The Living End

Author: Cameron Adams

The future is looking bright for young band The Living End, writes Cameron Adams

THE Living End may just be the noisiest quiet achievers in the country. The Melbourne group scored the most unlikely top five hit earlier this year with their Second Solution/ Prisoner of Society EP. Released on a small label, its sales of 140,000 accelerated the trio to the hottest young band in Australia. Their self-titled debut album, released this week, is expected to be one of the biggest-selling local releases this year. But the one thing the Living End will not be singing is then-own praises. They’re quick to deflate any hype.
“It’s good at the moment,” says frontman and main songwriter Chris Cheney. “We’re not having too much success, we’re pulling crowds, we’re selling records. It would be nice if it could stay at this level.”

That’s unlikely, but the boys are keen not to self-destruct from overexposure.
“We don’t want to be the band of the moment,” says Cheney. “We’re trying to have a natural progression. We like to be hands-on with everything, keeping the ticket prices down, that kind of thing. It’s easy for people to turn on you if you forget about the music and just become a celebrity.”
The band flinch when discussing the bidding war that saw several US record company executives flying to Australia to catch a Living End concert.

The situation was repeated with local record companies, all keen to get them on their roster, sniffing a guaranteed success.

In the end the band signed with Frank Sinatra’s Reprise Records for the rest of the world and new label Modular records — distributed through EMI — in Australia.
The fact they had scored a top five hit on their own gave them power to negotiate deals with maximum creative control.
“That should be a standard thing in record contracts,” says Cheney. “No one should tell you what to do. Record companies are fine, but really, they’re just there to give you money to make your music.”

The Living End had their first taste of the industry’s darker side when a rumor circulated locally that they had returned from America with huge pay cheques courtesy of their Reprise deal.
“We didn’t, because we’ve got no money,” says drummer Travis Demsey. “People assume that because you’re on TV or you’ve been to America you’re automatically in a higher wage bracket.
“We used to get $10 a gig, now we get $30 each a gig. But anyway, so what if we made all this money, does that make us less cool?
“We’ve been in this industry for over seven years without making any real money. The average person doing a normal job would have been earning around $450 a week over that seven years, it’s just that when you’re in a band you get paid in lump sums. We’re still waiting for that lump sum.”

Their debut album, co-produced by the band and Lindsay Gravina (Magic Dirt, Spiderbait) is a confident mix of their beloved rockabilly, its punk off-shoot psychobilly and a heavy dose of pop thrills.
“People were saying, ‘What direction have you gone in with this album?'” Cheney says. “It’s the same direction. This is our first album, it’s not like we’re about to bring in keyboards or anything.”

The band have already toured the US this year as part of the prestigious Vans Warped tour. The next frontier is a swag of summer festival shows including near-headline status on the Pushover festival, a big step from playing early afternoon last year. A UK visit is also planned.
“It was nerve-racking enough going to America,” says bass player Scott Owen. “That was where rockabilly was born, but going to England will be even more scary. That was where rockabilly was revived and had something added to it, which is what we’re trying to do.”

– They Supported Green Day before they had a record deal. Some suggest Green Day’s Hitchin’ a Ride owes a debt to the Living End.
– STARTED life as a cover band called the Runaway Boys playing songs by the Stray Cats. “We were three Elvis impersonators playing mum and dad music,” says Chris Cheney.
– THEY’VE recorded a Frank Sinatra cover for a Reprise album as well as covers of Tainted Love and the Prisoner theme.

The Living End(Modular/EMI) out now. The Living End, Pushover, Myer Music Bowl, Oct 21; Hallam Hotel, Oct 28; Warragul Exhibition Hall, Oct 29; Hi-FI Bar, Oct 31 (under-18s arvo, over-IBs evening); Hi-Fi Bar, Nov 2; Geelong Wool Exchange, Nov 4; Warrnambool, Lady Bay Hotel, Nov 5.


Author: Stephen Downie

In a remarkable break with rock tradition, The Living End vocalist/guitarist Chris Cheney, has faxed Streetwired with thoughtful answers to our queries. For this, the band – who will release their self-titled debut album on October 12 and are playing at Saturday’s Livid Festival – get two thumbs up.

1. Your perfect Sunday?
I hate Sundays! They depress me because a)everything is closed; b)it rains most of the time – in Melbourne, anyway; c)Monday is rapidly approaching! So, I guess hanging out with my girlfriend or playing a gig is pretty much my perfect Sunday.
2. What’s America really like?
Bigger, scarier and crazier than I ever thought it would be.
3. What are you most afraid of?
Having permanent writer’s block.
4. What can fans expect from the debut album?
Hopefully an extension of our previous EP’s. This is our first album. We have plenty of time to veer off on different tangents.
5. What do you do to unwind?
Pick up my guitar and write a song. Strange but true!
6. Most embarrassing experience?
Aaah, too many to mention.
7. Were you surprised by the success of your single, Prisoner of Society?
It took us all by surprise. It was a relatively new song I’d written, and was really just going to be an EP track.
8. Which song do you hope never to hear again?
Anything by Pink Floyd.
9. Which is your favourite Australian band of all time?
AC/DC – the best, straight-down-the-line rock’n’roll band in the world.
10. What’s the best thing about rock festivals?
It’s a lot easier to relax, and you can instantly get your message across to thousands of people.

