CD Of The Week

Author: James Dawson

THE LIVING END – State Of Emergency – EMI

The Living End have a well founded reputation of being an awesome live act. With their fourth release, State Of Emergency, the band have managed to bring their performance from the stage, and into the studio. And in the process have constructed an album that is powerful, yet not overly aggressive in its delivery.

The first single, What’s On Your Radio?, is similar to some earlier TLE tracks. The song starts with a heavily accented, high pitched guitar riff that sharply explodes into a familiar wall of pure rockabilly noise. Even though it may be derivative of early tracks, it still remains a well written punk song. Focus is on allowing the melody room to breathe, hence giving the song a distinct pop feel. Wake Up, the second single, is essentially and systematically constructed of layers. Beginning with a sole guitar picking out chords, to moving through numerous dynamic crescendos, the song reaches its climax and concludes in a Pink Floyd style sing along with the kids.

Lyrically TLE have continued to write songs for ‘the people’. Long Live The Weekend, is essentially about ‘Workin’ for a man that you don’t understand’, and spending your ‘dough’ and ‘wasting away’, during the working week. The song also features a guitar riff at the beginning of the verses that is beautifully simple, yet brutal. State Of Emergency delves into new territory for TLE, with a strong focus being placed upon perfecting the melodies. Reborn combines the old and new together, welding melody with chant-like vocals. Whilst Order Of The Day is consistent in its barrage of melody, whether it’s displayed in the guitar licks, or Cheney’s layered vocal.

TLE have delivered on an album that will see them known as not only a kick arse live band, but a band that can reproduce it all on CD.

No End In Sight

Author: Scott Adams

Scott Adams (SA) has a bit of a chat with The Living End’s Andy Strachan (AS) about thier latest LP “State of Emergency”…

SA: Hi Andy, how are you?
AS: Bloody good.

SA: Good to hear! We’ve only got a small space in BMA so I won’t keep you very long – just a few questions… first thing… this album, which I think already is my favourite Living End album…
AS: Thank you very much!

SA: That’s alright – I’m sure you’ve heard that a lot today (it’s five in the afternoon)
AS: No, no… you’d be surprised. But I feel that too. I think we all do. I think we’re on to a winner.

SA: Definitely. For me it’s… you’ve still got the recognisable melody there but it’s a harder, more organic sounding album – less pop punk.
AS: Oh, thank God man – that’s exactly what we set out to achieve – that means so much to hear from someone (outside the band) that has heard it! That’s a great thing!

SA: It’s quite ‘British’ sounding to me. I get bits of, um, almost like Squeeze in there, and Madness – were you listening to that sort of stuff while you were writing the album?
AS: Um – look, we’re all very influenced by British music. I love Madness, The Stranglers, The Clash… the list goes on – and Squeeze too! (Squeeze) was a band that we just all went, a couple of years ago, fuck yeah! I remember all that stuff! So yes, there were definitely those influences in there, and the producer we worked with, Nick Launay, is, um, I guess you’d call him a Pom, I don’t know, he lives all over the world…he’s worked with John Lydon… all sorts of interesting people so he brings a feel from that side of the fence. What you’re saying is good to hear man, thank you!

SA: Well, I’m ‘a pom’ from that era – maybe I can hear those things a bit more than other people!
AS: It’s a great thing to hear – I’ll pass all this stuff on!

SA: If you hadn’t have said that and backed me up so conclusively I was going to say that maybe the sound was a reaction to spending so much time in the US on the last record? Were you trying to make a record that didn’t sound like an American sounding record?
AS: Well, yeah. That’s again a very good point. I suppose “Modern ARTillery” turned out completely the opposite to what we anticipated or wanted; because we were so heavily involved with the American record label we listened to them too much. So we worked with an American producer who produces very American sounding records. It was a bad choice… in hindsight.

