If there was ever a band that burst onto the music scene with a bang, The Living End certainly made their mark very quickly in the musically spoilt 90’s. Their blend of rockabilly infused with punk challenged the 50’s era purists, and was a volatile mix that combined the attitude of The Clash along with the hip, cool, swinging sounds of The Stray Cats. A string of Australian classics including Prisoner of Society, Second Solution, Roll On, White Noise and more recently Keep On Running have kept the band busy along with touring, so it’s great to be seeing them headlining the next instalment of A Day On The Green in March 2018. The Living End will be headlining along with Spiderbait, Veruca Salt, Tumbleweed and The Fauves in a Monster rock line-up to die for.
We caught up with The Living End’s drummer Andy Strachan, who has recently returned to his native Adelaide to live with his family to shoot the breeze about life in general and his return to S.A.
“Adelaide gets a bad rap here and there but I think everyone’s trying to keep it quiet that it’s actually the easiest and nicest place to live in Australia- it’s got a lot going for it,” Strachan casually quips.
“It’ll be even better when it’s finished”! is my equally witty reply. Strachan laughs.
“And when it gets electricity!” he adds, pulling the rug out from under my feet.
The great thing about fellow Adelaideans is that, as much as we love our great state, we can readily engage in self-deprecating humour that nobody from other states can!
Just back from a successful tour of the US, Strachan was finding time to wind down and find his feet again after a succession of hotel rooms and tour buses.
“It’s been a busy year, we’ve done a bunch of overseas stuff. It was a pretty gruelling tour, I think it was about 5 weeks in the end. We only got back about 10 days ago, we’re starting to feel pretty normal now. It seems like a lifetime ago already. We played a bunch of shows with Midnight Oil, and that was probably the highlight for me to share some shows with those guys and watch the Americans lose their shit when The Oils came out on stage- it was epic. They are seriously on fire- wow, what a powerhouse band. They’re loving it and it’s been inspiring- I even got to play Rob Hirst’s kit!” Nice!
A member of the band since 2002, Strachan still has that wide-eyed wonder about his lot in life as the Living End’s drummer, and takes nothing for granted.
“It’s weird, day to day I don’t dwell on it so much that I’m in this band but next minute you’re in the US supporting Midnight Oil, playing to thousands of people. There’s certain moments like that where you go ‘Holy Shit, this is my job!’ When we’re not doing that though, we live pretty normal lives. I go drop my kid off at school, go shopping, cook dinner etc. but now and then I think ‘how did this all happen’? It’s literally the best job in the world, and the job I dreamed about when I was a kid. I remember seeing the Hoodoo Gurus play the Thebby years ago and I looked at Mark Kingsmill (the drummer) and thought yep- that’s what I want to do!”
Strachan is fairly grounded though, and knows that things can change in the fickle world of music. He doesn’t take the band’s success lightly, and keeps a balanced outlook on what others may perceive as the bands legacy or contribution to Australian music.
“It’s not something I think about daily, my close friends and I don’t talk about the band much really. We talk about normal, regular things. They’d never let me carry on about how great I think my life might be anyway. (laughs). There are though, certain songs we’re proud of. It’s pretty special hearing something like ‘White Noise’ at a shopping centre or something, we’re very fortunate.”
Australian music has a hot and sweaty history, with many a great band like The Living End cutting their teeth at music venues before poker machines robbed the industry of valuable outlets for emerging acts to hone their craft. I discuss how there’s been a fantastic resurgence of good, old fashioned, sticky carpet rock now, and that punters still love a good gig instead of raves and disco. “As there fuckin’ well should be, right. It’s great that people have regained the desire to go out and support live music! Getting back to Aussie rock and roll, places like the Thebby and The Gov, Adelaide has got some great bands at the moment. Guys like the Bad Dreems, it’s quality stuff I reckon. The only way these bands will survive is of people go see them. It’s a great way to socialise, it’s part of our culture.” Amen to that brother!
We are way overtime on our interview, but Strachan freely chats about music as I’m the last interviewer in his schedule, so I pitch a few more questions, namely about his solo EP Follow The Sun last year. It was a heavier, darker sound than The Living End, and Strachan played all the instruments himself!
“It was a cool challenge, I’m a drummer but I can’t play guitar to save my life, but it’s just a challenge to learn all the instruments. I was happy with that and thought I stepped up a level. I’m playing around with a few tunes now so we’ll see what happens. Mick Fanning used Follow The Sun for a board short commercial he did, so to have someone who is so inspirational to so many people like one of the best surfers the world’s ever seen, was such a rush. That was really cool.”
He’s looking forward to the Day on The Green gig with old mates Spiderbait among others. “It’s just electric every time we play together, we really push each other on stage, it’ll be like catching up with old friends again with all the other bands playing. A killer line-up in an awesome place.”
The Day On The Green format is decidedly a winner, and quite cleverly refuses to overlap headline acts, instead giving each act its own full set without the need to race to another stage to catch the next act like the now defunct Big Day Out franchise.
Catch The Living End, Spiderbait, Veruca Salt, Tumbleweed and the Fauves cranking out some good old rock amongst the vines
SATURDAY MARCH 17 – LECONFIELD WINES, MCLAREN VALE
a day on the green is a fully licensed event. Strictly no BYO alcohol. Food will be available on site or BYO picnic. Camping chairs and picnic rugs are recommended. For all transport, accommodation and event information, go to www.adayonthegreen.com.au
By Dazz Hassan