The Living End To Tour New Album

Author: Unknown

Australian rock and roll kings The Living End have finally returned – refreshed, rejuvenated and with a brand-new swagger.

Having taken a five year break after the release of the ARIA award winning The Ending Is Just The Beginning Repeating, The Living End today rightly reclaim the Australian rock throne with the release of latest single ‘Keep On Running‘ and the announcement of their seventh album Shift – which is out on May 13.

Keep On Running‘ is one of the most powerful songs of The Living End‘s career. Full of swelling strings and acoustic strums, it’s also a deeply personal song for The Living End frontman Chris Cheney, who co-wrote the song with his friends Dylan Berry & Stefan Litrownik during an emotionally turbulent period in his life.
“We all have moments where life is getting the better of us, but that’s when you draw strength and come out the other side stronger.” Cheney says.
The band also recently teased the album announcement with the release of the track ‘Monkey‘, which is vintage TLE – punk rock smashed into rockabilly creating the kind of amped up anthem that had fans salivating at first listen over the prospect of the album ahead.

The one-two combo of ‘Keep On Running‘ and ‘Monkey‘ highlight that Shift is the hardline sound of a band on the warpath. Pity the fool in its sights. The Living End has a history of tough talk. There have been riots, revolutions and resistance, and Chris Cheney, Scott Owen and Andy Strachan have never been afraid to break out the artillery.
What makes Shift so different is the unflinching candour. Shift is a first-person fight club.

The Living End have just announced an Australian tour to support the record, playing major theatres around the country and hitting Melbourne Friday June 24 at The Forum. Tickets are on sale now from Ticketmaster and the new single ‘Keep On Running’ is available now on iTunes, Spotify and Apple Music.

Back In White

Author: Unknown

We get Josh Pyke, Chris Cheney, Tim Rogers and Phil Jamieson to tell us about the return of the White Album tour.

Josh Pyke
Which track on the White Album do you think you could listen to indefinitely and why?
I think Revolution Number 9 has enough crazy sounds in there to occupy the mind for eternity. It might be an uncomfortable experience, but it wouldn’t get boring.

Choose one: John, Paul, George or Ringo. Why?
I read once that when Paul was asked “What is it like being the best songwriter in the world?” he replied, “I don’t know, ask Neil Finn.” That’s a nice thing to say… I’ve also read he’s a ruthless business man, and was frustratingly perfectionist. He was also the “cute” one. So I dunno, I think on balance there’s enough going on there that even without the amazing songs he wrote to make him my favourite.

Finish this sentence: We’re bigger than…
The Big Merino in Goulburn. 

What’s something special you’ll be singing on the night?
Playing Blackbird is pretty special for me… An honour, also quite scary.

The 50th anniversary of The Beatles visiting Australia is currently being celebrated: do you think your music will be remembered in 50 years? 
I can almost guarantee that at least two people will. But beyond that I have no idea!

Chris Cheney
Which track on the White Album do you think you could listen to indef initely and why?
Goodnight. Because it makes me smile but I feel sad when I hear it. Not many songs can do that.

Choose one: John, Paul, George or Ringo. Why? 
George. He was effortlessly cool. What pressure to compete with John and Paul’s songs but he absolutely stepped up to the plate.

Finish this sentence: We’re bigger than…
The hangover that I suffered after the final show of the White Album tour five years ago?

What’s something special you’ll be singing on the night?
Glass Onion. How kooky was John Lennon? The guy was nuts.

The 50th anniversary of The Beatles visiting Australia is currently being celebrated: do you think your music will be remembered in 50 years? 
Perhaps by a select few!

Phil Jamieson
Which track on the White Album do you think you could listen to indefinitely and why?
Tricky question this one. I am unsure if I could actually could pick one song to listen to indefinitely unfortunately. If I am allowed to pick five? Happiness Is A Warm Gun, Honey Pie, Piggies, Blackbird, I’m So Tired… not necessarily in this particular order. The thing I love about the White Album is its variety, so choosing just one song takes away the magic somewhat for me.

Choose one: John, Paul, George or Ringo. Why?
There is a lot of choosing one thing in this questionnaire? I’ll go with Ringo. Why? It seems the right thing to do.

Finish this sentence: We’re bigger than…
The dining table. Well, my dining table that is. If you combined us all… the four of us? Tim, Chris, Josh and I? Or the whole touring band??? The touring band is probably bigger than a bus. Perhaps not as tall. It kind of depends. Are you stacking us on top of each other?

What’s something special you’ll be singing on the night?
Don’t Pass Me By. It was written by Ringo. It went to #1 in Denmark so it’s probably more special for the Danes but it’s an oddity on the White Album and that’s why I think it’s special.

The 50th anniversary of The Beatles visiting Australia is currently being celebrated: do you think your music will be remembered in 50 years?
If DCx3 isn’t being covered in 100 years I’ll eat my hat.

Tim Rogers
Which track on the White Album do you think you could listen to indefinitely and why?
Savoy Truffle. Was my favourite as a kid and I never knew why. And I still don’t. Lick the mystery.

Choose one: John, Paul, George or Ringo. Why?
Stuart Sutcliffe. For his cheekbones and early quiff.

Finish this sentence: We’re bigger than…
The illicit dreams in your noggin.

What’s something special you’ll be singing on the night?
Serenading Philip to sleep each night.

The 50th anniversary of The Beatles visiting Australia is currently being celebrated: do you think your music will be remembered in 50 years? 
I’d prefer to be remembered for my “unique” looks.