Growing Up Is Hard To Do

Author: Vanessa Bowden

The signs at the door say Sold Out. If you were to linger around the entry way for long enough, you’d see more than one person trying to scam their way in and even the occasional teary pleader. Moving in to the venue, 400 kids are  screaming at the top of their lungs “Well we don’t need no one to tell us what to do”. It wouldn’t make a difference if The Living End forgot the words to this song. Even people who aren’t fans know them by now.

“When that song first came out I was a bit worried that people would take it too seriously, that they’d think… it was us trying to make really big punk statement.” Says Chris Cheney of the song responsible for such scenes, ‘Prisoner Of Society’. “I just thought it was kind of weird that teenagers are always complaining about their parents, but… they often grow up and go ‘sorry for giving you such a hard time.”

Originating as a ’50s rockabilly cover band, three EPs later and The Living End have found themselves at the forefront of Australian music. ‘Prisoner Of Society’ has become somewhat an anthem for many young people and the band found themselves in the middle of a bidding war for their debut album. “We were originally going to record for Murmur and then someone got hold of our CD in America – I think it was due to playing with Green Day and The Offspring because a lot of those bands who knew who we were – and then all of a sudden they just started flying out here to see us.” The result is an American deal with Reprise. Locally, the band’s album will be released on Modular Records, an EMI subsidiary run by Steve Pav of Golden Sounds and Pav Presents fame. Chris says the decision to go with Modular came easy for the band “We knew Steve Pav and we liked his thoughts and ideas on what he could do with us and it just felt comfortable.”

The band recorded their album earlier this year, before going to do the American Warped tour, and had it mixed while in the States. While happy with the CD, Chris isn’t a big fan of the studio. “You’ve got to be spot on and precise and it’s really hard to keep that energy in there because live, you just thrash it out and three minutes later it’s over, mistakes and all but with that energy. But it’s just something you’ve got to do… It’s great to finish recording and have a CD in your hand.” With the band not wanting to vary too much on the style fans have come to love, Chris says the album is “pretty much an amalgamation of the first three EPs. It’s got a couple more traditional rockabilly sounding songs, a couple of thrashy songs and some jazz – it’s got everything we love all mixed up and churned out the end.”

With so many influences, the band find it interesting – but also a bit limiting – to be categorised under punk. “People call is a punk band and we seem to fit in with those bands but it’s really strange because we never considered ourselves a punk band we started off as a ’50s rockabilly band and just played kind of punk style – really rough and fast.” While Chris says he loved punk, one of the things that could be attributed to The Living End’s success is the range of influences the band have – from jazz and blues right through to punk, The Living End have found themselves on bills ranging from Jebediah to Rancid. When asked if he’d be happy if The Living End became responsible for a resurgence in the popularity of ’50s style rockabilly, Chris is thoughtful. “It’s always a bit of a bummer when you like something and it’s kind of special because it’s not something that everyone else listens to. I think it’d be good if it came back in a big way because you listen to a lot of the stuff around at the moment and no one seems to be doing enough experimentation if you ask me.”

Surprisingly, Chris says that America doesn’t seem to have any bands similar to The Living End. Obviously, this was a bonus for the band when they went over there for the Warped Tour. “We got a good reaction. We played on the local stage and sometimes there’d be like 2000 people and sometimes there’d be ten. They put the stages in different places every day and sometimes it’d be a ten kilometre walk from the main stage to the local stage. Well, maybe not ten kilometres…”

Currently The Living End are finalising artwork for the album which they’ll then be touring for, including Canberra. Tickets are only $12, something very surprising for one of the country’s biggest bands. “We have total control over that and we always try to keep it as low as possible. Just things like keeping ticket prices down, keeping t-shirt prices down, you’ve got to make sure you can get everyone in. It was awful when we played at The Corner Hotel here because so many people go turned away, we felt terrible. But it is important to us and it’s just the way it should be. I don’t understand how bands can say ‘yeah we don’t care what you charge, we’ll just get up and play’ – it’s ridiculous. Unless you have that many costs to cover that you have to charge more, like when you play a really big venue or something. I mean we played Festival Hall with The Offspring and Green Day, they had to charge $20 something, it was out of our hands.” With such a considerate attitude, it’s no wonder everyone is loving this band.

The Living End play at UCU on October 24 with Area 7

Triple J Super Request

Author: Jane Gazzo

The following interview was transcribed from radio.

Jane :….behind the celebrity mic welcome Chris from The Living End.

Chris :Yeah! How are you doing?

Jane :Good. How are you?

Chris :Good.

Jane :Have you been touring, playing around or resting of late?

Chris :No, we have been actually been recording. I have actually just come from the studio now, it’s only like the fourth day and already we are pretty nackered, long days.

Jane :So is this an album or another EP?

Chris :Finally an album, a debut, about time.

Jane :Are these all fairly new songs or old songs that are finally getting recorded?

Chris :It’s a bit of a mixed bag. There is probably about four or five newies and probably about another five that we play at the moment and about three or four old ones that we just haven’t played, but we thought what the hell we will give them a go. I think they are turning out the best, the ones we thought we would throw away. It is always the way.

