New Beginnings

Author: Michael Dwyer

The Living End have returned from the US – and they’re in no hurry to go back, writes Michael Dwyer.

It’s a wet Wednesday night in Moorooduc, and a long line of parked cars snakes up the highway past the Peninsula Lounge. Inside, the windows are steamed up and the floor is heaving with midweek revelers.

The Living End are on the comeback trail. Again. This is their first show in Victoria after almost a year spent – sometimes misspent – overseas.

Freshly relieved of their US record contract, the Aussie rock phenomenons of ’98 are taking stock with a double DVD and a hits album titled From Here On In: The Singles 1997-2004, and renewed attention to their home base.

The fans’ anticipation is thick in the air, but the atmosphere is nonchalant compared to the electricity in the band room.

Drummer Andy Strachan is wide-eyed and restless. Bassist Scott Owen stands meditatively upright, fingering a sleek grey jacket with broad black lapels.
“Nine bucks from the Salvos in Mentone,” he says. His black shirt and skinny white tie complete the kind of outfit that defines the Living End’s retro-cool edge in a scene replete with skatewear logos.

Minutes before show time, singer-guitarist and songwriter Chris Cheney darts into the room, a blur of spiky black hair, red western embroidery and eyes smudged with mascara – or maybe fear.

Nervous? “Nah,” he says, too dismissive to be convincing.

Any new material tonight? “Yeah,” Owen says with a smirk, again indicating his jacket.

Just the new single, then? “Yeah, just the single, that’s all we’re playing,” Cheney jokes, his sneakers marking time on the carpet. “We’re going back to the package-tour days where you just play one hit and get off.
We tried to get Alan Freed to introduce us, but . . .”

As long as I think we’re making good music, that’s so much more important than the climb. But, yeah, the legendary American DJ who popularised the term “rock’n’roll” 50 years ago has been dead for 40.

The reference is typical of Cheney’s headspace. He may have spent most of ’04 touring America with Jet, the Vines, Blink-182 and No Doubt, but he’ll always feel a stronger affinity with Buddy Holly and Eddie Cochran. The tragic fate of those pioneers was almost his, too, when he cheated death in a serious car accident on the Great Ocean Road three years ago.

His long recovery is history now, as is the subsequent untimely resignation of drummer Travis Demsey. But the Living End are still chasing the momentum they lost at the bleak end of 2001. And this, as always, is how they do it.

Triple M Planet Rock

Author: Unknown

MMM – Chris Cheney from The Living End in the studio with me right now. I know you guys get asked this all the time, but how did you come up with the name The Living End?

CC – We were called the Runaway Boys before that, which we thought was a pretty dorky kind of name and we wanted to change it. And I was at a friend of mine’s house up in Queensland and we had a lot to drink one night, and decided to put this old rock and roll movie on called Rock Around the Clock, which is just one of those old black and white rock movies with Little Richard, Bill Haley and all those kind of guys performing in it. And then we watched it, and at the end it says “The End” and then that kinda parts and “Living” appears in the middle with a question mark. We were just so drunk that I just thought “Maaan that’s a great name for a band” and woke up the next morning, and um…you know…sort of…throwing up…*laughs* and I remembered the name, so I thought “ok, that’s gotta be a sign”. So y’know, I loved it coz it was such a neutral sounding thing, it didn’t particularly mean anything at all, I just thought it was a great title for a group.

MMM – Typical rock star, just getting drunk and coming up with a name, I love it.

***

CC – G’day this is Chris from The Living End on Planet Rock with Turbo. This week I’m playing some of MY favourite tunes. One of them is a current song by a band called Eskimo Joe, and the song’s called Older Than You. Their song writing and their craft of songs in general is just out of this world, and they’re really amazing at what they do and they’re a special band I think *song starts playing, Chris rushes* and here it is! On Planet Rock, Older Than You – Eskimo Joe.

***

MMM – Thanks for sticking around man

CC – Pleasure…..treasure.

MMM – Now I’ve heard that you guys have become pretty close mates with Jet, and you even got on stage at the Forum in Melbourne recently to close their gig with a cover of an Elvis Presley classic.

CC – That came about actually when we were on tour with them in the states back in March or something and we were playing uh..I think it was in Toronto or something…that particular show where it happened first. Like, they were playing and we were just watching side of stage and Nic kinda turned around and pointed and took his guitar off, and you know I did the usual thing of like “who, me?”. I was looking around to see who the fuck he was pointing at, but he was pointing at me and just sort of threw me the guitar mid-song and um, being an Elvis fanatic I obviously knew it and I think he kinda knew that. So uh, I got up and played and we did 3 or 4 of them over there, and then um when they played in Melbourne recently he called me up and said do you wanna play on it here. So yeah, I was rapped. You know, that’s the thing, we come from sort of different backgrounds but obviously we have similar influences, and it was cool to be doing that song in particular coz I think it’s 50 years since that song was recorded, and it’s arguably the birth of rock and roll right there in that song.

