Big Day’s Triumphant End

Author: Lauren McMenemy

The Living End’s drummer, Andy Strachan, might be Adelaide born and bred, but his memories of SA racing are well, a little different.

“Only when my mum was driving – and that’s a true story. She’s a leadfoot,” he laughed.

Confidential caught up with The Living End yesterday after they finished a soundcheck for the after-race concert.

And the big fan in the band? That’d be bass player Scott Owen.

“I’m a bit of a fan of Group A racing,” he admitted. “I was always a Peter Brock fan when I was in school, so I still (love) the V8s and the smell of fuel.”

But of course, the racing was a mere backdrop to the real matter at hand – a night of quality oz rock from The Living End and fellow Victorians Magic Dirt.

The band, one of the best live acts in the country, even managed a crowd for its soundcheck – albeit a small one. And they’re not really sure if the crowd was watching them of the big screens.

“I think that’s what the vibe was – a quiet beer and get a bit of shade, watch the TV screens while the Formula Fords are on,” reckoned Owen.

After-Race Party

Author: Unknown

Trackside, Thursday to Sunday.

It’s not just for race fans, y’know. When the cars are put to bed for the night at the Clipsal Adelaide 500 this week, the stage will be rocked by some of Australia’s finest.

And an extra concert has been added this year, meaning there are now four nights of partying to be had.

It all kicks off tonight when Spiderbait and 28 Days get the party started.

Spiderbait, of course, is going through what has been dubbed its renaissance, after scoring its first No 1 single last year with Black Betty. 28 Days, on the other hand, is the latest big name to go independent, and is having plenty of fun doing things their own way.

Tomorrow night it’s the double Oz bill of the year, with The Living End joined by Magic Dirt. The Living End is, bar none, the best live band in the country, and when you team it with the melodic rock of Magic Dirt, its a very special night. The Dirt, by the way, will also play at Mannum’s Pretoria Hotel on Saturday night.

Saturday night trackside is one for the country fans, with Lee Kernaghan appearing with his Akubra, joined by the more jazz.blues sounds of the Black Sorrows.

Then on Sunday, wrapping it all up and going out with a bang, are the Hoodoo Gurus and the Master’s Apprentices. Did someone say Australian classics? Mass singalongs?

It’s sure to be a massive week of racing and rock, so get into it.

Upping The Tempo

Author: Lauren McMenemy

Rock’n’roll all night and party every day?

It’s a cliche, we know, but the sound of revving engines won’t be all you hear at this years Clipsal Adelaide 500.

In keeping with tradition, race organisers have made sure the fun will keep going well into the night by assembling a veritable smorgasbord of Oz rock – and it’s their best line-up yet.

Kicking it off on Thursday night – the first time Clipsal’s after-race concerts have been extended to the first day of action – will be the invigorated Spiderbait. They’ve been around for eons, were one of the 1990’s best indie bands and have given us such classics as Buy Me A Pony and Shazam – but it wasn’t until last year that Spiderbait claimed a No 1 single. It was their cover of Black Betty that did it, and it gave the stalwarts a new lease on (radio) life.

The ‘Bait will be joined by 28 Days, a band still overshadowed by their hits Rip It Up and Sucker. Yeah – they’ll play ’em.

But it’s Friday night that you don’t want to miss. A night when two of Australia’s best live bands will put on a scorching show that you will be telling the grandkids about in years to come.

What line-up could bring such enthusiasm? Only the Living End and Magic Dirt. Together.

Yes, the awesome on-stage presence of TLE – Australia’s best live band, and one of the most inspiring of their generation – will hit the stage after Adalita and the boys weave their magic.

TLE, of course, played the Le Mans after-race concert a few years back, so they’re well versed in the race/party habits of Adelaide. And with drummer Andy Strachan being a formal local, they’ve got added insight into how to make the night memorable.