SA: It’s still a good record though?
AS: Yeah… it’s great, fine, but that’s not what we’re into. We’re into organic sounding records, we’re into playing live as a band and capturing moments on record, whereas (“Modern ARTillery” producer) Mark Trombino was about “let’s record the drums first, and then the bass, the guitar and then I’ll fix it all up with pro tools…” Man, that’s not how to make a record! SA: Sure.
AS: So, again you’re spot on! The whole emphasis on this one was to have
the three of us getting into a room – that’s the only way Nick likes to record. Capturing the band as we play! We use more aggressive sounds, the drum kit doesn’t sound like a synthesizer – it breathes! There are ugly notes on there… and a nastiness to it that you don’t get through the modern techniques. And that’s exactly what we were going for.

SA: There’s a line in your press release that came with the record, where Scott says you were surprised by the amount of kids that came out on the last tour… do you think they’ll be frightened off by the sound of this release? Because it doesn’t sound like anything else they’re hearing at the moment?
AS: I seriously hope not. I guess there’s always that chance but… (lead off )‘What’s On Your Radio’ has got a great reaction so far, the kids seem to like that – going by those reactions I think we’re pretty safe in assuming that they’ll at least listen to it… which is all we can ask! But Scott’s right, there’s a whole new generation of kids coming to shows that we’d like to focus on, do some under age shows. Hopefully they will just give the record a chance – everything you’ve said about the record is spot on, and hopefully other people will agree if they just take the time to think about it the way you have…

SA: If you can get them to see you live, if they see the new songs played live, you won’t have any worries…
AS: Live is our big strength – exactly right again! We’ve just got to play as many bloody shows as we can!

SA: Which brings me to my next question – you’re all getting older now, are there any plans to scale down the touring after a decade on the road for the band? Or will this record be toured as hard as the last one?
AS: No. We not the kind of people to sit back and wait for things to happen. You have to be proactive in this industry or you’ll die. People will forget about you… we still get a big kick out of playing live, we’re aware that that’s our strong point, we’ve still got a few good years in us yet!

SA: I ask because it seemed to me that, on the “Best of” compilation DVD interviews, Chris seems a bit weary of the whole thing. At least that’s the way it comes across. Maybe that can be manifested as ‘I don’t want to tour as much as I used to’? Maybe he was interviewed on a bad day…
AS: There are certain points… we spent a long time in America last year, going from shithole to shithole, with a few good shows in between and, more than everything, it’s mentally draining, touring.

SA: Especially when it’s not ‘your tour’? You did a lot of supporting in America…
AS: We did one tour on our own, which was great, but the majority of the time was with other bands, which is fine… at least you’re still playing to people which is the thing. But the industry can get you down. You deal with the political bullshit you have to deal with and play the best shows you can play.

SA: Fair enough!
AS: Yes!

SA: Anything else you’d like to say?
AS: I don’t know! I think it is our best album, I hope people will be surprised, maybe shocked in a few places… there are a few curve balls in there. Give it a chance – go and buy it!

SA: Well I’m off to let the neighbours hear it again now! Thanks a lot, and good luck with the record!
AS: Thanks Scott.

The Living End’s magnificent “State of Emergency” is out now through EMI, kids. Go! Buy!

The Living End

Author: Jesse Shrock

For some bands, the first new album after the mandatory Greatest Hits release (yeah, they called it The Singles, but same diff) can be seen as a crucial step. Is the band still relevant? Do they retain the signature brilliance that won them fame in the first place? Or have they taken bold steps into new musical territory? In the case of The Living End, the answers to all these questions – including both of the last two – is a resounding ‘yes’.

When I interviewed vocalist/guitarist Chris Cheney on the eve of the release of The Singles: ’97 – ‘04 in late 2004, he said his intention from that point was to move forward with a ‘fresh, new sound’. Fifteen months later, sipping mineral water on the terrace of a Prahran café, I remind him of these intentions…

“Did I really say that?” he chortles. “That’s a bit gay, isn’t it?”

It’s characteristic of the extraordinarily high standards that Chris is notorious for holding himself to that his ambition will often clash with his humility in the manner just depicted. But it is thanks to those unyielding high standards that Chris has earned a temporary respite from his insecurities, and can claim, along with band mates Scott Owen (Double Bass) and Andy Strachan (Drums) that he is supremely confident in their latest release, State of Emergency.

