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: Jesse Shrock

The Living End
State Of Emergency
(EMI)

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.

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.

State Of Emergency

Author: Unknown

For their latest album, The Living End adopt the urgency of the record’s title. Sure, the attributes for which we know and love the band are still there: the thumping rockabilly beats, Chris Cheney’s anthemic choruses and stinging lead guitar. But the simple, air-punching sloganeering of Second Solution and Prisoner of Society are replaced with a more nervous energy in Long Live The Weekend and even desperation in No Way Out. Then there’s the surprising down-tempo single Wake Up, ending in a sinister mantra delivered by a kiddie chorus (“Suicidal education that got sold to our generation”).
This is a more complex, frightening world The Living End are presenting to us, but the rigorous big-chorus rock & roll of Till The End ensures the fans shouldn’t be too alienated.
There’s still a sense of fun in the Ronettes beat of Order Of The Day, showing that the boys thankfully still possess a lightness of touch, while We Want More and What’s On Your Radio are loud and triumphant.
A bigger, denser noise is rarely heard in a three piece.

The Living End

Author: Luke McKenna

Well it’s that time of year again, the Big Day Out is just around the corner and magazines like this one are shockers with interviews with bands saying how stoked they are to be playing such a mammoth festival. But the lads from enduring Melbourne rockabilly outfit, the Living End, have even more to be excited about. Not only does the group feature on the BDO bill, they’re also releasing album number four – State Of Emergency – the day the tour ends. From his Melbourne home, the group’s bassist Scott Owen eagerly explains why the next month is set to be huge for the band.

“We’re all just taking a bit of time out to relax at the moment. It feels like the calm before the storm.” This is a storm that has been building since late November when the band released ‘What’s On Your Radio’, the first single to be lifted from the new album. While the track has been successful on regular rotation at radio and music video stations around the country. Owen explains that it’s not necessarily an accurate indication of the sound of the new album. “It’s not an album full of fast energetic songs like that – it’s a pretty varied kind of album,” he says. “You’ve really just got to hear the whole thing.”
“To us the songs all seem much stronger than anything we’ve written in the past, it’s stepped up a notch. It’s not really greatly different to any of our other albums in terms of style, it’s just that the songs are so much stronger. We’ve learned from making all the other albums that you’ve really got to try not to leave any stone unturned, so we worked much more thoroughly on this one than any of the others.”

And if Owen’s anticipation is anything to go by, the hard work has paid off. “There are certainly a lot of nerves involved,” he says. “I reckon there are actually more nerves involved with this one than any of the others, although I probably say that every time we release an album. I feel better about this one, I’m more confident about this one than any of the others – it’s a good feeling but it creates a lot of pressure too. It’s going to be a real relief to get it out, we’re really looking forward to finding out what people think.”

The new songs have been tested, but in a unique way. The lads got together and played a few small ‘secret’ shows under a different name – the Longnecks. The guise meant that the group could be sure that the responses were based purely on the music, untainted by any fandom and expectation. “It’s always good playing to an unsuspecting audience,” says Owen. “It helps remove some of the pressure. This way we can be a bit more anonymous, so you don’t have all these people coming out just to hear what the new songs are like. It means we can decide as we’re playing whether the songs will work in front of an audience, you know, which bits are working and which bits are a bit rough. And it’s fun to play in smaller venues to smaller crowds; it’s a lot more intimate.”

But for the next few weeks all that intimacy will be thrown out the window as the band embarks on the Big Day Out tour, where they’ll play to thousands of punters in just a few weeks. “We’re really looking forward to the tour, and we’ve been practicing hard. We always seem to play the BDO after we haven’t played many gigs. When you’re touring you get up to what feels like battle speed, but it’s hard to get straight to that level after not having toured properly for a while. But it’s alright, we’ve done it before.”

After the tour, the group will head overseas to play some shows in Japan and the US – including the much hyped South by Southwest showcase – before returning home for a full-scale national headline tour. The storm begins.

The Living End play the Melbourne leg of the Big Day Out on Sunday January 29 at Princes Park. State Of Emergency is released on February 5 through EMI

Creating The Solution

Author: Jesse Shrock

The Living End… Did we ever doubt that they would just keep getting better?
I am sitting with Chris Cheney, Scott Owen and Andy Strachan, undoubtedly the most disciplined punk trio in Australia, sipping drinks on the terrace of a chic cafe. The tone is relaxed and the mood – something of a rarity for the guys – is self-congratulatory. And with good reason. When The Living End first re-united with Roll On producer Nick Launay, their vision for the album being planned consisted of two and a half words – live ‘n’ raw. But, in the course of production, there was a mutual recognition that the songs they had were worthy of more. Now, they’re releasing an album that arguably represents the zenith of their sound – both the raw power and the more subtle elements.

I just want to say that I’m a long-time fan, I have all your albums, and I honestly think State Of Emergency is your best yet. It’s already on my shortlist for best albums of 2006.
SCOTT: We don’t even need to do the interview now, do we? Cos’ we’ll just stuff it up.
CHRIS: How do you top that? It’s all downhill from there… That’s a pretty big statement, but if you went out of your way to say that at the end of the year, we’d be rapt.
SCOTT: Maybe start the interview with that quote. ‘Qite possibly the best album of 2006… or of all time.’
ANDY: You could leave out the ‘quite possible’.
(Everyone laughs.)