Not that they need it. Once Chris Cheney, Scott Owen and Strachan hit the stage, your eyes will be transfixed. Passion will flow as they storm through everything from Prisoner Of Society to I Can’t Give You What I Haven’t Got.

Magic Dirt are working on a new album, so expect some of the newies to get an airing. That won’t stop them pulling out the likes of Dirty Jeans and Watch Out Boys though. Frontwoman Adalita is a rock godess, inspiration to a generation of rock chicks, and to see them in action is magnetic.

And once you’ve recovered from that – a day at the races should do it – it’s time to grab your black akubra and get ready for Lee Kernaghan. An Australian country music legend, the boy from the bush will be joined by fellow Australian music legends the Black Sorrows.

And wrapping it all up? That’d be the Hoodoo Gurus.

From My Girl to What’s My Scene, Like Wow – Wipeout to Come Anytime, the Hoodoo Gurus have been the soundtrack to your life whether you realise it or not. A recent reunion (they called it quits in ’97) spawned the album Mach Schau.

Keeping with the tradition of iconic Australians closing the show, the Gurus will be joined by the Master’s Apprentices – and we hear Glenn Wheatley may even make an on-stage appearance this time round.

Andy Strachan

Author: Unknown

Andy Strachan and The Living End are with no doubt one of the hardest working bands in Australia. In 2004 the band released a singles collection from the last 7 years titled “From Here On In”. Coupled with sell out tours around Australia, Japan and a stadium tour of the States with No Doubt and Blink 182 it is easy to see why they are always a favourite. After years of looking for the right live and studio sound, Andy has finally settled on Pearl’s MHX 4 ply Mahogany drums. Finished in Pearls Retrospec colour Red Onyx and coupled with black fittings this kit needs to be seen and heard to be believed.

Pearl MHX Drums
Kick Drum – 24″x 16″
Rack Tom – 13″x 9″
Floor Tom – 16″x 16″
Floor Tom – 18″x 16″
Snare Drum – 14″x 6.5″

Zildjian Cymbals
14″ Z Custom Hi Hats
22″ K Custom Ride
18″ Z Custom Crash
19″ Z Custom Crash
20″ Z Custom Crash

Remo Drum Heads
Coated Emperors on Toms
Powerstroke 3 on Kick
CS Dot or Emperor-X on snare

Vic Firth Sticks
1A Wood Tip.

The Living End’s New DVD From Here On In

Author: Unknown

Beginning with the promised new single, an angry ska tune titled I Can’t Give You What I Haven’t Got, they slam through a show that would have Holly and Cochran – and probably Wes Montgomery and Kurt Cobain, too – dancing in their graves.

Within three frantic songs of lightning licks and hollered choruses, Owen’s jacket and tie have disappeared, along with every other inhibition in the room. “There’s not gonna be much small-talk tonight,” Cheney tells us when he draws breath. “We haven’t played here in far, far too long, so we’re just gonna churn ’em out, OK?”

Hey, no problem. Save the Day, All Torn Down, Prisoner of Society, Roll On, Pictures In the Mirror, One Said To the Other, Second Solution, From Here On In … In fact, all bar one of the 14 songs on the imminent singles collection are dusted off and beefed up on shuffle play.

The message is loud and clear. The Living End’s latest album, Modern Artillery, is barely a year old, but it’s already just a part of their legacy. And, give or take a short acoustic breather midway through the gig, just as in their teenage days as a Stray Cats tribute band, this game is all about setting the stage on fire.

Rewind a week. Cheney is sitting in the Greyhound Hotel in St Kilda, about halfway between his home and that of his childhood friend, Owen. He’s upbeat, partly because he’s just bought his first house. And, with no American commitments for the foreseeable future, he’s likely to spend some time in it.

“I’m kind of disappointed,” he volunteers before his first beer is half drunk. “I don’t wanna talk (down) Modern Artillery at all, but I’m kind of disappointed, because that should have been a masterpiece. That’s what I was trying to write, and it wasn’t. And there were so many factors involved (asto) why it wasn’t and it angers me and … it’s a regret, in a way.”