***

MMM – With me in the studio this week live it’s Chris Cheney from The Living End. You’re looking quite comfortable there, I hope you’re enjoying yourself.

CC – I am, I am.

MMM – Anyway, you were just mentioning before you were in the USA for a while last year and, uh this year as well…you just can’t stop really. But the end result is that the American record deal with Warner fell over I’ve read somewhere, and by the sounds of it, it wasn’t a bad thing.

CC – You know, I think we came to a sort of mutual decision to part ways, and coming from here and being signed to an American label, you know they want you to spend ALL the time there, and we’ve always been very wary of doing that, because we definitely want to not neglect what we’ve built up in Australia and stuff. So it’s a matter of finding a compromise. I dunno, as long as I think we can keep making music and play to our fan base, to me that’s the main thing. I just want to make sure we can be a self-contained unit, and no matter what albums come out on whichever label, you know as long as we can be a live band and tour I’m happy with that.

MMM – Ok well we’re gonna be playing the latest single from you guys coming up in just a few minutes but first, here’s something live from Nickelback. Isn’t Chad an ugly man, do you think so?

CC – He looks like the Paddlepop Lion, that’s great.

***

This bit was only about 5 seconds long, but I thought it was funny.

CC – Hi this is chris CHEENEY (note – he emphasised the EE sound deliberately. Hehehehe.) from the Living End and you are on Planet Rock.

Chris Cheney

Author: Jesse Shrock

For some time in this country, the name The Living End has been synonymous with infectious rock anthems, and blisteringly tight and rocking live performances. Recently sharing the spotlight with Jet and The Vines in the Aussie invasion tour in the USA, it seems they are no longer a treasure that Australia can keep quietly to itself. But, as singer/guitarist Chris Cheney told me, having success abroad only increases the appetite for a raging home crowd.

You recently took out the gong at the Jack awards for best lead guitarist. What do you think they look for when judging these awards?

I’m guessing that it’s whoever’s got the longest… (laughs) careful… I’m guessing whoever’s got the longest guitar lead on stage… I don’t know. Whoever’s the most flashy, or whoever can play the most notes in five seconds, or something. It was really nice but it was hard to kind of analyse. It’s weird to win a lead guitar player award, because there’s only one guitar in our band, and I try to do both. (rhythm and lead) I don’t know how to take awards like that.

It seems like every time I se you, you’re playing the same guitar…

That’s a Gretsch White Falcon.

What else, if anything, do you play?

I am a bit of a Gretsch nut because if you want to play in a Rockabilly band which is what we where when we began, you have to play a Gretsch guitar. That’s what Brian Setzer and Eddie Cochran played. But also people like Malcolm Young, Billy Duffy from The Cult, Dwayne Eddie… all the guys that I thought were really cool, great looking guitar players, and great guitarists in general, played Gretsches. So for me, I just fell in love with the look of them and the sound of them.

Are you one of those players that like the organic, straight into the amplifier sound, or do you use digital compressors and distortions?

No, I’ve got a switching system, which basically allows me to go straight into the amplifier for a 100% signal, until I engage the pedal. I really love that mixture of the AC/DC sound, and maybe Pete Townshend or something, and I think it’s imperative to keep that really stringy kind of zingyness in the top end of the sound. I’m a big fan of not having it disintegrate through having a number of pedals.

What amplifiers do you use now?

I use Wizard amps. They’re a Canadian company. They’re 200 watt heads, and I got them when we were touring in Australia with AC/DC. And it’s their guitar tech, he just calls himself Rock “Wizard” funnily enough, it’s his company. He just goes into production when he’s not touring with them, which is not very often. I was using Marshalls up to that point and he just gave me a couple (Wizards) to try one night, just to show them to me, and I was absolutely blown away. They had this really warm sound, and had a bottom-end thump that just knocks you to the back wall, but with this really clean, nice top end on it. I think his words were that it was a cross between the spongy-ness of a Soldano, but with the ringy-ness of a Hi-Watt, or a really nice Marshall. Since I’ve got those, I’ve never turned back.

You’re about to release a Greatest Hits selection, is that right?

It’s just a collection of singles released between ’97 and 2004. I don’t like to call it Greatest Hits, because to me that signifies a stale patch in a band’s career, or perhaps the end of a band’s career (laughs). We did demos of 15 songs just last week… So to me it’s just the best of the first three albums. It’s just a good way of tying up that period, and moving on in a fresh new direction.

And will that ‘fresh new sound’ feature a lot of variation from your trademark punk/rockabilly sound?

Oh, definitely. I even think that the last album there was really only one song on there that was part of the punk/rockabilly thing. I think we’ve really moved away from that, and that we can do that if we want to or if we have to, but that there’s really much more to the band than just that. It’s easy for people to tag us with that, because they see the double bass, and they see the solos… but I think people have to realise that underneath all that there are these crafted Pop songs, and that I put a lot of time and effort into working out idea son songs.

