Having just completed one tour, The Living End is now ready to undertake an even bigger one, the All States Of Emergency tour. While this is of more significance to regional folk, who didn’t get to see them last time, it does mean that we get to see one of the best live bands in the country once again. Bonus. They’ll tour North America for the next two months (where they’ll be part of the massive Warped Tour, as well as doing their own headlining shows), then return home to deliver their typically dynamic rock performances at The Palace on September 20 and 21 for all ages, and September 22 for over 18s. The support for all shows are End Of Fashion and Red Riders. Tickets go on sale on Thursday July 13 Ticketek and www.tpa.net.au
The Living End: 2006 Jack Awards Best Live Band Nominee
In the lead up to the Jack Awards, the only publicly voted awards for live music in Australia, The Drum will grab a few thoughts from various nominees. This week it’s The Living End.
The count down to the Jack Awards have begun…Got any hot dates or outfits planned for the Black Carpet this year? “I don’t really like dates…I’m more of a sultana kind of guy.”
What’s been your most memorable experience at the Jack Awards in previous years? If you haven’t been yet…heard any good rumours? I’ve only been once which was last year. Tommy Lee was there, we played and I won an award so t gets the big thumbs up for me.
You’re up against Grinspoon, Wolfmother, Cut Copy, End Of Fashion and The Mess Hall in the Best Live Band category…what do you think your odds are? “I think those guys are all good, I just don’t think they’re as good as us! Ha ha…I’m a bit biased after all! Truthfully I don’t know but we just enjoy getting feedback from a live audience and we’re not concerned with being a hype band. We will let the public decide.”
The Living End, how much does thee rock? With the opening songs, we could count the ways; There’s the rapid-fire punk of Second Solution, the Reggae-infused I Can’t Give You What I Haven’t Got, and the pop-rock perfection of Who’s Gonna Save Us?
There’s no mistaking how much this city loves TLE, and in a venue the size of Festival Hall, the home-crowd vibe is a very tangible thing. For Save The Day, Chris had only just finished asking for his fellow Melbournians’ vocal support, (because of his sore throat) when, about five seconds into the song, the PA cut out. Sure enough, in a beautifully symbolic gesture, the crowd swelled in over the band’s monitors with vocals that, if they didn’t literally save the day, certainly saved the song!
The instant punk classics of TLE;s debut album are still, and will probably always be, their biggest crowd-shakers. But the latest string the band has added to its bow – the ability to write politically charged slow-burners – has really added a depth of passion to their live set, making it more than just a mosh-fest.
The addition of the Hunters & Collectors horn section for One Step Behind and No Way Out generated enough intensity to at least temporarily stop any pining for the loss of Midnight Oil.
Though their set was entirely bereft of weak points, the band can actually take more pride in what was left out – One Said To The Other, Pictures In The Mirror and others – than what was included. For it means there are now so many hits in TLE’s catalogue that even a 100-minute set cannot accommodate them all!
Even putting aside their astounding musicianship, (showcased tonight with an awesome rockabilly jam) there are few bands more on the pulse of the common punter – their humour, hopes and frustrations – than TLE. After pounding to a close with blue-collar anthems old and new (Long Live The Weekend and Roll On), with a little segue into gleefully vulgar ockerism (Uncle Harry), it was revealed they finally had a lighters-in-the-air number in their repertoire with the smouldering encore of Wake Up.
For this song, the projector screen displayed the words; “During times of universal deceit, telling the truth is an act of revolution – George Orwell” Well, the truth as I see it is that The Living End are Melbourne’s finest rock export, bar none.
The Living End Gyroscope Hordern Pavillion, Entertainment Precinct 12/05/06
Guitars played above heads; a punchy barrage of noise and a sea of jostling, swirling bodies, Perth four-piece Gyroscope united a few thousand individuals into a cohesive crowd with moody and often raucus guitar-driven rock. Whilst singer and guitarist Daniel Saunders apparently suffered with a broken hand, he lead the band with a tight and aggressive set including a riff-heavy version of Fast Girl. It’s understandably loud and full of energy, an irresistible invitation to pay attention.