Prisoner Of Australia

Author: Simon Topper

Considering The Living End’s series of sold-out shows across Australia late last year – playing not one, but each of their six studio albums in full – plus ongoing commitments to tours, festivals and a Melbourne recording studio, you’d be forgiven for not realising that frontman Chris Cheney and his family are now permanent residents of the USA. They relocated to Los Angeles over a year ago, with Cheney planning to try his hand at the role of Collaborator For Hire.

“I love being in the band, and The Living End has been the major part of my life,” he says. “But I especially enjoy the songwriting. After the past few years, it’s been more of a hobby for me. I was in New York in 2010 to write our last record and I loved it, so I thought why not come back for a couple of years and play guitar on different records and collaborate with different people?”

Most recently, he’s been talking with John Feldmann, who’s best known for fronting punk/ska band Goldfinger, now a producer working with acts ranging from The Used to Kelis. “He’s working with a band called Black Veil Bride. Now, it’s not particularly the kind of music that I’m really into, but it’s a different project, so I wrote something that I thought might appeal to them, and they’ve recorded that, and it’s ended up on their album,” Cheney says. “There’s been a lot of people who are aware of The Living End, and they’re kind of fans I suppose, so it’s been a way to put myself out of the zone of what The Living End does, because I like all different styles of music.”

So there have been a few interesting opportunities already – and there’d probably be even more, if Australia could just stop inviting him back so much. At the time we speak, Cheney has just arrived in L.A. after a month here, and before he’s even had a chance to catch up properly with his family, he’s on the phone to Australia again. “I was just back doing a couple of different things – TLE were recording for a Hunters & Collectors tribute they’re putting together,” he says. “Not sure if I’ve let the cat out of the bag on that one, but there you go. And I was producing a band in a studio I own in Collingwood … We moved over here in November 2011, and then I was back for a couple of months for Big Day Out, and then back for a couple of festivals and things like that, then back for three months for Christmas and the Retrospective shows, and now I’ve got to come back again in a month for Stone Music Fest. I just like to travel on planes!”

Playing high up the Stone Music Festival bill alongside names like Van Halen, Jimmy Barnes and Kings Of Chaos (featuring members of Guns N’ Roses, Def Leppard and Deep Purple) must suggest to Cheney that The Living End has stepped into the world of rock veterans. “Well, it’s not something you really think about, until someone actually says it to you. When I think of a veteran, I think of an RSL tour, and we’re not quite in that age bracket yet,” he laughs. “I suppose we have been around for a while if you look back to the first album in ’98 or whenever, and it is an odd point that you reach and people start looking back, more so than thinking of you as the next big thing.”

“I remember when that first album came out,” he goes on. “There was that great hype and you think it’s going to last, and of course it never does, but I’m glad we’ve had almost two peaks in our career, with the first record, and then with White Noise. That was a huge thing for us, we went back and played stadiums and arenas which we never thought we’d do once, let alone twice. So to some people, it must seem like we’ve been around for some time now.” In terms of their Stone Music set, Cheney says that one of the best aspects of the recent Retrospective tour was the rediscovery of older songs that had dropped off the setlist over the years. “You do get to a point where there are tunes you’re more comfortable and familiar with, and obviously the ones on the radio always get the better reaction,” he says. “So you tend to stick to your comfort zone, which for a band can be a very dangerous thing to do. There’s a lot of aspects to what this band does, and we pride ourselves on the fact that we’re musicians, and we aspire to be a musician’s kind of band, and there are certain songs that may not have got a lot of radio play, but when we play them live, that’s the best moment in the set. So I haven’t thought about what the set’s going to be yet, but we just don’t want to play it safe. This band’s played it safe for a while.”

Chris Cheney

Author: Unknown

CHRIS CHENEY [THE LIVING END] ON TOURING RETROSPECTIVELY

“The Retrospective tour has been a whole different can of worms, it really is. It’s kind of setting up the rig to play different records. I’ve got a whole lot of different stuff. The first two records are pretty easy, it’s just slap delay and an overdrive pedal, that’s about all I had at that point (laughs). Then after that I started using different delays, some stereo delays and ping pong effects on a few songs, so it’s been fun kind of dialling those in.

“Guitar-wise, I’m kind of tempted to grab a couple off my older Gretschs. I’ve got a couple of ‘60s ones that I used to play that have become semi retired, I suppose. It’s just because the newer ones stay in tune a little better, they’re a bit more roadworthy and a bit easier to throw around. My sound hasn’t changed that much over the hears, it’s really just down to the way I play certain songs. There’s a whole lot more rockabilly sounding songs off our first record, it’s just a matter of cleaning up the sound a little bit. It’s not like I was using radically different kinds of tones to what I am now. “Amp-wise, at the moment I’m using a Wizard 50 watt, which has kind of been my staple amp for over 10 years or something now. I’ve got an old Fender Bassman which I’m playing alongside it. The I’ve been plugging into this Divided By Thirteen amp, which is really, really nice. I’ve got an old Vox AC30 as well. I’m kind of putting all of those alongside my Wizard amps and seeing what sounds best, but they all seem to sound good. So, it’s a problem, but a good problem (laughs).”

…Just The Beginning Repeating

Author: Bryget Chrisfield

When Bryget Chrisfield joins frontman Chris Cheney, double bassist Scott Owen and drummer Andy Strachan on the eve of their current, marathon Retrospective Tour, she learns the band originally planned to call it, “The Living End – Tears Of Joy, Waves Of Emotion”.

