Is This The End?

Author: Kelsey Munro

Have the Living End run out of steam? Are they breaking up? Then why are they releasing a greatest-hits collection after just three albums? Kelsey Munro finds out.

There must be some kind of unwritten rule about when a band can put out a best-of collection. After five albums? Four? Three has to be the limit, because two is just ridiculous. Deni Hines, I’m looking at you.

Thus the Living End are just scraping in with their new greatest-hits album, From Here on In. It collects the best and biggest of the Melbourne trio’s singles from their huge self-titled ’98 debut, 2000’s Roll On, and last year’s Modern Artillery. Singer-guitarist Chris Cheney is prepared for the flak.

“I know, it reeks of a few things,” he says. “Either that the creative well has dried up or you’re breaking up or [you have some] contractual obligations.

“It’s really none of that, I can honestly say. We’ve got a pretty good deal [with EMI] worked out where it’s album by album. As far as the other stuff goes, I guess you’ll just have to wait and see.”

Cheney says he, double-bassist Scott Owen and drummer Andy Strachan are enjoying their most fertile songwriting period, at least since Strachan joined two years ago.

He says there are only two new songs on the best-of, including current single I Can’t Give You What I Haven’t Got, because they wanted to keep most of the songs they already have for the next record.

“People will probably think, ‘Oh well, that’s it then, no more ideas,'”
Cheney says. “That was a reservation because I thought, ‘Well, we’ve only got three albums out, why are we doing a greatest hits?’ But the proof will be in the pudding when we get around to putting out the next album.”

Modern Artillery was the band’s first release after Cheney’s serious car accident, which put him out of action for months. They suffered another setback around the same time when drummer Travis Demsey quit. Recorded in Burbank, California, the post-accident album was tough to make as the band hadn’t settled into their new line-up.

“It was fucked, basically,” Cheney says, now able to see the humour in the situation. “It was far too long spent in a place where we didn’t want to be – all that period of the accident and having the break.

“Andy joining the band seemed like a rebirth. We did get really good reviews and all that sort of stuff, but it still felt like an infancy, trying to find our feet again. I feel like now, another year down the track, we’ve got all those things in place. Now it’s better than ever.”

Another difficulty the band faced was trying to re-establish the profile they’d built up in the US over years of touring – “Just getting in the van, driving, eating beef jerky,” Cheney says. Before returning to tour with the Vines and Jet as part of the Aussie Invasion tour this year, the Living End hadn’t been to the US for three years.

“It’s funny,” Cheney says. “Half of the American critics either said we were Aussie rock veterans, like we were going to be wheeled out in wheelchairs or something, or we were ‘unknown band the Living End’.

“We thought, ‘God, we’ve probably been there more than the other bands’ – we’d done Letterman, massive tours and radio shows in the previous few years
– but having that three years off we could understand it. But overall the tour was great.”

The Living End have always recruited fans through good old-fashioned touring, and lots of it. A significant part of the band’s near-decade of gigs was captured on film by their friend Jason ‘J. T.’ Tutty, who has made a two-hour documentary on their history. Tying in with the singles collection, it’s also called From Here on In. The band are releasing it on a double DVD that also includes all their videos.

“When the DVD came up I thought it was a good idea,” Cheney says. “But we didn’t really have all the shots of girls taking their tops off and people smashing things up, which is what most kids buy DVDs for, the crazy antics.
We’re more of a band that plays music.

“There’s a lot of old footage of us with very strange, gravity-defying haircuts … interviews along the way and it finishes up with the making of these two new songs.”

On that note, it seems only fair to ask what Cheney’s favourite best-of album is. He eventually settles on Joe Jackson.

“There’s something like 40 songs on it, which shows how many great songs he’s written. So if we have a few more of those [best-ofs] I’ll be very happy. It’ll mean we’re doing something right.”

The Living End

Author: Ryan Smith

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…”

Rolling On

Author: Jeff Crawford

The Living End is back on a roll with the release of its first singles collection and DVD history, as Jeff Crawford reports.

Andy Strachan took the leap from pub gigs to playing in front of “a stupid amount of people” in his stride.

After all, the Adelaide-born drummer had paid his dues for a decade before joining The Living End just as the band was bouncing back from a near tragedy.

Long-time skinsman Travis Demsey, who propelled the trio through its 1998 eponymous debut and Roll On (2001), departed just as singer/guitarist Chris Cheney got back on his feet following a serious car accident in 2001.

