Canter Attack

14 October 2013 | 12:01 pm | Greg Phillips

"We played in the middle of the race track and we had to stop the set a couple of times for the horses to run around. It was a very down-home affair but we’ve never done anything this serious."

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Melbourne's Spring Racing Carnival is upon us and it's time to frock up, lay down the picnic basket, pop the sparkly and this year, after the last race at the prestigious Caulfield Cup, you can even rock out with The Living End. It's not the first time the band has played a race track. “We've done this horse race in California, which was hilarious,” says Owen. “We played in the middle of the race track and we had to stop the set a couple of times for the horses to run around. It was a very down-home affair but we've never done anything this serious.” As a kid, Owen remembers being taken to the nags by his uncle. “He was into the punt big time. The closest I get is a gentlemanly bet on Melbourne Cup day.”

The band is no stranger to playing unconventional venues either. They've played weddings, car yards, markets, ritzy ballrooms and, as Owen recalls, Bakersfield – their worst gig ever. “It was just frightening. It's a really outer, outer suburb of Los Angeles. There were people smoking crack pots outside the venue all day. It was next to a prison, we were told not to go wandering anywhere and we were stuck there all day.”

The Living End have just returned from a tour of the UK and Germany where they played to festival crowds of up to 40,000 people. The hard yards they put into last year's Retrospective tour when they rehearsed around 80 songs came in handy too, as they were able to deliver some tunes the crowds had never heard before. “It was unreal because we were able to pluck songs out of the repertoire that we just never played live up until the Retrospective tour. Now they are all fresh in our heads and it's really cool. I think that's what made some of those little club shows in Germany so good.”

The nature of the Retrospective tour (playing every song from every album) had scribes and fans speculating that the tour might have been a fond farewell. While the guys have no real plans for 2014, Owen is quick to deny a split is on the cards. “We haven't got any solid plans. I mean, we will one day. We will put pen to paper and get things happening again. The trip to Germany was really inspiring in that respect. It was a lot of fun and something that we really want to keep going but we also realise that there are other things on our plates at the moment so we haven't made any solid plans for 2014 – we'll take it as it comes.”

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But for now, will Owen be 'suiting up' for the races? “Oh wow, I'm glad you mentioned that because I wouldn't have even thought about it. I'd probably roll up in a sleeveless T-shirt and a pair of jeans if you hadn't have said that!”

The Living End play after the last race at the BMW Caulfield Cup on 19 Oct, Caulfield Racecourse.