The West

Different End game
The Living End's Andy Strachan, Chris Cheney and Scott Owen. Picture: Supplied.

While many an older band has made a fair quid from touring their hit albums in full, one could hardly call the Living End's coming Retrospective Tour an easy grab for cash.

In fact, the Melbourne rock veterans are going all out, doing seven nights straight in each city they visit and playing all their albums in full, with a different one featured each night.

Singer-guitarist Chris Cheney says the tour was born of a recent Triple J poll which saw the trio's eponymous full-length 1998 debut voted the fourth best Australian album of all time.

Surprised by the result, Cheney, bassist Scott Owen and drummer Andy Strachan considered playing the album from go to whoa on tour to acknowledge its continued popularity. "But then we thought 'You know what, all of our albums have done fairly well, we don't really have an album that's been a complete dud, maybe we should just book a venue and just play a different record each night'," Cheney says in the middle of an intense few weeks of rehearsals where the band is in a race to get six albums worth of songs down pat before the tour kicks off.

"I forget who actually pitched it, but I think they were just joking. But, here we are, and it's actually happening," he adds. "It's a really, really, f…ing mad idea, but we are the type of band who seem to like challenges like that."

Most musicians would prefer to focus on the next piece of work rather than such a celebration of past material, and Cheney admits to having some doubts as to the message a tour of this nature would send. "It did seem a bit like 'Uh oh, run out of ideas, you're just going to go back and tread over the same ground as before' and all of that," he admits. "But it just seemed like a really exciting challenge for us. We've been on this three-year cycle where we've released albums constantly that it's like, you know what, it's OK to kind of stop and acknowledge what we've achieved so far."

And there are many achievements to acknowledge. The Living End have been at the top of the Oz rock heap for well over a decade, sold hundreds of thousands of albums and were one of the key acts to emerge from a golden age for Australian music in the mid-to-late 90s. It's a time which Cheney attributes much of the band's success to, citing a healthy competition among the various acts despite their wide-ranging styles.

"Like, I thought 'How come we can't get gigs like Jebediah', and, 'What about that Grinspoon band, they're getting played on the radio'," he reminisces.

"I was always sort of ambitious and I know other people in bands were too; we all wanted to get on Triple J and get on the Big Day Out and stuff like that. It's probably no different now but there was just a hunger there."

With each member now married with kids and not too far shy of their 40th birthdays, Cheney admits when the band takes time to consider what they achieved in their younger days, it can hit hard. After all, as teenagers, Cheney, Owen and original drummer Joe Piripitzi struggled to draw five or six people to the small front room of the Corner Hotel in Melbourne. The Retrospective Tour will see them play 12 nights straight in the venue's "big room".

"It's like Scott and I had this dream and it's kind of come true, we're really lucky," Cheney says. "We've worked our a.... off but we're really lucky to have been able to make a career out of this.

"There were a lot of ups and downs and some songs are better than others but all in all, all the albums stand up pretty good."

The Living End plays the Rosemount Hotel from November 1-7. Tickets and more information via Oztix.

The West Australian

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