The Living End On Taking A Leap Of Faith

Author: Alex Callan

It may have been 20 years since The Living End were talking about being a brat that talks back, but god damn, they haven’t lost the punk. If you don’t believe me give a spin to ‘Death Of The American Dream’, a track of their newest album Wunderbar.

“I’m stoked that you brought up that song because that’s probably my favourite off the record,” remarks the bands Double Bassist Scott Owen. “That one was just a bit of a jam and when we demoed it we didn’t have any lyrics written.

“So I just barked down the microphone. I was pretending I was on the phone to somebody and that was my phone call was the verses of the song. It was thing called ‘Can I leave my number’ as if I was leaving a message for someone,” he continues.

“We were more focused about getting the energy right to make it a banger of a song and didn’t care as much about the lyrics and Chris took it away and turned it into the ‘Death Of The American Dream’ which tuned it to a completely other dimension.

“It’s the first time we had every written like that. I didn’t expect it to turn into what it did, it was just something we did for a bit of fun and then it grew legs and got a life of its own.”

Recording the album over six weeks in Berlin, Scott spoke about how the band were “fish out of water” when they headed over to work with Tobias Kuhn, a producer the band had never met before.

“The whole idea was to take a bit of a leap of faith,” he says. “We didn’t want to play it safe and put ourselves in the same situation we have before, so instead we thought we would take an adventure and work with someone we don’t know in a place that’s really far away.

“It was a great idea; it was the best thing we could of done,” Scott expands. “Tobias was unreal; we got aong with him really well and had really similar musical tastes and ideas so it was a really good collaboration there in a sense.

“We try not to have too many preconceived ideas about songs and try to just let them go to where they want to be. We just want each song t have their own identity.”

Now back in Australia, The Living End will once again be hitting the road for the Wunderbar tour and bringing along West Thebarton for the ride.

“Truthfully, I don’t really know much about West Thebarton,” laughs Scott before continuing, “so I’m really looking forward to touring with them so I can check them out. We have just done a bunch of gigs in Europe which has been really good for us and now we have a few gigs between no and when the tour starts but we absolutely cannot wait to get back up there again.

“Being in a studio is great, but it feels like you’ve got the shackles on and everything is under the microscope so we all can’t wait to let lose on stage again.”

Jumping the tracks

Author: Andrew McMillen

The Living End’s new album, Wunderbar, should please the fans and attract new followers.

One of Australia’s greatest living rock songwriters sips a beer at an inner-Brisbane pub while musing on the fractured state of popular culture.

“I mean, that guy there: he might only listen to dance music,” says Chris Cheney, pointing at a worker in high-visibility clothing who sits nearby, enjoying a solo schooner on a Thursday afternoon. “We’re all listening to different things. These days, a hit is only a hit to the ­people who like it. It’s very rare to get people coming up to me saying, ‘Have you heard that song?’ or ‘You’ve got to get this record, it’s amazing!’ Everyone’s just on their own train.”

As frontman of the Living End, Cheney has navigated a prosperous and durable career for the Melbourne trio, whose 1998 self-titled debut contained a string of hit songs that came to ­define that era of Australian rock music. A ­decade later, fifth album White Noise was awarded an ARIA award for best rock album, while its title track won song of the year at the 2009 APRA Music Awards.

It’s a curious time to meet the musician in July, as he has one foot in the past while touring in a concert tribute to the White Album by the Beatles — the 1968 release from a simpler time, when cultural train tracks tended to share a ­single terminus.

Despite nightly performing timeless songs such as While My ­Guitar Gently Weeps, when he raises a glass with Review he’s looking ahead to the release of an eighth Living End album.

Even if his fellow day-drinkers at this quiet pub had never heard a note of his music, it’d be hard to mistake ­Cheney — who wears black sunglasses and his blonde hair swept back at the fringe — for anything other than a man who belongs on stage, guitar in hand, standing before a microphone.

This penchant for a distinctive dress sense harks back to his childhood. “I ­remember what it was like being an Elvis freak in high school,” he says. “People used to give me strange looks: I wore pointy shoes, had my collar up, and was right into the whole 1950s rockabilly thing. I’ve always felt some sort of empathy ­towards anyone that was sort of different.”

While watching his two daughters — now aged 12 and nine — start to express their indiv­iduality, and while tuning into recent national discussions surrounding subjects such as same-sex marriage and cyber-bullying, Cheney began to write a song about a social outcast.

