Unlucky Strikes

Author: Christie Eliezer

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

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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.”

The Bid Day Out In December

Author: Mark Neilsen

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Rock stars celebrate Christmas too you know. Just what happens for them around yuletide? Well before performing at the Big Day Out in January, here are some of the acts to talk about the big day in December. There’s Nfamas from 1200 Techniques, Jay from 28 Days, Bexta, Lindsay from Frenzal Rhomb, Ray from the Hard Ons, Kid Kenobi, Pinky from Machine Gun Fellatio, Jon from Pacifier, Geoff from Resin Dogs, Andy from The Living End, Josh from The Waifs and Juanita from Waikiki.

Which relative of yours is most likely to get sozzled at the family Xmas get together?
“I’m the one that gets sozzled!”
Jay: “My mad old uncle Jack always gets blind and then tried to cop a feel of everyone’s wives and girlfriends, then my auntie Elsie gets upset and cries and says what a bastard he is and then there’s an all in or something like that. Doesn’t everyone have a story like this to tell? Everyone’s got a variation on the theme of the pissed uncle haven’t they?”
Bexta: “Me. No, I think it’s more a question of who won’t!”
Lindsay: “My younger brother’s mother’s oldest son.”
Ray: “All my relos are in Korea and most of them don’t drink.”
Kid Kenobi: “Dad. His boys are always an excuse for one too many cases of beer.”
Pinky: “We don’t get sozzled in my family, we get stonkered.”
Jon: “Dad and Auntie Jean.”
Geoff: “Granny.”
Andy: “We all take turns. I think it’s dad’s turn this year.”
Josh: “My eccentric great Aunt Gladys. She gets sozzled every night on Chivas Regal – family get together or not.”
Juanita: “My dog, Jasmine.”

When’s the latest you’ve taken down an Xmas tree?
Nfamas: “I put an Xmas tree up in Easter one time. Don’t ask me what I was on.”
Jay: “You mean you’re supposed to take it down?”
Bexta: “Well, I had a live tree fir a couple of years. One year it took six months to take all the decorations off.”
Lindsay: “It’s been sitting there since December ’99”
Ray: “You’ll probably get a lot of people telling you the same answer. We’ve kept it on display until the following Xmas. It’s like making the bed- you’re going to mess it up later in the night anyhow. Yeah I know we’re talking one year but on another planet further from the sun, that would be nothing.”
Kid Kenobi: “It was dead and brown.”
Pinky: “Don’t be stupid. I don’t take down Xmas trees. I have minions for that sort of shit.”
Geoff: “About 1.30am.”
Andy: “When all the needles have fallen off. About February/March.”
Josh: “Don’t even have a house to put an Xmas tree up in.”
Juanita: “Never.”

What’s the best Xmas present you’ve received?
Nfamas: “My mum always use to buy me jocks at Xmas, usually I’d get ‘Target’ jocks, but one year she stepped it up and bought me some ‘Holeproof heroes’.”
Jay: “My son, three and a half weeks after Xmas.”
Bexta: “An above ground swimming pool when I was six. My parents spent all night putting it up for Christmas Day.”
Lindsay: “I remember once we woke up and there was a newborn baby on the doorstep. All wrapped up in swaddling clothes. He was so cute, all pink and wrinkly. Obviously some unfortunate mother had given him up and we were blessed with his arrival. Best Christmas dinner we’d had in years.”
Ray: “Money from my parents. That’s right, cold cash. Mmmmm…”
Kid Kenobi: “Transformers.”
Pinky: “I don’t generally talk out of school, but let me say, she was really good. She was really, really good.”
Jon: “Time off to hang out with my family followed in a close second place to my first half sized acoustic guitar at the age of eight.”
Geoff: “Money.”
Andy: “A radio in the shape of a naked lady (thanks Pop). You have to tweak her nipples to control the tuning and volume.”
Josh: “A kiss from a pretty girl.”
Juanita: ” A smartie.”

What Xmas carol would you cover?
Nfamas: “Jingle Bells. It’s the only one i can think of, plus it’s annoyingly catchy.”
Jay: “We’ve already done a Xmas carol. It was a big hit. You may have heard it, it’s called Rip It Up, it’s about opening presents on Xmas morning and ripping off the wrapping paper and then checking out what you got.”
Bexta: “I wouldn’t.”
Lindsay: Here comes Santa’s pussy by the Frogs, or the traditional hymn, I saw daddy fisting Santa Claus.”
Ray: “You know what, I have the Phil Spector Xmas album and Darlene Love does White Xmas. It’s unreal. But as a whole I hate covers so I personally would not like to be involved.”
Kid Kenobi: “We Three Kings would make a good trip hop song.”
Pinky:O Come All Ye Faithful because it’s just so GODDAMN FUCKEN DIRTY.”
Jon: “I fuckin’ hate Christmas carols but I’d do the one that goes ‘pa rup a pum pum’ just ’cause it rhymes with bum.”
Geoff: Jingle Bells, mixed with LL Cool J’s Rock The Bells“.
Andy:The Little Drummer Boy. Anything but Jingle Bells!”
Josh: “Don’t know any. Maybe I’ll try to write one.”
Juanita: “I don’t know any.”

Did you get any Xmas presents from your bandmates last year?
Nfamas: “Nup, the cheapskates! Well they are musos.”
Jay: “You are talking about the biggest pack of tight arses known to man. There is no way on earth anyone in this band would spend a cent on any of the others or anyone else really. Why would you spend money on presents when that would mean less money for booze and cigarettes for yourself? Come on guys, I’m sorry but you know it’s true.”
Lindsay: “Just the usual: headache, hangover, herpes.”
Pinky: “Yeah Widow Jones gave me a present. The rest of ’em are right stingy cunts.”
Jon: “Yes. Time away from me.”
Andy: “No, we didn’t even know each other.”
Josh: “No. We are usually trying to get a long way apart at Xmas cos’ we spend all the rest of the year together.
Juanita: “No! We hate each other.”

The Big Day Out happens Saturday 25 January at Sydney Showground.

