The Living End – Roll On

Author: Unknown

Don’t get me wrong — this Aussie version of “punk” isn’t punk as we know it in the states. It’s more like a commercial stab at punk — an attempt at making punk approachable — sort of a kinder, gentler Rocket From the Crypt.

Or my opinion has been clouded by the fact that they’re a product of Australia, a country that’s brought us such wholesome entertainment staples as Mick Dundee, Men at Work, the 2000 Olympics, Olivia Newton John, Survivor II, AC/DC, Mad Max and those lovable ‘roos. Isn’t punk suppose to be about rebellion, anarchy and anger? How could anyone possibly be angry living in the sun-drenched world of Foster’s Lager and cool, throaty accents that drive chicks mad?

That said, the trio, which includes smooth vocalist Chris Cheney on guitar, Trav Demsey on drums, and Scott Owen on upright bass, knows how to create pop-punk songs that are so ingeniously catchy, hook-filled and downright fun, they’re impossible to resist. Kind of like punk for people who like the idea of punk, but don’t really like to listen to it. Their music has more in common with Def Leppard than the Sex Pistols. We’re talking quick, clean, punk-esque rock, exquisitely produced and played by a trio that’s as tight as a tic and very aware that their strong suit isn’t making a point, but playing hook-filled, sonic fireworks.

Even when try act tough they come off loveable. Though each track seems to start in punk mode, it only takes a few moments before the pop bleeds through. The jumpy “Riot On Broadway” owes a lot to its shout-out chorus; drunk anthem “Carry Me Home” starts off like Wango Tango-era Nugent or early Aerosmith; the chorus on “Dirty Man” would fit right in on a John Wesley Harding CD, while “Silent Victory” sounds like something off Hi and Dry.

What separates this from greasy kids’ stuff like Blink 182 and Pennywise is that these guys have been around a lot longer, and it shows. In other words, you’re not gonna feel embarrassed listening to it in your office, though you might get some strange looks when you can’t help but turn it up.

The Living End

Author: Tom Phalen

The Living End

While Australian retro-rockabilly-punksters the Living End aren’t as cute or funny as Green Day, as politically articulate as The Clash or even as retro- rockabilly as The Stray Cats — all bands they greatly admire — their Foster- sized sense of self coupled with an engagingly innocent social and personal outlook makes them more winning than they might otherwise be.

Still young — guitarist Chris Cheney, double bassist Scott Owen and drummer Travis Dempsey are all in their mid 20s — they’ve been together almost five years with a couple of EPs and a platinum selling single — the opening track “Prisoner of Society” — released in their homeland. Living End is their American full length debut and it has the comfortable instrumental polish of a band that has bonded. Stylistically they’re rooted in rockabilly, but they make excursions into punk, ska and, in the case of “Bloody Mary,” a song about a girl who slashes her wrists in public to garner attention, the reverberated psychobilly of The Cramps.

Lyrically, they take a working class, i.e. complaining, view of the world, whether it’s the trials of a typical teenager on “Prisoner,” the social separation of the caste system in the “Street Fighting Man”-style of “West End Riot,” or just the tedium of a brutal, dead end job in “I Want A Day.” These are universal gripes and told in simple, near monosyllabic terms. “Well we don’t need no one to tell us what to do,” sings Cheney, “Oh yes we’re on our own and there’s nothing you can do” are Everyman sentiments, and it’s there the band is most convincing.

Where they get in trouble is trying to tackle subjects still beyond their scope. On some, they’re successful. “Second Solution” has the urgency of a death row convict running out of time. “What I want to say is will I die today?” pretty succinctly sums things up. And in “All Torn Down,” which rails against the destruction of hometown landmarks in the name of progress and gentrification, the same also holds true. It isn’t the first time a band has said, “I see the city and it’s grown into a big machine. The streets are freeways and the parks are just a memory,” but here it’s stated concisely.

But “Monday,” the story of the schoolyard massacre in Dunblane, Scotland, is far too similar to The Boomtown Rats’ “I Don’t like Mondays.” While Cheney’s heart may be in the right place, the comparisons are distracting, and his song lacks the compelling melody and arrangement of Bob Geldof’s chilling portrayal of sociopathic behavior.

However, the instrumental “Closing In,” which finishes the record, exudes nothing but mood and emotion. The simple structure and engaging theme suggest surf guitarist Dick Dale channeling Alfred Hitchcock’s favorite composer Bernard Hermann. It’s meatier than most of what we all heard in Pulp Fiction, and shows real promise and direction.

