Throwing Off The Shackles

Author: Brendan Crabb

As Aussie rock mainstays The Living End return for an eighth full-length, frontman Chris Cheney tells Brendan Crabb about his relationship with their breakthrough anthem.

The Living End’s recent decision to launch Don’t Lose It, lead single from new album Wunderbar at small gigs in Sydney and Melbourne was greeted with enthusiasm by the punkers’ fanbase. However, a fellow journalist/photographer lamented to this scribe after the Sydney show that the veterans eschewed breakthrough hit Prisoner Of Society in favour of new material. “It didn’t seem the right time and place to play it,” vocalist/guitarist Chris Cheney says when told of this. “God, hasn’t he heard it a million times before like we all have?” he laughs.

“We’re so into the (new) record, that we just went, ‘Fuck it, everyone knows the other songs. This is the ideal opportunity to be a bit of a showcase of new songs.’ We’ve always kind of done that. We used to go out and do these secret gigs where we’d just play all new material, sort of road-test it. We stand behind it [the new album], and I think the audience could see that. The one thing people said to me was that they have a lot of character and personality, these songs. In an era where people aren’t making records anymore, we have made a record.”

What type of relationship does the frontman have with Prisoner Of Society nowadays? Cheney pauses before responding. “A love-hate one. No, I don’t hate it, it’s fine. It’s forever going to be the song that kind of put us on the map first I suppose. I think it’s a good song, I just don’t like the recording of it, I don’t like the version that we recorded… It was a different time. We were kind of part of that whole punk/pop thing, and just the vocals are sung in a certain way that I’m like, I just wouldn’t sing it that way anymore,” the frontman laughs. “But I can appreciate the song, and I still think it’s a good song.”

While having a healthy respect for their past, including playing heritage-themed shows previously, the aforementioned willingness to forge ahead has meant 20 years on from the multi-platinum success of their self-titled debut, the trio sought fresh ways to create on album number eight. The trio — also featuring co-founder, double bassist Scott Owen and long-time drummer Andy Strachan — decamped to Berlin, Germany for recording and pre-production sessions on Wunderbar. They worked alongside producer Tobias Kuhn during the six-week stint.

“We only decided in like September that we were going to make the record, and then [by] January we were already making it,” Cheney laughs. “So there wasn’t a huge turnaround. Trying to pack up my house in LA in shipping containers and think about relocating [back to Melbourne] and trying to write a record at the same time was nuts.

“When we got to Germany, the songs still needed to be finished off and I really felt like they were influenced by just the surroundings. Every day I would get up, we were staying at an Airbnb and a hotel and a few different places, but you’d get up in the morning and then you’d walk to the studio. Just walking past the subway, past all the German signs, and your streets, sights and smells and everything, I found it was influencing me. It was just giving me this kind of… Just this different approach when I got to the studio each day because I was in a completely different environment. It’s hard to say exactly how it influenced the record, but I definitely think it’s got a lot of character that it wouldn’t have had if I’d just been sitting in my bedroom all day, every day recording.”

Of the new record, the frontman dubs the multi-faceted Death Of The American Dream as a “kind of political” but a predominantly personal statement partially inspired by his living in Hollywood for several years, while adding that the rest of the tracks on the record are not necessarily political at all. “There’s a couple of little statements here and there, but it’s a very diverse record this one. Whereas [2016’s] Shift was very introspective… That was actually quite dark and grim, to be honest, but this one I find is a little more optimistic. There’s a little more hope and a few more different kinds of subject matter that we’re tackling that I don’t think we would have tackled in our twenties.

“We’ve never been like the Oils or something and made a proper, full-blown [political] statement. It’s more just been about social issues and stuff that’s going on, as opposed to laying down our opinion.”

Wunderbar (BMG) is out now. The Living End tour from 1 Nov.

The Living End Get It Horribly Right

Author: Zachary Snowdon Smith

Any uni student knows that spending hours dawdling over an essay doesn’t necessarily make the finished product any better. Punk trio The Living End found the same to be true when they emerged from the studio with their quickest record ever, Wunderbar, which was produced in just four weeks.

“We didn’t sacrifice quality – it just meant that we got the job done without procrastinating,” says frontman Chris Cheney. “It almost made me worried that everything was going horribly right. You’re waiting for it. When’s the hurdle coming? When are we going to get stuck? But it ended up as the most fun record we’ve ever done – the easiest experience I’ve ever had in the studio.”

To record their new album, the band didn’t book time at Abbey Road or the Capitol Records tower in LA. Instead, they sequestered themselves in the quaint and tourist-free central German town of Rotenburg an der Fulda. In Rotenburg, the band started each day with a ten-minute stroll to Toolhouse Studios, where they met with Tobias Kuhn, a producer known for his frenetic energy during recording sessions.