Jane :Congratulations on getting voted into Triple J’s Hottest 100 with Prisoner of Society (#15 and From Here On In #49)

Chris :Thankyou. And thankyou to everyone who voted.

Jane :Are you sick of it yet?

Chris :I am. I still like it but it is pretty easy to get sick of your own songs. You sort of write it in your room and you rehearse it to death and then you finally record it….

Jane :..and low and behold Triple J picks it up and plays it lots.

Chris :Yeah, every morning.

Jane :It is a bit of an anthem though I must say.

Jane :This is the part of Super Request where the listeners write the questions for us because they ask the questions they want to hear, so lets start. The first couple of questions come from Tamaka Manel of Tormina

Chris :We basically started, I think it was around 1991, I played guitar and Scott actually played piano at that time. I was a big rockabilly fan and said “I’ve gotta get a band together, get rid of the piano and learn the double bass” and he was like “what?!?”. So I showed him all my old rockabilly records and we just started jamming the two of us. We had a couple of drummers at school who had a go but they were mainly into heavy metal and stuff, so that didn’t last long. We met a guy straight after high school who was into that stuff and then a little while later we started writing our own tunes but we were a cover band for two years, called the Runaway Boys. We just used to play around places like the Royal Darby, just purely in that scene. We thought we don’t want to do this for our whole career so we just started writing some songs and finally did a CD and three EPs later here we are.

Jane :And to think there could have been a piano in the Living End?

Chris :There could have been. There still might be actually on the new album. Scott was tinkering around the other day in the studio.

Jane :Tamaka asks when are you coming to Coffs Harbour?

Chris :We are doing a tour in March. I don’t know the dates but I know we are definately going to be there in March at some stage. We are playing a big festival there actually.

Jane : and she wants to know, and i guess we have kind of covered this but not really. When is the new album coming out?

Chris :I don’t know. We are just recording it at the moment and as I said then we go away. So hopefully April, late April. We want to get it out as soon as possible so we are going to work pretty hard and see what we can do.

Jane :It is always the way though isn’t it. You record something then you have to mix it and the artwork.

Chris :That takes the longest, the mixing and the artwork then just actually recording the songs. So that’s why we should probably have our artwork together now.

Jane :Onto Haley Wilkins from Melbourne and she has written a great letter here. She says I believe you went to Wheelers Hill Secondary College in Melbourne and in year twelve you played as the Runaway Boys in the canteen area. Did you really play in the canteen of your school?

Chris :We did. Both me and Scott went there and we used to play in the music room just sort of jamming, just mucking around. Then we did a couple of lunchtime things in the canteen. We went back there about two years ago and did a gig, which was pretty freaky playing in front of all the teachers we used to get in trouble with. Yes we have made something of our music, we weren’t always just asleep at the back doing nothing. We used to get in lots of trouble, or at least I did, for just thinking about music all the time and not maths or whatever.

Jane :Did you have a quiff at the time?

Chris :Not sort of a real big one but I got my fair share of being called Elvis and 50’s freak and all that stuff. As you do when you like something different to everyone else, all the footy jocks.

Jane :Did you get free pineapple donuts from the ladies at the tuckshop for playing in the canteen at lunchtime?

Chris :No, we didn’t actually. We might have got one to share between us but free handouts really.

Jane :Haley also says that she goes to Wheelers Hill now and thinks it is a hole. Did you like it when you were there?

Chris :No, I didn’t like it when I was there. It had its good parts but everyone who goes to school thinks it is a hole. Now that I have finished I look back on it and it was pretty cool. I don’t miss it that much, don’t worry.

Jane :No one misses school. But you look back on your school days sometimes and think they were some of the best days of my life. Who were your favourite band to tour with?

Chris :Probably Green Day was the first sort of big one and they were so friendly, made us feel really comfortable cause we were really nervous. It is good touring with some of the local bands, Bodyjar and whoever. No favourites, it’s always different. Sometimes it is a bit of a drag. There have been certain bands which I wont name. It is kind of hard to talk with them sometimes but you have just got to get up there and do your own thing. Just play.

Jane :Why did you choose to do the Prisoner theme song? Such an Australian classic.

Chris :We wanted to have theme for the EP because we had Prisoner of Society and Second Solution was kind of an older song and then they are about escaping and all that stuff..

Jane :Rules and regulations too.

Chris :Yeah, all that punk stuff. I think we were just talking about it and someone from our record company said we should do a cover of the Prisoner theme for a joke, a b side. So we said, what the hell. So we looked it up on a TV’s Greatest Hits and jammed it once at rehearsal and it turned out really well so we just recorded it.

Jane :These next questions come from Elise Rivet of Melbourne. She says, I have seen you live both at Pushover and supporting the Offspring. You went off both times but at Pushover you did the best cover of Tainted Love by Soft Sell. Are you going to put it on your album and why did you choose to cover that song?

Chris :I don’t know whether we are going to put it on the album only because we have so many songs already. We are trying hard to get them down to a good amount. Everyone knows the original version by Soft Sell, it came out in like 1981 or something. It got covered by an alternative rockabilly guy from England called Dave Phillips who did a great version of it. We heard the original first but then we heard his and we thought, hey that’s really cool we are going to have to do that, but it wasn’t until two years later that we started playing it as the Runaway Boys. And that’s just one of the songs we have kept playing as the Living End cause it has gone over so well. It just seems to work, maybe because it was such a soppy song at first, probably the same with Prisoner (on the inside), but we just kind of rock it up.

