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“It’s a Different Energy” – The Living End on Gigs in The Livestream Era

As The Living End gear up to perform for Coopers’ Live, Loud & Local series this weekend, bassist Scott Owen chats about their upcoming livestream show.

Image of The Living End

The Living End will be broadcasting a live set as part of Coopers' Live, Loud & Local series this weekend.

Cybele Malinowski/Supplied

This Saturday night will see Aussie rock icons The Living End performing live in the comfort of your own home thanks to a livestream as part of Coopers’ Live, Loud & Local series.

The third edition in an ongoing series, this week will see hosts Joel Creasey and Myf Warhurst kicking things off on Friday night, with Chef Shannon Bennett demonstrating how to cook his take on a Byron BBQ Jerk Chicken with Rice, Jimi from Quiz Meisters hosting a Byron-focused trivia, and finishing up with Creasey revisiting his “Love Letters from ISO”.

Saturday night though sees the pair visiting The Bandroom, with a livestream being broadcast live via Coopers’ and The Northern’s Facebook Pages. Beginning at 8pm AEST with a local support act, the main event will take place soon after, with Melbourne legends The Living End serving up a 50-minute live set full of their classic hits.

Speaking to Rolling Stone ahead of the performance this weekend, The Living End bassist Scott Owen explains that their upcoming live session is a welcome return, and one that came together rather quickly.

“Everything only happened in the last few days, actually,” Owen begins. “[Coopers] came and put a proposal together, and passed it onto us.

“Look, any gig’s a gig these days. You don’t know what the future holds. Hopefully this isn’t the future, but for now, it’s shows online, so we figured we’d throw our hat in the ring.”

Of course, with so many artists having performed livestreams in recent months, The Living End are one band who are yet to take their shows to the streaming age.

However, for those who grew up with the band and watched them make their mark thanks to music programs like Recovery, Owen believes this upcoming show will be something of a blast from the past.

“There’s obviously been TV things, which we’ve done plenty of. And radio,” he notes. “It reminds of going into radio stations and doing live broadcast things. Sometimes they’ve got audiences, sometimes they don’t.

“It’s just [the notion of] setting up in the studio, and I think there’s a lot to be said for it, because where else are you going to be able to go and set up and get really good sound? Y’know, get it all sounding pretty schmicko?

“I’m quite looking forward to it; I think it’s a good format. It’s certainly no replacement for live music with an audience and things like that, but I guess it’s all we’ve got at this point in time.”

Despite the show being broadcast in conjunction with Byron Bay’s The Northern, the show itself will be a typical Living End show, complete with guitar, bass, and drums, all from the comfort of their home state.

“We’re doing it in a studio in Melbourne with minimal crew, y’know. Minimal personnel and minimal people around, given the place that we’re in,” Owen notes. “I guess we’re going to have to keep at arm’s length, the three of us [laughs]. ”

While the performance looks set to showcase all the various eras of The Living End’s career, there’s no specific hints on offer about the upcoming setlist, with the whole thing set to be a surprise for everyone involved.

“We’ve got like a whole day and a half to think about that,” he jokes. “So there’s plenty of time. We don’t think that far into the future. I think obviously we’ll do a few songs off of Wunderbar, our current record… It’ll be a mixed bag; it’ll be what we normally do. It’ll be a bit of everything really.

“When you’ve got eight albums worth of material, it’s hard. It’s really easy to fill 50 minutes, but it’s hard to decide what we’ll put on [the setlist].”

Despite the livestream nature set to ensure a relatively different style of performance from The Living End, Owen remains certain that the regular essence of the group’s shows will be there, just with a different kind of energy on offer.

“It certainly doesn’t feel like we’re going to do a gig. It feels like we’re going to do a TV show or a radio live-to-air,” he explains. “Something like that where not having a live audience makes all the difference, really.

“It’s a different kind of mindset, performing to cameras and microphones rather than performing to people. In a live situation with an audience, it’s all very instant and you’re in the moment, and you’re connected with the crowd. And things like mistakes don’t really matter that much, or if you’re out of time, or play the wrong note here or there.

“But when you’re in a recorded broadcasting environment and you know people are listening to it at home, in a bit more of a controlled environment, you tend to go into it with a bit more of a mindset of trying to play more correctly.

“Being onstage with an audience, you kind of really feed into the energy of having that many people, and that kind of collective energy in the room. It’s pretty exciting and it doesn’t make you feel very expressive. I do become quite animated [onstage], and I’ve been known to do some bloody stupid things [laughs], but it’s all in the name of fun.

“So it’s a different energy going into the room, which is just the three of us trying to nail down the songs as best as we can, without the added energy of the performance, like the visual performance.”

While fans have been waiting quite some time for The Living End to take to the stage again, Owen explains that a live return in this fashion will serve as a welcome opportunity from their fervent supporters, who have likely found themselves counting down the days to when COVID-19 lockdowns are lifted.

“It’s good for the diehard fans, because they’re the ones who really like seeing the songs performed live often,” Owen explains. “They’re the ones who recognise the differences in each performances, or the little quirks and stuff.

“There’s only so many times you can go and watch live gigs on YouTube that have already happened, or that you’ve seen a million times. I mean, I know that’s certainly what I’ve been doing; I’ve been watching a lot of old gigs on YouTube.

“And yeah, it does add a bit of an extra element of excitement to it when you know it’s happening now and the band is in the room together, actually producing it in real time rather than watching pre-recorded things.”

While fans were able to catch the group performing live earlier in the year (notably, as part of the Red Hot Summer Festival), the group have been using their unplanned downtime to take a bit of a breather. However, Owen does promise that new material is on the horizon, though the current situation has thrown something of a spanner in the works of their plans.

“We haven’t really been doing much, just given the nature of the way the three of us are all pretty spread out,” Owen explains of their current activities. “Things are just kind of changing so quickly; it’s hard to know what the future is going to look like, so it’s hard to know what to plan for.

“So we’ve just kind of been using it as a bit of an opportunity to sit tight for a little while and see what the future looks like.

“Before the whole COVID-19 lockdown started happening we were on a tour – we were halfway through a tour – and we were spending a lot of time on that tour in the rehearsal room in Melbourne putting together new material which we were thinking about trying to release sometime this year. So we’ve already started working on new stuff, and there’s definitely stuff to continue work on sometime down the track when we can.

“So there will hopefully be new stuff in the not-too distant future, but we kind of just have to wait and see what happens with all of these restrictions and stuff, just see how long they’re around for.

“We’ll also have to see what the landscape of the music scene will look like when we are allowed to do gigs again, whether it’s back to normal, or if there will still be restrictions and stuff. It’s all so mysterious, and it’s a little bit daunting, but I guess you just have to have faith in the system and hope that everything will okay sometime sooner rather than later.”

The Living End perform for Coopers’ Live, Loud & Local series on Saturday night. Check out the Coopers Local website for more information.