So what went wrong? “America. The American record company (Warner Reprise) not trusting us. New people working for the company who didn’t sign the band and therefore didn’t realise what we were capable of and didn’t let us do our thing.

“We were in a very precarious position. If we didn’t do what they wanted we wouldn’t have had an international deal, and you have to weigh that up with artistic integrity. So we had to bend a bit, try and meet them halfway. In the end, when I listen to the album …” he tilts his head dubiously. “It’s not what I had in my head, you know?

“This has been a huge thing for the band,” he says. “We haven’t spoken about it much, because I still think it’s a good album, the songs are strong, but it should have had the ‘X’ factor. It was time for us to make a great album.

“But anyway,” he says with a shrug. “It was pretty hairy times after the accident, with Trav leaving, and all of a sudden we’re on tour and writing songs, and we didn’t really get a chance to settle in. We were straight in the deep end.”

There were few doubts about new drummer Andy Strachan’s suitability for the gig. The 2003 Big Day Out was a “baptism of fire”, as Owen puts it, which he handled spectacularly well. By October ’03 the trio were back to first-division festival status, stealing Livid from the White Stripes and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.

After an extensive summer tour, though, Australia was on the backburner as they tried to pick up where they left off in America. Prisoner of Society had been a radio hit there in the late ’90s, and the band’s second album, Roll On, sold even better than the first.

But rock’n’roll fashion won’t wait. In March and April, the Living End played third on the Aussie Invasion bill across the US with the Vines and Jet. Neither of those upstarts existed when the Living End LP sold five times platinum in Australia in ’99 and, as confirmed by a handful of early-bird reviewers, neither had comparable stage skill or live energy.

“We just grabbed on with both hands and said, ‘Look at this,’ ” Cheney says with a grin. “I just thought, ‘We’re third on the bill, they’re calling us the Aussie rock veterans – even though we’re only a couple of years older! – so let’s go out there with all guns blazing.’ I mean, we do that every gig, but that one we really tried to put a stamp on.”

Cheney and Owen both speak fondly of the tour, of the bands jamming AC/DC and You Am I tunes backstage and enjoying the beery camaraderie that defines young Australians abroad.

But Owen points out the fundamental difference that usually saw The Living End retiring to their bus first. “Our gig is so much more demanding than their gigs,” the double-bass player says.

“For starters, we’re a three-piece band and they’re both four-piece. And our songs are so complicated and demanding. A lot of their songs are just kinda strumming and they get to lay back. They’ve got time to think. We’ve got time to do nothing except concentrate.

“We know from experience that if we have too many beers under our belts, it’s almost impossible to get through the gig. And it’s just not enjoyable. The reward for us is actually playing tight and getting all the dynamics to stand out and be strong.”

That reward wasn’t enough on the Blink-182/No Doubt tour that followed. The Living End were all but ignored, Cheney says, not only by two monster American bands with “separate bodyguards and separate buses and separate rooms”, but by hundreds of thousands of 14-yearolds straggling into the arenas.

“This band sells itself live,” he says. “We thought, “If we can get over there and get ourselves in front of people, we can screw all the industry crap.’ There’s no shortcuts for us, it’s just about getting in front of people, and that’s the only way we know. But if the people aren’t there …

“I just wanted to go home,” he says. “I thought, ‘These people are not getting it and they’re not interested.’ “

Unfortunately, that was increasingly true of the American record company. Modern Artillery was the last in a three-album deal with Warner, and the band were given a friendly handshake when the crucial monster hit failed to materialise.

Meanwhile, an album ostensibly tailored for the US market had fared less than brilliantly in their neglected homeland. Does all that time in America feel wasted in retrospect?

“Ah, some of it does,” Cheney says. “(Warner) were given a band that I think you can sell to anyone. This band has got something that immediately appeals to people visually, and we write songs that aren’t too hard to listen to and, yeah, they fucked it.”