The Living End might not be all that, but the potential is definitely there.

The Living End – Roll On

Author: Michael Owen-Brown

The Living End
Roll On (EMI)

When did The Living End transform into the heir apparent to AC-DC? The opening riff of Silent Victory sounds more like Acca Dacca than most songs written since Back In Black. It’s just one of a handful of driving hard-rock anthems on this latest album which are totally unexpected. More unexpected is that The Living End pulls off this potentially disastrous experiment with confidence and panache. Roll On is one of the most brash and catchy albums this year. The band’s superb musical abilities – particularly Chris Cheney’s blistering guitar licks – allow it to traverse various styles and tempos. Development in the band’s songwriting since it’s 1998 debut album is immediately noticeable. Perhaps some songs are too cluttered, but the album works brilliantly as a whole.

The Split Personality Tour

Author: Simon Barber

JEBEDIAH, THE LIVING END, TURNSTYLE

The Prince of Wales Hotel

The sold out gig began with a set from Turnstyle, of which I caught about half. Punters, sitting and standing, were scattered around the pub. Despite some strong guitar hooks and competent playing, the crowd failed to take any real interest. Turnstyle played the difficult support slot professionally, but with a sense of humour. They finished and told us The Living End was up next and hopefully we would “get off our arses” then.

By the time The Living End took the stage to play their distinct brand of punk/rockabilly, the venue was almost completely packed. The crowd were very receptive to the Melbourne-based three piece and there was plenty of action to keep them entertained. The unbridled energy of the band prompted a lively mosh and stage-diving. They managed to maintain a frenetic pace, without sacrificing any precision. Owen, on double bass, displayed amazing technique and often spun his instrument around or climbed onto it for effect.

The Living End began with a couple of earlier songs in ‘Misspent Youth’ and ‘Strange’. Radio favourites ‘Second Solution’ and ‘From Here On In’ came across very well live due to the increased tempo and catchy melodies. Variety was added to the set with a cover of The Cure’s [actually Soft Cell’s] ‘Tainted love’ and a few new songs, including the impressive ‘All Torn Down’. But the highlight of the set was ‘Prisoner Of Society’, which set the moshers into a frenzy and had everyone else singing along enthusiastically.

Perth band Jebediah kicked off with excellent performances of ‘Benedict’ and ‘Lino’. The band display some punky direction, but emit a more sophisticated sound with Chris laying important guitar lines and harmonies of many of the songs. The band weren’t quite as tolerant as The Living End and potential stage divers were kicked by Vanessa or dragged from the stage by security. Kevin bluntly said, “If you want to get on stage, start your own fucking band”, his comment met with cheers and laughter.

Jebediah played a varied and energetic set, with the rocking, sing-along tracks like ‘Leaving home’ and ‘Teflon’ complimented well by the more downbeat sentiment of ‘Harpoon’. A new song, ‘Paint Remover’ [The Less Trusted Pain Remover], is intriguing and complex. It is a sprawling piece that builds and falls, gets faster and slower.

The momentum of the show was briefly interrupted when Kevin’s amplifier failed, but not too many people seemed overly concerned. Chris made light of the situation by trying to sell the piece of equipment to the crowd during the delay. However, strong renditions of ‘ Invaders’ and ‘Jerks Of Attention’ had the punters humming away as they left the Prince of Wales, happy that they had seen two of the most exciting live acts in the country.

Gig Review

Author: Dan Oakes

It's For Your Own Good

Last Friday night at the Esplanade saw the launch of the new Living End EP, It’s For Your Own Good. I expected a big crowd, and wasn’t disappointed. 
By the time the Living End came on the place was heaving. 
The Living End launched into their set with unbridled energy and enthusiasm, and within minutes were sweating buckets. 
The drumming was short sharp and in bursts, in the style of Keith Moon (before his bloated, dead in bed phase), and seeing the double bass in action made you realise that, visually, the more conventional bass has nothing on its older brother. As on the EP, the band mixed up punk and ska influences with a predominately rockabilly background, creating what is, in my mind, a pretty unique sound. The crowd was big and responded well to the effort the band were obviously putting into the set. It was interesting as well, to see the mixing of subcultures evident. There were punks, goths, rockabilly fans, indie kids, ska freaks, all getting into the music. The Living End are obviously a band that have a wide appeal, and it is good to see.