I was at last year’s show at The Palace, (Melbourne) and it was a bloody ripper. I know all fans claim to have seen a band’s best show and all that, but I remember you closing the show by saying you “hadn’t played a show like that in a couple years”…

Yeah… and I don’t know if that was because we hadn’t played in Australia for a couple years, or what it was. But it was definitely one of those gigs. I know it’s terrible to say, but I always hope to do a good show in Melbourne… to the home crowd.
It’s nice to play them everywhere else if you can. But if you don’t play well there, you get bottled off stage or something. It’s a pretty ruthless kind of town, sometimes, and we cut our teeth here playing to those kinds of audiences. But I feel that now, since the last six months touring in America and stuff, and having more gigs under our belt with Andy. I really feel like we’re firing on all cylinders. And I really can’t wait to play back home again, to an audience, hopefully, that’s responsive like that. I think that they’ll notice a huge difference… that we’ve got a newfound hunger. We’re mad for it!

The Living End will be touring nationally in October.

End Of The Beginning

Author: Lauren McMenemy

The Living End is tying up loose ends – but not selling out writes Lauren McMenemy.

A band releasing a “singles collection”? Chris Cheney is the first to admit that sounds a bit suss. It wasn’t until he saw a potential track listing for From Here On In, the Living End singles collection which hit stores this week, that the band’s singer/guitarist realised it was a good move.

“It sort of reeks of, I don’t know, stale creativity or the end of a band’s career,” Cheney admits. “But we’re only three albums in; it’s just because we’ve spent a hell of a lot of time touring that we haven’t had as much output as we would’ve liked.”

And that’s the other thing. Since The Living End released its debut EP, Hellbound, back in 1996, it has been a constantly evolving entity.

Listen to something like 1997’s Prisoner Of Society – incidentally the third-highest selling single in Australian music history – next to latest single, I Can’t Give You What I Haven’t Got and there’s quite a technical leap.

“The thing that we liked about (the singles collection),” says Cheney, “was that it was basically tying up that period. I feel some of the stuff we’ve written lately is quite different to what we’ve done in the past. And for me, it’s refreshing to just get that period and say ‘Well that was then; this is now; it’s time to move on’.

“It’d be really cool for anyone who’s never really liked us or liked our albums, but have liked a couple of songs,” he laughs. “This one’s for them.”

The tour, however, is for the fans. It’s been almost a year since the Living End toured Australia. That was, of course, the big comeback tour, following the big comeback spot on the 2003 Big Day Out.

The “comeback” referred to the band’s return after an enforced hiatus. Even though it came after Cheney was involved in a major car accident – he could barely walk let alone play guitar – the band admitted at the time it was a break they desperately needed.

During the downtime, drummer Travis Demsey quit, replaced by Pollyanna’s Andy Strachan. The Big Day Out shows were Strachan’s introduction to the world of touring with The Living End; the band’s third album Modern ARTillery, his introduction to their recorded world.

Now a couple of years into the new family, Cheney says it feels right. The songs they’ve been writing have him very excited.

“It’s just been a really good inspirational period of late for some reason,” he says.

“But it also feels like after doing all this touring we’re working better as a band probably than what we did when we recorded the last album because we hadn’t had Andy for that long and we hadn’t had that much live experience, and that’s just imperative with this band.

“There are so many sides to a rock’n’roll band. Ultimately the most important thing, I think, is whether we sound good and we write good songs, but all the other stuff as well just seems to be settling in very nicely.

“And we’re probably one of the bands that’s a bit more pedantic and precious about certain things and little, probably unimportant things to some bands. We drive ourselves crazy with it, but I think we’ve got a work ethic there that we just like to strive for.”

But it’s still on the live stage where The Living End shines brightest. Glowing reviews accompanied the release of Modern ARTillery around the world, but when they hit the stage, you’re witnessing one of the tightest, most inspiring Australian outfits of this generation.

“I think for us, this is the tour of the year,” says an excited Cheney. “Forget the overseas stuff. For us, this is it, because it’s home again and it’s been such a long time since we did a tour here that we just can’t wait.

“It’s not like the old days when all we would do is just drive around this country. Obviously we can’t be everywhere at once. We’re trying to do something overseas but we don’t want to neglect Australia either – we just love playing here, and we’ve obviously got so many more songs that do well here and overall the tours and the shows are just better. Starting off overseas, you’ve always got to try to build the audience, and then there comes a point when you go ‘I just want to play to an audience that knows these songs and is going to respond’.”

And sing along at the top of their lungs…

“Yeah, we have a lot of songs like that, that people seem to try and let their aggression out and let their frustrations go and, Jesus, do they let them go sometimes,” he says. “It’s a bit weird (to watch), but I can understand it because that’s sort of what we do on stage as well.

