The Living End

Author: Unknown

I can still recall a night many, many moons ago, when I went to a gig at the Glenelg Lifesaving Club. It was the first time I ever saw or heard of a little band called the Living End. They were completely unknown and supporting the Numbskulls, and I thought they were awesome – I still do.

That night they certainly stood out from the crowd, sporting both a drummer that played standing up and an upright bass player. They’ve since lost the stand up drummer but have retained their trademark double bass. Scott Owen, the man behind that double bass, expains why he chose such an imposing instrument.

“I’ve been playing that thing since I was in high school, over ten years now,” he explains. “When I was in high school I just got right into rockabilly music and became obsessed with ‘fifties music, and that’s just the instrument you need. Back then when Chris and I decided that we were going to start playing 50s-ish rock’n’roll together it was just essential to have a double bass. I just couldn’t see that we could be a decent rockabilly band if I was going to play piano or something like that. I have actually tried a normal bass before and I am not very good at it at all,” he laughs.

More recently The Living End lost long time drummer Travis Demsey. “He just wasn’t up for the whole touring thing,” Owen shrugs. “Basically he wanted to spend more time at home. Our batteries were all pretty low when we finished touring at the end of 2001. We’d been on the road pretty solidly for a few years up until then and I think Travis had just had enough of being away from home all the time. He wanted to spend more time at home with his girlfriend and his dogs and lead a bit more of a normal civilised life.

“I love touring personally. I can’t think of anything I would enjoy more than getting out there and playing every night and experiencing different things from day to day. It does get really tiring though. There is the part of me that really loves it and then there is the part of me that gets a bit homesick now and then, but it only takes a couple of weeks at home before you realise nothing has really changed and you get that hunger back to just get out there and do it again!”

The Living End are well renowned for their level of musicianship and hence losing a member must have been like losing a limb, but Scott explained that the transition between drummers was actually quite smooth.

“We were pretty lucky actually. We met our new drummer Andy [Strachan] who is actually a South Australian boy, through a friend of ours who had played in a band with him before. As soon as Travis quit the band, this friend said that he knew somebody who would be perfect for us, a great drummer and a really lovely guy. We got together and it felt really good straight away as we got along really well with him, and it was the same when we got together in the rehearsal room: he was a really solid drummer and could play anything we asked.

“When we first met him, he was in the process of finishing up a tour with another band, he still had a couple of weeks to go on the road. In that time, Chris and I thought we had better just satisfy our curiosity and see what else was out there. We ended up auditioning about forty guys but nothing topped Andy. It’s a bit like buying a new car, even if you feel like the first one you see is the one you want you still feel like you should check some others out.”

Their new album, ‘Modern Artillery’ has some noticeable differences to its predecessor, ‘Roll On’.

“I think that on the new album, the arrangements are a little bit more simple and straightforward than the songs on ‘Roll On,'” Owen considers. “I think that at that time we felt like we had a point to prove, that we weren’t just the Prisoner Of Society, three-chord punk band that people might have thought we were. So we wanted to show the eclectic side to the band. That we could play fast, that we could play tricky stuff and that we could arrange our songs in bizarre ways. On the new album we have taken a more simple approach without the songs being any less interesting, but just a little more simple and direct I think.”

The Living End

From the Big Day Out Programme 2003

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

The Living End

Author: Polly Coufos

After a long and enforced lay off The Living End are set to make their way back into the country’s music venues and into your hearts. Perth will see the Melbourne based three piece for the first time in two years when they take their place in the lineup for Big Day Out 2003. It will most likely be the last time for quite a while too for soon after the national tour the band (guitarist Chris Cheney, bassist Scott Owen and new drummer Andy Strachan) head to the US to record their third album, which is scheduled for release later this year. Cheney has always been seen as the band’s designated leader. Rising with the popularity of pop punk The Living End were a typical near-on-10-years-in-the-making overnight success. Fortuitous the timing may have been, there was always much more about this band than their peers. Prisoner Of Society took rockabilly back to a time when the Stray Cats played with edge as well as fire and Cheney’s playing drew praise from all corners, especially The Offspring. Following the release of album number two Roll On, the band spent a lot of time Stateside and had just returned home to spread the word locally when in September 2001 Cheney was involved in a road accident which left him with a badly broken femur. During the time off the band’s then drummer Travis Dempsey left the fold and so it is a slightly new and definitely reinvigorated The Living End which will release new single One Said To Another next Monday, January 20.

