the dictaphone whenever I get a good idea, and I just try to memorize it, which never works. I hate getting up to go find the thing, so then I start convincing myself it was a shit idea anyway and it probably wasn’t even worth it.”

Lucky that dictaphone was floating near by, because the first single off the new album, coincidentally also called Beauty Was a Tiger, is doing good things for McLeod – and the Living End’s Chris Cheney – at the moment.

McLeod recalls, “I’ve wanted to work with Chris for a few years. About a year ago I bumped into him at a wedding and brought the idea [of a duet] up, and he was like ‘yeah, that’d be cool!’ and as soon as I got around to writing the single I knew it sounded like something he would do. And it’s actually really funny because when I called him up, I kind of had a bit of trouble at first. I thought I had his phone number, but it ended up being Scott’s [Owen, bass], so he picked up and I went ‘Oh hi, is that Chris?’ and Scott said ‘No, it’s Scott’ – and I just couldn’t remember his fucking last name, so I said ‘You mean Scott from the Living End?’ and he went ‘eh-EH’ and just hung up on me! He thought I was some crazy stalker fan!”

Eventually McLeod got a hold of Cheney when her manager contacted the band after one of the Living End’s shows. Cheney’s response to McLeod’s idea was a very positive one, “He said ‘I fucking love it, I’d love to do it, it’s a great idea, let’s go!’, and I was like, ‘Woo-hoo, you ripper!'”

Accompanied by Cheney, their bass player and producer Matt Lovell, the four ran in the Hunter Valley, drank heaps of beer, jammed and recorded in the middle of nowhere and with plenty of time up their sleeves.

“When I was thinking about who I wanted to do this record with, the criteria went kind of like this: for a start, I wanted the band to really fucking swing and just sound totally professional and make all of the songs just come to life – and it’s really hard to put a band together that can actually do that, you know! On top of that, I wanted them to be all really nice guys, because I knew I’d spent so much time with them, and I wanted to basically put together a whole new bunch of mates, really,” McLeod pauses and laughs, “Well, I wanted them to be brilliant musos and I wanted them to be fucking lovely, and cute, and around my own age, and available – it was very difficult!”

However, once McLeod got her dream band together it worked better than she ever could have imagined. “We’re just having so much fun on stage! And I’ve never felt this relaxed on stage in my life. I was in Superjesus for ten very fun years, but I was always writing to please the boys, really. Every time I’d write a song I’d wonder ‘oh, are they gonna love this too?’ and ‘are they going to be able to connect with this idea?’. But now I’m just writing purely and unashamedly whatever comes to my mind – even if it’s cheeky, and even if it gets me in a bit of trouble or whatever. I just say what I want to say, and no one’s going to be affected by it but me. There is a lot more freedom for me this time around.”

What’s On Your Radio

Author: Unknown

Considering the frequent excursions of genre with their Modern ARTillery, it’s almost a shock when The Living End return to the straight-ahead rockabilly-ish racer rock of their original MO. What’s On Your Radio, as such, is neither freshly “up yours” as their earlier stuff nor as intriguing (if not entirely successful) as their later work. However, as is generally the case with a TLE song, it’s always a joy to hear Chris Cheney rip into another filigree guitar solo, as he does here. It’s nice to know some things never change.