Recording Wunderbar, Cheney found that Germany fulfills the Australian reputation for laid-back amicability better than Australia does.

“I find [Berlin] a lot more chilled to walk around,” says Cheney. “You don’t see anywhere near the aggression or the violence that I see on a daily basis in Melbourne. I mean, God forbid you were to walk down the street with an open beer. You can’t do that.

“It’s a funny kind of arrangement. The laws over there are looser. It’s almost like with teenagers: if you give them a little bit of responsibility, they tend to grow up and appreciate it and not abuse it. Whereas, in Australia, there’s this police state: ‘You can’t do this, you can’t do that.’ That tends to make people rebel against it. It’s a funny thing; even though Berlin’s a pretty crazy town, you feel very safe walking around there. I hate to say it, but I don’t feel like that when I’m walking around Melbourne sometimes.”

Even as Spotify continues to reduce albums to modular collections of tracks, Cheney takes pride in Wunderbar’s completeness, which he hopes will prompt a few people to listen to it all the way through before cannibalising it for playlists.

“As an album, it flows really well,” he says. “I know that’s a little bit defunct these days, but for us, that’s important. There were certain songs we really liked that didn’t end up on the record, because they didn’t fit… We’re not aiming to reinvent the wheel. We’ve dabbled a bit, but with this record, the strength lies in the fact that it’s a straight-up rock ‘n’ roll record.”

One standout track is the cochlea-pummelling ‘Death Of The American Dream’, which sounds a bit like the Living End’s take on Highway 61 Revisited. The mortifying spectacle of the Trump presidency has sparked a minor renaissance of anti-American political music. However, Cheney, who spent seven years living in the US, says that ‘Death Of The American Dream’ was written as a diagnosis, not an attack.

“As a kid, for me, America was Mickey Mouse and Disneyland and Elvis and Graceland and Cadillacs, this larger-than-life country,” says Cheney. “At the moment, it’s down on its luck. This song isn’t a piss-take on America at all. It’s saying, ‘I would defend the States forever’, and I love the place. I think you’ve got to go through a rough patch sometimes. They’ll find their feet again. It’s just going to take some time.”

Ultimately, Wunderbar may be most remarkable for its solidity – for the absence of the self-conscious reinventions commonly employed by bands who have spent 20 years on the road.

“You’re not supposed to get better as you get older,” says Cheney. “The shows aren’t supposed to be more intense, but I feel like they are with us. I look at some of the old footage and hear live recordings and it’s just terrible. But now, I feel like we can really play our arses off.

“Every single night, I go off on these different tangents and improvise, and the whole thing feels like it could run off the rails at any minute, but that’s the beauty of it. That’s the magic of a Living End show. We’re not just going through the motions. Maybe we have in the past at certain times, but I take more risks now. That’s what live music is.”

The Living End will tour Australia this November. Wunderbar is out now from BMG.

The Living End

Author: Joshua Martin

You won’t see repackaged, remastered, or rehashed iterations of The Living End’s 20-year-old eponymous debut record this year – singer and guitarist Chris Cheney doesn’t care for anniversaries.

For him, 2018 is Wunderbar – the band’s staunchly contemporary new LP, recorded in icy Berlin. Upon its release, a few things will immediately confront fans of The Living End – not least of all its tongue in cheek German title. The garish purple cover is another departure, an array of nine television sets broadcasting fractured palm trees.

“I like the idea of a paradise, an unobtainable thing we’re all looking at through our screens and devices, all trying to make our lives better through technology. It tied into my experience too, having left LA being all palm trees, then being in the harshness of Berlin and looking back at the palm trees of LA,” Cheney explains.

The surprising abstraction continues into the album itself, a set of 11 tracks spanning personal politics and identity as a microcosm for simmering political divide, condensed into the purest white-hot rock’n’roll the band has written in years.

“I used to be always trying to be a character, always trying to be something else and try to put myself into a role. I think with this record there’s a lot of me coming to terms with the way I sing and play guitar and the way I write songs,” Cheney says.

Nearly every part of Wunderbar’s distinct character leads back to the album’s sessions in Berlin and the baroque small town of Rottenburg an der Fulda where German producer Tobias Kuhn enticed the band to record in a blistering six week period in February. Germany remains a bastion of rock’n’roll, immune to the irrelevance plaguing the genre elsewhere and The Living End revel in its proud regional tradition on Wunderbar, collaborating with Dusseldorf rock heroes Die Toten Hosen on several tracks.

“We first went there back in 1998 or 1999. We were so green that it felt like such a foreign place. I was like ‘Wow, I feel like I’m on another planet completely.’

“[Die Toten Hosen are] the ones who first took us to Germany in ‘98 – we’ve stayed in contact with them and done a lot of shows with them over the years. It needed that big voice, that big chant, and we thought who better than those guys to come and yell on it.”