The Living End

Author: Brad Arundale

Change. It’s an unsettling thing for any Aussie band to have to deal with, especially one that’s riding a wave of success and receiving loads of acclaim, both here and overseas. The Living End rose from suburban obscurity to become one of the country’s most beloved rock groups. After arousing much interest on the back of a brilliantly filled support slot for Green Day, and the EP It’s For Your Own Good, the End ingrained themselves into the consciousness of the music-loving public via their anthemic hit Prisoner of Society, which helped steer their debut, self-titled album to the top of the charts. A feast of rockabilly, punk and rock all fused together, the record introduced to a large audience the extraordinary talents of guitar maestro Chris Cheney, double bassist Scott Owen and drummer Travis Dempsey. Tracks like Save the Day, All Torn Down and West End Riot became cherished classics. Then, two years later, we were hit with the massive-sounding, political-savvy ‘Roll On’, which spawned the memorable title track, the galloping Pictures in the Mirror and the easily likeable Dirty Man. Punters across the world lapped up the band’s unrelenting live shows (they even sold out a gig at the famous London Astoria a month before playing there), and life for the trio couldn’t have been better. But no one could forsee what was to follow. In September of last year, after the band had returned from performing at a number of festivals in Europe, Cheney was involved in a serious car accident while driving on Victoria’s Great Ocean Road. The brush with death left him hospitalised with a broken femur and on his back for weeks, bringing to a halt the hectic schedule of the band and relegating music to the backburner for a while. Sure the boys’ touring legs had been growing steadily more tired, but anyone will agree that a near-death accident is one hell of a harsh way to be forced to take a break. Still, Cheney’s recovery over the past year has been remarkable to say the least. Unfortunately, mid way through this year, another blow was struck to the band, with Dempsey realising life with The Living End just wasn’t for him. Another strange blessing in disguise? Perhaps, since luckily, there happened to be someone on call who didn’t need to think twice about becoming one third of one of the most exciting outfits on the planet. His name: Andy Strachan.

Andy, on the phone in the first of a bunch of media chats he’s having today, discusses what it was like to hear about Chris’ mishap, even though he wasn’t close mates with the singer/guitarist at the time. 
‘I had never met them really. But I do recall the night just prior to Chris’ accident. I went and saw Eskimo Joe at the Corner, and Chris was there also. I was having a drink backstage and he was there, and then we all went to Cherry Bar, and I saw him for the last time at about 3 o’clock. And the next day I hear he’s nearly dead. It was a really weird kind of feeling.’

Fortunately, after months of physiotherapy, Chris is well and truly on the mend. 
‘He gets the odd aches and pain here and there, but I think in general he’s fine. He got the last operation just a couple of weeks ago to remove the metal rod that they put in his leg. This thing was fucking huge. I couldn’t believe it. The fact that they had to put that big bit of metal down his leg, then rip it out and he’s walking around the next day – Crazy! I don’t know how I would have dealt with it myself.’

And so it seems nothing, not even a debilitating accident and a lineup change, can really stop the juggernaut that is The Living End. To prove that they’re as popular as ever, just look at what happened to What Would You Do, a short and sweet rocker, when it was recently released to radio. Despite the fact that it’s actually a b-side on the upcoming One Said to the Other single, it instantly rocketed to the top of Triple J’s vote on-line chart, the Net 50. And the guys couldn’t be happier. 
‘Yeah! I know!’ exclaims Andy. ‘The recording was fairly rushed and we did it here in Australia. And that is one of Scotty’s songs as well, so he’s stoked. It’s only a minute thirty or something. So we’re really happy about that.’

As for the single itself, which is out January 20, it’s just become one of the most added songs to radio, and is an enticing preview of their third album, to be recorded in L.A. with Mark Trombino (Jimmy Eat World) early next year and then released around June/July. So with Andy taking up the sticks and the band’s momentum on the rise once again, what’s the feeling in the group, and how are the new tunes shaping up? 
‘It’s pretty damn good I think. We’re all pretty happy and we’re going to try and do our best. Who knows what’s to come? We have to wait till we get over there and press the record button before we know how it’s going to sound.’ Maybe I’m too close to it, but you can’t really mistake Chris’ voice, that guitar sound and the double bass thing. But I would say the way it’s shaping up, it’s a definite mix of old and new. I suppose ‘Roll On’ was a complete departure from the self-titled album, which was really funky and rockabilly whereas ‘Roll On’ was more ACDC. Perhaps the (new) songs are a little more simplified. We’ve really been conscious of that – we don’t need to put all the trickery in there. Which is what made ‘Roll On’ slightly harder to listen to.’ Andy continues to reveal just how busy the band has been, despite the major setbacks. ‘There’s around-about 45 demoed songs. It’s like a big bag of mixed lollies really. You have your favourites in amongst that bag of mixed lollies, and there’s some that you leave aside for later. I think we’ve got it down to a short list of about 22 or 23. Obviously we all have our favourites, but we’ve luckily agreed on the bulk of the album I would think. There’s some real standouts in my mind anyway, but it’s always a different situation once you get in there and record them, they always come out differently. There could be a couple of dark horses that come out of nowhere.’

And what about band chemistry? Has it been easy for the new guy on the block to gel with Chris and Scott, who have been friends since high school? 
‘Our humours kind of match up in a sick sort of way,’ informs Andy. ‘Most of the time spent together is laughing, which is great.’

And how is he finding the task of keeping up with their frantic musical pace, in addition to their personalities? 
‘It’s completely inspiring,’ gushes Andy, in reference to his bandmates prowess. ‘It’s been a long time since I’ve been challenged musically. It freaks me out day to day. Chris or Scott will do something absolutely phenomenal and my jaw will drop. ‘But I think I’ve adapted fairly well to it. You can’t really go and try and emulate exactly what Trav would play, so I’ve definitely just tried to fit in in my own way. It certainly is a workout. But no, it’s good – I’m getting fit!’

Just wait till he gets on the road with the guys for this year’s Big Day Out festival. The Living End, a band somewhat born to to appease huge crowds of youths frothing at the mouth for some feel good rock to chant and mosh along with, will surely be one the highlights of what is a very impressive line-up. 
‘I’m looking forward to it, because I’ve never had the opportunity to play such huge events,’ says Andy. ‘I’m also very nervous and scared. Last time I went was the last time the Living End played. And it was just crazy. I like my space, and there was no space there.

