Wunderbar Energy Plus

Author: Unknown

YAMBA BOWLO
FRIDAY 28 DECEMBER

The Living End rose to fame with the release of the groups double A-sided single Second Solution and Prisoner of Society. The band went on to become of one Australia’s biggest rock, racking up six ARIA awards, two number 1 chart debuts, eight studio albums and countless hit singles: All Torn Down, West End Riot, Roll On and White Noise to name a few. Renowned for their energetic live shows, The Living End is touring its new album, Wunderbar, now – so make Friday night December 28 a night to remember by catching the group in the auditorium at Bowlo Sports and Leisure Yamba. Tickets are on sale at the club or through its website.

Stray Cats

Author: EB

Stray Cats – Birmingham, 02 Academy – 23/06/2019

Support came from Aussie band The Living End with their rockabilly infused punk rock with frontman Chris Cheney greeting the audience with some comical banter, “if it wasn’t for The Stray Cats, you’d be watching some other shitty band, cos we wouldn’t be here” to which the crowd chuckle, although their impressive 40-minute set was far from “shitty”. Drummer Andy Strachan was outstanding and Scott Owen who continuously leapt up on to his double bass, which is considered his signature move, boasts quite possibly the fastest and most talented plucking hands in rockabilly history, alongside Lee Rocker of course. ‘Till The End’, ‘Death Of The American Dream’, ‘How Do We Know’ and the humorous ‘Uncle Harry (Pisses In The Bath)’ provide more than enough sing-along moments, and tunes you could shake your hips to, which perfectly warm up a crowd who clearly need no encouragement.

Fans scream and applaud as the original founding members of The Stray Cats, Brian Setzer (vocals, guitar), Lee Rocker (double bassist) and Slim Jim Phantom (drums), appear on stage which has a small and minimal setup and launch straight into ‘Cat Fight (Over A Dog like Me)’ and ‘Runaway Boys’. Still sporting their slick back hairdos and bandana neck scarfs just like they did throughout the 80s, they appear as ageless as their music. New track, ‘Three Times A Charm’ and old-favourite ‘Stray Cat Strut’ play through and with their unmistakable Stray Cats sound, the New Yorker rockers really have got the crowd worked up in to a frenzy. ‘Gene and Eddie’, ‘Cry Baby’, ‘(She’s) Sexy & 17’ and ‘Bring It Back Again’ which is sung by double bassist Lee Rocker, follow. Setzer is one of the most important rockabilly guitarists around today and really knows how to make his guitars sing, no guitar is better suited to rockabilly than the Gretsch and it’s around this time people might begin to understand why Setzer is a longstanding lover of them, aside from the fact that Eddie Cochran played one! Their set was nothing short of electrifying, as Lee Rocker insisted on standing upon, spinning and slapping the hell out of his double bass (you can see why he won the Bass Player Lifetime Achievement Award), Slim Jim who’s playing a really simple but effective kit, refusing to sit down for more than 5 minutes at a time, and Brian Setzer swinging his Gretsch around, eyes closed, with his infectious guitar licks alone making you want to get up and move. It’s really no wonder the room had been converted into a sweat box of bopping, jumping and rocking bodies. In Setzer’s own words “whatever gig you’re at tonight, it aint as cool as this” and damn he was right; with each of them going on 60, they were purring again as they managed to triumphally knock the socks off Birmingham O2 Academy. ‘Rock This Town’, ‘Rock It Off’ and ‘Rumble In Brighton’ close their set and it was very clear why these rockabilly legends are still very much relevant in the genre that started out more than four decades ago.

A Living End To 2018 Gigs

Author: Luke Voogt

Aussie rock legends The Living End lead a dozen-strong line-up of alternative bands in a series of gigs at Torquay over summer.

Barwon Heads drummer Andy Strachan was thrilled to play on Boxing Day at Torquay Hotel.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve done (pub) gigs,” he said.

“Everyone’s generally pretty loose and ready for a good time – I think more bands should do it.”

The gig kicks off an Australian and New Zealand tour for the multi-ARIA-winning band.

