Chris Cheney has moved to the US but his songs haven’t changed, writes Cameron Adams

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page -

It’s only the be­gin­ning

RUS­SELL Brand gives good ‘‘ down- ward­fac­ing dog’’ and ‘‘ supreme sun salu­ta­tion’’.

Wit­ness to this fit­ness? The Liv­ing End’s Chris Cheney.

Seven months into liv­ing in LA, Cheney and the flex­i­ble Brand are yoga bud­dies.

‘‘ You’d be sur­prised who you see in LA yoga classes,’’ Cheney says.

‘‘ Belinda Carlisle in one cor­ner, a guy from En­tourage and Rus­sell Brand.

‘‘ Rus­sell is a re­ally lovely guy. He’s a yoga diehard. I think it’s part of his 12- step [ re­hab] pro­gram.

‘‘ It’s very ther­a­peu­tic, yoga. I’ve been sober for, ooh, five hours now.’’

Af­ter the tour for last year’s al­bum The End­ing Is Just the Be­gin­ning Re­peat­ing had wound down, Cheney moved his fam­ily from Mel­bourne to Los Angeles.

‘‘ Both our lit­tlies are in school here,’’ he says. ‘‘ It’s ev­ery­day life. You get up, mad rush in the morn­ing, school drop- off, I come home, write a few songs, bum around and it’s school pick- up again. It’s life as we knew it, just in a dif­fer­ent coun­try. Ex­cept there’s not a cloud in the sky.’’

His goal is to tap into the US song-writ­ing cir­cuit. ‘‘ I only ever used to see the plas­tic, shal­low side of LA,’’ Cheney says.

‘‘ I hate to use the phrase ‘ net­work­ing’ but from meet­ing one per­son, I’ll meet three and peo­ple are aware of the band, so they’re in­ter­ested in what I’m do­ing here.’’

But don’t ex­pect any shiny Cal­i­for­nian dream­ing on the next Liv­ing End al­bum.

‘‘ Ev­ery­one thinks I’m over here writ­ing Jack John­son songs,’’ Cheney laughs. ‘‘ It is very con­ducive to summertime happy tunes but re­ally, me? Happy songs?’’

He’s squir­relled away some suitably un­happy songs for the next Liv­ing End al­bum, and is start­ing to col­lab­o­rate with Amer­i­can mu­si­cians.

But Cheney is about to step back into Liv­ing End mode in a ma­jor way.

Si­lenc­ing those who thought their ‘‘ big an­nounce­ment’’ was a split, the band’s ret­ro­spec­tive tour sees them play each of their six al­bums in full over seven nights hope­fully play­ing their de­but al­bum twice.

‘‘ It’s go­ing to be an enor­mous amount of work but if I was a fan of the band, I’d love it,’’ Cheney says.

Cheney is now do­ing what he’s never done – lis­ten­ing to his own al­bums.

‘‘ You do cringe at times, it’s like look­ing through a daggy photo al­bum.’’

There’s even ten­ta­tive plans to play songs from their first few EPs, which have long been put out to pas­ture.

‘‘ We’re guilty of hav­ing the great­est hits set, for want of a bet­ter term,’’ Cheney says.

‘‘ We’ve never been the band who play just what we want, if you don’t like it, there’s the door, Van Mor­ri­son style. I ad­mire that but we like to bring the house down.

‘‘ There’s 20 or so songs we ro­tate. But within these six records, there’s 70 or 80 songs. I’ve started try­ing to re­learn some of my old gui­tar parts and I’m think­ing, ‘ What was I think­ing?’ and, ‘ What am I think­ing?’ It’s go­ing to be like a tightrope.

‘‘ Will we pull it off or will it be like bad karaoke? Which it can’t be, and it won’t be, but that’s the chal­lenge.’’

The band chose venues now con­sid­ered small for them. ‘‘ As much as I love get­ting in front of a lot of peo­ple on big stages, there’s some­thing about small places, that’s where the band was born,’’ Cheney says.

THE LIV­ING END The Cor­ner Ho­tel, Mel­bourne, Dec 11- 17. Tick­ets on sale now, the­livin­

RET­RO­SPEC­TIVE TOUR: Scott Owens, Chris Cheney and Andy Strachan.

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