The Living End
Author: Matt Vesely
In 2003 Australian punk-a-billy legends The Living End made a triumphant return to the live arena at the Big Day Out. On the eve of yet another BDO tour frontman Chris Cheney reflects that to have their first shows after an extended hiatus due to Cheney’s car accident and extensive recuperation was a little daunting.
“You either rise to the occasion or you don’t, and, as much as I shit myself before going out on stage, it’s such a rush. I like Australian audiences, ’cause you either prove yourself or you get bottled!” he laughs.
“We just go out there like we’re going to slay the audience. We’ve never known any other way, and then for some reason on that tour everyone was coming up kind of going, ‘oh yeah, you guys are a really good live band,’ like they didn’t know or they’d forgotten or something. But it was good, because it kind of proved to us, that, yeah, that’s what we are, we’re a live band.”
Despite the triumphant return, Cheney remains a little disappointed about the way the band followed it up. Shortly after the tour they released their third full-length, ‘Modern ARTillery’. “It wasn’t the album for me that it should’ve been. I just felt like it sort of… I don’t know, I just don’t think it had the songs in the end,” he ponders.
Not so this time: in February the band will release their fourth album, ‘State Of Emergency,’ which Cheney is clearly confident about. “It feels like only a couple of days ago. It went way over time, way over budget and way over everything else, but I think it’s worth it. I definitely think that it’s the best thing that we’ve done. I know you’re supposed to say that in promo, but it’s been worth the headaches and the long nights. The energy is there, but more importantly the songs are there. All the songs are really, really good, and it was a really hard task kind of narrowing it down to the fourteen that are on there – but it was a great problem to have. I wanted to release a double album, you know; just couldn’t convince anyone else!”
‘Modern ARTillery’ was frequently reported as a tough record for the band to make, especially due to creative differences with American producer Mark Trombino. But, despite being back in Melbourne to record and a far more amicable relationship with producer Nick Launay, Cheney remains adamant that it was still no cakewalk. He sighs “I’ve just resigned myself to the fact that for me, that’s what making records is. Every stone has to be turned and that just means a lot of second guessing and a lot of paranoia and stuff, and I really don’t enjoy that!” he laughs. “But, it’s just kind of the way it is. If you want to get results then you’ve gotta push yourself the extra yard. Some people enjoy recording, but for me it’s a hard slog from go to whoa. From the whole writing process right up to whatever it is, last month or something, when we finished it. That’s it. And it just feels like, man, I need a beer!”
Cheney notes that lead single What’s On Your Radio? is not much of an indication of the more melodic ‘State Of Emergency’. “There’s some really different stuff, but I guess ultimately [the songs have] got a pop element to them, but are quite dark in a way some of them. It’s really hard to describe, but I think every song sounds like us.”
Fans will be able to make their own judgements when the band previews new material at the Big Day Out shows this summer. Cheney is understandably eager to get out of the studio and try the new songs live, where he truly feels at home. “Any tour for us at this stage is good: so Big Day Out, that’ll do!” He’s not so tense this time and certainly isn’t worried about the reactions to unknown material. “I think people are really wanting to hear new songs from us. I don’t think that we’ll get in trouble for not getting up and playing all the so-called “hits”. So, yeah, we’ll throw em out there. Maybe we’ll just throw out score cards and get people to write on them and hold ’em up!”