Wunderbar’s best tracks are a distinctly Australian mish-mash of international influences with unexpected maturity; ‘Not Like the Other Boys’ rails against traditional moulds of masculinity (“Didn’t I try to raise you like a man? Just like the other boys”) while ‘Amsterdam’ showcases an unguarded Cheney against just an electric guitar.

“[‘Amsterdam’] was written as a full band track and it had this surf-garage line, almost like early Midnight Oil. I pitched it to the band and everyone was like, ‘Yeah, it’s great but it doesn’t fit what the album is.’ It was Tobias who suggested stripping everything away and step up to the microphone with the guitar,” Cheney says.

Standout track ‘Death of the American Dream’ uses Cheney’s experience in the US as a template for a psychobilly 21st century interpolation of ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’ before a reflective acoustic interlude offers the troubled superpower a bone.

In 2012, Cheney lamented he could “sympathise with guys who have felt like they have done all they can in a band.” The patchy two records that followed, 2011’s The Ending is Just The Beginning Repeating and 2015’s Shift stayed that course, but things couldn’t be more different now.

“You go through hurdles and slumps through the years and maybe we were going through one then. I can’t see any sign of us slowing down at this point. For a long time I was consumed by the Living End and that was when it became a grind. I think this record has done so much for us and our own enthusiasm.”

The White Album: The 50th Anniversary Concert

Author: Helena Metzke

Four of Australia’s greatest male vocalists come together once again, for what is one of the most successful Beatles events ever to be staged in Australia.

THE BEATLES, ALSO KNOWN AS ‘THE WHITE ALBUM’ DUE ITS DISTINCTIVE PLAIN WHITE SLEEVE, IS THE NINTH STUDIO ALBUM BY CRITICALLY-ACCLAIMED ROCK BAND, THE BEATLES.

50 years on, the album remains a renowned work of art, which continues to be celebrated around the world. Returning for the third time, following two sold-out tours in 2009, and 2014, Chris Cheney (The Living End), Phil Jamieson (Grinspoon), Tim Rogers (You Am I), and Australian singer-songwriter Josh Pyke, are reconvening to once again honour The White Album.

“It still has something to offer,” begins Chris Cheney, lead-vocalist and guitarist of The Living End. “It’s not nostalgia – it’s not great just because it’s a nostalgic record – I think it still pushes the boundaries, it’s still odd and fascinating, and it’s powerful.”

“It’s got everything in there,” he says. “Take something like ‘Black Bird’, surrounding human rights movements, or something like ‘Piggies’, which looks at confronting authority.

“And then you’ve just got these weird and wacky, beautiful songs woven in between.”

Cheney was approached some years ago by Tim Woods, promoter of The White Album Concert, when the notion of the tour was initially put forward to him.

“There was a bit of hesitation at first, because I’d never really done anything like this before,” explains Cheney. “And I think playing something like a Beatles song – one song here and there is okay – but to do an entire performance, well, the last thing I wanted to partake in was a tribute band or a covers act.”

“But when I found out that Phil, Tim, and Josh were involved, it was like, ‘Okay, this isn’t just going to be a cheesy cover band,’” he continues. “I realised this was something where we were all hopefully going to bring something unique to the table, and it’s been absolutely magical, which is why we’re now doing it for the third time.”

Performing The White Album in full, from beginning to end, Chris, Phil, Tim and Josh maintain they are not imitating the works of John, Paul, George and Ringo, but rather celebrating them. “There are enough Beatles covers bands out there, who sing in Liverpool accents and pretend they’re The Beatles,” expresses Cheney. “And that’s just not our kind of thing, really.”

“We all come from different backgrounds, and it’s obviously been something that has reacted well among audiences; us putting our own stamp on it,” says Cheney. “But in saying that, it’s sacred material, and it’s something you don’t want to stuff up.

“We’re very aware of where we’re treading, and we’re just giving it a different spin; we’re not adding to it, and we’re hopefully not taking away from it.”

Widely regarded as the most influential band in music history, it was commonplace for The Beatles to break genre boundaries. Drawing from an extensive pool of influences, the four-piece experimented with a variety of genres, including pop, rock, folk, and blues, just to name a few.

“The main thing I’ve drawn from them [in my own musical career] is that it’s okay to have diversity in your music – it’s okay to have lots of different influences,” says Cheney. “And so I guess I’ve tried to sort of channel my influences, the same way that they did theirs.”

“They weren’t afraid to borrow ideas from other people, and they wore their influences on their sleeve,” he says. “And I like to think I’m trying to channel The Beatles influences as well, when I’m performing my set of tracks off The White Album.

“If I’m playing something like ‘Back in the U.S.S.R’, I know that Paul McCartney was influenced by a cross between Chuck Berry and The Beach Boys, you know, that sort of vibe, that real ‘50s rock n’ roll, which is my kind of background.

