Sarah McLeod

Author: Nina Bertok

When Sarah McLeod named her debut album ‘Beauty Was A Tiger’ she couldn’t have found a more appropriate name – the record roars, yet maintains a serene beauty throughout. “That song was based on a dream and I didn’t even know what it meant at the time, but then I started thinking of all the different connotations that could go with that, and I was like ‘yeah, I’m going with that!’

“It was just really strange… I was lying there, and I happened to have my dictaphone by the bed for once, and the whole song just came out in one hit. I knew exactly how the drums would go, what the guitar would do, I even started singing the first line. ‘Beauty was a tiger’ was the first thing I started singing when I dreamt of the melody. The weird thing is that usually I’m so lazy that I hate getting up to go find the dictaphone whenever I get a good idea, and I just try to memorize it, which never works. I hate getting up to go find the thing, so then I start convincing myself it was a shit idea anyway and it probably wasn’t even worth it.”

Lucky that dictaphone was floating near by, because the first single off the new album, coincidentally also called Beauty Was a Tiger, is doing good things for McLeod – and the Living End’s Chris Cheney – at the moment.

McLeod recalls, “I’ve wanted to work with Chris for a few years. About a year ago I bumped into him at a wedding and brought the idea [of a duet] up, and he was like ‘yeah, that’d be cool!’ and as soon as I got around to writing the single I knew it sounded like something he would do. And it’s actually really funny because when I called him up, I kind of had a bit of trouble at first. I thought I had his phone number, but it ended up being Scott’s [Owen, bass], so he picked up and I went ‘Oh hi, is that Chris?’ and Scott said ‘No, it’s Scott’ – and I just couldn’t remember his fucking last name, so I said ‘You mean Scott from the Living End?’ and he went ‘eh-EH’ and just hung up on me! He thought I was some crazy stalker fan!”

Eventually McLeod got a hold of Cheney when her manager contacted the band after one of the Living End’s shows. Cheney’s response to McLeod’s idea was a very positive one, “He said ‘I fucking love it, I’d love to do it, it’s a great idea, let’s go!’, and I was like, ‘Woo-hoo, you ripper!'”

Accompanied by Cheney, their bass player and producer Matt Lovell, the four ran in the Hunter Valley, drank heaps of beer, jammed and recorded in the middle of nowhere and with plenty of time up their sleeves.

“When I was thinking about who I wanted to do this record with, the criteria went kind of like this: for a start, I wanted the band to really fucking swing and just sound totally professional and make all of the songs just come to life – and it’s really hard to put a band together that can actually do that, you know! On top of that, I wanted them to be all really nice guys, because I knew I’d spent so much time with them, and I wanted to basically put together a whole new bunch of mates, really,” McLeod pauses and laughs, “Well, I wanted them to be brilliant musos and I wanted them to be fucking lovely, and cute, and around my own age, and available – it was very difficult!”

However, once McLeod got her dream band together it worked better than she ever could have imagined. “We’re just having so much fun on stage! And I’ve never felt this relaxed on stage in my life. I was in Superjesus for ten very fun years, but I was always writing to please the boys, really. Every time I’d write a song I’d wonder ‘oh, are they gonna love this too?’ and ‘are they going to be able to connect with this idea?’. But now I’m just writing purely and unashamedly whatever comes to my mind – even if it’s cheeky, and even if it gets me in a bit of trouble or whatever. I just say what I want to say, and no one’s going to be affected by it but me. There is a lot more freedom for me this time around.”

The Living End

From the Big Day Out Programme 2003

The Living End’s story is already Australian rock & roll folklore. And they only released their debut album in 1998! It’s an inspirational tale of punk ethos, classic songwriting values and road-hardened live energy which has struck a blistering chord with a massive audience, both here and OS. And what makes this band so goddamn sticky? So likable? Well, there’s the tunes, natch. But here’s what singer/guitarist Chris Cheney has to add: “I think people know we do everything ourselves, we do what we think is right and it’s all about the music. We’ve never put that second to anything.” This is a band as much inspired by Midnight Oil and AC/DC as the rockabilly heroes you might think of on first listen. And that shines through for Aussie audiences, who’ve never been able to get enough of this tight-as-they-come trio. No compromise. No prisoners. No worries.

Sum 41

Author: Unknown

Guitarist Dave Baksh (aka The Brown Sound) is one part of Canadian punk outfit Sum 41. In their short career they have toured with The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Face to Face, Blink 182, Unwritten Law and on the Warped Tour. Their last album ‘All Killer No Filler’ hailed the band’s arrival in the mainstream with hits like In Too Deep, Fat Lip and Motivation. With a new album on the way out and a list of dates as part of the Livid Festival things are looking pretty promising for Sum 41.

With a guest appearance from Slayer guitarist Kerry King, special effects using a green screen and the inventive use of wires for some high flying aerobatic maneuvers, What We’re All About is probably Sum 41’s most produced film clip to date. “Kerry King was an extremely nice guy to work with. You definitely don’t want to get on his bad side,” laughs Baksh.

While their last album concentrated on a unique mix of pop punk and hip hop, Baksh assures me that their new album will focus on a heavier sound, like their influences Slayer and Iron Maiden. “We’re just doing a mini club tour through Canada to set up for the new album. We just finished the album at the beginning of September and now we’re ready to start touring again. It’s a little heavier and rocks a little harder. We didn’t have to sacrifice any melodies or signature sounds. I think this album went a little closer to the Slayer influence.”

Sum 41 have made some good friends while touring and one of those happens to be Unwritten Law who are coincidentally playing on the Loudmouth stage at Livid. Last year they did an American tour together as Baksh recounts some fond memories. “It was so fun to take them out because it had been their first tour in a while. It was really cool because we’ve been fans of the band for so long. To meet them and find out that they’re all really cool guys was awesome to us. That was a really fun tour and I would definitely do it again. In fact we are touring with them again when we come to Australia.”

Don’t expect to be told how to live your life or what you should be doing at a Sum 41 concert. Baksh assures me that he’s there to have fun and not to force anything down your throat. “We’re out there on stage having fun. We’re not there to preach or anything like that. That’s not what we’re all about, we don’t take a socialist view. We observe issues and sing about it but we’re not going to tell you how it is. We’re just there to have fun. We’re living what we’re doing. We don’t have a huge message or anything like that.”

If there was any band Sum 41 could do anything with, Baksh assures me that Australia’s own The Living End would be a top priority. “It would be really fun to play with The Living End. That would be great to do a tour with them. To watch them play guitar and the standup double bass every night would be awesome. They’re all really good musicians.”

Even though Sum 41 are from Canada the band was relatively new to touring when they were signed to their record label, leaving some parts of the country unexposed to their music. “It’s cool playing in Canada. It’s fun because you’re at home. We didn’t get to tour Canada as much as we would’ve liked to over the past couple of years. As a band we were only three years old when we got signed to a record label so we only toured Eastern Canada and Ontario, the province where we’re from. We hadn’t been out West so touring Canada was quite a new experience to us when we did it.”

The life of a touring band consists of long stints away from home, friends and family. This is all familiar territory to Baksh. “We tallied it up and the last time we were out touring for ‘All Killer No Filler’ we counted up three hundred and twenty six days. You get used to being away from home all the time. It kind of sucks but than you see all the results and it’s totally worthwhile.”