As a warm up for The Big Day Out tour, The Living End will be road-testing some new tunes, as well as pulling out some old favourities, at The Brass Monkey, Fountain Gate on January 9.

© Buzz Magazine 2003

When The Carnival Comes To Town

Author: Mark Neilsen

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There’s a romantic idea that everyone would come out in force when a carnival rolled into town. People would be wide eyed at the wonders on offer, startled by some strange sights, maybe even scared by some things. Well, there’s something else everyone experiences similar feelings with that they flock to when it pulls into town once a year, and that’s the Big Day Out.

With a circus theme for this year’s festival, we find some of the artists performing dressed in carnival clobber, appearing as if they could almost form their own travelling sideshow. Chris Cheney from The Living End is the ringmaster with his lairy jacket and bow tie. With the addition of a bowler hat and cane he looks like a technicolour version of one of the droogs from A Clockwork Orange. Juanita Stein from Waikiki is a fairy and although angelic looking there’s surely a hint of mischief behind it all. Jon Toogood is decked out as the stereotypical strongman, resplendent in leopard-print, caveman-like outfit with mini handlebar moustache and hair plastered down as it probably was in his year four school photo. It’s quite funny that Jon’s the strongman considering he’s arguably the skinniest man in rock. Then there’s Jesse Dessenberg, aka Kid Kenobi, who’s the sad clown, with the face makeup still on.

Going to the carnival is associated with a fun time, so would the assembled troupe enjoy their Big Day Out experience as much as a carnival? “If you compare it to a kid at a carnival and an adult at the Big Day Out, it’s pretty much the same thing. A carnival/circus for big kids, I guess,” Jesse says. “It definitely has a circus vibe about it, particularly with tents. They even had a big top, haven’t they? It was weird actually, the first time I played the Big Day Out I played in the Hothouse and that was actually in a tent and it was all grass on the dancefloor so it did feel like you were in a circus act almost.”

Chris: “I don’t know whether I’ve ever been to a carnival. I’ve been to a couple of circus things, but I’ve had much more fun at the Big Day Out, that’s for sure, because you can get alcohol at the Big Day Out. You can’t even get it at the circus. Still there’s something about seeing people on a trapeze with their life in their hands. It’s one thing seeing a good gig, but that’s definitely a special moment.”

Jon: “I reckon, without sounding like an arse-licker, it is definitely the best experience for a band because you’ve got at least a day off to recover after every show, and you can party and it’s so social the way it’s all set out back stage. You can’t actually avoid dealing with people, which is good. Everyone gets in each other’s face, It’s really good. And what a great way to play in front of 45,000 kids. It’s the rush, it’s like jumping out of a plane.”

For Juanita, carnivals have negative connotations and hence she hates circuses and the ilk. “i never wanted to go as a kid,” she says. “The idea of training animals scared the shit out of me and you don’t get much more evil than clowns as far as I’m concerned. I think I was scarred when I was about 13. My friends made me watch this movie called IT. My god, how could you ever got to the circus after watching that movie?”

Then again, this whole musical lifestyle that these artists lead would seem like a carnival at times. “Without a doubt,” Jon states. “We were talking about it the other day. It’s the only job in the world where you can abuse yourself and drink copious amounts of alcohol, take as much drugs as you want, as long as you do your job really well when you walk back on stage. If you’re a lighting guy, or a sound guy, it’s the same thing. It’s the only job in the world where it can be a carnival as long as you do your job really well. But still, in saying that I find that doing too much I find my job starts to suffer so at the moment I’m in the medium ground. I’m behaving myself. It means the shows are really good.”

Chris similarly agrees to the carnival nature of rock and roll. “There’s been quite a few bands that have done tours with the circus/sideshow theme, and some more so behind the scenes than the band sometimes. Have you seen the roadcrews of different bands? Even the road crew we used to have, they were a pretty funny looking bunch. There’s definitely a similarity though, isn’t there? Especially in this day and age, the more bizarre you are, the more people turn up to see you,” he says.

Juanita believes music festivals, such as the Big Day Out, are particularly associated with carnivals. “I can’t talk for experience because I’ve never been in the circus but I imagine they’re similar. I think circuses are very rock and roll. Circuses scare me though. That’s one element that’s not in rock and roll. Rock and roll doesn’t scare me. There’s something very dark about circuses. It’s the same with music. It’s a raucous, crazy, electric energy and very, very unpredictable and anything could go wrong and it’s all based on the nature of performance. Very colourful, very alive,” she says.

“It does get pretty crazy,” Jesse admits. “Nothing too outlandish, no great sex, drugs and rock and roll stories, it’s something you get used to after a while. It’s not like a normal nine to five thing.”

Not that any of the acts have felt so strongly about carnivals that they wanted to be adopted by carnies. “I always thought it looked really seedy and dodgy and the thing is in New Zealand we didn’t have many circuses so I never really got to see one. I would have liked to hang out with the animals and stuff but I actually feel really sorry for the fuckers,” Jon says. “It’s very similar. Thinking about it now It’s the whole Gypsy lifestyle of getting in a caravan and driving from town to town,” Juanita adds. “I wasn’t that adventurous. I think I was a bit too much of a sissy,” Jesse laughs.

“I don’t think I was much of a freaky thing,” Chris says. “I always thought that being a musician there’s not much call for that in a circus really, because they just put the needle on the record and off they go. I wasn’t going to get involved in all the theatrics and stuff, it was never a dream of mine. Just to run off with a band.”

The Big Day Out happens Saturday 25 January at Sydney Showground

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.”

The Living End

Author: Tim Scott

In the wake of the recent horror and emotion of the terrorist attacks in the United States, music has been the last thing on the minds of most bands and musicians. Faced with so much human loss and tragedy, time has been spent reassessing and reflecting rather than being concerned with records or chart positions.

Not long after the September 11 attacks, The Living End faced their own sense of shock and bewilderment when singer and guitarist Chris Cheney was involved in a near fatal car accident on Victoria’s spectacular but treacherous Great Ocean Road.

“We’d only just been home from tour for a few weeks,” explains double bassist Scott Owen. “We were all ready to kick back and spend some time with our families when I heard about the accident. We were all so shaken; it made us think what we’re doing. We’ve been through a lot together and to think that one of us is lucky to be alive… well, I think we’ve always been thankful and put things in perspective but something like this makes you think differently.”

