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The Living End is an Australian punkabilly band, based in Melbourne, Victoria. To date, they have released four studio albums in Australia, with two going to the number 1 position on the ARIA charts. They have also gained notable success in the United States and Europe. The band recently won awards for Best Drummer, Best Male Performer, Best Live TV Appearance and Best Band, in the 2006 Jack Awards. They were nominated for 3 Awards at 2007's Jack Awards, being Best Bass Guitarist (Scott Owen) and Best Drummer (Andy Strachan), with Chris Cheney winning for Best Lead Guitarist.
The Living End formed in 1994 after Chris Cheney met Scott Owen. The two boys were first introduced to each other by their older sisters at a family get together/BBQ. They both attended Wheelers Hill Secondary College in Melbourne. Cheney was obsessed with 80's rockabilly group the Stray Cats. Owen decided to learn the double-bass in favour of the piano, he purchased the bass with the only $1500 in his bank account, which was meant to go toward a first car. They formed a cover band under the name "Runaway Boys" in 1992; named after the title of a Stray Cats album.
However, by 1994 Chris and Scott were writing their own material, which is when they decided to change their name to The Living End, a reference to the film Rock Around the Clock. The group went through a procession of drummers before settling on Joe Piripitzi. Cheney considered Joe an ideal drummer due to his charismatic appearance.
The Living End got their first big break in 1995 when, after sending a t-shirt and a demo tape to Billie Joe Armstrong, they landed a support slot in Green Day's upcoming Australian tour. After the tour, the group went into the studio to record their debut EP Hellbound which received moderate support from community radio stations.
In November 1995, the band went back into the studio to record their second EP It's For Your Own Good which they released several months later. This recording yielded their first major radio airplay with the song "From Here On In", which was placed on high rotation on the youth radio network Triple J. Shortly after the release of the second EP, drummer Joe Piripitzi was fired as his lifestyle choices were said to be holding back the band, being replaced with Travis Demsey. Demsey was soon playing with the band at major festivals such as Pushover and the Falls Festival, and was considered to drum very much in the style of Keith Moon.
After a year touring Australia, The Living End again headed into the studio to record something new to sell at their live shows. The result was the Second Solution/Prisoner of Society double single.
Second Solution/Prisoner of Society quickly became a national hit, the double A-side becoming the highest selling Australian single of the 1990s, peaking for several weeks at No.4 and receiving the 1998 ARIA Award for Highest Selling Single. It lasted a record-breaking 47 weeks on the ARIA Top 50 singles charts.
The band signed on to Modular Recordings for the release of their debut self titled album. The album was an instant hit with Australian audiences. The Living End became the second- (now third-) highest-selling debut rock album in Australian music history after (now 5 times platinum), and charted at #1. During this period 6 singles were released including the previously stated double A-side, and in addition "Tainted Love", a live cover, was released as a radio-only single on Triple J. The Living End's breakout was the most successful part of their career so far.
The Living End were awarded two more ARIA awards in 1999 for Best Group, and Best New Artist.
The Roll On album in 2000 was a more creative work, but did not manage to achieve the status of their earlier album. Cheney later stated that he was trying to prove to critics that The Living End were not a band simply defined by their hit "Prisoner of Society", and the album showed this by displaying other influences, as well as their traditional fast-paced rockabilly music. The album even garnered comparison, by a few critics, to seminal punk band The Clash's creative breakthrough, London Calling. Much of the style was comparable to 80's hard rock and pub rock, as well as many tracks being obscure mixes of many ideas, resulting in 'procrastinating' structures. This defined the albums creativity.
During this period, relative success was achieved in addition in the USA, with the band receiving America-wide coverage by playing on both Conan O'Brian and David Letterman's major late-night variety shows.
However, singles and success for Roll On was limited due to a twist of fate. In 2001, the band hit a quiet period due to Chris Cheney's car accident on the Great Ocean Road, rendering him unable to play for a significant period of time. He had been on the road to the house of a member of fellow Australian band Bodyjar.
In 2002, Travis Demsey left the band shortly after Chris's recovery, so he could spend more time with his family, supported by a developed dislike of heavy touring. However, the dilemma was overcome when Andy Strachan was accepted as the new drummer. The Longnecks were formed to test out Andy Strachan and new material to be on the MODERN ARTillery album, without attracting too much public attention. Travis Demsey now plays drums in a Punk / Folk Rock band called 'The Currency'.
At this time the band made a comeback, releasing "One Said to the Other" in late 2002 (originally released as an EP then later re-recorded for the album) and "Who's Gonna Save Us?" in 2003, and getting air play once again. This was followed by heavy touring (including Big Day Out) and the release of MODERN ARTillery.
The MODERN ARTillery album in 2003 was a return to musical simplicity in most tracks (the rock anthem "The Room" being an exception), but was certainly of a different style to the hard rock and punkabilly of the self-titled album, and the jazzy rockabilly of Hellbound and It's For Your Own Good. Instead, punk pop, computer-generated sounds, country music, and 60's style rock'n'roll had their share on MODERN ARTillery, among other styles.
Due to the quiet period, their return was initially received with much hype compared to Roll On, with "One Said To the Other" becoming a top 20 hit, the album debuting at #3, and the promotion of 3 singles and 2 radio releases. However, the long run saw their stylistic change to be less popular, with overall sales of albums and singles being comparatively less than that of the self-titled album and "Roll On".