“I don’t know what I’d be doing if I didn’t have the band – I don’t do any other exercise for a start than being on stage, so for me it’s a good outlet there.

“I’m not the type of person to go and see other bands and jump in the mosh pit and sort of lose myself there, so I can understand it but I wouldn’t be caught in there for quids.”

So with the release of From Here On In on CD and DVD, and the accompanying tour the end of the beginning has arrived; it’s on to the next phase now. A new album is on the cards for next year, and there’s the ever-growing (again) overseas market beckoning.

“We’ve got very definite ideas now, after the last album,” says Cheney. “The last one, not letting anything out of the bag but there were parts of it that just didn’t come out like we wanted it to. It was a strange time and a strange situation with us trying to find out feet, but at the same time we had a lot of pressure on us from overseas to produce straight away.

“And I think we learned a lot from that. I’m feeling like the songs that I’ve been writing lately they just sound like us…I think they sound more original. For me, the more material we get out there, the better. I can’t wait.”

From Here On In is out now. The Living End plays a sell-out show at the Thebarton Theatre on Sunday.

Rock Around The World

The Living End is one of those Australian bands that have always just been there. Prisoner Of Society shook the country in 1997, and from there the trio has been consistently punching out the quality. Love ’em or hate ’em, you can’t help but hum those anthemic choruses. But what many Australians don’t realise is that the Living End has also been one of our consistently successful overseas outfits. Constant touring in Europe and the US led to spots on the US Warped Tour, festivals aplenty in Japan – even a gig on Letterman.

Indeed, the Living End has spent most of this year Stateside – there was the “Aussie Invasion” tour with Jet and the Vines, then a tour with Blink 182 and No Doubt. That’s some fairly impressive supports there for a band that had been out of the overseas market for close to three years.

“We took a little bit to get back ontrack, I suppose, because it was like three years from the last time we went overseas to when we went back, which is a lifetime in this industry I guess,” says singer/guitarist Chris Cheney.

“But we found that when we did the Jet and the Vines tour over there that half of the audience and the critics treated us like an unknown band – to people who weren’t familiar with us we were the “opening act” and we were quite good and all this sort of stuff. And then the other side of it was people calling us ‘Aussie rock veterans’, and all this sort of stuff just ’cause we were a couple of years older than the other bands – and only a couple I might add; I think some of them might be the same age,” he laughs.

“So there were people who were aware that we had done pretty big things over there – we had done things like Letterman and like massive kinds of things but once you sort of stop and have a break like that, people forget easily.”

Is This The End?

Author: Kelsey Munro

Have the Living End run out of steam? Are they breaking up? Then why are they releasing a greatest-hits collection after just three albums? Kelsey Munro finds out.

There must be some kind of unwritten rule about when a band can put out a best-of collection. After five albums? Four? Three has to be the limit, because two is just ridiculous. Deni Hines, I’m looking at you.

Thus the Living End are just scraping in with their new greatest-hits album, From Here on In. It collects the best and biggest of the Melbourne trio’s singles from their huge self-titled ’98 debut, 2000’s Roll On, and last year’s Modern Artillery. Singer-guitarist Chris Cheney is prepared for the flak.

“I know, it reeks of a few things,” he says. “Either that the creative well has dried up or you’re breaking up or [you have some] contractual obligations.

“It’s really none of that, I can honestly say. We’ve got a pretty good deal [with EMI] worked out where it’s album by album. As far as the other stuff goes, I guess you’ll just have to wait and see.”

Cheney says he, double-bassist Scott Owen and drummer Andy Strachan are enjoying their most fertile songwriting period, at least since Strachan joined two years ago.

He says there are only two new songs on the best-of, including current single I Can’t Give You What I Haven’t Got, because they wanted to keep most of the songs they already have for the next record.

“People will probably think, ‘Oh well, that’s it then, no more ideas,'”
Cheney says. “That was a reservation because I thought, ‘Well, we’ve only got three albums out, why are we doing a greatest hits?’ But the proof will be in the pudding when we get around to putting out the next album.”

Modern Artillery was the band’s first release after Cheney’s serious car accident, which put him out of action for months. They suffered another setback around the same time when drummer Travis Demsey quit. Recorded in Burbank, California, the post-accident album was tough to make as the band hadn’t settled into their new line-up.

“It was fucked, basically,” Cheney says, now able to see the humour in the situation. “It was far too long spent in a place where we didn’t want to be – all that period of the accident and having the break.

“Andy joining the band seemed like a rebirth. We did get really good reviews and all that sort of stuff, but it still felt like an infancy, trying to find our feet again. I feel like now, another year down the track, we’ve got all those things in place. Now it’s better than ever.”