Since the phenomenal success of their 1998 self-titled debut album, the Melbourne three piece of Cheney, Owen and drummer Travis Demsey have indeed experienced much together. ARIA awards, five time platinum record sales and a relentless tour schedule that has seen them crisscross America and Canada, support bands such as AC/DC and the Offspring and attend all manner of international music festivals from Britain, Belgium and Japan has brought the three together.

Their rise from suburban rockabilly upstarts to internationally acknowledged and respected rockers can be due in large part to their hard-nosed work ethic. In the tradition of their Oz rock heroes such as Midnight Oil, Men at Work, and Rose Tattoo, the band have always considered playing in as many pubs and clubs to as many people as possible was the best way to achieve success.

Thankfully, this same humility and lack of ‘rock star’ pretence may have indirectly helped save Cheney’s life who on the day of the accident was driving a 1974 Holden stationwagon “The car that hit the front quarter panel of his car ripped his door off,” explains Owen. “If he hadn’t been driving a car that was so old and so slow it could’ve been a lot worse.”

The forced lay off that has arisen from Cheney’s accident may have come as a blessing in disguise for a band who were nearing exhaustion after spending almost twelve months on the road. “We were really burnt out by the time we got home so the whole concept of going straight into rehearsal and coming up with fifteen new songs was a bit scary,” says Owen. “We were supposed to be recording them in about two or three weeks from now, we had studio time booked and everything. That gave us only two months to write, arrange and record and that was just freaking us out. Of course the break could have come about under better circumstances but I think it’s good.”

Demsey explains that being on the road is an exhausting process where even the most routine of domestic chores becomes a time consuming ordeal. “We don’t do our own laundry because often we don’t have time. We don’t even cook our own food. Imagine not being able to cook for yourself for a whole year,” he asks incredulously. “When we get home we all go our separate ways and the band is forgotten for a while. The band is great but it is tiring, it wrecks birthdays, it wrecks Christmas, ‘cos for twelve months of the year it’s your whole life.”

With Cheney recovering at home, the band have just released ‘Dirty Man’ the third single off their sophomore album Roll On. A rocker that nods its head to Aussie rock heritage albeit with some sixties Mod sounds thrown into the mix, the songs sees the band having fun and kicking out the jams.

“Our albums have always been quite socially aware because of Chris’ writing skills but the last few songs I’ve written have been real party tunes that basically says that yes life can be bad but as long as you have family and your mates that’s all that matters and I don’t think many bands are singing about that at the moment,” explains Dempsey, the more outspoken and fiery of the three.

“Every fucking bleeding heart, and I certainly don’t mean that in a nasty way because I have friends in New York and I think the whole thing is a tragedy but everybody from Matchbox 20 up is now going to be writing odes to New York. I mean come on, have you visited a children’s hospital recently and seen the kids there who are dying of cancer every bloody day? I think people need to put things in perspective.”

While they can see the irony in releasing a song called ‘Dirty Man’ in the middle of a Federal Election campaign, Demsey and Owen maintain that the Living End are not an overtly political band despite addressing Indonesia’s invasion of East Timor and Australia’s immigration debate in songs ‘Revolution Regained’ and ‘Don’t Shut the Gate’.

“If you listen to a song like ‘Don’t Shut the Gate’ it doesn’t take sides,” explains Demsey. “It never points the finger. We like our songs to bring light to subjects that are relevant and we like to keep abreast of things. Unlike some bands I can think of I like to think that our audience is pretty smart and can make up their own minds about certain issues.”

Despite a hectic touring schedule, the band found time to drop into the studio to help record a song with Australian country music sensation Kasey Chambers for her latest album ‘Brickwalls and Barricades.’

“That was amazing”, says Owen of recording the song ‘Crossfire’. “You don’t want to have to think about your career everytime you pick up a guitar, you want to have fun, and working with Kasey was fun. There’s absolutely no ego with her; she’s incredibly talented. I’m sure she’s probably had a lot of smoke blown up her arse, with people telling her how great she is, especially in America but she’s really just honest.”

She really wanted the recording pretty rough, adds Demsey. “She was like, ‘No don’t hold back, hit the drums, play a lead break, really go for it,’ I really like the fact that she put the track way at the back of the album, there was no ‘Oh look who’ve we got to play’ or Special Guest appearance. That was cool. I mean we live in the suburbs, we kick footballs, I have dogs, the other guys want dogs, we drive Commodores, you know we’re normal. We don’t want to be seen as U2.”

Like Chambers, The Living End have established a strong following in the United States, a following that is not always acknowledged in Australia who Demsey accuses of being parochial.

“I find the ARIA’s a fucking joke and you can quote me on that,” he spits out. “Tina Arena, what a fucking joke, you can quote me on that as well. I just don’t understand how they work it all out. I mean the Saint’s get a lifetime achievement award but they are presented with it three weeks before the night. What’s up with that? Not disrespecting INXS for their life time achievement award cos I think they deserve everything they get, but for godsakes include two bands on the night!”

Owen joins in on the anti ARIA tirade, “Look at the people they invite on the night. As the cameras pan around the audience you don’t see any actual bands it’s just celebrities and actresses and stuff. It’s Nicki Webster, it’s Scandal’us, it’s Bardot give me a break! I mean Steve Waugh presenting the achievement award, jeez!”

As a band who has won three ARIA’s and who before Cheney’s accident were scheduled to make an appearance at the awards night to perform with Chambers, their anti ARIA remarks could be seen considered a case of biting the hand that feeds them, but Demsey maintains he is still a staunch supporter of Australian music and is excited of the current state of Oz rock. “Australian rock and roll is still revered around the world, but when it’s brought up at least with the people I talk to John Farnham isn’t mentioned, neither is Jimmy Barnes and I can categorically state that people overseas have no idea who Deni Hines or Tina Arena are.

He adds, “I’m pretty picky as to which bands I go and see now, not because I think I know it all but because I really enjoy time at home with my girlfriend. But since I’ve been back I’ve seen some good bands, Palladium, the Monarchs, Even are still a great band. It’s good to see that in Australia hard work still pays off, whereas in America bands still rely on the big push and hype.”

