The Wrights

Author: Unknown

The Easybeats were Australia’s Beatles. Easyfever was Australia’s Beatlemaina. And Stevie Wright was John Lennon downunder. After the group fell apart, Stevie enjoyed a solo career that took in the same highs and lows that he’d experienced with the Easybeats, but once drugs and alcohol took over, they took over with a vengeance, turning the once diminutive, good-looking singer into a bloated caricature of a faded rock star. Last year’s semi warts-and-all biography, Hard Road, by Glenn Goldsmith, shows Stevie these days as a quiet man, living at home with a woman who loves him – Australia’s Syd Barrett. He will almost certainly never sing again. But, thanks to Nic Cester from Australia’s newest international success, Jet, Stevie Wright is back on the charts. Big-time. “Evie”, Wright’s 1974 mega-hit, has been given a new lease of life via the supergroup The Wrights, assembled by Cester after he’d attended the launch of the Glenn Goldsmith biography. The single was released in February, and has been selling up a storm around the country. Proceeds will be directed towards the Salvation Army’s drug and alcohol rehab program, the Red Cross Tsunami appeal, and to Stevie Wright himself. The Wrights’ members are Cester, Kram from Spiderbait, Dave Lane (You Am I and The Pictures), Pat Bourke (Dallas Crane), with Cester providing the vocals on Part I, Powderfinger’s Bernard Fanning (Part II) and Grinspoon’s Phil Jamieson (Part III). Chris Cheney, who contributes some sizzling guitar on Part I, takes time out from his day job with The Living End to talk about the supergroup that just can’t seem to find the time to play together.

Have The Wrights done anything else besides “Evie”?
“No, no, that’s all we’ve done. There’s been a few rehearsal room jam-sessions, but other than that we are a one-hit-wonder (laughs). And we’ve only done three gigs – they just happened to have been really high profile ones. We’d all like to do more, but Nic just had the idea to do the song, and I guess he didn’t know how it was gonna turn out at all, so there wasn’t any long-term thought whatsoever. But the minute we got together we all enjoyed playing together, and after we did the recording we sat back and thought ‘Sounds pretty good, too!’ So it’s something that none of us particularly want to let go, but it seems like it’s a crucial time for everybody at the moment – The Pictures have just done a recording, Jet are, well you know, Jet, Spiderbait are kind of riding high at the moment, and we’re trying to write another album! All those things are priorities I suppose, and it’s be easy to neglect them in a way, and have a bit more fun with The Wrights, but, you know, you have to look after your day job”.

You’ve only played three times (WaveAid, Rove Live and the ARIAs) so is it like the concept is just sitting there, sneering at you, teasing you with the possibilities?
“Yeah, pretty much. And we’ve only done the whole eleven-minute version once, at WaveAid, It was really fun for me because I haven’t really played in any other bands since high school I’ve just been so driven with The Living End thing that I’d forgotten about playing with other musicians, so it’s really healthy just from that point of view – for me, anyway. But I think the other guys all found something in there, too. We’d love to play it more, but there’s no point us all driving to Bundaberg and then playing one song!”

How did it all come together in the first place?
“We toured with Jet last year, and then shortly after we all returned to Australia, Nic had gone to the Hard Road book launch. I think he got the idea from there, that it’d be great to get all these guys together to re-record this song. So I got a call one day from Nic going, ‘I have a plan…’. It was quite weird in a way – and this is no word of a lie- because the week before I’d been down to a record shop on Carlisle Street, and I found a copy of ‘Evie’ there while I was browsing through the 45s, and I remembered it from when I was younger, and so I bought it. So when he called me a week later, I said, ‘It’s really strange that you’re calling me, coz I just bought that!” So I sat down and learnt it and then we got together a couple of weeks afterwards and had a jam on it, and it was really good.”

And Harry Vanda came down to the sessions…
“That was just the ultimate! To be in the studio with him showing me and Davey the right note to play and so on – it was just amazing. Then sitting around drinking beer and listening to AC/DC and hearing the Easybeats story, which was just incredible – one of the highlights of my life, really!”

You can stop now…?
“Yeah, mission accomplished!” (Chris laughs wildly)

Neverending Story

Author: Tommy Las Vegas

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The Living End were lucky enough to tour the US with Jet and The Vines, “there was a healthy rivalry and it pushed us all, which was fantastic,” drummer Andy Strachan tells Tommy Las Vegas.

It’s hard to know where to start with a band that has had platinum record sales, major national and international tours, ARIA awards, mainstream airplay and critical reverence heaped upon it, but talking to The Living End, it’s pretty obvious pretty quickly that all of those endorsements are secondary to their passion for the music they make. This passion and sincerity were fundamental to their success when they first burst into the mainstream with their self-titled five-time platinum debut album in 1998 and are integral to the momentum they sustain today. In keeping with their humility, they take none of their accolades for granted of course, but an ardent self-belief is still inherent in the infectious smashes that they continue to churn out today.

“I don’t think the success we’ve had plays on anyone’s mind really, except for the way in which we tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves – individually, probably more so than as a band,” says drummer, Andy Strachan. “But I think anything that comes along is just a bonus. We do what we do and obviously we try to do it the best that we possibly can, so when you achieve something, or when something like a gold record is given to you, you don’t even think about it, it just comes along and then you go, ‘fuck, that’s awesome,’ It’s still like Christmas every time something like that happens to me and I think the other guys are the same.”

Modesty aside, given singer/guitarist, Chris Cheney’s highly publicised, almost fatal car accident on Victoria’s Great Ocean Road in 2001, it’s obvious why the band takes nothing for granted. This was undeniably their most challenging and frustrating period. Cheney’s slow rehabilitation prevented him from picking up the axe for many months and then just as he was edging towards recovery, then-drummer Travis Demsey quit the band. Ultimately though, the jeopardy that the band was in revitalised their hunger and with the addition of Strachan, brought them closer together. After the release of last year’s album, Modern Artillery, which debuted at #3 in the ARIA charts, the band undertook extensive global touring in 2004, racing across the US with Blink 182 and No Doubt and also partaking in the Aussie Invasion tour with Jet and The Vines.

