Back in November 1999 was the last time the Living End came to Tasmania for a headlining show and that also happen to be my first ever gig, so TLE have always had a special place in my heart.
Me and the crew rocked up to the Albert Hall thirty minutes after the doors were meant to open and then waited and hour to enter the building, in which time we missed the whole performance by local supports the Reactions.
We did get to see End Of Fashion though, who were great as always; a lot of people were disappointed with them which I couldn’t understand. I thought their new material was great as was their stage show; only problem was the poor lighting.
After a bit of a wait, the Living End stormed onto the stage and belted out the first track “Till The End” from their album “State Of Emergency”. It was mostly a greatest hits set which was what most people I knew wanted to see.
All the classics including “Second Solution”, “Roll On” and newer tracks like “Long Live The Weekend”, “What’s On Your Radio?” were aired. The band closed with their huge hit from 1997 “Prisoner Of Society” which had the whole floor going off its face.
The band’s encore started with the classic, rarely played “Uncle Harry”, into the newer track “Wake Up” and then the classic “West End Riot”.
The Living End was the best I’ve ever seen them play.
Tasmania Goes Into A State Of Emergency With The Living End
They’re all over your TV, on your radio, and now in SAUCE. Bassist Scott Owen gave us a Tasmanian exclusive in the lead-up to their gigs down here.
It’s been noted that the recording process for “State Of Emergency” was quite stressful. Can you explain why that was and how the making of this album differed to its predecessor “Modern Artillery”? What pressures does a band experience when they commence work on a new album? Recording is always stressful for many different reasons, the concurrent one being that we always stress that we are getting the best ideas down tape in the time we have and not leaving stones un-turned. This is a pressure we put on ourselves. Time is always a stress for us too. For some reason no matter how much time we allocate ourselves we always seem to be rushing at the end and having to go overtime which is not a good thing for a clear head when trying to assess what we have done and gather some perspective near the end of it.
Why did you choose to work with Nick Launay (Midnight Oil, Silverchair, Nick Cave) as producer this time around? We used Nick on “Roll On” and he proved to be a big asset on that album, especially in the sounds he was able to get using pretty traditional recording techniques. In the studio he has a way, I think, of getting the most out of a band playing together rather than layering the rhythm tracks too much which I felt was a mistake we made on “Modern Artillery”. He also has a well of ideas when it comes to song arranging, which we need because we have millions of ideas on this and he was able to hear out and filter a lot of the ideas flying around the room when it becomes confusing. On top of that his experience making all styles of music is valuable and his energy and enthusiasm in the studio rarely slows.
The “All States Of Emergency” tour is your largest national tour to date and incorporates some towns you’ve never performed in before. What’s it like playing to a new regional audience and how do these shows differ from major city gigs? I always find that regional audiences are much more enthusiastic than city audiences with the exception of our hometown, Melbourne. I think the fact that regional audiences aren’t spoilt with an option for many gigs and venues means that when gigs happen in those areas there is more excitement and it becomes more of an event. I love doing these long tours because you really fall into a habit of playing every night that builds up your own energy the longer it goes on and by playing every night we become more and more tuned.
You’re a band that seems to cater well for the all-ages market, how important is the all-ages audience to you? Over the years we’ve continued to appeal to young people so it is very important that we do gigs for them too. I think it great for a young audience to get an affinity with live music in this day and age where it is easy to be entertained without going out and being social.
How do you keep the pace up? What do you guys do on the road to maintain the high energy levels required for your dynamic and demanding performances? Nothing specific really. I guess our philosophy is that we really do want to put on a great show every night so that means whatever you during the day can’t be anything that will put the gig in jeopardy so we TRY and do whatever we can to look after ourselves.
What’s your fondest memory of Launceston? I remember a long time ago when we did a tour supporting Jebediah and we played at the Saloon Bar. It was really packed to the brim and everyone was jumping up and down so much that they created a giant hole in the floor. The security put a giant wooden box over the hole so no one fell in it and everyone spent the rest of the gig stage diving off it. It was one of the wildest things I have ever seen.
The Living End play Launceston’s Albert Hall on the 15th September & Hobart’s City Hall on the 16th of September.
I liked them better when they were turning your youthful rebellion into Coke commercials. This story of adultery and marital distress is just plain silly, with shades of Shannon Noll in the verse and a chorus too cheap even for the Lords of Hooktown. The central idea that nothing lasts forever is just about in tune with the trite teen cynicism of their audience, however, and the guitars pound like they should. Write a marching tune and the kids will march: so goes the conventional wisdom of The Living End. And you can’t argue with them, because they sell a lot of records. So they must be good.
Legendary Melboune psychobilly trio The Fireballs were asked to reform by Motorhead’s Lemmy last year to play an outdoor festival over in the west with his band as well as Motley Crue. That led to many requesting that the combo play more gigs which now sees them on a big national tour. It will also mark the reissuing of their recorded work, Terminal Haircut, Life Takes Too Long and So Bad It’s Good, so we e-mailed guitar player Matt Black a few questions and began by asking how the gig last year had transpired to the current tour.