With the forced lay off Demsey will have more time to check out bands but he says that even with Cheney recuperating the band is still focused and eager to start writing songs again. “I think we would be happy to get together before Christmas and swap ideas, you know to least maybe to just discuss some things.”

Owen reminds him that things will come in their own good time, “Writing songs is a creative process you know, it’s not maths, it’s not like you can cram a whole lot of stuff into you can’t force, it.”

In the meantime the band have time to reflect. To reflect where they’ve come from, what they’ve done and the possibilities of what they still can achieve, as Demsey says eagerly, “I love this band, I love these guys and I’m so looking forward to writing songs and playing with them soon.”

Rolling On

Author: Mark Neilsen

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First things first. When chatting to The Living End drummer Travis Demsey, an account is needed on the state of guitarist Chris Cheney, who was recently injured in a car crash. “Chris is doing pretty well. He’s sitting at home recuperating now. He’s got three pins in his hip, his kneecap and thighbone I believe. I think he’s going real stir crazy. He can’t even play the guitar because he can’t even rest it on his leg so he’s just sitting there watching DVDs,” Demsey reports.

Needless to say the accident throws out The Living End’s plans until such a time as Cheney has recovered. Essentially they were going to work on their new album but as far as for when that happens… “We’ll know by about January because that’s when with the aid of crutches he’ll be able to walk again. We’re on hold until then and we’ll see what the doctors say and how Chris is going, and if he’s going okay we’ll reschedule to make the album early next year. We’d already started on that and we’re still working on the album even though we’ve gone our separate ways and I think it’s going to be a very interesting album to say the least,” Demsey says.

“I think in hindsight, it is horrible that Chris had an accident, but I think this is going to be the best thing for the band anyway. I think that the beauty of our band is that the lyrics the band sings about I think are very grass-roots. They weren’t like she loves me issues or let’s take drugs issues. I think everyone could relate to them. I think after two and a half years straight, I don’t think we would have had anything to sing about that was quite grass roots.

“Remember we’re living in a different universe to most people. We live in a bus then we go straight to the gig and we do the gig. Then we get back into the bus and drive to the next gig. You do that for so long conversation runs thin. It always centres around you or the person right next to you and we don’t even know what’s going on in the world because we don’t see the news for that long. I didn’t want that appeal to be lost from the band and I felt if we had have made the album now the lyrics would have been a bit more whiney and I don’t like it when rock bands get like that. ‘Oh it’s so hard.’ There are more important things in life. I want people to think of our band as people that hopefully did good but never let it get to their heads and always stayed in touch with what they were really about from the beginning. And I think we will.”

So it looks like that next time we see The Living End will be when they emerge with a new album. In the meantime though so we don’t forget about them, they’ve released their Dirty Man single. Interestingly it also contains a B-side of the Dilli All Stars covering The Living End’s track Revolution Regained.
“Apparently they liked that song so much and what it meant that they decided to do a cover,” Demsey recalls. “They just did it off their own bat and then when we were looking for B-sides and we were struggling because a lot of the songs we were going to use as B-sides we’re going to cut up and maybe use on the new album, experimental type stuff. So we were running short of having anything of quality we thought. Our manager said this is what the Dilli All Stars have sent me, they wanted to get your approval. We heard it and we were like wow, that’s pretty flattering that anyone would go to the effort to cover one of our songs and do a remake of it. That must mean a lot to them. What a good cause and everything so we thought let’s put it on the B-side.

Dirty Man is out through EMI

On The Roll With The Living End

Author: Glenn Fowler

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Prior to catching The Living End at The Garage in Glasgow, I had the opportunity to speak with Chris, Scott & Travis about the current tour, the new album and what they think about being compared to other bands. Among other things.

How has the UK tour gone, and what have been your highlights?
The tour has been sold out at almost all of the venues almost every night. We’ve been to England before, but this is the first time that we’ve played in Scotland. We haven’t really been promoted that much over here, but people are still showing up at our shows. So all of the hard yards that we are putting in touring and playing is paying off and that is what The Living End do best, we’re not so much a radio band.
Chris: My standout memory would be lack of sleep. No, hang on. That’s every tour!
Travis: The sold out show at the London Astoria is hard to top. – To sell out such a famous rock and roll venue as quickly as we did and a month before we played there was awesome. The Astoria wasn’t just full of Aussies either, the locals had come along to have a listen as well. Up to the Astoria gig we had a few problems with equipment and stuff, so the Astoria was just a killer gig for us.
Scott: The gig with Aerosmith in Munich was pretty memorable. Aerosmith had heard about us somewhere and asked for The Living End to do the support for a warm up show before they went on tour. The Aerosmith guys didn’t play as much rock and roll as we thought they would, more bluesy stuff. But Aerosmith are really good at what they do.

The new album has a lot of variations.
We were going to make the album more eclectic, but we made a conscious decision to make it how we have. Each song grows on you rather than being an instant hit and all of the songs sound different. So that way you don’t get sick of the whole album as it all sounds the same and you will still have a favourite song in a months time, but it will be a different song. The next album we hope will be more of everyone’s outside influences.

How do you generally work when writing and recording an album? Do you have a formula that you work to when recording?
Last year we started writing and recording Roll On and then we started touring, but the next time we will break it up a bit. Spend some time at home, then back on the road to break up the writing thing. We had heaps of songs for Roll On, so we weren’t suffering from a lack of material and we had heaps and heaps of songs that we had confidence in. But being at home for as long as we were while recording just makes it even harder to be away from home for this long now.
Travis: We haven’t had a holiday for a couple of years and sure we were recording the last album at home, but that meant 4:00 am finishes. Then get up early to have a life, see girlfriends, pay bills etc. and be back in the studio by 12:00 lunchtime and the same process again day after day.
Chris: We did some shows while we were at home, but it didn’t feel like we’d had a break at the end of that and now we are back on the road for this tour.
Travis: We released the album earlier in Australia to get a head start there. Then started shows in November, so we’ve been going for 4 months now.