It’s For Your Own Good

Author: Avalon Sperring

It's For Your Own Good

Following the release earlier this year of their debut CD EP, Melbourne trio The Living End have moved away from relatively straightforward rockabilly punch with this tasty little six track EP. Although doffing collective caps to influences such as The Clash, Stray Cats and even a quick check to Duanne Eddy (check the glorious guitar solo on Problem). The Living End are beginning to define themselves by their own sound.

A feisty mix of tunes means it’s difficult to pin these guys down, which is never a bad thing. They are becoming conversant with melody within grunt, and plaintive qualities seeping through punchy rhythms, particularly on One More Cell, which is a pop/punk tune dependent on its neatly pumped out chord progression and cheesy chorus for effect. From Here On In and Stay Away From Me reflect the rockabilly aspect of The Living End, with the latter jumping straight into a thrash out with gorgeous accents and atypical bassline.

Bass player Scott Owen and singer/guitarist Chris Cheney belt out vocals with more enthusiasm than finesse, but this works within the context of the songs. English Army is a little too obvious in its debt to The Clash, however The Living End have stamped their mark on the groove if not the melody.

Closing with an inventive cover of The Cure’s 10:15 Saturday Night, It’s For Your Own Good is an immediately infectious slice of this band’s energetic approach to a musical meld that can only be described as a rockabilly/ska cross, however they aren’t afraid to throw in a touch of the pop hook, but nevertheless harness power from the urgency of rockabilly more than anything else. Good stuff for a bit of a dance, if you’re that way inclined.

It’s For Your Own Good

Author: Sandro Olivo

It's For Your Own Good

This has been a frantic year for this three piece punk outfit from Melbourne. It released it’s first EP, Hellbound, at the start of the year and then earned the support slot for green haired trendsetters Green Day. So it is no surprise that this CD’s first track, From Here On In, has a distinct similarity to the American band. But that is where all similarities end.
On this second EP, English Army, One More Cell, Stay Away From Me, Problem and 10:15 Saturday Night set themselves apart with the sound embracing all that is punk. Ska and rockabilly are interspersed through the songs which set the head rocking and the feet stomping. The guitars have a harsh resonating sound and Chris Cheney’s vocals are brilliant.

Perhaps Green Day’s Billy Joe Armstrong could listen and learn. This album is true punkerama.

It’s For Your Own Good

Author: Timothy James

It's For Your Own Good

The Living End have come a long way on their second EP. Where their first release Hellbound lost song quality in sub-standard production, It’s For Your Own Good, produced by Lindsay Gravina, packs brutally honest representation of their live sound – and this sound is most impressive. 
From Here On In and English Army lead the EP admirably. The songs are more well crafted pop than rockabilly, and both tunes come with a chorus you won’t forget in a hurry. Look out for other highlights; see Stay Away From Me complete with its breakneck drumming and minor bass solo, and Problem, that has a booming chorus showcasing Chris Cheney’s distinctive vocal style. 

This EP also comes with a fairly honest take on The Cure’s 10:15 Saturday Night, although this reviewer would have preferred to have seen live favourite Tainted Love make an appearance. To label The Living End as a rockabilly band is lazy and/or uninformed. They have the potential to reach an incredibly wide audience, and on listening to It’s For Your Own Good one gets the feeling that one day Cheney and co. will be scaling even greater heights.

Supersuckers, Fireballs, The Living End

Author: Darrell Bassett

Knew bugger all about the Living End until they came on but now I know they are one fine outfit. Kinda boogie, kinda punk, kinda something. Their cover of 10:15 Saturday Night gave a bit more of a perspective of these blokes, but not much – they’re right out of left field.

Hellbound Review

Author: Unknown

Hellbound

Punkish rockabilly trio The Living End draw from the look and sound of fifties rockers the likes of Gene Vincent and Eddie Cochran, and more recent revivalists the Stray Cats. They add to this a hefty shot of punk and end with energetic, fiery, aggressive, pounding sound with loads of charm.

The eight track mini-album, Hellbound is a beauty, packed with gems like the frenzied opener Trace Of Doubt, the surf guitar of the title track, the snotty punk rock of The Living End and the rockabilly shuffle of Strange. Tabletop Show is a gritty plodder with great harmonies, Headlines and Misspent Youth are powerful slices of punk, and the closing tune So Lonely is a fun, boppy rock n’ roller.


The Living End are the sort of band that keeps rock n’ roll fresh, regardless of their derivative nature. It’s the energy and enthusiasm that gets you in, as well as the beat of the drums and the slappin’ double bass, the great guitar work and the strong songs. Brilliant!