The Living End

Author: Amanda Sherring

Even the most successful of bands still have a thing or two to learn about the industry, and it seems the Living End are taking a few lessons while doing some shows with Australian rock legend Jimmy Barnes. “The thing that really amazes me about him, I mean obviously he’s a great performer, but when we’re in the studio and tracking a song hearing his voice come through the headphones,” double bass player Scott Owen says.

“He never goes, ‘Okay, I’ll just sing this through with half my sound a few times and then we’ll get serious’, he’s just serious from the get go and nails it every single time. He’s just an absolute legend and whenever he opens his mouth he’s on.”

For the rest of us, we’ve got a lot to learn from both bands, and thankfully the Face the Music Industry Conference is allowing us to get a further look into the Living End’s career. Taking to the stage with their long time manager Rae Harvey, the band will be discussing the ins and outs of how they got where they are, and as Scott says, a lot of it can be thanks to their great management.

“I think it’s almost been 20 bloody years that she’s been managing us,” he says. “We obviously had ambitions as a band but she was always one step ahead of where we were at and really focused. She always follows her heart with making decisions and I can’t say enough good words about her.”

It’s refreshing to hear a musician speak so highly of their manager, so often bands are pressured by management to go in directions they don’t want to – but the only pressure The Living End feel comes from them.

“We’re a pretty ambitious kind of band – the band is our identity and we’re proud of what we’ve  done. I think we’ve got plenty to learn and offer as well, so we do put a lot of pressure on ourselves to try and get the best result that we can. I guess that’s a far more genuine pressure than feeling it from outside sources,” Scott says.

Even since the earlier days, the band have been giving it their all, and their live shows are a testament to their determination and drive to push themselves to the limit. Anyone who’s seen them in action can attest to this, as lead man Chris Cheney – and even Scott himself – often get up on the double bass whilst playing their instruments. Though there were accidents in their path to perfecting the trick.

“There’s been a couple actually,” Scott says through a laugh. “The worst one was probably when Chris climbed up on my bass while he was still playing guitar – this was on our first song when we were performing in a pub when we were first starting out – he climbed up on my bass and managed to fall off and semi break my bass in the process.”

It was a devastating experience and we thought we’d never show our faces in public again and that our career was doomed from that moment onwards, but fortunately we got back on the horse, so to speak.”

Since then the band have perfected the move and, while there mightn’t be many stage tricks left for them to learn, they’ve taken on a new project in the not-for-profit NGO It Ain’t Nothing.

Twelve months on from the typhoon in the Philippines – that killed over 6,000 people – and there are still families living without proper shelter. Project 50.50.50 aims to put a roof over their heads with 50 houses built for 50 families.

Each house costs $1,000 and is built entirely by locals from local supplies. Granted, Scott thdid help out on building the 28 house for the project when he visited recently.

That amount of money mightn’t mean much to us, and that’s one of the reasons why It Ain’t Nothing was formed.

“We were just a bunch of guys and thinking about, well how much money do we actually spend on things that aren’t important?” he says. “We thought how about we tackle a little project here and do something a bit more meaningful with our life. It’s been such a hugely rewarding experience and I just want to share that with people.”

To support the cause visit www.itaintnothing.org and help build the final 22 homes.

When&Where: Face the Music Industry Conference @ Arts Centre, Melbourne – November 14 & 15