From End To Beginning

Author: Rod Whitfield

After almost 20 years together, Melbourne rock institution The Living End have just about seen and done it all in the Aussie music scene, recently releasing their sixth studio album. Lead vocalist, guitarist and main songwriter Chris Cheney joined Rod Whitfield recently for a chat about the new record with its rather puzzling title and other TLE-related stuff.

“We’ve really made the record that we wanted to make,” says Cheney. “You just don’t know how it’s going to turn out, when you’re writing it. You’ve got this idea in your head of how you think it’s going to sound, and how you think it’s going to flow and all that. It can go the opposite and turn out completely different. But this one… we were just so stoked. When we were making it we were like ‘fuck, it’s sounding really good, sonically’, and I think we picked the best batch of songs from the 30 or 40 we demo’d. Vocally I was pretty happy with the way it was coming along. And when it was completely finished and mixed, we were just like ‘fuck yeah!’. We were sure people were going to like this. We just felt like this was our best record.”

“We basically started demo’ing the album in January last year and I don’t think I took more than a day away from the writing, for the entire year! I lived it and breathed it 24/7. There were lots of ups and downs in the writing — we had some really good songs in January, and by around March or April we were sitting around in our rehearsal rooms staring at each other. We kind of felt like we’d run out of ideas. I started to feel burnt out. It was kind of like ‘shit, we’re only half way through the writing’. But we pushed through that. The thing about The Living End is that we’ve got this work ethic — we just get on with it, and we push ourselves, because we want the result. I think that’s the reason we hadt he down time, we were searching for something that didn’t exist, some thingspecial that we had in our minds. I really felt like three weeks after that, I dug deep and came up with a whole batch of songs.”

The album is entitled The Ending is Just the Beginning Repeating, which has caused some consternation amongst Living End fans. But according to Cheney, the title does not foretell the band’s demise. “A lot of our fans were shocked,” he laughs. “It’s not a very Living End sounding album title, they’re usually short, sharp and direct. But that’s kind of what drew me to it. And I guess for me it’s a statement on life cycle, I suppose. There’s a real thread that’s going through this album that’s asking a lot of questions. There were a few things that were going on in my life during the recording and writing of this album — a lot of personal stuff. I really felt like I was in a difficult place, and I was hoping that would end! And that I would grow from it if I survived it. It just seemed a very powerful statement — some things have to end in order for other things to evolve and regenerate.”

According to Cheney, his personal journey has shaped the whole feel of the album. “[It’s] just a massive question mark, really. Me being the age that I’m at now, with two little kids, and the band being through everything we’ve been through, you get to a point where you start analysing things a lot more, and what does it all mean? My life’s changed an enormous amount in the last six months, and I guess what you’re going through always makes its way through to the songs.”

The Living End storm the Fat as Butter Festival in Newcastle on Saturday, October 22, alongside Empire of the Sun, Cloud Control, British India, Calling All Cars and many, many more. Cheney and the band are jumping out of their skin to play such a massive show. “We pride ourselves on being a live band,” he says. “Once we get the album right, it’s basically a chance to get out and play [it]. To have 11 new songs to go out on the road with is super exciting for us, particularly because they sound so much better than our old songs. They just work — they flow, and they sound tougher and bigger.”

The Living End perform at Fat As Butter, Newcastle, on Saturday October 22.

No End In Sight

Author: Zoya Patel

Chris Cheney from THE LIVING END would be forgiven for being cocky. After over a decade in the industry as the frontman of one of Australia’s most loved bands, with several platinum albums under his belt and an ARIA for Best Rock Album to cap it all off, Cheney could probably spit into the phone and I’d still be grateful he’s even bothering to talk to me. Luckily, he’s not the spitting type, and instead seems genuinely chuffed when I mention I’m excited to be chatting to him. “Wow! Really?” he says, sounding surprised. “That’s nice to hear. I love the enthusiasm!”

With such a never-ending string of achievements, bagging a spot on triple j’s Hottest 100 Australian Albums of All Time might not be too exciting for Cheney. When I speak to him it’s a week before the final list is revealed, and The Living End’s self-titled debut from1998 is pegged for a spot in the Top 20 (at time of publication it has since been revealed that The Living End placed at number four on the esteemed list!).

Cheney seems, if anything, sheepish about the honour. “This is going to sound terrible, but I’m kind of embarrassed by that record. It’s a really popular record with people, and it was a product of its time, really,” Cheney admits, sounding almost guilty. “It sounds ridiculous to me, when I hear it now. It just sounds like three guys trying to play as fast as they can… like the whole record is on helium!”

There’s definitely a feeling of change in the air when it comes to The Living End, so it comes as no surprise that they might want to move on from their past successes in the hope of future glory. The band’s latest release, The Ending Is Just The Beginning Repeating is rife with themes of cycles and change, not least of all in the title itself. “The title for me just sums up the feeling throughout the record,” Cheney explains. Recording the album coincided with a particularly difficult time for Cheney, as his father was terminally ill, and unfortunately passed away not long after recording was wrapped up.

“I got to play him the record which I was really happy about, because he was always a really big fan of the band,” Cheney says. “So the idea of the album title for me was that I felt likeI was entering a new era in my life, a new phase. As much as Idon’t like change, and I don’t like things to end, it’s inevitable, and it’s part of life.”