That sketch became Not Like the Other Boys, a track built on a jangly chord progression whose first verse begins: “Danny was a little ­different from the rest / Not like the other boys / Always sitting on his own out in the schoolyard / Away from the other boys …”

Cheney’s adolescent enthusiasm for rockabilly — and, later, punk rock — was mirrored by double bassist Scott Owen. The pair formed the band in 1994, after meeting at Wheelers Hill Secondary College in Melbourne.

“We loved the Stray Cats, and what their roots were, while everybody else was listening to Bon Jovi, hip-hop and Nirvana,” Owen says by phone. “That’s kind of how we’ve always been and we’re still like that. We just make the music that we like, and try and show everyone: ‘Hey, look what happens when you put this and this together.’ It’s like cooking in the kitchen: ‘Here, taste this — it’s bloody awesome!’ ”

When it comes to writing words and music, Cheney has long since learned that his first goal is to satisfy himself, after years of honing his ­instincts. “I know that if I write something and go, ‘That is kick-arse!’, I know that Scott and [drummer] Andy [Strachan] and other people around me will [agree] — and then I know I’ve got something that’s undeniably catchy,” he says.

Eighth album Wunderbar was recorded in Berlin, with a view to having a new release ready ahead of the ­European summer festival circuit. Its evolution ­followed the familiar form of Cheney presenting skeletal ideas for his bandmates to build on, which is how the trio’s songwriting process usually works.

“Depending on the form­a­tion of the skeleton, it could be a few bones or it could be a complete structure,” says ­Strachan. “It could be a riff or it could be a few words that are really powerful. When we’re in the band room, we get excited, we fire off each others’ ideas, and that’s when things start to take shape.”

After spending much of his adult life as a performer, Owen says: “I think I play music more for myself now than I used to. Maybe I started off playing for ­myself, then I was straight out into the world of playing it for other ­people, and to try and make a living out of it. Those were a bit more intellectual sorts of reasons, rather than emotional. Now, I just feel totally privileged that we are still able to do this; still able to have a passion job.”

Given the stripped-back and distinctive style of rock ’n’ roll offered by its 11 tracks, Wunderbar will likely be met with enthus­iasm by the band’s packed train of followers, here and overseas. If any of its songs ­happen to jump the tracks and connect with a new audience, then that will be a happy bonus.

Wunderbar will be released on Friday via BMG.

Living End: how song Amsterdam made it to new album Wunderbar

Author: Andrew McMillen

In this weekend’s Review I write about Melbourne trio the Living End, whose eighth album Wunderbar is released next week. It contains a song named Amsterdam that catches the ear immediately, as the arrangement features nothing more than Chris Cheney’s vocals and a trebly electric guitar. It’s rather far removed from the boisterous brand of rock and roll for which the band has been well known for two decades, and when I met Cheney in July, I asked him how the band decided to include it on the album in such an unadorned state.

“It was one I’d written, and I just demoed it on my GarageBand,” he told me, referring to his preferred recording software. “The other guys never had a problem with it. They weren’t like, ‘Hang on, that should be on the solo record’; everyone just went: ‘That’s a great song. You know what? Drop everything else out of it, and just you play it.’

“It just adds another colour and texture to the album, and I think it’s got a lot of character because of that. It’s going to make for a stronger record, with peaks and troughs.”

When I spoke to Cheney’s bandmates, they filled in a few more details and offered their perspective on a song that is likely to surprise fans of the Living End who have come to know and love the group for its strident, three-pronged attack.

“It was written in Amsterdam, in this funny little Airbnb place,” said double bassist Scott Owen. “Chris showed it to us, and it had more of a twangy, surf guitar line, but it was more of a full band kind of idea. When we got to the writing process for the record, it really wasn’t going to fit; it just didn’t have a place.”

Wunderbar was recorded in Berlin, and it was the input of producer Tobias Kuhn that convinced the group to rethink that decision, however. “When we got to Germany and Tobias was going through some ideas, Chris played it to him at one point, and he said, ‘There’s something in that song but it’s not going to work as a band track. Let’s try getting it back to its rawest state,’ ” said Owen. “It just makes it so much more powerful. He held two iPhones up in front of Chris and pretty much tracked it live. It’s got a real grit to it, and real emotion. By stripping everything back, the emotion really comes to the foreground.”