Cheney reveals that I Can’t Give You What I Haven’t Got, the first of two new tracks on the singles compilation, was largely inspired by the Warner US debacle. Bringing It All Back Home sounds like the other side of the coin. It’s a development that Strachan, for one, is less than distressed about.

“If I had my way, we’d just tour Australia and Japan,” the drummer says, his hair still soaked after the Peninsula gig. “We’re not in a big hurry to get back to America, I don’t think. We’re all pretty keen to concentrate on Australia for the next year, get a new album out. I just love touring here. You can get good food, for a start. America’s really dodgy that way.”

Owen’s ambitions are similarly pragmatic. “For me,” he says, “selling records and playing to bigger crowds is only important because I’d love to be able to do this for the rest of my life. I don’t have massive ambitions to be a household-name rock’n’roll star. I don’t have that desire. Creating, expanding musically, that’s the most important thing to me. There’s nothing else I really think about. Ever.

“I’m not upset about the American thing, because it brings perspective back to us. Rather than them having a plan and us saying, ‘OK, what do you want us to do?’, finally it’s time to say, ‘What do we want to do?’ “

There’s little doubt that EMI Australia is looking to reclaim lost ground with the CD and DVD retrospectives. Largely due to their US focus, The Living End’s local sales graph has charted a steep decline since what Owen calls their “freak” debut.

“I don’t care, really,” the bass player says jovially. “I’m sure that behind management and record company doors it’s an issue, but personally, look, sometimes I try to think about it, but it doesn’t have that much of an effect on me. I am genuinely happy just getting up there playing gigs.

“As long as we can fill pubs like the Palace and the Corner, pubs I like to go see bands play, I’m happy. And as long as I think we’re making good music,” he shakes his head, “that’s so much more important than the climb.”

For Chris Cheney, the shift in global perspective began three years ago, when he woke with his leg in pieces at the foot of a cliff near Fairhaven.

“I’m definitely a lot more easygoing,” he says. “I care less about what other people are thinking. I just want to make myself happy, make sure we have good songs and the band plays well.

“I’ve always said (the accident) was imperative to the band. It had to happen and it gave us all a chance to rethink. I dunno if the last album was a true indication of that, but the new stuff we’re writing and the headspace we’re in – I dunno, it just feels fresher and newer.”

As is often said of Bob Dylan’s mysterious motorcycle accident of 1966, if the crash hadn’t existed, perhaps it would have been necessary to invent it. Certainly, after the record-breaking success of The Living End’s debut, downhill appeared to be the only direction to go. But that depends on which way you’re facing.

“That was never intimidating to me,” Cheney insists. “I’m so glad I never got sucked into that idea, ‘This is my first album and it’s a masterpiece.’ I can see it’s a special kind of record, but come on,” he says with a cocky grin, “that was just the beginning. We can do so much better than that.”

The Living End play at the Palace in St Kilda tonight, and tomorrow at 2.30pm (under-18s only), with Dallas Crane supporting. The From Here On In CD and DVD are out separately this week through EMI.

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.

The Living End

Author: Unknown

Riding high on sold out shows around the country, The Living End has decided to include three extra gigs in Brisbane and the Gold Coast later this month. The talented three-piece band recently returned from the US after touring with Blink 182 and No Doubt, bringing their unique sound back to Australia.

Since first appearing on our charts seemingly our of nowhere in 1996 with their hit ‘From Here On In’ the boys have come a long way, pumping out a stream of hits. Halfway through its comeback tour The Living End is focused on the future penning tunes for their next album, due next year.

How has the Australian tour been going?
Scott: Good. It’s been a pretty relaxed kind of tour. We haven’t done all the small towns like we usually do, we’ve just done major cities , but its been excellent. We’ve played really big venues which has been full. It’s been a really good response, especially to the new couple of songs. We also found out we have lot of young people in the audience which is great to see. We had a young audience five years ago, so its awesome to see we still do have young fans.