The Ending Is Just The Beginning Repeating is about finding positives in change and acknowledging that things move on despite themselves. “I hope that in a negative thing, you can find something positive,” Cheney says. “For me, it was that [my Dad] wasn’t in the pain he was in anymore – that’s the positive I could find in a negative situation.” Not all of it is optimistic, though, and Cheney is the first to admit that there are definite trends of cynicism that run through the album, in particular through tracks like Resist that deal with the concept of not being able to fight anything, or change a situation. “I think I’m getting to a stage in life where things don’t always turn out for the best like they do when you’re a kid and everything seems to come up roses,” he laughs.

It’s about learning to make the best of everything life throws at you, though, and that’s certainly another key theme throughout the album. With such wisdom to impart, and such an obvious ease when it comes to playing live and dealing with the industry, I can’t help but think of Cheney as a sort of musical Yoda – he was there in the ‘90s, he saw what it was really like! (Yeah, I know, I’m ridiculously young. So sue me).

So, have things changed drastically since The Living End were first starting out? The band have played the ANU Bar about a million times, and are coming back on their upcoming tour to support the new album. Does it feel totally different each time? “University crowds have generally just been really out of control at most of our shows over the years, and that’s the best crowd to play to,” Cheney says. He diplomatically doesn’t mention the often terrible acoustics of the ANU Bar, instead just asking, “Is that the one with the really low ceiling? It’s a bit of a hot box!”

The tour promises to be a particularly good one, which is what we’ve come to expect from The Living End, who are renownedf or their excellent live shows. Cheney assures me that they won’t disappoint. “We’ve been rehearsing this last week, and the new songs sound great; they’re just enormous, and they work so well playing them live!” He enthuses. So, if it came down to it and he was forced to only play one Living End song live for the rest of eternity, which would Cheney choose to endlessly rock out to? “Oooh…,” he sighs. “Tough question… tell you what – it’d be West End Riot. It’s a good melting pot of influences. It’s a bit of a signature tune for us. It’s got all the elements of what we do in one song, and it’s a song that I look forward to playing live, because it just goes off every time. So if I had to pick one, I’d probably go with that one!”

Well played, Mr Cheney. Well played.

Living In The Now

Author: Ben Preece

THE MIGHTY POWERHOUSE THAT IS AUSTRALIA’S BELOVED THE LIVING END IS BACK WITH ALBUM NUMBER SIX. BEN PREECE CHATS TO FRONTMAN CHRIS CHENEY ABOUT WHAT’S MADE IT SUCH A TRIUMPHANT RETURN.

You get a sense that a lot of blood, sweat and tears goes into virtually everything The Living End touch, be it their relentless tour schedule and blistering live show or each and every song on their six albums. It’s what has kept them atop Australia’s ‘most beloved’ list ever since their Second Solution/Prisoner Of Society EP was dropped into the arms of thousands of impressionable teenagers some 14 years ago. From there they’ve become one of the biggest live drawcards in the country, and anticipation for their sixth album The Ending Is Just The Beginning Repeating is feverishly high.

Already, the album is being touted as their finest since their 1998 self-titled debut, a record that undoubtedly changed the face of Australian music. It’s being a long and harsh road since, there’s no doubt about that, but the last couple of years – between 2008’s White Noise and now – have been some of the most trialing for frontman Chris Cheney yet. The result is a record that is The Living End’s most honest to date and, as Cheney explains it, their darkest yet. “This is definitely our most personal record,” he confesses.

“It really does have quite a lot of dark moments lyrically on the record and a lot of it, I think, I feel are my most personal kind of set of lyrics. If anything, it’s sort of the opposite of what we’ve had in the past, which has been very directed towards social issues and various topics. I just got to a stage, started in the middle of last year, where – I don’t know if it’s an age thing or what – but I started to think, ‘Fuck, like what does any of this mean, where do I go from here, what have we been through and what’s next?’ And then my dad was real sick – he actually passed away a couple of months ago, straight after we finished recording – so I was dealing with all of that during the recording. So I think that there’s a lot of that on the record, there’s a lot of questioning about, you know, just what any of it kind of means and does it mean anything at all?”

Despite his real life tragedies and even, at times, selfdoubt, Cheney continued to remain focussed, constantly reminded himself of his goals and continued to plough through the process. “It’s been the most difficult year of my life,” he states gravely. “There was just days where it felt so trivial to me. But despite everything that’s going on you have to still stay focused and it’s all about quality of life I suppose.

“Things like For Another Day, we only have our lives for another day, as in, ‘If we only have now, then what are we going to do with right now?’ That’s the whole crux of this record, and for me, that’s what I mean about the title. It was very much sort of saying, ‘Well if this is going to end, if this part of our lives is going to end, I hope to God there is something else around the corner.’”

Winding up touring and promo duties that followed 2008’s White Noise, Cheney decamped to New York to begin writing for the next record. He returned to South Melbourne with a canon of new tunes that he, bassist Scott Owen and drummer Andy Strachan began to jam on. They were soon in Byron Bay’s Studio 301 under the watchful production eye of experienced Atlanta-based producer Nick Didia, although it was Cheney that continued to guide the ship the whole way. “He really shined in the studio and had some good ideas in preproduction working on arrangements,” Cheney reveals.

