The Living End: Living Large
Author: Shane Tranter
The Living End is by now an Australian music icon, and with the release of their newest album State Of Emergency, things just seem to be getting grander for them. They will soon complete the American Warped Tour and then continue to do headline shows in the States, where they will have to contend with the sometimes-aggressive American fans. Vocalist/Guitarist Chris Cheney talks writing, touring and the stresses of recording new albums.
For Cheney, the writing process on a new album begins precisely when the previous album’s recording is completed. This means the boys are always writing or recording something.
‘It’s kind of non-stop and I always have little ideas and bits of songs floating around. Some of the songs on this record I began writing two years ago and finished as we were recording, and others were written in one sitting. I’ve never worked so hard on any songs as I did with the State Of Emergency songs.’
The writing process, however, was quite stressful this time around. There were so many songs to choose for the album that many, sometimes sadly, had to be cut. It was a long recording process and the sound at first wasn’t quite up to scratch. Cheney explained these difficulties.
‘When it came to do this album, I was going to make sure it was the best TLE album and I wouldn’t settle for anything second best. This sounds quite simple in theory, but it was a matter of getting it right. There were something like 60 songs written and some of the songs that I had spent literally weeks on ended up getting cut from the album, and other songs which were no more than ideas became favourites with everyone.
‘The recording process took longer than expected, the studio had issues in that it didn’t sound very good and some of the songs turned out very difficult to capture. Anyway, it was a hard record to make every step of the way.’
The band agreed that State Of Emergency was going to be really raw, ‘straight up’ sounding rock album, but things didn’t exactly turn out as planned.
‘The songs that were coming out were quite varied and we realized very quickly that these songs would need more time and attention and perhaps just bashing them out in a couple of takes wouldn’t do them justice.’
Cheney admits though that The Living End is still more of a live performance band than an album band. They are known for exciting stage performances, but are their albums as exciting to listen to?
‘I think we are a pretty good band on record, it’s just I don’t think we are as confident as we are onstage. Having said that, we have sold a shit load of records so I guess the proof is in the pudding. State Of Emergency had to be a great record. For me, there was a lot riding on that, I had worked really hard on the songs as ideas, we rehearsed our arses off, we spent a lot of time tracking the songs, and we ended up having a lot to do with the artwork.
‘I think I became slightly obsessed with this record being perfect and not until it was packaged and on the shelf did I stop working! I have come to the conclusion that we are different live to on record, there is intensity to the live thing that is difficult to get on tape, but also I love the fact that the albums have lots of harmonies and delicate parts on them.’
The recent tour is their largest yet. They have played regional areas never toured before. Cheney comments on the difference between these and the larger city gigs.
‘I am really looking forward to playing in places we haven’t before. We have always tried to play shows outside of the cities and some of them have been our most memorable. People seem to really let loose and have a good time because they are not spoilt with live music as the city folk!’
The Living End also has a lot of time to give underage fans, so under 18’s despair not!
‘It’s extremely important to play shows that under 18’s can come to. They buy the records and support us so we play under age shows whenever we can. It’s a must do thing for us, and our manager used to put on a lot of under age gigs so it’s something we are very familiar with.’
Cheney noted that the Australian audience differ from the American in a couple of key ways.
‘At home when we play ‘All Torn Down’ the crowd really gets into it because it was a big song here but in the States, it wasn’t even a single so it’s basically an album track. I think the audiences in the States can be a bit more aggressive at times which is ok as long as people who just want to stand there and watch aren’t getting hurt.’
The Living End claim to be a better band than they ever were before, so American fans are in for quite a show.
‘We are a better band now than we used to be so the shows are just getting better overall.’
That said, we can’t wait to see The Living End in Australia!