Andy stepped into the rhythm role in one of Australia’s hottest outfits just as Chris and bassist Scott Owen prepared to record their third full-length CD, and album crucial to the band’s international campaign.

“It was the perfect time for me to join, really,” he says.

“They were in the writing process, so I was part of writing all of the album.”

The result was 2003’s Modern ARTillery, but Andy endured a baptism of fire well before the CD reached the shelves.

“The first two weeks we wrote 10 songs and we thought we’d go and road test them.

“We played a handful of gigs under various aliases in small clubs around Melbourne, which was excellent, it was great fun.

“But the first Living End gig, as such, was at the Big Day Out in Auckland, in front of a stupid amount of people.

“Everyone in the crowd was there to see how the new guy would go and if Chris was off his crutches yet.

“And the crowd knows every bloody song. Hearing 40,000 sing along to a chorus is just incredibly overwhelming.”

The trio is rolling on with the release of its first singles compilation, From Here On In (including two new tracks), and an extensive DVD history of the same name.

“It’s like a bookend,” Andy says. “It’s saying: ‘This is the career so far’. And there was so much footage for the DVD, it was time to just say: ‘This is where it started and this is where it’s got to’.

“So the next album could be anything, could go in any direction we want to.

“But I think no matter what direction it goes in, it’s always going to sound like The Living End.”

The Lying End

Author: Rob Moran

The Living End’s Andy Strachan just can’t let the cool cats out of the bag.

Andy Strachan, drummer of Australia’s premier poppin’-punkin’-rockabillyin’ trio The Living End, is one lying motherf00ker. Like all lying motherf00kers, he doesn’t even know that he’s a lying motherf00ker, answering questions politely like he’s Dorothy from The Wizard Of Oz. However, unlike Dorothy, Strachan doesnt’t spend his time chasing around a metaphorical penis named Toto, but rather forcing inexperienced music journalists to read between his falsified statements.

Did you know that if you took all the letters in “The Living End” and mixed them around, you’d come up with the anagram “Devil Night”? Granted, you’d have the letters E and N left over, but that’s not important. You know where I learned that? In my dream while I was trying to figure out why Andy Strachan is such a lying motherf00ker.Nevertheless, like a jackrabbit out of a tempest, the truth slowly reveals itself.

After the departure of previous drummer Travis Demsey in 2001. Strachan entered The Living End fray well after the band had already established itself as one of Australia’s premier acts. So how did he take to being thrusted into the national spotlight, replacing a key member of one of the country’s most popular bands?
“Well it’s coming up to three years now”, Strachan replies, “I’ve been there for a little while but I’ll always be the new guy. But that’s okay, I can deal with that.”

Now, anyone who’s remotely followed the band in the past few years will have heard rumours of Strachan’s constant abuse at the hands of the The Living End’s tsar and tsarina, Chris Cheney and Scott Owen. Cheney wing-tipping all over Strachan’s hands whenever he made a drumming mistake, Owen beating him over the side of the head with his upright bass while he was sleeping as a “joke”, and both members forcing him to match the endurance of an electronic drum machine for days on end whilst they sat on a nearby couch eating Pringles, watching and re-watching the ‘Johnny B. Goode’ scene from Back To The Future Pt. I – each of these acts were committed against the drummer under the guide of an “initiation of process.”

Besides being subjected to such acts of abuse, Strachan spent the earlier part of the ear touring the world with The Living End, and most excitingly the US as part of the Aussie Invasion tour with compatriots and international assholes Jet and The Vines. “We did Japan, the US and London as well – it’s been a busy time but very enjoyable.”

“The Aussie Invasion tour was fantastic – but was a stack of fun. Every show sold out. Aussie bands are making a big impact over there. We got to watch both bands every night. To see Jet doing so well over there, its great for Australian music…”, he pauses, possibly sensing my next question. “…And they were very very nice people.” Despite his brave facade, all the talk about Jet and The Vines’ rapid success in the US seems to unsettle Strachan. The resentment is literally written all over his face and eyes, and its surprising that I can tell this since we spoke on the phone . It’s as if he’s thinking, “I’m touring The States with a bunch of drunken bastards and a psychotic frontman-child, who overtly rip off Iggy & The Stooges, The Jam, AC/DC, The Beatles and Nirvana respectively, and we’re the least popular? This is ######!.”

But I don’t want to put words into Strachan’s mouth; I just want to pull the thoughts he should be having out of his head.

