Behind The Albums: The Living End

As the Living End prepare to head out on their “The Retrospective Tour”, we look back on the band’s six albums – from their raw self-titled debut to the accomplished rock of last year’s The End Is Just The Beginning Repeating.

“We knew there was more to the band than ‘50s haircuts and bloody ‘Prisoner of Society’” – Chris Cheney

From playing covers in the Runaway Boys to headlining the Big Day Out, over the course of 18 years, The Living End – frontman Chris Cheney, bassist Scott Owen and drummer Andy Strachan – have well and truly cemented themselves as one of the Australia’s most successful bands. Through six albums, we’ve watched them grow from the raw and unfiltered noise of debut The Living End to the accomplished rock of last year’s The End Is Just The Beginning Repeating, all while retaining the very essence that endeared them to rooms full of sweaty punks in 1994.

To mark nearly two decades of The Living End, the trio will embark this month on “The Retrospective Tour”, a huge undertaking that will see them play each of their six albums in full, back-to-back at 39 intimate, cross-country gigs. In the lead-up to the gigs we spoke to the band and those close to them – from former Rolling Stone editor John O’Donnell to their manager Rae Harvey – about the making of each album.

The Living End (1998)

John O’Donnell, former Rolling Stone editor

The Living End is everything you could want a debut album to be; it’s as good a debut album as any released in rock’n’roll history. It’s better than the debut albums by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Midnight Oil or Green Day. It’s that good. It is brim-full of brilliant, fresh songs and performances, spilling over with naive enthusiasm and spunk.

It’s a band making a record by themselves, with their own money and on their own terms, without the weight of expectations of record companies, publishers, budgets, radio playlists, critics – that would all come later. Across their two earlier EPs, The Living End had developed their songwriting and found their voice – a blend of rockabilly, punk and classic rock and roll – and then they delivered an album of high speed thrills (‘Prisoner Of Society’, ‘West End Riot’); intelligent observation and anger (‘Growing Up’, ‘Falling Down’, ‘Monday’, ‘All Torn Down’); and rich, melodic songcraft (‘Trapped’, ‘I Want A Day’, ‘Save The Day’).

“It’s a band making a record by themselves on their own terms”

To this day, there’s few things in Australian music (or indeed any music, anywhere) as exciting as a festival crowd chanting, “We don’t need no one like you, to tell us what to do”, as Scotty Owen slaps his double bass at high speed, Andy does snare rolls faster than the eye can see and everything builds until Chris screams, “Society, society, society.” And I love the photograph on the front – whoever found that is a fucking genius.

Head to the next page to read about Roll On

Next page