“It was a fucking awesome tour, it was my favourite tour to date, I don’t think I had any preconceived ideas of what it would be like before we left, but getting to know those guys was fantastic. They’re all down to earth and lovely people and every night was basically just a joy,” says Strachan. “You get to watch two great Aussie bands – or three actually, with Neon too – and it’s really inspiring and such fun to be a part of. And obviously Jet are doing massive things over there; I wasn’t surprised by the crowds that were turning up and the energy that they were getting across, but it was pretty overwhelming and very impressive. And every night we tried to play the best we possibly could, but I think the experience pushed every band to another level; If one band had a great night, then it was the next band’s job to do better than that. There was a great camaraderie between the bands, but there was a healthy rivalry too and it pushed us all, which was fantastic.”

With plans already underway to start work on a new album after an upcoming national tour, the Melbourne trio’s schedule for the rest of the year is hectic. Their forthcoming double DVD and singles collection CD, The Living End: From Here On In (1997-2004), is about to inundate record stores too, and for a band that is still arguably in its formative period, it’s no mean accomplishment to already have enough singles to fill a full album. Besides the singles CD however, the double DVD is also a substantial addition to any fan’s collection; it boasts exclusive documentary footage, all of their film clips and an entire live gig. According to Strachan, the package is as much an introduction to The Living End as it is a retrospective release.

“I look at it like a book end. It’s like an insight into what’s happened up until now and it pretty much leaves the next album wide open. Although we’ve written two brand new songs for this album too and one of them is on radio at the moment and it’s a big departure from the kind of stuff that we’ve done in the past,” says Strachan. “But, yeah, I think it just ties everything up and give us a fresh slate. I suppose we can pretty much go in any direction we want from here, which is pretty healthy, I reckon.”

As with any band, Strachan notes that the changes in the music climate from 1997 until now have had their impact on The Living End; the rigours of life in a tour bus have taken their toll too, but Strachan – still new compared to Cheney and [double bassist] Scott Owen – is as passionate as he has ever been. Notching up awards for the Best Bass Guitarist and the Best Lead Guitarist at this year’s Jack Awards hasn’t done any damage to the band’s morale either, but the electricity between the three of them has been most crucial to their ability to steamroll any music industry hurdles.

“I think the music climate changes constantly. It’s definitely changed since 1997, with different trends and styles coming in and out of fashion and I think it has impacted upon music in general,” says Strachan. “The music industry hasn’t been a pleasant place for a long time, but I think The Living End has managed to stay above water by almost ignoring all that bullshit that goes on. We’re very focused about what we do; it’s our job and it’s our life and there aren’t really any distractions, we just do it to the best of our ability and we still have goals and aspirations. It’s what we want to do and it’s what we love doing, so there’s no reason why we wouldn’t be 120 per cent into it.”

The Living End

Author: Nathan Jolly

Issue 8 2004

Andy Strachan of The Living End talks to Nathan Jolly about the state of Australian rock, greatest hits sets and Craig Nicholls, amongst other things.

The Living End story is deeply ingrained in Australian folklore; the rise from obscure rockabilly covers band, to their independent release of the 3rd highest selling single in Australian music history, through to the car-crash that nearly claimed front man Chris Cheney’s life, and forced the band off the road for a year. And of course the comeback album and the greatest hits set to curtail the eight-year recording career. But according to drummer Andy Strachan, the best is yet to come. “The title of the record (From Here On In) sums it up. It covers then til now, and the future is open.”

Andy Strachan joined The Living End in 2001, and he still holds the enthusiasm that he had when he was a fan of the band. While very much a fully-fledged member of the group, he is still able to talk gushingly about Chris Cheney’s abilities, and the amazing back catalogue of songs that the band has amassed. He says it is this profilic streak that forced the best of compilation.
“There was so much stuff, that our manager came to us and said ‘we have so many hours of footage that if we don’t use it, it’d be a real shame’, and then we went back through the archives, and discovered ‘Fuck, the band has had that many singles!’ So it was just a bit of spring-cleaning, and the fans on the site have been asking for a DVD for ages. Plus it leaves the next album open. I think it’s long overdue. We’ve spoken about a rarities collection too. There’s so many songs that deserve to be on an album, but for whatever reason they haven’t. Such a huge backlog of songs. Maybe we’ll release a collection of demos.”

“If you were in Australia in ’98, you were a fan of this band. There’s no way you could have lived in Australia, and not known about The Living End,” he continues. It is clearly evident throughout the entire interview that Strachan considers it an honour to be in Australia’s premier rock band, and it’s a distinction he is happy to put in the yards for. A few months ago the band toured America with fellow Australian bands “Jet” and “The Vines” as part of the “Oz Invasion” tour, a tour that saw the band playing a string of sold out shows across America. “It was fantastic, Best tour ever”, he enthused. “It was fun, challenging, bloody exciting…every show sold out, nothing like it has happened for many years. It was good to be Australian.”

“The fact that all the bands are Aussies says a lot really. Everyone got on great. Craig from ‘The Vines’ gets seen as a little out there-he’s not really. He’s a very gentle, lovely guy. Just because he goes a little weird on stage…the Jet guys love a drink and partying, and they are genuine guys as well. How many millions have they sold? They appreciate it all as well. Made me proud to be Australian.”

In the spirit of this patriotic display, it comes as no surprise to hear that a bit of good old-fashioned one-upmanship played a key role on the tour.
“We all took it like a competition, trying to get one up on the next band. Trying to make it hard to follow our show. It was healthy and meant we all played really well, at every show. Everyone was at 120% throughout the whole tour.”

