Unlikely Three

Author: Unknown

Ash Grunwald’s friendship with Scott Owen, bassstraddler for The Living End, developed quickly around the coal pit in Grunwald’s backyard over many a soy sausage and a surf report. Soon enough, the lads themselves would stand side by side on the stage as well. One thing led to another and The Living End’s drummer Andy Strachan would take to the road with Grunwald too. The three ended up in the studio where they recorded a cracking, heavy version of Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy. Now they’re bringing it to the stage.
See them live, together, at The Metro on Friday 12 June and The Cambridge Hotel Newcastle on Saturday 22.

Prisoner Of Australia

Author: Simon Topper

Considering The Living End’s series of sold-out shows across Australia late last year – playing not one, but each of their six studio albums in full – plus ongoing commitments to tours, festivals and a Melbourne recording studio, you’d be forgiven for not realising that frontman Chris Cheney and his family are now permanent residents of the USA. They relocated to Los Angeles over a year ago, with Cheney planning to try his hand at the role of Collaborator For Hire.

“I love being in the band, and The Living End has been the major part of my life,” he says. “But I especially enjoy the songwriting. After the past few years, it’s been more of a hobby for me. I was in New York in 2010 to write our last record and I loved it, so I thought why not come back for a couple of years and play guitar on different records and collaborate with different people?”

Most recently, he’s been talking with John Feldmann, who’s best known for fronting punk/ska band Goldfinger, now a producer working with acts ranging from The Used to Kelis. “He’s working with a band called Black Veil Bride. Now, it’s not particularly the kind of music that I’m really into, but it’s a different project, so I wrote something that I thought might appeal to them, and they’ve recorded that, and it’s ended up on their album,” Cheney says. “There’s been a lot of people who are aware of The Living End, and they’re kind of fans I suppose, so it’s been a way to put myself out of the zone of what The Living End does, because I like all different styles of music.”

So there have been a few interesting opportunities already – and there’d probably be even more, if Australia could just stop inviting him back so much. At the time we speak, Cheney has just arrived in L.A. after a month here, and before he’s even had a chance to catch up properly with his family, he’s on the phone to Australia again. “I was just back doing a couple of different things – TLE were recording for a Hunters & Collectors tribute they’re putting together,” he says. “Not sure if I’ve let the cat out of the bag on that one, but there you go. And I was producing a band in a studio I own in Collingwood … We moved over here in November 2011, and then I was back for a couple of months for Big Day Out, and then back for a couple of festivals and things like that, then back for three months for Christmas and the Retrospective shows, and now I’ve got to come back again in a month for Stone Music Fest. I just like to travel on planes!”

Playing high up the Stone Music Festival bill alongside names like Van Halen, Jimmy Barnes and Kings Of Chaos (featuring members of Guns N’ Roses, Def Leppard and Deep Purple) must suggest to Cheney that The Living End has stepped into the world of rock veterans. “Well, it’s not something you really think about, until someone actually says it to you. When I think of a veteran, I think of an RSL tour, and we’re not quite in that age bracket yet,” he laughs. “I suppose we have been around for a while if you look back to the first album in ’98 or whenever, and it is an odd point that you reach and people start looking back, more so than thinking of you as the next big thing.”

“I remember when that first album came out,” he goes on. “There was that great hype and you think it’s going to last, and of course it never does, but I’m glad we’ve had almost two peaks in our career, with the first record, and then with White Noise. That was a huge thing for us, we went back and played stadiums and arenas which we never thought we’d do once, let alone twice. So to some people, it must seem like we’ve been around for some time now.” In terms of their Stone Music set, Cheney says that one of the best aspects of the recent Retrospective tour was the rediscovery of older songs that had dropped off the setlist over the years. “You do get to a point where there are tunes you’re more comfortable and familiar with, and obviously the ones on the radio always get the better reaction,” he says. “So you tend to stick to your comfort zone, which for a band can be a very dangerous thing to do. There’s a lot of aspects to what this band does, and we pride ourselves on the fact that we’re musicians, and we aspire to be a musician’s kind of band, and there are certain songs that may not have got a lot of radio play, but when we play them live, that’s the best moment in the set. So I haven’t thought about what the set’s going to be yet, but we just don’t want to play it safe. This band’s played it safe for a while.”

Homegrown & Well Known: Leo Sinatra

Author: Rudolf Dethu

He’s one of those young virtuosos from Bali. Has got himself one of those more guitar, less talk attitudes, started his career as a metal head and once, rather reluctantly, this skinny jeaned guy tried taking over the mic. But that was just a fleeting moment for this string axe loving guitarist. For he went knocking on rockabilly’s door and now calls psychobilly home. His name is Leo. Leo Sinatra, to be precise.

You started as a speed-metal Helloween-oriented guitarist and now you’re known as a psychobilly axeman? Quite a contrast.
Yep, you are correctamundo. Back in the day I was a heavy metal man complete with long hair, ripped jeans, and a tonne of heavy metal accessories! Was such a different look to the one I have today cause these days I’m all skinny jeans and slick back hair.

People may or may not remember but I was in band called Soul of Speed (SOS). We were pretty popular; made it to our fair share of band festivals in Bali and Java. You know, our very first gig at Gedung Mario in Tabanan and from there we went on to receive The Best of the Best High School Band in Bali award and I got myself the award for best guitarist. We also won first place at a band festival in Jember, we were chosen as the “favourite band.” That was some journey! I’m going to cherish those memories forever, those SOS days were pretty incredible.

Was all good but, times change and with that, it eventually came time for me to break loose from the heavy metal scene. Let me tell you, it was so damn hard to cut that long hair!

