The Living End

Author: Zoe Radas

Towards the end of the ‘90s, the Antipodes was good to guitar-heavy Australian music with Jebediah, Regurgitator and The Whitlams hauling arse up the indie charts. When Melbourne trio The Living End unleashed their double A-side release Second Solution/Prisoner Of Society, it promptly collected jewels across genres when it was the only Australian single to get up there in the sales charts, standing out in a sea of Ricky Martins and Shania Twains. Its success signalled the start of Australia’s long, respectful admiration for The Living End and beginning Tuesday December 11, the band will play a run of 11 shows at The Corner Hotel, each featuring one of the rockers’ six studio albums.

“Yeah I know, far out man: time is money, I believe,” says double bassist Scott Owen when the operator informs me we only have ten minutes to speak and I express dismay. It’s Owen’s first interview for the day and the coffee-head has undoubtedly already ingested his share of the devil’s brew, as photos on the band’s site attest to his addiction. For the record, he has the procedure down pat. “Before midday I’ll have a double shot latte with one sugar, but after midday I’ll have what’s called a double shot piccolo which is basically two shots of coffee and just half the amount of milk… you get the good stuff, but you don’t need that much milk after the clock strikes noon.” Owen will need the extra kick over the coming weeks as he and bandmates Chris Cheney and Andy Strachan thrash out multiple shows including some for the kids. “We used to do tons of [under 18s shows],” he says thoughtfully. “It was always on the cards to do over 18s and under 18s shows. I guess a lot of our fans are under the age of 18. It’s unfair to play all those shows and deny them!” My intro to the band came when they played at my high school in 1998, something I couldn’t believe our uppity teachers had allowed. I couldn’t recall Owen doing his now-famous move that heady day. “Maybe the show was a little bit toned down for the high school performance,” he laughs. “When the adrenaline kicks in it seems like anything is possible on stage, and I guess it is, if balancing on a double bass is possible then anything’s possible. I blame adrenaline,” he says decidedly.

The under 18s show will see folk-punk-rock foursome The Smith Street Band supporting, while other shows feature a mix of all kinds of acts including The Meanies, Money For Rope and Something For Kate.“We just sort of put the word out to try and get as many bands as possible,” explains Owen. “We figured there’d be quite a few people who’d come to more than one gig so I guess it’s good for them to have a bit of variety as well.” There’s also a pretty marvellous list of one-time DJs slated to appear in between bands at each show. “We just went to friends of ours that were in bands and asked them if they would do it,” he chortles. Fans can expect to see Johnny Mackay from Children Collide, Hamish Rosser of Wolfmother, two of the Gyroscope dudes, and Phil Jamieson from Grinspoon (using his inspired DJ moniker 2manyPJs) behind the decks. “There’s going to be a long changeover between and the first band and us,” Owen says.“They’re not huge stages, so we need to get all our shit off stage, have [it] off stage when the first band plays so they have room. You know, we don’t want to do that mean-spirited thing where you make bands set up in front of your own shit on a tiny stage so they have six square feet of room to perform in,” he says drily. “So that being the case, the crew have to set up all our shit after this poor band plays so there’s going to be a big gap. We thought we’d provide some sort of entertainment between.”

With Cheney arguably one of the country’s best guitarists and Strachan a master at thumping the skins in that perfectly simple punk style (“It’s not a massive kit, it’s pretty standard – there’s no friggin’ Virgil Donati or Lars Ulrich set up going on there” Owen states), it seems useless to bother layering on the superlatives about how good these shows are going to be. Despite not winning the Best Live Act ARIA this year, The Living End have already got six of the pointy statues and clearly don’t need another in order to sellout several of their shows in our city. If you haven’t yet got yourself a ticket there’s still time, but if you count to three (‘one two three’), you could miss out on these legendary dates.