The decision to include such a sparse arrangement certainly highlights the strength of Cheney’s vocals, and it also offers a glimpse into how he presents songs to his bandmates at rehearsal, before they begin adding a rhythm section. It strikes me as the kind of artistic decision that could be reached only by three musicians who are confident and secure in their own abilities, and keen to share that sense of openness with their fans.

“I don’t think it’s something we would have even attempted 10 years ago,” drummer Andy Strachan told me. “There’s a musical maturity that you develop over the years where it’s OK to play really minimally, or not at all, if that’s what the song is asking for. In that particular scenario, that’s what the song required. It didn’t need a heavy bassline and some pounding drums behind it, because that took away from the rawness to it. I think we’re at that point where we’re like: ‘It’s better without us.’ ”

No End In Sight

Author: Lisa Dibb

“Pretty much every gig, someone requests that!” Bassist Scott Owen says. He’s talking about Uncle Harry, track from The Living End’s 2001 album Roll On. The song is one of the silliest the band have released (“Uncle Harry pissing in the bath”) in their long career, but it still gets yelled out at gigs, some fifteen years later. “rock and roll keeps you young.” He notes.

Owen is unable to quantify what the band mean to their fans, and their country; the ‘End have been a fixture of the rock and landscape in Australia for over twenty years. Most of you reading this have a favourite album, no doubt. Personally, I can’t imagine an adolescence without Prisoner of Society in it.

“I know what it’s like to have favourite bands and buy records; that important music, albums I’ll never tire of, it’s so hard to imagine [that] in regards to us, because we’re inside it, in the bubble of the band, and it’s hard to step out.” he says. “We did that retrospective tour, where we did all our albums, which was a good opportunity to get a sense of that, go back and relearn all those early albums, good opportunity to get perspective. It’s always a bit of a mystery to me, how our albums have shaped and affected people’s lives; it’s a spin out, almost too hard to grasp.”

2016 saw the release of the band’s seventh album, Shift; listeners will notice the change in their sound from some of the headier punk of their older records, to a more refined rock style. Although The Living End have manifested in different ways over their long career (a normal progression), Owen maintains that every new record has a sense of the band’s spirit within.

 “What this one offers, more so than any of the others, is mostly lyrically.” he says. “A lot of our songs- the majority- have been politically or socially charged; there haven’t been that many songs written from a personal point of view, that’s where this album is different. It’s all pretty much Chris’ experience with himself, opening up, being a bit more personal, letting feelings and things be known. Our music’s always shifting and changing.”

“When you think of English punk in the seventies and eighties, there’s definitely an identity to that; in the US it’s the California punk thing…the punk scene in Australia came off the back of that.” Owen explains, as we discuss Aussie punk, and the humour that often comes with it. Aside from the aforementioned pensioner ode, the ‘End have never gone for much of the jokesy stuff.

“Aussie punk bands, when we were starting, had a bit of an Australian identity; bands like Frenzal, Bodyjar, stuff like that, [had an] Aussie edge to them that sets them apart from similar style bands from overseas. It’s a hard thing to put your finger on. We always found the humour thing in music always kind of wore thin quickly [for us].”

In late 2006, Cheney took a hiatus from the band, as fans feared this would mean the end of their beloved trio. Cheney took a break from music, and the band got some much-needed distance. It ended up serving them well; they came back together, made a banger album (White Noise), and continue to tour and record as they always have. “There is no end in sight, I’ve never felt like it’s time to stop doing it. Never. I know Chris [Cheney, frontman] did, for a period; there was one point where we did sort of disband for a year, he felt like he needed space from it; “I wanna walk away from it for a while”. And that happened, [there was] basically about a year where we stayed out of each other’s way. I dunno what changed or what clicked, but he was compelled to put it all together again and we made White Noise [2008], that was an awesome period after a hiatus. I was confident it wasn’t the end, just a matter of taking space for a little while. I still feel like we can manage this, we can continue to do it and the novelty hasn’t worn off – I still get major excitement getting together with those two guys.” “After having been a band for twenty years or whatever it’s been…I guess to look at it from the big picture, as it progresses, you get more and more perspective on the things that matter, compared to the things you used to focus on that seemed important that the time, but weren’t really- in hindsight. Being on stage, playing gigs…making records and being in the studio, I’ve always found a bit of a chore, to be honest- I’d much rather be on stage. The record is rewarding at the end, all those hours creating songs, chipping away, but the process I find quite boring. It’s not like the instant karma of being up onstage, that’s what gives me the real feeling of being what the band is. There’s been all these steps along the way, but it all boils down to one thing: we still love playing music with each other. We’re so lucky to have this life.”

