The Living End have had us rocking out to their unique Rockabilly infused sound for over twelve years now. We catch up with double bass player Scott Bradley Owen, in lead up to their appearance at The Open Arms Festival this November.
What are The Living End up to at the moment?
We’re pretty hard at work on a new record. We’re not recording, but we’re demoing tunes and writing. We’ve spent most of this year chipping away at it, and it’s starting to come together now. There’s probably 20 or 30 songs that we’ve been working on so far, so we’re starting to narrow it down and get a little bit of an idea of what sort of album we’re starting to make.
We’re looking at starting to record early next year, so we’ve still got a couple of months up our sleeve to pull it all together.
> Out of all the albums you’ve released so far, what’s your favourite to perform live?
That’s always a hard question to answer, because favourites for me always change. But there’s a couple of songs off the first record that always come back in to favour. The last record we made, White Noise, has a couple of favourite tunes on it.
We tried to keep those tunes as simple as possible – bearing in mind that when we are on stage we don’t want to be thinking too much about what we’re playing. If the songs are simple, you can just let loose a little bit more; so there are a few songs off that record that are going to be live favourites for me for a while.
> How much does audience participation affect you when you’re performing live?
We feed off the audience a fair bit. We try and put in as much energy and enthusiasm as we can when we’re on stage, so getting that back from the audience is definitely a great feeling and gives you the fuel to put in more.
> Where do you find the inspiration for your music?
When we’re writing, it comes from anywhere. It’s pretty amazing the amount of bands we borrow ideas from. When we’re in the rehearsal room together trying to explain what we have in our heads, we just have to bring band names or songs to explain to the other guys how we’re feeling about parts. It’s weird. We might say, “Let’s make this sound like Rage Against The Machine” or “Make this bit sound like Glen Campbell” or whatever. There can be something from each end of the scale.
> Who were some of your musical idols that you looked up to as a kid?
The first band that I really got into was Midnight Oil. My older brother was a bit of an Oils fan. I shared a room with him, and he was a bit of an old Aussie rock fan. He was into bands like ACDC, The Angels, Rose Tattoo, Cold Chisel and that sort of stuff.
Midnight Oil was probably the most predominant one, and that was the one that pushed my buttons when I was in school. Then when I was in high school, I discovered Rockabilly Fire and The Stray Cats – and that sent me off on a whole new path.
> You play the double bass. What do you love about this instrument?
Like I said, when I was in high school I got into Rockabilly. That was when Chris and I started hanging out and playing music together. I’d learned how to play piano, but that was basically a bit of a chore. I was pushed into that by my folks, because we had a piano in the house and no-one knew how to play it. Then when I discovered Rockabilly music – The Stray Cats and all the early Elvis and Buddy Holly and all that late ‘50s, early ‘60s stuff – the stuff that we were really into in that whole genre was the three piece stuff.
Chris was playing guitar and learning from a guy who was teaching him Blues, Jazz, Country and all the stuff that makes Rockabilly music. So, I just figured double bass had to be the instrument for me. It’s such an important part of the whole Rockabilly sound.
It’s played different to Jazz bass and it had a percussion kind of thing to it as well, which I really liked. I just got more and more into it. I picked it up one day and away we went, and I’m still mucking around with it!
> The Living End have been together for quite a while now?
Chris and I have been playing together since we were in high school, basically, and we’ve stuck with it ever since. There were a few years there after high school of just playing covers, and then we started writing our own tunes and put out our first record in 1998.
So that’s 12 years of making records, and then tack on a whole lot more before that of learning how to play, basically.
> What’s your secret to the success and longevity of the band?
That’s a hard question to answer. One of the things that I think has meant that we’re still around today is the fact that we’re a little bit different to most bands that are out there. We’ve got a double bass and we’ve got the Rockabilly sort of 1950s music background. It’s not so predominant in our music now, but in some of our playing there’s still an underlying Rockabilly flavour to it in some parts.
I think there are so many bands out there these days that come and go, and I think the fact that we do have some of those different elements means that it’s still novel and exciting for people.
> What’s your favourite place to tour?
Every time I used to get asked that I’d say Japan, because it’s just a spin out going over there.
The audiences are so ridiculously enthusiastic, and it’s just the whole fact of the culture being so different from ours. It’s a great place to spend time – there’s amazing food and an amazing music scene over there. That’s always been a favourite.
But actually, in the middle of last year we went to Scandinavia and did some festivals in Norway and Sweden and a few other countries up there, and that was pretty amazing. That was my first time in that part of the world, and it was incredible.
I loved Denmark and Copenhagen and places like that; it was pretty amazing.
> Who are you looking forward to seeing at the Open Arms Festival?
One band that I know will be there whom I haven’t seen before and I’m very excited about seeing is Birds Of Tokyo.
> Thank you Scott. We’ll see you soon.