Chris Cheney has moved to the US but his songs haven’t changed, writes Cameron Adams
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, thelivingend.oztix.com.au
RETROSPECTIVE TOUR: Scott Owens, Chris Cheney and Andy Strachan.