“I’m super excited – there are waves almost everywhere (on the east coast),” Strachan said.

“We should do this as an annual event – go on a little a surfing trip.”

The band recently released new album Wunderbar, featuring the single Don’t Lose It.

Jimmy Barnes, Kacey Chambers, Eddie McGuire and Ray Hadley appear in the track’s video clip parodying talent shows. “It was the most fun we’ve ever had doing a video clip,”

Strachan said. “Generally, with video clips, there’s a whole lot of waiting around but this one was just hilarious from start to finish.”

TV presenter Tom Williams, a good friend of Strachan’s, turns the satire up to 11 as a corny talent show host.

“He’s such a charismatic guy and he doesn’t mind the taking the piss out of himself,” Strachan said.

Living End guitarist Chris Cheney plays Boy George-esque judge ‘Valentino’ while bass player Scott Owen plays a corporate producer.

“I don’t care what they do, they can fart into a lunchbox,” Owen says in the clip.

“I just want someone who’s going to make money.”

Strachan said “all fingers were pointed directly at me” to play third judge, the Delta Goodrem-inspired Alexis Dream.

Molly Meldrum plays an Elvis impersonator, while The Wiggles’ Murray Cook and Puppetry of the Penis also make appearances.

“We had to blur some of that,” Strachan said.

“There’s an adults-only version somewhere.”

The number of celebrities “snowballed” once Cheney phoned Barnes for the video, Strachan said.

“He says, ‘whatever you need mate, I’m there,’ in his Jimmy voice.

“We’ve done a lot of stuff with Jimmy in the past – he and Chris get along really well.

“If you had said 20 years ago you’re going to be mates with Jimmy Barnes from Cold Chisel … it’s so surreal.”

The Living End finished Wunderbar in a few “intense” months of recording in Berlin, Strachan said.

Cheney wrote most of the new album, which Strachan described as high-energy and “sonically different to anything we’ve done”.

“Chris has a song-writing gift … but we all chip in,” Strachan said.

Throwing Off The Shackles

Author: Brendan Crabb

As Aussie rock mainstays The Living End return for an eighth full-length, frontman Chris Cheney tells Brendan Crabb about his relationship with their breakthrough anthem.

The Living End’s recent decision to launch Don’t Lose It, lead single from new album Wunderbar at small gigs in Sydney and Melbourne was greeted with enthusiasm by the punkers’ fanbase. However, a fellow journalist/photographer lamented to this scribe after the Sydney show that the veterans eschewed breakthrough hit Prisoner Of Society in favour of new material. “It didn’t seem the right time and place to play it,” vocalist/guitarist Chris Cheney says when told of this. “God, hasn’t he heard it a million times before like we all have?” he laughs.

“We’re so into the (new) record, that we just went, ‘Fuck it, everyone knows the other songs. This is the ideal opportunity to be a bit of a showcase of new songs.’ We’ve always kind of done that. We used to go out and do these secret gigs where we’d just play all new material, sort of road-test it. We stand behind it [the new album], and I think the audience could see that. The one thing people said to me was that they have a lot of character and personality, these songs. In an era where people aren’t making records anymore, we have made a record.”

What type of relationship does the frontman have with Prisoner Of Society nowadays? Cheney pauses before responding. “A love-hate one. No, I don’t hate it, it’s fine. It’s forever going to be the song that kind of put us on the map first I suppose. I think it’s a good song, I just don’t like the recording of it, I don’t like the version that we recorded… It was a different time. We were kind of part of that whole punk/pop thing, and just the vocals are sung in a certain way that I’m like, I just wouldn’t sing it that way anymore,” the frontman laughs. “But I can appreciate the song, and I still think it’s a good song.”

While having a healthy respect for their past, including playing heritage-themed shows previously, the aforementioned willingness to forge ahead has meant 20 years on from the multi-platinum success of their self-titled debut, the trio sought fresh ways to create on album number eight. The trio — also featuring co-founder, double bassist Scott Owen and long-time drummer Andy Strachan — decamped to Berlin, Germany for recording and pre-production sessions on Wunderbar. They worked alongside producer Tobias Kuhn during the six-week stint.