“But lot of that is still, I feel, down to me, you know. Like he can only say, ‘That part’s too long there, we need to shorten that’ and I thought, ‘Well, yeah but the thing is we’ve got most of the chords which kind of link those sections’ and he’d be, like, ‘Well just take them out’ and I’d be, like, ‘Well it doesn’t work if I take them out, you still need to sort of link it up in the right way’. So that part of it, I thought that was down to me, but in the actual studio, his attention to detail was just fantastic. He was just so tuned in to everyone’s parts they were playing, and he had a level of concentration I hadn’t really seen before in a producer. He was really big on the idea of not going with the biggest guitar sounds in the world, the biggest drum sounds you know, it was about finding the place where everything sonically suited so that it fits and creates this canvas of sound.”

Aiming for “spine-tingling” moments throughout The Ending Is Just The Beginning Repeating, Cheney name checks Glen Campbell, Springsteen and The Bee Gees stripping away the excess to a achieve the strongest groove possible. “Those kinds of songs – By The Time I Get To Phoenix, Gentle On My Mind – there’s just something about them; beautifully structured and just so carefully crafted,” he muses. “And that’s what I tried to do with these songs.

“I was just really meticulous with drafting, and drafting the songs over and over again to get them to a point I was happy with. But also, you want it to just flow, and just sound like it’s just kind of happened, and that’s very difficult to do, and I think for some song writers, you know, Noel Gallagher or whatever, who have written a few songs in five minutes, that never works that way for me unfortunately. I think it’s our strongest record since our first one. I think it completely wipes the floor with White Noise. “There’s definitely some big moments in the songs, and that’s what you want in an album, you want there to be these peaks, these certain moments that characterise a record. You have these moments that really hit you and send shivers down your spine, or whatever it is that we like about our favourite records. We’re fans of music, we’re fans of great albums and we’re fans of musicians so I think we’ve gotten better at all those elements over the years, and I feel like I’m a better songwriter, and we’ve gotten better as musicians, and I guess that’s the reason why people still find it appealing.”

Something Around The Corner

Author: Ben Preece

It takes tragedy for The Living End to triumphantly return with an album that wipes the floor with their previous effort, as frontman Chris Cheney tells Ben Preece.

You get a sense that a lot of blood, sweat and tears goes into virtually everything The Living End touches, be it the relentless tour schedule – which just after the new album was been released began with an appearance at Splendour In The Grass – and blistering live show or each and every song on the group’s six albums. It’s what has kept them atop Australia’s most beloved list ever since the Second Solution/Prisoner Of Society EP was dropped into the arms of thousands of impressionable teenagers some 14 years ago. From there and fast forwarding into 2011, they’ve become one of the biggest live drawcard sin the country, something of a household name within many circles.

Already, their sixth album, The Ending Is Just The Beginning Repeating, is being touted as their finest since their 1998 self-titled debut, a record that undoubtedly changed the face of Australian music as we headed into a new decade. It’s being a long and harsh road since, there’s no doubt about that, but the last couple of years – between 2008’s White Noise and now – have been some of the most testing for frontman Chris Cheney. The result is a record that is The Living End’s most honest to date and, as Cheney explains it, their darkest.

“This is definitely our most personal record,” he confesses. “It really does have quite a lot of dark moments lyrically on the record and a lot of it, I think,I feel are my most personal kind of set of lyrics. If anything, it’s sort of the opposite of what we’ve had in the past, which has been very directed towards social issues and various topics. I just got to a stage, starting in the middle of last year, where – I don’t know if it’s an age thing or what – but I started to think, ‘Fuck, like what does any of this mean? Where do I go from here? What have we been through and what’s next?’ And then my dad was real sick – he actually passed away a couple of months ago, straight after we finished recording – so I was dealing with all of that during the recording. So I think that there’s a lot of that on the record, there’s a lot of questioning about, you know, just what any of it kind of means and does it mean anything at all?”

Despite his real life tragedies and even, at times, self doubt, Cheney continued to remain focused, constantly reminded himself of his goals and continued to plough through the process. “It’s been the most difficult year of my life. There was just days where it felt so trivial to me – being in a rock’n’roll band making an album – so I did question my importance. You’re dealing with a serious issue like that, there were just times when I felt like, ‘What’s the point of any of this?’ That is the whole thing – if we don’t have goals, if we don’t have things we want to achieve, then we have nothing. So despite everything that’s going on you have to still stay focused and it’s all about quality of life I suppose.

“But it was very hard because there was a lot of lyrics onthe record that particularly deal with a lot of sensitive topics – things like For Another Day, we only have our lives for another day, as in, if we only have now, then what are we going to do with right now? That’s the whole crux of this record, and for me, that’s what I mean about the title. It was very much sort of saying,‘Well if this is going to end, if this era, if this part of our lives is going to end, I hope to God there is something else around the corner.’”

Aiming for “spine-tingling” moments throughout The Ending Is Just The Beginning Repeating, Cheney namechecks classic songwriters like Glen Campbell, Bruce Springsteen and the Bee Gees while revealing to have stripped away the excess to achieve the strongest groove possible.

“Those kinds of songs – By The Time I Get To Phoenix, Gentle On My Mind – there’s just something about them; beautifully structured and just so carefully crafted. And that’s what I tried to do with these songs. I was just really meticulous with just drafting and drafting the songs over and over again to get them to a point I was happy with. But also, you want it just to flow and just sound like it’s just kind of happened and that’s very difficult to do. I think for some songwriters, Noel Gallagher or whatever, you know has written a few songs in five minutes, which never works that way for me unfortunately. I think it’s our strongest record sinceour first one. I think it completely wipes the floor with White Noise.