“Now that it’s all said and done, I do feel confident about the album,” Chris says, “because I just feel completely drained over it. We gave it everything we could, and we put in all we could, and there’s no regrets. With the last album, we ended up going ‘Hmmm, maybe there’s a few things we could have done differently’. With this one I really feel like we’re as happy as we’re ever going to be, and I think you can hear the results.”

“It was a fucking nightmare, putting ourselves through the nitty gritty of it all…” Andy adds. “All the fine details. We just spent days and weeks and months deliberating. But it paid off because now we can actually feel comfortable about it.”

Chris readily agrees that State of Emergency doesn’t so much represent a ‘fresh new sound’ for the band, but rather a few twists on the old.

“There’s a sound to the band that’s steeped in classic rock and roll that I think works for us,” he says. “And we’d be crazy to mess with that. But I think we’re probably making some new kinds of sounds together arrangement-wise, and the way we’re layering things and stuff like that. We’re wanting to really try and take it somewhere… rather than just having ideas, following through with ideas. If we were going to try something really different to what we’ve done before, to actually pull it off. Do it really, really well. So, that it can be a strong point of the album. Not just ‘oh, that’s an interesting song’, before the next single. With this album, I think that the more different songs could be singles, which is great for us.”

The previous night, I was at a screening for local media writers and presenters of a documentary, entitled How to Make an Album and Influence People, which detailed how The Living End’s original vision for their fourth studio album was warped, compromised and modified in the course of recording and production… and how the final result is ultimately all the better for it.

At the beginning of the film, the band’s intentions are to go into the studio with a bunch of well-rehearsed songs and lay ‘em down to tape, retaining all the sparking edge of their live performances. “I reckon that was us rebelling against (Modern) Artillery,” Scott says of these initial plans, “because that was so well-produced, as far as slickness and neatness goes. We were like ‘####, man. We’ve really got to make a rough and ready-sounding album, because we know we have that in us, and we didn’t do it on Artillery.’ But it just unfolded to the point where we knew it wasn’t going to be that album as soon as we started pre-production.”

As the documentary continues, we see the band re-uniting with Roll On producer Nick Launay and workshopping their selected songs. Though Nick is renowned for his love of live to tape recording, we see a mutual recognition between him and the band that this batch of songs are worthy of something more.

“With the songs that we were choosing as our favourites for the album (we knew) it wasn’t going to be a raw, straight ahead rock and roll album,” Scott says. “It was going to be a more complex kind of thing. And it just kept unfolding and unfolding, to the point where it got horns and kids choir…”

“I think it would be really one-dimensional for us to just go and make an album full of Second Solutions or something like that,” Chris says. “I think other bands do that and they do it well – you’ve got the whole ‘New Rock’ scene. There’s a part of us that does that, but I also think that the reason why songs like Nothing Lasts Forever and Wake Up end up getting written is just that we do that well also. We thought it would be a real shame to stifle that, and go ‘We shouldn’t have songs like that.’ So it was then very easy to say ‘let’s bring in some horns’ and ‘let’s bring in the kids on that part.’ And I’ve always wanted to take it a little bit further and show another side to the band.”

But don’t imagine for a moment that these frills amount to anything more than the equivalent of a few sketches on the solid wall of sound, a racing stripe on the hotted-up car, a ring on the fist punching the air. Indeed, the entire band responds enthusiastically to my suggestion that State of Emergency also represents a return to the anthemic, chant-heavy sound of their earliest work.

“I just like every song to be as powerful as it can be,” Chris says. “Like the end of No Way Out, when it hits with this big kind of climax at the end of the song. If it’s going to be that kind of thing, it’s got to be almost terrifying. I think I just like to have songs which are very visual and larger than life, perhaps. When we have songs that have that anthemic kind of quality, we tend to make them really over the top. Perhaps we just have a knack for doing that with those kinds of songs.”

“That’s just something that we’re really into that kind of works for us – the whole anthemic thing,” Scott says. “All of our songs have a real melodic kind of factor to them. And I guess we still like just shouting out those choruses!”

“We did try and approach every song with the idea that we would play ‘em live for the next two years,” Andy adds.