With three Australian bands loose on the road, it would come as no surprise to hear the tales of rock and roll debauchery, of televisions thrown out hotel windows, and drinking blasts. According to Strachan, this isn’t the case with The Living End.
“We are pretty well behaved. I wish I could tell you otherwise,” he laughs. “We’ve a job to do, and we enjoy it, and don’t wanna piss it up against the wall. There’s some bad comedy going on when we tour. That’s about it.”

In America, The Living End found themselves outselling the other two, more established bands at the merchandising table most nights. I was surprised to hear that the fans were already well acquainted with the band.
“Yeah absolutely. There is a big cult following over there. We haven’t had any radio success, and to be that far from home, and have people singing along to every song, it shows that once a fan, always a fan. The Living End has always been a band that’s exciting to watch and to listen to.”

The reasons for this loyalty are varied, from great songs, an energetic live show, the raw energy of the punk-fused sound, or maybe it’s the Aussie spirit that was captured on the tour. But Strachan is happy to simplify it all.

“It’s The Living End bug, you catch it, and that’s it. Don’t worry I was like that too. I caught it.”

The Living End

Author: Ryan Smith

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It’s been far too long since The Living End graced us with our presence. But with a collection of singles and a DVD soon to hit our shelves, the band decided now was as good a time as any to make their triumphant return. And believe me, the fans are looking forward to it.

We also know singer/guitarist Chris Cheney is excited. “I’m really looking forward to the tour,” he gushes. “Some of the shows we’ve been doing overseas have been great, and I just feel we’re playing really well as a band. Better than we ever have before. Plus it’s always good playing your own bloody backyard, particularly because there’s so many more songs people back home know and get into. When you play overseas you sometimes struggle to get people into it. So I’m just looking forward to the usual Aussie craziness that’s usually at our shows.”

It’s true: the band’s shows are notoriously crazy. I have fond memories of punters literally hanging from the rafters of the venue on more than one occasion The Living End have visited our fair city. “It’s hard to explain really,” says Cheney. “It’s like when people come to our shows they just really let themselves go. And it’s quite a sight to behold when you’re up on stage. I don’t do anything else other than play in a band so for me it’s like an enormous release, it’s a great outlet. And I guess people go to our shows for the same reason. A couple of beers in the belly and off they go…”

Over the years The Living End have grown to be quite a big player in the Australian music scene. A lot of bands have come and gone, but The Living End seem to be here for the long haul. Cheney is quick to explain how that feels from a band’s point of view. “It’s weird because lately we’ve been getting a lot of younger people coming to our shows. It’s like there’s a whole new generation of kids who are becoming aware of the band. Maybe their older brothers or someone were playing our albums and they’ve caught on… But while we were in the States, all these American kids were coming up to us and were totally fascinated by the band; they were asking all sorts of questions about why we do this and why we do that. But to some extent we’re just emulating what they invented. Like having a double bass, and our rockabilly influence especially – it was all American so it’s weird to have American kids coming up to us and asking us to tell them all about it,” he laughs. “I just guess there aren’t any bands over there who are doing what we are – they’ll be a fully fledged rockabilly band, but the fact that we’ve always mixed things up makes us different. We still keep the visual aspect and style, but when we record songs, we like to throw it all into the basket and not stick to the one thing.”

Earlier in the year, The Living End treated the United States to a night of amazing Australian music touring with The Vines and Jet. “The Vines headlined every night, thought Jet probably should have,” says Cheney. “It was a funny situation though, because we were going on first. But it was fine actually, because The Vines have sold a lot more albums in the United States than we have, and Jet were starting to get really big there. So when we were offered a spot on the tour, at no time did we think we should’ve been headlining. We just thought ‘okay, we’ll go over there and play to our audience and their audience, and it’ll be a good combination of people in the crowd and we’ll try and win them back and give the other bands a run for their money.’ I mean – we had to. We were the Aussie rock veterans.”

The Living End have earned the rank almost pushing ten years of releasing music as compiled on the forthcoming ‘From Here On In: The Singles 1997-2004’. The CD will coincide with the release of a companion DVD. “It was strange,” admits Cheney. “When the idea for the DVD was first thrown out there, I said we weren’t really the kind of band who shoots a lot of footage of crazy stuff. We don’t get girls to take their tops off, we don’t smash up hotel rooms and film it just for the sake of a DVD. But then I was really surprised when it was all put together and the guy who collated it was saying it was going to be over two hours long and he was chopping a whole heap of stuff out. I think it’s good that it actually tells a story without having to resort to any of those cliche rock ‘n’ roll moments. I just never knew we had that much footage. I seriously don’t remember the camera being around enough to warrant a two-hour documentary.”

“I’d always said that if we ever decided to do something like this, we’d want to do it properly and not just have a half hour of us fucking around. But I guess after so many years you forget just how often stuff was filmed and how much has happened. Some of the stuff that’s on there I’d totally forgotten about. There was some moments where I was wondering if I really wanted to sit and watch it all again anyway… But there’s nothing too embarrassing in there,” Cheney chuckles. “Just a lot of hairspray.”

‘From Here On In’ documents the band’s entire career, from their humble beginnings in the Melbourne suburbs to the present, complete with the appearance of “new” drummer – Adelaide’s own Andy Strachan. When quizzed about how Strachan fit into the dynamic of the band Cheney laughs but is quick to point out he was just what they were looking for. “When Andy joined the band, of course we knew a little bit of his background and stuff. One of the main factors about him was the fact that he’d played in a band called The Runaways when he was sixteen or something, playing drums for a band that played fifties and sixties covers. And it’s funny because at that time we were doing the same thing in Melbourne but we were called The Runaway Boys. Plus, he’d also said that he grew up with a next door neighbour who was always playing Madness and The Stranglers. So he had a love of fifties stuff as well as seventies and eighties new wave stuff, which is the basis for our whole band really.”