Another difficulty the band faced was trying to re-establish the profile they’d built up in the US over years of touring – “Just getting in the van, driving, eating beef jerky,” Cheney says. Before returning to tour with the Vines and Jet as part of the Aussie Invasion tour this year, the Living End hadn’t been to the US for three years.

“It’s funny,” Cheney says. “Half of the American critics either said we were Aussie rock veterans, like we were going to be wheeled out in wheelchairs or something, or we were ‘unknown band the Living End’.

“We thought, ‘God, we’ve probably been there more than the other bands’ – we’d done Letterman, massive tours and radio shows in the previous few years
– but having that three years off we could understand it. But overall the tour was great.”

The Living End have always recruited fans through good old-fashioned touring, and lots of it. A significant part of the band’s near-decade of gigs was captured on film by their friend Jason ‘J. T.’ Tutty, who has made a two-hour documentary on their history. Tying in with the singles collection, it’s also called From Here on In. The band are releasing it on a double DVD that also includes all their videos.

“When the DVD came up I thought it was a good idea,” Cheney says. “But we didn’t really have all the shots of girls taking their tops off and people smashing things up, which is what most kids buy DVDs for, the crazy antics.
We’re more of a band that plays music.

“There’s a lot of old footage of us with very strange, gravity-defying haircuts … interviews along the way and it finishes up with the making of these two new songs.”

On that note, it seems only fair to ask what Cheney’s favourite best-of album is. He eventually settles on Joe Jackson.

“There’s something like 40 songs on it, which shows how many great songs he’s written. So if we have a few more of those [best-ofs] I’ll be very happy. It’ll mean we’re doing something right.”

The Living End

Author: Ryan Smith

It’s been far too long since The Living End graced us with our presence. But with a collection of singles and a DVD soon to hit our shelves, the band decided now was as good a time as any to make their triumphant return. And believe me, the fans are looking forward to it.

We also know singer/guitarist Chris Cheney is excited. “I’m really looking forward to the tour,” he gushes. “Some of the shows we’ve been doing overseas have been great, and I just feel we’re playing really well as a band. Better than we ever have before. Plus it’s always good playing your own bloody backyard, particularly because there’s so many more songs people back home know and get into. When you play overseas you sometimes struggle to get people into it. So I’m just looking forward to the usual Aussie craziness that’s usually at our shows.”

It’s true: the band’s shows are notoriously crazy. I have fond memories of punters literally hanging from the rafters of the venue on more than one occasion The Living End have visited our fair city. “It’s hard to explain really,” says Cheney. “It’s like when people come to our shows they just really let themselves go. And it’s quite a sight to behold when you’re up on stage. I don’t do anything else other than play in a band so for me it’s like an enormous release, it’s a great outlet. And I guess people go to our shows for the same reason. A couple of beers in the belly and off they go…”

Over the years The Living End have grown to be quite a big player in the Australian music scene. A lot of bands have come and gone, but The Living End seem to be here for the long haul. Cheney is quick to explain how that feels from a band’s point of view. “It’s weird because lately we’ve been getting a lot of younger people coming to our shows. It’s like there’s a whole new generation of kids who are becoming aware of the band. Maybe their older brothers or someone were playing our albums and they’ve caught on… But while we were in the States, all these American kids were coming up to us and were totally fascinated by the band; they were asking all sorts of questions about why we do this and why we do that. But to some extent we’re just emulating what they invented. Like having a double bass, and our rockabilly influence especially – it was all American so it’s weird to have American kids coming up to us and asking us to tell them all about it,” he laughs. “I just guess there aren’t any bands over there who are doing what we are – they’ll be a fully fledged rockabilly band, but the fact that we’ve always mixed things up makes us different. We still keep the visual aspect and style, but when we record songs, we like to throw it all into the basket and not stick to the one thing.”

Earlier in the year, The Living End treated the United States to a night of amazing Australian music touring with The Vines and Jet. “The Vines headlined every night, thought Jet probably should have,” says Cheney. “It was a funny situation though, because we were going on first. But it was fine actually, because The Vines have sold a lot more albums in the United States than we have, and Jet were starting to get really big there. So when we were offered a spot on the tour, at no time did we think we should’ve been headlining. We just thought ‘okay, we’ll go over there and play to our audience and their audience, and it’ll be a good combination of people in the crowd and we’ll try and win them back and give the other bands a run for their money.’ I mean – we had to. We were the Aussie rock veterans.”

The Living End have earned the rank almost pushing ten years of releasing music as compiled on the forthcoming ‘From Here On In: The Singles 1997-2004’. The CD will coincide with the release of a companion DVD. “It was strange,” admits Cheney. “When the idea for the DVD was first thrown out there, I said we weren’t really the kind of band who shoots a lot of footage of crazy stuff. We don’t get girls to take their tops off, we don’t smash up hotel rooms and film it just for the sake of a DVD. But then I was really surprised when it was all put together and the guy who collated it was saying it was going to be over two hours long and he was chopping a whole heap of stuff out. I think it’s good that it actually tells a story without having to resort to any of those cliche rock ‘n’ roll moments. I just never knew we had that much footage. I seriously don’t remember the camera being around enough to warrant a two-hour documentary.”

