dB Magazine

The Living End

Author: Darren Leach

Since forming way back in 1994, The Living End have always forged their own path. Rockabilly was what your uncool Dad was into, but somehow they made it fashionable. The band have always stayed true to their roots without following a fad or trend just because it’s the flavour of the month. Fast forward to 2011 and we’ve just been introduced to their sixth album and longest title to date ‘The Ending Is Just The Beginning Repeating’.

CDs could soon be a thing of the past with the amount of downloads these days and decline in sales, but The Living End has gone against the trend by releasing their new album on 12-inch vinyl. And the band’s upright bassist Scott Owen loves spinning the black stuff.

“I came from the age of vinyl. When I was growing up I had a collection. I’ve still got it and I have a record player which I actually use!” a very passionate Owen begins. “It’s not meant to be kept in a box; vinyl is there to be listened to. We’ve always put our albums out on vinyl, but it’s getting harder to get them printed as there are only a couple of places in Australia that do it. Unfortunately, it looks like it will disappear one day altogether.”

The Living End’s self-titled debut album of 1998 recently made it in at the distinguished #4 position on Triple J’s Hottest 100 albums of all time. The band have thought about putting out a deluxe version, but only when they are too old and have arthritis will they then milk the back catalogue. Owen is looking to the future rather than the past with this new album.

“I’m really happy with the new album even though it was three years in the making. I know I’m supposed to say this as I’m on the promo trail, but I actually do believe it’s better (than the first album) as I think we learnt something as a band and we progressed as a band.”

Unfortunately for singer Chris Cheney, his father recently died during the recording of the album. Rather than wallow, on ‘The Ending’ he has released his emotions.

“We were recording when his Dad was very sick and although it was awfully difficult for him to be in the studio and having to work thinking ‘why am I here when I should be with my Dad’, I think it really helped him to be working and to have something to focus on. Recording seemed to be therapeutic.”

In studio, the band chose to work with producer Nick DiDia, who has been behind the producing desk for a number of Powderfinger albums. I asked Owen if he was concerned about DiDia taking his band down the mid-tempo world of rock like Powderfinger.

“To be perfectly honest it was a concern that he wouldn’t be able to harness the energy of the band. We knew we wanted to make a pretty rockin’ sounding record and I knew he’d produced some more gentle, soundscapy kind of music. We had a good talk to him about that. But his skills are varied, he’s worked with Brendan O’Brien who has produced Rage Against The Machine, AC/DC, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam, bands who are pretty forceful, so there was no need to be concerned.”

In testing the new material, The Living End adopted a new pseudonym, performing as The Safety Matches (it was The Longnecks in 2002 to bleed in then new drummer Andy Strachan). Owen believes this guise is vital to getting quality feedback.

“Some of the songs we changed quite a bit, and some of them were scrapped altogether afterwards. We wanted to make sure that the songs on the album are the ones we were going to enjoy playing live. There were a couple that did feel a little too left field. They sounded great in the rehearsal room but once you get on stage with an audience you know what works and what doesn’t.”

Owen offered a final comment upon the ever-present debate over the current state of the music industry, in particular downloads.

“It’s a shame that album sales are suffering so much. Record companies are really suffering too, which I think is a good stir up for the record industry. It will have to make them rethink how they operate, which isn’t all bad. The internet is a tool for getting your music around the world; the internet is far more useful than damaging. People are too focused on the notion of stealing music. If more people hear your music then more people come to your gigs, which means you can tour to different parts of the world. I still think most people who like an album will buy it.”

The Living End play Thebarton Theatre on Sat 10 Sep. ‘The Ending Is Just The Beginning Repeating’ is out now through Dew Process/UMA.