“It’s funny though because the press still seem to refer to him as ‘the new guy’. We just do it on the rare occasion when we really want to rev him up,” laughs Cheney. “But i think Brian Johnson from AC/DC is still referred to as ‘the new guy’, and look how long that’s been…”

Chris Cheney – The Living End

Author: Unknown

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Your all-time three favourite Australian Songs?

Girls On The Avenue – Richard Clapton
This always reminds me of our first trips to Sydney staying in the Cross. I was too young when it came out to remember but I think its a classic world class song. I think it sounds like what it must have been like in the late 70s early 80s music scene.

Back In Black – AC/DC
I remember hearing this in Bathurst at the Mount Panorama motorbike races when I was about 9 or 10, I guess. To me it sounded like heavy bikers music and i still think that actually. It is just one of the finest sounding songs in rock ‘n’ roll history.

Just Like Firewood – The Saints
It’s one of those songs that I remember hearing when growing up. For some reason it has a very Australian sound which I love. There is a sparseness to the song which I think gives it an Australian flavour.

If you could record a cover version of any Australian song, what would it be and why?
We’ve had a chuckle at the idea of doing Come Said The Boy by Mondo Rock…

It’s A Living Thing

Author: Craig New

With a new album, a new drummer, and currently in the midst of a huge national tour, The Living End are back, and at their blistering best.

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There’s nothing more frustrating for a music fan than their favourite band taking a leave of absence that lasts for over a year, just when it seems their hard work is finally paying off. It’s even more frustrating for the band themselves when that break is the last thing they expected.

So it was with Melbourne rockers The Living End, who were forced into a hiatus throughout 2002 after vocalist/guitarist Chris Cheney’s well-documented and brutal car accident that nearly cost him his life. But, as the old saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining, and it was during this break that MODERN ARTillery, the band’s third and most accomplished release, was created. Following 2000’s Roll On, it’s more solid songwriting, a return to their roots with a breath of fresh air that highlights the band’s passion.

“It’s really hard to describe how that happened,” laughs Cheney. “We’re so close to it that I don’t really know any more what the bloody thing sounds like! I guess the freshness thing is just to do with Andy [Strachan, drums] being in the band now, and to do with all that we went through, that once we went into the studio to make this album. We were like, this is it, take no prisoners. I think we had a bit of a point to prove with this one, we couldn’t just ease back in. We had to make sure that we had a good bunch of songs and do it properly or we’d risk losing all that we’d built up.

“I think the songs are a lot better than what we had for Roll On. They were more written from the perspective of trying to impress people with the musicianship. With this one it was all about having more simple kind of songs, but still keep the listener’s attention, which is hard to do without a lot of fancy stuff going on. There’s still a little bit of that, but as you can hear, it doesn’t dominate the songs, there’s a good song underneath everything else first.”

And as self-deprecating as Cheney can be at times about his own songwriting abilities, there are fans everywhere around the world who would argue otherwise.

“The good thing now is that I don’t have to worry about [songwriting], and I think that the trick is just letting it come when it comes,” Cheney ponders. “I just don’t think you can force yourself to write a song, let alone a good one, if you’re scratching your head and trying to force things. I don’t know, maybe I’ve just got high standards, but I don’t find it the easiest task in the world – but I probably make it hard for myself because I’m always trying to write the next epic song or something! I’m always wanting it to have lots of hooks and lots of weird chords, I don’t know – just trying to surpass what I’ve done before I suppose.”

Cheney Reaction

Author: Julian Tompkin

It may have taken an horrific car accident and the departure of mate and drummer Travis Demsey from the band, but Chris Cheney, frontman for The Living End, has finally taken a second to stop and enjoy the success he’s experienced thanks to the only job he’s ever known. But, back with the band’s third longplayer Modern Artillery, it’s also given him a fiery hunger for more. No one could have seen it coming. Cheney had witnessed the band he’d formed with bassist Scott Owen at high school in the mid-’90s turn into big business, with a self-titled debut album that quickly broke all rock records in this country, going five times platinum after its release in 1998. With two record deals ­ Reprise in the US and EMI in Australia ­ The Living End, along with drummer Travis Demsey, soon found its punk/rockabilly songs of disenfranchised youth become the soundtrack for a new generation of rock kids, from the streets of Melbourne, to Berlin and Tokyo. Between world tours the band found time to record the second installment of The Living End story, 2000’s Roll On album. While less immediate than its predecessor, Roll On possessed enough of that iconic neo rockabilly charm that distanced The Living End from its contemporaries to continue the unstoppable momentum of one of Australia’s most successful bands. It was time for album number three but a car crash soon changed everything. Cheney was to spend months in rehab, unable to play guitar while his injuries healed. He cried, he hurt, he drank but mostly he thought ­ he thought a lot. And he suddenly noticed a few important facts he’d managed to evade in his rock-star existence, like the fact he’d never made time to enjoy his success. But, more importantly, he realised he wasn’t getting any younger and the band was yet to make the album that had the potential to really break The Living End internationally. Cheney decided it was time to rectify that. However, during the course of the forced break the other band members also had time to think. Owen was well and truly prepared to execute Cheney’s grand plan, but Demsey wasn’t and he handed in his resignation. Maimed but determined to move on, the band recruited Adelaide lad Andy Strachan, warmed up on the 2003 Big Day Out tour then packed the bags, bound for LA to record under the pomp and polish of Mark Trombino (Blink 182, Sum 41) ­ breaking with a tradition that always saw the band record in Australia. Couped up in a cheap hotel, The Living End toiled for three months, finally completing its most diverse, yet polished work to date. Gone is the customary double bass solo and the half-hearted anarchic catch cries, and in is large melody and lush production. But at the heart of the album is what’s become Cheney’s main impetus behind Modern Artillery, best summed in the evocative Maitland Street: “Will we be remembered? Or lost in history?”. As Cheney says, that’s a question that only time will answer, and he has his doubts. But above all of that he knows he’s finally created the album he’s always dreamed of making, and that, he reckons, is enough. The Living End tours WA in November, concluding with Rock It on Sunday, November 23.