Interesting. Tell us more. How exactly did this drastic influence-shift come about?
It was 2004 and a friend of mine came back from Australia for school holidays and gave me a Living End album on CD. I was so amazed by them, I went over to Opix’s house (Suicidal Sinatra’s vocalist). We went for a drive, I cranked up the music and he was so unimpressed that he turned off his CD player. I was laughing so much, but I didn’t give up and honestly it didn’t take long for him to come round. We started studying The Living End rigorously and that really influenced our next album, Valentine Ungu. Surprisingly the album, despite how different it was to our metal stuff, was really well received by both friends and fans as well, gigs kept rolling on in after that. We started playing gigs, gigs, and more gigs and by then we all felt that the rockabilly feeling burning our hearts. By the time we released our second album, Love Songs and Stinkin’ Cheese, we had changed our name to Suicidal Sinatra.

The album was produced by Electrohell Records, which is owned by Bobby Kool of Superman Is Dead. They’d shown a lot of interest in the band over the years and post that we went on to meet heaps of new and interesting music-industry people. It was amazing, I felt like I’d found my way, musically speaking.

And since then, having tapped into psychobilly music, things have kept getting increasingly better, bigger, and more interesting. During that Living End inspired era I discovered Tiger Army and were totally and unbelievably hooked. All my bandmates were just as hooked as me. So all of us jumped in together; like we were drowning in a Tiger Army frenzy! That band changed our vision. We became darker, angrier, and became increasingly conscious of sociopolitical issues. The shift we made in the psychobilly-infused Boogie Woogie Psychobilly album is a testament to that. It’s darker, heavier, faster, but it also makes you want to dance like a drunken devil. Man, my wildest dream would be to share a stage with Tiger Army – it’d be totally insane. I’m going to keep being optimistic about that, it’ll happen. You know, not so long ago I shared a stage with Travis Demsey, the former drummer of The Living End. Best feeling ever!

How did you come up with the name Suicidal Sinatra? Does it mean anything?
We were all out one night, drinking and talking about new band name possibilities, fuelled further by a really good friend of ours was there who knows our style. It was one of those crazy drinking sessions, a little suicidal perhaps, and thanks to that, by the end of the night we’d come up with the infamous name. We all started putting Sinatra at the end of our names and it caught on. Guess our fans thought it suited us and them too ‘cause it wasn’t long before the more diehard among them were going by the name Sinatra like we were.

Let me put it this way, the meaning of Suicidal Sinatra, is what it is; a more suicidal version of Frank Sinatra. Still slick and melodic but much more badass, heavier in a punk rock sense. More hardcore.

Suicidal Sinatra is arguably Indonesia’s first psychobilly band. In the beginning, how did people react to your arrival on the music scene?
Yeah, I’m fairly sure we were the first. It was a bit hard introducing Indonesia to the genre because of the heavy chords and dark lyrics. But it turns out that there were quite a few rockabilly kids out there looking for things to get dark. Darker, heavier, faster. They were the first to accept us and through them the general public got to know us. Then, boom, psychobilly fever hit. Now Bali also has a couple of psychobilly bands, like Uncle Bean and Mad Dog, and I think there are a few more in Jogja, Surabaya and Jakarta too, of course. But I’d imagine that there’s at least one in all the major cities.

What’s the latest Suicidal Sinatra news? You started as a quartet, went trio, and now I hear you’re back to four again. You going to bring out a new album anytime soon?
You know, we are all family men in this band and thus, family is an important factor. It’s true, at one point Opix left to work on a cruise ship so we went from four to three. To have lost our singer, that was a big dilemma for us. I stepped up to the mic but, honestly, it was a nightmare for me. I had to force myself to sing, just to keep the Sinatra flag flying high. That’s when we released Los Sinatras in 2009; it was supposed to be proof that we were still kicking. Five years later, Opix is back! We are a quartet again, I finally get to ditch vocals, and the band is ready to boogie. A label in Jakarta approached us and we’re currently in the process of producing a fresh album. The plan is to have 12 songs, plus three bonus tracks. Hopefully it’ll be ready for your musical pleasure-seeking selves by mid April.

And what about your solo project? Is it still happening? And is it as psychobilly as your band?
It’s funny but, I think, because of how much I hated having to become the lead singer of Suicidal Sinatra, having been forced into that experience built up my confidence to sing. And yeah, now I have several side projects. One of those is a band called Leo Sinatra and the the Mad Rockers. It’s a country, honky-tonk kind of band, influenced by Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash, with a touch of psychobilly thrown into the mix. This particular project has helped me to explore my skills using a lap steel guitar whilst singing.

I’ve also got a skabilly outfit called Jack Knife Blues which is more fun, dance your little heart out, easy listening. I guess the point of all these projects is to test my potential and also my skills. As a musician you want to be able to gather more skills and explore new music. I sleep, wake up, and breathe music.

You’ve just opened your own clothing store, with a music cafe where indie bands can come and play. Awesome move! Bali, especially for the alternative scene, doesn’t have a whole lot of venues for non-Top 40 artists does it?
Yep, I did. My wife and I have just opened a place called Rumble Girl, stocking girl’s clothing, and we’ve got St Lucas’s coffee shop. Our aim is to support local bands and create a cool hangout place at the same time. We let the bands play for free and in return we give them free drinks. As you said, Bali has limited venues for alternative bands to perform so this is a good thing for us, the island, and for them. However, as our location is smack in the middle of a residential area, the performances are restricted to acoustic and can’t go on till too late at night. So far so good though cause we’re full to over capacity most shows and we’ve had big names play; Dialog Dini Hari, Nymphea, The Dissland, The Bullhead, Roots Radical, The Brews, and Natter Jack – just to name a few!

In your opinion, what are the three most highly recommendable rockabilly/psychobilly albums?
The three that have shaped the person I am today; all the Tiger Army albums, Living End by Living End, Swing Sinner by James Intveld, and Dead Moon Calling by Mad Sin. Sorry, that’s more than three, it’s not possible to just list three. Any last nagging words? My life and love is music. People should always be respected for their passion. I came across this quote one day: “What if they’re right and I have no talent at all? ….F#%* them all, I’m an artist.”

