Jet (New Zealand)

The Living End

Author: Unknown

This month we’ve had nothing but Aussie twang on the other end of the phone. New boys from across the ditch Thirsty Merc make our music section this month, so we felt we might as well run with the theme and present to you some longer in tooth occer musos as well. Witness The Living End, favourites of the trans tasman punk family for more than a decade now, and still filling venues everywhere. Their new record ‘State Of Emergency’ is out now and hit number one over faster than you can tie a kangaroo down. We spoke with (relatively) new drummer Andy Strachan…

TLE have been doing it for more than a decade now. What’s the key to the band’s longevity do you think?
 Well I’ve been playing with the band for about four and a half years now, but I think it’s just a common goal thing. We’re all really hell bent on getting better as a band, and as songwriters and musicians. It’s just this passion we all have. I guess once people lose that kind of passion, that’s when things start going bad, but I don’t think that’s gonna happen.

What happened with the previous drummer Travis, who you took over from?
 I can’t really be sure because I haven’t spoken to him about it, but I think at the time he was just really sick of touring. I mean the guy spent around four years straight on the road, without seeing family and friends very often, so I guess it must have been a really daunting prospect having to do it all over again. So he opted to get out, understandable I guess.

Do you think there’s an Aussie feel to The Living End’s brand of punk?
 I reckon punk is a very overused word these days. It’s used so loosely, especially when people attach it to bands like Good fu***** Charlotte, you know what I mean? We still play with like a punk attitude though I guess. We’re not going to put safety pins through our cheeks, but we play with punk intensity. Whether we can localise our sound, it’s quite weird actually. I don’t know how many times people have said ‘are you guys Australian? I thought you were English…’ or something like that. There’s definitely English influence in our music, but I’d like to think that we sound Australian as well.

Do you feel about Australian Idol?
 Firstly I would like to say that it’s probably a great opportunity for someone who wants to get themselves out there, and say to the world ‘look, I can sing’, and good luck to them if that’s the case. I just think it’s really annoying seeing these people singing other people’s songs, and not particularly well in my opinion, getting hours of prime time television coverage. I think it’s really affecting the up and coming bands, you know people are more willing to pour millions of dollars into fuc**** Australian Idol than they are to do the same for incredibly talented bands and musos that are playing and writing their own music. I think it’s just shithouse man!

You think you’ve got it bad mate? Come over this side of the ditch and check out our version! I personally think it’s more about the public’s fascination with watching people humiliate themselves…
 I think that’s the only enjoyable part. But I mean, there are actually people out there that buy these fu**ing singles! I just can’t believe it. And there are all these young talented bands in New Zealand and Australia who get no coverage at all. I mean, can you imagine the D4 ever getting 2 hours of prime time television coverage per night?! Just not gonna happen.

You mentioned the D4, so clearly you’re a man of refined tastes… Any other NZ bands that leap to mind who you rate?
 Shihad, I bow to those guys!

We all bow to Shihad mate… And thanks for not trying to claim them for Australia!
 Yeah, I think we’d probably like to! They just demand respect, and they’re one of the most amazing bands I know of. Tom is just such an amazing drummer and has been a real influence on me. We always seem to end up playing at the same festivals and stuff as those guys, and it’s just such an inspiration to see them play. And for them to respect what we do makes us feel pretty bloody proud of ourselves.

I remember first noticing you guys some years back because the bass player was using one of those classical upright things… What’s with that?
 It’s not a gimmick. The guy cannot actually play the standard electric, take it from me. I love ya Scotty, but he’s shithouse man. That’s how he learned, and he never wanted to learn the standard electric. It’s a really integral part of our sound, really important.

“State Of Emergency” debuted at number one in Aussie… Were you guys blown away by that?
 Yeah, we were just like ‘this is the ultimate’. It’s way more than what we thought we should expect, like we had our sights set pretty high, but that was just not a realistic hope for the album we thought.

You still seem to be gathering some really young fans who are just discovering the band. What’s it like getting older as the fans stay the same age, and why do you think the kids are still into it?
 Yeah, since I’ve been in the band it’s really noticeable, like recent tours we’ve been playing all ages shows and selling them out, and it’s like the first five or six rows are all these little kids! And we’re like f**k! This is insane! Brothers and sisters have just handed down all their music to younger siblings I reckon, and all of a sudden we’ve got this whole new generation of fans. It’s brilliant. We have still retained a lot of the older fans, but this whole new wave of kids I think have just realised that there’s more out there than Australian Idol.I know you don’t like using the P word but do you think punk will always be around?
 Yep I reckon it will. Of course it will come and go in waves like everything else, but the punk thing is just so broad now, I think the punk attitude will always be there. I guess in my mind punk is just not giving a f**k and giving 110 percent as a band.