“There’s definitely a some big moments in the songs and that’s what you want in an album, you want there to be these peaks, these certain moments that characterise a record. So that you listen to the whole record through and have, rather than just ‘That’s a good song, that’s a good song, that’s a good song’, you have these moments that really hit you and send shivers down your spine, or whatever it is that we like about our favourite records. We’re fans of music, we’re fans of great albums and we’re fans of musicians so I think we’ve gotten better at all those elements over the years. I feel like I’m a better songwriter and we’ve gotten better as musicians and I guess that’s the reason why people still find it appealing.”

Coming Full Circle

Author: Hugh Robertson

It’s almost impossible for me to recall a time when The Living End weren’t a fixture of Australian music. I was nine the first time ‘Prisoner Of Society’ roared into my livingroom on a Saturday morning, giving me my first experience of music that was mine rather than something I’d just found on mum’s LPs. Mine can’t have been a unique experience though; the band’s 1999 debut remains the third highest-selling debut in Australian history, and just reached the dizzying heights of #4 in triple j’s poll of the greatest Australian albums of all time.

I spoke to vocalist Chris Cheney the day before the top ten were revealed, but his response when I told him how significant The Living End had been for me was telling enough of how he would have taken the announcement. “Fuck, man,” he begins, sounding genuinely chuffed. “Thank you! That’s awesome. That means the world. But that’s what you [make music] for, isn’t it? To have your own music. And for me it was a matter of coming up with something that didn’t exist; trying to write our own thing, and combine all the things that we liked in one band – or in one song, perhaps.”

Whatever the motivation behind it, The Living End’s songwriting formula has been an enduring one. Over the past decade, barely a single rock festival in this country has gone ahead without Chris Cheney and co., and more often than not their sets have been the highlight of the day. Following 2008’s triumphant White Noise and the ensuing tour, Cheney took himself off to New York for three months last year to, in his words, “write a few tunes, and get out of the comfort zone of living in St. Kilda, and my little music room here.” The fruits of his time away are now available for all to hear on their sixth full-length, The Ending Is Just The Beginning Repeating. It sounds subtly different, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why until Cheney offered the answer: extra time in the recording studio. “If I could have my time again,” he confesses, “I would gladly go back and re-record the first four albums. Whenever I hear them now I just think, ‘Man, we were just on speed!’ Everything sounds sped up to 100mph. And that’s what we were trying to do – to be as intricate as we could be, and play as fast as we could, and try to cram as much information [as we could] into every single song.

“I think there’s a certain naivety to our earlier stuff,” he continues. “And I think this record in particular is more crafted. We spent more time trying to figure out what the songs need, rather than just blasting them out.” And it’s amazing how much of a difference that simple change has made. There’s still that trademark classic rock sound, but it’s filtered through a more sophisticated process than simply hitting ‘record’and smashing through one take. Perhaps the biggest stylistic shift has been away from frenzied riffs and speed, towards a “groovier”, more rhythmic approach to playing together. “Locking into a groove is something that we’ve really enjoyed as a band, particularly since Andy [Strachan, drums] has come on board,”Cheney explains. “And rather than just having three guys up on stage going hell for leather and trying to out-do each other and out-play each other, we really enjoy the idea of locking in as a unit, and as a band. And Andy’s a very groovy drummer – he really appreciates the rhythmic side of drumming, rather than just trying to play all these crazy fills.”

Hardcore fans shouldn’t fear, though. As Cheney takes great pains to point out, any experimenting with sounds or styles was done with one ear on the sound that’s defined the band for all these years. “The last thing we want is to completely take what TLE is and flush it down the toilet,” he assures me. “And The Living End using synths could be a recipe for disaster – but I hope we do it in the right way. I think it still sounds very powerful, and I think the songs benefit from it. And that was the main thing: whatever helped to support the song … Everysong had to feel good,” he continues. “Not only to have a hook and sound right, but when we were playing it we all had to finish the song and say, “Fuck yeah, that feels rock and roll. It feels heavy, and there’s a symmetry between the three of us when we play. And it’s hard to describe, hard to put into words.”

Before we wind up, I have to ask Cheney about his favourite Australian albums. He was one of the voters in the ‘industry’ list for the triplej poll, and while his personal favourites aren’t surprising, it’s always nice to hear someone wax lyrical about their favourite records… “You Am I’s Hourly, Daily was my number one,” he begins, without any hesitation. “That record just killed me – as do most You Am I records.They’re just so good. But I also had Back In Black. And I think I had a Crowded House record in there – technically not Australian, I know… Hourly, Daily is just a quintessential Australian album. But Back In Black, you could really have retired rock and roll after that.”

Living In The Now

Author: Ben Preece

The mighty powerhouse that is Australia’s beloved THE LIVING END is back with album number six and, as BEN PREECE chats to frontman CHRIS CHENEY, we find out what it takes to triumphantly return with one of their best yet.

You get a sense that a lot of blood, sweat and tears goes into virtually everything The Living End touch, be it their relentless tour schedule and blistering live show or each and every song on their six albums. It’s what has kept them atop Australia’s most beloved list ever since their Second Solution/Prisoner Of Society EP was dropped into the arms of thousands of impressionable teenagers some 14 years ago. From there they’ve become one of the biggest live drawcards in the country,and anticipation for their sixth album The Ending Is Just The Beginning Repeating is feverishly high.