“Oh look, I’m gonna come straight out and say this,” The Living End’s frontman Chris Cheney pauses for effect while his bandmates clutch their beers in anticipation. “I’m expecting tears.” Drummer Andy Strachan exhales, “Oh, that’s so much better than I thought it was gonna be.” Cheney is referring to how he expects the crowd to react during The Living End’s current Retrospective tour, which sees the trio play all six albums, back to back, over 39 dates nationwide. “I’m expecting tears of joy, waves of emotion. That was what we were gonna call the tour: ‘The Living End – Tears Of Joy, Waves Of Emotion’. Then we went, ‘Er, maybe just Retrospective.’” Sadly, they’ve already printed out the T-shirts, so this slogan won’t be emblazoned across them, but Cheney has a light-bulb moment: “We might get some hankies made up, though. As you walk in you get a hankie.”

Once double bassist Scott Owen gets involved, it’s an in-jokefest. “What are we saying?” Cheney observes. “We spend too much time together, clearly! Well we were gonna have a day off today and not see each other, but here we are back at the pub, two pots in.” Owen disagrees with the picture Cheney is painting of their band as boozehounds: “No, we haven’t been going to the pub! We used to go to the pub every day for lunch, but we haven’t been to the pub at all. We went to the pub once two days ago out of the whole month [of rehearsals], so we’re like boy scouts.” Does this boy scout-like behaviour include working out to get match-fit for the tour? Owen stresses: “Yep. Fuck, yeah!” Cheney chuckles, “As he rolls a cigarette.” Owen defends: “Yeah, I’ve been riding my bike to rehearsal everyday.” “Andy, you’ve been doin’ a bit of Zumba,” Cheney teases.“Mind you, we do six-hour rehearsal days. That’s one of the things in the back of our mind is the stamina and the endurance, ‘cause seven nights is a lot – and different sets – so it’s gonna be brain-strain as much as anything else.” Owen directs the spotlight back Strachan’s way: “Andy spends hours running away from screaming women every day.” Cheney chuckles and continues on this theme, “He’s all four of The Fab Four in one!”

On the reasons behind tackling this beast of a tour, Cheney ponders, “I think it was just basically trying to do something that was gonna cause some kind of controversy, that it was actually gonna be a talking point, like, ‘Wow, are they really gonna be able to do that?’ We were the first ones to ask the question, you know, ‘It’s such a challenge, let’s just throw ourselves into it. What’s the worst that can happen?’” And how many songs across their six albums would they anticipate have never been played live before? “There’d be at least – half would you say?” Owen estimates. Cheney counters, “It’d be a bit more. I’d say, like, fifty. I mean, I think we’ve had to learn seventy-nine [songs] in total – not had to learn, but that we’ve been rehearsing. That is the catalogue: seventy-nine or eighty or something.”

“Let’s call it eighty,” Owen interjects before Cheney continues, “And of that I reckon over the past few years we’ve fallen into the trap of kind of playing maybe eighteen or ninetween or twenty of those; let’s say twenty.” Owen turns to Strachan: “So that leaves – you do the maths.” The drummer confesses, “Yeah, I’m not very good at maths.” Cheney: “[There are] quite a lot that we haven’t played very often. Some songs like Putting You Down and things like that, which we’ve never played live, you know: you write them, you rehearse them, you record them, you mix them and then that’s it! You never sort of go back to it, so there’s a few of those.” Revisiting these during the rehearsal period brought certain songs into focus that Owen labels “real tough customers”. “There’s one called Nowhere Town that’s been probably the biggest tough customer, hasn’t it?” Strachan concurs: “Yep, absolutely.” Owen muses, “Why the hell we’d have such a difficult song to play and then, three-quarters of the way through the song, go, ‘Let’s put a key change in! Just so we have to learn it in another position as well.’ But actually, it’s great – it’s a really fun song.”

Cheney offers: “You know what? I think it’s one thing to book a tour like this and just play all those songs, but we didn’t wanna bluff our way through and just sort of play it; we wanna actually [punches the table to emphasise each word] nail every single song. That’s where the nerves kinda crept in for me, it was like, ‘Holy shit! I don’t wanna just play track five and kind of get through it.’ We wanna slam it – every single album, every song – which is just an enormous amount of work, because you’ve gotta know the songs backwards and really do it properly. ‘Cause, you know, we‘ve built up this reputation as a live band that, ninety per cent of the time, has a pretty good show – just because we’re anal like that. So it’s like, ‘This could be our undoing if we don’t pull it off.’ [laughs] So we don’t want that to be the case. Each album that we do, there’s gonna be a handful of people in the audience who, you know, whatever track number seven is – that’s their favourite song,” Owen explains, “and that’s gonna be thehighlight of their night. So I wanna make sure we’re not just bluffing our way through [those songs], we wanna actually do them all justice so all those pockets of people are happy.”

“People that were, like, fifteen when our first record came out,” Cheney points out, “by the time the latest one came out, like,some of them might even have their own children – it’s quite bizarre. So there’s gonna be all different generations of people: People that got into State Of Emergency might have hated our first record. And then we’ve been lucky enough that we’ve got all these different generations of people [who] get into our records.” Babysitters will be in high demand, then. “We should have a crèche,” Owen jokingly suggests. “We’re doing our under-18 gig on the last day: we’re doing two shows,” Cheney explains, surprising Strachan: “On the last day!? Really? We’re gonna be so tired.”

Look Back, Gear Up And Go For It!

Author: Greg Phillips

The Living End are a third of the way through their massive Retrospective Tour, in which they’re playing all six of their albums to sold out crowds in five cities. They were conducting final rehearsal when Muso’s Greg Phillips caught up with the band.