Were you surprised at how well received you were, given that you’ve been off the radar for a while?
It was a bit of a surprise, we don’t know what to expect anymore

You’ve recently released ‘From Here On In’ CD and DVD which is a singles collection and a look at The Living End’s career from the beginning – how does it feel to look back on how far you’ve come.
It was actually pretty weird watching the DVD for the first time. There is a lot of stuff on there that I’d completely forgotten about. It puts it all in perspective. When you are at the point where your three albums in and spent that whole time touring, its hard to remember what order things happened in and what the path was. It’s so easy to get tied up on day to day details. So yeah, its great, It made me feel good to see it all put into perspective. I’m not the kind of person to pay myself on the back and say well done. I’m more worried about what’s going to happen in the future. So it was good to see how far we’ve come.

Has the band changed much during this time?
I don’t think we’ve changed a great deal. We’re still into the same stuff we were back when we first starting making music. We’ve got a pretty similar idea to what good music is.

Two new songs are on the album, what influenced the decision to release these on there instead of waiting for a new one.
We are doing a new album early next year as well, but it seemed like a good idea. It (From Here On In) is a strong album, we have 12 singles on it and it just seemed like a good idea to tie up the past. We had all these videos full of stuff just sitting around for years and we thought ‘we’ve got to do something with it’ like make a doco or something. But its taken us this long to get it together, So now its time to move on and do other things.

You play the double bass, how long have you been playing and what prompted the decision?
I’ve been playing for 12 years. I was a big fan of the Stray Cats and rockabilly music when I was finishing high school. me and Chris really wanted to play rockabilly music and if we were going to have a rockabilly band we needed a double bass.

So what’s in store for the future of The Living End ?
All I know is that we’re recording early next year. We’ve already got heaps of new songs and we’re still doing demos at the moment. We’re going to keep writing and belting out new tunes. The well doesn’t run dry at all so there’s plenty of songs coming out. We don’t know what kind of direction it is going to take, that is something we never plan and let the songs speak for themselves. We are all pretty keen to have a musical shift and do something a bit outside of The Living End box.

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.”

Rolling On

Author: Jeff Crawford

The Living End is back on a roll with the release of its first singles collection and DVD history, as Jeff Crawford reports.

Andy Strachan took the leap from pub gigs to playing in front of “a stupid amount of people” in his stride.

After all, the Adelaide-born drummer had paid his dues for a decade before joining The Living End just as the band was bouncing back from a near tragedy.

Long-time skinsman Travis Demsey, who propelled the trio through its 1998 eponymous debut and Roll On (2001), departed just as singer/guitarist Chris Cheney got back on his feet following a serious car accident in 2001.

Andy stepped into the rhythm role in one of Australia’s hottest outfits just as Chris and bassist Scott Owen prepared to record their third full-length CD, and album crucial to the band’s international campaign.

“It was the perfect time for me to join, really,” he says.

“They were in the writing process, so I was part of writing all of the album.”

The result was 2003’s Modern ARTillery, but Andy endured a baptism of fire well before the CD reached the shelves.

“The first two weeks we wrote 10 songs and we thought we’d go and road test them.

“We played a handful of gigs under various aliases in small clubs around Melbourne, which was excellent, it was great fun.

“But the first Living End gig, as such, was at the Big Day Out in Auckland, in front of a stupid amount of people.

“Everyone in the crowd was there to see how the new guy would go and if Chris was off his crutches yet.

“And the crowd knows every bloody song. Hearing 40,000 sing along to a chorus is just incredibly overwhelming.”

The trio is rolling on with the release of its first singles compilation, From Here On In (including two new tracks), and an extensive DVD history of the same name.

“It’s like a bookend,” Andy says. “It’s saying: ‘This is the career so far’. And there was so much footage for the DVD, it was time to just say: ‘This is where it started and this is where it’s got to’.

“So the next album could be anything, could go in any direction we want to.

“But I think no matter what direction it goes in, it’s always going to sound like The Living End.”