The End Is Nigh

Author: Unknown

The Living End have gone from relative obscurity to one hit wonders to Australia’s band of the moment.

“It’s impossible to compare it to the hype of silverchair or other Australian bands that have done very well,” said Living End vocalist Chris Cheney in the lead-up to the release of what became the bands’ number one charting debut album. “It’s impossible to say, ‘Yeah, we’re in that situation now.’ You can’t get a grasp of it, so why even bother.”

“We would be amazed if a band like You Am I even knew our material,” adds drummer Travis Dempsey. “We would look up to a band like that and go, fuck, it would be good to be as big as them.” “Or as good as them” Cheney concludes, without false modesty.

It has been a big year for the Living End, as Cheney’s highlights list indicates. At the beginning of the year they were Australia’s most hyped, still in confusion thanks to a sudden influx of interest from record company types, many of whom had already passed on plenty of opportunities to sign the band

“If they’re not interested in a song like ‘From Here On In,’” says Cheney, “when that had all the elements that worked for us, if they couldn’t see it then, as far as I’m concerned they can’t see it now. They’re just jumping on the bandwagon”.

Mid-year they were in denial of the hype. “Really?” said Cheney when informed that the debut album was inspiring calls in the line of ‘greatest Australian album ever.’

By the time they’d appeared at the ARIAs in October, headlined their own sell-out tour with Area 7 and made Number 1 in the charts, there was no ignoring the fact. They won the ARIA for best-selling single ” over 150,000 copies, without any help from a major record company. “it’s good when bands have some hype about them,” Cheney shrugs, “as long as they can back it up.”

Highlights of the year included Cheney’s meeting with his all-time favourite star, Brian Setzer, formerly of Cheney’s much loved Stray Cats. After all, the Living End started out as a Stray Cats covers band named after a Stray Cats tune, the Runaway Boys.

“Everyone was like, ‘Did you just freeze up?’” says Cheney. “He was pretty cool about it, really. We told him we were on this (Vans Warped) tour and he said it was cool to see a band mixing punk and rockabilly.”

Cheney listed their US tour with the Vans Warped travelling punk rock festival as a highlight, but compared to their local tours later in the year, it was tough going.

“Playing in America to no people really kicked our arse,” says Cheney, with a hint of exhaustion. “Playing to ten people, you just have to really play your arse off to impress them, because there’s no vibe otherwise.”

Hard Word with Chris Cheney

Author: Unknown

It’s been a hard day’s night for the Living End of late, as they embraced the cross-country US touring that goes hand in hand with the huge support their American label, Elektra, has offered them in those territories. Playing both the Vans Warped festival and the Offspring’s national tour put the End in front of thousands of Americans. Relieved to be home and headlining their own tour once again, vocalist, guitarist and songwriter, Chris Cheney, gives us a lowdown on Australia’s greatest new hope.

How are ya? 
We’ve all been pretty OK, just cruising. A couple of beers each day keeps the doctor away.

But does it keep the psychologist away? 
No, it brings them a lot bloody closer.

Do you have a tour anecdote? 
Well, I got heat exhaustion and food poisoning at the same time and had to blow out five of the Vans Warped dates. It was more the heat exhaustion, because we played three really hot gigs in Dallas, Texas, of all places.

What does heat exhaustion feel like? 
Oh, man, I remember playing onstage at the third gig and the sun was just on my forehead and I’ve never felt it that bad before. I came off with a headache, and I thought, ‘Oh well, I’m probably just tired.’ It was 1pm and I’d only just woken up. I felt like I was gonna die. The heat was unbearable. And I’m just a weak Australian.

Are the people who brought you over there happy? 
The big mean record company? They’re pretty happy, but they obviously want us to go back. We’re gonna go back in January. I’m pretty happy with it. We gave it all we could give, we played really good shows to huge crowds and got a good reaction at each gig. We did a lot of sold out club shows, interviews, went on MTV. From our end there’s not a lot more we can do. As far as a groundswell goes, I think it’s really happening.

So who was the biggest rockstar on Vans Warped? 
Eminem. He didn’t mingle with anyone at all. The guys in Lit are pretty Las Vegas rock, very ’70s Elvis. Or Warren from the Vandals, taking his clothes off all the time. It’s insane. They had a party on Ice T’s bus one night, and because everyone was wearing clothes, Warren decided he’d be the white runt running around nude.

