The Living End Raise Your Alarm
The Living End's longevity can be attributed to two crucial factors. 1. Their live shows. 2. Their ability to replicate that live feel on record. That's certainly the case with their latest album, 'White Noise'.
Anyone who’s seen The Living End live (and let’s face it, after fifteen years, there’s a lot of us), will know that Scott Owen throws his double bass around like it was a fire-twirling stick and he was a hippy from Nimbin. “I’ve never done any crazy, major damage to myself or anyone else with that thing, which is a pretty damn good track record.” laughs Owen. “Chris keeps on falling off it, which is hilarious. He fell off it the very first time he stood on it, when we were sixteen years old or something.
“We were on stage at The Richmond Club Hotel and we had all of our high school friends there and it was like in the first half a dozen gigs we’d ever done. Chris went to stand up on my bass and went completely arse-up. It busted and went to pieces. It was at the end of the gig and we thought it was the end of our career.
“Still, to this day,” he adds, still laughing, “it’s the worst stack that’s ever been had on that thing. All those hours and hours of standing in front of the mirror and throwing my double bass around in my bedroom has paid off.”
The Living End roll through various capital cities this month as part of their Raise Your Alarm Tour. Joined by Perth luminaries Gyroscope and Tame Impala, the triple bill is an excellent excuse to put down your copy of Guitar Hero and see how the real thing is done. Hell, I still can’t clock 'Prisoner Of Society' on my mate’s Xbox360 and I wonder if any of the boys from the band have donned the plastic guitar?
“Yeah we did,” Owen laughs. “We never really got into the whole Guitar Hero thing.” Probably because you know how to play the real thing? “Yeah exactly,” agrees Scott with a laugh. “We’ve got the real thing to play with. We did do this thing on a TV show once where they got us to play [Guitar Hero] and we were all rubbish at it, which makes me kind of proud as a musician.”
Moving from their first break-through single, 'Prisoner of Society', to their latest offering, 'White Noise', it’s easy to argue that it’s The Living End’s best album yet. It certainly captures the raw, balls-out intensity that Chris, Scott and Andy bring in a live environment. So how did they manage it after all these years together?
“I don’t know,” Owen chuckles, “I just feel like we sort of tapped into something new that we could do. I just feel like we slowed it all down on this record. Without going away and finding new influences, we just focused on a few we had, rather than focusing on all of them. We managed to keep it a bit more simple for that reason. Slow it all down and make it come from a bit more below the belt.”
The guys took their time with 'White Noise', wanting to make sure they captured the right sound. “We didn’t know what we wanted in the beginning,” Owen explains. “We did get off to a few false starts as well. There was a pivotal moment when Chris came in with the riffs to 'How Do We Know'; when we put all that together, we just became extremely excited about slowing down and making things a little bit more groovy, rather than high paced and full-on energy. We channelled our energy in a different direction and kept it a bit slower and straight forward.”
Still, writing and producing an album is only half the battle. The Living End are, strangely enough considering their success (or perhaps because of it), a band some critics love to have a crack at. You could almost hear the scratching at the door as wannabe rock journo’s readied the onslaught. Once 'White Noise' hit stores, even the band was blown away by what happened next. “The response to the album was pretty immediate. It was actually a bit overwhelming for us,” Owen confesses.
“We were all really confident with this album, we were all really happy with what we’d done. We didn’t have anywhere near as many reservations about this one as we’d had with other records in the past. We just felt like it was the kind of album that we wanted to make. Part of that was that we knew that these songs were going to work live.”
He’s not wrong there. Last year they played a Live At The Wireless gig for Triple J in the infamous AC/DC laneway, and all the new material went down a treat. “We thought the response was going to be good, but it was much better than any of us expected. We haven’t suffered that problem of people going ‘We like your old stuff better than your new stuff’ because this album is much better than a lot of stuff we’ve put out there.”