Living Large

Author: Daniel Cribb

With The Big Pineapple Complex just around the corner, The Living End bassist Scott Owen breaks out of the nuthouse to chat the state of the Australian festival scene and working with Ash Grunwald with Daniel Cribb.

After travelling around the country with Soundwave earlier in the year, and being a staple of the Australian festival scene since their formation in 1994, few bands have the ability to comment of the current state of the festival scene like The Living End. And despite concerns surrounding the future of
Australian festivals, bassist Scott Owen doesn’t think there’s anything to be too concerned about. “In history the popularity of music has gone up and down due to other trends and stuff and maybe it’s just sort of hit a bit of a lull at the moment. It’s a weird age that we live in – far out, I feel like I’m sounding like a father. I still think that there are a lot of music festivals out there happening, there are a lot of places for band to play, there’s still a shitload of bands around, and there’s still heaps of great music around, so I definitely don’t think we’re in dire straits here, no pun intended,” he laughs, somewhat out of breath.

“[I’m] just sort of pacing around the road out the front of my house aimlessly talking on the phone,” he says. “I probably look like a lunatic because I’ve just been sort of walking around in a circle for the past hour, and if anyone’s looking out their window they’re probably thinking, ‘That guy really needs to go back to the nuthouse now.’”

With his schedule as of late, it’s not a stretch to think he may be stressed to the point of admission at times. It’s been a busy two-and-a-half years for The Living End. After releasing their sixth record in 2011, The Ending Is Just The Beginning, they embarked on another stretch of relentless touring, last year tackling Europe, but not before Owen and drummer Andy Strachan hit the studio and toured with Ash Grunwald midyear – an experience that has given the pair a new perspective on The Living End. “It was all very spontaneous,” he tells. “All [The Living End] stuff is very structured – the songs are arranged as they are and we play them the same way every time and stick to their true arrangement, whereas with Ash there’s a lot more of an improvisational loose jam approach to his songs. It was surprising when we first played them with him… It’s been cool for me and Andy, just realising how much fun we actually have playing together.”

After their appearance at Big Pineapple, the rest of 2014 will see The Living End recede into the shadows to take some time off , before regrouping at the start of 2015 to begin work on album number seven. “I really don’t know what the next Living End record will be like – we’ve never got a plan,” Owen says to round out the conversation. “I can hear the ambulance coming in the distance,” he jokes.

WHEN & WHERE: 17 May, Big Pineapple Music Festival, Woombye