“I’d always said that if we ever decided to do something like this, we’d want to do it properly and not just have a half hour of us fucking around. But I guess after so many years you forget just how often stuff was filmed and how much has happened. Some of the stuff that’s on there I’d totally forgotten about. There was some moments where I was wondering if I really wanted to sit and watch it all again anyway… But there’s nothing too embarrassing in there,” Cheney chuckles. “Just a lot of hairspray.”

‘From Here On In’ documents the band’s entire career, from their humble beginnings in the Melbourne suburbs to the present, complete with the appearance of “new” drummer – Adelaide’s own Andy Strachan. When quizzed about how Strachan fit into the dynamic of the band Cheney laughs but is quick to point out he was just what they were looking for. “When Andy joined the band, of course we knew a little bit of his background and stuff. One of the main factors about him was the fact that he’d played in a band called The Runaways when he was sixteen or something, playing drums for a band that played fifties and sixties covers. And it’s funny because at that time we were doing the same thing in Melbourne but we were called The Runaway Boys. Plus, he’d also said that he grew up with a next door neighbour who was always playing Madness and The Stranglers. So he had a love of fifties stuff as well as seventies and eighties new wave stuff, which is the basis for our whole band really.”

“It’s funny though because the press still seem to refer to him as ‘the new guy’. We just do it on the rare occasion when we really want to rev him up,” laughs Cheney. “But i think Brian Johnson from AC/DC is still referred to as ‘the new guy’, and look how long that’s been…”

Hard Work Rewarded In The End

Author: Paul Stewart

Despite worldwide success, The Living End is not about to take it easy, PAUL STEWART reports.

They may have sold hundreds of thousands of albums and entertained as many rock fans throughout the world with their dynamic live shows, but the three Melbourne rockers in The Living End still take nothing for granted.

Most seasoned rock acts would kick back on the rehearsals and take things easier after so much success, but not these likely lads.

The Living End is a great example for young musicians, demonstrating the rewards hard work can bring.

“We rehearse so much because we really do not think we are that much good,” charismatic frontman and lead guitarist Chris Cheney said.

“We actually get very paranoid and never think anything we do is good enough.

“The three of us strive to get the best out of ourselves.

“Rehearsals are taken very seriously and we strive to be a valid band that write great songs that stand the test of time.”

Cheney said after being laid up in bed for almost two years after a serious car accident in 2002 made him hungry for more hard work. “We lost a lot of money because our income stopped,” he said.

“Sure, The Living End might have sold lots of records, but we are far from being wealthy from all this.

“The best thing is my health is fine now. Maybe a few creaks because of old age.”

The Living End, formed in Melbourne in 1994 as a rockabilly covers band called The Runaway Boys, has released three full-length albums and three EPs.

All have sold well.

Cheney said the band had not played in Australia since last summer, instead touring Japan, England and the US.

On the band’s US tour it joined fellow Australian acts The Vines and Jet in what was billed as the Aussie Invasion.

“All the members of Jet and The Vines are lovely guys and we got on very well with them,” he said.

“On the other hand, because we were opening the show every night, we went out of our way to blast them out of the water and put on the best show we could.”

Cheney said the tour had been gruelling.

“We slept on the tour bus when we could and basically would shower in public washrooms and at truck stops,” he said.

Cheney said The Living End was outside the new breed of local young rock acts, who seem to pay homage to English 60’s acts such as The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks and classic garage rock.

“People know we have been influenced by punk and rockabilly, but the sound we create is always changing and we are trying to turn it into something unique,” he said.

Cheney said after the band’s coming Australian tour it would begin work on a new album.

“We will definitely be recording it in Australia this time,” he said.

“We have already got 15 new tracks to chose from.”

The Living End will perform at the Peninsula Lounge in Mornington on Wednesday and the Palace in St Kilda on October 1 and 2 (underage).

Chris Cheney Hits The Road

Author: Unknown

When did you decide that you wanted to be a musician and/or songwriter? How did you start going about it?
“I never really decided. It just kind of happened at the end of high school, we just played as much as we could and eventually we got a name for ourselves and it became fulltime.”

What’s the best advice you ever received about making music, and who was it from?
“Try and keep things interesting and moving and keep searching. I believe the Beatles taught us all that.”

Who’s an Australian musician you particularly admire? Can you tell us why?
“Tim Rogers – great writer, performer, and player. I just love the songs and he has a real passion and real talent.”

What would be your dream local line-up for a gig, and why:
“You Am I, Eskimo Joe, The Fireballs, Hoodoo Gurus.”