For over 10 years Melbourne three-piece The Living End has rocked stages around the country armed with only a guitar, double bass, drum-kit and noggins crammed with rockabilly party tunes. Their shows are legendary. This reviewer remembers his first-ever live show – a Living End concert at the Enmore in the mid-nineties. Afraid that we’d end up squashed like gum to the floor in the mosh pit, a schoolmate’s parents booked tickets for the Enmore balcony. Although feeling a little cheated by being able to see the action but not actually participate, the gig still remains one of my most memorable live experiences.
And tonight, a new generation of young fans melded with the old inside a toasty Hordern Pavilion. Many things haven’t changed. Scott Owen still pulls off his trick of simultaneously playing the double bass whilst precariously balancing off the side of it. And Chris Cheney is simply an amazing guitarist as he cockily struts across the stage, dropping infinite solos.
Members of the three-piece horn section from Hunters and Collectors joined the Living End on a number of occasions through the set. At times the horns are masked behind Andy Strachan’s hard-hitting percussion. Yet when the band’s volume drops and the horns are allowed their own solo – such in One Step Behind – they offer a poignant contrast to the Living End’s normal forceful sound.
All Torn Down, dedicated to live music venues that have closed their doors over the years, insights and immaculate guitar and bass battle between Cheney and Owen. They stand face-to-face and take turns playing solos, eventually increasing the tempo and uniting in a convoluted wall of bass and guitar noise. Then there’s moody bass and a percussive thump of Wake Up off the band’s album of this year, State Of Emergency. As on the album, the song grows with volume and energy, with voices from the room eventually chanting the chorus behind Cheney’s own voice.
Naturally, hits such as Prisoner Of Society and Second Solution appear in the set. It hardly would have mattered if they didn’t. With or without the hits, The Living End is simply an addictive live band.
What’s going on? Releasing the single Wake Up, getting a national tour up and on sale, working on new merchandise ideas, negotiating a Japanese record deal, and attending the South By South West Music Festival in Austin, Texas/ I’ve also been overseas to secure interest from US labels for the album.
Stuck in the middle I’m the middle person in all communication for everything. It’s tough to keep everyone focused. Communication is the key word in management.
Time to reflect When Chris (Cheney, lead singer and guitarist) had his car accident in 2002 everything came crashing to a halt. It made me realise what is important in life. The band had to start all over again.
The highlight Definitely this album, State Of Emergency, debuting at No. 1. Everyone worked so hard on this record.
Scott, Andy and Chris from The Living End are keen to meet the fans who helped their debut album to No. 1 – after they’ve slaked their thirst, of course. The band will sign copies of their new single at HMV in Pitt St on Friday from 4:30pm, and tickets for their May 12 concert at the Hordern Pavillion are on sale tomorrow through Ticketek. Picture: Nicole Cleary
The Living End have a well founded reputation of being an awesome live act. With their fourth release, State Of Emergency, the band have managed to bring their performance from the stage, and into the studio. And in the process have constructed an album that is powerful, yet not overly aggressive in its delivery.
The first single, What’s On Your Radio?, is similar to some earlier TLE tracks. The song starts with a heavily accented, high pitched guitar riff that sharply explodes into a familiar wall of pure rockabilly noise. Even though it may be derivative of early tracks, it still remains a well written punk song. Focus is on allowing the melody room to breathe, hence giving the song a distinct pop feel. Wake Up, the second single, is essentially and systematically constructed of layers. Beginning with a sole guitar picking out chords, to moving through numerous dynamic crescendos, the song reaches its climax and concludes in a Pink Floyd style sing along with the kids.