“I reckon we could go out and play the whole album from start to finish in a live environment, not even consider playing any other songs, and it would still work,” Scott boldly declares. “Obviously we wouldn’t forget about all the other songs, but I would feel 100% confident and happy to do that.”

State of Emergency is out now through EMI. The Living End’s tour will be announced shortly.

State Of Emergency

Author: Christine Sams

State Of Emergency
The Living End (EMI) 7/10

Where would the Living End be without their trademark musical urgency? The opening track ‘Til The End reinforces everything the band does well – including driving bass lines from Scott Owen and striking vocals from Chris Cheney. But it soon becomes evident there is definitely a shifting sound here, with less of a punk rockabilly feel on State Of Emergency and a number of songs projecting a straight-out rock feel. The band’s rock experimentation is at times invigorating and at other times disconcerting, perhaps because the shifting styles don’t give the album a singular identity. But there is intrigue in the renewed emphasis on Cheney’s guitar skills and singing. Cheney’s vocals are deep and sultry on Wake Up – but the song becomes a little uncomfortable when children start singing back-up vocals (a move reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s Another Brick In The Wall). The brisk and entertaining Long Live The Weekend sounds like a purposeful anthem, but other tracks, including No Way Out and Nowhere Town, are less predictable.

They’re Slicker, But Not Slower

Author: Scott Podmore

The Living End has been around long enough that one could forgive them if they were to take the foot off the pedal, cruise down easy street for a while and maybe, um, sell out a little.

Some punters already are calling that one – but rest assured, that’s garbage.

The Living End lads have fired up on all cylinders and cranked out a cracker of an album with State Of Emergency, their fourth studio effort.

The energetic three-piece continues a solid work ethic, getting out there and working it (that means doing the smaller gigs). And there’s never been a hint of inflated egos.

Our answer to Green Day in terms of the punk/rockabilly thing, the Melbourne trio has simply broadened its palette a little and incorporated a poppier edge to the artillery. Importantly, the rock ‘n’ roll remains in big doses.

From the word go, it’s too hard to sit still as the album blasts off with stompin’ ‘Til The End, followed by jump-around, sing-it-out-loud Long Live The Weekend.

There’s more where that came from. The picks from an incredibly healthy crop include first single What’s On Your Radio, the Oils-spiced anthem Wake Up, the jazzy-edged Nowhere Town and hook-laden pop-rocker Nothing Lasts Forever.

The Living End has placed it’s faith in producer Nick Launay (Midnight Oil, INXS, Eskimo Joe, Nick Cave, Silverchair…you could go on) to rub his golden touch over this and he nails a slick production on all 14 songs.

While the band’s list of achievements and awards is a sparkling read, the most exciting thing about this album is that it’s their best work yet.

As frontman Chris Cheney says:
“This time, yeah, we’re doing some different things, but it sounds like The Living End doing different things, not like The Living End trying to sound like a different band.”

Damn right, Mr Cheney – this State Of Emergency is to die for.

State Of Emergency

Author: Jesse Shrock

The Living End
State Of Emergency

After the more polished and often slower-paced affair that was Modern Artillery, many critics hailed what they regarded as the ‘maturing’ of The Living End’s sound. While more than satisfied with the offering, a few fans – and, as time went on, the trio themselves – became quietly anxious about the band losing their ‘edge’. Hence, Chris Cheney’s first impulse with the follow-up was to return to the band’s fast and frantic punk roots, with stripped down, live’n’raw production. It was an amiable idea that, much to the album’s benefit, he didn’t regard too religiously.

With Australia’s living connection to the original punk movement Nick Launay (Roll On) back at the helm, the band aimed to make this album an extravaganza of killer live songs, from beginning to end. And they have more than succeeded. Long-time fans will find something instantly recognisable in songs like Long Live the Weekend and We Want More, which hail back to the anthemic, air-punching sound of the band’s debut. Even better, they’ll find this same tight energy in the more clever arrangements of What’s on your Radio and Till the End. It’s punk, yes, but with a layered sophistication that only experienced musicians like The Living End can muster. And after being an unwitting participant in the moshing frenzy that greeted TLE for their Big Day Out stint, I feel a strange mixture of anticipation and dread imagining what will ensue when the title track of this album is unleashed in a live setting. Woah, man.