The Living End

Author: Emily Kelly

THE LIVING END
The Corner, Monday December 17

I will admit, regrettably, that I attended The Living End’s show with a firmly instilled and rather smug sense of irony. It was, after all, many years since the band fi rst enamoured my 13-year-old self with their anti-authoritarian anthem Prisoner Of Society. It was also many years since I totally dismissed them as mainstream fodder, so revisiting their debut self-titled album seemed an apt way to revisit my fondness whilst not entirely surrendering my perceived good taste. Not entirely unlike attending a Vengaboys show.

Immediately upon launching into aforementioned song of a generation, I was forced to eat my words. The Living End may no longer be particularly relevant for a vast portion of their initial fan base (though there was a great deal of them throwing up the horns in a tame but thoroughly enthused mosh up front), but that doesn’t mean that they ever stopped being masterful musicians, or for that matter, writing good goddamn songs.

Steaming verbatim through their self-titled album, with the occasional embellishment, it occurred to me that for all my obsessive fandom, I never quite appreciated the quality of this band’s songwriting. Borrowing from every niche, nook and subgenre of the late ‘90s, this album was the embodiment of legitimate, Australian punk rock. It was cheeky and charismatic, the perfect representation of the band themselves.

Even as Chris Cheney lamented the band’s brutal touring schedule, suggesting that rehashing Second Solution was more fucked than it was fun, it did little to dampen his temperament. Smashing stuff. I was at once sentimental and then, deeply humbled. It was a bold move, regurgitating an entire career’s worth of albums for this Australian tour, but one that may have just reignited all the right flames.

LOVED: Revisiting Prisoner Of Society.
HATED: The chronological setlist dictating that all the best songs were played first.
DRANK: All of the beers.

Mr Cassidy

Author: Zoe Radas

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the most apt adjective that comes to mind when attempting to describe Danni Carr happens to be the same word as her own daughter’s name. Danni is mother to Sunny, wife to Ash Grunwald and one half of gorgeous new country/folk outfit Mr Cassidy. The other half is Emilie Owen, who has two children of her own with another of Australia’s darlings, Scott Owen. The two met when their husbands were playing together, and the subject of music and family became a deep discussion which quickly bore sweet fruit.

“You’re focused on [your children], I guess; that’s your main priority,” Carr says contemplatively, over the phone from Byron where she’s about to head back inside to continue rehearsal. “You lose a lot of that creative drive, and Emilie was the same. So when we met, we talked about that and I felt ready. I really felt like it was time to start playing again, and she was in exactly the same boat. Also with having husbands that are well-established musicians… you seem to be more supportive toward their things that they’ve got going on, which is cool.”

As it happened, the bluegrass stars aligned and Carr and Owen decided to get jamming, and jamming good. The result is an EP of five exceptionally beautiful, sometimes bangin’, always searingly heartfelt tracks, with Carr’s guitar and lead vox and Owens’ backups and fiddle accompanied by extra instrumentation from percussionist Fingers Malone, and Mr Owens himself. “Yes, he’s playing bass on the whole EP,” Carr confirms and then adds with a grin, “actually we were rehearsing today and he was doing some extra special stuff, and I’m like, ‘What the hell?’ He’s just playing so fast and slapping the crap out of the bass. He’s such an amazing player. Sometimes I kick myself: I’ll be at a gig, and I look over and Scott’s going crazy and I’m like, ‘Shit! I’m actually playing with the bass player from The Living End’,” she laughs brightly.

Carr also has warm things to say about Fingers Malone, whom she calls “the Modern Day Renaissance Man” for all the feathers in his cap. “He’ll play drums, he’ll help you write a song, he’ll produce the album, record it, he did all the artwork for the EP, he did the artwork for our posters and postcards, he does everything,” she says, but adds that he’s still incredibly understated. “You’ll say, ‘Why don’t you do a drum solo?’ and he’s like, ‘No way, I don’t do that shit’,” she smiles.

The titular track from the EP, Mountain Side, is driven by Fingers’ infectious shuffle with brushes on the snare, and some great unusual harmonies backing Carr’s vocals that are spot on as a bell. “It’s not recorded in such a bluegrass traditional way, it’s a bit more of a modern take on it. That one Ash and I wrote together over a bowl of muesli one morning and then went down and recorded it that day,” she says. The other stand-out is the hauntingly pretty Where My Babies Lie, which Carr wrote about the story of Robert Farquharson and Cindy Gambino, whose three sons were killed when Farquharson drove his car off the road and into a dam on Father’s Day in 2005. Carr has been friends with Gambino for a few years and for a long time felt a propulsion to write something about the tale.

“Being friends with her and having spent a lot of time with her,” begins Carr, and then pauses to ponder. “Her story, she’s very open about it, she will talk about it. I think it’s part of her healing. You just walk away from her feeling, ‘oh God, it’s just so, so sad.’ I only met her about three or four years ago, but it’s always playing on my mind. I think about her all the time, I think about her suffering all the time. It’s going to sound a bit wanky but I was getting quite upset, writing the verses, and I wanted it to be right. I didn’t want it to be too graphic, but I really wanted to tell the story. And it’s really quite a fine balance.” Carr sweated over anticipating Gambino’s response, but said when her friend eventually heard the finished track she was “freaking out”, in a good way. “She was glad someone could express her point of view, especially in the form of a song,” Carr breathes. “I was really happy and relieved.” Expect more awesomeness when the full-length is out (heads up: Nash Chambers may be heavily involved) towards the end of the year.

MR CASSIDY launch their EP Mountain Side at The Workers Club on Saturday February 2, supported by Dave Larkin.