The Living End

Author: Unknown

One of Australia’s most prolific and loved punk bands, The Living End are stopping off in Laurieton on their national “Staring Down The Highway Tour”. Focus chats with double bassist Scott Owen…

Hey Scott. It’s been 23 years of music for The Living End, and you have been there for the whole ride … How did you and Chris get together?
Well, we both have older sisters that are the same age; our sisters were at high school together, and Chris and I were in primary school. So, our sisters would hang out together, and that is what introduced the Cheney family to the Owen family. Chris and I were like the annoying little brothers; whenever there were get togethers with the Cheneys and the Owens, Chris and I would hang out and do kid stuff.
We went to high school together. I was learning piano and he was learning guitar, so at 14 – 15 we started playing music together; that’s where it all began – and we just haven’t stopped.

And what inspires writing now, compared to those initial days?
Lyrically, Chris does most of the writing, so it’s hard for me to comment. Lyrically he (Chris) has gone more – particularly on this last record – from writing songs that are political commentary, I guess is probably the bets description for it, and just singing about things – social things, political things, and stuff like that. The change, or “shift” if I was to pull a pun, is now with this record it’s all sorts of personal stuff for him that he has written about.
Musically, nothing has really changed, in that we wrote songs back then musically and stylistically  for the same reasons as now; but our style has changed, because we’ve grown over the years and been exposed to all different kinds of music and appreciate music that when we were younger never thought we would.
Basically, with the writing and style of our band, we have always just wanted to be the type band we would want to be fans of. So, we approach songs with the bands we’re into in mind, saying “What would our peers do?”, or, “What would our idols do with this piece of writing – how would they interpret it?” That’s the style and the chemistry of the band, and that’s just developed over the years as our taste changes.

Prisoner of Society was such an iconic song when it came out; at what point did you know this was going to become an anthem?
We didn’t, really, until it sort of happened. When we did the single, there was no real grand plan of world domination at that point; it was just a single that we recorded and had printed, so we could take it out on tour and sell it and try to make some money. I guess it was when Triple J picked up the song and started playing it, then they started getting requests for it and they started playing the absolute s*** out of it.
We were on tour with Jebediah, supporting them on a national tour at that point in time. It was during that tour that people started getting to the gigs earlier to see us, becausethey’d heard that song on the radio and were going gangbusters about it.

What would you say has been the biggest highlight of The Living End’s career?
That’s a tough question. We’ve had some pretty big ones – playing and touring with AC/DC, which happened many years ago, we played at the AFL Grand Final last year, that was a massive highlight, we opened up for the Stray Cats; that was a bit of a weird come full circle experience. We played with the Rolling Stones – they’re always the highlights, playing with this band or that band … Bands that we had never thought we’d play with. If we had told our teenage selves that we would be opening up for the Rolling Stones one day, we would have laughed – but it happened!

Thanks Scott.

Don’t Miss The Living End on Wednesday 15th March at Laurieton United Servicemen’s Club. Supported By Son Of Jaguar & The Bennies. Doors 7:30pm for an 8pm start. 18+ EVENT.

The Boys Are Back In Town

Author: David James Young

There’s a pretty good reason that pub rock survivors The Living End have been so noticeably quiet of late. Not only do none of the band members remain in their hometown of Melbourne, none of them are even living in the same state as one another.

“I’m in Byron Bay, Chris [Cheney] is in Los Angeles and Andy [Strachan]’s down on the south coast of Victoria,” explains double bassist Scott Owen on the line from his aforementioned new home. “We’re very spread out. I particularly enjoy this area. It comes as a bit of a change for me – I grew up in Melbourne, I was always a bit of a suburban cat. I got the itch to go and explore by the ocean. I love to surf, and me and my family love this part of the world. It’s gotten its claws into us, and I don’t feel any inkling to move in a hurry.”

It appears The Living End are working at a far more casual pace these days in comparison to even five years ago. There was a time when the trio was seen as the nation’s go-to festival act, to the point where it would have been quicker to list the events the band hadn’t played. These days, however, Owen is well aware that there’s a bigger picture to consider for both the band members and their collective nearest and dearest.