Already, the album is being touted as their finest since their 1998 self-titled debut, a record that undoubtedly changed the face of Australian music. It’s been along and harsh road since, there’s no doubt about that, but the last couple of years – between 2008’s White Noise and now – have been some of the most trialling for frontman Chris Cheney yet. The result is a record that is The Living End’s most honest to date and, as Cheney explains it, their darkest yet.

“This is definitely our most personal record,” he confesses. “It really does have quite a lot of dark moments lyrically on the record and a lot of it, I think, I feel are my most personal kind of set of lyrics. If anything, it’s sort of the opposite of what we’ve had in the past which has been very directed towards social issues and various topics. I just got to a stage, started in the middle of last year, where– I don’t know if it’s an age thing or what – but I started to think, ‘Fuck, like what does any of this mean, where do I go from here, what have we been through and what’s next?’ And then my dad was real sick – he actually passed away a couple of months ago, straight after we finished recording – so I was dealing with all of that during the recording. So I think that there’s a lot of that on the record, there’s a lot of questioning about, you know, just what any of it kind of mean and does it mean anything at all?”

Despite his real life tragedies and even, at times, self-doubt, Cheney continued to remain focused, constantly reminded himself of his goals and continued to plough through the process.

“It’s been the most difficult year of my life,” he states gravely. “There was just days where it felt so trivial to me – being in a rock’n’roll band making an album, so I did question my importance. You’re dealing with a serious issue like that, there were just times when I felt like, ‘What’s the point of any of this?’ That is the whole thing – if we don’t have goals, if we don’t have things we want to achieve, then we have nothing. So despite everything that’s going on you have to still stay focused and it’s all about quality of life I suppose.

“But it was very hard because there was a lot of lyrics on the record that particularly deal with a lot of sensitive topics – things like For Another Day, we only have our lives for another day, as in, ‘If we only have now, then what are we going to do with right now?’ That’s the whole crux of this record, and for me, that’s what I mean about the title. It was very much sort of saying, ‘Well if this is going to end, if this era, if this part of our lives is going to end, I hope to god there is something else around the corner’.”

Winding up touring and promo duties that followed 2008’s White Noise, Cheney decamped to New York to begin writing for the next record. He returned to South Melbourne with a canon of new tunes that he and bassist Scott Owen and drummer Andy Strachan began to jam on. They were soon in Byron Bay’s Studio 301 under the watchful production eye of experienced Atlanta-based producer Nick Didia, although it was Cheney that continued to guide the ship the whole way.

“He really shined in the studio and had some good ideas in pre-production working on arrangements,” Cheney reveals. “But a lot of that is still, I feel, down to me, you know. Like he can only say, ‘That part’s too long there, we need to shorten that’ and I thought, ‘Well, yeah but the thing is we’ve got most of the chords which kind of link those sections’ and he’d be, like, ‘Well just take them out’ and I’d be, like, ‘Well it doesn’t work if I take them out, you still need to sort of link it up in the right way’. So that part of it, I thought that was down to me, but in the actual studio, his attention to detail was just fantastic. He was just so tuned in to everyone’s parts they were playing, and he had a level of concentration I hadn’t really seen before in a producer. He was really big on the idea of not going with the biggest guitar sounds in the world, the biggest drum sounds, you know? It was about finding the place where everything sonically suited so that it fits and creates this canvas of sound. I think sonically it’s our best sounding record.”

Aiming for “spine-tingling” moments throughout The Ending Is Just The Beginning Repeating, Cheney name checks classic songwriters like Glen Campbell, Springsteen and The Bee Gees while revealing to have stripped away the excess to a achieve the strongest groove possible.

“Those kinds of songs – By The Time I Get To Phoenix, Gentle On My Mind – there’s just something about them; beautifully structured and just so carefully crafted,” he muses. “And that’s what I tried to do with these songs. I was just really meticulous with just drafting, and drafting the songs over and over again to get them to a point I was happy with. But also, you want it just to flow, and just sound like it’s just kind of happened, and that’s very difficult to do, and I think for some song writers – you know, Noel Gallagher or whatever – you know has written a few songs in five minutes, which never works that way for me unfortunately. I think it’s our strongest record since our first one. I think it completely wipes the floor with White Noise.

“There’s definitely some big moments in the songs, and that’s what you want in an album, you want there to be these peaks, these certain moments that characterise a record. You have these moments that really hit you and send shivers down your spine, or whatever it is that we like about our favourite records. We’re fans of music, we’re fans of great albums and we’re fans of musicians so I think we’ve gotten better at all those elements over the years, and I feel like I’m a better songwriter, and we’ve gotten better as musicians, and I guess that’s the reason why people still find it appealing.”

Happy Accidents

Author: Jeremy Williams

THE LIVING END’s upcoming sixth album sees the band really getting their groove on, with the emphasis still on vibe rather than perfection, frontman CHRIS CHENEY tells Inpress as we crash the recording sessions. Feature and pic by JEREMY WILLIAMS.

“It’s been like a year and half of solid writing. I started writing at the end of touring White Noise as I find it verydifficult to write on the road. The only thing we did different this time was that the demos we did for the record weren’t quite as comprehensive as they have been in the past.”
The Living End’s Chris Cheney is a man of method. By his own admission he seeks perfection, which has often led to a condition he calls “demo-titis”. Having spent nearly two decades as the frontman of Melbourne rockers The Living End, with whom he has just completed recording their sixth album, Cheney reveals it took his bandmates, drummer Andy Strachan and double bass player Scott Owen, saying to him, “Don’t worry about making the demos perfect. Just put ideas down and work on it later,” for him to realise that maybe he should reassess his approach.

