State Of Emergency
Author: Kristy Mills
The Living End. An early bastion of the 90s Aussie Punk Rock surge that to this day remains one of the biggest rocking scenes we have. Kristy Mills caught up with double bassist, Scott and drummer, Andy to talk about the new album, State Of Emergency.
They championed the Oz punk/rock movement with their blend of rockabilly meets punk, performing anthems for the youth. (“Prisoner Of Society” will never be forgotten among so many others).
And now, pushing forward, a new album for 2006 and a whole barrage of other influences in the mix. State Of Emergency is a diverse mix of rock with their staple Living End punk sound. Scott sums it up, “Back in the day we were more heavily into punk bands like the Clash, the Pistols, it was when Greenday first started happening and they were really heavy influences on the band. The only other major influence was rockabilly jams.
Of course this was a long time ago and of course we’ve changed. Now we’re more heavily interested in many more different kinds of music, not just punk. We started off liking rockabilly, then punk came into it and then we found the Beatles and as you grow older you find all these different kinds of music… You grow and you change and that’s why this album doesn’t sound like our first album.”
While it doesn’t sound like their first album, the band chose to go back to the producer of their second album, Roll On, to really establish that live sound in this recording. “We were really happy with the sounds we got on the second album,” Scott explains. “The guitar slams and all that kind of stuff. It’s the way he captures sounds and also his old skool attitude.” Andy, who had not recorded with him before, cuts in, “He’s punk rock in the sense that he gets live tracks from the band. Instead of the American way of doing it these days – of recording drums first, putting bass on and the nguitar – essentially it’s not a band playing live, it’s just parts put together on a grid in a computer, whereas Nick’s all about old skool two-inch tape and getting the three of us in a room at the same time playing the same song.” It really pays off, as you can hear the throbing live element loud and clear.
According to the band, the strength of the album lies in its diversity. Scott says, “We’ve covered a lot of different moods and styles but I think that’s a good thing. “What’s On Your Radio” is very much old skool Living End and it’s really fun and it’s up and exciting, it’s great to play live and that’s one thing. Then you’ve got “Black Cat” and “Till The End” that are the in-your-face, dirty rock n roll songs. And then you’ve got songs like “Wake Up“. In my opinion that’s one of the best songs. I think the lyrics are really fitting for what’s going on in the world.”
“Lyrically it f***king hurts,” Scott continues. “It’s about something really big. About what’s going on in the world today. ‘Wake up to the generation, Suicidal education/ It got sold to our generation…’ It’s this generation and our kids and the future its completely changed now forever because of 9/11, the London bombing…”
But while it’s political, it’s not the band standing up on a soap box telling us what to think. Scott’s very clear about that. “We’re not about telling other people what their politics should be or telling people what our politics are even, ’cause we’re not Midnight Oil, we’re not ipolitical activists, we’re not those kind of people, we’re just f***king normal dudes. We’re just trying to make people think about things. I reckon that’s the best way to present things to people – as an idea, a conversation point.” And on the other hand, he points out, “It’s not showing people disrespect by making a song where the lyrics are about nothing at all either… We’re not Peter Garrett, but we’re not just thinking about chicks all the time.”
It’s Chris’ songwriting that keeps the stylised politics in check, making cool songs that don’t always push the boundaries of thought, but which sometimes do, even though they’re up and fun. Scott says, “I think Chris’ lyrics and the way he writes is f***kin’ clever. He has a real way of saying things without talking about nothing at one extreme or without ramming it down people’s throats at the other extreme. He has a way of just conveying an issue or an image of something. Some people can write love songs like that or write break up songs that make you feel ouch, that break up must have really hurt. It’s the way the words are put together and you see it’s a really clear way of painting a picture of something that happened. Chris is better at writing about things that he sees in the world going on around him. He’s better at conveying those things…” And so that’s what you can expect. Songs that are fun, with a few that have a deeper agenda. Take from them what you will. So without further ado, welcome State Of Emergency.
The Living End – State Of Emergency
Plunging headfirst into the rock end of punk rock with this newest album offering by Oz icons The Living End, State Of Emergency gets to a rolling rocking start on the intensely great “Till The End“, one of the strongest tracks on the album, before heading down the familiar punk rock lane with their first single “What’s On Your Radio” further into the album. With a live edge that stands out pretty clearly from their last album and a stack of potential Oz hits, it gets better every time you listen. There’s more than enough traditional The Living End on it to satisfy the hardcore fans, but never a band to bore, the boys embrace plenty of new elements and influences to thrill and surprise. As the title suggests, there’s a touch of the political in songs like “Wake Up” but they’re not preachy, just tres cool.