“We’ve aged, let’s face it,” he says with a self deprecating laugh. “We’ve all got families now as well. Chris and I have been a part of this since we were friggin’ teenagers; since we were about 16 years old. We pretty much haven’t stopped. You can see the band as a bit of a brand now. We want to make a lifetime out of this, because we can’t imagine doing anything else. As fun as it is to play every night and then jump in the van, it’s tiring and restraining of your time commitments. There’s a life away from that now, especially because we all have families now. In a way, we have to tread the boards carefully these days. We have to be a bit more intelligent about our approach, and I think we’ve balanced it out pretty well.”

Back in Australia for their first headlining shows in just over two years, The Living End have booked a small run of intimate club dates in order to get the wheels back in motion. The boys will take in Canberra, Towradgi and Sydney, as well as a handful of shows alongside the immortal Jimmy Barnes, whom the band collaborated with on his recent 30:30 Hindsight project. If that wasn’t enough to fill their collective days together, the first glimpses of TLE’s as-yet untitled seventh studio album have just hit the horizon.

“During the week, rather than just laze about, we’re going to be heading into a studio in Melbourne and we’re going to be working on some new material,” says Owen. As for what we can expect from the follow-up to the 2011 LP The Ending Is Just The Beginning Repeating, the bassist isn’t quite certain. Perhaps, to rattle off a cliché, it will be best to expect the unexpected.

“Because we live so far away from one another, we only see each other when we’re playing,” says Owen. “There hasn’t been that much communication regarding what we’re going to do. Normally, the creative process for us is to spend months and months inside of a rehearsal room. We’d fine-tune tonnes of songs and then whittle them down. This time, we’ve agreed to go in a bit more blindsided and just smash it out. We just want to keep it simple and make a rock’n’roll record – just get in there and sweat our arses off. We’ve all been in the creative mindset for the last 12 months or so, just working on our own stuff. We’re chock-full of ideas, so we’re just gonna get together and chuck them all in.”

The last time The Living End toured Australia was as part of the extensive Retrospective Tour of 2012, in which they’d play through each of their studio albums in full; start to finish and one per night. The shows were incredibly successful – including a completely sold-out run in Melbourne – and gave the band a chance to reflect on each release individually, as well as fans’ reactions to them.

“There’s obviously younger punters that would have gotten into us with White Noise or whatever, and then the older ones who’ve been with us since the first album,” says Owen. “It was really cool to see the differences in the audiences every night. That tour had such an impact on a personal level, as well. As we made those records and toured them, you felt the last record you made is the most important record you’ve made. You love some songs, you get sick of some songs. It’s a bit of a rollercoaster. But that tour really put everything into perspective for me. It made me love the shit out of the band. It made me realise why people like this band. I may have been overthinking them at the time, but I’ve fallen back in love with all of our songs again.”

The Living End

Author: Amanda Sherring

Even the most successful of bands still have a thing or two to learn about the industry, and it seems the Living End are taking a few lessons while doing some shows with Australian rock legend Jimmy Barnes. “The thing that really amazes me about him, I mean obviously he’s a great performer, but when we’re in the studio and tracking a song hearing his voice come through the headphones,” double bass player Scott Owen says.

“He never goes, ‘Okay, I’ll just sing this through with half my sound a few times and then we’ll get serious’, he’s just serious from the get go and nails it every single time. He’s just an absolute legend and whenever he opens his mouth he’s on.”

For the rest of us, we’ve got a lot to learn from both bands, and thankfully the Face the Music Industry Conference is allowing us to get a further look into the Living End’s career. Taking to the stage with their long time manager Rae Harvey, the band will be discussing the ins and outs of how they got where they are, and as Scott says, a lot of it can be thanks to their great management.

“I think it’s almost been 20 bloody years that she’s been managing us,” he says. “We obviously had ambitions as a band but she was always one step ahead of where we were at and really focused. She always follows her heart with making decisions and I can’t say enough good words about her.”

It’s refreshing to hear a musician speak so highly of their manager, so often bands are pressured by management to go in directions they don’t want to – but the only pressure The Living End feel comes from them.

“We’re a pretty ambitious kind of band – the band is our identity and we’re proud of what we’ve  done. I think we’ve got plenty to learn and offer as well, so we do put a lot of pressure on ourselves to try and get the best result that we can. I guess that’s a far more genuine pressure than feeling it from outside sources,” Scott says.