Lyrically TLE have continued to write songs for ‘the people’. Long Live The Weekend, is essentially about ‘Workin’ for a man that you don’t understand’, and spending your ‘dough’ and ‘wasting away’, during the working week. The song also features a guitar riff at the beginning of the verses that is beautifully simple, yet brutal. State Of Emergency delves into new territory for TLE, with a strong focus being placed upon perfecting the melodies. Reborn combines the old and new together, welding melody with chant-like vocals. Whilst Order Of The Day is consistent in its barrage of melody, whether it’s displayed in the guitar licks, or Cheney’s layered vocal.
TLE have delivered on an album that will see them known as not only a kick arse live band, but a band that can reproduce it all on CD.
Scott Adams (SA) has a bit of a chat with The Living End’s Andy Strachan (AS) about thier latest LP “State of Emergency”…
SA: Hi Andy, how are you? AS: Bloody good.
SA: Good to hear! We’ve only got a small space in BMA so I won’t keep you very long – just a few questions… first thing… this album, which I think already is my favourite Living End album… AS: Thank you very much!
SA: That’s alright – I’m sure you’ve heard that a lot today (it’s five in the afternoon) AS: No, no… you’d be surprised. But I feel that too. I think we all do. I think we’re on to a winner.
SA: Definitely. For me it’s… you’ve still got the recognisable melody there but it’s a harder, more organic sounding album – less pop punk. AS: Oh, thank God man – that’s exactly what we set out to achieve – that means so much to hear from someone (outside the band) that has heard it! That’s a great thing!
SA: It’s quite ‘British’ sounding to me. I get bits of, um, almost like Squeeze in there, and Madness – were you listening to that sort of stuff while you were writing the album? AS: Um – look, we’re all very influenced by British music. I love Madness, The Stranglers, The Clash… the list goes on – and Squeeze too! (Squeeze) was a band that we just all went, a couple of years ago, fuck yeah! I remember all that stuff! So yes, there were definitely those influences in there, and the producer we worked with, Nick Launay, is, um, I guess you’d call him a Pom, I don’t know, he lives all over the world…he’s worked with John Lydon… all sorts of interesting people so he brings a feel from that side of the fence. What you’re saying is good to hear man, thank you!
SA: Well, I’m ‘a pom’ from that era – maybe I can hear those things a bit more than other people! AS: It’s a great thing to hear – I’ll pass all this stuff on!
SA: If you hadn’t have said that and backed me up so conclusively I was going to say that maybe the sound was a reaction to spending so much time in the US on the last record? Were you trying to make a record that didn’t sound like an American sounding record? AS: Well, yeah. That’s again a very good point. I suppose “Modern ARTillery” turned out completely the opposite to what we anticipated or wanted; because we were so heavily involved with the American record label we listened to them too much. So we worked with an American producer who produces very American sounding records. It was a bad choice… in hindsight.
SA: It’s still a good record though? AS: Yeah… it’s great, fine, but that’s not what we’re into. We’re into organic sounding records, we’re into playing live as a band and capturing moments on record, whereas (“Modern ARTillery” producer) Mark Trombino was about “let’s record the drums first, and then the bass, the guitar and then I’ll fix it all up with pro tools…” Man, that’s not how to make a record! SA: Sure. AS: So, again you’re spot on! The whole emphasis on this one was to have the three of us getting into a room – that’s the only way Nick likes to record. Capturing the band as we play! We use more aggressive sounds, the drum kit doesn’t sound like a synthesizer – it breathes! There are ugly notes on there… and a nastiness to it that you don’t get through the modern techniques. And that’s exactly what we were going for.
SA: There’s a line in your press release that came with the record, where Scott says you were surprised by the amount of kids that came out on the last tour… do you think they’ll be frightened off by the sound of this release? Because it doesn’t sound like anything else they’re hearing at the moment? AS: I seriously hope not. I guess there’s always that chance but… (lead off )‘What’s On Your Radio’ has got a great reaction so far, the kids seem to like that – going by those reactions I think we’re pretty safe in assuming that they’ll at least listen to it… which is all we can ask! But Scott’s right, there’s a whole new generation of kids coming to shows that we’d like to focus on, do some under age shows. Hopefully they will just give the record a chance – everything you’ve said about the record is spot on, and hopefully other people will agree if they just take the time to think about it the way you have…
SA: If you can get them to see you live, if they see the new songs played live, you won’t have any worries… AS: Live is our big strength – exactly right again! We’ve just got to play as many bloody shows as we can!