In the past, the band would normally go into the studioand finish a complete song. “This time around we only did one session like that and the rest was us doing our own recordings in our rehearsal room. We put the basic track down, or the basic idea, then I would take it home and put a whole lot of stuff on top and sing something over it. We would leave it at 60 or 70%,” Cheney outlines. Their new approach proved in many ways fruitful. With less time spent perfecting one song, the trio found that their output multiplied. “Subsequently we ended up with 50 songs, 50 ideas, which ended up being a bit of a nightmare to be honest, because by the time we got to pre-production with our producer, we had so many songs. There wereeven songs he hadn’t heard that I hadn’t finished off.”

Even though the prospect of sifting through an amassed collection of songs felt initially daunting, Cheney is pleased that he opened himself up to the new approach. He realises that on a level of output, by not restricting himself at such an early stage, songs that would have been shelved in the development stage have ended up as some of the strongest tracks of the new album. He defines his new process as not wanting to be as strict as the band were last time. “Leaving room for happy accidents, leaving room for improvement,” he says, which in essence means not making the demo sound like a record.

But with so many songs to choose from, how did Cheneyand his cohorts whittle down the selection? “Just personal opinion, really; whatever feels good to play. We definitely had a mindset on this record that we wanted to have songs that were more simplistic, that would work on a bigger stage.” Aware of the fact that the album is only the launchpad for a chain of events, he admits that over the years his approach to songwriting has altered. “It is a weird way to work because when we started the band, you never thought of those things, you just tried to write the best song at that particular time. You try to write what you think sounds good or maybe the 30 people who are going to see you at the Richmond Club. That is all we had back then,” he concedes. “It is a bit different now as we do know the band is on the map and we do play bigger shows and I like the idea of going,‘What’s going to work? What is going to have the most impact when we play in front of an audience on a big stage?’”

With their audience at the forefront of their mind, Cheney soon realised that the culling process would be nowhere near as daunting as they had first thought. Equally, the boys had previously spoken of their intention for the album, which in turn also made the selection slightly less harrowing. “There was a real sort of mentality with a lot of the songs on this record that it had to have that kind of dancey tempo – really heavy INXS. So the songs sound totally massive, with big riffs but groove orientated, but with the way that we play. There are still the big riffs and some fancy guitar parts, fast drum parts and that kind of part of the band that we get off on live and that the audience loves live, but with a heaviness that arrived because we were able to sit backin the groove a little bit. They just feel so good to play.”

As a band that get a kick out of playing live, their approach to laying down a record is unsurprisingly old school. “It was all tracked as a band. We just went in there. The thing is at the studio in Byron Bay it is not a very good sounding studio, so the drum room was used to put guitar amps in and the bass room was where the drums went. Then there were more amps in the kitchen area. So we just went with whatever worked that would enable us to be together, literally two or three metres from each other. That is the way that we play best. I couldn’t imagine being in an isolated booth looking at Andy through three panes of glass. It doesn’t work for us that way. We have tried it in the past. So it was really good – we tracked all the songs as a three-piece and got the foundations and the bed as a three-piece done and really rocking before laying anything else on top.

“We definitely made sure that we didn’t choose perfection over vibe. There were some takes we did which were pretty bang on tempo, but there was something missing. So we would end up going with a track which had just a couple of flaws or mistakes in it, but had that thing. You can’t fabricate that.” Unlike many bands of the Pro Tools generation, The Living End believe that flaws provoke perfection, that it is the little things we do wrong that make us shine. “We of all bands have to be so careful not to make everything perfect and everything in tune as it kills what the band is about. Our live shows are a mess sometimes – they are a train wreck – but they are so exciting for that reason.”

The Living End’s sixth album is due out later in the year.

Happy Accidents

Author: Jeremy Williams

THE LIVING END’s upcoming sixth album sees the band really getting their groove on, with the emphasis still on vibe rather than perfection, frontman CHRIS CHENEY tells Inpress as we crash the recording sessions. Feature and pic by JEREMY WILLIAMS.

“It’s been like a year and half of solid writing. I started writing at the end of touring White Noise as I find it verydifficult to write on the road. The only thing we did different this time was that the demos we did for the record weren’t quite as comprehensive as they have been in the past.”
The Living End’s Chris Cheney is a man of method. By his own admission he seeks perfection, which has often led to a condition he calls “demo-titis”. Having spent nearly two decades as the frontman of Melbourne rockers The Living End, with whom he has just completed recording their sixth album, Cheney reveals it took his bandmates, drummer Andy Strachan and double bass player Scott Owen, saying to him, “Don’t worry about making the demos perfect. Just put ideas down and work on it later,” for him to realise that maybe he should reassess his approach.

In the past, the band would normally go into the studioand finish a complete song. “This time around we only did one session like that and the rest was us doing our own recordings in our rehearsal room. We put the basic track down, or the basic idea, then I would take it home and put a whole lot of stuff on top and sing something over it. We would leave it at 60 or 70%,” Cheney outlines. Their new approach proved in many ways fruitful. With less time spent perfecting one song, the trio found that their output multiplied. “Subsequently we ended up with 50 songs, 50 ideas, which ended up being a bit of a nightmare to be honest, because by the time we got to pre-production with our producer, we had so many songs. There wereeven songs he hadn’t heard that I hadn’t finished off.”