Live’n’raw is all very well when it’s what the songs call for, but after workshopping their selections for some time, the band wisely decided that some of them were worthy of dressing up. Politically-charged single Wake Up benefits a great deal from a chorus of children joining the rallying cry, while Chris hat-tips Power And The Passion with the big brass rock-out of One Step Behind. Even a bit of pop ambience is allowed in places, both for the uncannily sweet vocal harmonies of No Way Out, which lays the foundation for a sucker-punch of hard-attack angst, and for the mournfully resonant guitar of Nothing Lasts Forever.

After hearing this album, you start to wonder if maybe the more spacious sound of Modern Artillery wasn’t just the band feeling each other out. Drummer Andy Strachan was new to the fold then, and though he proved himself a competent replacement to Travis Demsey, the time he has had to come into his own has really paid dividends. No offence to Travis, but Andy ROCKS. Meanwhile, Chris Cheney’s bag of guitar solo tricks is more generous than ever, and his intuition for when to pull something out of it is perfect. Just listen to his killer fingerwork in final track Into The Red, one last taste of the band in full-throttle mode that left my jaw flapping in the breeze.

It might mean a complete defiance of the laws of physics, but somehow The Living End have managed to create an album that is well-rounded and edgy. In an era of rock music where one must increasingly choose between slick production and pure rocking spirit, this album is a glorious reminder that… YES, we can have both.

For home-grown rock album of 2006, this will be tough to beat.

State Of Emergency

Author: Natalie Schmeiss

THE LIVING END – State Of Emergency

Some bands go through life trying to discover and rediscover something new about their sound. Sometimes it’s to maintain their own interest, and sometimes it’s just because they’re wankers, but The Living End are an exception. They know who they are, they know what they’re good at and they know that we know… and we like it. They’re the kings of blistering live performances, stirring a festival crowd into frenzy and penning a hook-heavy song like nobody’s business. Spoilt for choice with a list of over 40 possible tracks to record, The Living End certainly weren’t experiencing a state of emergency with this latest release. Opening with Till The End you’ll immediately feel at home – it’s that signature rhythm, it gets you every time. No Way Out and Nothing Lasts Forever shift the tempo slightly, with a smoother melody line and plenty of harmonies for a really fresh break in the beats. If What’s On Your Radio wasn’t really doing it for you, there’s plenty that outshine it across the 14 tracks. The golden goose is still laying, and for now that’s a good thing.

The Living End

Author: Robert Dunstan

The Living End – who have had at least one song in every Triple J Hottest 100 since 1997 – are currently tearing around the country as part of the Big Day Out. The Melbourne-based trio are also about to release a new album, State Of Emergency, and we chatted over the telephone to Adelaide-raised drummer Andy Strachan. We began by asking if playing in his home town in front of some 30,000 people was in any way daunting.

“No, it’s always a complete blast,” he reckoned. “I love it. To come home to Adelaide is always a blast and having family and old friends around is great.
“Having said that, I’m not sure if mum and dad will come to the Big Day Out.” Andy then added with a laugh.

TLE’s double bass player, Scott Owen, has suggested to me that the recording of State Of Emergency had been a little stressful.
“Yeah, it was,” Andy quickly confirmed, “but stressful in a good way. And we can now sit back and listen to the new album and know that all that hard work has paid off. We all feel that way after being locked away in our own world making the album.”

Does the album feature any guest players?
“We got the horn players from Hunters & Collectors to play on a couple of songs and there’s about 15 kids, whose ages range from about 15 through to five, singing on our new single, Wake Up.” Andy revealed.

How many songs from the new album will feature during your Big Day Out set?
“We’ll do about two or three,” he said. “We’ll do What’s On Your Radio because that’s been out for a while now and we’ve been doing it in our live sets and we’ll also do Wake Up and perhaps one or two more. But we don’t want to stray too far from the pitch with new material.”

