Three’s Company

Author: Eric Schelkopf

It might not be as big as the British invasion.

But three Australian bands – the Living End, the Vines and Jet – will take the stage at 7 p.m. today in a sold out show at the Vic Theatre in Chicago.

The Living End has been touring this month with their fellow country mates as part of the aptly named the Australian Invasion Tour, which will continue through April.

Scott Owen, who plays up- right bassist in the trio, has been enjoying the experience.

“We’ve never really done that before,” Owen said. “We’ve been on the Warped Tour where there have been one or two Australian bands, but never such a big gang of Australians in a foreign country. It is kind of cool. It’s working out well, three bands together.”

Despite the fact the three bands all hail from Australia, they each have their own unique sound and style.

“We all have different kinds of audiences,” Owen said. “We get to play in front of each other’s audiences, It’s interesting for the people in the crowd. They get to see three different styles of music and three different kinds of attitudes on stage.”

The Living End formed in the early ’90s as a punkabilly band. U.S. band the Stray Cats had a stronger influence on lead singer Chris Cheney, and he taught Owen how to play upright bass.

“When me and Chris starting playing together, we were into rockabilly music,” Owen said.

But the band’s musical style has matured since then, and more influences can be heard on the Living End’s latest release, “Modern ARTillery.”

“There are so many other different influences now. There’s definitely not just that,” Owen said.

Well-known producer Mark Trombino, who has worked with Blink 182 and Jimmy Eat World, produced the album.

“Those records that he has produced are really heavily produced albums, really clean and really slick,” Trombino said. “We didn’t necessarily want exactly what we heard in his previous albums, but we wanted a sense of that. We like our sound to be a little dirty and a little bit rough around the edges. We thought with our attitude, and with his attitude, it might be a good marriage, a good happy medium.”

“Modern ARTillery” storms ahead in furious fashion, giving listeners a taste of the band’s energetic live shows.

Unlike many albums that are released, “Modern ARTillery” is far from a one-note album. And that’s just how The Living End makes music.

“We are definitely into switching styles,” Owen said. “I think all of the songs have our identity within them, but we don’t want to pigeonhole ourselves into playing one style of music. We kind of want to mix it up.”

Owen feels “Modern ARTillery” is the band’s best effort.

“It’s the next step for the band,” Owen said. “I feel like we’ve moved forward as we’ve recorded each album.”

Australian Invasion Rocks Metropolis

Author: Jordan Zivitz

Three out of four ain’t bad, with only the Vines failing to live up to the hype

The conquistador of the mission wasn’t in fighting form, but as far as Aussie invasions go, Monday’s quadruple bill at Metropolis was infinitely more entertaining than Yahoo Serious and Crocodile Dundee. The Vines, Jet, the Living End and Neon are all potentially demon live outfits, and three out of four ain’t bad.

From the top: It might have been the band no one came to see, but Neon still found itself playing to an impressively full room. Highlighted by wonderfully frayed harmonies, the quartet refracted Jet’s retro riffing through a slightly darker looking glass.

The Living End earned the highest marks for effort, as the trio came out ready to stun-gun a crowd that didn’t need convincing. The mainstream polish on the recent Modern Artillery album was mercifully down played, leaving a battered punk/vintage rock ‘n’ roll hybrid.

Accusations of musical larceny clearly haven’t deterred Jet; after 90 seconds on stage, singer Nic Cester was making off with Pete Townshend’s windmill strum. It barely matters who gets ripped off – with its twin guitar delirium, with a bass that sounded like Godzilla tearing through the floorboards, and with Cester unleashing the booziest howl this side of Bon Scott, Jet made sure everyone was too busy partying to confiscate its cheat sheets

Between the band’s 1970s arena-rock heart and an A-level light show (complete with vomit inducing strobes in Take It or Leave It), this was a Bell Centre performance crammed into Metropolis. Wisely considering the mood of the crowd, Jet down played its mellow side. The sole exception, Look What You’ve Done, was greeted with much arm-waving and Bic-flicking – none of it ironic. Leave it to the Darkness to wink at retro rock. Jet just wants to give it a big sloppy kiss.