Jane :And everyone knows the words to it, it’s like you grew up to that song.

Chris :It’s amazing how many younger people know it because it is an old song, I guess it still gets a bit of airplay. It was huge at that time. Now eighteen years later everyone knows it.

Jane :A classic. She also asks are you going to release the song Strange as a single or put it on the album? She knows it is one of your old songs but it is one of your best.

Chris :Thankyou. It is on Hellbound our first CD. I don’t think we are going to release it as a single, not on this album. I wouldn’t mind, a few people have actually asked. It is a pretty popular song as well. I don’t think it is a bad idea to rerecord a song maybe in the future like that because it was done a long time ago and we have made a few changes to it and put a bit more life into it now.

Jane :She asks… Can I be in your next film clip and say a line like on the Prisoner of Society film clip? I know all the words to your songs and I am not ugly or camera shy.

Chris :If you see us advertising for people for our next film clip please apply then.

Jane :But your Prisoner of Society one is quite interesting set in a school classroom. Is it set in a school classroom?

Chris :I shouldn’t give away secrets should I. No, its at Revolver, just in the night club upstairs. Oh, that’s cool because we were thinking about that. But we thought that there a few bands who had done the whole classroom scene so we thought we would just do it upstairs at Revolver. I guess it does a little bit.

Jane :And you just got a whole heap of kids together.

Chris :Yeah, we just advertised in a couple of the music mags and they turned up. Jumped around.

Jane :Not much of the band in it.

Chris :Well, we sort of had that idea that it would be just us playing at the end, that we would sort of be incognito for the rest of it, cause we are in disguise and whatever. And when we watched it, it’s kind of like were we in it? Then you watch it a second time and yes we are in it.

Jane :Emma Ramsay – do you have a favourite gig or rock moment that has stood out in your memory?

Chris :Many, too many. But probably more recently when we played the Falls festival this year was pretty good. We had a really good reaction and right at the end Trav was just sort of going crazy on the drum kit and knocked one of his teeth out. In his rage he picked up the cymbal stand and threw it halfway across the stage. It was just madness. That sticks in my memory most at the moment, he would have been in a bit of pain.

Living Dolls

Author: Andrew McUtchen

The Living End are not a punk band. Chris, (guitar vox) wants to get that straight from the outset. 
“Everyone seems to think that that we are some kind of punk band, but we started off as a rockabilly band and punk was just another thing that we liked. Because there’s no rockabilly scene in Australia, I guess we always get to play at punk gigs and people automatically think that you are a punk or ska band. We are against being labelled this, only because once people start saying we’re a punk band, you get punk’s saying ‘Bullshit, they’re not punk’. We didn’t call ourselves that, others did. It might sound lie that way cause we’re influenced by that type of music, but first of all we love that 50’s rockabilly stuff. Y’know the Stray Cats, not the metal Fireballs approach, more the punk sort of angle.”

Whether or not the Living End perceive themselves as reflecting the genre they’re considered to be part of, it seems to me that the local punk profile still has a way to go before the NoFX T-shirts are traded for One Inch Punch merchandise. (Post Pushover edit; at least one thousand Frenzal Rhomb T-shirts would have something to say about that comment. Aus profile’s doing ok, just ask the kids.) 
“Yeah, your absolutely right, I think because of the way music’s evolved as far as things getting heavier and faster, for them (kids) Californian stuff’s the ultimate. Played at lightening speed, it’s really heavy, and its still got that anarchy thing. The Sex Pistols doesn’t appeal to them as much because they were more against different things like the 70’s glam bands. A lot of kids probably can’t relate to that now. They just wanna hear fast stuff to skateboard to.”

In terms of the Australian profile? 
“It’s definately getting bigger here, but in the states, it’s fucking huge. I thought it was dying down, but apparently it’s bigger than ever.”

Speaking of the mystifying neo-punk aesthetic, I wonder whether The Living End would have anything to do with increasingly corporate sponsorship of supposedly bonafide ‘punk’ outfits whose ethic initially revolved around the spurning of everything corporate. This is particularly made manifest in clothing sponsorships. 
“It’s funny you say that, cause recently at a gig, this guy from a new skateboarding clothes label turned up and asked us to wear his shirts, that was pretty weird, but we said yeah, what the hell. I guess if we liked the clothing we’d do it. I mean, it’s hard to say whether all these bands getting sponsored have anything to do with punk. They don’t look punk, but then again it’s never been about the looks, it’s just about individuality, doing what you want, not going with the establishment. So whether that means knocking back clothing sponsorships? It’s such a prick of a question. Just the whole thing ‘is this punk, is that punk’ thing. It’s definitely a state of mind, even though most people these days think it’s chords strummed really fast. It’s funny how its evolved into this fast playing and tight harmonies thing, when initially it was all about being different. It’s weird. Half the time you don’t know what they’re singing about, but you say ‘hey that’s punk man’, but a lot of the time, the songs are about girlfriends and love.”