How do you deal with the Clash and Green Day comparisons?
We could be compared to worse bands. But both bands are diverse, so it’s a compliment. The Clash were very eclectic, so that’s a good comparison. And Green Day do their stuff well, but they concentrate more on the style that they play. To be compared to both outfits is almost a contradiction in itself.
Scott: We have a powerful punky element as well, so I think that it’s weak to compare us to Green Day. But if we sound like The Clash, then which point in their career do we sound like because they changed so much and sounded different on each album.
Travis: They have to label you as something. But those bands paved the way to make punk more commercial. Punk is very educated about the world and politcal differences, where rock and roll is just about music, drugs and girls. Punk rock has a message. There are a hell of a lot of differences between the personalities of the Green Day guys and us. I would say that we are more like The Jam than anyone. But all in all we are The Living End.

Roll On is a very guitar oriented album.
Hellbound had lots of guitar riffs and lead breaks on it, as does the new one, but I think that we are just playing better now. We are definitely more rock rather than rockabilly these days. So the guitars have come to the forefront more. The songs on Roll On were intended to be more simple and therefore easier to play live. But I don’t think that they came out that way, but there are certain bits that are more straight ahead rock and guitar. Pictures In The Mirror may be more complex but basically it’s a rock song. Where as some of the rockabilly and psychobilly stuff that we’ve done in the past just doesn’t sound big and powerful enough in comparison.

Are there songs that you’ve recorded and you wished that you hadn’t?
Yeah, there was a track on the Hellbound EP the ninth track and it’s a daggy sort of song. There were problems with the pressing of the album and 500 copies were pressed wrongly. If you own one of the 500 copies you’re lucky, because they go for big bucks on eBay and I don’t even think I have one!
Travis: I don’t think that we’ve done our best work yet, so there will always be something that we wished we hadn’t done.

How have you been received in the UK and US?
I feel that we’ve got more in common with the UK Rock and Roll scene, we probably aren’t gimmicky enough for the US market, but they are still listening to us.
It feels almost like a cult thing, like when we first started in Australia. The people who are showing up at our shows are more fanatical over here and playing smaller venues is refreshing. Don’t get me wrong though, we love playing to 40,000 people as well.
Scott: We are generally treated the same in the US as the UK, but California’s a little bit different, because we get some more radio airplay. So there at least we have more of an audience.

Do you find song writing an easy process?
I find song writing very difficult. It’s really fun but lots of work and when it;s finished it’s a big relief. I find that it’s the human factor coming through in the music. The lyrics just come out in my thought process, and now people think that’s our thing but the next album might be totally stupid.
What you want with rock and roll is for people to get lost in your little fantasy world. We always try to have double meanings in our songs, so that if you want to read something into it you can.

You tend to play a lot of covers. Why, when you have so much of your own material?
We try to do things a bit left of centre. It would be very obvious if we did a punk rock song. But maybe we should, as we haven’t done one yet. It’s a bit of light heartedness and to have fun. It’s also just so that the audience has fun, cause you just can’t buy fun.
Chris: We used to be a cover band and knew 300 odd songs. It would be cool to throw in a few more now, but we are trying to promote us. We mainly throw in cover versions to try to vary the nightly routine and keep it interesting. Otherwise we would come off stage thinking, ‘Well we played the same thing again.’

The Living End are far from routine or uninteresting and the songs from Roll On are showing a greater maturity in both musicianship and song writing. Thanks to Chris, Scott and Travis for taking the time out to have a chat.

Let There Be Rock!

Author: Jude Winston

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On December 31, 1973, AC/DC played their first gig at Chequers, A Sydney nightclub. Two years and two days later, Chris Cheney, from The Living End, was born. By Jude Winston.

Despite the fact that they are, literally, a generation apart, AC/DC and the Living End share a spirit that more than bridges the gap. Both stand at the forefront of a great Australian tradition – no-bulls#*t rock & roll.
It might seem an odd scenario at first: one of the greatest straight-down-the-line rock & roll bands ever joining forces with a rockabilly/punk revivalist outfit to play Entertainment Centres throughout Australia. In truth, there is a little irony in the arrangement. When AC/DC first made the move to England, they landed right in the middle of the punk movement. True to their no-bulls#*t image, the Acadaca lads thought the punk thing was a whole load of bollocks, as Malcolm Young explained recently to Mojo magazine.
“We were always saying, ‘We ain’t a punk band, we’re a rock & roll band.’ We were tougher than any of those punks. We used to sit there laughing at these guys who were supposed to be able to bite your head off, thinking, ‘We could just rip the safety pin out of his nose and kick the s#*t out of him.'”
That’s probably fair enough, but despite Malcolm’s disdain for the Johnny Rottens of the world, the situation in 2001 is a little different. Firstly, Chris Cheney from the Living End is a great bloke – which, depending on who you ask, isn’t necessarily true of Mr Rotten. Secondly, for all the Green Day there is in the Living End, there’s also a lot of the Who, Midnight Oil and AC/DC. As Chris explains to Esky, it wasn’t much of a stretch for Malcolm and his little brother (lead guitarist Angus) to see exactly where the Living End are coming from.
“I’ve read things before where Angus has said stuff like, ‘Johnny Rotten is a whingeing prat,’ back when they were playing the Marquee and the Pistols were playing the 100 Club,” explains Chris. “But I guess as much as we’re influenced by the Clash and the whole punk thing, AC/DC can see that we love Little Richard and Chuck Berry as much as they do. They see a little bit of that in us you know – we’ve definitely got that rock & roll vibe as much as our political edge.”

It doesn’t take a degree in musicology to know that AC/DC have had a massive influence on music over the last 27 years, nor to see how that in turn has touched bands like the Living End. From the gritty, blues-based sound of the early years to the more metallic attack of their later material, AC/DC have written and recorded some of the most solid rock tunes of all time. Songs like “You Shook Me All Night Long”, “Back In Black”, “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” and “Highway To Hell” have become legendary; as much a part of modern music as the Beatles, black T-shirts and recreational drugs.

Although many people believe AC/DC’s best years were those fronted by legendary maniac Bon Scott (who died in true rock & roll style, choking on his own vomit in January 1980), they are one of the few bands in history to replace a lead singer and continue on to bigger and better things. Brian Johnson took over from Bon for AC/DC’s smash Back In Black, only six months after the original vocalist’s death, and the band never looked back. To date they have sold about 100,000,000 albums. Not bad for a group with three chords and one guitar solo.