It’s a term often bandied around, but in this case it’s true: It’s been a while between drinks. 
“Yeah, we recorded the damn thing back in February, and started writing it the previous January/February, so it just feels like we should’ve written a movie or something but we didn’t. It’s so crazy; Metallica take that long to write their albums, not The Living End ­ not at this stage of our career.”

Why didn’t it come out earlier? 
“It’s just been one thing after another really. It started obviously with me having the car accident, then Trav leaving. It’s kind of due to no one in particular, it just seems to have been the curse of this album. And then some tapes got lost ­ just everything seems to have taken twice as long, but I think they say good things come to those who wait.”

That meant plenty of time spent at home ­ did that send you mad? 
“Yeah ­ especially this last year, it did get a bit like that; leaning too heavily on things I shouldn’t have been doing. It was extremely frustrating ­ this is all I’ve done since high school, because I finished high school in ’92 and we started the band in ’91, me and Scott, and that’s all we did for like 10 years. Through doing that you do sacrifice a lot of the family stuff, and friends, so when it all came to a grinding halt I was tearing my hair out at home, really frustrated at sitting around and not having all those wonderful things I’d had before, and in a way it was probably good because it forced me to do something else other than the band. But it also made me realise I don’t want to do anything else other than the band (laughs) ­ so then you have an extra beer a day and it just escalates from there I suppose”.

It really has been an eventful, if not life changing, few years since the last album with both your accident and Travis’ departure from the band. It’s a bit of a philosophical question but is The Living End the same band Australia knew a few years back? 
“Well I think we have the same intensity, I would say, and renewed enthusiasm for playing shows but I think we’re a little bit different in our approach. I think we’re a lot more focused now and a lot more direct I suppose. Not that we were ever mucking around but things kind of happened in a natural, organic way. We were very lucky in the sense that it just got bigger and bigger and bigger with the first album, and then we started touring the world, and then the second album everything was sort of turning into gold. And having this break has made us realise that we’re pretty lucky I suppose, and not take it for granted. So I think now we’re a lot more; everything we do we try and do 180 per cent and really make it count and make sure we’re proud of everything that goes out.”

Was there always a burning determination to get back to the stage? 
“It’s been pretty intense, well it was for me. After all that we’ve been through and then to come back with an album that was not quite there I just wanted to make it the best album that we could possibly make and every song I was writing I was putting everything I had into it. I just didn’t want to put up with second best; even like school work and all that sort of stuff was never my forte, it was never my greatest achievement so I figure that I’ve got this opportunity in this band to do something really special and I don’t want to screw it up. So when it comes to songwriting and playing guitar and being in the band we really do try and give it all we’ve got. Scott and I were the same, we never did our homework at school, we weren’t academics by any means but we got through it ­ we just figure we’re good at this so let’s really give it all we can and show different sides of the band and make sure we keep moving in a forward direction.”

How do you do that? 
“Just try and make sure we don’t have any loose ends and trying to enjoy it at the same time. Just trying to be the kind of band that we would want to go and see, that we would be into ­ which is how we started out, trying to form the ultimate band, with double bass and a Gretsch and influenced by punk rock and rockabilly and jazz. All that sort of stuff we were trying to do back then still trying to do now, and I never want to lose sight of that and go “Yep, that’s it. We’re the greatest band ever ­ we can’t improve now”. There’s always room for improvement.”

With all that time off to think there must have come a point where you just totally freaked yourself out? 
“Yeah, that’s the thing. We’d never really stopped to really look around before, and although I was always proud at what we’d achieved, I’d never kind of sat down and counted the gold records (laughs) or anything like that. I thought with this album it’s time we were seen as a band that can write good songs ­ I think people have this preconception, a gimmicky kind of thing with the double bass and it’s pretty energetic and we give it all live, and it’s very visual ­ but that’s only one side to us. I mean most of the people we listen to are really great songwriters, like Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson and You Am I, whoever. So we want to be seen as that too. So that was the plan with this album, was to go “Right ­ these songs are going to be better than any other songs that we’ve written”, and I think they are and I think that’s the strength of the album, it’s not the double bass solo which has just been done to death. I’m happy that the foundation behind every song is a strong one.”

Each song on Modern Artillery is a song in its own right, with its own identity, providing for The Living End’s most diverse album yet. Would you agree? 
“I guess it’s a different album from what we would have made if we hadn’t had that time off ­ that’s obvious. And getting older I suppose, probably a bit more maturity makes you try focusing on your weaknesses perhaps, and I think that’s been a bit of a weakness of ours in the past.”

It’s obviously The Living End, however songs like Jimmy, In The End and The Room are as far away from Prisoner Of Society and Second Solution as the band could get. Are we seeing the real Living End for the first time? 
“I think you’re definitely seeing another side to the band, whether that’s always been there or not and it’s only surfaced now I don’t know. Songs like The Room is something that I’d like to do more of in the future, but again that’s just me being selfish and personal in saying “Well, why can’t I write a song like that? Why are other people allowed to do it and get all this praise?”. It’s kind of like “We’ll show them that we can do that kind of thing too”. I guess I don’t mean that in a negative way, I just mean it like we just want to try and cover as many things within our career as we can. As long as it sounds real and as long as we do it properly. You have to be very careful; there’s nothing worse than a band that tries to do interesting stuff and just doesn’t pull it off.”