Going on a profile from your website it appears all your interests seem to be totally involved with music. Is that true? 
“Yeah, well they kind of are. I don’t know whether I am narrow minded or I just try to bring everything that I like into it, which is probably more to the point, you know as far as I always did art at school and was always interested in that and did a bit of drama and I think being in a band sort of gives you the opportunity to do all that, as far as art work and t-shirts and poetry and lyrics and just expression. It doesn’t get much better I suppose being in a band if you want to do those sort of things so we are pretty lucky really to be able to do that and get paid for it.”

The new single One Said To Another sounds distinctively like The Living End. Is that something consciously planned? 
“I don’t think that it is something that we over think. I think we do want to try and sort of keep things sounding natural and from the heart and that comes down to writing songs I think and also just performing shows and everything. We would never sit down and really analyse our sound, we have never really had to and I am glad that we have never had to get the whiteboard out and try think of how we are going to move into the next stage of our career or whatever. I think it just kind of happens naturally. I think that bringing Andy into the band has probably made a slight difference, but as far as I can tell it’s a good thing, ’cause we are really happy with the way that he plays and I think that as a unit we play better than what we ever have and so it’s a difficult question, I think it is something that people on the outside can probably see more so than us but all reports have been good so far and we just sort of stuck to our guns and do what we do best. But at the same time trying to improve in certain areas, so maybe that will affect the sound.”

Let’s go with Andy for a minute. How has the changeover been? 
“Well, it’s been really great actually, it’s been a breath of fresh air and it probably could have gone either way, especially with a three piece with bringing in an extra member. I don’t think that you can ever tell how it is going to turn out.” 
Especially with Travis, because he was such a visual part of the show as well as obviously playing the drums… 
“Yeah, exactly and I think that Andy knows that he has come into a band where he has probably got big shoes to fill or whatever but it is definitely going in the right direction. There was probably a stage there where we probably thought that this was going to be really difficult, but I don’t know whether it is luck or hard work or what but he is fitting right in really well and he is playing. We have done a couple of gigs, we did some small pub shows just sort of unannounced where we could get up and play the new songs that we had learned that week, and it was great. It was sorta full house and I think he proved to a lot of people who were there to see what would it be like, to prove that he can cut it. I just can’t wait to get out there and do it properly.”

So, I know that you are coming over here for the Big Day Out. Is that going to be the opportunity for most people to see you? 
“Yeah, we are not doing another tour probably until we get back from the States, we are going over there in February to record and then we will probably come back over here and probably do a proper tour of our own. At this stage that is the only chance.”

So who have you lined up as producer? 
“Mark Trombino.” 
He did Blink 182, Jimmy Eat World and a bunch of pop punk… 
“Yeah, and that is not really our cup of tea even though we are likened to those sorts of bands, but I think that without saying anything against them I think we’ve got a bit more to offer as far as versatility and whatever. You know, that is only one part of us is kind of fast punky stuff, but we definitely want to keep moving in a different direction and try lots of different stuff, but you know he has done a range of things and we have spoken a couple of times on the phone but we haven’t actually met him in person yet, but he seems like a really nice guy.” 
Is it a daunting prospect? Is there a point that you can say, like, “two weeks, if there is no sign of life by then, it’s not worth it, not what we thought it would be, we’ll back out,” or is the scheduling so tight that you need to go over and it needs to be done and it needs to be released? 
“Well, the schedule is tight but it is our schedule. I suppose we want to get it out quicker probably than anyone, ’cause we’ve got songs ready and we are all set to go but I suppose if it wasn’t working I would just pull the pin with him ’cause you are stuck together for a while and you have got to get along and more importantly I think he has gotta be there to offer ideas and suggestions when we get stuck. I figure that if we have got our stuff together, as far as what we have got and where we are headed and songs and so forth then the idea of him is to maybe just add a little guidance. I don’t want to rely on him. I think that we can pretty much produce our own albums if we had to, but yeah it’s a risk each time I s’pose, but I figure any of those guys at that level are going to have done enough albums to be pretty easy going I would think and to try and adapt to each band. And he loves the band, he has seen us before and was really excited to do it, so it has gotta be a good thing.”

