The Living End In Tourbus Disorientation Chaos

Author: Bob Gordon

TEMPE, AZ: In a telling portrait of life on the rock’n’roll road, Living End vocalist/guitarist Chris Cheney appeared disorientated yet relaxed in a conversation to X-Press Magazine last week.

“We’re at a stop somewhere halfway to Arizona and we’ve just come from… where was it? San Antonio?”

Such is life at the moment for the highly successful Australian Rock’n’roll-abilly trio, who are soon to tour WA and have spent the last two months in the US performing headlining shows and joining the massive Warped tour.

“You know, we spend most of our time in this little bus, shipped one place to the next,” he said. “We do the show and then go to sleep and get up to go to the next place when our guy tells us it’s time to go. So it does start to be a bit of a bubble. Most of what we know is that he crowds are going pretty nuts, and we just follow that along.”

It’s certainly a scenario that the road-hardened outfit are accustomed to, though this year has seen a heightened intensity in touring. The band’s fourth album, State Of Emergency, has resulted in its biggest ever success both here and internationally. That this has occurred a decade into the trio’s career and has eclipsed the whirlwind days of Prisoner Of Society and Roll On, says something for sticking to your guns.

“It’s a bit like that. We’re just doing what we want to do. It is good because the last album (2003’s Modern ARTillery) didn’t meet my expectations, in terms of what it was and how it ended up going. With this album it just really felt like it was where we wanted to go. We just keep doing it.”

Back in 2001, Cheney and his girlfriend were involved in a major car accident. Before he could get back to the band, he had to get back on his feet. Any doubt he may have had then as to whether or not to persevere with the band would be well and truly buried by now.

“That whole period was pretty hard,” Cheney said, “Even without the accident. Our drummer was leaving and it was a bit of a struggle. I just had to focus for a bit on getting better and walking properly again.

“I think a lot of it is my own selfishness about doing this and doing what I want to do. That got me through and even though the album didn’t go as well. There was all this momentum that we’d gathered with Roll On but that, to a big degree, was lost and we had to then move forward. You go on and you reach out for more. And now here we are.”

“You have to look forward and move on. There’s that thing that everyone gets their 15 minutes of fame, but this is my life and career. If we hadn’t kept striving we wouldn’t have had a career past 1998.”

State Of Emergency has been out in the US now for six weeks. While Cheney has “yet to view any status reports,” he’s was keen to note that the LP has been selling by the boxload at gigs and gaining all-important radio play on stations across the US.

“There’s a lot of dark, kind of screamo stuff that’s happening in the States,” he said. “There really doesn’t seem to be a hell of a lot of rock’n’roll. And radio seems to want that and so do the people. After we play shows we get kids talking to us and they just seem to find what we do really refreshing, they just want to hear a rock’n’roll band.”

“And that’s what we are. There just doesn’t seem to be much rock’n’roll happening here and when we play, people are going nuts.”

Relieved to hear that X-Press Magazine had attained its majority in the increasingly competitive Perth marketplace, Cheney has his own memories of life in August 1985, when X-Press took its first baby steps…

“I was 5 years old,” he recalled. “I would have been sitting on my bed playing guitar and listening to Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly. I would have gone out on my skateboard or my BMX and then I probably would have got up to watch Alf.

“You know you guys are of legal age in the US now. You can go out and have a drink. Happy Birthday!”

The Living End’s WA tour kicks off on Thursday. August 31, at the Wintersun Hotel in Geraldton; then Friday, September 1, at Metro City; Saturday, September 2, at 3 Bears Bar, Dunsborough and Sunday, September 2, at Metro City (all-ages). Special guests at all shows are End Of Fashion.