So What’s on the near horizon for Strachan and The Living End?
“We have a DVD out at the end of this month – it’s choc-a-bloc full. There’s a singles compilation with all the older songs plus two new singles that are going straight to radio.We’re gearing up for the Australian tour; we’re doing some big venues. There are also a lot of singles floating around for the new album. We’re gonna try to get into the studio early next year and bring out the album fairly quickly.”

Once again, he just can’t help himself. Andy, there’s no need to lie – it’s obvious that The Living End are launching a campaign to take over Australia, if not the world, so just say it. I promise, you’ll feel a lot better…

Hard Work Rewarded In The End

Author: Paul Stewart

Despite worldwide success, The Living End is not about to take it easy, PAUL STEWART reports.

They may have sold hundreds of thousands of albums and entertained as many rock fans throughout the world with their dynamic live shows, but the three Melbourne rockers in The Living End still take nothing for granted.

Most seasoned rock acts would kick back on the rehearsals and take things easier after so much success, but not these likely lads.

The Living End is a great example for young musicians, demonstrating the rewards hard work can bring.

“We rehearse so much because we really do not think we are that much good,” charismatic frontman and lead guitarist Chris Cheney said.

“We actually get very paranoid and never think anything we do is good enough.

“The three of us strive to get the best out of ourselves.

“Rehearsals are taken very seriously and we strive to be a valid band that write great songs that stand the test of time.”

Cheney said after being laid up in bed for almost two years after a serious car accident in 2002 made him hungry for more hard work. “We lost a lot of money because our income stopped,” he said.

“Sure, The Living End might have sold lots of records, but we are far from being wealthy from all this.

“The best thing is my health is fine now. Maybe a few creaks because of old age.”

The Living End, formed in Melbourne in 1994 as a rockabilly covers band called The Runaway Boys, has released three full-length albums and three EPs.

All have sold well.

Cheney said the band had not played in Australia since last summer, instead touring Japan, England and the US.

On the band’s US tour it joined fellow Australian acts The Vines and Jet in what was billed as the Aussie Invasion.

“All the members of Jet and The Vines are lovely guys and we got on very well with them,” he said.

“On the other hand, because we were opening the show every night, we went out of our way to blast them out of the water and put on the best show we could.”

Cheney said the tour had been gruelling.

“We slept on the tour bus when we could and basically would shower in public washrooms and at truck stops,” he said.

Cheney said The Living End was outside the new breed of local young rock acts, who seem to pay homage to English 60’s acts such as The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks and classic garage rock.

“People know we have been influenced by punk and rockabilly, but the sound we create is always changing and we are trying to turn it into something unique,” he said.

Cheney said after the band’s coming Australian tour it would begin work on a new album.

“We will definitely be recording it in Australia this time,” he said.

“We have already got 15 new tracks to chose from.”

The Living End will perform at the Peninsula Lounge in Mornington on Wednesday and the Palace in St Kilda on October 1 and 2 (underage).

That’s Our Rocker Boy

Author: David Nankervis

There will be a couple of special guests at the Adelaide performance of Australia’s leading pop-punk band The Living End – and the pair won’t be hard to spot.

The band’s South Australian-born drummer, Andy Strachan, will be joined by parents John and Wendy, aged in their late 50s, at next month’s Thebarton Theatre gig.

Mum and Dad, however, won’t be taking to the stage or mosh pit, although they will be bopping along to the band’s hits, including Prisoner Of Society and All Torn Down.

“They stay clear of the fashion and don’t have any piercings, but they will definitely be there,” Strachan, 30, said. “They came to our last show at the Governor Hindmarsh and had the best possie, right behind the mixing desk, and were dancing to the music.

“When I was learning the drums at home, they didn’t care about the noise – they are just the ultimate parents.”

Strachan, formerly with Polyanna, has been drumming for The Living End since replacing Travis Demsey in 2001. He said band friendship was the most important ingredient when he joined the Melbourne-based group.

“I got together with Scott Owen and Chris Cheney for a beer before I auditioned because I knew we would be in each other’s face with all the touring and recording,” Strachan said.

“Luckily we can laugh at each other’s jokes and have jelled as well on stage as we have off, which is always important.”

The Living End performs with Dallas Crane on October 3. Bookings 8225 8888.

Chris Cheney Hits The Road

Author: Unknown

When did you decide that you wanted to be a musician and/or songwriter? How did you start going about it?
“I never really decided. It just kind of happened at the end of high school, we just played as much as we could and eventually we got a name for ourselves and it became fulltime.”

