The Living End – Roll On

Author: Michael Owen-Brown

The Living End
Roll On (EMI)

When did The Living End transform into the heir apparent to AC-DC? The opening riff of Silent Victory sounds more like Acca Dacca than most songs written since Back In Black. It’s just one of a handful of driving hard-rock anthems on this latest album which are totally unexpected. More unexpected is that The Living End pulls off this potentially disastrous experiment with confidence and panache. Roll On is one of the most brash and catchy albums this year. The band’s superb musical abilities – particularly Chris Cheney’s blistering guitar licks – allow it to traverse various styles and tempos. Development in the band’s songwriting since it’s 1998 debut album is immediately noticeable. Perhaps some songs are too cluttered, but the album works brilliantly as a whole.

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 End To Record Duran Duran Cover

Author: Unknown

The Living End will wrap up its tour with the Offspring and D Generation tonight in Chicago, but it won’t get any immediate time off. The group already has a session booked with Fishbone and Sugar Ray producer David Kahne.

The Aussie punks will head to L.A. this weekend to cut a cover of Duran Duran’s “Girls on Film” for another tribute album to the group, according to a spokesperson for the Living End’s label, Reprise Records.

The band will rehearse its version of the song tomorrow, record and mix the track on Friday and Saturday, and cap off the weekend with a show at the Roxy Theater in West Hollywood. The as-yet-untitled Duran Duran tribute disc is currently scheduled for release in Australia, but not in the U.S., so fans may have to eventually resort to scouring through the import bins to find the record.

In related news, the Living End is one of the confirmed acts for this summer’s Warped Tour, scheduled to kick off on June 25 at San Antonio’s Retama Park.

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.