We’re heading back to where it all began for Melbourne trio, The Living End. Their debut self-titled album came out in 1998 and propelled them from the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne to national acclaim with phenomenal force.
Even though frontman Chris Cheney and bassist Scott Owen had been gigging together since 1992, nothing could prepare them for the success of their 1998 debut album.
We never expected that we would become a mainstream kinda bandChris Cheney
They recorded the album in two parts. The first sessions were before they went on tour to support Jebediah.
But things started to ramp up in the weeks between two legs of the tour, when they jumped back into the studio to finish putting it together.
Record label execs flew in from around the world to see them, desperate to sign the band.
From the stage, the band noticed a lot more people were turning up to see them, instead of just the headline act.
Before the album came out, the guys went to a wee celebration at their manager’s office. Someone gave a speech proclaiming that their album was ‘... gonna be a Number 1 record’.
Speaking to triple j in 2011, Chris Cheney recalled scoffing to himself thinking... "'are you crazy, there’s no way known we’re gonna have a Number 1 record'.
"We started out playing '50s and '60s rockabilly covers which was a very particular kinda crowd. That just wasn’t the mainstream, nor will it ever be. So we never expected that we would become a mainstream kinda band."
By the time they had released multiple singles from the album, Cheney had to admit his band was onto something big. He recalls when the reality of it really sank in.
"You know like being at Chadstone [shopping centre] and having people come up and sorta being recognised. It was around that time that things started to change and it would never kinda be like it was again.
"We kinda looked up to bands that had done well and were famous. All of a sudden, we became one of those bands that kids were recognising on the street, which was just very strange."
On reflection, Cheney is proud of the record, even though he would have done things differently if he was making that record again.
"I’m kinda proud of that record because it’s our first record," he said. "If I was to make that record now, I’d be probably ashamed of it because it has the youthful naiveté and enthusiasm that I think you can only have on a first record.
"You can only get away with that kind of roughness and looseness and over the top energy on your first record. The energy on that record kinda overpowers the songs in a way but that’s what we were all about at that point."
The record sits comfortably amidst the best selling Australian debuts of all time. As a recording, it captures a gritty but natural sound and still gives a thrill listening to it today.
Scott Owen has his theories as to why he thinks The Living End have endured.
"When we were in high school and everyone was listening to music that was in the Top 40," he told triple j in 2011. "Hip hop was arriving on the charts, house music and dance music and electronic music. But we sort of had this leftfield love for the 1950s rock'n'roll and rockabilly. I guess the spirit of that comes through.