The band has broken with tradition here and decided to record this one overseas. What was the premise behind that? 
“Just because we had the opportunity to, I suppose. I’d always wanted to do something like that overseas and it just felt like the right time we should get away from distractions here, really focus. We had Andy on board and we wanted to get him really feeling like part of the team, just go over there and really get our heads down and get on with the job. But in hindsight I don’t think that was the perfect environment because it was just kind of boring a lot of the time, because we were stuck in Burbank at the Holiday Inn for three and a half months ­ it had karaoke every Friday and Saturday night and after we finished recording it was kind of too late to go anywhere so we’d just sit in the bar and listen. It was the same people every week for three months, these same six people who went to the Holiday Inn and got up and sang songs. It was a little bit like Groundhog Day, I thought we were never actually going to ever get back to Australia again. It kept going on and on and on.”

You worked with Mark Trombino, how was that experience? 
“He was pretty good, I wouldn’t say he was the ultimate combination really but I’m not sure whether there ever is. I think one of the things that we originally wanted to work with him for was the fact that he could maybe bring a slickness and maybe a bit of his, I don’t know, give us a big sound and maybe something different to what we’d had before. That if we brought to the table our looseness and roughness that we try and get across live ­ it’s pretty ragged sometimes ­ we figured if we could meet half way; and that’s kind of what we did.”

That slickness was obviously a move that had the international music market in mind? 
“I suppose so, I think it’s a little cleaner than the last album but there comes a time we’ve made lots of trashy EPs and that was one of the challenges, to maybe make a good studio album; get in there and work with overdubs and work with layering. I admire the garage rock revolution but at the same time it’s probably kind of cool that we’re doing our own thing; that we haven’t tried to get on that boat, even though we come from similar backgrounds. We’ll just see what happens. I don’t know what to think about the international thing ­ we’ve given it all we can and we’ve played some pretty big venues and got a bit of a name for ourselves but it’s hard to say whether this will translate. We’re just going to go over there and do what we’ve done before and really give it all ­ it’s probably the last chance we’ll have, so who knows. This is a business in a way that we’ve built up since high school and it would be great to try and take it, I mean we’ve done so well in Australia why can’t it work overseas as well? I couldn’t care less really about the worldwide acclaim or the money, I just think it would be great to be able to tour this band for another few years around the world.”

The Living End

Author: Unknown

I can still recall a night many, many moons ago, when I went to a gig at the Glenelg Lifesaving Club. It was the first time I ever saw or heard of a little band called the Living End. They were completely unknown and supporting the Numbskulls, and I thought they were awesome – I still do.

That night they certainly stood out from the crowd, sporting both a drummer that played standing up and an upright bass player. They’ve since lost the stand up drummer but have retained their trademark double bass. Scott Owen, the man behind that double bass, expains why he chose such an imposing instrument.

“I’ve been playing that thing since I was in high school, over ten years now,” he explains. “When I was in high school I just got right into rockabilly music and became obsessed with ‘fifties music, and that’s just the instrument you need. Back then when Chris and I decided that we were going to start playing 50s-ish rock’n’roll together it was just essential to have a double bass. I just couldn’t see that we could be a decent rockabilly band if I was going to play piano or something like that. I have actually tried a normal bass before and I am not very good at it at all,” he laughs.

More recently The Living End lost long time drummer Travis Demsey. “He just wasn’t up for the whole touring thing,” Owen shrugs. “Basically he wanted to spend more time at home. Our batteries were all pretty low when we finished touring at the end of 2001. We’d been on the road pretty solidly for a few years up until then and I think Travis had just had enough of being away from home all the time. He wanted to spend more time at home with his girlfriend and his dogs and lead a bit more of a normal civilised life.

“I love touring personally. I can’t think of anything I would enjoy more than getting out there and playing every night and experiencing different things from day to day. It does get really tiring though. There is the part of me that really loves it and then there is the part of me that gets a bit homesick now and then, but it only takes a couple of weeks at home before you realise nothing has really changed and you get that hunger back to just get out there and do it again!”

The Living End are well renowned for their level of musicianship and hence losing a member must have been like losing a limb, but Scott explained that the transition between drummers was actually quite smooth.

“We were pretty lucky actually. We met our new drummer Andy [Strachan] who is actually a South Australian boy, through a friend of ours who had played in a band with him before. As soon as Travis quit the band, this friend said that he knew somebody who would be perfect for us, a great drummer and a really lovely guy. We got together and it felt really good straight away as we got along really well with him, and it was the same when we got together in the rehearsal room: he was a really solid drummer and could play anything we asked.

“When we first met him, he was in the process of finishing up a tour with another band, he still had a couple of weeks to go on the road. In that time, Chris and I thought we had better just satisfy our curiosity and see what else was out there. We ended up auditioning about forty guys but nothing topped Andy. It’s a bit like buying a new car, even if you feel like the first one you see is the one you want you still feel like you should check some others out.”

Their new album, ‘Modern Artillery’ has some noticeable differences to its predecessor, ‘Roll On’.

“I think that on the new album, the arrangements are a little bit more simple and straightforward than the songs on ‘Roll On,'” Owen considers. “I think that at that time we felt like we had a point to prove, that we weren’t just the Prisoner Of Society, three-chord punk band that people might have thought we were. So we wanted to show the eclectic side to the band. That we could play fast, that we could play tricky stuff and that we could arrange our songs in bizarre ways. On the new album we have taken a more simple approach without the songs being any less interesting, but just a little more simple and direct I think.”