“We really try and get into the essence of what The Beatles were trying to do, and we’re not just copying their version.”

Backed by a 17-piece orchestra, which is led by musical director Rex Goh, the ensemble will feature guitars, strings, and horns, as well as two drummers, causing the concert to be a true spectacle.

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, The White Album continues to hold its mark in history, as one of the most progressive works of its time, and titles The Beatles as true geniuses of their craft.

“I seriously pity anyone who is just like, ‘I’ve never really listened to The Beatles,’ or, ‘I’ve never paid much attention to them’, because I think you’re really missing out,” expresses Cheney wholeheartedly. “There are a lot of great bands out there, and they’re just one of them, but to not have a knowledge of their work, or to not have any Beatles records in your collection, is a bloody tragedy.”

When & Where:
Hamer Hall, Melbourne – July 13 and 14

White Nights

Author: Unknown

It takes a lot of chutzpah to take a swing at the kings, but Chris Cheney, Phil Jamieson, Tim Rogers and Josh Pyke have never been lacking there. After two runs of The White Album Concert, the four are reviving the hit show for the iconic record’s 50th anniversary.

Have there been any change-ups since the 2009 and 2014 tours?
Not the song allocation. We are doing essentially the same songs that have been divided up on past tours. We are going to add a few extra songs and a few little surprises. It was Tim’s idea to do something special and different towards the end.
– Chris Cheney (The Living End)

What’s your advice for tackling one of the most iconic albums of all time live?
I think we all realised the first time we did this show that we needed to put our own spin on the songs. It’s such a revered and loved record it’d be silly to try to copy it. But you also want to show respect, so it’s a fine line.
– Josh Pyke

What’s your favourite hidden gem on the album?
Julia. Not exactly hidden, but the hurt and bewilderment of that boy’s relationship with his mum is laid bare, then completed two years later with Mother. Hang on, must call Mum.
– Tim Rogers (You Am I)

In your opinion where does ‘The White Album’ sit against classics Abbey Road and Sgt Peppers?
‘The White Album’ is a double album filled with quirk and flaws and terror and melody and avant-garde and country and rock’n’roll and craziness. It kind of has everything. It’s broader in scope that the other albums, making it a great live experience.
– Philip Jamieson (Grinspoon)

Green Carpet

Author: Steve Bell

The stage adaptation of Green Day’s American Idiot album is coming to Brisbane, and the two real life rockers playing antihero St Jimmy — Chris Cheney and Phil Jamieson — talk to Steve Bell about transitioning from one type of stage to another. Cover and feature pics by Terry Soo.

For many years East Bay punks Green Day relished their typecasting as snotty-brat teens, espousing the virtues of anti-values like apathy, self-loathing and narcissism with a scathing humour that suited their high-octane pop-punk perfectly.

As time passed, however, and they became a massive deal on the world stage, both their music and their world view matured to the point where their 2004 seventh album American Idiot — a sprawling conceptual piece penned by frontman Billie Joe Armstrong — was lauded upon its release for its articulate appraisal of the various malaises afflicting post-9/11 suburbia. It peered presciently at how the typical troubles associated with youngsters coming of age were being exacerbated by both insipid government and the corporations controlling mass media — magnified by a general all-pervading sense of disillusionment and lethargy — with these forces combining to potentially push a whole generation off the rails.

It was an ambitious move by Green Day (and Armstrong) but one that paid handsome dividends, reviving the band’s career and leading to a stage musical adaptation of American Idiot that opened on Broadway in 2010, winning two Tony Awards. It took all of the songs from the American Idiot album— as well as a few from 2009 follow-up 21st Century Breakdown — and moulded them into a compelling narrative, one as pertinent now as it was back when the songs were penned.

Now Brisbane theatre company, shake & stir, are bringing an exclusive Australian production of the “punk rock opera” to QPAC, and for the pivotal role of St Jimmy (at times performed by Armstrong himself on Broadway) they’ve tapped two genuine Australian rock stars — Chris Cheney (The Living End) and Phil Jamieson (Grinspoon) — to play the character in separate stints, but both of whom are currently preparing together to inhabit this somewhat nefarious character.

“Whether St Jimmy is a saint or not depends on your definition of saint,” Jamieson reflects, “but I don’t think so — he’s a villain. He’s the musical villain.”

“That’s what drew me to the idea of actually being able to pull the role off, I think, I don’t have to go outthere and play Mr Nice Guy,” Cheney smiles. “I can just dig the heels in a bit, and get a bit gritty with the character. He’s the one who sort of leads the lead character Johnny down the path of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll.

“[Johnny] starts out as this squeaky clean kinda teenager, and then you see his descent into debauchery. So there’s some pretty harrowing scenes: for all of Green Day’s crazy, kinda wacky punk image, there’s some really dark lyrics in there.