AC/DC also have the distinction of being one of the first bands to piss off the moral majority in the US; without a doubt the Marilyn Manson of their day. Their 1979 album Highway To Hell got do-gooder-know-it-all-loud-mouthed Americans foaming at the mouth – apparently lines like “Hey Satan, payed my dues/Playing in a rocking band/Hey Mama, look at me/I’m on my way to the promised land/I’m on the highway to hell” weren’t good for the souls of young children. Of course, AC/DC treated the whole situation as a bit of a joke, and Malcolm recently made the comment: “Some places you would go to play and these people would picket and try to get your show stopped. But in the end we won out. At one point they were telling kids to burn their AC/DC records, and I said I don’t mind because I know one thing – they’re buying them. And if they burnt them then they’ve probably bought them again by now.”

Given the extent of the AC/DC history, it is probably no surprise that for Cheney, their music has been a pretty constant presence throughout his life. In fact, the guitarist claims that Acadaca might very well have been his first taste of music.
“I was in primary school, in about grade two,” reminisces Chris. “There was this time where they decided to have this concert at lunch time. You paid 20 cents to go in and these grade sixers were set up like a band. Now, grade sixers look really big when you’re that small, and they had these cardboard guitars and flannelette shirts and one of them had like this flat cap on. They mimed AC/DC and even though they weren’t playing, that was the first even band experience for me. I’ve never forgotten that and it was worth every cent.”

It’s pretty obvious that this initiation to the world of music has had a lasting effect on Cheney. The Living End’s album Roll On oozes the classic rock spirit that AC/DC played such a big part in developing, and shows that behind the Clash influence and rockabilly trappings there is a very serious dose of rock in the ‘End boys. With songs like “Pictures In The Mirror” and “Roll On”, the Living End prove they are the real McCoy, part of a long and solid line of no-bulls#*t bands.

“Touring the last album we tended to listen to a lot of Rose Tattoo and the Who and AC/DC and stuff and I guess all that had some kind of influence on the direction we wanted to head with Roll On,” explains Chris. “We didn’t really write on the road, but when we stopped touring I guess all that had some influence of the direction we wanted to lead.”

Obviously the AC/DC lads are more aware of the influence they have had on the rock scene – they are without a doubt Australia’s biggest band, and even on a world scale, their influence has been profound. The list of people happy to sing their praises is almost as long as their discography, and the compliments all revolve around one major factor – their honesty.
Maynard James Keenan (Tool and A Perfect Circle) summed up the rock world’s attitude to AC/DC when he spoke to Esky earlier this year. Asked what his favourite Aussie band was, he didn’t even have to think about it.
“AC/DC. They are just so right. There’s not bulls#*t. When you look at some other bands who have tried to do the rock thing – bands like Poison or Motley Cue – there’s just no comparison. All the other bands try too hard. With AC/DC there is no trying, they just do.”
The attitude of AC/DC to this sort of respect is pretty much what you would expect – a shrug of the shoulders, a little grin and a wise crack. When Esky asked Angus how he felt about the influence issue, he was pretty straight up.

“It depends if they call us a good influence or a bad influence,” laughs the guitarist. “But, yeah, I think it’s good. I just hope they pick the good bits out of it, because my influences are people like Chuck Berry, and if they can get that out of it, they can’t go too far wrong.”

Behind all the humility and one-liners (we also asked Angus what he thought AC/DC’s greatest legacy would be and he wheezed, “Getting a leg over.”), the AC/DC story is a lot more than myth. They have proven for almost 30 years that you don’t need to be flashy or phoney, just be yourself. Angus once tried to explain it by saying, “I think we do what we do well, whatever it is that we do.”

But with the benefit of a different perspective, Cheney summed it up well.
“Maybe AC/DC is drinking music, but at the end of the day those guys aren’t stupid. You know the music they play is just stronger than words can describe – it’s just that powerful.”

Author: Unknown

It was 11am Perth time and Travis from The Living End was feeling a little weary. A combination of playing late, getting up early and partying with 20 friends from Warragul and Drouin till 7.00am, had meant the lad was not up to his sticks this morning. 

For local Gippsland people Travis admits that Warragul can indeed claim him as a famous son, 
“At least for the first twelve or so years,” he says, “then Neerim South where I attended the local high school”. 
Considering the size (or lack of) Neerim South once a logging town is now a 5 second drive through in the car. So is Trav famous? 
“No I think that if you play footy you become more famous in Gippsland”. 
What about the local secondary college? 
“I attended four high schools in the Warragul area, I guess you could say I was a trouble maker at school. I got the boot from a few schools. I was out from Warragul High School at Year 7, Neerim South I was out at the end of Year 10, then I went and did an apprenticeship, quit that, then went to Marist Zion College where some of my friends were going. I only lasted four months before I was out, I then went to Warragul Technical School for nearly the full school year before that finished too”.

After that? 
“I hung around town for a few years trying to get bands started and working a day job in Warragul. I then got an apprenticeship in landscape gardening and horticulture. I did that for a few years. I then decided I had to bite the bullet about starting a band and move to Melbourne, people there weren’t serious and dedicated as I wanted to be. I mean people were serious until their work, their football training times, or they were doing something at the weekend. That was fine with those guys but I didn’t want to do anything else with my life. I just wanted to play the drums and get as far as I could do with it. So it was a move to Melbourne in 93/94/95. It started all over again. Making new friends and starting in crappy bands. I worked my way out. In 95 it started to really happen, I was doing a lot of drumming in Melbourne, I got picked up by these two guys. They came into the music store I was working and basically said ‘We know you can drum, do you want to join our band?’ It went from there.” 
Early readers of The Buzz might remember that Travis wrote a series of drumming articles back in 1995.