It couldn’t have been more straight forward. The original idea was to play their debut album in its entirety at a gig or two. But the more the band and management talked, the bigger the concept became. All six albums, all cities and let’s take a swag of support bands along for the ride. Th e Living End’s Th e Retrospective Tour has become one of the most successful Australian tours by a local band, ever. As gig after gig sold out, the band were hunkered down at Melbourne’s Deluxe Studios bringing to life the 80 or so songs from their back catalogue. Again, it would have been much simpler to take one set of standard TLE gear out to nail these songs, but that’s not The Living End’s way. “We want to try to play the albums as true as possible,” said bass player Scott Owen. Guitarist and TLE main man Chris Cheney agrees. “When there are 80 songs to learn, we don’t want there to be 80 songs with the same guitar tone for every single tune.” Such fastidiousness comes at a price though. Not only did they have to go back and learn the back catalogue, they also had to try to recall what gear was used on each track. “We’ve been like, ‘I can’t remember what delay that was, put the record on!’ So we’d tweak it and try to match it.”

Chris has dusted down some old guitars for the tour and is keen to give them some stage time to help emulate the original album tones. “I have an old 1962 Double Anniversary Gretsch which is just beautiful. It’s kind of like an old car, when it’s up and running. It’s nice but it takes a little bit to get going and doesn’t really compete that well with my newer Gretschs. I’m dialing in a few little sounds here and there on my effects board but otherwise it is still pretty bare bones. It’s still a basic rock n roll foundation and not many effects… a lot of delays! Scott is also excited to be hearing Chris rip out some classic Living End riff s. “It’s awesome to hear all of that stuff again,” he said. “Chris is being fucking shy, he’s rather meticulous about his effects and getting them all perfect like they are on the record.”

Their gear has actually changed over the years, as they discovered during rehearsals. “I was looking at a photo of Scott and I and our first drummer playing at the Yarraville Hotel back in about 1993,” recalls Chris. “I had two Fender Twins behind me, a Tube Screamer and a digital delay pedal, which I used to adjust the increments on as I went. Now I have this pedalboard in front of me which basically has a whole lot of buttons on it which are like patches, which then go back through like a brain, which then engages certain pedals and delays and it is very convoluted. Basically, now I am running like a C3PO-like Millenium Falcon pedalboard! We started out with a direct line in, maybe a delay pedal, Chuck Berry style and it’s kind of gone more U2 as we have gone along. I’m [pretty] strict in getting the delays right. Some of the songs depend on that. My biggest thing is that I can’t remember half the shit that I was playing with on those earlier records. We’ve got an extra guitar player now, Adrian Lombardi, so I not only have to learn what I used to play, but I have to learn the overdubs too. He’ll be like, ‘How are you playing that bit?’ and I’m like, ‘Dude, I don’t know… I’m just trying to figure out my own bit.’ Adrian has been our touring rhythm guitar player now for almost two years.”

It’s not just Chris and his original guitar tones which needed to be recreated. The same issues befell bassist Scott and to a lesser degree drummer Andy Strachan. Often it took a flick through photo albums to find clues as to what gear they were using at any given time. “Those old photos that I found, you had three milk crates and you had that cube on top, another little speaker on top of that then a tweeter thing,” Cheney recalls of Scott’s bass rig. “It looked like a little robot. That was like ‘93, ‘94, we were just out of school and you went through a lot of pickups.”

Like most musicians, Scott has always been on the quest for a perfect stage sound but for someone who plays a double bass, it’s never been easy. “It always been a major thorn in my side, playing an instrument in a manner it wasn’t supposed to be played,” said Scott. “Then getting it to be amplified and sound like a quality instrument on a rock‘n’roll stage, is a real mission. I’m always getting closer and closer to what I’m seeing in my mind. It’s hard. It’s not like going into a guitar shop and saying, ‘I’ll have that sound’. It’s something that I have to make up. I went through all these weird and wacky ideas of getting the pickup inside the bass, mounting pickups inside them in which case you need to cut a hole in the bass to get in there. There’s been one luthier who has tended to my every whim with [the] double bass over all the years I have played, Ben Puglisi, and I appreciate him so much. Even when I have ideas like, ‘Why not cut a hole in this section? He’s gone, ‘Man, you are going to regret that so much one day… I’ll do it for you just to appease your curiosity but you’re going to fucking regret it, I swear to God.’ A year later I’d bring it in and ask him to patch that hole up but yes, it’s been an endless search.”

For Cheney, the quest for the perfect sound is part and parcel of what being in a rock band is all about. “You’ve got to search for those things because there wasn’t a template for what we were trying to do at that early point,” he said. “There’s parts of us that wanted to be this but also a modern rock band, not a traditional rockabilly band – we want to be able to play at volume. I’ve got extra struts in my guitars from trying to play at high volume… extra things that I have put into my guitars over the years to try to handle the fact that we’re this rockabilly band that wants to be Th e Who!”

