Fertile Imagination

Author: Teresa Bolster

The Living End and the Fireballs – they’re a genre of two, a very tight knit group battling it out for supremacy amongst the rockabilly/punk fans, competing against each other with the highest hairdos, the slappiest bass, the fastest drumming, the catchiest tunes. Then again, maybe not. It’s probably true to say that, in most people’s undisciplined minds the Fireballs and The Living End are interchangeable and most would likely perceive some kind of competition between the two Melbourne-base trios. But the reality, as revealed by the End’s upright bassist Scott Owen is far less sordid. 
Both bands emerged when there was a small but active rockabilly scene in Melbourne, although the Fireballs were years ahead of the younger Living End. The latter began as the Runaway Boys, a straight ahead rockabilly band specialising in traditional 50’s numbers and Stray Cats covers. 
“The Stray Cats totally inspired us,” Owen says, then adds “before they got old and fat.” 

Playing amongst the limited rockabilly circle, the two bands became friends and shared gigs. When the traditional rockabilly scene dwindled and both bands began discovering other influences, the Fireballs and The Living End developed in different directions. These days Owen sees little similarity between the bands. 
“They’re are so much heavier than us,” he says, “and the way we write songs, it’s so obvious how different our styles have changed.” 
Being older the Fireballs emerged on the wider scene first and the obvious comment that The Living End have ‘copied’ them has been made. Is it annoying to be compared to the Fireballs now? 
“It is when people don’t realise that we have both gone off in different directions. It annoys me when people say ‘You guys are the same as the Fireballs’ because that’s so naive. We’ve got the same roots, but lots of bands have the same roots. People think ‘double bass, same hairdos and clothes, it must be the same music’.”

If the Fireballs have developed a more metal edge in their rockabilly basics, The Living End are reveling in the joys of modern pop. When playing the support slot for Soundgarden last month (their encouragement award from Vivien Lees after missing out on the Big Day Out), Owen says the Living End were far more excited about playing with You Am I, the other support act. 
“We spoke to Tim Rogers and Rusty after the show, and they know where we are coming from, what we used to be into.” He perceives a parallel between You Am I and the Living End. “They’ve gone back to the old 60’s pop sound and put a new sign on it, and we have a done a similar thing with 50’s rockabilly. I love going back to an old style of music and making it contemporary.”

The Living End have now broken through to a whole new audience via the high rotation of From Here On In, lifted from their Lindsay Gravina produced second EP It’s For Your Own Good. For Owen and vocalist/guitarist Chris Cheney, hearing their song played frequently on Triple J is the highest peak of a collaboration which began five years ago, when they were both seventeen. 
“When we were getting played on local radio it was a thrill to be able to hear our music without having to put the tape on. We listen to Triple J all the time – everyone listens to Triple J all the time, so hearing it on that station nationwide was a huge kick. We still spin out whenever we hear it.” 
But by far the ultimate thrill for Owen, Cheney and new drummer Travis Dempsey is the prospect of playing with living rock and roll legend Carl Perkins. The old line up of The Living End have played an annual four day traditional rock and roll festival in Tweed Heads for the last few years as the Runaway Boys. Dempsey in unfamiliar with the old material so this year it’s The Living End who are heading north to play with Perkins. 
“That’s so much more exciting than playing with Soundgarden. People have been saying ‘Who’s Charles Perkins?’ and I’m saying ‘fuck off! What about Blue Suede Shoes?”

Gig Review

Author: Dan Oakes

It's For Your Own Good

Last Friday night at the Esplanade saw the launch of the new Living End EP, It’s For Your Own Good. I expected a big crowd, and wasn’t disappointed. 
By the time the Living End came on the place was heaving. 
The Living End launched into their set with unbridled energy and enthusiasm, and within minutes were sweating buckets. 
The drumming was short sharp and in bursts, in the style of Keith Moon (before his bloated, dead in bed phase), and seeing the double bass in action made you realise that, visually, the more conventional bass has nothing on its older brother. As on the EP, the band mixed up punk and ska influences with a predominately rockabilly background, creating what is, in my mind, a pretty unique sound. The crowd was big and responded well to the effort the band were obviously putting into the set. It was interesting as well, to see the mixing of subcultures evident. There were punks, goths, rockabilly fans, indie kids, ska freaks, all getting into the music. The Living End are obviously a band that have a wide appeal, and it is good to see.

It’s For Your Own Good

Author: Avalon Sperring

It's For Your Own Good

Following the release earlier this year of their debut CD EP, Melbourne trio The Living End have moved away from relatively straightforward rockabilly punch with this tasty little six track EP. Although doffing collective caps to influences such as The Clash, Stray Cats and even a quick check to Duanne Eddy (check the glorious guitar solo on Problem). The Living End are beginning to define themselves by their own sound.

A feisty mix of tunes means it’s difficult to pin these guys down, which is never a bad thing. They are becoming conversant with melody within grunt, and plaintive qualities seeping through punchy rhythms, particularly on One More Cell, which is a pop/punk tune dependent on its neatly pumped out chord progression and cheesy chorus for effect. From Here On In and Stay Away From Me reflect the rockabilly aspect of The Living End, with the latter jumping straight into a thrash out with gorgeous accents and atypical bassline.

Bass player Scott Owen and singer/guitarist Chris Cheney belt out vocals with more enthusiasm than finesse, but this works within the context of the songs. English Army is a little too obvious in its debt to The Clash, however The Living End have stamped their mark on the groove if not the melody.

Closing with an inventive cover of The Cure’s 10:15 Saturday Night, It’s For Your Own Good is an immediately infectious slice of this band’s energetic approach to a musical meld that can only be described as a rockabilly/ska cross, however they aren’t afraid to throw in a touch of the pop hook, but nevertheless harness power from the urgency of rockabilly more than anything else. Good stuff for a bit of a dance, if you’re that way inclined.

It’s For Your Own Good

Author: Sandro Olivo

It's For Your Own Good

This has been a frantic year for this three piece punk outfit from Melbourne. It released it’s first EP, Hellbound, at the start of the year and then earned the support slot for green haired trendsetters Green Day. So it is no surprise that this CD’s first track, From Here On In, has a distinct similarity to the American band. But that is where all similarities end.
On this second EP, English Army, One More Cell, Stay Away From Me, Problem and 10:15 Saturday Night set themselves apart with the sound embracing all that is punk. Ska and rockabilly are interspersed through the songs which set the head rocking and the feet stomping. The guitars have a harsh resonating sound and Chris Cheney’s vocals are brilliant.

Perhaps Green Day’s Billy Joe Armstrong could listen and learn. This album is true punkerama.

It’s For Your Own Good

Author: Timothy James

It's For Your Own Good

The Living End have come a long way on their second EP. Where their first release Hellbound lost song quality in sub-standard production, It’s For Your Own Good, produced by Lindsay Gravina, packs brutally honest representation of their live sound – and this sound is most impressive. 
From Here On In and English Army lead the EP admirably. The songs are more well crafted pop than rockabilly, and both tunes come with a chorus you won’t forget in a hurry. Look out for other highlights; see Stay Away From Me complete with its breakneck drumming and minor bass solo, and Problem, that has a booming chorus showcasing Chris Cheney’s distinctive vocal style. 

This EP also comes with a fairly honest take on The Cure’s 10:15 Saturday Night, although this reviewer would have preferred to have seen live favourite Tainted Love make an appearance. To label The Living End as a rockabilly band is lazy and/or uninformed. They have the potential to reach an incredibly wide audience, and on listening to It’s For Your Own Good one gets the feeling that one day Cheney and co. will be scaling even greater heights.