“There’d been a shitload of pressure from a lot of areas over the years to reform, but we have only done things when we want to do them, not when others want it,” Matt had e-mailed from Japan where The Fireballs had been engaged to perform at a huge punk and rockabilly festival. “So, in a way, having that demand is really flattering and we are respectful of that, but we have to be comfortable with what we do and when we do it.”
Was it just like old times when you got together again? “Yes and scarily so. We are the blood and guts rock ‘n’ roll juggernaut!” Matt declared. “Our current shows have been brutal and I can safely say the band is kicking it out like never before, I dare anyone to disagree!”
The Living End have often cited you guys as a big influence. How do you feel about that? “Good on ’em,” Matt stated. “We came from the same scene and we’re a little older than them so by virtue of that we broke down some doors that they were later able to pass through as well. “But if the implication is that we are somehow responsible for their success is being made by your question, then you’re dead wrong,” he added. “We can’t take any responsibility for their success and neither should anyone else because The Living End have gone on and done the arse kicking around the world. Personally, I’m as happy as shit for them.”
It’s good news about the re-release of The Fireballs’ material – Terminal Haircut, Life Takes Too Long and So Bad It’s Good. How has that all come about? “The demand has been rather high for the old material which has now been out of print for quite a while,” Matt responded. “We wanted to get it back out there and maintain total control of it. Obviously the internet makes all of that kind of thing much easier than it was 10 years ago. There has been a real surge in interest in the band and it’s almost as though the world has caught up to us. Psychobilly is rising above its cult status worldwide.”
Are there any plans at this stage to record some new Fireballs’ material? “Maybe,” Matt cautiously declared. “But we really don’t have a long-term plan at the moment. Like I said before, we are just doing things at a comfortable pace. We will gig infrequently at best.”
We know that stand-up drummer Eddie Fury took a sit-down job with Rockbottom James & The Detonators and has also been involved with the band Sinshifter. What have you been up to? “I took a well-earned break over the last few years and did a course in domestic bliss as a full-time subject,” Matt responded. “I think I passed.”
I believe you also played in a band with Fireballs’ double bass player Joey at some stage. “Yeah, Joey and I have had a few combos over the years, most notably The Strikes,” Matt stated.
James Burton or Scotty Moore? “Zakk Wylde. Nah, okay, Scotty Moore.”
You’re playing Adelaide with local rockabilly combo The Satellites which will make for a totally rockin’ show. Do you know much about them? “Oh yeah,” Matt concluded. “The Satellites do it like it needs to be done – sultry, twangin’ and greasy.”
The Fireballs play Fowler’s Live on Sat Aug 19 with The Satellites.
They’ve increasingly got it down to a formula, but one they do so very well. Throw in the other great Australian band cliche: they’re better live. In another nod to local tradition, they present the always suitable for singing along, bitch about the boss while waiting the 48 hours of 48 thrills to come. The Friday on their collective mind comes with some working class angst that will occur more as the AWA’s start clutching at your balls, and this will make a good soundtrack for ACTU protest marches. If those smug pricks in Canberra will still let us have them.
With their last album, The Living End figured near enough was good enough. This time, they set the level they wanted to achieve and wouldn’t accept anything less.
“You can always improve, and I thought with the last album the songs were there, but perhaps it wasn’t executed as well as it could have been,” muses The Living End’s vocalist and guitarist Chris Cheney. “So this time it was a case of trying to write much better songs and really get something special. Get a mood for each song and get each song to really carry itself properly, which I think we did. I think we nailed it in a way that we hadn’t done before, and it’s just because we were relentless about it.”
One of the things that jumps out about their new album State of Emergency is the strong sense of melody. It’s something that’s always been present with The Living End but it’s even more so with the stirring lines on the likes of Nothing Lasts Forever and Order of the Day. “I always search for that ‘chill factor’, I call it. When you hear a song and you get that chill from it or that spine tingling moment,” Cheney explains.
“Bands like Radiohead are masters of doing it in those special moments in a song, and for me, quite often that comes in a melodic sense over anything else, over a sonic or arrangement sense. To me it comes down to just maybe the way a chord moves up from another chord and the melodies over the top, and it’s just putting it in the right order so you get that kind of rush from it. I spent a lot of time on that with this album, just making sure the songs were as hard hitting as they could be. If it’s going to hit you in the heart then it really comes and gets you.
“I’m just a fan of really well crafted pop songs, I suppose, whether it’s the Beatles or Burt Bacharach or whatever, and I think it’s a real art, and I’ve been trying to improve on that. I think certain people are born with it; very few I reckon. A lot of people probably sit down and do draft after draft of a song and just write thousands of songs until you get to the point where you start to know what’s going to work and what isn’t. I felt that I got to a point with this album where I could do that a lot easier.”