Looking back, Andy Strachan believes he has gone smaller and quieter with his drum kit. “My drum tech and front of house guys over the years have said to me, ‘You don’t need cymbals that make your eyes bleed’, but that’s what I thought back then,” he said. “On the Big Day Out stage or whatever, I thought you needed cymbals that were louder then amps. You don’t. That’s what microphones are for, so that’s the only lesson I have really learnt. Other than that, I try to get new drums to sound like vintage drums. They’re all thin shells, mahogany and maple. It’s a Pearl Masterworks kit. Masterworks is apparently like … whatever you want. Their idea is that they’ll build you whatever you need. To that degree, they’re right on the money and will pretty much do whatever you want. Instead of having 8 ply maple and 3 ply birch, I go for 4 plys of mahogany with maple blue rings and that’s as close as I have found to a vintage drum kit. I try to make them sound as old as possible. The cymbals are a big thing I learnt. They’re thin and quieter cymbals and actually sound a lot better, especially when you have the vocal mic open, like a Z Custom is just going to bleed all over the stage and ruin the front of house guy’s day. That’s where it all stemmed from, the front of house guy and drum tech saying that it doesn’t have to be that loud. Th e snare drum either; you can play quietly and let the mics do the work. With the cymbals, Zildjian K Hybrid Crashes is what I have been playing, quite thin but 18s and 19s, 21” sweet ride which is what I have been playing for five or six years now; and a pair of 15” Hybrid hats, K Lights so they are quite thin – way quieter than they used to be. I used to play all Z Customs and A Projections, cymbals which tore your ears apart.” As the beers chugged down and the memories become more vivid, the guys revelled in stories about how the band has given them the opportunity to meet some of their musical heroes, and how bizarre it has been that some of them such as Richard Clapton, Brad Shepherd, Daryl Braithwaite, and Neil Finn bother to come backstage or even compliment them on their music. After all these years and a new record breaking tour, it seems Th e Living End deep down are basically just music fans. “It’s why we’re here,” said Chris. “It’s gotta be why we’re here: a) because we are patient, b) because we are ambitious motherfuckers and c) because we are music lovers. We still get along. We have been through everything a band could possibly go through. We’ve been through drug issues, girlfriend issues, issues where I don’t want to see you or be around you, musical direction issues. We’ve been through everything like that and we are still around. A lot of bands don’t have that patience. We’ve always felt that we can go on and do something a little better.” Andy’s eyes light up too and chips in. “There was a moment a couple of weeks ago and we were playing How Do We Know and it felt fantastic. The whole rehearsal went for about five hours playing together and going, ‘Yeah, that was fine’. Then there was this magic moment where, even after all this time… we have played that song a thousand times but it just felt so exciting and so good. That’s what it is all about… those moments.” “It’s not about the accolades or how many payers or much merch we sold,” Chris says in summary. “It’s really about, ‘Shit that felt good when we played’. You hope that never leaves you.”

…Just The Beginning Repeating

Author: Bryget Chrisfield

When Bryget Chrisfield joins frontman Chris Cheney, double bassist Scott Owen and drummer Andy Strachan on the eve of their current, marathon Retrospective Tour, she learns the band originally planned to call it, “The Living End – Tears Of Joy, Waves Of Emotion”.

“Oh look, I’m gonna come straight out and say this,” The Living End’s frontman Chris Cheney pauses for effect while his bandmates clutch their beers in anticipation. “I’m expecting tears.” Drummer Andy Strachan exhales, “Oh, that’s so much better than I thought it was gonna be.” Cheney is referring to how he expects the crowd to react during The Living End’s current Retrospective tour, which sees the trio play all six albums, back to back, over 39 dates nationwide. “I’m expecting tears of joy, waves of emotion. That was what we were gonna call the tour: ‘The Living End – Tears Of Joy, Waves Of Emotion’. Then we went, ‘Er, maybe just Retrospective.’” Sadly, they’ve already printed out the T-shirts, so this slogan won’t be emblazoned across them, but Cheney has a light-bulb moment: “We might get some hankies made up, though. As you walk in you get a hankie.”

Once double bassist Scott Owen gets involved, it’s an in-jokefest. “What are we saying?” Cheney observes. “We spend too much time together, clearly! Well we were gonna have a day off today and not see each other, but here we are back at the pub, two pots in.” Owen disagrees with the picture Cheney is painting of their band as boozehounds: “No, we haven’t been going to the pub! We used to go to the pub every day for lunch, but we haven’t been to the pub at all. We went to the pub once two days ago out of the whole month [of rehearsals], so we’re like boy scouts.” Does this boy scout-like behaviour include working out to get match-fit for the tour? Owen stresses: “Yep. Fuck, yeah!” Cheney chuckles, “As he rolls a cigarette.” Owen defends: “Yeah, I’ve been riding my bike to rehearsal everyday.” “Andy, you’ve been doin’ a bit of Zumba,” Cheney teases. “Mind you, we do six-hour rehearsal days. That’s one of the things in the back of our mind is the stamina and the endurance, ‘cause seven nights is a lot – and different sets – so it’s gonna be brain-strain as much as anything else.” Owen directs the spotlight back Strachan’s way: “Andy spends hours running away from screaming women every day.” Cheney chuckles and continues on this theme, “He’s all four of The Fab Four in one!”

On the reasons behind tackling this beast of a tour, Cheney ponders, “I think it was just basically trying to do something that was gonna cause some kind of controversy, that it was actually gonna be a talking point, like, ‘Wow, are they really gonna be able to do that?’ We were the first ones to ask the question, you know, ‘It’s such a challenge, let’s just throw ourselves into it. What’s the worst that can happen?’” And how many songs across their six albums would they anticipate have never been played live before? “There’d be at least – half would you say?” Owen estimates. Cheney counters, “It’d be a bit more. I’d say, like, fifty. I mean, I think we’ve had to learn seventy-nine [songs] in total – not had to learn, but that we’ve been rehearsing. That is the catalogue: seventy-nine or eighty or something.”

