The Living End
Author: Emily Kelly
THE LIVING END
The Corner, Monday December 17
I will admit, regrettably, that I attended The Living End’s show with a firmly instilled and rather smug sense of irony. It was, after all, many years since the band fi rst enamoured my 13-year-old self with their anti-authoritarian anthem Prisoner Of Society. It was also many years since I totally dismissed them as mainstream fodder, so revisiting their debut self-titled album seemed an apt way to revisit my fondness whilst not entirely surrendering my perceived good taste. Not entirely unlike attending a Vengaboys show.
Immediately upon launching into aforementioned song of a generation, I was forced to eat my words. The Living End may no longer be particularly relevant for a vast portion of their initial fan base (though there was a great deal of them throwing up the horns in a tame but thoroughly enthused mosh up front), but that doesn’t mean that they ever stopped being masterful musicians, or for that matter, writing good goddamn songs.
Steaming verbatim through their self-titled album, with the occasional embellishment, it occurred to me that for all my obsessive fandom, I never quite appreciated the quality of this band’s songwriting. Borrowing from every niche, nook and subgenre of the late ‘90s, this album was the embodiment of legitimate, Australian punk rock. It was cheeky and charismatic, the perfect representation of the band themselves.
Even as Chris Cheney lamented the band’s brutal touring schedule, suggesting that rehashing Second Solution was more fucked than it was fun, it did little to dampen his temperament. Smashing stuff. I was at once sentimental and then, deeply humbled. It was a bold move, regurgitating an entire career’s worth of albums for this Australian tour, but one that may have just reignited all the right flames.
LOVED: Revisiting Prisoner Of Society.
HATED: The chronological setlist dictating that all the best songs were played first.
DRANK: All of the beers.
Author: Zoe Radas
I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the most apt adjective that comes to mind when attempting to describe Danni Carr happens to be the same word as her own daughter’s name. Danni is mother to Sunny, wife to Ash Grunwald and one half of gorgeous new country/folk outfit Mr Cassidy. The other half is Emilie Owen, who has two children of her own with another of Australia’s darlings, Scott Owen. The two met when their husbands were playing together, and the subject of music and family became a deep discussion which quickly bore sweet fruit.
“You’re focused on [your children], I guess; that’s your main priority,” Carr says contemplatively, over the phone from Byron where she’s about to head back inside to continue rehearsal. “You lose a lot of that creative drive, and Emilie was the same. So when we met, we talked about that and I felt ready. I really felt like it was time to start playing again, and she was in exactly the same boat. Also with having husbands that are well-established musicians… you seem to be more supportive toward their things that they’ve got going on, which is cool.”
As it happened, the bluegrass stars aligned and Carr and Owen decided to get jamming, and jamming good. The result is an EP of five exceptionally beautiful, sometimes bangin’, always searingly heartfelt tracks, with Carr’s guitar and lead vox and Owens’ backups and fiddle accompanied by extra instrumentation from percussionist Fingers Malone, and Mr Owens himself. “Yes, he’s playing bass on the whole EP,” Carr confirms and then adds with a grin, “actually we were rehearsing today and he was doing some extra special stuff, and I’m like, ‘What the hell?’ He’s just playing so fast and slapping the crap out of the bass. He’s such an amazing player. Sometimes I kick myself: I’ll be at a gig, and I look over and Scott’s going crazy and I’m like, ‘Shit! I’m actually playing with the bass player from The Living End’,” she laughs brightly.
Carr also has warm things to say about Fingers Malone, whom she calls “the Modern Day Renaissance Man” for all the feathers in his cap. “He’ll play drums, he’ll help you write a song, he’ll produce the album, record it, he did all the artwork for the EP, he did the artwork for our posters and postcards, he does everything,” she says, but adds that he’s still incredibly understated. “You’ll say, ‘Why don’t you do a drum solo?’ and he’s like, ‘No way, I don’t do that shit’,” she smiles.
The titular track from the EP, Mountain Side, is driven by Fingers’ infectious shuffle with brushes on the snare, and some great unusual harmonies backing Carr’s vocals that are spot on as a bell. “It’s not recorded in such a bluegrass traditional way, it’s a bit more of a modern take on it. That one Ash and I wrote together over a bowl of muesli one morning and then went down and recorded it that day,” she says. The other stand-out is the hauntingly pretty Where My Babies Lie, which Carr wrote about the story of Robert Farquharson and Cindy Gambino, whose three sons were killed when Farquharson drove his car off the road and into a dam on Father’s Day in 2005. Carr has been friends with Gambino for a few years and for a long time felt a propulsion to write something about the tale.
“Being friends with her and having spent a lot of time with her,” begins Carr, and then pauses to ponder. “Her story, she’s very open about it, she will talk about it. I think it’s part of her healing. You just walk away from her feeling, ‘oh God, it’s just so, so sad.’ I only met her about three or four years ago, but it’s always playing on my mind. I think about her all the time, I think about her suffering all the time. It’s going to sound a bit wanky but I was getting quite upset, writing the verses, and I wanted it to be right. I didn’t want it to be too graphic, but I really wanted to tell the story. And it’s really quite a fine balance.” Carr sweated over anticipating Gambino’s response, but said when her friend eventually heard the finished track she was “freaking out”, in a good way. “She was glad someone could express her point of view, especially in the form of a song,” Carr breathes. “I was really happy and relieved.” Expect more awesomeness when the full-length is out (heads up: Nash Chambers may be heavily involved) towards the end of the year.
MR CASSIDY launch their EP Mountain Side at The Workers Club on Saturday February 2, supported by Dave Larkin.