Even since the earlier days, the band have been giving it their all, and their live shows are a testament to their determination and drive to push themselves to the limit. Anyone who’s seen them in action can attest to this, as lead man Chris Cheney – and even Scott himself – often get up on the double bass whilst playing their instruments. Though there were accidents in their path to perfecting the trick.

“There’s been a couple actually,” Scott says through a laugh. “The worst one was probably when Chris climbed up on my bass while he was still playing guitar – this was on our first song when we were performing in a pub when we were first starting out – he climbed up on my bass and managed to fall off and semi break my bass in the process.”

It was a devastating experience and we thought we’d never show our faces in public again and that our career was doomed from that moment onwards, but fortunately we got back on the horse, so to speak.”

Since then the band have perfected the move and, while there mightn’t be many stage tricks left for them to learn, they’ve taken on a new project in the not-for-profit NGO It Ain’t Nothing.

Twelve months on from the typhoon in the Philippines – that killed over 6,000 people – and there are still families living without proper shelter. Project 50.50.50 aims to put a roof over their heads with 50 houses built for 50 families.

Each house costs $1,000 and is built entirely by locals from local supplies. Granted, Scott thdid help out on building the 28 house for the project when he visited recently.

That amount of money mightn’t mean much to us, and that’s one of the reasons why It Ain’t Nothing was formed.

“We were just a bunch of guys and thinking about, well how much money do we actually spend on things that aren’t important?” he says. “We thought how about we tackle a little project here and do something a bit more meaningful with our life. It’s been such a hugely rewarding experience and I just want to share that with people.”

To support the cause visit and help build the final 22 homes.

When&Where: Face the Music Industry Conference @ Arts Centre, Melbourne – November 14 & 15

Concert in a class of its own

Author: Jolene Ogle

TICKETS are flying out the door to Noosa’s first major music festival, with event organisers expecting the family-friendly concert to sell out.

The Originals Music Festival on 13 September will feature a tasteful blend of local talent and some big-name Aussie acts on two stages for the one-day concert.

Ash Grunwald will team up with The Living End band members, Scott Owen and Andy Strachan, as the headline act along with Triple J darlings Sticky Fingers, Kingswood, Bonjah and local heroes, OKA and Carl Wockner.

The funky reggae-inspired ln2Nation will also take to the stage, plus local acts Ayla, Bec Laughton, Electrik Lemonade and Sahara Beck.

The Originals Music Festival is the latest offering from East Coast Originals (ECO), the team that delivers the free community concerts, Peregian Originals and Cooroy Originals, every month.

The two Originals concerts have proven a huge success with more than 800 people gathering to hear the

latest in local, live talent every month, but the loss of major sponsor Peregian Surf Club left the group facing an uncertain future.

Event organiser Marcus Pluckhahn said the Originals Music Festival is designed to ensure the sustainability and self-sufficiency of the all-ages event for years to come.

“The Originals Music festival aims to keep its grassroots, family-friendly vibe for years to come,” he said.

“The idea of an Originals music festival was hatched to capitalise on the popularity of the Peregian and Cooroy community concerts, which will hopefully ensure a long life for the events.”

The festival will focus on a mix of local and national acts in an effort to remain true to the community concert’s focus on local talent.

“There is so much amazing music in Australia. We want to steer away from big headliners and pick great music that goes with our culture,” Marcus said.

“It’s very important for us to have people come to our festival because they trust the Originals will be a great day, no matter who we put on.

“It has worked with ECO for 14 years, so we see no reason to change the formula for the festival.”

The inaugural Originals Music Festival will be held at the Noosa AFL Grounds, Weyba Road, Noosaville, on 13 September, from 10am.

Tickets are available now from $40 for adults, $25 for children aged 13 to 17-years, and $5 for children 12 and under.

To grab your ticket before they sell out, visit or get along to any Peregian Originals or Cooroy Originals community concert.

Living Large

Author: Daniel Cribb

With The Big Pineapple Complex just around the corner, The Living End bassist Scott Owen breaks out of the nuthouse to chat the state of the Australian festival scene and working with Ash Grunwald with Daniel Cribb.

After travelling around the country with Soundwave earlier in the year, and being a staple of the Australian festival scene since their formation in 1994, few bands have the ability to comment of the current state of the festival scene like The Living End. And despite concerns surrounding the future of
Australian festivals, bassist Scott Owen doesn’t think there’s anything to be too concerned about. “In history the popularity of music has gone up and down due to other trends and stuff and maybe it’s just sort of hit a bit of a lull at the moment. It’s a weird age that we live in – far out, I feel like I’m sounding like a father. I still think that there are a lot of music festivals out there happening, there are a lot of places for band to play, there’s still a shitload of bands around, and there’s still heaps of great music around, so I definitely don’t think we’re in dire straits here, no pun intended,” he laughs, somewhat out of breath.

