INTERVIEW: The Living End

Published in The Music (WA) | 26.02.14 | Issue # 27



It’s been a while since The Living End have partnered themselves with the company of punk and metal bands. Fresh from the nuthouse, bassist Scott Owen chats with Daniel Cribb about Soundwave and working with Ash Grunwald.

“We’re certainly not going to expect a bunch of punk-rock and metal fans to want to hear anything too reggae or easy listening,” The Living End bassist Scott Owen says on their Soundwave appearance. With Stone Temple Pilots pulling out less than a month before the tour, The Living End stepped up. “We’re all into a bit of metal, and it was just a bit of a no-brainer for us. I mean, we were looking down the barrel of not doing much this year, and when that came up it was a very last minute thing, and it was like, ‘The tour’s in three weeks, do you want to do it?’, and we were like, ‘Fuck yeah, of course we do. No questions asked’.

“It’s happened to us once before, where I’ve looked at a bill and gone, ‘Fuck, I wish we were playing on that’… It happened with Splendour In The Grass when Jane’s Addiction pulled out, and it was like, ‘Fuck yeah, I really wanted to play that’. I’m feeling very, very fortunate right now – that would be my online status, if I had one – ‘Scott Owen is feeling fortunate right now’,” he says, somewhat out of breath.

“[I’m] just sort of pacing around the road out the front of my house aimlessly talking on the phone,” he laughs. “I probably look like a lunatic because I’ve just been sort of walking around in a circle for the past hour, and if anyone’s looking out their window they’re probably thinking, ‘That guy really needs to go back to the nuthouse now’.”

With his schedule as of late, it’s not a stretch to think he may be stressed to the point of admission at times. It’s been a busy two-and-a-half years for The Living End. After releasing their sixth record in 2011, The Ending Is Just The Beginning, they embarked on another stretch of relentless touring, last year tackling Europe, but not before Owen and drummer Andy Strachan hit the studio and toured with Ash Grunwald mid-year – an experience that has given the pair a new perspective on The Living End. “It was all very spontaneous,” he tells. “All [The Living End] stuff is very structured – the songs are arranged as they are and we play them the same way every time and stick to their true arrangement, whereas with Ash there’s a lot more of an improvisational loose jam approach to his songs. It was surprising when we first played them with him… It’s been cool for me and Andy, just realising how much fun we actually have playing together.”

After Soundwave, the rest of 2014 will see The Living End recede into the shadows to take some time off, before regrouping at the start of 2015 to begin work on album number seven. “I really don’t know what the next Living End record will be like – we’ve never got a plan,” Owen says. And to round out the conversation, “I can hear the ambulance coming in the distance,” he jokes.

Daniel Cribb