“We only decided in like September that we were going to make the record, and then [by] January we were already making it,” Cheney laughs. “So there wasn’t a huge turnaround. Trying to pack up my house in LA in shipping containers and think about relocating [back to Melbourne] and trying to write a record at the same time was nuts.

“When we got to Germany, the songs still needed to be finished off and I really felt like they were influenced by just the surroundings. Every day I would get up, we were staying at an Airbnb and a hotel and a few different places, but you’d get up in the morning and then you’d walk to the studio. Just walking past the subway, past all the German signs, and your streets, sights and smells and everything, I found it was influencing me. It was just giving me this kind of… Just this different approach when I got to the studio each day because I was in a completely different environment. It’s hard to say exactly how it influenced the record, but I definitely think it’s got a lot of character that it wouldn’t have had if I’d just been sitting in my bedroom all day, every day recording.”

Of the new record, the frontman dubs the multi-faceted Death Of The American Dream as a “kind of political” but a predominantly personal statement partially inspired by his living in Hollywood for several years, while adding that the rest of the tracks on the record are not necessarily political at all. “There’s a couple of little statements here and there, but it’s a very diverse record this one. Whereas [2016’s] Shift was very introspective… That was actually quite dark and grim, to be honest, but this one I find is a little more optimistic. There’s a little more hope and a few more different kinds of subject matter that we’re tackling that I don’t think we would have tackled in our twenties.

“We’ve never been like the Oils or something and made a proper, full-blown [political] statement. It’s more just been about social issues and stuff that’s going on, as opposed to laying down our opinion.”

Wunderbar (BMG) is out now. The Living End tour from 1 Nov.

The Living End On Taking A Leap Of Faith

Author: Alex Callan

It may have been 20 years since The Living End were talking about being a brat that talks back, but god damn, they haven’t lost the punk. If you don’t believe me give a spin to ‘Death Of The American Dream’, a track of their newest album Wunderbar.

“I’m stoked that you brought up that song because that’s probably my favourite off the record,” remarks the bands Double Bassist Scott Owen. “That one was just a bit of a jam and when we demoed it we didn’t have any lyrics written.

“So I just barked down the microphone. I was pretending I was on the phone to somebody and that was my phone call was the verses of the song. It was thing called ‘Can I leave my number’ as if I was leaving a message for someone,” he continues.

“We were more focused about getting the energy right to make it a banger of a song and didn’t care as much about the lyrics and Chris took it away and turned it into the ‘Death Of The American Dream’ which tuned it to a completely other dimension.

“It’s the first time we had every written like that. I didn’t expect it to turn into what it did, it was just something we did for a bit of fun and then it grew legs and got a life of its own.”

Recording the album over six weeks in Berlin, Scott spoke about how the band were “fish out of water” when they headed over to work with Tobias Kuhn, a producer the band had never met before.

“The whole idea was to take a bit of a leap of faith,” he says. “We didn’t want to play it safe and put ourselves in the same situation we have before, so instead we thought we would take an adventure and work with someone we don’t know in a place that’s really far away.

“It was a great idea; it was the best thing we could of done,” Scott expands. “Tobias was unreal; we got aong with him really well and had really similar musical tastes and ideas so it was a really good collaboration there in a sense.

“We try not to have too many preconceived ideas about songs and try to just let them go to where they want to be. We just want each song t have their own identity.”

Now back in Australia, The Living End will once again be hitting the road for the Wunderbar tour and bringing along West Thebarton for the ride.

“Truthfully, I don’t really know much about West Thebarton,” laughs Scott before continuing, “so I’m really looking forward to touring with them so I can check them out. We have just done a bunch of gigs in Europe which has been really good for us and now we have a few gigs between no and when the tour starts but we absolutely cannot wait to get back up there again.

“Being in a studio is great, but it feels like you’ve got the shackles on and everything is under the microscope so we all can’t wait to let lose on stage again.”