What did Trav get up to on Warped? 
He had a running war with Eminem. Eminem went overtime and we had to follow him on the other stage. Everyone was waiting for him to get off, because he really wasn’t going that well on the tour. So when he finishes playing Trav’s like, ‘Screw you Eminem! You’re not welcome in Australia!’. Then we get this word from his bodyguards saying it’s not appreciated. There were no fists flying. Even Kerrang ran a story on it. The Living End versus Eminem – who would win in a fight. He came out ahead because he’d have knives and machine guns and all that, and we’re like, bar-room brawlers.

So what are your thoughts on the Republic issue? Do you think we should lose the Queen? 
Well, I love England, I gotta tell ya. I love London, great place, great atmosphere. But I think we can handle ourselves. We should become a Republic. I don’t think it’s any disrespect to stand on our own two feet. I don’t know how much difference, honestly, it’s going to make. But everyone sees Australia as being its own country anyway, not really connected.

What’s your idea of hell? 
It sounds so rockstar-ish, but coming home from a gig in a country town, getting to your hotel room with two minutes left before room service closes. And ordering the Mongolian beef and finding it’s totally crap.

Describe yourself in five words. 
Clutz. Daydreamer. Sensitive. Jovial, most of the time. And, erm… Indecisive.

What expression are you using too much? 
Probably ‘Dog-Arse.’ If I don’t like something or it’s not up to scratch I’ll go, ‘That’s dog arse.’

Did you get yourself into any cultural clashes when you were in the US? 
Well, you know, they hate Vegemite. We took our own with us, and they think it’s like, axel grease or something. There’s always clashes with the Yankees. They think we’ve got five bands, 25 people and a whole lot of kangaroos in Australia and that’s it. They have no idea.

What did your career adviser at school suggest you be when you grew up? 
Definitely not a musician. I don’t think they held much hope for me really. I was definitely told to stop thinking about music, the usual story, and get on with the work. I actually never went to a careers adviser, but they probably would have suggested that I buy a shovel, because I was going to spend the rest of my life standing on the side of a road somewhere doing roadwork.

What’s the most embarrassing thing that you’ve done onstage? 
Oh dear me. Well I’ve fallen over and stuff plenty of times, that happens to everyone. I jumped off the drum riser one time in Geelong and just fell fair and square on my arse… Um, at Livid I canned Qantas from the stage for wrecking our double bass, when in actual fact we flew up on Ansett. Scott’s pants fell down on Recovery, I felt embarrassed for him, as he stopped during “From Here On In,” pulled up his pants and did up his belt. [Ruefully] Live TV!

You missed both Ben Lee and Lindsay MacDougal (Frenzal Rhomb) kicking their leads out on national television while you were away. 
That’s a young player’s error. I’ve done that. I did it, quickly plugged the lead back in and thought, ‘Fuck, what an idiot, I won’t do that again.’ Then I stepped back and did exactly the same thing straight after.

You took your girlfriend with you for some of the American touring. Do you have a favourite lonely road song for when she can’t come? 
As I look out at the highway and dream about my girl? Not really, she was with me most of the time, because we were away for so long. It was probably a bit of a break for both of us. It was more like, let me put on Midnight Oil so I can think about my homeland.

Live105 Big Friggin’ Day

Author: Unknown

The Living End
Dysfunctional Stage

To an unsuspecting world, Australia’s The Living End appeared out of nowhere in early 1998, a trio of musical brats dominating Down Under’s airwaves and charts.

But, of course, as with any “overnight success,” The Living End has a lengthy history behind them. First formed in Melbourne in 1994, when school friends Chris and Scott began playing together, the self-managed, highly motivated band immediately started landing gigs in and around their hometown. By 1996, the group had gained a national following after supporting Green Day on their barnstorming Australian tour. At the same time, The Living End released their debut EP, the eight-tracked Hellbound, which garnered considerable favorable attention on Australian radio. By the end of that same year, they had returned to the studio to record a follow-up EP, It’s For Your Own Good, which brought them additional national exposure and a slate of club, concert and festival gigs.

Performing virtually non-stop, The Living End saw 1997 turn into their best year ever, as they released “Second Solution” and “Prisoner Of Society” as a double A Side to coincide with their supporting slot on tour with the acclaimed Australian band Bodyjar. “Prisoner Of Society” would go on to become a substantial hit, lodging itself in Australia’s Top 5 and eventually reaching double-platinum sales status. It would be in early 1998 before the trio could catch their breath and return to Sing Sing Studio in Melbourne with producer Lindsay Gravina to record their debut album, The Living End, for which they re-recorded “Second Solution” and “Prisoner Of Society.”