“It covers universal themes but also correlates back with what’s going on in America right now, with the madman at the controls, it’s like history almost repeating itself. But there is that timeless theme in the musical, with these kids trying to get out — trying to escape and find a better way — and tripping up wildly.”

Both Cheney and Jamieson were well acquainted with Green Day when American Idiot first came out — especially Cheney, given that The Living End supported them on the Australian Insomniac tour in 1996 — but both remember being taken aback by the album’s strength.

“I loved the record when it was released, I thought it was really, really impressive back in the day,” Jamieson gushes. “I went and saw the tour — I think from memory old mate here [points at Cheney] might have got up and ruined a song with them when I saw them, a Clash song. In the wrong key. But I was really impressed by it.”

“They were in the wrong key, I wasn’t,” Cheney laughs. “So I thought it was their best work,” Jamieson continues mischievously.“I mean I loved [GreenDay’s 1994 breakthrough third album] Dookie — so did the world — and then Green Day did what they did and I sort of wandered off. I guess you can become a bit complacent about acts after a while, you go, ‘I know your tricks, I know those bits, ‘ but then they brought [American Idiot] out and I was, like, ‘Wow, okay, I don’t know all your tricks. It’s a really, really impressive record.”

“Billie Joe’s always been a huge fan of The Who and rock operas and all that — he’s got a Jesus Christ Superstar tattoo on him — so it’s kind of cool that a writer like that could embrace it and put it into the form that he did,” Cheney reflects. “It’s a cracker of a record. It’s not easy to write songs that are linked — it’s like the second side of Abbey Road [by The Beatles] or something, the way that all of the songs were linked together.I love that sort of thing, it’s like the nutty professor or something, but it’s not easy to do.”

Both leads are really looking forward to their first major theatrical experience, even if they’re a tad overwhelmed by the quality of the Australian cast around them.

“I’m not an actor — obviously — and what I found when I came here is that the cast are all ‘triple threats’, for want of a better term — they can sing really well, they can dance really well and they can act really well,” Jamieson tells. “So it became a bit of thing where I was fairly terrified going to rehearsa l— I think I might have psyched myself out a bit. But it’s very daunting. And the piece is also quite challenging. It’s great, though, it’s really fun and it’s really quite a moving piece — it’s definitely not 42nd Street, it’s more like Les Mis. It’s sad, there’s some really, really moving parts.”

“I haven’t performed in theatre since Year 12 drama but I tell you what, though; I reckon I’m always acting when I’m on stage anyway!” Cheney laughs. “I’ll see some footage back and go, ‘Who the fuck is that guy?’ So while I do think that this acting caper is a stretch for the two of us, obviously, maybe it’s not that much of a stretch. I feel like when you get on stage I become this other thing anyway, and we’re playing the kinda rock’n’roll guy in this show so it’s not really a huge leap.”

And both of these acting newbs are at pains to point out that you don’t need to be a veteran theatre lover to dig American Idiot. “It’s not just for the theatre goers, it’s for the rock’n’roll fans,” Cheney stresses.

“It’s definitely worthy and will be a lot of fun,” Jamieson agrees. “It will be loud and they will be serving alcohol, but it will be in a theatre. And there’s some really funny theatre moments in the performance which are a bit kitsch — which I love — then there’s some full-on rocking out and some dark, incredibly moving moments as well. I can’t wait.”

Getting Idiotic
Both of the rockers playing St Jimmy believe that there’s alot more discipline required for acting than when they’re on stage playing music with their bandmates.

“In my first run-through I put my wrong hand on something, so that destroyed the whole piece,”Jamieson recalls. “So I’m trying to get my head around staging, and being really disciplined about where I put my feet.”

“Yeah, in a rock band — especially my band anyway — I can kinda go off on a tangent, and the other guys will just follow,” Cheney continues. “Here, those other 20 kids in there are not going to follow if we decide to mix it up halfway through a tune! Nor would the band!”

Jamieson — who takes over as St Jimmy after Cheney’s run concludes — has been in the fortunate position of seeing a full run-through, and was floored by the calibre of the cast.

“It’s pretty impressive — they don’t hit any bum notes, not that I’ve heard,” he marvels.“They leave that to us. They never hit a bum note, which is annoying, and they know all their choreography and they’re always right… It gives me the shits. But they’re actually incredible, just seeing how well the cast act it out and how well they sing it, and how much emotion they put into it — that’s worth the ticket price alone, regardless of us douchebags.”

Monkey Business

Author: Daniel Cribb

Aussie rock staples The Living End took a dangerous approach when recording their new album — one that resulted in some conflicting feedback at first. Frontman Chris Cheney tells Daniel Cribb all about the “daunting task”.