Are you looking forward to heading back out on the road with In The Grey? What do you do to get prepared for a tour?
“Yes. Touring and playing live is a big part of this band’s existence. I can’t imagine not touring and having live audiences. Getting prepared consists of rehearsal and eating fruit more often.”

What do you want people to get out of seeing the band live? What constitutes a good gig for you?
“I want people to lose themselves in the music and let go. Enjoy it anyhow they wish. A good gig is when you get a connection with the audience.”

What was the biggest challenge you faced when writing & recording your latest album?
“The biggest challenge is always getting the reccording to sound honest, spontaneous, and for it to have the right mood when hearing it back. Being in Amercia was not a settled experience.”

What do you think is unique about the Aussie music scene as opposed to the rest of the world?
“We have a little more variety and originality in each band because I think we like to mix things up, like genres etc. The greatest Aussie bands always have a rawness to them, not over slick.”

Lastly, what’s the best thing about being part of the Australian music industry? The worst?
“Best thing is we have some seriously great talent despite a smaller population. The worst is getting overseas seems to be a constant struggle financially.”

A Rock Explosion Brings Waves Of Bands Up From Down Under

Author: Steve Morse

Mention Australian music and several distinct sounds jump to mind: the dance-rock of INXS, the political punch of Midnight Oil, the ear-shattering metal of AC/DC, and the top 40 pop of the Bee Gees, Men at Work, Olivia Newton-John and the Little River Band. The country has also produced such diverse talents as Kylie Minogue, the Saints, Hunters & Collectors and Angel City.

That’s a wide swath of music, but the latest exports from Down Under have something more in com- mon: They rock. And they rock with an intensity that is bringing their homeland a new respect, from the garage-punk of the Vines and the reckless abandon of Jet to the rockabilly edge of the Living End and the power-pop of Neon.

All those acts are on the much awaited Aussie Rock tour. 

“They’re packaging us in an Australian flag and sending us over,” says Chris Cheney, singer with Melbourne band the Living End. “But we’re coming there for rock ‘n’roll, not patriotism.”

“There was quite a long period when almost no Australian bands made it overseas. That was called the 90s,” says Patrick Matthews of the Vines. “But now a lot of bands are coming over.”

The garage-rock revival that started stateside with bands such as the Strokes and the White Stripes has spread globally as record labels seek to ride the wave. 

“You could say we cashed in on the Strokes and White Stripes success, or you could say we had a good record and played a lot of shows,” Matthews says laughing. 

The definitive Australian rock band would be AC/DC, though the group added a few English members to its Australian core. The English-rock influence shouldn’t be underestimated. Jet took its name from a Wings’ song, the Living End loves Elvis Costello and Paul Weller, and the Vines cite their biggest influences as the Beatles and the Kinks, as well as British bands Blur and Suede. 

Those influences are apparent on the new Vines CD, Winning Days, which comes out March 23. The band’s first album, the million-selling Highly Evolved, is more primal than the new disc, which still has a street-rock core but is enhanced by new forays into dream-pop and psychedelia. Winning shows impressive growth and is one of the finest records of the year. It was made at Bearsville Studios near Woodstock, N.Y., with producer Rob Schnapf, who has worked with Beck, Guided by Voices and Elliott Smith.

The Vines may be the flagship band of the new Aussie wave, but Jet has recently bounced in with a raw excitement that can’t be denied. Jet’s stateside debut album, Get Born, has spawned a massive radio hit, Are You Gonna Be My Girl, which received a boost by being featured in an iPod commercial. Band member Mark Wilson declares, “We’re about party music like the Faces and the Stones. We’re lighthearted, rather than being negative about the world.”

Like many Aussie bands, Jet was not groomed for success. Bassist Wilson moved fridges for a living before rock beckoned, and singer Nic Cester operated a forklift. 

“We just play honest rock,” says Wilson. “It’s not about how cool you seem or what clothes you wear or which celebrity girlfriend you have. But you look at the history of Australian rock-back to AC/DC and the Easybeats – and every one of them can play.”

Maybe that explains why Jet didn’t heed the call to come and audition for U.S. labels. “We made them all come to Australia. We’re pretty cheeky that way,” he says. We had 11 record company guys all standing around in this dingy bar in Sydney. That was two years ago, but it feels like yesterday.”

The Aussie Rock tour was assembled by the Australian management team of Winterman & Goldstein, which handles the Vines and Jet. “Our stories are similar,” says Matthews of the Vines. “We’re both from the suburbs – Jet is from the suburbs of Melbourne, and we’re from the suburbs of Sydney – and we both sent demos in to the managers. Then Jet supported us on a show in Melbourne, and we’ve since run into them in New York and Los Angeles. It will also be fun to play with the Living End and Neon, which is a kind of power-pop band that sounds like Cheap Trick and Tom Petty crossed with Nirvana.” (Neon has a forthcoming album on EMI) 

Rockin’ Dundee

Author: Steve Morse

Mention Australian music and several distinct sounds jump to mind: the dance-rock of INXS, the political punch of Midnight Oil, the ear-shattering metal of AC/DC, and the Top 40 pop of the Bee Gees, Men at Work, Olivia Newton-John, and the Little River Band. The country has also produced such diverse talents as Paul Kelly, Kylie Minogue, the Saints, the Go-Betweens, Hunters & Collectors, and Angel City.

