The Living End

Author: Yvette Chegwidden

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Sideburns, bowling shirts, brothel creepers and Brill cream. If you thought rockabilly was dead, you thought wrong. Taking their name from the line at the end of the Bill Hayley movie, Rock Around The Clock, Living End are a three piece rockabilly/pop rock outfit from Melbourne who have just released their second CD, It’s For Your Own Good, featuring a real rockin’ guitar version of the Cure’s 10:15 Saturday Night.

For some strange reason, Melbourne has always had a larger rockabilly scene than any other Australian city, but unfortunately over the last few years, even this has diminished. “It’s not really that existent any more,” bass player Scott Owen lamented. “When we first started playing it was pretty strong, but even then it wasn’t as huge as it was before. We didn’t even really know about the scene until a few years ago.” To what then does he attribute this demise, what has taken over? “Confusion and anarchy.” he laughs.

Owen did not grow up with fantasies of being in a band, he actually wanted to be a truck driver and fell into music quite by accident, when high school chum, singer/guitarist Chris needed a bass player for his band.

“Chris and I were huge rockabilly fans,” Scott recalled. “We just listened really narrow mindedly to rockabilly, you know Stray Cats, and then the more traditional stuff from the 50’s like Carl Perkins and Johnny Bernette, the guys who wrote a lot of Elvis’ songs. That’s what we started off playing and that’s why I bought a double bass because all the bands I was listening to had double basses, so I thought if you’re going to be a bass player, you have to get a double bass. When we first started we were just a straight rockabilly covers band just doing 50’s music, and then we started getting into like modern, alternative bands.”

These alternative bands included the Cure, hence their hardcore version of 10:15 Saturday Night. “We liked the Cure years ago,” Scott said. “Boys Don’t Cry was the first album I got, and 10:15 was the first song on the album, and I liked it the most and I just said ‘I think we should do it.’ It’s easy to work out, it’s only got two chords in it.”

It’s For Your Own Good was produced by Lindsay Gravina, and fellow band members Chris Cheney and Joe Piripitsi at Birdland studios in Melbourne. “We just listened to all the CDs that we really liked from local bands and thought he would be the best. He was great because he has an understanding of the music and knew what we were on about.” Scott said.

The high point of a year which has seen the Living End gain an increasing amount of exposure, was touring with Green Day. “They were great, they were really friendly.” Scott remembers. “We didn’t know what to expect because we’d thought about it so much. We had no idea whether they’d talk to us or not, but we went out with them a few times. They were great, but their road crew were just all stuck up Americans, they were all pigs. The band said we could have all the perks they got, but the crew didn’t want us to, they were like ‘leave us alone you little shits.'”

Despite the ups and downs of trying to make a living out of music, and going through a succession of drummers, the band have resisted all the pressure thrown in their face and are determined that one day they will be able to play any gig on any day of the week and pack it out. “There seems to be something that keeps us going,” Scott said. “I mean there’s been so many times when we could have been driven to the point of saying ‘bugger it, let’s chuck it in, I’m fed up.’ Even at the worst of times though, there’s still something there and it seems like a good thing to do with our lives, even when we are stuck in a shitty bus for hours on our way to a shitful gig. There’s so many bad ones, like twenty first parties for yobbo, blokish type people that we just don’t get along with. We used to go up to Mildura every couple of months and play at this pub and there’d always be people yelling out ‘play some Pink Floyd, play some Barnesy’, and I’d be like ‘Look at us, we’re a three piece band with a double bass, how do you expect us to play Pink Floyd.”

The band have just done the Pushover Festival in Melbourne, and are currently waiting to hear if they are on the bill for 97’s final Big Day Out, and are looking forward to playing the Rock Above The Falls Festival at Lorne in Victoria on New Year’s Eve. Stretching over three days, the festival features some of the cream of Australia’s music scene including Custard, Regurgitator, The Fauves and Pennywise.

The Living End will be playing in Sydney on Thurs 19th at the Annadale, and Friday 20th at Feedback. It’s For Your Own Good is out now on MDS.

