The Living End

Author: Cecilia Pattison-Levi

THE LIVING END have emerged from a career-ending crisis to produce their best album yet, and they’re hitting the road with newfound energy and a mission to enjoy life to its fullest.

Fans of both good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly rejoiced when the band blasted onto the national airwaves with 1997’s anthemic Prisoner Of Society. The band – vocalist/guitarist Chris Cheney, bassist Scott Owen and, since 2002, Andy Strachan on drums – began a decade long cycle of delivering fantastic albums and touring. But the wheels almost fell off with all this success and stress; physically and creatively exhausted, and on the verge of ending it all, The Living End looked within and subsequently created the best album of their career.

Already hailed by critics as the album the band was destined to make, White Noise has been described as “a mighty paean to all that is right and true in rock ’n’ roll” by J-Mag. “It’s a damn shame that we have been kept out of the top spot,” says Scott, reffering to the album’s number two debut in the ARIA charts behind the Mamma Mia! soundtrack. “We are still being held hostage by ABBA. I mean, ABBA. But I guess we should be glad that we are at number two, we are selling our records and we still have an audience eager to hear our new tracks. That is a good thing.”

White Noise is an album that not even the band were sure would ever be made. “We were pretty burnt out by the end of the last tour,” says Scott. “Chris even entertained thoughts of whether he’d had enough of it all together. We were looking at the prospect of finishing the tour and getting straight back into the rehearsal room, making new songs for another album, so that the cycle could start over again. The idea did get pretty daunting. We ended up having a big break from each other – from the band. When we did get back in the rehearsal room, all the excitement and enthusiasm came back and set us on the right track of making an album we are really proud of – and we think that it is the best record that we have made.”

“I know it sounds like a bit of a fable,” Scott continues, “but after the break, Chris, as main songwriter, had lots of lyrics and they were a little darker. Then we started to work on the music. Chris came out with a couple of riffs. We spent a week in this tiny studio in Melbourne doing these rough demos, and at the end of it, we had such an unbelievable feeling that we had just made some really good songs.

“I remember having this feeling of ‘we’ve done something really good’. Then we worked on making the music more rock with a variety of beats. But the hardest song to pin down was White Noise. Chris had this killer chorus, but it took us a while to blend it into a song; it was great when we finished it. We realised we had some great songs, and a truck load of songs to choose from as well, so it was a nice position to be in when making a new album – to have so many songs to pick from.”

Touring is now The Living End’s big focus. They will be embarking on a national tour throughout September and October, taking in regional and capital cities across Australia, as well as the Summer Sonic festival in Japan and Splendour in the Grass in Byron Bay. “We’re so confident with these new songs,” says Scott. “They all sound so good live. They all feel so good to play live and we thrive on getting up and playing every night. We’re hanging to get out there and get into the zone of playing every night. And we’re playing better and better each night.

“Our longevity as a band is really important to us. The last thing we want is to disappear up our own arseholes. We need to stay relevant, valid and make a future in music. The thought that things might have been over after the last tour, well, that was a big slap across the face actually – thinking there really could be a lifespan to this band. But I think it really hit home how much the band means to us. The thought of losing it was such a bad prospect that it really cemented how much we appreciate it, like it and enjoy it.”

The Living End’s amazing live shows have given them a fierce reputation for putting on gigs of the highest standard. “We needed to re-focus on playing live. We love playing live,” Scott iterates. “And, the focus now is touring and getting the new songs and album out there. We will be playing Splendour, then we are off to Japan to play a festival. Man!” he exclaims, “it is intense and fanatical over there. The Japanese music fans are so passionate about their music – it’s a great and crazy experience to play there. Then we will set off around the nation in September and October. We are really looking forward to that. We want to really enjoy what we are doing now and be the best we can absolutely be. There’s a lot of juice in the tank. And the fact that that song White Noise has had such a great reaction has given us a real confidence boost. We just want everybody to hear the rest of the record now!”

White Noise is out now on Dew Process/Universal. The Living End play at Trackside on November 22, alongside Cut Copy, The Panics, Bliss n Eso, British India, Bluejuice and more. Tickets on sale August 21.