The Living End Get It Horribly Right

Author: Zachary Snowdon Smith

Any uni student knows that spending hours dawdling over an essay doesn’t necessarily make the finished product any better. Punk trio The Living End found the same to be true when they emerged from the studio with their quickest record ever, Wunderbar, which was produced in just four weeks.

“We didn’t sacrifice quality – it just meant that we got the job done without procrastinating,” says frontman Chris Cheney. “It almost made me worried that everything was going horribly right. You’re waiting for it. When’s the hurdle coming? When are we going to get stuck? But it ended up as the most fun record we’ve ever done – the easiest experience I’ve ever had in the studio.”

To record their new album, the band didn’t book time at Abbey Road or the Capitol Records tower in LA. Instead, they sequestered themselves in the quaint and tourist-free central German town of Rotenburg an der Fulda. In Rotenburg, the band started each day with a ten-minute stroll to Toolhouse Studios, where they met with Tobias Kuhn, a producer known for his frenetic energy during recording sessions.

Recording Wunderbar, Cheney found that Germany fulfills the Australian reputation for laid-back amicability better than Australia does.

“I find [Berlin] a lot more chilled to walk around,” says Cheney. “You don’t see anywhere near the aggression or the violence that I see on a daily basis in Melbourne. I mean, God forbid you were to walk down the street with an open beer. You can’t do that.

“It’s a funny kind of arrangement. The laws over there are looser. It’s almost like with teenagers: if you give them a little bit of responsibility, they tend to grow up and appreciate it and not abuse it. Whereas, in Australia, there’s this police state: ‘You can’t do this, you can’t do that.’ That tends to make people rebel against it. It’s a funny thing; even though Berlin’s a pretty crazy town, you feel very safe walking around there. I hate to say it, but I don’t feel like that when I’m walking around Melbourne sometimes.”

Even as Spotify continues to reduce albums to modular collections of tracks, Cheney takes pride in Wunderbar’s completeness, which he hopes will prompt a few people to listen to it all the way through before cannibalising it for playlists.

“As an album, it flows really well,” he says. “I know that’s a little bit defunct these days, but for us, that’s important. There were certain songs we really liked that didn’t end up on the record, because they didn’t fit… We’re not aiming to reinvent the wheel. We’ve dabbled a bit, but with this record, the strength lies in the fact that it’s a straight-up rock ‘n’ roll record.”

One standout track is the cochlea-pummelling ‘Death Of The American Dream’, which sounds a bit like the Living End’s take on Highway 61 Revisited. The mortifying spectacle of the Trump presidency has sparked a minor renaissance of anti-American political music. However, Cheney, who spent seven years living in the US, says that ‘Death Of The American Dream’ was written as a diagnosis, not an attack.

“As a kid, for me, America was Mickey Mouse and Disneyland and Elvis and Graceland and Cadillacs, this larger-than-life country,” says Cheney. “At the moment, it’s down on its luck. This song isn’t a piss-take on America at all. It’s saying, ‘I would defend the States forever’, and I love the place. I think you’ve got to go through a rough patch sometimes. They’ll find their feet again. It’s just going to take some time.”

Ultimately, Wunderbar may be most remarkable for its solidity – for the absence of the self-conscious reinventions commonly employed by bands who have spent 20 years on the road.

“You’re not supposed to get better as you get older,” says Cheney. “The shows aren’t supposed to be more intense, but I feel like they are with us. I look at some of the old footage and hear live recordings and it’s just terrible. But now, I feel like we can really play our arses off.

“Every single night, I go off on these different tangents and improvise, and the whole thing feels like it could run off the rails at any minute, but that’s the beauty of it. That’s the magic of a Living End show. We’re not just going through the motions. Maybe we have in the past at certain times, but I take more risks now. That’s what live music is.”

The Living End will tour Australia this November. Wunderbar is out now from BMG.

The Living End – Wunderbar

Author: Helena Metzke

Aussie rockers The Living End have done what they do best on their eighth studio album, Wunderbar – and that is deliver honest-to-goodness, feel it in the gut, head on rock’n’roll.

Recorded in Berlin over a six week period during a series of inspired recording sessions with producer Tobias Kuhn, Wunderbar was assembled faster than any other of the bands’ previous albums.