Chris recently said that he hadn’t seen any downside to being popular, does Travis feel the same way towards the tremendous success that is The Living End? 
“The only downside to fame is that you have no private life. If you walk into a supermarket people want an autograph and all this sort of stuff, but generally were a pretty smart band. The only publicity we do about ourselves is about the music generally. If we talk to a magazine or do something with TV it is always playing live music or talking about music. You won’t see us this side of a Pepsi can, Nike etc. A lot of bands take the easy way and get sponsored. I think it taints their music a little bit. It’s just a code of ethics. With punk rock especially and were into the 70’s punk rock, not so much the skater punk rock of now, which is all about logos. The Punk we grew up with like The Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Who, it was the music that made them famous apart from their exploits after the show! We just decided that we wanted the music to speak for itself. People can see that. We don’t do many TV appearances, we don’t do turkey things like shopping centre appearances or stuff. Real music fans see through it and I like the fact that people can say ‘Oh, they’re a really big band and I don’t even know what they look like!’ I can walk around Melbourne and people don’t even recognise me still. It’s a good thing because I still have my anonymity you know. I’m a typical Australian guy, typical Australian height, typical Australia build. Nothing flash. Unlike some major acts, The Living End are what they are. Each member of the band is into their own style. I always think it is important to look a little bit left of centre, not just for the hell of it, but if that is the way you are inclined, you should do it and not worry about what people think. I just really like the 70s yob punk look from England type of thing. It’s what I generally tend to wear. We can still wear our clothes walking around Rosebud, but say if you were Marilyn Manson, people would be like ‘Oh my goodness!'”

The Living End are strong supporters of Gippsland and Travis’ home town. They have played in Warragul a couple of times, plus headlined acts further south. 
“It’s important to be proud of where you come from,” Travis states. “For all Gippsland’s faults, there’s a lot of pluses too. A lot of people who don’t know Gippsland as a whole tend to look at it as a place where stupid redneck dumb people live. It’s not that way at all. When you live there it’s a whole different way of living to the city. I certainly don’t want to forget how I grew up or what friends I had or what I did for entertainment, because it was a hell of a lot different and carefree and easy going than what it is now. Just going to swim in a dam for example.”

So what is Travis’ fondest memory about growing up in Warragul? 
“Probably living with all my friends. I moved out of home when I was fifteen and living with all my mates in Drouin at the time. Every day was just debauchery. You’d wake up in the morning and there would be girls you didn’t know sleeping in the lounge room that were from out of town and friends of someone. They’d be told they could crash at our house. There’d be cars that had skidded across our front lawn and wound up in the letterbox. It was just a madhouse. We were just young guys living life. As you get older you start to put too much emphasis on what you have and what someone else owns. When you’re eighteen and got no money and living in the country you make your own fun.” 
So was there a particular hang out in Warragul? 
“Not really, Warragul is not really a hang out place, mates houses. Everyone has a garage, a backyard, dad’s pool table, everyone knows someone who has a damn you can go swimming in. I rode motorbikes, played football a bit, did a bit of boxing, you make your own fun.”

The Living End have come to success the hard way. For a number of years they played under the shadow of the larger than life (and now very sadly defunct The Fireballs), all the time slowly building their strength and skills. So why did The Living End move on while The Fireballs fell down? 
“The Fireballs were playing a pretty intense metal meets rockabilly and I think that it was a very sub-cult type of thing. Although Chris and Scott were born and bred in the rockabilly kind of stuff they quickly discovered that a great song is more important than playing fast. We’re big suckers for bands like The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, the Clash and Oasis. Bands that you can sing along to, so we started putting more emphasis on good songs incorporating our background musically.”

Known for their catchy tunes that just seem to get stuck in your head (who can forget Prisoner of Society or Pictures In A Mirror?) do the guys themselves ever come out feeling they just want to pull the plug and let the tunes drain out? 
“It’s hard sometimes when you have been recording them for a week straight, then they get stuck in your head. Playing them live is a release for us. We do a lot of waiting around. You play that hour on stage and you really let things go. We change our songs every night. We believe in ourselves enough that we’ve got the musicianship enough to take the songs in a different direction. Last night we did different versions to some of our songs the night before. We pride ourselves on being a punk band that can actually play. For a three piece band each member can hold their own. You’ve got to believe in yourself don’t you? If people come and see us live they really get shocked at how powerful we really are.”

Following along tried and true punk ideals, do many of the songs actually have a social theme to them? 
“We try and walk the fine line between out and out rock and roll-ism, which is escaping your weekend blues of listening to a good band and hanging out with friends. The lyrics are deep and meaningful and if it influences one sixteen year old to go and look something up on the internet, that’s great. It’s good to make people aware of things without preaching to them. As much as we never set out to become role models for anyone, we just wanted to play good music. I think in certain aspects you are role models because you’re in the public spotlight. We would like to do more good than bad. The typical image of rock and roll as being heaps of girls and drugs and smashing up our equipment. That’s for wankers. We’re playing music for music’s sake. I’m the sort of person who’d smash up a hotel room whether I could afford it or not.”

Being a strong exponent of English rockabilly compared to American rockabilly, where does Travis see the difference lying? 
“American rockabilly is based on the whole fifties concept with slick back hair, girl in balloon skirt, hotrod. The English rockabilly was more of a bastardised version. They took rockabilly, sped it up a little bit and played it punk style. They didn’t care about the cornice, but about the music side of it. The Aussie rockabilly scene took its lead from the English side which combined the ferocity and passion of punk and the cornice of rockabilly. We really like the British invasion of rock, that’s our thing. Now the band has changed direction again, were going for a good rock and roll band that plays really well. The Who or The Clash, AC/DC. The next album will see us change even more, judging of what we’ve been playing even now.”

The Living End are touring with AC/DC round Australia shortly. 
“I think its really cool, but I’m not really phased by it. We’ve just done so much touring with big bands over in America and Europe that we’re completely used to playing in front of 15,000 to 20,000 people a night. It’s come full circle for me. The first drum kit I ever got I played Heatseeker by AC/DC, that’s what I grew up playing the drums to and now fifteen years later that’s who I am playing with.”

So what’s the deal with America? For The Living End there seems to be this love/hate relationship with the place? 
“With no Barnsey type father in the wings fluttering protective wings, the guys with a solid management structure and sound musical skills behind them made it when. I’ve got to tell you that when I left Warragul and moved to Melbourne, I paid my bond and deposit and I sat in the house with no furniture and no money for like six months at least. It would have been easy to go back to something I knew, furniture, family, friends around you. You can always go back to a job in a country town, but I just had to stick it out because I knew that there was nothing there for me anymore. Apart from a great town to live in I had to do what I had to do for me”.