What bands are you looking forward to seeing?
“Gee, there’s so many,” Andy sighed. “I’m really keen to see Franz because I like their album and I’m told they are a really good live band. And you can’t go past Iggy. That’ll be a highlight for sure. Then there’s the stupidly good musician bands such as Cog, Shihad and The Mars Volta. So it’s going to be bloody good and I’m going to try my darnedest to get around and see everyone I possibly can.”

Andy is also looking forward to The Living End playing Loxton’s Jim Beam Hand-Picked festival in early April.
“I thought Hand-Picked might have been some kind of boogie festival until I realised they were talking about Oranges and stuff,” he said [with his joke being completely lost on me until I transcribed our taped interview].
“We love doing those types of shows and getting out to places we might not normally play,” the drummer concluded.

Top End

Author: Cameron Adams

A new album and new fanbase revive the Living End

Backstage at Telstra Dome, the Living End’s Chris Cheney was in the wings waiting to join his friends, Green Day, on stage.

Cheney already knew the song – I Fought The Law. It was made famous by the Clash, the punk band who were a musical blueprint for the Living End and Green day.

But he had more pressing matter in mind.

“I was thinking, man, they’re having a really good gig. I don’t want to walk out and trip over, or play the wrong chord. But I think I got through OK.”

Cheney, his own worst critic, did a great deal better than OK.

And the rapturous applause that greeted his arrival – he was one of the few musicians invited to share the stage with the hottest rock band in the world – was hard to ignore.

The link between the bands is strong; the Living End were raised on early Green Day records. Even before the Living End scored a major record deal, Green day had heard their demos and hand-picked them to support them in Australia in 1996.

They even admitted their hit, Hitchin’ A Ride, was inspired by the Living End’s sound.

“They’ve been so good to us, they really have,” Cheney says.

“They’ve got a lot to answer for when it comes to our success. They gave us our first tour, they took us to America, they talked us up.

“Every time they’ve come to Australia, Billie Joe (Armstrong) has given us a shout out on stage. They’re just really nice, down-to-earth people who are not affected by what they have. And they’re bigger than they’ve ever been, which proves you’re only as strong or as weak as your last album.

“If you have good songs, you have the goods.”

There are other parallels between the bands. Before American Idiot, Green Day issued a greatest-hits set that reinforced their strength as a singles band.

However, they were in a sales slump. Perhaps they were being taken for granted after being together for more than 10 years.

Then came American Idiot, a whole new, young, audience, and a career rebirth.

Similarly, the Living End’s best-of, From Here On In, came after the band’s most challenging and least successful album, Modern Artillery.

“We could have done better, to be really blunt,” Cheney says of the album.

Then a key slot on the Coke Live ‘n’ Loud tour, which was free to kids who drank enough of the softdrink, helped the Living End win over a predominantly young crowd who were barely old enough to remember Prisoner Of Society, but instantly adored it.

“I love the fact young kids are blown away by seeing us with the double bass and the guitar solos,” Cheney says. “I can completely understand it – it’s still exciting to me, These kids weren’t around when we first started, and they can’t believe what they’re seeing.

“It has to go in waves. We appreciate that. We feel as if we’re riding a wave at the moment, at least in interest. Any band hates to be ignored.”

Choice festival sets – including last year’s Splendour In The Grass in Byron Bay and the top local act slot at this year’s Big Day Out – served to remind everyone else what a jaw-dropping live act the Living End are.

Now comes the trio’s fourth studio album, State Of Emergency.

The album’s first single, What’s On Your Radio, debuted in the top 10 late last year. It was only their second-ever tip 10 hit after Prisoner Of Society.

The feeling is that the Living End are now back – in a big way. And, they’re happy to say, they have their best album yet to soundtrack the “comeback”.

“People say to us, ‘It’s good you guys are still around’, like we’re geriatrics or something,” Cheney says.

“I suppose after four albums in the industry it can seem that way. I know we had a lot of success on our first album, and in rock the first album’s usually the classic, but one of the reasons people are discovering us now is that we’re a better band.”

Cheney says he’s too close to his band to know if they’d been taken for granted.

“Some people think we went away. There was a feeling at Splendour of ‘Oh, they’re back’. I suppose people do get used to you being around, and it’s difficult to repeat the impact you had when you first came on the scene.