The Living End

Author: Polly Coufos

After a long and enforced lay off The Living End are set to make their way back into the country’s music venues and into your hearts. Perth will see the Melbourne based three piece for the first time in two years when they take their place in the lineup for Big Day Out 2003. It will most likely be the last time for quite a while too for soon after the national tour the band (guitarist Chris Cheney, bassist Scott Owen and new drummer Andy Strachan) head to the US to record their third album, which is scheduled for release later this year. Cheney has always been seen as the band’s designated leader. Rising with the popularity of pop punk The Living End were a typical near-on-10-years-in-the-making overnight success. Fortuitous the timing may have been, there was always much more about this band than their peers. Prisoner Of Society took rockabilly back to a time when the Stray Cats played with edge as well as fire and Cheney’s playing drew praise from all corners, especially The Offspring. Following the release of album number two Roll On, the band spent a lot of time Stateside and had just returned home to spread the word locally when in September 2001 Cheney was involved in a road accident which left him with a badly broken femur. During the time off the band’s then drummer Travis Dempsey left the fold and so it is a slightly new and definitely reinvigorated The Living End which will release new single One Said To Another next Monday, January 20.

Going on a profile from your website it appears all your interests seem to be totally involved with music. Is that true? 
“Yeah, well they kind of are. I don’t know whether I am narrow minded or I just try to bring everything that I like into it, which is probably more to the point, you know as far as I always did art at school and was always interested in that and did a bit of drama and I think being in a band sort of gives you the opportunity to do all that, as far as art work and t-shirts and poetry and lyrics and just expression. It doesn’t get much better I suppose being in a band if you want to do those sort of things so we are pretty lucky really to be able to do that and get paid for it.”

The new single One Said To Another sounds distinctively like The Living End. Is that something consciously planned? 
“I don’t think that it is something that we over think. I think we do want to try and sort of keep things sounding natural and from the heart and that comes down to writing songs I think and also just performing shows and everything. We would never sit down and really analyse our sound, we have never really had to and I am glad that we have never had to get the whiteboard out and try think of how we are going to move into the next stage of our career or whatever. I think it just kind of happens naturally. I think that bringing Andy into the band has probably made a slight difference, but as far as I can tell it’s a good thing, ’cause we are really happy with the way that he plays and I think that as a unit we play better than what we ever have and so it’s a difficult question, I think it is something that people on the outside can probably see more so than us but all reports have been good so far and we just sort of stuck to our guns and do what we do best. But at the same time trying to improve in certain areas, so maybe that will affect the sound.”

Let’s go with Andy for a minute. How has the changeover been? 
“Well, it’s been really great actually, it’s been a breath of fresh air and it probably could have gone either way, especially with a three piece with bringing in an extra member. I don’t think that you can ever tell how it is going to turn out.” 
Especially with Travis, because he was such a visual part of the show as well as obviously playing the drums… 
“Yeah, exactly and I think that Andy knows that he has come into a band where he has probably got big shoes to fill or whatever but it is definitely going in the right direction. There was probably a stage there where we probably thought that this was going to be really difficult, but I don’t know whether it is luck or hard work or what but he is fitting right in really well and he is playing. We have done a couple of gigs, we did some small pub shows just sort of unannounced where we could get up and play the new songs that we had learned that week, and it was great. It was sorta full house and I think he proved to a lot of people who were there to see what would it be like, to prove that he can cut it. I just can’t wait to get out there and do it properly.”

So, I know that you are coming over here for the Big Day Out. Is that going to be the opportunity for most people to see you? 
“Yeah, we are not doing another tour probably until we get back from the States, we are going over there in February to record and then we will probably come back over here and probably do a proper tour of our own. At this stage that is the only chance.”

So who have you lined up as producer? 
“Mark Trombino.” 
He did Blink 182, Jimmy Eat World and a bunch of pop punk… 
“Yeah, and that is not really our cup of tea even though we are likened to those sorts of bands, but I think that without saying anything against them I think we’ve got a bit more to offer as far as versatility and whatever. You know, that is only one part of us is kind of fast punky stuff, but we definitely want to keep moving in a different direction and try lots of different stuff, but you know he has done a range of things and we have spoken a couple of times on the phone but we haven’t actually met him in person yet, but he seems like a really nice guy.” 
Is it a daunting prospect? Is there a point that you can say, like, “two weeks, if there is no sign of life by then, it’s not worth it, not what we thought it would be, we’ll back out,” or is the scheduling so tight that you need to go over and it needs to be done and it needs to be released? 
“Well, the schedule is tight but it is our schedule. I suppose we want to get it out quicker probably than anyone, ’cause we’ve got songs ready and we are all set to go but I suppose if it wasn’t working I would just pull the pin with him ’cause you are stuck together for a while and you have got to get along and more importantly I think he has gotta be there to offer ideas and suggestions when we get stuck. I figure that if we have got our stuff together, as far as what we have got and where we are headed and songs and so forth then the idea of him is to maybe just add a little guidance. I don’t want to rely on him. I think that we can pretty much produce our own albums if we had to, but yeah it’s a risk each time I s’pose, but I figure any of those guys at that level are going to have done enough albums to be pretty easy going I would think and to try and adapt to each band. And he loves the band, he has seen us before and was really excited to do it, so it has gotta be a good thing.”

You only did two shows to promote Roll On in Perth. Your accident put paid to any roadwork for a long while. How much did that hurt the album? 
“Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, so we never really got a chance, we were supposed to come home (to Melbourne) to do a video clip for the Dirty Man single and various other things, and then it obviously all happened and that was it for that album. I also don’t think that it was a very easy listening album. It was difficult in a way but we planned it that way because we wanted it to be a bit of a challenge, and not just this instant throw away pop thing. We have learned that this was a monster after we had created it, as far as reproducing it on stage every night, so it was good in a way because we learned and so with this album we have left it wide open, people don’t know what to expect.”