“Let’s call it eighty,” Owen interjects before Cheney continues, “And of that I reckon over the past few years we’ve fallen into the trap of kind of playing maybe eighteen or ninetween or twenty of those; let’s say twenty.” Owen turns to Strachan: “So that leaves – you do the maths.” The drummer confesses, “Yeah, I’m not very good at maths.” Cheney: “[There are] quite a lot that we haven’t played very often. Some songs like Putting You Down and things like that, which we’ve never played live, you know: you write them, you rehearse them, you record them, you mix them and then that’s it! You never sort of go back to it, so there’s a few of those.” Revisiting these during the rehearsal period brought certain songs into focus that Owen labels “real tough customers”. “There’s one called Nowhere Town that’s been probably the biggest tough customer, hasn’t it?” Strachan concurs: “Yep, absolutely.” Owen muses, “Why the hell we’d have such a difficult song to play and then, three-quarters of the way through the song, go, ‘Let’s put a key change in! Just so we have to learn it in another position as well.’ But actually, it’s great – it’s a really fun song.”

Cheney offers: “You know what? I think it’s one thing to book a tour like this and just play all those songs, but we didn’t wanna bluff our way through and just sort of play it; we wanna actually [punches the table to emphasise each word] nail every single song. That’s where the nerves kinda crept in for me, it was like, ‘Holy shit! I don’t wanna just play track five and kind of get through it.’ We wanna slam it – every single album, every song – which is just an enormous amount of work, because you’ve gotta know the songs backwards and really do it properly. ‘Cause, you know, we‘ve built up this reputation as a live band that, ninety per cent of the time, has a pretty good show – just because we’re anal like that. So it’s like, ‘This could be our undoing if we don’t pull it off.’ [laughs] So we don’t want that to be the case. Each album that we do, there’s gonna be a handful of people in the audience who, you know, whatever track number seven is – that’s their favourite song,” Owen explains, “and that’s gonna be thehighlight of their night. So I wanna make sure we’re not just bluffing our way through [those songs], we wanna actually do them all justice so all those pockets of people are happy.”

“People that were, like, fifteen when our first record came out,” Cheney points out, “by the time the latest one came out, like,some of them might even have their own children – it’s quite bizarre. So there’s gonna be all different generations of people: People that got into State Of Emergency might have hated our first record. And then we’ve been lucky enough that we’ve got all these different generations of people [who] get into our records.” Babysitters will be in high demand, then. “We should have a crèche,” Owen jokingly suggests. “We’re doing our under-18 gig on the last day: we’re doing two shows,” Cheney explains, surprising Strachan: “On the last day!? Really? We’re gonna be so tired.”

The Magnificent Seven

Author: Rob Lyon

Melbourne rockers The Living End are about to attempt one of Australian music’s biggest undertakings: playing seven nights in a row in each capital city, playing a different Living End album in its entirety each night. Frontman Chris Cheney talks more about the upcoming tour.

Considering there are six cracking Living End albums (including their barnstorming self-titled 1998 debut, which the band will play twice at each stop), the tour has to be The Living End’s biggest of this magnitude.
“I think it kind of is!” Cheney agrees. “What I’m finding is that it is a different sort of workload. It’s one thing to say we’re going to go out on tour and take pyrotechnics, back-up dancers and singers – not that we’ve ever had that – but that’s on a different scale. This is grand on a whole other level; having to learn 80 songs and the fact that we’re playing seven nights in a row. It’s enormous, but there’s something enormously exciting about it for us.”

It must be great to have so much love from the fans to support this concept?
“We’re still a little way out but the whole tour has sold incredibly well. There are some nights that have sold better than others and the initial idea was to celebrate our first record. Then the idea came along to do all our records, but then we wondered if anyone would come to the State Of Emergency or Modern Artillery nights. We thought they probably would as each album has done well on its merit. with successful radio singles off each album. The tour has sold really well and different generations of fans were around for different albums, which is an amazing thing the way it is unfolding.”

Cheney laughs when it’s suggested he might go spare spending a week in Adelaide.
“I don’t think I’ve ever spent a week in Adelaide but I’m looking forward to it. I know you guys cop a bit of stick down there but I’ve always been very partial to playing in Adelaide. Ever since we were first out of high school we played little gigs there and we’ve always gone down well there. Having a South Australian in the band [Andy Strachan, drums], it has always been one of those consistent places for us. It sounds like I’m trying to sell it, but I can assure you I’m not – I’m legit and Adelaide is a special place for the band.”

Are you planning to get out and about or sit back and count the cash?
“Counting the cash shouldn’t take too long! Andy has friends and relatives there and I have a lot of friends and relatives there too so it will be nice to go out and see them. Normally it is a quick beer after the show and keep moving.”

Where do you go after a tour of this size – will it be hard to reel it back in next time?
“We haven’t put a great deal of thought into it as it has been such a massive exercise already. This tour takes us right up to Christmas and then we’ll do our own thing before regrouping at some point. I can’t see any reason why we wouldn’t make another album. I can see how it may smell like a final lap around the country, but this is something we’ve felt like doing and the right time to do it now. After the last album I didn’t feel like there was any lack of ideas and there is the hunger to do another – [it’s] not the notion we better do another album. I feel we’re still on the same path and have a point to prove with each album.”

Will there be a live recording or DVD release to commemorate this tour?
“As far as I know we’re going to try and document the whole thing. We’re going to film and record it like we have done in the past but we’ve never wanted to approve it, as the three of us cringe our way through an entire set and say, ‘Nah, fuck it – put in on the shelf. I can’t handle listening to this!'”

Cheney Unchained

Is there a possibility of The Living End frontman Chris Cheney releasing a solo project in the coming years?
“I’d very much like to think so. I have a heap of tunes lying around and a lot of ideas. This band is all-consuming and so full-on that it is hard to think about other things. It has been in the back of my mind for a while now and having done things like [He Will Have His Way’s Crowded House cover] Distant Sun and The Wrights was a good diversion I suppose. I’m not ruling it out!”