On The Inside

Author: Jesse Lilley

I always thought that, in the last episode of Prisoner, Bea and the gals should do a super thrashing electro punk version of the show’s theme song. Their yellow skivvies and denim smocks would dramatically self destruct, and be replaced with vinyl, tasselled stiletto booties and a zipped up, chained down, all shining black, acqua and hot pink combo with Lizzie on electric keyboards.
Whilst Joan Kirner almost gave body to such a vision on the D-Generation a few years ago via Joan Jett, Cell Block H never got the opportunity. Fortunately, though, a band (or rather a record label) has had the foresight to record the tune. In keeping with the locked down theme of their latest EP, Second Solution, The Living End have immortalised a rockabilly frenzy, a song which paved the way for Australian popular culture as the UK knows it. Vocalist Chris Cheney tells us why…

“Our drummer, Trav, is the biggest fan ‘cos he’s a little older than us. But really, it’s just a classic song. We wanted Second Solution and Prisoner Of Society to be the feature (tracks) of the EP and I just thought it’d be really cool to do a concept EP, if we could get some artwork that made it look like we’re in a prison and make it a package.”
Their record label, MDS, took the idea a little step further, and hit on the telly tune Prisoner On The Inside as the third track.

Second Solution is the third recorded outing from this young Melbourne rockabilly outfit. Personally, I think that the first, Hellbound, is the best, but their second album, It’s For Your Own Good, produced the song that had the goods for high rotation.
“Everyone though (the album) was a single. From Here On In definitely got that one hit wonder syndrome. For some reason they loved it, they played it to death. It would’ve been great if they picked up something else, but I guess we can’t complain.” Someone once described The Living End to me as Fireballs for the kids. This comparison is a contentious issue for the band.
“We continually get compared to them, which is fair enough because we’ve got the double bass and the whole bit and people just don’t realise that there are a whole lot of other bands like us, but it gets a bit frustrating. At first we got our backs up and went ‘you know, we’re different!’ and got angry, but that’s just the way it goes.”
Surely being compared to The Fireballs though, isn’t such a bad thing. But i suppose we should qualify the differences.
“Basically, we don’t have a metal guitar. They got more into heavy metal overall wheras we got in to mixing rockabilly with punk. We don’t care if we write a ballad and stuff but I don’t think The Fireballs are a ballad kind of band. They’re more ska oriented where we went for the more English approach.
“The early psychobilly bands in the 90’s were from England and mixed a lot of ska and punk and stuff whereas I guess The Fireballs have taken the next step and mixed it with American sounding guitars and stuff.”

Well, they may not reckon they’re anything like The Fireballs but they certainly appeal to the kids. Already down for a second year running on The Push Over bill, they have made appearances on Recovery and been rotated rather heavily on one national youth broadcaster. The second song on their current EP is also one for the kids.
Prisoner Of Society is “supposed to be a 13 year old’s view of his or her surroundings. There’s the line, ‘you’ll see we’re not the enemy, just prisoners of society’. They’re rebelling against everyone telling them what to do. They don’t mean to come off sounding rude or anything, but they do.
Teenagers think the whole world is against them, and it’s about rebelling against that.”

As to how and why the jailhouse theme emerged in the first place, perhaps we can look to the notes made by bass player, Scott, for the preface to the EP’s press pack, “prisoner is a good way to describe being ‘one the inside’.”
“Being on the inside to me means not being involved in the mainstream. It’s being forced to live in a cell that you have chosen. We each have our instrument that we have chosen to express the sort of noise we want to make. Feeling like a prisoner of society gives you that insane amount of time to discover the variety of appealing sounds within the instrument. Feeling like a prisoner also drowns out the outside influences so these sounds really come from you. Your second solution.”
Second Solution deals with the goings on of a man on Death Row trying to escape. According to Chris, who penned the lyrics, “Second Solution is purely fictional. Just that whole thing about convicts or something. It’s a nice little story about someone running from the law.”

It’s worth going to a Living End gig just to check out the crowd. Without a doubt there will be a number of die hard rockabillies with hairdos like the five foot cone whittled down to a pin pointed end.
“Those people are just full on. They’re great. They just live for it and it’s awesome. When we play we get rockers, punks and ska people and it all works really well together and that’s what we always want to have; a really mixed crowd.
“[The music] appeals to so many different people. But that’s what it was like back in the 80’s. A lot of punks and stuff could listen to Madness and then they’d listen to The Clash and then they’d listen to the Blue Cats or the Pole Cats or something it really just crosses over.” The band seem to be encouraging a resurgence of this attitude as they tour the country with power pop punksters Bodyjar.
But they’ll always be keeping that rockabilly subculture alive.
“I know guys who don’t buy anything [that was made] after 1955. The underwear and the whole bit.”

The Living End play with Bodyjar as part of the Nervous Wreckage tour on Friday September 26th at The Corner Hotel; September 27th at the Barwon Club, Geelong; September 28th at The Corner Hotel (all ages). The Living End’s EP is out now through MDS.

Second Solution

Author: Mark Fraser

With their latest E.P. For Your Own Good, receiving plenty of deserved airplay, Melbourne’s rockabilly tinged scourgers Living End began to come into their own. Constant touring has brought them up to Sydney on the odd occasion, and they’re heading our way again this week with a brand new E.P. in tow.

