LIVE The Nails Of Success

Pic: Lucia De Giovanni
Pic: Lucia De Giovanni

Live play Red Hill Auditorium on Saturday, November 21, in support of Def Leppard (along with Baby Animals), their first visit to our shores since recruiting frontman Chris Shinn in 2012. SHANE PINNEGAR reports. 

It seems that Live guitarist, Chad Taylor, did his homework before doing interviews in the lead up to the band’s tour here with Def Leppard. 


“Well, the last time that Live played in Perth was October 24th, 2006. Our history with Australia is interesting… we were supposed to do our very first Australian tour in 1992, but that tour ended up getting cancelled.


“Of course, then we wound up building this incredible momentum through the Throwing Copper album,” he continues, “and we came down in 1995, when we were just so young. I can remember that I was so amazed that we were so far away from home, physically. If you think about it, now go from those early shows in 1995 all the way to today, it’s remarkable. I was driving around in my friend’s Volkswagen van, and we were listening to High ‘n’ Dry and later Pyromania – we were just huge Def Leppard fans.


“One of the things I want to really point out and emphasise,” Taylor stresses in regards to Live’s support slot, “is that we are, as very special guests, delivering a full set. It’s not a traditional support act slot where you’re going to get 30 minutes of music. We’re really going to put on a show that showcases all angles of the band, including tons of songs that people know, and some new stuff. They’re going to see a show that really stands our 30-year career.”


Despite Taylor boasting of loving Def Leppard’s albums, the pairing of the two bands isn’t immediately an obvious fit. For one thing, Def Leppard were ‘hair metal’ poster boys at the same time that Live were forging a darker path of indie, grungy rock. Could Taylor ever have imagined that one day the bands would be on the same bill?


“I would have never,” the guitarist says in disbelief. “In fact, I called one of my childhood friends – the guy who used to drive me in that Volkswagen – and just basically said, ‘hey, can you believe that Live is doing a tour with Def Leppard?’ It’s amazing. I will say this: it’s certainly intriguing to have some time pass. One of the things that you realise is that a timeless song is a timeless song – it doesn’t really matter what the genre was.”


Live’s breakthrough came with the eight-million-selling Throwing Copper album and its hit singles Lightning Crashes and I Alone, and it’s just-as-big follow-up, Secret Samadhi. Live would go on to make four more albums with singer Ed Kowalczyk, before he left the band in 2009 amid a flurry of lawsuits. The band and Kowalczyk settled their differences, but the animosity seems to simmer still, not far under the surface. Taylor is diplomatic but cutting in his response to his former bandmate’s public put-downs.


“It’s interesting,” he says with a thoughtful pause. “How I experience success and how I view success is when I make others around me better. There’s a certain humility that’s needed to submit to a song and to submit to your creative partners in order to create great art, especially ensemble art.


“When Ed stopped submitting to the higher calling in the band, I knew it was over. When it became about Ed and not about the song, or the creativity, it lost its spark, it lost its essence. I tried my very best to encourage everybody – the fans, the band members, our management around us, and everyone – to pay attention and to guard that special relationship that each of us have had in being creative members of Live.


“It’s just that at some point, it’s difficult to rationalise or to figure out why one person is experiencing one thing and three of you are experiencing something totally different. From that aspect, I think that the key is forgiveness, I think that it’s really, really important that we allow each other space to know that we did so many great things together – things that we should be proud of. At the same time, we should also be proud that we picked ourselves up and we found a way to carry on.”


Chris Shinn has been Live’s singer now since 2012, and with their first album together, The Turn, being released in 2014, and their Australian tour plans, it doesn’t seem like Live are being held back in any way.


“One of the things that we’re all conscious of,” enthuses Taylor, “is that we don’t want to replace anybody. We just want to hold the music sacred, and make great songs, and have fun playing music. First and foremost, music is just supposed to be fun. If you’re not having fun doing it, then don’t do it! So our attitude is let’s embrace this fully and enjoy it for what it is. So much of our youth was spent running for cover, trying to figure out what’s next and dealing with the pressures of life. Now, as adults, we look at it and go, ‘man, this is the best job in the world! Let’s go play I Alone and have people sing along!’