The Living End Retrospective Tour

Author: Brendan Hitchens

Corner Hotel: 11/12/12-16/12/12

Tuesday: The Living End walk on stage to a news montage of events from 1997 including the death of Princess Diana, the Thredbo landslide and also, fittingly, the release of their breakthrough EP Second Solution/Prisoner Of Society. The precursor to their self-titled album to be released a year later, it seems half a lifetime ago. For many in attendance, it is.Tonight is the band’s first of 11 shows at the Richmond venue they cut their teeth at and part of an ambitious 39-show retrospective national tour. Renowned as a live band, the tour is not just an opportunity for the trio to revel, but a thank you to a generation of fans. The record they are playing in its entirety, much like The Clash’s eponymous debut, explores British punk, ska and rockabilly elements with as much vitality as their idols displayed 21 years earlier. It’s their most successful commercial album and seemingly a hit parade, which spawned single after single. As per tracklisting, they begin with Prisoner Of Society, a song often reserved for encores. Like a watered-down version of Rage Against The Machine’s Killing In The Name, the rhetoric is youthfully vague, nonetheless appropriated by the crowd as, fists in the air, they shout the refrain, “We don’t need no one to tell us what to do.” Sure,the context of the lyrics for both band and crowd has changed, Chris Cheney now resides in Los Angeles with his wife and two children, but it’s delivered with the same punk-rock disobedience that Cheney (who wrote the song aged 22) would have belted it out back in theday. It’s the song that broke the band and fitting that it’s the first song they perform on this run of dates. Soon followed by Second Solution, which Cheney introduces as “our first real single”, he incites the crowd, telling an anecdote of how the song’s clip was shot at the same venue in 1997, adding that the underage crowd back then were more energetic. Naturally it provokes a frenzy of movement, which doesn’t stop for the remainder of the night. The themes of tonight’s songs – the Dunblane school massacre of Monday or the industrial development of the Kennett government in All Torn Down – seem distant, but it’s not so much about the meaning of the songs, more the memories associated with hearing them. Many of the songs that bookend the album haven’t been performed live in years, if ever. Tonight they are reinvigorated, most notably Trapped featuring the makeshift Area 7 horn section. Despite the guests, there’s no sign, nor acknowledgment of original drummer Travis Dempsey, slightly tainting the legitimacy of the album he helped create. “We’re just a rockabilly band from Wheelers Hill,” says Cheney. A retrospective show with integrity, they race through the album with little sign of self importance. It’s a typical punk show of yesteryear: fast, furious and for the fans. With ten more shows to go, it will be hard to top tonight.

Wednesday: Where The Living End initially looked to the UK for inspiration, White Noise is unashamedly Australian. Steeped in the country’s long-running pub rock tradition, the record centres on big riffs and even bigger choruses, just like heroes AC/DC, Rose Tattoo and Billy Thorpe & The Aztecs, whose Most People I Know they briefly cover tonight. It’s a record that seems at home when played at a pub rather than the festivals or stadiums they have become accustomed to, so the Corner makes an ideal setting. White Noise was the band’s first release on an independent label since the ‘90s and it shows. The radio singles are there, in fact they cram into the first third of the album, but once out of the way it’s Chris Cheney left to his own devices as he lets his guitar do much of the talking. Performing the album, and many of the tracks, live for the first time in years, Cheney embellishes each song with extended solos (aided by the addition of an extra guitarist), evidence he is more comfortable as a lead guitarist than a lead singer. The record that, supposedly, refuelled his passion for music, it seems onstage and in full flight he couldn’t be happier. As an album, and indeed a setlist, White Noise is disjointed. The title track, the band’s most successful radio single, is a clear crowd favourite as the back-and-forth chorus is chanted at full volume. The album’s boldest statement perhaps comes in the Calypso-inspired Sum Of Us that closes tonight’s performance, Cheney channelling Bob Marley as he sings, “God help those who don’t help the others/Some of us have more rights than the others”. Though White Noise is far from The Living End’s strongest album, they deliver it with such passion and verve that it’s hard not to get caught up in the moment.

Thursday: A temporary redemption after Modern ARTillery, State Of Emergency, released in 2006, is the fourth album from The Living End and the third they perform in a run of dates at the Corner Hotel. According to the video that plays before they walk on stage, it’s the record that won back wavering fans and earned them a legion of new ones. Regardless, like most shows on the tour, attendance is at capacity. Rarely deviating from their trademark sound, only adjusting intensity, State Of Emergency is a superbly produced record ,but in a live context that counts for nothing. What separates tonight from normal shows is the fact that they perform a full album from start to finish for the first and only time. It’s the sense of witnessing something rare that validates the concept. State Of Emergency is vintage The Living End, full of punk-inspired rock’n’roll and Chris Cheney’s distinguishable lyrics. Wake Up is a contemporary take on Pink Floyd’s Another Brick In The Wall, as Cheney sings, “Wake up to the situation/Suicidal education.” It’s full of gloom and cynicism, until a stirring chorus kicks in; tonight the role of youth choir is played by the front five rows of the audience.The record’s first single What’s On Your Radio? is surely tongue in cheek. Coming in at under three minutes, it seems written for the airways with its repetitious verse/chorus structure that sees Cheney drop the word “radio” 27 times. Like so many of the band’s songs, it was warmly embraced by national radio, making Cheney’s line “Do you trust what’s on your radio?” seem daft. At 51:45 it’s their longest album and, to accommodate, the banter is kept to a minimum tonight. Although this means proceedings are wrapped up by 11pm, you lose the connection to the band and, to the detriment of the concept, feel like you’re just listening to the record from start to finish. “Playing a record eliminates the surprise option,” smirks Cheney, as a fan shouts out a request, offering a rare insight into his personality, but also highlighting why such shows are hit and miss.