In what might be one of the best rock records to be released this year, Wunderbar is – put simply – what The Living End are known for. The band have proven they know their niche; it’s what they’re good at, it’s what they’re passionate about, and it’s what has kept hundreds of thousands of fans listening for almost a quarter century.

Taking to social media to celebrate the release, frontman Chris Cheney wrote, “There are many things that can make or break a record – and one thing’s for sure, playing it safe isn’t the answer.

“Berlin was a blind leap, Tobias was a risk, and the Airbnb smelt like piss, but that’s what making rock’n’roll records is all about.”

Sounding as incisive and zestful as they did at their inception, Wunderbar is one of the most concious and politically vital efforts that The Living End have delivered in their career.

The Living End

Author: Joshua Martin

You won’t see repackaged, remastered, or rehashed iterations of The Living End’s 20-year-old eponymous debut record this year – singer and guitarist Chris Cheney doesn’t care for anniversaries.

For him, 2018 is Wunderbar – the band’s staunchly contemporary new LP, recorded in icy Berlin. Upon its release, a few things will immediately confront fans of The Living End – not least of all its tongue in cheek German title. The garish purple cover is another departure, an array of nine television sets broadcasting fractured palm trees.

“I like the idea of a paradise, an unobtainable thing we’re all looking at through our screens and devices, all trying to make our lives better through technology. It tied into my experience too, having left LA being all palm trees, then being in the harshness of Berlin and looking back at the palm trees of LA,” Cheney explains.

The surprising abstraction continues into the album itself, a set of 11 tracks spanning personal politics and identity as a microcosm for simmering political divide, condensed into the purest white-hot rock’n’roll the band has written in years.

“I used to be always trying to be a character, always trying to be something else and try to put myself into a role. I think with this record there’s a lot of me coming to terms with the way I sing and play guitar and the way I write songs,” Cheney says.

Nearly every part of Wunderbar’s distinct character leads back to the album’s sessions in Berlin and the baroque small town of Rottenburg an der Fulda where German producer Tobias Kuhn enticed the band to record in a blistering six week period in February. Germany remains a bastion of rock’n’roll, immune to the irrelevance plaguing the genre elsewhere and The Living End revel in its proud regional tradition on Wunderbar, collaborating with Dusseldorf rock heroes Die Toten Hosen on several tracks.

“We first went there back in 1998 or 1999. We were so green that it felt like such a foreign place. I was like ‘Wow, I feel like I’m on another planet completely.’

“[Die Toten Hosen are] the ones who first took us to Germany in ‘98 – we’ve stayed in contact with them and done a lot of shows with them over the years. It needed that big voice, that big chant, and we thought who better than those guys to come and yell on it.”

Wunderbar’s best tracks are a distinctly Australian mish-mash of international influences with unexpected maturity; ‘Not Like the Other Boys’ rails against traditional moulds of masculinity (“Didn’t I try to raise you like a man? Just like the other boys”) while ‘Amsterdam’ showcases an unguarded Cheney against just an electric guitar.

“[‘Amsterdam’] was written as a full band track and it had this surf-garage line, almost like early Midnight Oil. I pitched it to the band and everyone was like, ‘Yeah, it’s great but it doesn’t fit what the album is.’ It was Tobias who suggested stripping everything away and step up to the microphone with the guitar,” Cheney says.

Standout track ‘Death of the American Dream’ uses Cheney’s experience in the US as a template for a psychobilly 21st century interpolation of ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ before a reflective acoustic interlude offers the troubled superpower a bone.

In 2012, Cheney lamented he could “sympathise with guys who have felt like they have done all they can in a band.” The patchy two records that followed, 2011’s The Ending is Just The Beginning Repeating and 2015’s Shift stayed that course, but things couldn’t be more different now.

“You go through hurdles and slumps through the years and maybe we were going through one then. I can’t see any sign of us slowing down at this point. For a long time I was consumed by the Living End and that was when it became a grind. I think this record has done so much for us and our own enthusiasm.”