Have you had periods where you have just cursed your bad luck? 
“Definitely. The bottle always gets you through though (laughs)… Yeah, we have ’cause we, I mean people have bad luck all the time and our bad luck is nothing compared to what some people have. I mean that (the accident) is bad luck, but I don’t know, I think it is something that had to happen in a way ’cause we had been pretty much touring constantly since 1992. Me and Scott formed the band and we had never let up really, it was just a continual thing which just kept going from strength to strength and it was almost like we couldn’t put a foot wrong, every EP sold better than the previous and the album went crazy and we got to tour all over the world and all of a sudden it came to a grinding halt, which I think in a way has been a good thing after all this time. It made us stop and probably think about it a bit more and appreciate it and take a bit of time to really put some good solid work into this album so in hindsight I wouldn’t want to go through it again.”

How is your health? 
“Yeah, it’s pretty good now. Yeah I am sort of all up and about now. You wouldn’t know that anything had happened other than a few scars here and there but otherwise I can’t complain at all.”

While you have been off, you have had a small part in a very successful Australian album, Kasey Chambers’ Barricades And Brickwalls. 
“Oh yeah Crossfire. That was a little country album wasn’t it? Yeah, well that was great doing that, we did that when we were touring with AC/DC, that was how long ago that was ’cause we actually went to the studio after one of the shows with AC/DC that night and did it with Kasey. That was great, we had sort of met her a few times before that and knew that she was a fan and she wanted to do a song. We were rapt ’cause I am a huge country fan anyway and most of my favourite guitar players are all country players from the ’50s and ’60s, so we just went and did that and she wanted us to play as we do, she did not want us to play like a country band or anything, that is the cool thing about her I think. She is willing to move with the times, so to speak and yeah she is an incredible singer. She just nailed it basically on the spot there and then, we only did probably a few takes. We wanted to get a live feel and she sang a live vocal with it. Yeah it was great, it was a great experience and of course it has gone onto sell gazillions.”

You were set to play it together at the 2001 ARIAs weren’t you? 
“Yeah we were. It was all hooked up and we were really sorry that that never happened and then it’s funny because we got over that and then Kasey was here a couple of months ago when she did a big tour and I was going to get up and play at a Melbourne show with her but I had to get the rod taken out of my leg that week so that didn’t happen either, so who knows, maybe in the future. We’d actually love to do an album with her, a full album at some stage. We have talked about it with her ’cause we’ve got so many left over songs and so has she and I think it would be really good just to sort of see the collaboration and show different sides of what we both do. We have spoken about it a bit and it’s just a matter of getting time, ’cause we are just starting to get under way again and I think that she is just winding down again with the new baby and all. You never know.”

How typical of the new material is One Said To Another? Who produced the single? 
“Lindsay Gravina, who did the first album. That came about just because we wanted to try again something that was so totally opposite to Roll On, we wanted to just get back to a three piece sounding song that had all the rawness and everything that we liked about the first album, that perhaps we lost a bit on the second, so we figured who better to do it than Lindsay and we got along so well the first time and it was great ’cause he has got so many good ideas and he does keep it raw and it’s all about the passion and everything which I think that you can sort of forget about if you have got too many options in the studio and too many buttons to push, you can sort of forget about getting the song down and getting the heart into it and he’s really good at keeping you grounded there and keeping the little mistakes and new ones and whatever.”

It sounds like you are down on Roll On. Many people love that record… 
“That’s good. You know I’m probably a bit too negative about it. Maybe in time it’ll grow on me. I mean I wouldn’t know the last time I listened to it. I just think that we have probably tried too hard to distance ourselves from the whole Prisoner Of Society three chord punk rock thing, but in a way I’m really glad that we did do it and we did try and completely outdo ourselves because people really liked it I s’pose and it left this one wide open and we don’t really know what we are going to do or anything including us I s’pose but I just think that maybe some of the rawness of the band is probably lacking a little bit, but that’s alright. I’m glad we did that album and it was still a good experience.”

Unlucky Strikes

Author: Christie Eliezer

A car crash and a split in the ranks – but the Living End are back with a vengeance.

Click to view…
Click to view…

A horrendous car smash, 12 months in physical therapy, a member quitting, and more endless frustrating delays. But that hasn’t stopped the Living End. All last year, they met every day to rehearse new songs. “We haven’t been visible in the public eye but we haven’t had a break, as such,” says bassist Scott Owen.

They actually did some secret gigs around Melbourne under names like Redwings, Longnecks and Checkout Chicks. This month they burst back onto the scene. There’s a new single “One Said To The Other” which has all the Living End trademarks. Then there are dates on the Big Day Out around Australia where they’ll introduce their new drummer and some new songs like “Maitland Street”, “What Would You Do”, “Blinded” and “Fond Farewell”. They’ve dropped the experimental style of the second album and returned to their early simplicity.

At the end of February, armed with 50 new songs, they head off to America to start work on their next album with producer Mark Trombino. “Mark’s a good rock ‘n’ roll producer, he gets big fat powerful sounds.”

Until 16 months ago, the End’s rise to international fame seemed unstoppable. In September 2001, guitarist Chris Cheney and his girlfriend were driving down to the coast when they were involved in a near-fatal car crash. He was on his back for a month, and had rods put into his broken leg. He was on painkillers for ages, moving around with crutches, and then a walking stick.

Says Scott, “He was lucky, it could have been worse. The first few rehearsals were nerve wracking. He couldn’t stand up for too long, he still gets a bit sore and stiff.”

As the new songs emerged, drummer Travis Dempsey realised the new songs didn’t fit his style, and quit last July. His replacement was Andy Strachan, formerly with Pollyanna and The Boat Show.

In their absence, a new breed of guitar bands like the Vines, the Jets, the Datsuns and the Casanovas have emerged. Scott likes them, thinks it’s funny when they’re seen as ‘new rock’ when they sound like traditional bands. “It’s great to hear guitar music on the radio again, rather than electronics or wimpy pop!”

As to suggestion these new bands are gunning for the Living End’s space, Scott is amused. “We’re not trying to compete with anyone. We still have the energy, the passion and the heart. We’re coming out with all guns blazing.”