The Living End’s Scott Owen talks about upcoming shows and the bands he’s most excited to catch at Soundwave with Christie Ots.
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Having played for twenty years with legendary punk rock and pyschobilly band The Living End, Scott is veteran in the world of music. Making the interview rounds to promote the bands upcoming Soundwave tour he is still as fresh, funny and personable as when the band formed in 1994.
With Soundwave kicking off on 22 February in Brisbane, I ask which band he is most excited to see.
“We’ve toured with the guys from Green Day twice before and we’ve stayed mates with them. You know how it is, when they’re here or we’re in the US, we always catch up. So I was really excited, not just to be playing Soundwave, but to see they’ll be there too!” With a brief pause he says, “You might be surprised to hear this, but I also want to see Clutch. I’ve never seen them before, but I’ve had heaps of fans come up to me and say we sound like them. I’ve listened to their stuff and they’re good. I don’t necessarily think we sound like them, but different strokes for different folks; they have to sound good if people think they sound like us right?” he says laughing, “I also love Rocket From The Crypt, those guys are awesome, whether it’s live or recorded.”
After touring with bandmate Andy Strachen and local blues musician Ash Grunwald in 2013 Scott brings a fresh perspective to playing with the band again.
“Ash is spontaneous and disorganised and he gets on stage and plays the way he lives his life -very in the moment” he said.
“Whereas playing with The Living End, we’re quite structured and everything goes the way it’s supposed to. It was great for Andy and I to be able to be a little free with what we were doing on stage and also to pull Ash back a little. I think we were able to learn a lot from each other. It’s definitely different, but fun.”
That’s not to say that The Living End don’t have their spontaneous stage moments. One of Scott’s favourite songs to play with the band is one giant jam. He explains, “E Boogie would have to be my favourite. It’s a song played entirely in E, and it’s not recorded, but we’ve been playing it for years. Chris will play his guitar with random objects like a beer bottle, spilling beer everywhere. It’s the kind of song where we look at each other at the beginning and just say ‘see you at the end’ – it’s a real rockabilly song.”
Having been on stage for a large portion of his career, Scott still finds himself appreciating the simple moments of a backyard jam session.
“Down in Byron Bay there are a lot of moments where you end up jamming with people in a backyard, the wild and wonderful people you come across.”
“Its really refreshing to get back to music, in the sense of being able to focus on the meaning of someone’s music and the feelings they’re putting out there. It’s definitely interesting to have those times where I’m not blasting rock music and just listening.”
I ask if he is still playing piano, the instrument he first learnt, and he shakes his head laughing. “No I don’t really, I’ve forgotten how to play piano! I started learning when I was younger because my mum and dad made me. I would rather have been outside, kicking the footy or something, but I’m really grateful to them for that. I don’t really have what I would call proficiency with anything besides the double, I just play around with stuff.”
One artist he would love to play with is Elvis Costello. “He has that smooth voice, and that bad-guy vibe, and he has made so much good music. From his classical to pop to rock, he recently collaborated with The Roots, which was awesome. I think you would be able to play a lot with him!”
Sounding enthusiastic, he reminisces about some of his favourite touring moments. “Big Day Out tours are always awesome, they’re so well organised and just great fun; a lot like Soundwave. You play music on the weekends and you get to chill out during the week, plenty of time for rest. Though rest isn’t really on the agenda when you have that many bands travelling together.” he laughs.
Having been nominated for, and winning multiple Aria awards for his work with The Living End I ask Scott what one thought he would leave fans and readers.
Laughing he says, “when you’re in a boat wear thongs, or you might end up with a fish hook in your foot.”