SA: Which brings me to my next question – you’re all getting older now, are there any plans to scale down the touring after a decade on the road for the band? Or will this record be toured as hard as the last one? AS: No. We not the kind of people to sit back and wait for things to happen. You have to be proactive in this industry or you’ll die. People will forget about you… we still get a big kick out of playing live, we’re aware that that’s our strong point, we’ve still got a few good years in us yet!
SA: I ask because it seemed to me that, on the “Best of” compilation DVD interviews, Chris seems a bit weary of the whole thing. At least that’s the way it comes across. Maybe that can be manifested as ‘I don’t want to tour as much as I used to’? Maybe he was interviewed on a bad day… AS: There are certain points… we spent a long time in America last year, going from shithole to shithole, with a few good shows in between and, more than everything, it’s mentally draining, touring.
SA: Especially when it’s not ‘your tour’? You did a lot of supporting in America… AS: We did one tour on our own, which was great, but the majority of the time was with other bands, which is fine… at least you’re still playing to people which is the thing. But the industry can get you down. You deal with the political bullshit you have to deal with and play the best shows you can play.
SA: Fair enough! AS: Yes!
SA: Anything else you’d like to say? AS: I don’t know! I think it is our best album, I hope people will be surprised, maybe shocked in a few places… there are a few curve balls in there. Give it a chance – go and buy it!
SA: Well I’m off to let the neighbours hear it again now! Thanks a lot, and good luck with the record! AS: Thanks Scott.
The Living End’s magnificent “State of Emergency” is out now through EMI, kids. Go! Buy!
The Living End – who have had at least one song in every Triple J Hottest 100 since 1997 – are currently tearing around the country as part of the Big Day Out. The Melbourne-based trio are also about to release a new album, State Of Emergency, and we chatted over the telephone to Adelaide-raised drummer Andy Strachan. We began by asking if playing in his home town in front of some 30,000 people was in any way daunting.
“No, it’s always a complete blast,” he reckoned. “I love it. To come home to Adelaide is always a blast and having family and old friends around is great. “Having said that, I’m not sure if mum and dad will come to the Big Day Out.” Andy then added with a laugh.
TLE’s double bass player, Scott Owen, has suggested to me that the recording of State Of Emergency had been a little stressful. “Yeah, it was,” Andy quickly confirmed, “but stressful in a good way. And we can now sit back and listen to the new album and know that all that hard work has paid off. We all feel that way after being locked away in our own world making the album.”
Does the album feature any guest players? “We got the horn players from Hunters & Collectors to play on a couple of songs and there’s about 15 kids, whose ages range from about 15 through to five, singing on our new single, Wake Up.” Andy revealed.
How many songs from the new album will feature during your Big Day Out set? “We’ll do about two or three,” he said. “We’ll do What’s On Your Radio because that’s been out for a while now and we’ve been doing it in our live sets and we’ll also do Wake Up and perhaps one or two more. But we don’t want to stray too far from the pitch with new material.”
What bands are you looking forward to seeing? “Gee, there’s so many,” Andy sighed. “I’m really keen to see Franz because I like their album and I’m told they are a really good live band. And you can’t go past Iggy. That’ll be a highlight for sure. Then there’s the stupidly good musician bands such as Cog, Shihad and The Mars Volta. So it’s going to be bloody good and I’m going to try my darnedest to get around and see everyone I possibly can.”
Andy is also looking forward to The Living End playing Loxton’s Jim Beam Hand-Picked festival in early April. “I thought Hand-Picked might have been some kind of boogie festival until I realised they were talking about Oranges and stuff,” he said [with his joke being completely lost on me until I transcribed our taped interview]. “We love doing those types of shows and getting out to places we might not normally play,” the drummer concluded.