“[I’m] just sort of pacing around the road out the front of my house aimlessly talking on the phone,” he says. “I probably look like a lunatic because I’ve just been sort of walking around in a circle for the past hour, and if anyone’s looking out their window they’re probably thinking, ‘That guy really needs to go back to the nuthouse now.’”

With his schedule as of late, it’s not a stretch to think he may be stressed to the point of admission at times. It’s been a busy two-and-a-half years for The Living End. After releasing their sixth record in 2011, The Ending Is Just The Beginning, they embarked on another stretch of relentless touring, last year tackling Europe, but not before Owen and drummer Andy Strachan hit the studio and toured with Ash Grunwald midyear – an experience that has given the pair a new perspective on The Living End. “It was all very spontaneous,” he tells. “All [The Living End] stuff is very structured – the songs are arranged as they are and we play them the same way every time and stick to their true arrangement, whereas with Ash there’s a lot more of an improvisational loose jam approach to his songs. It was surprising when we first played them with him… It’s been cool for me and Andy, just realising how much fun we actually have playing together.”

After their appearance at Big Pineapple, the rest of 2014 will see The Living End recede into the shadows to take some time off , before regrouping at the start of 2015 to begin work on album number seven. “I really don’t know what the next Living End record will be like – we’ve never got a plan,” Owen says to round out the conversation. “I can hear the ambulance coming in the distance,” he jokes.

WHEN & WHERE: 17 May, Big Pineapple Music Festival, Woombye

Grunwald brings it back to Torquay

Author: Ali Deane

SURF coast’s adopted son Ash Grunwald has just embarked on an Australian tour, and will be touching down in Torquay this weekend with special guests.

He has teamed up with long time friends, Aussie rock legends Scott Owen and Andy Strachan from The Living End and their show is expected t rock at the Torquay Hotel this Saturday night.

Despite growing up on a diet of blues, Grunwald has been known to mix things up, jamming various collaborations for shows and albums throughout his musical career.

He has shared a stage with Adelaide hip hop crew Funkoars, performs all the biggest festivals, but is known mostly for his solo work as a blues and roots master.

Grunwald’s solo sets at the Wool Exchange and the St Kilda Festival back in February were hijacked by a new sound, when he put it to The Living End bassist Scotty Owen to jam. The rest is history.

“I’ve never genuinely spontaneously clicked like that, and the heaviest stuff I was into when I was younger was Hendrix.

“I just asked Scotty, it was sort of a spur of the moment thing. And it had never really occurred to me to play with Andy. Because then it would be like me, and The Living End.

“Being a soloist, I do things like this.

“The jam was amazing, it was so fun.

It was huge, and then we went straight onto St Kilda Festival playing to well over 5,000 people, and we’d never done a rehearsal.

“We were friends a long time before playing together, Scotty lives near me up near Byron Bay, but it’s just cool when things happen, and one thing flows to the next.

“Certain types of music just go off live, and if you can do that, the genre doesn’t matter.”

From there Grunwald asked if the guys wanted to join him on his national tour, recorded a promo song, then recorded the album Gargantuan the day after that.

“I was stoked. When we recorded we stayed up all night, then surfed Winki. It was insanely crowded, but we just wanted to be out there.”

Grunwald even snapped his brother’s board.

“I hate missing out on waves, but it keeps my stoke for music.

“I’ll be bringing a board to Torquay for sure. I was there for five years and loved it, and I love coming back.

“I froth on surfing, and being a frother, it makes me play better.”

It’s not all about rocking out and riding waves for Grunwald who raises serious issues in his music.

“I’m anti-coal steam gas mining. There’s never been a more important issue to face Australia. We recorded ‘The Last Stand’, it’s really rocky and heavy. I want everyday people to know about the issue and get onto it. The perfect people to pick to play it with were Scotty and Andy.”

Ash Grunwald with Scott Owen ad Andy Strachan of The Living End will hit Torquay Hotel this Saturday night June 15, before heading to Melbourne and then hitting Queensland.

Tickets $30, head to Torquay Hotel or