Even though the prospect of sifting through an amassed collection of songs felt initially daunting, Cheney is pleased that he opened himself up to the new approach. He realises that on a level of output, by not restricting himself at such an early stage, songs that would have been shelved in the development stage have ended up as some of the strongest tracks of the new album. He defines his new process as not wanting to be as strict as the band were last time. “Leaving room for happy accidents, leaving room for improvement,” he says, which in essence means not making the demo sound like a record.

But with so many songs to choose from, how did Cheneyand his cohorts whittle down the selection? “Just personal opinion, really; whatever feels good to play. We definitely had a mindset on this record that we wanted to have songs that were more simplistic, that would work on a bigger stage.” Aware of the fact that the album is only the launchpad for a chain of events, he admits that over the years his approach to songwriting has altered. “It is a weird way to work because when we started the band, you never thought of those things, you just tried to write the best song at that particular time. You try to write what you think sounds good or maybe the 30 people who are going to see you at the Richmond Club. That is all we had back then,” he concedes. “It is a bit different now as we do know the band is on the map and we do play bigger shows and I like the idea of going,‘What’s going to work? What is going to have the most impact when we play in front of an audience on a big stage?’”

With their audience at the forefront of their mind, Cheney soon realised that the culling process would be nowhere near as daunting as they had first thought. Equally, the boys had previously spoken of their intention for the album, which in turn also made the selection slightly less harrowing. “There was a real sort of mentality with a lot of the songs on this record that it had to have that kind of dancey tempo – really heavy INXS. So the songs sound totally massive, with big riffs but groove orientated, but with the way that we play. There are still the big riffs and some fancy guitar parts, fast drum parts and that kind of part of the band that we get off on live and that the audience loves live, but with a heaviness that arrived because we were able to sit backin the groove a little bit. They just feel so good to play.”

As a band that get a kick out of playing live, their approach to laying down a record is unsurprisingly old school. “It was all tracked as a band. We just went in there. The thing is at the studio in Byron Bay it is not a very good sounding studio, so the drum room was used to put guitar amps in and the bass room was where the drums went. Then there were more amps in the kitchen area. So we just went with whatever worked that would enable us to be together, literally two or three metres from each other. That is the way that we play best. I couldn’t imagine being in an isolated booth looking at Andy through three panes of glass. It doesn’t work for us that way. We have tried it in the past. So it was really good – we tracked all the songs as a three-piece and got the foundations and the bed as a three-piece done and really rocking before laying anything else on top.

“We definitely made sure that we didn’t choose perfection over vibe. There were some takes we did which were pretty bang on tempo, but there was something missing. So we would end up going with a track which had just a couple of flaws or mistakes in it, but had that thing. You can’t fabricate that.” Unlike many bands of the Pro Tools generation, The Living End believe that flaws provoke perfection, that it is the little things we do wrong that make us shine. “We of all bands have to be so careful not to make everything perfect and everything in tune as it kills what the band is about. Our live shows are a mess sometimes – they are a train wreck – but they are so exciting for that reason.”

The Living End’s sixth album is due out later in the year.

Prisoners Of Rock

Author: Marcia Czerniak

JUST BEFORE THEY GET READY TO LOCK THEMSELVES INTO THE STUDIO TO START RECORDING THEIR NEW ALBUM, THE LIVING END HEAD WEST TO PLAY THE JD SET GIG ON ROTTNEST ISLAND. CHRIS CHENEY SPEAKS TO MARCIA CZERNIAK ABOUT GETTING BACK ON STAGE AND GETTING A TAN.

After a year of almost silence, The Living End are back with another album in the works and a gig on one of WA’s most iconic tourist spots, Rottnest Island, as part of The JD Set. Lead singer Chris Cheney he says he’s excited about getting back on stage. “We haven’t been doing many shows at all, so, yeah, we jumped at it. We have kind of been just stuck in our writing and rehearsal phase and it is very, very important to our career because the effort we put into that now will be a reward later on, but for us it is about playing live and getting on stage,” he says with an eagerness that hints he can’t wait to get back out there.

“It will almost be a year since we played a proper show. In the old days we wrote and recorded and toured but now we do these blocks. We toured the last record for a year and a half and then we just stopped playing. It is very strange so we’re very excited about getting back into it.

“One of the perks of being in a rock and roll band, if there weren’t enough already with the travelling and all the other stuff that goes along with it, is being able to go to beautiful places and play. It is a real privilege to still be doing music as a job and I suspect that the gig over there is going to be rockin’ in Rottnest. Plus, any chance to get a tan,” laughs Cheney.

Just as The JD Set gives emerging bands the chance to play alongside an established act, The Living End also got their first big break thanks to Green Day. “I find it really inspiring to not lose touch with younger bands and see what they are up to… and maybe try and nick some of their ideas,” he saying jokingly before recounting their humble beginnings and how they got their own first big break.

“We were all still living at home at that point. We used to be a covers band and we played originals on the weekends and as this covers band we did functions playing ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll but we never wanted to be that, we wanted to be a real band writing our own songs. So we did a demo and we heard that Green Day were coming out and we sent them a copy.

“We didn’t know anything about how the industry worked or the right channels to go through but we ended up getting a call from the local agent here saying our tape had gotten to them and Billy had heard it and we were chosen. We had only ever played a gig in Sydney at that point and it was just such an eye-opening experience. They ended up taking us back to America a couple of times and we signed to Reprieve [Warner Bros.] over there which is the label they were on so we were kind of forever in their debt from then on.