Signed to Reprise Records in the States, The Living End set out for America to join the Warped Tour for ten shows and play a few one-off gigs in LA. While in town, they logged in some more studio time, to give their new tracks a bit of spit and polish, enlisting the help of veteran mixer Jerry Finn.

The result can be heard on the 14 amazing tracks of their self-titled album. The Living End has met their musical challenge with a heady blend of pop, rock and punk, with a dash of ska for spice. On The Living End they have delivered a batch of hook-laden songs that are bound to do for American audiences what they’ve already done in Australia, blow off the roof.

The Living End Track By Track by Chris Cheney

“Prisoner of Society”
Every teenager feels like a prisoner of society at one time or another. This song is not meant to be a big punk statement, just a bit of social commentary. It’s my attempt at writing a fast psychobilly tune with a general theme.

“Growing Up (Falling Down)”
This song is all about stumbling through life and learning from mistakes — falling over and getting up and giving it another shot. Inspired yet? I think that it’s a pretty good mixture of pop/ska/punk. Basically it’s just a fast pop song.

“Second Solution”
This is a fictional song about a man on death row. It’s a punk/rockabilly cross over with a very strong English punk influence. I really tried to visualize cold streets and the urgency of a man who is running out of time.

“West End Riot”
This is a partly fictional, partly true story of kids who meet each week and share a common interest in playing war. As they grow up and work at different jobs, the mutual interest and bonds they once shared grow weak. I find it fascinating how people who are in higher or lower positions in a working society and stick to their own kind, may never know the friendships they have missed out on.

“Bloody Mary”
This is inspired by the true story of a girl who got her kicks by slashing her wrists in public places in order to gain attention. It has a ’50’s swamp rock kind of feel.

“Monday” was written about the Dunblane massacre — the social worker who walked into the local primary school and gunned down 16 children and a teacher. What a senseless act. I just felt compelled to write a song about it.

“All Torn Down”
Where have all the beautiful houses and landmarks gone!? We are quickly losing the character of Melbourne by continually ripping down old historic buildings to make way for new ones. This song is saying “OK, life must move on but be careful ’cause once it’s gone…’s gone!”

“Save The Day”
This one started out like a bit of an anti-Gulf War statement. The whole thing with young men being sent to war seems so pointless to me. It’s also about the parallels between that and anyone being put in a situation where they have to rise to the occasion and save the day.

This was basically a song written in jest about the One Nation Party! I found it amusing when Pauline and Co were touring around the country having meetings in halls etc., and afterward they couldn’t leave for fear of being hit by tomatoes. They were trapped by controversy and tomatoes!

“Have They Forgotten?”
This is about the possibility that there may still be prisoners of war in foreign countries and the lack of government support or interest. Everything else takes priority while they’re running out of time. Depressing but true!

“Fly Away”
This is what I feel like doing when I’ve made the wrong decision or said the wrong thing. This is supposed to be a kind of pop/jazz number.

“I Want A Day”
This is Scott’s classic tale of work blues. Wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t have to get up and trudge off to the factory. As we all had jobs up until a few months ago, this song is easy to relate to.

This song is all about being into a different trend/style of music, etc., than everybody else is and the strange looks one can encounter. I never thought that I was strange, but being an Elvis freak at age 15 in the suburbs was not the norm!

“Closing In”
Originally a jazz/funk fusion number, we soon gave it The Living End treatment. I tried to make it a kind of mystery spy/gangster sounding tune — “The cops are closing in!”

Living At The Top Ain’t Easy

Author: Cameron Adams

It’s all going horribly right for The Living End. And the Melbourne trio know it better than anyone else.

“We realise that this is the time,” says frontman Chris Cheney. “This is probably the peak for us. If it happens in America that will be the next thing, but this is special because it’s the first time it’s happened. We know we have to tour constantly, but we’re up for it. There’s no one pressuring us to go here or there.”

The figures tell the story. Their self-titled debut album has already gone double platinum, selling more than 150,000 copies since its release in October when it debuted at number one, displacing Cold Chisel. The album is still in the national Top 5 and has quietly outsold much-hyped releases by Grinspoon, the Superjesus and Powderfinger.

Their Prisoner of Society EP won an ARIA for highest-selling single (beating Natalie Imbruglia’s Torn).

Record industry pundits are already predicting multiple entries in the upcoming Triple J Hottest 100 poll.