From Here On In:
In late 2004, the band released a singles collection as well as a DVD, which included all video clips and a "supergig", collections of the band's most famous songs performed in Australia at Splendour In The Grass and Big Day Out in Sydney, and Summersonic festival in Japan. The DVD also featured the band's history - documented in interviews and home footage. The CD featured two new tracks: I Cant Give You What I Haven't Got and Bringing It All Back Home. Some editions were released with the bonus 'Under The Covers' disc, which featured 6 covers from various parts of their career.
Chris performed at the 2004 ARIA awards as part of the group The Wrights, featuring members of many other Australian bands. Chris Cheney and Scott Owen won the Best Guitarist and Best Bassist awards for 2004 and 2005, in the Jack Awards.
State of Emergency:
The Living End's fourth album, titled State of Emergency, was recorded in Byron Bay after they played in the Splendour in the Grass festival. The recording and the artwork was completed in mid December 2005, and the album was released on 4 February 2006, debuting at #1 on the ARIA Albums Chart. The Living End again played gigs under the name The Longnecks prior to recording the album, to test out new material.
The album's tracks are even simpler then MODERN ARTillery's tracks, but with a more raw sound, so as to assimilate even further with the early releases and the self-titled album; also being aware that they sound best live and raw. Nevertheless, the new styles and other styles experienced in MODERN ARTillery remain in State of Emergency to an extent; arguably most dominantly punk pop, rockabilly now being a less met blend of The Living End's punkabilly style.
The single "What's on Your Radio?" was released on 20 November 2005, and debuted at #9 on the ARIA singles chart. The second single, "Wake Up" was released on 19 February and went straight to number #5. The third single from the album "Long Live the Weekend" was released 20 May, but did not enter the top 20, whilst the other two singles had entered the top 10. The fourth single, "Nothing Lasts Forever" was released in Australia on 19 August and was not as successful as the first two. Nevertheless, State of Emergency continues to hold onto its position as a generally very successful album, enhanced by the great success of the first two singles. The album was also nominated for the 2006 J Award.
The album was released in the United States through Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong's Adeline Records along with Eastwest Records on 11 July 2006. Further releases in support of the album was the DVD Live At Festival Hall on 30 September, which captured a Melbourne performance of the State of Emergency Tour, featuring many songs from the album, and many classics.
In 2006 the band took 4 Jack Awards; Best Live Band, Best Live TV Performance, Best Performer (Chris) and Best Drummer (Andy). This means that The Living End has being awarded the most Jack Awards each year and overall so far.
During the 2006 State Of Emergency tour, the Living End's show in Milwaukee was cancelled, so it was rescheduled on December 2nd as a supporting act for +44.
2007 has seen The Living End slow down touring and restart recording. The band have released as a radio-only single the Cold Chisel cover "Rising Sun", which is currently available on a Cold Chisel tribute album, and after The Great Escape in May, started work on their 5th official studio album, though they toured the UK in August, releasing State of Emergency there on August 13 through Deck Cheese Records.
Music styles and influences:
Chris Cheney regards 1950's rock 'n' roll as his greatest influence and first musical love, with the band's sound initially based on that. They regarded 1980's Australian rock as an important influence on the band, something the members grew up with and appreciated. The Stray Cats inspired Scott Owen to use the double bass when the group decided to start making music. Other rockabilly influences include Reverend Horton Heat and Eddie Cochran.
The Living End also consider themselves to be a rock 'n' roll band based on punk ethics, previously citing Iggy Pop, The Who and The Jam as bands with whom they share the same ideals, making a social commentary on what's going on around them. They have also been compared favourably to 1990's punk revivalists Rancid. However, the band do not consider themselves a punk band, merely a rock 'n' roll band who are influenced by punk.
Amongst other bands, ex-Sum 41 guitarist Dave Baksh has suggested that it would be great if he could tour with The Living End, saying that they're all "really good musicians".
The Living End have made recordings with many popular bands and artists.
In 1998, just as they were gaining popularity in Australia, they performed at "Tour Of Duty" for the peace keepers in PNG. At this, their first live concert to Australian's, they performed two tracks from what was their up coming album, as well as performing with Angel's Front man Doc Neeson and Australian pop singer Kylie Minogue.
In December 1998, supporting the German band Die Toten Hosen they played a cover of "Merry Christmas" with them.
The Living End performed along side Normie Rowe performing two of Normie's hits "Que Sera Sera" and "Shakin' All Over" at an awards ceremony.
In 2005, the band recorded a version of Ashton, Gardner and Dyke's "Resurrection Shuffle" with Jimmy Barnes on his duet album Double Happiness. The Living End also appeared on Australian country and western music artist Kasey Chambers' album Barricades & Brickwalls, contributing the music and backing vocals to "Crossfire".
Lead singer and guitarist Chris Cheney was also a member of the "super group" The Wrights who released covers of Stevie Wright's songs, "Evie parts 1, 2 & 3" after performing "Evie part 1" at the 2004 Australian Music Industry's ARIA Music Awards. Cheney also played guitar and contributed backing vocals to "Private School Kid" on Sarah McLeod's (formerly of The Superjesus) debut solo album. Mr Cheney appeared as a guitarist on Stephen Cummings' Firecracker album, and if you take a look at Jet's DVD, 'Right Right Right', you'll notice him doing a number with those guys - 'That's Alright Mamma'. Chris Cheney also played "I Fought the Law" with Green Day at their Melbourne Concert on 17 December 2005.
Double bassist Scott Owen appeared on Australian legend Paul Kelly's Foggy Highway album, playing bass on "Song of the Old Rake". Scott also appeared in the film clip for the track.