Walking The Black Cattle Dog

Author: Bob Gordon

The Living End’s Retrospective tour will open this week in Perth, dominating the Rosemount Hotel from Thursday. November 1, until Wednesday, November 7, as the band play a selected album each night in entirety with support along the way from Sons Of Rico, The Growl, The Novocaines and the Gyroscope DJs. BOB GORDON speaks with vocalist/guitarist, Chris Cheney.

Take a good look at the photograph on this page. That’s The Living End pictured recently in their rehearsal space, getting things together for their exhaustive Retrospective tour which will seem them setup stumps in each Australian city for a week playing the entirety of their six albums. That’s one busy room.

“It sure is,” echoes vocalist/guitarist, ChrisCheney. “That’s the shot with our sleeping bags at the side and it’s pretty much like that. We’re living and breathing the TLE catalogue. There’s worse things in life I suppose. I’m not sure what they are, but I’m sure there is.

“I’ve got 80 songs going around in my head at the moment. It’s all a bit overwhelming (laughs).”

In recent months Cheney and co. have been busy studying a course called The Living End 101. Cheney may have written the curriculum, but there’s still plenty to be learnt.

“There is,” he says. “It’s bringing back a lot of memories, learning all the songs. It’s one thing to relearn the music and relearn the arrangements – because some of them we haven’t played since a long time ago – but what we’re finding is that we’re always going, ‘remember that time when…?’

“That’s what music does, doesn’t it? It transports you to somewhere. That’s been a lot of fun.”

While the notion of tour undertaking complete setlists of the band’s albums, arrived as a whole notion to the public, the idea germinated as a more specific pursuit.

“It manifested from the triple j Hottest 100 Australian Albums Of All Time that they did,” Cheney recalls. “Our first record [1998’s self-titled LP] came number #4, which just completely blew us away. So we thought, ‘let’s acknowledge that and play a night at The Corner in Melbourne and play the whole album’ because it’d been so long since we played a lot of songs from that record and we’d never done the get-up-and-play an-album-thing before. Then we thought we’d do that in every state and it snowballed into thinking, ‘why not do a tour with all of our albums?’ because they’ve all been reasonably successful.

“We’re lucky that each album we’ve done has done really well. It’s been above and beyond what we’ve ever expected. We’ve managed to make a career out of this which we’re pretty proud of and we never expected we would. So we wondered if the want would be there and we could actually do that – play six consecutive nights in a city and fill the place. It’s looking like we are because it’s selling really, really well. I guess there’s different generations of people who got into different records.”

Looking back, it’s always seemed to be that The Living End could find new fans with new albums, something their good mates You Am I sadly haven’t been able to do.

“I know what you mean,” Cheney considers. “We’ve been very lucky like that, we’ve always had a couple of songs off each album that have gotten played on the radio, which has helped. It hasn’t just been an album put out with no singles off it. We’ve managed to get consistent, solid airplay which is nice, but we’ve also worked bloody hard.

“We’ve always tried to leave the stage and have people go, ‘fuck, that was great’. Not go, ‘that was a bit average, they’ve kind of gone off the boil’. We’ve always tried to make sure that we were relevant so I think once you’ve got a live reputation for yourself, you should uphold that with obviously putting out records that are relevant as well. So it’s a bit of luck and a bit of old-fashioned hard work, I guess.”

Of the shows, the band are performing seven nights in each city for their six albums, including two for first LP.

“The first record is like a seminal album for us,” Cheney notes. “I’m not ashamed to admit that; as much as I probably prefer other albums I can see why people hold it very close to their heart. It was of its time and it had an energy and enthusiasm and it just kind of exploded when it came out.

“So those nights have sold very well, but I think State Of Emergency and Roll On are doing well too. I think in each city there’s only a handful of tickets that are still available for certain nights. I couldn’t be happier with the reaction it’s had.”

While the notion of such an extensive exercise as the Retrospective tour could well lay the ground wide open for what happens next, Cheney is not daring to think into the great beyond.

“Not really, no,” he contemplates. “The other thing with a tour like this is that it could be absolutely disastrous. Retrospective tour… I guess it can sound daggy but I promise you but it’s not, the songs just sound slamming. It’s never a good idea to look back, it’s much better to look forward, but having said that we haven’t really looked beyond this tour now.

“We figure that if we get a bunch of songs that are worthy we’ll do it, but I’m in no real hurry at this point because it’s been a three-year cycle for so long, we’ve just done album/tour/album/tour/album/tour so I don’t care about disappearing for a little while, perhaps. But you never know, it could be the thing that ignites the inspiration again.”

Living Large

Author: Daniel Cribb

Before The Living End embark on their most ambitious tour yet – playing all six albums in their discography from start to finish over seven nights in each city – frontman Chris Cheney tries to cram 15 years’ worth of history into ten minutes. Daniel Cribb frantically takes notes.

It’s lockdown for Chris Cheney, Scott Owen and Andy Strachan. The Living End have always tried to outdo their previous efforts, and on the eve of their biggest and most ambitious tour to date, the band admit they tend to bite off more than they can chew. When vocalist/guitar whiz Chris Cheney picks up his phone from the band’s rehearsal space in South Melbourne, it’s some of the first outside interaction he’s had for days. “There’s been a little bit of homework leading up to rehearsals. Listening back to older records, god forbid, can just be a cringe-worthy exercise, you know,” Cheney laughs. “They say you should never look back as an artist or musician, so there’s been, ‘Aw, do I really wanna be going back over old ground.’”