Literally recorded last week and out the next, Second Solution / Prisoner Of Society sounds as fresh and as urgent as can be, and in short, it’s one killer E.P. Second Solution is as catchy as f–k and just bounces on down the highway, while Prisoner Of Society is typical Living End with its rockabilly dirge and anthemic stance. Snarling down its nose at mainstream society, it sings the agonies and isolation of teen suppression. The real coup de Grace, however, is the awesome version of Prisoner TV Theme. Beautifully scourged, we start out all soft and rosey, and then burst into that ratatat, chunk rockabilly drive. Magic. Throw in a couple of live tracks in the rabid, raw Misspent Youth and the party-punched Strange and you have the makings of something really special.

Literally having just hopped out of the van in Mount Gambier, the first leg of their present tour, vocalist and guitarist Chris Cheney explains that given the theme of the E.P. then the inclusion of the Prisoner theme was an obvious choice. “We thought that seeing as the songs were about prisons and that, that we’d make it almost a kind of concept E.P. But yeah, that’s a classic song, we all love it. It’s great.”

Recording Second Solution seemed an obvious move to, despite it being a rather old live number. “It’s a bit of an old one that one. We just sort of played it live, and never really got around to recording it. Everyone sort of asked for it, and it’s a pretty strong song, so we thought we’d do that one. We did it on Recovery a few weeks ago, and it went over really well.”

Touring pretty much constantly since the release of last year’s For Your Own Good E.P., the trio decided to have a month off prior to this tour and get down to some writing, and put some new demos down. Back on the road all fresh and revived, this present tour takes in Adelaide, then back home to Melbourne for a few days before hitting Coffs Harbour, Brisbane and The Gold Coast and Sydney. With no less than 22 gigs in 30 days or so, it’s obviously going to take its toll on the band’s health.
“Yeah, we’re not really worried about it,” says Chris. “It’s just a matter of the voices and all the equipment holding up. But, ah, it should be a good workout.”

September will see the band back in the studio to work on their forthcoming album, a collection of newies, which should be out early next year. In the meantime, Second Solution / Prisoner Of Society is out next week on TWA records.

The Living End hit town this week, playing Macquarie University Thursday September 4, Brookvale Hotel Friday September 5, and Manning Bar Saturday September 6, with an all ages show that afternoon. Bodyjar and Nervous Wreckage will be keeping the guys company on all dates.

Author: Marty

The full version of an article I wrote for Opus, my Uni’s Newspaper, on 30th August, 1997.

I am sure that these boys must be getting a bit tired by now. They are about to take their passionate rockabilly back out on the road for their fourth tour of the eastern states this year already and something about them is telling me that they will back again. But, as if that wouldn’t be enough to tire out all any regular person, they are also about to release their third EP. Despite the wonders of modern technology I managed to have a chat to the Living End’s Scott Owen, who plays double bass.

You guys have been on the road a fair bit this year. Are you guys like gluttons for punishment? 
We are at the moment. I’m sitting in the van at the moment on the way to Portland. We played Adelaide last night and…. yeah, we are on our way to Portland at the moment to start another of those east coast tours with Bodyjar. So yeah we are gluttons for punishment.

So when was the last time you had a break? 
Well, we haven’t done much for the last couple of months. We did a few gigs a couple of weeks ago, but before that we had a huge break, because we had a tour… well, to come up to Sydney but we had to blow out all the shows. Thats all we had planned so we’ve just done nothing except record.

Last year you got to support Green Day. What was that like? 
Yeah, it was excellent. Was that last year? (voices from the van – “Last February.”) Yeah it was pretty good.

I imagine it was a little different this year when you supported Blink 182? 
That was another good one as well. They were mostly all ages gigs, so they were all full…. they were basically all sold out, they got stacks of people.

What’s the rockabilly scene like down in Melbourne? 
There isn’t really one. Oh…. there is a bit. It started up, over about the last six months its started to fire up again. There’s a few more bands that have started touring and started playing together. There’s a couple of nights a week where you can go to see a couple of rockabilly bands play. But it seems to be coming back again, that’s another thing. They used to have a big gig on Sundays, hopefully that will start happening again. But for the last couple of years there’s just be nothing. But for some reason its seems to be starting up again.

“It’s For Your Own Good” spent six months in the charts. That must have surprised you a bit? 
Yeah, I know that was a huge surprise. We didn’t realise until it had been number 1 for about four weeks or something, and we just went “oh shit”, it’s unbelievable. And it just stayed there.

Do you think Triple J had anything to do with it? 
Oh yeah! Definitely. It had everything to do with it, go the J’s.

It was at this point that technology let us down and Scott’s mobile cut out. However all was not in vain as Chris Cheney, the guitarist and lead singer, kindly provided the encore.

How did you score the “Live at the Wireless” set earlier this year? 
Basically just through our publicist. We wanted to do one for ages and we used to like ring them and stuff. Eventually we sort of got through and just because of the success of ‘From here on in’, they just sort of went “yeah, cool” why not. That was pretty good fun.

It’s not like everyone gets to do one. 
No, thats right. We were pretty lucky actually to have that. Good exposure.

