From End To Beginning

Author: Rod Whitfield

After almost 20 years together, Melbourne rock institution The Living End have just about seen and done it all in the Aussie music scene, recently releasing their sixth studio album. Lead vocalist, guitarist and main songwriter Chris Cheney joined Rod Whitfield recently for a chat about the new record with its rather puzzling title and other TLE-related stuff.

“We’ve really made the record that we wanted to make,” says Cheney. “You just don’t know how it’s going to turn out, when you’re writing it. You’ve got this idea in your head of how you think it’s going to sound, and how you think it’s going to flow and all that. It can go the opposite and turn out completely different. But this one… we were just so stoked. When we were making it we were like ‘fuck, it’s sounding really good, sonically’, and I think we picked the best batch of songs from the 30 or 40 we demo’d. Vocally I was pretty happy with the way it was coming along. And when it was completely finished and mixed, we were just like ‘fuck yeah!’. We were sure people were going to like this. We just felt like this was our best record.”

“We basically started demo’ing the album in January last year and I don’t think I took more than a day away from the writing, for the entire year! I lived it and breathed it 24/7. There were lots of ups and downs in the writing — we had some really good songs in January, and by around March or April we were sitting around in our rehearsal rooms staring at each other. We kind of felt like we’d run out of ideas. I started to feel burnt out. It was kind of like ‘shit, we’re only half way through the writing’. But we pushed through that. The thing about The Living End is that we’ve got this work ethic — we just get on with it, and we push ourselves, because we want the result. I think that’s the reason we hadt he down time, we were searching for something that didn’t exist, some thingspecial that we had in our minds. I really felt like three weeks after that, I dug deep and came up with a whole batch of songs.”

The album is entitled The Ending is Just the Beginning Repeating, which has caused some consternation amongst Living End fans. But according to Cheney, the title does not foretell the band’s demise. “A lot of our fans were shocked,” he laughs. “It’s not a very Living End sounding album title, they’re usually short, sharp and direct. But that’s kind of what drew me to it. And I guess for me it’s a statement on life cycle, I suppose. There’s a real thread that’s going through this album that’s asking a lot of questions. There were a few things that were going on in my life during the recording and writing of this album — a lot of personal stuff. I really felt like I was in a difficult place, and I was hoping that would end! And that I would grow from it if I survived it. It just seemed a very powerful statement — some things have to end in order for other things to evolve and regenerate.”

According to Cheney, his personal journey has shaped the whole feel of the album. “[It’s] just a massive question mark, really. Me being the age that I’m at now, with two little kids, and the band being through everything we’ve been through, you get to a point where you start analysing things a lot more, and what does it all mean? My life’s changed an enormous amount in the last six months, and I guess what you’re going through always makes its way through to the songs.”

The Living End storm the Fat as Butter Festival in Newcastle on Saturday, October 22, alongside Empire of the Sun, Cloud Control, British India, Calling All Cars and many, many more. Cheney and the band are jumping out of their skin to play such a massive show. “We pride ourselves on being a live band,” he says. “Once we get the album right, it’s basically a chance to get out and play [it]. To have 11 new songs to go out on the road with is super exciting for us, particularly because they sound so much better than our old songs. They just work — they flow, and they sound tougher and bigger.”

The Living End perform at Fat As Butter, Newcastle, on Saturday October 22.