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