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?
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.