Gig Review

Author: Dan Oakes

It's For Your Own Good

Last Friday night at the Esplanade saw the launch of the new Living End EP, It’s For Your Own Good. I expected a big crowd, and wasn’t disappointed. 
By the time the Living End came on the place was heaving. 
The Living End launched into their set with unbridled energy and enthusiasm, and within minutes were sweating buckets. 
The drumming was short sharp and in bursts, in the style of Keith Moon (before his bloated, dead in bed phase), and seeing the double bass in action made you realise that, visually, the more conventional bass has nothing on its older brother. As on the EP, the band mixed up punk and ska influences with a predominately rockabilly background, creating what is, in my mind, a pretty unique sound. The crowd was big and responded well to the effort the band were obviously putting into the set. It was interesting as well, to see the mixing of subcultures evident. There were punks, goths, rockabilly fans, indie kids, ska freaks, all getting into the music. The Living End are obviously a band that have a wide appeal, and it is good to see.

Fertile Imagination

Author: Teresa Bolster

The Living End and the Fireballs – they’re a genre of two, a very tight knit group battling it out for supremacy amongst the rockabilly/punk fans, competing against each other with the highest hairdos, the slappiest bass, the fastest drumming, the catchiest tunes. Then again, maybe not. It’s probably true to say that, in most people’s undisciplined minds the Fireballs and The Living End are interchangeable and most would likely perceive some kind of competition between the two Melbourne-base trios. But the reality, as revealed by the End’s upright bassist Scott Owen is far less sordid. 
Both bands emerged when there was a small but active rockabilly scene in Melbourne, although the Fireballs were years ahead of the younger Living End. The latter began as the Runaway Boys, a straight ahead rockabilly band specialising in traditional 50’s numbers and Stray Cats covers. 
“The Stray Cats totally inspired us,” Owen says, then adds “before they got old and fat.” 

Playing amongst the limited rockabilly circle, the two bands became friends and shared gigs. When the traditional rockabilly scene dwindled and both bands began discovering other influences, the Fireballs and The Living End developed in different directions. These days Owen sees little similarity between the bands. 
“They’re are so much heavier than us,” he says, “and the way we write songs, it’s so obvious how different our styles have changed.” 
Being older the Fireballs emerged on the wider scene first and the obvious comment that The Living End have ‘copied’ them has been made. Is it annoying to be compared to the Fireballs now? 
“It is when people don’t realise that we have both gone off in different directions. It annoys me when people say ‘You guys are the same as the Fireballs’ because that’s so naive. We’ve got the same roots, but lots of bands have the same roots. People think ‘double bass, same hairdos and clothes, it must be the same music’.”

If the Fireballs have developed a more metal edge in their rockabilly basics, The Living End are reveling in the joys of modern pop. When playing the support slot for Soundgarden last month (their encouragement award from Vivien Lees after missing out on the Big Day Out), Owen says the Living End were far more excited about playing with You Am I, the other support act. 
“We spoke to Tim Rogers and Rusty after the show, and they know where we are coming from, what we used to be into.” He perceives a parallel between You Am I and the Living End. “They’ve gone back to the old 60’s pop sound and put a new sign on it, and we have a done a similar thing with 50’s rockabilly. I love going back to an old style of music and making it contemporary.”

The Living End have now broken through to a whole new audience via the high rotation of From Here On In, lifted from their Lindsay Gravina produced second EP It’s For Your Own Good. For Owen and vocalist/guitarist Chris Cheney, hearing their song played frequently on Triple J is the highest peak of a collaboration which began five years ago, when they were both seventeen. 
“When we were getting played on local radio it was a thrill to be able to hear our music without having to put the tape on. We listen to Triple J all the time – everyone listens to Triple J all the time, so hearing it on that station nationwide was a huge kick. We still spin out whenever we hear it.” 
But by far the ultimate thrill for Owen, Cheney and new drummer Travis Dempsey is the prospect of playing with living rock and roll legend Carl Perkins. The old line up of The Living End have played an annual four day traditional rock and roll festival in Tweed Heads for the last few years as the Runaway Boys. Dempsey in unfamiliar with the old material so this year it’s The Living End who are heading north to play with Perkins. 
“That’s so much more exciting than playing with Soundgarden. People have been saying ‘Who’s Charles Perkins?’ and I’m saying ‘fuck off! What about Blue Suede Shoes?”