Friday: At the time of release, The Living End’s Modern ARTillery was met with a lukewarm response. Rolling Stone gave it a safe three-stars, it entered the charts lower than their previous albums, and many fans and media alike slept on the record. It came after Chris Cheney’s life-threatening car accident, was their first with a new line-up and, as the years passed by, got lost amongst their six-album deep discography. But with time comes clarity and benefiting from its start to finish performance tonight, Modern ARTillery, to this day, stands as the band’s strongest release. At just under 90 seconds, What Would You Do? begins the album and set, one of the rare tracks written by double bass player Scott Owen. Subtly wearing a Mr Cassidy shirt, his Byron Bay-based bluegrass project, it’s surprising he doesn’t have more writing credits to his name. Followed by Tabloid Magazine, a song, in the wake of recent News Of The World and 2Day FM scandals, that seems as relevant today as the day it was written. Who’s Gonna Save Us? follows, the first single from the album and showcasing Chris Cheney at his questioning socio-political best. A song that infiltrated the US charts and was used in Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 documentary, it’s punchy and to the point. Tonight Cheney is in fine form. He dedicates End Of The World to the Mayan calendar, there’s a brief cover of U2’s Sunday Bloody Sunday and the greatest glimpse into the writing process of the album and events leading up to its release is provided when he introduces Rising Up From The Ashes as a song about “bouncing back after a tough, tough time”. Cheney, and the entire band for that matter, are forever grateful to the fans. “The previous record of the Corner was five shows,” he gleams. The Living End haven’t just eclipsed the record, jointly held by Megan Washington and Matt Corby in 2010 and 2012 respectively, they’ve smashed it.

Saturday: The lights dim and a documentary-like montage plays, before The Living End walk on stage one by one. It’s a daily charade, and for the fifth night in a row, goes to script. The band’s sixth and most recent record, The Ending Is Just The Beginning Repeating, is less than 17 months old. It is also their most disappointing. The singles seem forced and the lyrics clumsy, as they loosely appropriate rockabilly sounds with influences of U2, Midnight Oil and The Police. They play to their strengths, Chris Cheney’s guitar work, but those moments are few are far between, on a record that’s slow and restrictive. Tonight, a reprised version of E-Boogie and a semi-ironic cover of The Wiggles’ Hot Potato, both of which don’t appear on the album, are highlights, as too the title track that closes the album. “We’re at the tail end of the tour, enthusiasm can wane, but it’s not going to. We thank you for that,” says a mortal Cheney mid-set, as he looks to the crowd for inspiration, 33 shows into a tour and with six more to go. “Everything goes away but comes back some day/The ending is just the beginning repeating,” Cheney sings to close the album, with a sense that this might be more of a farewell tour than retrospective. If these lyrics ring true, it will be sombre not only to see such a band call it quits, but also for The Ending Is JustThe Beginning Repeating to be their final legacy.

Sunday: It’s testament to The Living End that they’re still playing, let alone returning to the Richmond venue that helped forge their career. Tonight sees them perform their 2000 album Roll On. Where their debut, two years prior, was on their own terms, Roll On had the fingerprints of EMI. Ultimately it sounded like a major-label record – polished and elaborate. When performed live tonight the sheen is gone, the band thrashing out the songs with a refreshing rawness. Opener Roll On is a declaration, as much about the band saying “we’re back” as the industrial wharf dispute it was commentating on. Beginning with a riff that sounds suspiciously like Pretty Vacant by The Sex Pistols, it builds on the momentum of their debut and is the perfect start to any setlist. Pictures In The Mirror follows and it’s one of their finest works in an extensive catalogue. The album is a fan favourite, evident by the show’s early sold-out status and the need for an extra date to be added. Chief songwriter Chris Cheney admits to listening to Midnight Oil, The Angels and AC/DC at the time of writing and it shows. But, again, there’s elements of ska (Blood On Your Hands), pop (Revolution Regained) and also bar room sing-alongs (Uncle Harry).Tonight, at just over an hour, is their most entertaining set of the week. Covers of Eddie Cochran’s Summertime Blues, The Stray Cat’s Rock This Town and Queen’s Crazy Little Thing Called Love enhance the atmosphere and offer a snapshot of the artists that inspired the album. There’s no doubt The Living End are superb live, but it’s the songs they will be remembered for and Roll On is full of those.

Chris Cheney

Author: Unknown

CHRIS CHENEY [THE LIVING END] ON TOURING RETROSPECTIVELY

“The Retrospective tour has been a whole different can of worms, it really is. It’s kind of setting up the rig to play different records. I’ve got a whole lot of different stuff. The first two records are pretty easy, it’s just slap delay and an overdrive pedal, that’s about all I had at that point (laughs). Then after that I started using different delays, some stereo delays and ping pong effects on a few songs, so it’s been fun kind of dialling those in.

“Guitar-wise, I’m kind of tempted to grab a couple off my older Gretschs. I’ve got a couple of ‘60s ones that I used to play that have become semi retired, I suppose. It’s just because the newer ones stay in tune a little better, they’re a bit more roadworthy and a bit easier to throw around. My sound hasn’t changed that much over the hears, it’s really just down to the way I play certain songs. There’s a whole lot more rockabilly sounding songs off our first record, it’s just a matter of cleaning up the sound a little bit. It’s not like I was using radically different kinds of tones to what I am now. “Amp-wise, at the moment I’m using a Wizard 50 watt, which has kind of been my staple amp for over 10 years or something now. I’ve got an old Fender Bassman which I’m playing alongside it. The I’ve been plugging into this Divided By Thirteen amp, which is really, really nice. I’ve got an old Vox AC30 as well. I’m kind of putting all of those alongside my Wizard amps and seeing what sounds best, but they all seem to sound good. So, it’s a problem, but a good problem (laughs).”

The Living End

Author: Zoe Radas

Towards the end of the ‘90s, the Antipodes was good to guitar-heavy Australian music with Jebediah, Regurgitator and The Whitlams hauling arse up the indie charts. When Melbourne trio The Living End unleashed their double A-side release Second Solution/Prisoner Of Society, it promptly collected jewels across genres when it was the only Australian single to get up there in the sales charts, standing out in a sea of Ricky Martins and Shania Twains. Its success signalled the start of Australia’s long, respectful admiration for The Living End and beginning Tuesday December 11, the band will play a run of 11 shows at The Corner Hotel, each featuring one of the rockers’ six studio albums.