Only a supremely self-confident group would play its smash hit mid-set, and they don’t come any more self-confident than this. Are You Gonna Be My Girl was dedicated to Céline Dion and given an amphetamine rush, with Cester goading on an already delirious crowd. It was enough to win control of the song back from that damn iPod commercial.

Jet’s too-brief rave-up ended with a tear through That’s All Right, Mama that sounded like Elvis on a bender. It was a tough act to follow, and instead of trying to meet the challenge, Vines singer Craig Nicholls seemed intent on making his mark through a lesson in self-defeat. The Vines walk a fine line between raw power and shambolic confusion, on Monday the latter ruled.

Along with a perversely paced set list that killed momentum by alternating fast song/slow song over and over until just before the encore, blame for the Vines performance rested on Nicholls’s psychotic little shoulders. As his bandmates tried valiantly to make Outtathaway a bruising opener, the singer sabotaged the number with a bizarre goatherder’s yelp. In Winning Days – the group’s loveliest song on album – Nicholls’s vocals gave an impressive approximation of a guitar being tuned.

When the band jelled, you could almost feel the heat. Get Free and Ride were vicious, and Nicholls got the spooked voice right on Autumn Shade II. More often, the audience’s reaction – a fraction as rapturous as the one that greeted Jet – told most of the story. Nicholls told the rest by bonking his head repeatedly against the microphone in a moment that summarized his performance: a bit freakish, and kind of depressing.

It’s hard to tell whether Nicholls is genuinely troubled, or just a jerk. In either case, his affectations kept anyone – band or audience – from getting too close. In one of the few coherent moments of stage patter, the singer said: “There’s a guy trapped at the front who wants to leave, but he can’t.” Feel his pain.

Modern Artillery

Author: Dan Nailen

THE LIVING END
“Modern Artillery”
Grade: B

Australia’s The Living End was well on its way to becoming a fixture of the pop-punk scene a couple years back when a car accident forced the trio to take an extended break before recording this, its third American release. The break did nothing to dull the band’s chops; this album is 14 songs full of hooks and just a dash of punk attitude. The opener, “What Would You Do?” is reminiscent of the band’s state-side breakthrough, “Prisoner of Society,” while “Who’s Gonna Save Us? is a shout-along anthem. A solid album.

Modern Artillery

Author: Ed Masley

While the look and the instrumentation have always shouted “Rockabilly!,” these guys hit the Warped Tour sounding like Australia’s answer to Rancid’s California answer to The Clash.

But this time out, the sound is more like early 1980s power pop – big hooks and sugar-coated harmonies reviving the heart of the British Invasion with punkish abandon. At times, it could pass for the Vapors. Or early Joe Jackson. Or even the Jags. But almost never Rancid. And they still look just as rockabilly – even sound a little rockabilly on occasion.

But the best songs here are purer pop than that.

A record this outragously infectious only comes along so often, and it’s rarely half as sweet. You’ll wish you were falling in love, it’s such a perfect soundtrack for it. But for falling out of love, you’ll want to stick with “is She Really Going Out With Him?” Or “Back of My Hand” by the Jags.

Rockin’ Dundee

Author: Steve Morse

Mention Australian music and several distinct sounds jump to mind: the dance-rock of INXS, the political punch of Midnight Oil, the ear-shattering metal of AC/DC, and the Top 40 pop of the Bee Gees, Men at Work, Olivia Newton-John, and the Little River Band. The country has also produced such diverse talents as Paul Kelly, Kylie Minogue, the Saints, the Go-Betweens, Hunters & Collectors, and Angel City.

That’s a wide swath of music, but the latest exports from down under have something more in common: They rock. And they rock with an intensity that is bringing their homeland a new respect, from the garage-punk of the Vines and the reckless abandon of Jet to the rockabilly edge of the Living End and the power-pop of Neon.

All those acts are on the much-awaited “Aussie Rock” tour which plays the Avalon on Friday.

“They’re packaging us in an Australian flag and sending us over,” says Chris Cheney, singer with Melbourne band the Living End. “But we’re coming there for rock ‘n’ roll, not patriotism.”

“There was quite a long period when almost no Australian bands made it overseas. That was called the ’90s,” says Patrick Matthews of the Vines. “But now a lot of bands are coming over.”