“I notice that now, the industry goes gaga over a lot of new bands. We had that hype back then. It’s a case of getting past it.

“I don’t feel as if we’re a trend band. I felt like that when we were first successful – it was like we were part of a scene. But we’ve proven we have longevity. Our fans know we’re not a punk band or a rockabilly band. We’re just a rock band, and there’s something timeless about that.

“We still have the hunger, we still want to prove ourselves, prove there’s more to this band and that we’re not just a band from 1998.”

Bassist Scott Owen says: “The way the industry casts the light on the next big thing is different from the way the fans do it.

“The industry can give up on you. It’s fickle. But if you’re good, your fans will stick by you. We’re lucky. We still have fans from the ’90s, and there’s all these kids just starting to get into the band. Hopefully they’ll stick by us. It seems like a good position to be in.”

State Of Emergency had the difficult birth that’s usual with all Living End records.

The trio started rehearsing it in the heart of Spotswood, writing dozens of songs. There was the obligatory secret show – as The Longnecks – at which they played only new songs.

Then the band and producer Nick Launay – who helmed the second album, Roll On – moved to Byron Bay. After a storming set at Splendour, they went straight into the studio.

“There’s a house at the studio, so it was like being in a bubble,” Owen says. “You didn’t have to go home and deal with the real world, you could just lock yourself away.

“It helps when you’re making an album to give it your full attention.”

Songs were tested, and dumped. Then Cheney brought along a swag of new material that changed the sound of the album.

“There were a few setbacks, but that pushed us to the limit,” Cheney says.

“We haven’t settled for second best in any part of it. Perhaps we’ve done that in the past a little bit, but this time we’d say, ‘OK, that doesn’t sound right’. We wouldn’t just go, ‘Ah, it’s good enough’. We’d try to fix it.”

Initially they were hesitant about releasing a best-of after only three albums, but Cheney says the From Here On In compilation reminded him of what the band do best.

“It showed the diversity in the band. There’s more to this band than just that punkabilly tag. This new album has songs that are not what people think of as typical of this band.

“On the last album (Modern Artillery), we went in a particular direction on a few songs, but didn’t quite pull it off, which is dangerous for any band to do.

“We were searching for something a little too pop, perhaps, that didn’t have the guts. By their third or fourth album, every band thinks it’s time to go all experimental and show their arty side, and often they just fall flat on their faces.

“So we’ve done stuff that’s within our limits and to me it’s really interesting. We’ve always wanted to do that. As much as we’ grew up playing rockabilly, we’ve never hidden the fact we love Radiohead and the Police, and we want to dabble in that. Hopefully it still sounds like us, and not us trying to be another band.”

There were other lessons too, some of which involved unlearning much of what the band already knew.

“We had to step out of our musician shoes a little bit,” Owen says.

“We have a tendency to overthink things. Everything is a bit too perfect on Modern Artillery. But it’s just not as important as having the right atmosphere in a song. It’s not just musicians you’re making music for, you have to be aware of that…”

Cheney says: “I might hear a song and think it has a great snare tone, but that really means jack s—. A song either makes you feel a certain way, or it doesn’t, whether it’s (the Beatles) She Loves You or (Radiohead’s) Paranoid Android.

“We wanted to capture a mood on this record, songs with a feel, and not worry if they were perfectly in time.

“Restraint is something we have tried to explore on this record. If we are not careful we go overboard with the technical stuff, and it is so irrelevant. Records are supposed to be flawed and human sounding. I think we nailed that this time.”

In the past year, Cheney and Owen have become fathers, but they say it won’t change their touring plans, here or in the US.

“I guess we have to be more aware of what’s going on at home, but we are still hungry,” Cheney says. “We want to give it all we can overseas. You don’t get many opportunities in this business. I can’t see us cutting tours short. That’s one of the sacrifices you have to make.

“It’s like that with family and friends in general. I apologise to everyone I’ve snubbed, but I can’t do both. Music just envelopes me. I get to this place where I become like a zombie. I’m transfixed.