Chris, when I spoke to you earlier about where you were going from your Singles Collection, you said you planned to move forward with a ‘fresh new sound’…
CHRIS: Oh, really? That’s a bit gay, isn’t it?

So does this album really represent a ‘new’ sound? Or just a couple twists on the ‘old’?
CHRIS: Definitely the latter. There’s a sound to the band that’s steeped in classic rock and roll that I think works for us, and we’d be crazy to mess with that. I probably meant more in the song writing department and the arranging and stuff… Rather than just having ideas, following through with ideas. Like, if we were going to try something really different to what we’ve done before, actually pull it off. Do it so that it can be a strong point of the album. With this album, I think that the more different songs could be singles, which is great for us. You know we have a trademark kind of sound that I think everyone associates with us – kind of energetic, and punky-sounding. But I think some of the stronger songs off the album this time are the ones that are a bit slower, and more melodic.

Would you say there is a return to the ‘anthemic’ sound of your first album?
ANDY: Maybe… We did try and approach every song with the idea that we would play ’em live for the next two years.
SCOTT: That’s just something that we’re really into – the whole anthemic thing. I guess we still like just shouting those choruses!
CHRIS: I just like every song to be as powerful as it can be. Like in the end of No Way Out, when it’s got that big kind of crescendo, that hits with this big climax at the end of the song. If it’s going to be that kind of thing, it’s got to be almost terrifying at the end of it. So when we have songs that have that anthemic kind of quality, we tend to make them really over the top.

I remember once when you were asked about what you consider to be the consummate rock band, you said ‘Midnight Oil’. So was Nick Launay’s involvement with Midnight Oil’s seminal work one of the reasons why you started working with him in the first place?
SCOTT: Well, it had a lot to do with it for me, because I’m such a huge Oils fan. To me, they were like Led Zeppelin without the hippie stuff. Their production is really heavy… especially in Red Sails At Sunset. There’s lots of really different, out-there sounds going on in their songs, like weird bass and keyboard sounds, and stuff like electric drums on that album. They were like a real band, but they were also god-like because they could make these really bizarre sounds come out of their instruments. It was like a magical thing. So yeah, being able to work with the guy who did that was just full-on.
When we first worked with him on Roll On, I just spent hours asking him questions about the Oils. But it’s not just Midnight Oil. The good thing about Nick is that he comes from London in the 70’s, when The Pistols and The Clash and The Jam were taking off. He was part of that scene, and he lived that life back then. And then he’s done all kinds of albums… INXS, Nick Cave. His repertoire is so diverse. He’s not narrow-minded in production.

Starting with the original idea of making the album as ‘live and raw’ as possible, was it a grudging adjustment to put the extra production touches on songs like One Step Behind, Wake Up etc…
SCOTT:I reckon that was us rebelling against (Modern) Artillery, because that was so well-produced, as far as slickness and neatness goes, man. We’ve really got to make a rough and ready-sounding album, because we know we have that in us. But with the songs that we were choosing as our favourites for the album, (we knew) as soon as we started pre-production that it wasn’t going to be a raw, straight ahead rock and roll album. It was going to be a more complex kind of thing. And it just kept unfolding and unfolding, to the point where it got to horns and kids choir…
CHRIS:I think it would be really one-dimensional of us to just go and make an album full of Second Solutions or something like that. 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 that we do that well also. It would be a real shame to stifle that, and go ‘Well, we shouldn’t have songs like that.’ So it was very easy to say ‘let’s bring in some horns’ and ‘let’s bring in the kids on that part.’

Will you be using this album to revive your ‘Aussie Invasion’ notoriety overseas?
SCOTT: Well, after the Big Day Out, we’ll do South By Southwest in Texas, and a show in LA, and sort of touch base over there again. We haven’t got a deal over there, so we’re basically of going over there with a shopping trolley to try and find the best one. Then we’re going to japan – same deal. We’re looking for a deal over there as well as playing some festivals. We’ll come back and tour Australia, then by that time we’ll have a good reason to go back and spend a few weeks in a bus touring around the States.

Chris, you are known for holding yourself to notoriously high standards in the studio. Have you ever been satisfied with your first version of a song, your first take on a solo, your first go at anything?
CHRIS: I don’t think I’m that sort of person. But I might go; ‘oh, that’s not good enough, that’s not good enough…’ and then come back to the first one! I just don’t think we’re that good where we can have a canvas, and paint, and go; ‘Voila! That’s it! It doesn’t need any more work…’ I just think; ‘Okay, that’s pretty good. But I’ll fix that there, and I’ll re-sing that.’ We’re willing to do that. I don’t want to ever get to the point where we’re being told; ‘you’d better do that again…’, and we say; ‘No, no, no. We have created. Let it not be touched.’ I think it’s a really dangerous thing to do. But at the same time, we can be pretty confident sometimes. We can go on stage, and be like; ‘Yeah, we’re gonna rule this festival!’ So it’s about keeping a level head, I suppose.

And is confidence what you’re feeling now?
CHRIS: I do feel confident about this album, now that it’s all said and done. Because I feel like absolutely drained, completely, over it. We gave it everything we could, and there’s no regrets. I really feel like, we’re as happy as we’re ever going to be with this one, and I think you can hear the results.
ANDY: It was a fucking nightmare, putting ourselves through the nitty gritty of it… 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.
SCOTT: And 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. 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