“Yeah I know, far out man: time is money, I believe,” says double bassist Scott Owen when the operator informs me we only have ten minutes to speak and I express dismay. It’s Owen’s first interview for the day and the coffee-head has undoubtedly already ingested his share of the devil’s brew, as photos on the band’s site attest to his addiction. For the record, he has the procedure down pat. “Before midday I’ll have a double shot latte with one sugar, but after midday I’ll have what’s called a double shot piccolo which is basically two shots of coffee and just half the amount of milk… you get the good stuff, but you don’t need that much milk after the clock strikes noon.” Owen will need the extra kick over the coming weeks as he and bandmates Chris Cheney and Andy Strachan thrash out multiple shows including some for the kids. “We used to do tons of [under 18s shows],” he says thoughtfully. “It was always on the cards to do over 18s and under 18s shows. I guess a lot of our fans are under the age of 18. It’s unfair to play all those shows and deny them!” My intro to the band came when they played at my high school in 1998, something I couldn’t believe our uppity teachers had allowed. I couldn’t recall Owen doing his now-famous move that heady day. “Maybe the show was a little bit toned down for the high school performance,” he laughs. “When the adrenaline kicks in it seems like anything is possible on stage, and I guess it is, if balancing on a double bass is possible then anything’s possible. I blame adrenaline,” he says decidedly.

The under 18s show will see folk-punk-rock foursome The Smith Street Band supporting, while other shows feature a mix of all kinds of acts including The Meanies, Money For Rope and Something For Kate.“We just sort of put the word out to try and get as many bands as possible,” explains Owen. “We figured there’d be quite a few people who’d come to more than one gig so I guess it’s good for them to have a bit of variety as well.” There’s also a pretty marvellous list of one-time DJs slated to appear in between bands at each show. “We just went to friends of ours that were in bands and asked them if they would do it,” he chortles. Fans can expect to see Johnny Mackay from Children Collide, Hamish Rosser of Wolfmother, two of the Gyroscope dudes, and Phil Jamieson from Grinspoon (using his inspired DJ moniker 2manyPJs) behind the decks. “There’s going to be a long changeover between and the first band and us,” Owen says.“They’re not huge stages, so we need to get all our shit off stage, have [it] off stage when the first band plays so they have room. You know, we don’t want to do that mean-spirited thing where you make bands set up in front of your own shit on a tiny stage so they have six square feet of room to perform in,” he says drily. “So that being the case, the crew have to set up all our shit after this poor band plays so there’s going to be a big gap. We thought we’d provide some sort of entertainment between.”

With Cheney arguably one of the country’s best guitarists and Strachan a master at thumping the skins in that perfectly simple punk style (“It’s not a massive kit, it’s pretty standard – there’s no friggin’ Virgil Donati or Lars Ulrich set up going on there” Owen states), it seems useless to bother layering on the superlatives about how good these shows are going to be. Despite not winning the Best Live Act ARIA this year, The Living End have already got six of the pointy statues and clearly don’t need another in order to sellout several of their shows in our city. If you haven’t yet got yourself a ticket there’s still time, but if you count to three (‘one two three’), you could miss out on these legendary dates.

…Just The Beginning Repeating

Author: Bryget Chrisfield

When Bryget Chrisfield joins frontman Chris Cheney, double bassist Scott Owen and drummer Andy Strachan on the eve of their current, marathon Retrospective Tour, she learns the band originally planned to call it, “The Living End – Tears Of Joy, Waves Of Emotion”.

“Oh look, I’m gonna come straight out and say this,” The Living End’s frontman Chris Cheney pauses for effect while his bandmates clutch their beers in anticipation. “I’m expecting tears.” Drummer Andy Strachan exhales, “Oh, that’s so much better than I thought it was gonna be.” Cheney is referring to how he expects the crowd to react during The Living End’s current Retrospective tour, which sees the trio play all six albums, back to back, over 39 dates nationwide. “I’m expecting tears of joy, waves of emotion. That was what we were gonna call the tour: ‘The Living End – Tears Of Joy, Waves Of Emotion’. Then we went, ‘Er, maybe just Retrospective.’” Sadly, they’ve already printed out the T-shirts, so this slogan won’t be emblazoned across them, but Cheney has a light-bulb moment: “We might get some hankies made up, though. As you walk in you get a hankie.”

Once double bassist Scott Owen gets involved, it’s an in-jokefest. “What are we saying?” Cheney observes. “We spend too much time together, clearly! Well we were gonna have a day off today and not see each other, but here we are back at the pub, two pots in.” Owen disagrees with the picture Cheney is painting of their band as boozehounds: “No, we haven’t been going to the pub! We used to go to the pub every day for lunch, but we haven’t been to the pub at all. We went to the pub once two days ago out of the whole month [of rehearsals], so we’re like boy scouts.” Does this boy scout-like behaviour include working out to get match-fit for the tour? Owen stresses: “Yep. Fuck, yeah!” Cheney chuckles, “As he rolls a cigarette.” Owen defends: “Yeah, I’ve been riding my bike to rehearsal everyday.” “Andy, you’ve been doin’ a bit of Zumba,” Cheney teases.“Mind you, we do six-hour rehearsal days. That’s one of the things in the back of our mind is the stamina and the endurance, ‘cause seven nights is a lot – and different sets – so it’s gonna be brain-strain as much as anything else.” Owen directs the spotlight back Strachan’s way: “Andy spends hours running away from screaming women every day.” Cheney chuckles and continues on this theme, “He’s all four of The Fab Four in one!”

