This feature appeared in Amplifier Magazine, June 2006.
“I bloody well hope we’ll be around in another twenty or thirty years,” laughs bassist Scott Owen from a land down under. “I saw the Stooges recently and they were still passionate and fresh sounding. I think there’s still a lot of musical ground that we can cover as well, so I expect we’ll have the opportunity to keep making music long into the future.”
Australia’s finest, fittest, and most fervent punk pop export (a quintuple-platinum album, two platinum and five gold discs plus three Australian Recording Industry Association Awards), the Living End’s latest release is fittingly entitled State of Emergency, a collection which finds the band stretching from its original retro revival posture into more musical and intellectually progressive pastures.
The trio’s singer- guitarist-primary songwriter Chris Cheney says of the title cut: “it felt like every time the news comes on, a ‘state of emergency has been declared. The song deals with the paranoia and uncertainty generated from this…it also has a very positive message and promotes unity and not being oppressed by fear, whether it’s a false alarm or the real thing.”
Returning to the producer’s chair is the legendary Nick Launay (INXS, Gang of Four, Midnight Oil, Silverchair). After rummaging through fifty or so of the Living End’s best demos, Launay conjured the arrangements and blended various ideas into a cohesive collection. Quite the perfectionist, Launay forbade the veteran ensemble from dropping any song in mid-progress until he was convinced that a particular track had been completed to his satisfaction. “His experience in recording techniques is what makes him amazing,” Owens reveals. “We set up in endless configurations in the studio before Nick was willing to even begin recording. He wanted us to all be playing at the same time rather than doing layered rhythm tracks. Of course, Nick’s got the ear to get the organic sounds of an instrument, which is exactly what we wanted.”
The Living End were among the numerous bands that came of age during the mid-1990s post-punk explosion which included a slew of California bred stalwarts Green Day, Offspring, and Rancid. Owens proclaims “I don’t think our style has changed much over the years, but we have grown as musicians. The song writing and recording has definitely become more focused. We’ve worked hard to become more competent in the studio to produce the results we’d originally imagined.” State Of Emergency was released in Australia in February and debuted at #1. The band played a few anonymous gigs under the moniker “The Longnecks” to road test the songs. Cheney recalls “of course, our fans found out about it and blew our cover, but it was a great way to work out our ideas…perhaps we should have worn masks!”
Among the many stand-out cuts is “We Want More.” Cheney emphasizes “I find that in terms of where popular music is sitting at the moment, there is way too much style and not enough substance. That track is probably one of the more rockabilly influenced songs on the album, it has that ‘stomp’ element that I think is a bit of a trademark for us.”
With new fans constantly coming into the fold, The Living End’s oldies but goodies are seemingly always in demand. Owen comments on their impending US invasion via the Warped Tour and their own headlining trek which will take State Of Emergency coast to coast, south to north, and on to Canada “I am always amazed at the sheer volume of everything in America. It is the land of opportunity. Coming from a country with a much smaller population it just seems that everything is so big, maybe too big in some cases. But this is the charm of the States. I also love the way that in the same country, there can be cities that are so very different than each other. America, here we come!”
State Of Emergency is set for an August 14, 2006 release date on Adeline Records.