And it’s not confined to Australia. The Living End’s American label, Reprise, is gearing up for the release of Prisoner of Society in the US, with the anthemic song already a hit pick on several influential American radio stations. Their second American tour takes place next month when they support corporate punks The Offspring.

The trio have just returned from a quick German tour where they visited sites associated with their beloved Beatles.

That’s not bad for a band who couldn’t even get a record deal just a few years back.

“Three or four years ago I remember thinking, ‘What’s wrong with this world, why aren’t we huge’,” says bassist Scott Owen. “I’d sit and wonder why something I really loved couldn’t catch on.”

The band are now in the uneasy situation of enjoying being one of the biggest bands in Australia, but are wary of a possible backlash.

“I’m stressing a little about it,” Cheney admits. “That’s why we’re not taking too much notice of the chart, not that we’re taking it for granted. We can see it coming already, ‘One hit wonders, novelty band, blah blah blah’. I haven’t achieved what I want to with the music yet. A lot of these songs have been around for a while. I think there are some better songs in the pipeline. It’s just that this album got all the hype.”

The band are keen to avoid hype, preferring to rely on word-of-mouth publicity. Such are their efforts to downplay their success that they plan to release a long-form live video to a handful of fans on their mailing list and let it get bootlegged free among those who want it.

“We’ve done things differently to what most bands do,” Cheney says. “We’ve been very careful to avoid overkill and that’s worked in our favour. People haven’t got sick of us and we’re not sick of doing it. It’s tempting to come out and do everything, every TV show, every interview. But that’s too easy.”

The trio have turned down lucrative offers from companies wanting their teen-friendly image for sponsorships and endorsements.

“A lot of the offers come from sporting companies and that’s not us, it’s fake,” Cheney says. “There’s no point doing it for the hell of it or for the money. People can see right through that. The bands we look up to haven’t sold out like that.”

“We didn’t pick up an instrument when we were kids to get a free pair of shoes,” says Owen. “There’s no reason to change now because nothing else has changed.”

They’re even finding themselves removed from their success, often looking at the Top 10 and thinking The Living End is someone else’s band.

“I feel really lame when we say nothing has changed,” Owen says. “Of course, it’s one of the most exciting things that’s happened in our life, probably the most exciting. But I don’t want to become a person who walks into a record store and gets turned on by having the number one album.”

“I still look up to Bodyjar or Frenzal Rhomb or Regurgitator and think that they’re really big. We still think that we’d like to achieve what they’ve achieved, but we’ve actually sold more records than them, which is strange.

“We had such an exclusive following. We were part of a sub-culture, the rockabilly scene.”

Owen says: “We were playing to punks or rockers or ska heads, now we’re part of the bigger picture.”

“The songs were always accessible, but they were part of the alternative,” Cheney adds. “We were never afraid of playing to a mainstream audience, but they were never interested in us before.”

Chiselled Out Of Top Spot

Author: Unknown

MELBOURNE trio the Living End has knocked rock legends Cold Chisel from the top of the Australian chart.

The Living End’s self-titled debut album entered the ARIA charts at number one yesterday, dislodging the Cold Chisel comeback album, The Last Wave of Summer, from the top spot after just one week. Some record stores suggest the Living End was outselling Cold Chisel by two to one last week. 
“Number one, what’s better than that?” said Living End frontman Chris Cheney. “I thought that it might have a chance because we heard it had shipped quite a few copies, but number one is amazing. It’s a great sign for Australian music.” 
The Living End was in Sydney yesterday rehearsing for a performance at the ARIA awards. The band has been nominated for five awards including highest-selling single (Second Solution EP), Song of the Year (Prisoner of Society), best Australian single, best alternative release and best independent release. Cheney says the band members are modest about their chances at the ARIAs. 
“We’re in a state of disbelief that it won’t happen, but we might work on a few acceptance speeches so we don’t look like three schmucks with nothing to say.”

The Living End

Author: Cameron Adams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Author: Stephen Downie

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

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

Growing Up Is Hard To Do

Author: Vanessa Bowden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Triple J Super Request

Author: Jane Gazzo

The following interview was transcribed from radio.

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

Chris :Yeah! How are you doing?

Jane :Good. How are you?

Chris :Good.

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

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

Jane :So is this an album or another EP?

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

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

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

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

Chris :Thankyou. And thankyou to everyone who voted.

Jane :Are you sick of it yet?

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

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

Chris :Yeah, every morning.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jane :Did you have a quiff at the time?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jane :Rules and regulations too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jane :Not much of the band in it.

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

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

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

Living Dolls

Author: Andrew McUtchen

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

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

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

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