You only did two shows to promote Roll On in Perth. Your accident put paid to any roadwork for a long while. How much did that hurt the album? 
“Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, so we never really got a chance, we were supposed to come home (to Melbourne) to do a video clip for the Dirty Man single and various other things, and then it obviously all happened and that was it for that album. I also don’t think that it was a very easy listening album. It was difficult in a way but we planned it that way because we wanted it to be a bit of a challenge, and not just this instant throw away pop thing. We have learned that this was a monster after we had created it, as far as reproducing it on stage every night, so it was good in a way because we learned and so with this album we have left it wide open, people don’t know what to expect.”

Have you had periods where you have just cursed your bad luck? 
“Definitely. The bottle always gets you through though (laughs)… Yeah, we have ’cause we, I mean people have bad luck all the time and our bad luck is nothing compared to what some people have. I mean that (the accident) is bad luck, but I don’t know, I think it is something that had to happen in a way ’cause we had been pretty much touring constantly since 1992. Me and Scott formed the band and we had never let up really, it was just a continual thing which just kept going from strength to strength and it was almost like we couldn’t put a foot wrong, every EP sold better than the previous and the album went crazy and we got to tour all over the world and all of a sudden it came to a grinding halt, which I think in a way has been a good thing after all this time. It made us stop and probably think about it a bit more and appreciate it and take a bit of time to really put some good solid work into this album so in hindsight I wouldn’t want to go through it again.”

How is your health? 
“Yeah, it’s pretty good now. Yeah I am sort of all up and about now. You wouldn’t know that anything had happened other than a few scars here and there but otherwise I can’t complain at all.”

While you have been off, you have had a small part in a very successful Australian album, Kasey Chambers’ Barricades And Brickwalls. 
“Oh yeah Crossfire. That was a little country album wasn’t it? Yeah, well that was great doing that, we did that when we were touring with AC/DC, that was how long ago that was ’cause we actually went to the studio after one of the shows with AC/DC that night and did it with Kasey. That was great, we had sort of met her a few times before that and knew that she was a fan and she wanted to do a song. We were rapt ’cause I am a huge country fan anyway and most of my favourite guitar players are all country players from the ’50s and ’60s, so we just went and did that and she wanted us to play as we do, she did not want us to play like a country band or anything, that is the cool thing about her I think. She is willing to move with the times, so to speak and yeah she is an incredible singer. She just nailed it basically on the spot there and then, we only did probably a few takes. We wanted to get a live feel and she sang a live vocal with it. Yeah it was great, it was a great experience and of course it has gone onto sell gazillions.”

You were set to play it together at the 2001 ARIAs weren’t you? 
“Yeah we were. It was all hooked up and we were really sorry that that never happened and then it’s funny because we got over that and then Kasey was here a couple of months ago when she did a big tour and I was going to get up and play at a Melbourne show with her but I had to get the rod taken out of my leg that week so that didn’t happen either, so who knows, maybe in the future. We’d actually love to do an album with her, a full album at some stage. We have talked about it with her ’cause we’ve got so many left over songs and so has she and I think it would be really good just to sort of see the collaboration and show different sides of what we both do. We have spoken about it a bit and it’s just a matter of getting time, ’cause we are just starting to get under way again and I think that she is just winding down again with the new baby and all. You never know.”

How typical of the new material is One Said To Another? Who produced the single? 
“Lindsay Gravina, who did the first album. That came about just because we wanted to try again something that was so totally opposite to Roll On, we wanted to just get back to a three piece sounding song that had all the rawness and everything that we liked about the first album, that perhaps we lost a bit on the second, so we figured who better to do it than Lindsay and we got along so well the first time and it was great ’cause he has got so many good ideas and he does keep it raw and it’s all about the passion and everything which I think that you can sort of forget about if you have got too many options in the studio and too many buttons to push, you can sort of forget about getting the song down and getting the heart into it and he’s really good at keeping you grounded there and keeping the little mistakes and new ones and whatever.”

It sounds like you are down on Roll On. Many people love that record… 
“That’s good. You know I’m probably a bit too negative about it. Maybe in time it’ll grow on me. I mean I wouldn’t know the last time I listened to it. I just think that we have probably tried too hard to distance ourselves from the whole Prisoner Of Society three chord punk rock thing, but in a way I’m really glad that we did do it and we did try and completely outdo ourselves because people really liked it I s’pose and it left this one wide open and we don’t really know what we are going to do or anything including us I s’pose but I just think that maybe some of the rawness of the band is probably lacking a little bit, but that’s alright. I’m glad we did that album and it was still a good experience.”

Unlucky Strikes

Author: Christie Eliezer

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

Click to view…
Click to view…

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

Click to view…

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

Click to view…

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

Click to view…

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