The garage-rock revival that started with stateside bands such as the Strokes and the White Stripes has spread globally as record labels seek to ride the wave.

“You could say we cashed in on the Strokes’ and White Stripes’ success, or you could say we had a good record and played a lot of shows,” the Vines’ Matthews says with a laugh.

“It seems to go in cycles with Australian rock,” says Oedipus, program director of Boston station WBCN-FM (104.1). “You don’t hear about it for a while, then you suddenly have all these bands.” Asked to explain their newfound popularity, he says, “For the most part they rock – and we’re now in a rock mode. People are loving straight-ahead guitars again.”

Oedipus calls AC/DC the “definitive Australian band the group’s core was Australian, though it added a couple of English members) and adds that “guitar rock” has been associated with the country ever since.

The English-rock influence, however, shouldn’t be underestimated. Jet took its name from a song by Paul McCartney’s Wings, the Living End loves Elvis Costello and Paul Weller, and the Vines cite their biggest influences as the Beatles and the Kinks, as well as British bands Blur and Suede.

The influences are apparent on the new Vines CD, “Winning Days,” which comes out March 23. The band first album, the million-selling “Highly Evolved,” is more primal than the new disc, which still has a street-rock core but is enhanced by new forays into dream-pop and psychedelia. “Winning” shows impressive growth and is one of the finest records of the year. It was made at Bearsville Studios near Woodstock, NY, with producer Rob Schnapf, who has worked with Beck, Guided by Voices, and Eliott Smith.

The Vines may be the flagship band of the new Aussie wave, but Jet has recently bounced in with a raw excitement that can’t be denied. Jet’s stateside debut album, “Get Born,” has spawned a massive radio hit, “Are You Gonna Be My Girl,” which received a boost in an iPod commercial. Band member Mark Wilson declares, “We’re about party music like the Faces and the Stones. We’re lighthearted, rather than being negative about the world.”

Like many Aussie bands, Jet was not groomed for success. Bassist Wilson moved refrigerators for a living before rock beckoned, and singer Nic Cester was a forklift operator.

“We just play honest rock,” says Wilson. “It’s not about how cool you seem or what clothes you wear or which celebrity girlfriend you have. But you look at the history of Australian rock-back to AC/DC and the Easybeats – and every one of them can play. It’s not about looking cool in the eyes of the media.”

Maybe that explains why Jet didn’t heed the call to come to the United States to audition for American labels. “We made them all come to Australia. We’re pretty cheeky that way,” he says “We had 11 record company guys all standing around in this dingy bar in Sydney. That was two years ago, but it feels like yesterday.

The “Aussie Rock” tour was assembled by the Australian management team of Winterman & Goldstein, which handles the Vines and Jet. “Our stories are similar,” says Matthews of the Vines. “We’re both from the suburbs – Jet is from the suburbs of Melbourne, and we’re from the suburbs of Sydney – and we both sent demos in to the managers. Then Jet supported us on a show in Melbourne and we’ve since run into them in New York and Los Angeles. It will also be fun to play with the Living End and Neon, which is a kind of power-pop band that sounds like Cheap Trick and Tom Petty crossed with Nirvana.” (Neon has a forthcoming album on FMI)

These new bands came out of a touring tradition, hitting the club circuit hard before getting signed. Jet’s Wilson again brings up AC/DC, citing the band as a formative role model in that regard.

“AC/DC was like a machine that just rolled into town,” he says. “And we’ve been doing it that way, too. We have been on tour nonstop for a year and a half. We believe that you have to get in there and work.”

“Together, we’re going to wear people out onstage,” Wilson says of the tour. “And we hope that a lot of kids who come see us will let go of their inhibitions.”

New Beginning For End

Author: Patrick Berkery

It’s pretty macabre to call a head-on car crash a blessing in disguise. But that’s how the Australian punk-pop trio the Living End views the summer 2001 wreck that injured singer-guitarist Chris Cheney, and sidelined the group as a whole.

Fresh off the tour behind its second album, Roll On, the trio was set to head into the studio when Cheney broke his leg in the accident. While the Living End leader was forced to rehabilitate for five months, the band had time to reflect.