What’s the best advice you ever received about making music, and who was it from?
“Try and keep things interesting and moving and keep searching. I believe the Beatles taught us all that.”

Who’s an Australian musician you particularly admire? Can you tell us why?
“Tim Rogers – great writer, performer, and player. I just love the songs and he has a real passion and real talent.”

What would be your dream local line-up for a gig, and why:
“You Am I, Eskimo Joe, The Fireballs, Hoodoo Gurus.”

Are you looking forward to heading back out on the road with In The Grey? What do you do to get prepared for a tour?
“Yes. Touring and playing live is a big part of this band’s existence. I can’t imagine not touring and having live audiences. Getting prepared consists of rehearsal and eating fruit more often.”

What do you want people to get out of seeing the band live? What constitutes a good gig for you?
“I want people to lose themselves in the music and let go. Enjoy it anyhow they wish. A good gig is when you get a connection with the audience.”

What was the biggest challenge you faced when writing & recording your latest album?
“The biggest challenge is always getting the reccording to sound honest, spontaneous, and for it to have the right mood when hearing it back. Being in Amercia was not a settled experience.”

What do you think is unique about the Aussie music scene as opposed to the rest of the world?
“We have a little more variety and originality in each band because I think we like to mix things up, like genres etc. The greatest Aussie bands always have a rawness to them, not over slick.”

Lastly, what’s the best thing about being part of the Australian music industry? The worst?
“Best thing is we have some seriously great talent despite a smaller population. The worst is getting overseas seems to be a constant struggle financially.”

The Living End National Tour

Author: Unknown

This September and October, The Living End, one of this country’s mightiest, tightest and most talented trios, return to Oz to shake it down with home town audiences on their From Here On In tour. Stay tuned for more information on supports and a special album collection and get ready too for the return of The Living End. Tickets are on sale through VenueTix from Thu Jul 29 and are expected to sell fats. Don’t miss The Living End in Adelaide on Sun Oct 3 at Thebarton Theatre.

Pale Ale Assisting In The Aussie Invasion

Author: Unknown

Fans of The Living End are probably aware that the energetic Melbourne band has been touring relentlessly over the past 6 months, promoting the latest album “Modern Artillery”. You may not be aware though, that all three members are partial to Pal Ale. During March & April TLE teamed up with The Vines and Jet for the “Aussie Invasion” tour of the U.S. and Canada before going on to support some big name American acts in may and June. It was midway through the Aussie Invasion that Lynn McDonnell, from Warner Brothers Music, contacted Frank in customer service looking for Pal Ale in her hometown of L.A. Lynn went on to explain that she was hosting a BBQ for the tireless tourers and wanted to put on a few Pal Ales for the boys. After we relayed the story to our U.S. distributors, Preiss Imports, Lynn was able to pick up three complimentary cartons of Pale Ale from their office in Cerritos, California. A big thankyou to Henry and the team at Preiss Imports for their assistance! The week after the BBQ, Lynn emailed some photos of Scott, Chris and Andy enjoying a Pale Ale or two during the short break in their hectic schedule. It was the least we could do for three hard working Aussie Ambassadors with great taste in beer.

Casanovas Turn On The Charm

Author: Ben McEachen

Meaty riffs, cocky swagger and bar-room ballbreakers are a strong currency on the world’s music market once again. With a rich heritage of pub rocking, it’s little wonder that Australia has umpteen contemporary bands rising to the top of modern rock.

Having recently joined forces for the “Aussie Invasion” tour of the US, Jet, the Vines an the Living End all owe a big debt to the pioneering likes of AC/DC.

The Casanovas are another cranking Oz outfit which can’t dodge AC/DC comparisons. Rather than fight this, Casanovas bassist and vox guy Damian Campbell says the band embraces and runs with its influences.

“We just love all that stuff so much,” says Campbell of what inspires the band’s dirty rock – everything from 1970s punk rock to Dr Hook. “The sound we get is always going to have that AC/DC kind of (sound)…(But) We never go about trying to be an AC/DC cover band, you know what I mean?”

The Casanovas are yet to encounter Acca Dacca in the flesh but Campbell’s heard some interesting tales of Australia’s rock kings. “Actually, the Living End did a couple of show with them and they had some really good stories to tell us.”

Like what? “They’re (AC/DC) all really quiet and like hobbits – they’re all (short).”