The Living End have been such a prevalent influence on the Australian music scene since the mid-’90s that it can be a bit hard to believe that frontman Chris Cheney has spent the better part of the past five years living in LA. The shredder fell in love with the US when he flew to New York for three months in 2010 with his family to write the band’s last effort, The Ending Is Just The Beginning Repeating, and things took off from there. “After that, we just thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be good to try base ourselves overseas for just a couple of years or three years, four years,” Cheney begins from his Californian abode. “It’s sort of still a temporary arrangement; we’re just kind of playing it by ear at this point,” he adds.

There’s no shortage of opportunities over in the States, which is why he’s probably spent so much time there. Regularly taking advantage of the smorgasbord of gigs available at any one time, he caught The Damned at iconic venue The Roxy a few nights earlier. “I actually play in another band, The Jack Tars, over here which has got Captain Sensible from The Damned in it and Slim Jim Phantom from Stray Cats and Mike Peters from The Alarm, so it’s sort of weird being in a band with those guys when you grew up listening to their music.”

It’s a similar relationship between The Living End and their longtime Aussie heroes Cold Chisel, which sparked the flame that turned into new album Shift. After a studio collaboration in 2014 with Jimmy Barnes, the band joined him around the country for A Day On The Green, which is when their seventh LP came to life through a means completely foreign to them.

“We were doing A Day On The Green and there’s so much time in between — they’re only weekends those things — so we just thought we might as well jump into a studio during that time and just throw some ideas around and not really put any pressure on as far as having to have songs; just get in there and press record, which is a pretty daunting task.

“I’ve always had songs to bring in and we’ve always wanted to be prepared, so there was a certain danger by doing that that it would be a failure and that we would come out with nothing.”

It was because of that creative shake-up that some of the material on the new album is a little different to what fans may be expecting. While upbeat rock number Monkey saw a return to their roots, follow-up single Keep On Running received some mixed reviews from fans on social media. “For The Living End to release a song like Keep On Running, I think a lot of people were just like, ‘What the hell is happening,’” Cheney explains. “It’s just not what you’d expect from us; there’s no solo in the middle, there’s no overly energetic slapping bass. Even though we’ve done lots of things, I think people forget we have a pretty diverse range of tunes and albums over the years.

“There was just an initial kneejerk reaction I think, people wondering what the hell we were doing with a full string section and it’s a very pop kind of melody, but I’m quite proud to go out with a song that people don’texpect. What’s the point of coming out with something that’s just The Living End by numbers, it just doesn’t excited me.”

Gearing up to head home for the band’s first headline run in five years, Cheney cast his eye on local talent as they chose tour supports; a exercise that proved an inspiring process and will see The Living End on their toes as they sweep across the country in June. “I’m really excited by all those bands like The Smith Street Band, Royal Headache and The 131s; they all just seem hungry, edgy and everything that I love and I find it really inspiring.

“I’m sort of making sure I’ve got my shit together for the tour because I know that [support bands Bad//Dreems and The 131s] are going to be forces to be reckoned with. There’s just bands out there that are no bullshit; just laying it down and they’re damn good, they’re not hiding behind anything, it’s just raw rock’n’roll — how it should be.”

Monkey Business

Author: Daniel Cribb

Aussie rock staples The Living End took a dangerous approach when recording their new album — one that resulted in some conflicting feedback at first. Frontman Chris Cheney tells Daniel Cribb all about the “daunting task”.

The Living End have been such a prevalent influence on the Australian music scene since the mid-’90s that it can be a bit hard to believe that frontman Chris Cheney has spent the better part of the past five years living in LA. The shredder fell in love with the US when he flew to New York for three months in 2010 with his family to write the band’s last effort, The Ending Is Just The Beginning Repeating, and things took off from there. “After that, we just thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be good to try base ourselves overseas for just a couple of years or three years, four years,” Cheney begins from his Californian abode. “It’s sort of still a temporary arrangement; we’re just kind of playing it by ear at this point,” he adds.

There’s no shortage of opportunities over in the States, which is why he’s probably spent so much time there. Regularly taking advantage of the smorgasbord of gigs available at any one time, he caught The Damned at iconic venue The Roxy a few nights earlier. “I actually play in another band, The Jack Tars, over here which has got Captain Sensible from The Damned in it and Slim Jim Phantom from Stray Cats and Mike Peters from The Alarm, so it’s sort of weird being in a band with those guys when you grew up listening to their music.”

It’s a similar relationship between The Living End and their longtime Aussie heroes Cold Chisel, which sparked the flame that turned into new album Shift. After a studio collaboration in 2014 with Jimmy Barnes, the band joined him around the country for A Day On The Green, which is when their seventh LP came to life through a means completely foreign to them.