“I guess Chris’ life flashed before his eyes when there was a car coming toward him,” bassist Scott Owen says from a tour stop in Atlanta. “Him not being able to play guitar was a forced opportunity to have to put himself, and his health, and mortality first.”

The unplanned respite clearly sparked a creative fire in the Living End. Its just-released third disc, Modern Artillery (Reprise), is sophisticated and multidimensional, while maintaining the band’s signature hooligan snarl.

Produced and mixed by Mark Trombino (Blink 182, Jimmy Eat World) the record packs a ferocious, radio-ready punch. But the timely message of “Who’s Gonna Save Us?” and the smart chord progressions of the Police-like “Jimmy” balance the sonic brawn with brains.

“There were a few ideas we were chasing as far as what sound we wanted,” Owen explains. “But that album [Trombino] did with Jimmy Eat World had such a powerful, modern sound. We thought that kind of cleanness and bigness, and our back- ground in making our parts sound kind of timeless, would be a good combination.”

The Living End, with the Vines, Jet and Neon, at 8:30 p.m. Saturday at the Electric Factory, 421 N. Seventh St. Tickets: $23; $19.50 advance. Phone: 215-627-1332.

Modern Artillery

Author: Mark LePage

The Living End
Modern ARTillery
Reprise/WEA

Girded by “world’s greatest band” hype, an Aussie outfit matures without having decided whether it wants to be Blink 182 or Nick Lowe – and frankly, the Nick Lowe category could use some volunteers. The Living End begins with the requisite punk-pop energy, but the breakout album has an ensemble polish that may be too slick. The Room closes the album making this case clear – a finely honed assembly of precision-tooled moves from the Who to ska-billy to (practically) Dire Straits. Jury out until live show.

The Living End performs Mon- day at Metropolis, 59 Ste. Catherine St. E., with fellow Aussies the Vines and Jet. Tickets cost $25.50. Call (514) 908-9090.

Our Bands Invade The Big Apple

Author: Phillip Coorey

Click to view…

It is being billed as “The Aussie Invasion” and yesterday it reached the basement of a small Australian bar in snowbound New York. A clutch of Australia’s hottest bands – The Living End, The Vines, Jet and Neon – hit the frozen Big Apple as part of a 30-day, sell-out joint US tour.

Downstairs in Eight-Mile Creek, a Soho bar run by Whyalla-boys-done-good Frank and Will Ford, all bands but Neon treated a small gathering of invited guests to a few songs.

During the acoustic sets, Jet played their hit Are You Going To Be My Girl, which is huge in America thanks to Apple Computers using it in advertisements to promote their new range of I-Pods. “Would’ve been nice if they gave us an I-Pod,” grizzled Nick Cester of Jet.

Apart from the freezing weather, bad food and dearth of decent coffee, Living End drummer Andy Strachan said the tour had been great and doing it with the other bands was a great concept. “It’s kind of like the McDonalds value meal,” he opined.

Band members did not know each other well before they hit the road in their three-bus convoy. “Backstage we’re all mates and getting to know each other well,” Andy said. “They’re just good people,” he said.

The Rockodile Hunters

Author: Steve Morse

Tour features the new wave of Aussie bands.

Mention Australian music and several distinct sounds jump to mind: the dance-rock of INXS, the political punch of Midnight Oil, the ear-shattering metal of AC/DC, and the top 40 pop of the Bee Gees, Men at Work, Olivia Newton-John and the Little River Band. The country has also produced such diverse talents as Kylie Minogue, the Saints, Hunters & Collectors and Angel City.

That’s a wide swath of music, but the latest exports from Down Under have something more in common: They rock. And they rock with an intensity that is bringing their homeland a new respect, from the garage-punk of the Vines and the reckless abandon of Jet to the rockabilly edge of the Living End and the power-pop of Neon.

All those acts are on the much awaited Aussie Rock tour, which plays the Kool Haus a week today. 

“They’re packaging us in an Australian flag and sending us over,” says Chris Cheney, singer with Melbourne band the Living End. “But we’re coming there for rock ‘n’roll, not patriotism.”