It’s For Your Own Good

Author: Avalon Sperring

It's For Your Own Good

Following the release earlier this year of their debut CD EP, Melbourne trio The Living End have moved away from relatively straightforward rockabilly punch with this tasty little six track EP. Although doffing collective caps to influences such as The Clash, Stray Cats and even a quick check to Duanne Eddy (check the glorious guitar solo on Problem). The Living End are beginning to define themselves by their own sound.

A feisty mix of tunes means it’s difficult to pin these guys down, which is never a bad thing. They are becoming conversant with melody within grunt, and plaintive qualities seeping through punchy rhythms, particularly on One More Cell, which is a pop/punk tune dependent on its neatly pumped out chord progression and cheesy chorus for effect. From Here On In and Stay Away From Me reflect the rockabilly aspect of The Living End, with the latter jumping straight into a thrash out with gorgeous accents and atypical bassline.

Bass player Scott Owen and singer/guitarist Chris Cheney belt out vocals with more enthusiasm than finesse, but this works within the context of the songs. English Army is a little too obvious in its debt to The Clash, however The Living End have stamped their mark on the groove if not the melody.

Closing with an inventive cover of The Cure’s 10:15 Saturday Night, It’s For Your Own Good is an immediately infectious slice of this band’s energetic approach to a musical meld that can only be described as a rockabilly/ska cross, however they aren’t afraid to throw in a touch of the pop hook, but nevertheless harness power from the urgency of rockabilly more than anything else. Good stuff for a bit of a dance, if you’re that way inclined.

It’s For Your Own Good

Author: Sandro Olivo

It's For Your Own Good

This has been a frantic year for this three piece punk outfit from Melbourne. It released it’s first EP, Hellbound, at the start of the year and then earned the support slot for green haired trendsetters Green Day. So it is no surprise that this CD’s first track, From Here On In, has a distinct similarity to the American band. But that is where all similarities end.
On this second EP, English Army, One More Cell, Stay Away From Me, Problem and 10:15 Saturday Night set themselves apart with the sound embracing all that is punk. Ska and rockabilly are interspersed through the songs which set the head rocking and the feet stomping. The guitars have a harsh resonating sound and Chris Cheney’s vocals are brilliant.

Perhaps Green Day’s Billy Joe Armstrong could listen and learn. This album is true punkerama.

It’s For Your Own Good

Author: Timothy James

It's For Your Own Good

The Living End have come a long way on their second EP. Where their first release Hellbound lost song quality in sub-standard production, It’s For Your Own Good, produced by Lindsay Gravina, packs brutally honest representation of their live sound – and this sound is most impressive. 
From Here On In and English Army lead the EP admirably. The songs are more well crafted pop than rockabilly, and both tunes come with a chorus you won’t forget in a hurry. Look out for other highlights; see Stay Away From Me complete with its breakneck drumming and minor bass solo, and Problem, that has a booming chorus showcasing Chris Cheney’s distinctive vocal style. 

This EP also comes with a fairly honest take on The Cure’s 10:15 Saturday Night, although this reviewer would have preferred to have seen live favourite Tainted Love make an appearance. To label The Living End as a rockabilly band is lazy and/or uninformed. They have the potential to reach an incredibly wide audience, and on listening to It’s For Your Own Good one gets the feeling that one day Cheney and co. will be scaling even greater heights.

Living In The Fast Lane

Author: Jason Cole

Three piece Melbourne rockers the Living End experienced a dream run of late, coming off a highly successful with those snotty nosed brats of rock, Green Day. On the horizon, the Living End is a confirmed support nationally for the Reverend Horton Heat touring later this year, plus a show with the Supersuckers. the band has also just released an eight track rockabilly punk treat with Hellbound. I had a chat with lead vocalist/guitarist Chris Cheney and drummer Joey Piripitzi about their experiences on the tour with Green Day, amongst other bits and pieces.

