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!