“We were doing A Day On The Green and there’s so much time in between — they’re only weekends those things — so we just thought we might as well jump into a studio during that time and just throw some ideas around and not really put any pressure on as far as having to have songs; just get in there and press record, which is a pretty daunting task.

“I’ve always had songs to bring in and we’ve always wanted to be prepared, so there was a certain danger by doing that that it would be a failure and that we would come out with nothing.”

It was because of that creative shake-up that some of the material on the new album is a little different to what fans may be expecting. While upbeat rock number Monkey saw a return to their roots, follow-up single Keep On Running received some mixed reviews from fans on social media. “For The Living End to release a song like Keep On Running, I think a lot of people were just like, ‘What the hell is happening,’” Cheney explains. “It’s just not what you’d expect from us; there’s no solo in the middle, there’s no overly energetic slapping bass. Even though we’ve done lots of things, I think people forget we have a pretty diverse range of tunes and albums over the years.

“There was just an initial kneejerk reaction I think, people wondering what the hell we were doing with a full string section and it’s a very pop kind of melody, but I’m quite proud to go out with a song that people don’texpect. What’s the point of coming out with something that’s just The Living End by numbers, it just doesn’t excited me.”

Gearing up to head home for the band’s first headline run in five years, Cheney cast his eye on local talent as they chose tour supports; a exercise that proved an inspiring process and will see The Living End on their toes as they sweep across the country in June. “I’m really excited by all those bands like The Smith Street Band, Royal Headache and The 131s; they all just seem hungry, edgy and everything that I love and I find it really inspiring.

“I’m sort of making sure I’ve got my shit together for the tour because I know that [support bands Bad//Dreems and The 131s] are going to be forces to be reckoned with. There’s just bands out there that are no bullshit; just laying it down and they’re damn good, they’re not hiding behind anything, it’s just raw rock’n’roll — how it should be.”

The Living End – Shift

Author: Dylan Stewart

It’s been five years between drinks for one of Australian rock’n’roll’s most-loved trios, The Living End. 

Having spent their 20-plus years shifting from punky upstarts to veritable A-listers, Shift is just that; a change of direction. The problem is, it’s hard to know which direction that is. The record, while featuring a number of solid moments – see the ballady Keep On Running and sturdy rockby- numbers Up The Junction – lacks any consistency in voice. Occasional guitar flourishes keep things interesting, but opener One Step gets the album off to a very poor start and TLE struggle to right the ship from there.

Shifting Sands

Author: David James Young

When a writer sits down to compose a text, he or she decides to write in one of three voices: first person (“I did this”), second person (“You did this”) or third person (“They did this”). The Living End, for the majority of their 20-plus years as a band, have spoken in first-person narrative. The twist, however, is that their abstract ‘I’ has always been a part of a greater group, their ‘we’ (lest we forget their most famous lyric is still “We don’t need no-one like you to tell us what to do”). On Shift, The Living End’s first album in five years and seventh overall, this perspective inverts, as lead vocalist and guitarist Chris Cheney turns his lyric-writing onto his own life. There’s no other phrase for it: this time, it’s personal.

“That was one of the big changes that came with writing this album,” says Cheney from his home in Los Angeles, where he and his family have lived for the past few years.“This is definitely an ‘I’ album, after writing so many ‘we’ albums over the years. It wasn’t difficult to write, though – it was the only thing that was coming out of me as I was working on this album. It’s not a concept record, per se, but a lot of it does pertain to the same sort of thing. It all comes back to a few things that have happened in my life in recent times.

“It was a difficult time to get through, but on the other side of it I just sort of spewed forth everything that had happened to me with a pen and paper. I knew that I couldn’t water it down. I knew I couldn’t change it for anyone. It would have been criminal to do that. It wouldn’t have been true to the music we were making. I’ve sugar-coated and sidestepped things in the past. This shit needed to be said.”

Fans of the band last saw The Living End in action in 2014, when they did a mix of intimate club shows (some of their smallest in years) and co-headlining dates with previous collaborator and old friend Jimmy Barnes for A Day On The Green, the outdoor afternoon shows held at regional wineries. At this stage, casual mention was made of working toward new material, although there was nothing yet to show for it. “What we were doing [was] taking any days we had off,” explains Cheney, “and getting into our studio space in Melbourne. We had all this time, we figured we might as well lay something down.

“We decided not to take in any complete songs – rather, we scraped together every little riff and every small idea we had lying around and threw them into the mix. We just hit ‘record’ and went for it. After a week and a half, the spark was well and truly alight. It was nerve-racking at first – it had all the potential to be fucking awful – but it came together in this spontaneous burst of energy.”

The Living End will be premiering a slab of Shift in the live environment this June on a capital city tour alongside Adelaide pub rockers Bad//Dreems and Melbourne punks 131’s. Cheney is especially vocal about his love for the former. “I actually caught them while they were over here in the States,” he says. “They’re just fucking great. They’re a raw rock’n’roll band with a uniquely Australian edge, and I think that’s really special. It really harkens back to the pub rock glory days. It’s important to us to support bands like that, just like we were supported when we were first starting out. You’ve got to support a scene that supports itself.”