The Living End’s career has not been an overnight success. People seem to think that the band has just received a lucky break with the Green Day tour, but Chris told me this is hardly the case. 
“We have been playing together for about four and a half years and have definately paid our dues. We have done heaps of residencies at crappy bars playing shitty cover versions so it hasn’t be all luck.” Hardly the jump from relative obscurity to major venues as people thought. To describe the sound of the Living End isn’t an easy task, “We’re something of a mixed bag when it comes to our sound,” says Chris. The phrase that has been passed around the traps of late is ‘punkabilly’ a term the band isn’t too sure about, but which I think is pretty close to the mark. There is the sound fusion between fifties rockabilly and a definite punk influence.

Asking the guys about their influences I was provided with a vast array of styles. 
“We dig the fifties rockabilly style of Eddie Cochran, Stray Cats and of course the ‘Rev’ Horton Heat but get into earlier punk stuff like the Clash, Dead Kennedys and the likes of Green Day.” 
Now that’s an interesting mix. It’s no secret that the boys are huge fans off Green Day. They had already bought their tickets, they had sent a tape of their work to Green Day’s management hoping to score a support slot. As it worked out the Green Day lads liked Living End so much they got them on board! (I hope they got a refund on the tickets!) The tour took the bands across the whole of Australia playing to 9000 capacity at the Horden Pavillion – bit of change from the Tote, eh? 
“Yeah, it was a complete buzz, a real adrenalin rush to play those venues and see masses of people looking at you, it was freaky.”

How was the response from the crowd? 
“Unbelievable, they really got into us and were jumping all around and going off! We were a bit freaked out that the crowd would all be die-hard Green Day fans and wouldn’t give a shit about us but it was cool.”

And what were the Green Day fellas like? 
“Really cool guys who were just so down to earth, and easy going, we just hung out in bars after the shows and played pool and took part in some room smashing on the last date of the tour with the drummer Tre Cool.”

Now the boys of the Living End are back in Melbourne. They will be playing a few shows locally and are looking forward to the national tour with their idol, the Reverend Horton Heat which should be huge. The guys are chuffed to win these great support slots, partly due to the fact that they are now in the care of the Cheersquad touring group run by Wally Meanie who takes care of the likes of the Meanies, Snout, etc. The Living End also has a mini-CD out called Hellbound. Produced off the band’s own bat and on the strength of the Green Day tour, the CD also got them a distribution deal with Shock. Currently the CD is doing well and already they are being courted by major record companies. At present the band is just enjoying the ride and certainly looks destined for even bigger and better things in the future.

Hellbound Review

Author: Unknown

Hellbound

Punkish rockabilly trio the Living End draw from the look and sound of fifties rockers the likes of Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran, and more recent revivalists the Stray Cats. They add to this a hefty shot of punk and end with energetic, fiery, aggressive, pounding sound with loads of charm.

The eight track mini-album, Hellbound is a beauty, packed with gems like the frenzied opener Trace Of Doubt, the surf guitar of the title track, the snotty punk rock of The Living End and the rockabilly shuffle of Strange. Tabletop Show is a gritty plodder with great harmonies, Headlines and Misspent Youth are powerful slices of punk, and the closing tune So Lonely is a fun, boppy rock n’ roller.

The Living End are the sort of band that keeps rock n’ roll fresh, regardless of their derivative nature. It’s the energy and enthusiasm that gets you in, as well as the beat of the drums and the slappin’ double bass, the great guitar work and the strong songs. Brilliant!

Gig Review

Author: Darrell Bassett

Knew bugger all about the Living End until they came on but now I know they are one fine outfit. Kinda boogie, kinda punk, kinda something. Their cover of 10:15 Saturday Night gave a bit more of a perspective of these blokes, but not much – they’re right out of left field.