Well you got good exposure from Triple J anyway. They flogged ‘From Here On In’ to death. 
Yeah, I know…. total overkill. It’s good but it’s a bit of a one hit wonder type thing. Now everyone expects us to play just that song now. I mean it’s good but we have got other songs as well. Yeah, it would have been good to get some of the other songs off the EP out there.

You also played Recovery a couple of months ago. What’s it like having to get up at nine in the morning? 
Not easy. It’s a bit of tricky one but once you’re up, you’re up.

I have just been having a listen to the new EP ‘Second Solution’. Sounds pretty good, especially the lead track. 
You like that one?

It’s sort of a blend of like….. ‘It’s For Your Own Good’ had a higher tempo than ‘Hellbound’. This ones just sort a blend of both of those so it sounds heaps good. 
Oh that’s good. Thanks! I hope it’s come across that way because the last EP came off sounding very sort of punky, you know. Everyone thought we were like this four piece band who were into the Offspring and stuff. Whereas ‘Hellbound’ was very sort of rockabilly, so, we just got to define that blend between our two favourite influences.

Certainly with the last one you started to draw comparisons with the Fireballs a fair bit. The first EP was more relaxed and it sounded more individual. 
We get compared to them all time, it’s a bit of a pain really. I mean we come from the same backgrounds but they’re just a lot more metal than we are. They’re a lot more into riffy type things, whereas were more into writing catchy songs I guess. More of a punk type influence.

Where did you guys write most of your songs? 
I just wrote them really in my bedroom. Yeah, that’s where they all come from.

Did you consider renaming ‘Prisoner of Society’ because of the similar title to ‘Prisoner (on the inside)’? 
No, I wrote ‘Prisoner of Society’ a little while ago now and then when we recorded them they came out really good. Then we thought lets try and make this almost like a concept EP thing, we wanted the whole type prisoner type theme. Someone just said “you should do a cover of the Prisoner theme” and we went no, no…… bit above our league, I don’t think we’re one for ballads. But we just had a bit of a muck around with it and it turned out good so we just recorded it.

The EP includes tracks from the ‘Live at the Wireless’ session. What was the motivation behind that? 
For a couple of reasons. I think a lot of people who bought the last one wouldn’t know about ‘Hellbound’, so its just a couple of songs off it that they wouldn’t have heard. We kind of like the way those songs came out for the ‘Live at the Wireless’, pretty rough round the edges, but there’s a lot of energy there. I just think it’s good to put as much variety on an EP as possible so what’s better than a couple of live songs.

Got any plans for an album? 
Hopefully recording in December, and we’ll have it out in January.

You guys were up here earlier this year to play some gigs with the Porkers. How was that? 
Yeah they were good. It’s good playing with Porkers because they get a mixed kind of crowd. Obviously they’re like ska influenced band but they get just a diverse kind of crowd, it’s really good. That’s what we’re sort of after.

Certainly when you were up here with Blink 182 the punk crowd didn’t take to you too well. 
No, I don’t think they know what too think really. I think it’s because as I said ‘From Here On In’… everyone was sort of thought we were trying to be this big punk band or something, but we weren’t really, it’s just a bloody rockabilly band sort of playing fast. So I think when people get it and understand what were on about they will like it a bit more. Just for what we do and who we are.

The current “Nervous Wreckage” tour with Bodyjar. Is it true you are playing 20 shows in about 30 days? 
Something like that. Yeah it’s pretty full on. We haven’t done a tour this big before, the most we have ever done is probably seven or eight gigs in a row. So this is our first sort of major tour type thing. I think it will be pretty hard, but it will be a good work out.

When you come to Newcastle on the 17th of September, you’re in support of Suicidal Tendencies. That seems like a bizarre match up. 
Yeah, it does a bit. But our drummer is like, it’s his favourite band, which is kind of weird. They’re his all time favourite, and he thinks it will go really well because we’ve just really want to appeal to Suicidal Tendencies fans and everyone right across the board. And they’re pretty diverse, so, it could work alright. We don’t like playing with any particular style.

You were originally distributed by Shock but are now with MDS. How did they notice you? 
They saw us at a Man or Astroman gig, ages ago, way before even ‘Hellbound’ or anything, they wanted to sign us then but we went with Shock. We spoke with MDS about the second one and they seemed the better option so we went with them on that one.

What are you plans for the rest of the year? 
Just to record in December basically, and get it out in January. All we have to do is a lot of touring obviously and just do this recording.

Another full on tour? 
I don’t know. Maybe…. it would be good to do a headline of our own.

You play a lot of all ages shows. Do you prefer them to the pub gigs? 
About the same really. The all ages are pretty good because they can get pretty crazy but then again so can the over 18 ones. There’s no real difference really. Whether you have got an underage crowd with no alcohol they still go off or an overage crowd with alcohol.

“Second Solution” was out on September 8 on Rapido thru MDS.

Author: Mark Fraser

It must have been about early to mid last year that i came across a nifty little mini-album from a bunch of fringe dwellers from down Melbourne way. The band was of course The Living End, and the album, Hellbound ran from Brylcream cranked end of the scale through some quiff-curdling classic popabilly, some jangly sweet bobby-sox cuteness and on to straight-edged full-certified V8 primal rock…double bass style. 