“And we’re willing to get into the an again in America, do without showers and hotel rooms. The physical side is the easy part, we know we can do that. We’re enjoying where we are at the moment and we’d be crazy not to give it all we can while we still have that enthusiasm.

State Of Emergency (EMI) out Saturday.

Livewire Act

The Living End are regularly labelled our best live band.

“We would be dead in the water without energy,” Chris Cheney says.

“Whatever we do on stage that people seem to like, it’s an energy, a chemistry between the three of us. This band needs that, it’s what we do best.”

However, while on one hand they’ll take the title as Australia’s best live act, the Living End also admit they have serial nerves.

“We sit there for an hour before each show s—ing ourselves,” drummer Andy Strachan says.

“Every gig, whether it’s 200 people or 20,000, it’s so important to us.”

Owen says, “We work hard at playing live. We still rehearse songs we’ve been playing live forever, such as Prisoner (of Society) and All Torn Down. Then we get up on stage and slam through them as fast as we can.”

Cheney says: “We are too schizophrenic. We look at Prince’s band and they are real musicians. We want to be like that.

“Then you see the Sex Pistols or the Libertines, and that’s so cool. Hopefully we’re somewhere in between.

“There’s musicianship to what we do, but it goes our the window sometimes.

“It’s like a car crash, you can’t take your eyes off it – that’s what rock ‘n’ roll is supposed to be.”

However, the band say watching videos of them playing live is like “Chinese water torture”.

“We actually cringe whenever we see or hear us live,” Owen says. “It’s horrible, we’re so rough and out of time.

“But I’ve started to realise that what people like about it is what we hate about it. It’s out of control and out of our control. We’re battling to keep up. The train could come off the tracks at any time, and that’s exciting.

“When we see us playing live we see it as, why don’t we slow down a bit so we have a little control over what’s going on?

“So when we go out there we feel we have something to prove, so that we like it and the audience like it, but that just makes us go harder ad faster and more out of control.

“Sometimes we’ll be up there and think, f— yeah, follow this, you bastards.

“We go from thinking we’re the best band in the world to thinking we suck. But there’s no denying we have something unique, and it’s not just the double bass.

“We like bands who dig their heels in and give the audience their money’s worth. It’s a release for us, and the audience come to the shows wanting to get rid of the frustrations.

“We seem to be a vehicle for that, which is awesome.”

The Living End – State Of Emergency

The Living End have the perfect weapon for anyone who’s written them off: their best album yet.

State Of Emergency jumps out of your speakers. It’s angry, intense and energetic – everything you want from a rock album.

The three have refined their sound over the course of four albums; State Of Emergency captures everything they do best.

It’s also a record company’s delight, with six obvious singles. Chris Cheney virtually sweats hooks and addictive melodies.

‘Til The End marries frantic riffage t their beloved shouty chorus. See also the crowd chant-along-in-waiting We Want More.

Long Live The Weekend mates two of their heroes, the Police and the Clash. It’s insanely catchy – even the verses could be choruses – and it’s all done in under three minutes.

There’s also room for the trio to expand their horizons.

No Way Out employs stark tension before a break-neck chrous kicks it’s way in. One Step Behind flirts with reggae and order Of The Day has a psychedelic wig-out halfway through.

Meanwhile, the brilliant Nothing Lasts Forever may be the least Living End song to date.

Cheney was listening to Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run while making this album and it shows: as well as the story lyrics and the US wide-screen feel, the final bridge directly channels the Boss.

New single Wake Up harks back to the message-laden Oz rock of Midnight Oil and Spy vs Spy: a dark cloud hangs over the song, there’s even a children’s choir at the end.

It’s a tad long (the by-numbers last few songs could have got the chop), but this is the right album at exactly the right time for the Living End – and Australian rock.

The verdict:
In a word: triumphant

The Living End Signing At 78’s

Author: Unknown

The Living End make a special appearance at 78 Records this Saturday, February 4, at 3pm. This is your chance to meet the band and pick up a copy of their new album State Of Emergency. They won’t be performing, but that just means there’s more time for them to sign your CD. There’ll also be prizes up for grabs, so keep a look out.