On the reasons behind tackling this beast of a tour, Cheney ponders, “I think it was just basically trying to do something that was gonna cause some kind of controversy, that it was actually gonna be a talking point, like, ‘Wow, are they really gonna be able to do that?’ We were the first ones to ask the question, you know, ‘It’s such a challenge, let’s just throw ourselves into it. What’s the worst that can happen?’” And how many songs across their six albums would they anticipate have never been played live before? “There’d be at least – half would you say?” Owen estimates. Cheney counters, “It’d be a bit more. I’d say, like, fifty. I mean, I think we’ve had to learn seventy-nine [songs] in total – not had to learn, but that we’ve been rehearsing. That is the catalogue: seventy-nine or eighty or something.”

“Let’s call it eighty,” Owen interjects before Cheney continues, “And of that I reckon over the past few years we’ve fallen into the trap of kind of playing maybe eighteen or ninetween or twenty of those; let’s say twenty.” Owen turns to Strachan: “So that leaves – you do the maths.” The drummer confesses, “Yeah, I’m not very good at maths.” Cheney: “[There are] quite a lot that we haven’t played very often. Some songs like Putting You Down and things like that, which we’ve never played live, you know: you write them, you rehearse them, you record them, you mix them and then that’s it! You never sort of go back to it, so there’s a few of those.” Revisiting these during the rehearsal period brought certain songs into focus that Owen labels “real tough customers”. “There’s one called Nowhere Town that’s been probably the biggest tough customer, hasn’t it?” Strachan concurs: “Yep, absolutely.” Owen muses, “Why the hell we’d have such a difficult song to play and then, three-quarters of the way through the song, go, ‘Let’s put a key change in! Just so we have to learn it in another position as well.’ But actually, it’s great – it’s a really fun song.”

Cheney offers: “You know what? I think it’s one thing to book a tour like this and just play all those songs, but we didn’t wanna bluff our way through and just sort of play it; we wanna actually [punches the table to emphasise each word] nail every single song. That’s where the nerves kinda crept in for me, it was like, ‘Holy shit! I don’t wanna just play track five and kind of get through it.’ We wanna slam it – every single album, every song – which is just an enormous amount of work, because you’ve gotta know the songs backwards and really do it properly. ‘Cause, you know, we‘ve built up this reputation as a live band that, ninety per cent of the time, has a pretty good show – just because we’re anal like that. So it’s like, ‘This could be our undoing if we don’t pull it off.’ [laughs] So we don’t want that to be the case. Each album that we do, there’s gonna be a handful of people in the audience who, you know, whatever track number seven is – that’s their favourite song,” Owen explains, “and that’s gonna be thehighlight of their night. So I wanna make sure we’re not just bluffing our way through [those songs], we wanna actually do them all justice so all those pockets of people are happy.”

“People that were, like, fifteen when our first record came out,” Cheney points out, “by the time the latest one came out, like,some of them might even have their own children – it’s quite bizarre. So there’s gonna be all different generations of people: People that got into State Of Emergency might have hated our first record. And then we’ve been lucky enough that we’ve got all these different generations of people [who] get into our records.” Babysitters will be in high demand, then. “We should have a crèche,” Owen jokingly suggests. “We’re doing our under-18 gig on the last day: we’re doing two shows,” Cheney explains, surprising Strachan: “On the last day!? Really? We’re gonna be so tired.”

The Living End

Author: Danielle O’Donohue

THE LIVING END
EVEN
THE HI-FI: 21/11/12

Almost halfway through their epic Retrospective Tour, The Living End began the Sydney leg looking match-fit and ready to set the Hi-Fi ablaze.

Openers Even were happy to acknowledge their role as the “support band” and were aware most punters had little interest in their set, but they made sure to pick songs that contained a lot of stomp and some pretty impressive guitar licks. With a history that stretches back even further than The Living End’s own 15-year career, the Melbourne guitar-pop trio delivered their tight rock and sweet harmonies and then got out of the way. A video montage put the 2008 release of White Noise into some historical context before The Living End launched straight into the opening moments of How Do We Know?. Considering how ubiquitous White Noise’s singles became it’s easy to dismiss this album as the band’s most commercial and therefore least fiery, but played back-to-back these songs highlight the ferocity that made the record so appealing in the first place.

Raise The Alarm and White Noise may have been the hit singles, but Make The Call and Loaded Gun (surely the band’s AC/DC moment) lit the crowd up with their savage riffs and Scott Owen’s powerful bass playing. At times the mix seemed to smother frontman Chris Cheney’s vocals, normally a strong part of the live show, but there was very little to fault otherwise.

The trio – Cheney, Owen and drummer Andy Strachan – were joined by Melbourne icon Adrian Lombardi to provide additional guitar at the back and were more subdued than usual in their stage antics. Owen’s feet stayed firmly planted on the stage and there was only one Cheney scissor kick, but this tour is a mammoth undertaking for any band let alone one whose entire catalogue is played at breakneck speed. Cheney did confess to drinking a chai latte onstage when a cheeky punter suggested he scull. But even without its normally showier aspects, The Living End live experience remains one of the best Australian rock’n’roll can produce.

Pictures In The Mirror

Author: Tom Hersey

Earlier this year The Living End hatched a plan to play their six albums start to finish in a series of weeklong engagements around the country. Double bassist Scott Owen tells Tom Hersey about the ins and outs of such an audacious idea.

“I don’t know where this idea actually came from!” The double bassist laughs about The Living End’s seven-nights-in-each-city tour. “No one in the band seems to want to take responsibility for making the initial suggestion to do an album a night over a week.”

Immersed in the thick of rehearsals for the tour, Scott Owen, The Living End’s affable double bassist, is growing to realise the magnitude of their decision to hit up the capital cities around Australia to play the band’s entire discography live over the course of a week. Owen sounds entirely cognisant of the fact that the tour is going to be a massive undertaking. So why exactly did the band take on such a mammoth assignment?