In the interim, they’ve gone on to support the likes of Green Day and Soundgarden to name but a few, and on the way, honed their no-holds barred edgey sound to a fine nylon comb. Straight rockabilly they ain’t, but the flavour is still evident in The Living End sound. 
More recently they released a six-track EP on the Rapido label (home to the mighty Fireballs) through MDS. The opener From Here On In has been getting a fair airing on the Jays, and after hearing the rest of its varnish-peeling offerings, it probably won’t be long before they follow suit. From the pyschobilly crazed edge of the opener, it’s straight into the thumping roadhouse guitarnage and military incision of English Army, the precision dinge of One More Cell, the rabid, semi ska-tinged onslaught of Stay Away From Me, the runaway winged cadillac that is Problem and onto the final surprise ode of the diabolically disarming, railroad rendition of The Cure’s 10:15 Saturday Night. In all a ripper of a follow up that’s head over heals ahead in the production stakes. 
I caught up with the End-ish lads soon after their Soundgarden support and they seemed like a happy bunch in light of the air-time attention that From Here On In has been receiving. 
“Triple J had it on high rotation,” explains guitarist, vocalist and chief songwriter Chris Cheney. “It’s still being played now, it’s been a month now that they’ve been playing it. They’ve been playing that to death, and we’ve sold quite a few copies which is good.” 
After doing a bit of touring for the current EP there is the likelihood of an album in the offing around mid year or so. Meanwhile it’s virtually the weekly grind in home-town Melbourne, where the band manages to pull plenty of live work. The ensuing tour will see them take in Sydney, Newcastle, Coffs Harbour, Brisbane and Noosa….”We’ll be spending a lot of time in the van I think,” says Chris. 
And how is the rockabilly scene in Melbourne at the moment? “Ah, not real strong,” laments Chris. “There’s a couple of bands playing now and then, but it’s pretty much finished I think. We’ve got a pretty diverse crowd though, not just a rockabilly crowd… we’ve never wanted to appeal to just that audience. We’ve always wanted to appeal to a wider audience, which is sort of happening now. It’s a shame there’s not more of a rockabilly scene happening but…”.

Living In The Fast Lane

Author: Jason Cole

Three piece Melbourne rockers the Living End experienced a dream run of late, coming off a highly successful with those snotty nosed brats of rock, Green Day. On the horizon, the Living End is a confirmed support nationally for the Reverend Horton Heat touring later this year, plus a show with the Supersuckers. the band has also just released an eight track rockabilly punk treat with Hellbound. I had a chat with lead vocalist/guitarist Chris Cheney and drummer Joey Piripitzi about their experiences on the tour with Green Day, amongst other bits and pieces.

The Living End’s career has not been an overnight success. People seem to think that the band has just received a lucky break with the Green Day tour, but Chris told me this is hardly the case. 
“We have been playing together for about four and a half years and have definately paid our dues. We have done heaps of residencies at crappy bars playing shitty cover versions so it hasn’t be all luck.” Hardly the jump from relative obscurity to major venues as people thought. To describe the sound of the Living End isn’t an easy task, “We’re something of a mixed bag when it comes to our sound,” says Chris. The phrase that has been passed around the traps of late is ‘punkabilly’ a term the band isn’t too sure about, but which I think is pretty close to the mark. There is the sound fusion between fifties rockabilly and a definite punk influence.

Asking the guys about their influences I was provided with a vast array of styles. 
“We dig the fifties rockabilly style of Eddie Cochran, Stray Cats and of course the ‘Rev’ Horton Heat but get into earlier punk stuff like the Clash, Dead Kennedys and the likes of Green Day.” 
Now that’s an interesting mix. It’s no secret that the boys are huge fans off Green Day. They had already bought their tickets, they had sent a tape of their work to Green Day’s management hoping to score a support slot. As it worked out the Green Day lads liked Living End so much they got them on board! (I hope they got a refund on the tickets!) The tour took the bands across the whole of Australia playing to 9000 capacity at the Horden Pavillion – bit of change from the Tote, eh? 
“Yeah, it was a complete buzz, a real adrenalin rush to play those venues and see masses of people looking at you, it was freaky.”

How was the response from the crowd? 
“Unbelievable, they really got into us and were jumping all around and going off! We were a bit freaked out that the crowd would all be die-hard Green Day fans and wouldn’t give a shit about us but it was cool.”

And what were the Green Day fellas like? 
“Really cool guys who were just so down to earth, and easy going, we just hung out in bars after the shows and played pool and took part in some room smashing on the last date of the tour with the drummer Tre Cool.”

Now the boys of the Living End are back in Melbourne. They will be playing a few shows locally and are looking forward to the national tour with their idol, the Reverend Horton Heat which should be huge. The guys are chuffed to win these great support slots, partly due to the fact that they are now in the care of the Cheersquad touring group run by Wally Meanie who takes care of the likes of the Meanies, Snout, etc. The Living End also has a mini-CD out called Hellbound. Produced off the band’s own bat and on the strength of the Green Day tour, the CD also got them a distribution deal with Shock. Currently the CD is doing well and already they are being courted by major record companies. At present the band is just enjoying the ride and certainly looks destined for even bigger and better things in the future.