This melody could arise from the fact that the songs are written first on an acoustic guitar. This is something the band has always done, which is surprising considering they’re known for mostly being the rock band that they are. “It’s kind of weird for us. We’re known for being more a live band I suppose than a band on record, which is what we wanted to turn around with this album, but all our songs are born that way. You can play any of our songs on an acoustic guitar and I think they sound good because they’re written from that point of view,” Cheney says.
“It’s like with all the fast songs and all the fancy guitar playing, it’s all irrelevant. People always ask about it, but to me if you don’t have a song, if you can’t put two chords together and a nice melody and hit someone in a way that brute force doesn’t, like the physical thing about a gig, if you can hit them in another way, it’s so much more important. That’s probably been our weakness, even though we’ve had melodic songs. I want to write songs that stand up to The Police and U2 and stuff like that, which is kind of weird coming from our background because we started out as a rockabilly band where it’s not really about the songwriting prowess, it’s about the energy.”
This energy was the first thing on display from the album when they released the first single What’s On Your Radio. But for those touting a return to the old style Living End with this new album, one will find an album that’s very diverse. There are traditional Living End belters such as the aforementioned What’s On Your Radio or We Want More, to poppier numbers such as Nothing Lasts Forever. Whatever they turn their hand to though, it sounds like The Living End. It seems with State of Emergency, the band has found a style that is all their own.
“We kind of chose that because I think we needed to come out with something that showed the energy of the band and re-establish ourselves as a high energy act,” Cheney says of releasing What’s On Your Radio. “But it was a difficult decision as well because I’m more proud probably of some of the slower songs on this album, and that comes more from a songwriting point of view, and you want to show that to people, but at the same time we didn’t really want to confuse the issue at first and I think we’re always going to be that high energy kind of band. I can’t see us going too mellow in any sense, but at the same time I’m really proud of some of the slower songs on the album. I think they’re single worthy and equal contenders, and that’s never been the case with us really, other than maybe All Torn Down. People think of our signature sound as being this hundred mile an hour punk rock stuff, and I’m really glad we can go in a different direction and, I think, pull it off.”
A good case in point of the different direction will be the next single Wake Up, an anthemic number that lays off the throttle, but very much has the “chill factor” Cheney was talking about earlier. As mentioned before, the album is full of these melodious tracks such as the likes of No Way Out and Nothing Lasts Forever.
“I don’t know where it comes from,” Cheney says of his sense of melody. “It probably goes back to my childhood I suppose, what you listen to and what was on the radio and what your parents played. But for some reason I’ve always been fascinated by really strong melodies and really strong hooks. I can remember mum and dad playing Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Hot August Night as every parent in the ‘70s did; even like Meatloaf and Little River Band I loved when I was five or six years old, and I can only assume that it goes back to that. As much as I like seeing a band rocking out on stage and having a certain aggression to them, it bores me after a while if there’s no song.”
Things just get better and better for The Living End, undisputed stars of the 2006 Jack Awards on Tuesday 20 June, taking out four gongs (and were the only artist to receive more than one award). First up, their acclaimed State Of Emergency album is a scant few units away from hitting platinum status locally. What’s more, it’s about to be released through Adeline Records (the label formed by Green Day’s frontman Billie Joe Armstrong and manager Pat Magnarella) to coincide with their appearances on the Warped Tour and their own North American headline tour, with releases scheduled for Canada and Japan shortly thereafter. And if that wasn’t enough, they’re just about to release Long Live The Weekend as a single here at home and head off on a 34 date national tour with End Of Fashion and The Red Riders, which will visit Newcastle Entertainment Centre on Monday 9 October, the Central Coast Leagues Club at Gosford Tuesday 10, Big Top Luna Park on Thursday 12 (all ages), Shelly’s in Wollongong on Friday 13 (over 18s) and Saturday 14 (under 18s) and Canberra’s Royal Theatre on Sunday 15.
The Living End have announced a massive 34-date nationwide tour in support of their latest album, State Of Emergency. After cleaning up at the Jack Awards and winning awards for best band, best male, best live television appearance and perhaps most surprisingly, best drummer, the band will play an all ages show at The Civic Centre in Wodonga on September 19 and two under 18s shows at The Palace in St Kilda on September 20 and 21. The main support for the tour will be Perth’s End Of Fashion, with Sydney up-and-comers Red Riders opening. Before that, the band will be on the 39-date Warped and headline tour of the United States, with their latest record available over there through Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong label, Adeline Records.
Primed and ready to spring into action on the last day of winter, The Living End are set to take on an all states tour. Set to tour North America for the next two months, The Living End’s famous commitment to local fans is again realised as they return home to deliver their typically dynamic rock performances around the nation. Wednesday 13th September at Latrobe Uni, Bendigo, Tuesday 19th at Wodonga Civic Centre (all ages), and Wednesday 20th, Thursday 21st (both under 18) and Friday 22nd at the Palace. Guests for all shows will be End Of Fashion and Red Riders, tickets on sale from July 13th.