“There was quite a long period when almost no Australian bands made it overseas. That was called the 90s,” says Patrick Matthews of the Vines. “But now a lot of bands are coming over.”

The garage-rock revival that started stateside with bands such as the Strokes and the White Stripes has spread globally as record labels seek to ride the wave. 

“You could say we cashed in on the Strokes and White Stripes success, or you could say we had a good record and played a lot of shows,” Matthews says laughing. 

The definitive Australian rock band would be AC/DC, though the group added a few English members to its Australian core. The English-rock influence shouldn’t be underestimated. Jet took its name from a Wings’ song, the Living End loves Elvis Costello and Paul Weller, and the Vines cite their biggest influences as the Beatles and the Kinks, as well as British bands Blur and Suede. 

Those influences are apparent on the new Vines CD, Winning Days, which comes out March 23. The band’s first album, the million-selling Highly Evolved, is more primal than the new disc, which still has a street-rock core but is enhanced by new forays into dream-pop and psychedelia. Winning shows impressive growth and is one of the finest records of the year. It was made at Bearsville Studios near Woodstock, N.Y., with producer Rob Schnapf, who has worked with Beck, Guided by Voices and Elliott Smith.

The Vines may be the flagship band of the new Aussie wave, but Jet has recently bounced in with a raw excitement that can’t be denied. Jet’s stateside debut album, Get Born, has spawned a massive radio hit, Are You Gonna Be My Girl, which received a boost by being featured in an iPod commercial. Band member Mark Wilson declares, “We’re about party music like the Faces and the Stones. We’re lighthearted, rather than being negative about the world.”

Like many Aussie bands, Jet was not groomed for success. Bassist Wilson moved fridges for a living before rock beckoned, and singer Nic Cester operated a forklift. 

“We just play honest rock,” says Wilson. “It’s not about how cool you seem or what clothes you wear or which celebrity girlfriend you have. But you look at the history of Australian rock-back to AC/DC and the Easybeats – and every one of them can play.”

Maybe that explains why Jet didn’t heed the call to come and audition for U.S. labels. “We made them all come to Australia. We’re pretty cheeky that way,” he says. We had 11 record company guys all standing around in this dingy bar in Sydney. That was two years ago, but it feels like yesterday.”

The Aussie Rock tour was assembled by the Australian management team of Winterman & Goldstein, which handles the Vines and Jet. “Our stories are similar,” says Matthews of the Vines. “We’re both from the suburbs – Jet is from the suburbs of Melbourne, and we’re from the suburbs of Sydney – and we both sent demos in to the managers. Then Jet supported us on a show in Melbourne, and we’ve since run into them in New York and Los Angeles. It will also be fun to play with the Living End and Neon, which is a kind of power-pop band that sounds like Cheap Trick and Tom Petty crossed with Nirvana.” (Neon has a forthcoming album on EMI) 

These new bands came out of a touring tradition, hitting the club circuit hard before getting signed.

Jet’s Wilson again brings up AC/DC, citing the band as a formative role model in that regard. 

“AC/DC was like a machine that just rolled into town,” he says. “And we’ve been doing it that way, too. We have been on tour nonstop for a year and a half. We believe that you have to get in there and work. [On this tour], we’re going to wear people out onstage. And we hope that a lot of kids who come see us will let go of their inhibitions.”

The Vines, Jet, the Living End and Neon play Kool Haus on March 23. Tickets are $25 and available through Ticketmaster (416-870-8000) or at Rotate This (620 Queen St. W.) and Sonic Temple (5165 Yonge St.)

A Rock Explosion Brings Wave Of Bands Up From Down Under

Author: Steve Morse

Mention Australian music and several distinct sounds jump to mind: the dance-rock of INXS, the political punch of Midnight Oil, the ear-shattering metal of AC/DC, and the Top 40 pop of the Bee Gees, Men at Work, Olivia Newton-John, and the Little River Band. The country has also produced such diverse talents as Paul Kelly, Kylie Minogue, the Saints, the Go-Betweens, Hunters & Collectors, and Angel City.

That’s a wide swath of music, but the latest exports from down under have something more in common: They rock. And they rock with an intensity that is bringing their homeland a new respect, from the garage-punk of the Vines and the reckless abandon of Jet to the rockabilly edge of the Living End and the power-pop of Neon.