That’s a wide swath of music, but the latest exports from down under have something more in common: They rock. And they rock with an intensity that is bringing their homeland a new respect, from the garage-punk of the Vines and the reckless abandon of Jet to the rockabilly edge of the Living End and the power-pop of Neon.

All those acts are on the much-awaited “Aussie Rock” tour which plays the Avalon on Friday.

“They’re packaging us in an Australian flag and sending us over,” says Chris Cheney, singer with Melbourne band the Living End. “But we’re coming there for rock ‘n’ roll, not patriotism.”

“There was quite a long period when almost no Australian bands made it overseas. That was called the ’90s,” says Patrick Matthews of the Vines. “But now a lot of bands are coming over.”

The garage-rock revival that started with stateside bands such as the Strokes and the White Stripes has spread globally as record labels seek to ride the wave.

“You could say we cashed in on the Strokes’ and White Stripes’ success, or you could say we had a good record and played a lot of shows,” the Vines’ Matthews says with a laugh.

“It seems to go in cycles with Australian rock,” says Oedipus, program director of Boston station WBCN-FM (104.1). “You don’t hear about it for a while, then you suddenly have all these bands.” Asked to explain their newfound popularity, he says, “For the most part they rock – and we’re now in a rock mode. People are loving straight-ahead guitars again.”

Oedipus calls AC/DC the “definitive Australian band the group’s core was Australian, though it added a couple of English members) and adds that “guitar rock” has been associated with the country ever since.

The English-rock influence, however, shouldn’t be underestimated. Jet took its name from a song by Paul McCartney’s Wings, the Living End loves Elvis Costello and Paul Weller, and the Vines cite their biggest influences as the Beatles and the Kinks, as well as British bands Blur and Suede.

The influences are apparent on the new Vines CD, “Winning Days,” which comes out March 23. The band first album, the million-selling “Highly Evolved,” is more primal than the new disc, which still has a street-rock core but is enhanced by new forays into dream-pop and psychedelia. “Winning” shows impressive growth and is one of the finest records of the year. It was made at Bearsville Studios near Woodstock, NY, with producer Rob Schnapf, who has worked with Beck, Guided by Voices, and Eliott Smith.

The Vines may be the flagship band of the new Aussie wave, but Jet has recently bounced in with a raw excitement that can’t be denied. Jet’s stateside debut album, “Get Born,” has spawned a massive radio hit, “Are You Gonna Be My Girl,” which received a boost in an iPod commercial. Band member Mark Wilson declares, “We’re about party music like the Faces and the Stones. We’re lighthearted, rather than being negative about the world.”

Like many Aussie bands, Jet was not groomed for success. Bassist Wilson moved refrigerators for a living before rock beckoned, and singer Nic Cester was a forklift operator.

“We just play honest rock,” says Wilson. “It’s not about how cool you seem or what clothes you wear or which celebrity girlfriend you have. But you look at the history of Australian rock-back to AC/DC and the Easybeats – and every one of them can play. It’s not about looking cool in the eyes of the media.”

Maybe that explains why Jet didn’t heed the call to come to the United States to audition for American labels. “We made them all come to Australia. We’re pretty cheeky that way,” he says “We had 11 record company guys all standing around in this dingy bar in Sydney. That was two years ago, but it feels like yesterday.

The “Aussie Rock” tour was assembled by the Australian management team of Winterman & Goldstein, which handles the Vines and Jet. “Our stories are similar,” says Matthews of the Vines. “We’re both from the suburbs – Jet is from the suburbs of Melbourne, and we’re from the suburbs of Sydney – and we both sent demos in to the managers. Then Jet supported us on a show in Melbourne and we’ve since run into them in New York and Los Angeles. It will also be fun to play with the Living End and Neon, which is a kind of power-pop band that sounds like Cheap Trick and Tom Petty crossed with Nirvana.” (Neon has a forthcoming album on FMI)

These new bands came out of a touring tradition, hitting the club circuit hard before getting signed. Jet’s Wilson again brings up AC/DC, citing the band as a formative role model in that regard.

“AC/DC was like a machine that just rolled into town,” he says. “And we’ve been doing it that way, too. We have been on tour nonstop for a year and a half. We believe that you have to get in there and work.”

“Together, we’re going to wear people out onstage,” Wilson says of the tour. “And we hope that a lot of kids who come see us will let go of their inhibitions.”