“We were thinking about what fans might want and we came across this idea that we should play the songs that we don’t usually play,” he explains. “Then we also had the idea ages ago to do a show where we would just play our first album or just play our last album, something where we’d just do an album start to finish, so we sort of combined the two ideas and then it just seemed to grow and grow into what it is now, where we’re just playing everything.”

With six albums spread out over a decade-and-a-half, playing everything is no easy feat. The average headlining tour might require a band to learn 14 or 15 songs; for The Living End this aptly-titled ‘The Retrospective Tour’ has required them to get just about 80 numbers fighting fit.

“We started rehearsing the stuff about a month before the first show, but leading up to that month it was pretty frightening, thinking, ‘Shit, how in the world are we going to learn all those songs?’” Owen laughs again. “Because we had to learn about eighty songs, and alot of them we’ve never played live, and a lot more we haven’t played live for years… We were all thinking how this was going to be a mammoth task. But then we got into the rehearsal room and it was a really enormous surprise to find out how much the information about those songs was still alive and kicking around the back of our brains. It all came back quite easily, and when it came back it brought with it a whole bunch of memories as well. So it’s been a really, really great experience going back over all of those records.”

The nostalgic ride accompanying this process of going back over all of their material has been incredibly rewarding for Owen and his bandmates, namely of course guitarist/vocalist Chris Cheney and drummer Andy Strachan. It’s even allowed the guys to gain a new appreciation for some of the numbers that were never their favourites.

“In the first week that we were rehearsing we were trying to tackle one album a day,” Owen continues. “And in that week it was just a barrage of memories – every day there was something completely new. And as we kept rehearsing there would be tons of memories coming to us on a daily basis and I think that the whole experience has sort of changed how we feel about a lot of the stuff on our records. We’ve always been a band that has our own favourites on a record. But now, even the stuff that wasn’ tour favourite when any given record came out, now there’s this novel factor about going back and revisiting them. That stuff is really enjoyable to play now with all this hindsight, and the songs don’t feel like the chore to play like they used to, because it’s all new again.”

Pouring over all of The Living End’s records, from 1998’s self-titled debut to last year’s The Ending Is Just The Beginning Repeating, Owen has found himself discovering trends within the band. When asked about what specifically he’s noticed about the evolution of the trio’s music, he replies, “I guess what we’ve done with our music over the years is become a little bit more wise about writing, so the songs have gotten a bit simpler over the years.

“I know the songs on the first album are very simple, but then we kind of went on this mission after the first album to try and prove that we could play more complicated music and different styles and do different things with our songs. And that was our mentality for the next couple of albums, and then it feels on the last couple of albums we’ve started to rein ourselves back in again, and made the music more simple.”

In addition to all the work The Living End have had to do preparing for this upcoming run, ‘The RetrospectiveTour’ is made all the more interesting because it also represents a very unique situation for a touring band, giving fans a chance to vote with their wallets. Sure,there were tickets sold for the entire week of shows in each city, but fans also had the choice of only getting tickets to see the albums they wanted to. It seemed fairly courageous for The Living End to put themselves in a situation where they’d have their entire catalogue, directly, quantitatively, critiqued by fans.

“Yeah,” Owen chuckles, “it was really frightening putting tickets on sale for this tour. Because if not many tickets sold it would have been a pretty huge downer for us. Like, we were going to go to all the trouble of doing this tour and we could have found out that people didn’t actually give a shit. So we were really, really relieved and excited about the response that it’s had. Like in Melbourne what started off as seven shows is now twelve or something. Yeah, there are a couple of records where the tickets haven’t sold as well, and you can’t help but think, ‘Hey, what’s wrong with people? Didn’t they like that record?’ But overall we’re awfully chuffed about how people have been responding to the idea, it’s really been pretty flattering actually.”

As its namesake implies, this tour – from the inception of its idea, the long rehearsal process and then actually trekking around the country for each week-long engagement – has been a rare chance for introspection for The Living End, Owen even believing that it’s led to the band finding a deeper insight into themselves. But after all this looking back, has it led The Living End to look forward?

“None of us are sort of ready to hang up the boots and retire, I can still see us making music for years and years, and playing music for years and years, but we don’t really know what the future holds in terms of when the next album will be or anything like that. And I guess that’s another reason for this tour; there’s no better way to know how you want to move forward than all this friggen’ looking back!”

Mr Cassidy

Author: Tony McMahon

Danni Carr, singer/songwriter with edgy country outfit Mr Cassidy, explains to Tony McMahon that timing was an important factor in releasing her band’s terrific new record, Mountain Side. “We’re pretty thrilled and excited about its release,” says Carr. “Initially we were going to record a full album but started running out of time. Scott Owen, our bass player (from The Living End) was preparing to leave for rehearsals before embarking on a mega-tour around Australia and we wanted something to be able to promote before we played at the Tamworth Country Music Festival in January next year. My second baby is also due to arrive in March, so we thought let’s just get something out there and get some momentum happening.”

As far as what Queenslanders can expect from the band’s upcoming show, it seems there’ll be awesome supports, an onstage get together and a return trip.

“We’re playing with The Starboard Cannons at The Joynt, which we’re really looking forward to. We’ve done a number of shows with these guys and they’re amazing! We usually end up doing a few songs all together on stage, which is heaps of fun .We’re also aiming to get up to Brissy and Goldy for some shows around January after Tamworth.”

Mountain Side’s title track was, apparently, written over a bowl of muesli and recorded later that day. Carr takes us through the process.

“My hubby (Ash Grunwald) and I were sitting having breakfast one morning and he picked up my banjo and re-tuned it to an open G and started strumming this really cool riff. I started singing the chorus and we were really getting into it. We pretty much had the song finished before we got to the end of our muesli! We have a studio under our house so we thought, ‘Let’s just get down there and get it recorded; (a) before we forget it and; (b) before Ash takes off on tour again’.”