All those acts are on the much-awaited “Aussie Rock” tour which plays the Avalon on Friday.

“They’re packaging us in an Australian flag and sending us over,” says Chris Cheney, singer with Melbourne band the Living End. “But we’re coming there for rock ‘n’ roll, not patriotism.”

“There was quite a long period when almost no Australian bands made it overseas. That was called the ’90s,” says Patrick Matthews of the Vines. “But now a lot of bands are coming over.”

The garage-rock revival that started with stateside bands such as the Strokes and the White Stripes has spread globally as record labels seek to ride the wave.

“You could say we cashed in on the Strokes’ and White Stripes’ success, or you could say we had a good record and played a lot of shows,” the Vines’ Matthews says with a laugh.

“It seems to go in cycles with Australian rock,” says Oedipus, program director of Boston station WBCN-FM (104.1). “You don’t hear about it for a while, then you suddenly have all these bands.” Asked to explain their newfound popularity, he says, “For the most part they rock – and we’re now in a rock mode. People are loving straight-ahead guitars again.”

Oedipus calls AC/DC the “definitive Australian band the group’s core was Australian, though it added a couple of English members) and adds that “guitar rock” has been associated with the country ever since.

The English-rock influence, however, shouldn’t be underestimated. Jet took its name from a song by Paul McCartney’s Wings, the Living End loves Elvis Costello and Paul Weller, and the Vines cite their biggest influences as the Beatles and the Kinks, as well as British bands Blur and Suede.

The influences are apparent on the new Vines CD, “Winning Days,” which comes out March 23. The band first album, the million-selling “Highly Evolved,” is more primal than the new disc, which still has a street-rock core but is enhanced by new forays into dream-pop and psychedelia. “Winning” shows impressive growth and is one of the finest records of the year. It was made at Bearsville Studios near Woodstock, NY, with producer Rob Schnapf, who has worked with Beck, Guided by Voices, and Eliott Smith.

The Vines may be the flagship band of the new Aussie wave, but Jet has recently bounced in with a raw excitement that can’t be denied. Jet’s stateside debut album, “Get Born,” has spawned a massive radio hit, “Are You Gonna Be My Girl,” which received a boost in an iPod commercial. Band member Mark Wilson declares, “We’re about party music like the Faces and the Stones. We’re lighthearted, rather than being negative about the world.”

Like many Aussie bands, Jet was not groomed for success. Bassist Wilson moved refrigerators for a living before rock beckoned, and singer Nic Cester was a forklift operator.

“We just play honest rock,” says Wilson. “It’s not about how cool you seem or what clothes you wear or which celebrity girlfriend you have. But you look at the history of Australian rock-back to AC/DC and the Easybeats – and every one of them can play. It’s not about looking cool in the eyes of the media.”

Maybe that explains why Jet didn’t heed the call to come to the United States to audition for American labels. “We made them all come to Australia. We’re pretty cheeky that way,” he says “We had 11 record company guys all standing around in this dingy bar in Sydney. That was two years ago, but it feels like yesterday.

The “Aussie Rock” tour was assembled by the Australian management team of Winterman & Goldstein, which handles the Vines and Jet. “Our stories are similar,” says Matthews of the Vines. “We’re both from the suburbs – Jet is from the suburbs of Melbourne, and we’re from the suburbs of Sydney – and we both sent demos in to the managers. Then Jet supported us on a show in Melbourne and we’ve since run into them in New York and Los Angeles. It will also be fun to play with the Living End and Neon, which is a kind of power-pop band that sounds like Cheap Trick and Tom Petty crossed with Nirvana.” (Neon has a forthcoming album on FMI)

These new bands came out of a touring tradition, hitting the club circuit hard before getting signed. Jet’s Wilson again brings up AC/DC, citing the band as a formative role model in that regard.

“AC/DC was like a machine that just rolled into town,” he says. “And we’ve been doing it that way, too. We have been on tour nonstop for a year and a half. We believe that you have to get in there and work.”

“Together, we’re going to wear people out onstage,” Wilson says of the tour. “And we hope that a lot of kids who come see us will let go of their inhibitions.”