“The music industry here was like, who the fuck are The Living End? I think the punk rock community was up in arms, like hang on a second, who are these guys? Shouldn’t it have gone to Bodyjar or One Inch Punch or someone more established? But it was great, we were so naïve we didn’t know how anything worked and that is how it should be.”

Over a decade has passed since that first tour and as they get set to record their sixth studio album, Cheney says the new material is sounding good. “We’re about 30 songs in as far as writing and demo-ing goes and there is about one month to go before we record so I am hoping to get a few more. The thing with me is I don’t like to stop writing until the CD is in the packet on the shelf. I kind of have to be dragged away from the studio at the last minute ‘cause you never know when that last idea is going to come. All I seem to do at the moment is write, sleep and eat occasionally; it’s all consuming really.

“Like with any band we could make two or three different records and I wouldn’t say that is a good thing. We sort of pride ourselves of being fans of different kinds of music styles and adaptable but I think the problem with that is you can confuse people. When I lived in New York at the start of the year I wrote a few songs on GarageBand. So using GarageBand loops and some strings I created songs that are really different from anything that The Living End have ever done. I brought it home and showed the guys thinking that they wouldn’t like them and they would just be shelved and I would maybe do something with them later on, but they really loved them.

“So there is that and then there are these shows we have been playing down here, like these secret shows playing like eight or nine new songs and they are all the really foot-stomping rock’n’roll type songs and then there are a couple of acoustic tracks too. The feedback we got from people was really positive and they made the comment that it sounds really fresh, it sounds like you guys but it sounds like the next logical step for you, which is really good to hear.

“So it is really going to come down to what type of record we want to make and we want to make a good one but we don’t want to confuse people with the direction. We haven’t been critiquing ourselves or censoring it, I just like to get it all out and hopefully that will dictate the way we go. I would say the overriding element is that it is groove based and the riffs are kind of heavy but the drumming is really groovy. I don’t want people to get the wrong idea of groovy though. Not like 311 groovy, I mean more like late ‘70s, early ‘80s postpunk XTC, really tough sounding with really cool beats underneath instead of just the typical kind of punk rock or swing beats we have done in the past.

“So that is really exciting for us because the thing that stood out on the last record which kind of gave us this creative burst was the riff in How Do We Know, you know the octave kind of thing. It was more of a funky, heavy, Rage Against The Machine kind of thing, but we have sped all that up on this record and those songs are really standing out. It is just a matter of finding the right balance and it is good because we don’t feel like we are repeating ourselves what so ever.”

While some Australian bands may be calling it quits and slowing down, there is no farewell tour on the horizon for this trio.

“I hope not, we are not over the hill just yet and we feel hungry as ever and song writing wise I just feel I am getting better at that. I really believe it is a craft and you have to work at it and like any creative output it is a matter of working at it and trying to improve. I think as

players we are better musicians than ever before. It isn’t supposed to work that way in rock and roll, but I don’t subscribe to that and I think this is definitely going to be our best record yet. I am so excited about the songs. They are just more formed and better than anything on White Noise already so it is good. I mean we have had to work at it but as I said before you get out what you put in.”

The Living End Ring In The New Year At The Queen’s Wharf Brewery

Author: Unknown

Yep, 2010 is fast approaching and the Queen’s Wharf Brewey are giving you another good reason to stay in town for your New Year’s celebrations. They have announced that The Living End, Children Collide, Dead Letter Circus and Benjalu will ensure that you receive a massive dose of rock as 2009 comes to an end.

As an added bonus for New Year revellers, anyone who purchases an early bird ticket (before Friday N ovember 20, 2009) will go into the draw to win an exclusive rock experience. One winner and a friend will get special pre-show access to attend the sound checks for both The Living End and Children Collide and then meet both bands over pizza and drinks before the show kicks off. Once gates open, the lucky winners will enjoy VIP access for the show. A reminder though — New Year’s Eve at The Brewery is an over- 18s-only event, so photo ID will be required.

Tickets are available from the venue, Ticketek or oztix.com.au and are $66 plus booking fee. Gates open at 6pm on Thursday December 31, 2009.

CHRIS CHENEY REVEALS HIS FAVOURITE GUITAR RIFFS
With The Living End set to rock in 2010 at the Queen’s Wharf Brewery, Reverb took the opportunity to ask their front man, Chris Cheney, about his all-time favourite guitar riffs. Here’s what he said. 
“In the right context, a great guitar riff is as important to a song as the chorus, and in some of my favourite songs it’s the riff itself that is the hook. The best ones are simple and instantly recognisable and I think you should be able to hum a great guitar riff. The intro riff, or ‘lick’ if you like, of ‘Johnny B Goode’ is the greatest rock ‘n’ roll intro ever — it’s hard to imagine the song having the same appeal without it. Thanks, Chuck!” 
These are the songs that Cheney listed:
AC/DC — ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’
The Police — ‘Message In A Bottle’
Sex Pistols — ‘Holidays In The Sun’
Chuck Berry — ‘Johnny B Goode’
The Who — ‘Baba O’Reilly’
Bruce Springsteen — ‘Born To Run’
Henry Mancini — ‘Peter Gunn’
Eddie Cochran — ‘Summertime Blues’
Jimi Hendrix — ‘Purple Haze’
The White Stripes — ‘Seven Nation Army’

White Noise is out now through Dew Process/Universal.