But there’s nothing the band should be ashamed of in their back catalogue. Over six albums, four EPs and two compilations, they’ve racked up a slew of awards and each record has produced at least one radio hit. Their self-titled debut ranked number four on triple j’s Hottest 100 Albums Of All Time last year, and in ’09, single, Prisoner Of Society, came in at number 34 on triple j’s Hottest 100 Of All Time.

They figured The Living End would probably make it into the Hottest 100 Albums Of All Time, but were blown away when it was voted so high up. That was the catalyst for a brainstorming session that turned into The Retrospective Tour.

“People really hold that record near to their hearts – people that were around at that stage. So we thought, ‘Right, we should acknowledge that and do a gig at The Corner or something, where we always used to play, and do the album start to finish.’ Then we thought, ‘Maybe we can do it in every state?’ and then – this is just sitting around a table with our manager and brainstorming – it just snowballed into this thing of, ‘Why don’t we play all of our albums and make a real statement. Play all of our records, seven nights in a row? Two nights for the first record, just ‘cause we knew that would sell really well – it was a bit ambitious of us wasn’t it?” he laughs.

There’s no doubt that a performance of The Living End would sell out in every city; one of the more ambitious elements of the tour was giving every album its own night. Cheney admits that some of their latest records aren’t as popular as their first couple, but has no doubts in his mind that each album stands strong on its own. “There was a little bit of hesitance as far as, ‘Well, would each night sell?’ We knew the first record would do well and maybe Roll On and probably White Noise because the song did so well, but what about the other records. Then we thought about it and we thought, ‘Well, every album’s done really well on its own merit.’ We’ve managed to have a couple of radio singles, like, two or three off every record that have done quite well. There’s different generations of people that got into State Of Emergency that weren’t around when the first album came out, and then there’s people that got into White Noise that were too young for Roll On. So that’s what we found. It’s one of those things – it seemed like such a challenge and such a different thing to do.

“There’s a couple on Modern Artillery that we’ve never played on stage, you know, they just got kind of recorded, mixed, that’s it. But there’s none, I can honestly say there’s no songs that we’re kind of like, ‘Aw fuck, that one, we just can’t do anything with that song – it’s just a dud.’ They’ve all come up really well, and there’s a lot of variety on the albums, which I’m glad about. It’s still the same band, you know; it’s not like we have our dance-pop record, it’s still rock’n’roll for the most part. There’s a couple of country-tinged songs and a couple of reggae moments and some metal kind of things – there’s enough diversity there for us to not lose interest within the eight songs, or whatever it is, that we’re learning… We’re head first into now – knee deep. You don’t have to be crazy to be in this band but it fuckin’ helps,” he laughs.

Seven nights in a row in each city may seem like a huge stint, but after The Living End dropped, it was standard protocol. “Around the time of our second album, Roll On, it was a bit like that. I remember doing nine months straight without coming home. We were probably doing five or six nights straight a week. We definitely toured hard at that point, but the thing is, with this tour, we’re doing a different set every night. When you’re on the road and you’re just trying to get the band off the ground, you kind of fall into that thing of playing pretty much the same set the majority of the time. So if you play a gig on Friday night and it’s not very good, you can sort of fix a few of the issues on Saturday, but we’re not going to be able to do this, it’s going to be like, ‘Right, we’re moving on to album number three now.’ We’ve always toured pretty hard, so we’re not really afraid of that side of it.

“When you do tours like this people are always like, ‘Aw, yeah, here they go. They’re gonna do this farewell kind of tour,’ and it’s not that at all – this is more of an event. We just wanted to do something that was really different and probably to not worry about doing another record yet because we’re not ready to. If I write songs and it’s what the band does, then great, if I don’t then we’re not going to rush into it. There’s no real plan at this point, but I can’t see any reason why we wouldn’t go in and do another record if we felt the want to. The last record, for us, was probably our favourite as a collective. I just felt like we had lots of ideas, and we felt it really played well and the songs were strong. It did really well, you know, a couple of ARIAs and that sort ofthing, so it’s like, ‘Fuck yeah!’ We don’t feel like we’ve used up all of our coins, our tokens yet.”

FROM LITTLE THINGS

The Living End’s self titled debut album takes control in each city for two nights (Melbourne gets four), and was the album to sell out the quickest. This obviously speaks of its success and how much it means to fans, but what does it mean to the band? Frontman Chris Cheney gives some insight into their groundbreaking debut: “It’s funny, because a lot of those songs were written when we were just out of high school and we were just playing support gigs at The Tote and afternoon shows at The Punters Club, you know, when we really didn’t know what the future held for the band. We didn’t really have any other aspirations than to play at The Espy or something like that – that was what we hoped for, that maybe we could play The Esplanade Hotel,” he laughs. “Things like Big Day Out and stuff, we were like, ‘They just don’t put bands like us on things like that – we’re not alternative enough.’ So it’s interesting playing those songs now, and the whole album is really, really solid and I can see why it became so popular for a lot of people. As far as those people are concerned, we didn’t surpass that record – it has a mood and a vibe and an excitement about it. It’s interesting now playing those songs because, as I said, we wrote them when we weren’t thinking about hit singles or thinking about radio songs or anything like that, yet they’ve just got so much spirit behind them that you can never do them again, you know. Once that record blew up, there’s no way that we could ever get back into that frame of innocence and that frame of mind. People always used to say, ‘You gonna write another Prisoner? You gonna write another Second Solution?’ And it’s like, ‘Well, no, I hope not, and I don’t think I could even if I tried.’ Once it’s done it’s done – it doesn’t happen again organically like that.”