The Living End were formed back in 1994 by lifelong friends Cheney and double bassist Scott Owen for little more reason than to play Stray Cats covers and have fun. They, along with drummer Andy Strachan, who has been with the band since 2002, have gone from selling out pubs to theatres to arenas and back again, earning legendary status within contemporary Australian music and a cult following overseas.

Over the 22 years of The Living End’s existence, some bands have come back and others have disappeared entirely. There are few, however, that never left in the first place. Such is the case with Cheney and co. The secret to their longevity? “We’re not interested inplaying it safe,” says the frontman succinctly.

“We’ve never taken the easy road – probably to our detriment at times, some might say. When we did the Retrospective tour a few years back, that was one of the hardest things that we’ve ever done. That comes down to pure ambition, hunger and the willingness to outdo ourselves. We’re always trying to prove that we’re more than our last album or our last hit. Recently, I’ve found myself drawn to the craft of songwriting, probably more than I ever have been before. I’ve been working at it every single day, trying to hone in on the craft. I’m always chasing the kind of songs that make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. I don’t want to be in a tired old rock band – and I don’t think we’re in any danger of that happening at this point.”

Between The Greens

Author: Daniel Cribb

The Living End have been such a prevalent influence on the, Australian music scene since the mid ‘90s that it can be a bit hard to believe that frontman Chris Cheney has spent the better part of the past five years living in LA. DANIEL CRIBB reports in the lead-up to the trios Perth show at the Astor Theatre on Thursday, June 16.

The shredder fell in love with the US when he flew to New York for three months in 2010 with his family to write the band’s last effort, The Ending Is Just the Beginning Repeating, and things took off from there.

“After that, we just thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be good to try base ourselves overseas for just a couple of years or three years, four years’,” Cheney begins from his Californian abode. “It’s sort of still a temporary arrangement; we’re just kind of playing it by ear at this point,” he adds.

There’s no shortage of opportunities over in the States, which is why he’s probably spent so much time there. Regularly taking advantage of the smorgasbord of gigs available at any one time, he caught The Damned at iconic venue The Roxy a few nights earlier. “I actually play in another band, The Jack Tars, over here which has got Captain Sensible from The Damned in it and Slim Jim Phantom from Stray Cats and Mike Peters from The Alarm, so it’s sort of weird being in a band with those guys when you grew up listening to their music.”

It’s a similar relationship between The Living End and their long-time Aussie heroes Cold Chisel that sparked the Between The Greens flame that turned into the new album, Shift, to be released on Friday May 13. After a studio collaboration in 2014 with Jimmy Barnes, the band joined him around country for A Day On The Green later that year, which is when their seventh LP came to life through a means completely foreign to them.

“We were doing A Day On The Green and there’s so much time in between – they’re only weekends those things – so we just thought we might as well jump into a studio during that time and just throw some ideas around and not really put any pressure on as far as having to have songs; just get in there and press record, which is a pretty daunting task.

“I’ve always had songs to bring in and we’ve always wanted to be prepared, so there was a certain danger by doing that that it would be a failure and that we would come out with nothing.”

It was because of that creative shake-up that some of the material onthe new album is a little different to what fans may be expecting. While upbeat rock number, Monkey, saw a return to their roots, follow-up single, Keep On Running, received some mixed reviews from fans on social media. “For The Living End to release a song like Keep On Running, I think a lot of people were just like, ‘What the hell is happening?’” Cheney explains. “It’s just not what you’d expect from us; there’s no solo in the middle, there’s no overly energetic slapping bass. Even though we’ve done lots of things, I think people forget we have a pretty diverse range of tunes and albums over the years.

“There was just an initial, kneejerk reaction I think, people wondering what the hell we were doing with a full string section and it’s a very pop kind of melody, but I’m quite proud to go out with a song that people don’t expect. What’s the point of coming out with something that’s just The Living End by numbers, it just doesn’t excited me.”

Gearing up to head home for the band’s first headline run in five years, Cheney cast his eye on local talent as they chose tour supports; a exercise that proved an inspiring process and will see The Living End on their toes as they sweep across the country in June. “I’m really exited by all those bands like The Smith Street Band, Royal Headache and The 131s; they all just seem hungry, edgy and everything that I love and I find it really inspiring “I’m sort of making sure I’ve got my shit together for the tour because I know that (support bands Bad//Dreems and The 131s) are going to be forces to be reckoned with. There’s just bands out there that are no bullshit; just laying it down and they’re damn good, they’re not hiding behind anything, it’s just raw rock’n’roll – how it should be.”