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Chris Cheney

Chris Cheney

OF

Living End

....... The Living End seemed to just suddenly appear out of nowhere in early 1998. The Melbourne, Australia retro-punk band the Living End was formed in 1991 by singer/guitarist Chris Cheney and bassist Scott Owen while the two were attending secondary college. Self-managed and highly motivated Originally dubbed the Runaway Boys, the group went through a series of drummers before settling on Joe Piripitsi, with whom they recorded their 1995 self-released debut EP Hellhound. A lot of drive and some luck thrown in found The Living End supporting Green Day on a national tour back in February 1996. ., The Living End started getting gigs around Melbourne. Although 1996's It's for Your Own Good EP topped local charts, Piripitsi soon exited the line-up, and with new drummer Travis Dempsey the Living End recorded 1997's Second Solution/Prisoner of Society. A year later, Reprise re-packaged the first two Living End releases together for American release. A self-titled LP followed in early 1999. ~ Jason Ankeny, All-Music Guide . I had a chance to interview guitarist Chris Cheney when they came through the bay area.

INTERVIEW WITH Living End

Q: The word is that your band the " Living End and Silverchair" are very popular over in Australia ?

A: Yeah, we're from Melbourne, Australia and we formed there in high schoolin l990-1991 and just started doing covers and stuff and they changed their originals and we pretty much built up our following from there. This album is just the first album kind of world-wide, it's not like we haven't had other albums in Australia. Yeah, that's the home town, that's always the most popular one at the moment.

Q: When do you go back home?

A: We go home at the start of September or something and we go straight into like a 6 week Australian tour. But before then, we go to Europe again.

Q: Are you going on your own?

A: Yeah, we are doing pretty much street festivals, we're doing the Redding Festival in England. It should be awesome, the Bazaar Festival.

Q: When I saw you performed last year. I was hearing "Stray Cats", with a little "Green Day" sound ?

A: Yeah, well that's kind of a natural thing to happen. As I said, when we formed, we were just fifties breaks and Stray Cats were like pretty much our gods - still are really, you know. They were an amazing band. We just fell in love with that sort of stuff and I always loved the Sex Pistols, and the Clashing Stuff always on the side and then when we started writing songs, for some reason, I just started incorporating most of the styles together. You know, the lyrics and the sort of message and choruses and stuff for the punch song. But we like in the guitar play, the rock-a-Billy just sort of same natural and I thought it was good at first and a few other people sort of liked it to, so it's kind of worked in a way. But come in "Green Day", yeah, there is another band that we really liked, what we sort of admired then being an influences. But people do say we sound like them, so it's kind of annoying sometimes. The seventies punk stuff is what sort of influenced us more.

Q: Allot of times people need to compare music to some other bands.

A: It could be worse bands that we could be compared to. They are both great bands.

Q: So how is it playing these out door venues?

A: We are just getting used to these now, because it has been so long since we played like a pub gig. That's probably the best thing about it, because I used to hate playing outdoors. We were just always a pub kind of band. That was the environment - seeing us in a club or something. So, anytime we played, they used to have to come and the would say "oh it's outdoors"; but now it's the reverse, we haven't been playing any clubs, and so when we play a club again, hopefully it will be magic.

Q: I saw you play the 98 Rock Jamboree radio show two weeks ago outside it was Very Hot out in Sacramento - 106°. Plus !

A: I have been sick for the past five days. Yeah we did the first three warp gigs and I got heat exhaustion. I spent like two days in the hospital and they didn't know if it was heat exhaustion or food poisoning, or both. I though it was both - I though I was going to die. So anyway, it's nice to be back playing in this club. It's like three gigs or something. So, I'm feeling better, drinking beer - Australian medicine.

Q: SO what's it like in Australia?

A: There's a lot of people in Australia. People seem to think there is like kangaroos and maybe ten farmers and a few women or something. It's just like any other country. There is millions of bands it's just so hard, for a start, to get big in Australia, because we just get bombarded. No offense, but all-American bands, all-American television shows, nobody wants to give anyone a go in Australia. If an Australian band becomes big, there is a thing called the "tall puppy syndrome", everyone wants to bring you back down again. But then you go overseas, Australia is like they're our own kind of thing. But there is only a handful of bands that have really made it overseas. Like "Men At Work", "In Excess", "Midnight Oil", are a few. There are not that many and there are thousands of bands even now. But because it's so far away, its so hard just to get money and to get support to get over to a place like America and get off the ground.

Q: Did you receive a lot of recognition?

A: That's what happened last time. We managed to get a slot and we did the first ten dates on the tour, playing on the local stage and we managed to impress a lot of people. We played our asses off and got invited back this year on the main stage. It's just a gradual thing.

Q: I saw you guys three times in one year. It was like wow, you're coming around again your playing your asses off now.

A: That's kind of like Melbourne as well. Except obviously, it's such a long way away. But that's what I cherish the most. That we came from Melbourne. That there is so many bands and there is so much happening there that you have to be good to try to impress them, so I think that if you can sort of impress them, you can pretty much go anywhere and you can turn a few heads I think.

Q: Do you write the songs ?

A: Pretty much. I write all the lyrics and the music and then I come into the Garden Rehearsal Room and we just knot them out from there. If there is anything that I haven't finished, I will ask the guys what they think about this bit. I pretty much like to have them finished just on an acoustic guitar on my own. It's kind of they way its worked out.

Q: Are you able to find time to write on the road, or is it too busy?

A: Not really. We've been here since February, and I thought yeah, I'll be able to write songs on the bus and stuff. But, its really been difficult and a lot of bands say its hard to write on the road and I thought, yeah, it can't be that hard. But it is hard - trying to get your own space. There's always people on there and hard to do till we get home. We've written a few.

Q: You like playing the big hollow body electric guitars?

A: Yes. Just from like getting into Eddy Cochran and stuff when I was younger.

Q: Do you like Chet Atkins ?

A: He's the master, that guy. An incredible guitar player. A 335 can be a bit rough. Especially outdoors playing. Sometimes it sounds like I have solid body and I play and its easier and more practical, but then I play one of mine and it looks cooler and I like the sound coming out of it. The end

By Randy Cohen

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