The Living End bassist Scott Owen has been keeping himself busy collaborating with other musicians; most notably roots artist Ash Grunwald.
“We're both into surfing, so we've gotten to know each other like that,” reveals Scott. “[Then we] discovered from late nights sitting around someone's backyard with a couple of guitars and a bass with a few beers … that we really enjoyed jamming together.”
The friendship has since turned into a musical collaboration, with Scott initially joining Ash on upright bass for a run of shows late last year. After dragging his family and upright bass to Byron Bay for a “sea change” a few years ago, Scott has since found himself part of a small community of elite musicians who have also made the town their home base.
“It's a pretty healthy little environment for music here at the moment,” Scott says. “I guess it always has been. Byron's just got that sort of appeal for artistic people, but it just seems to be particularly strong at the moment.”
With The Living End taking some downtime, collaborations with other local musicians such as Ash have naturally developed.
“Yeah, I think it's just really healthy to play with other people and get influences from other players. It's really good as far as being a musician goes to have that sort of versatility.”
Staying true to this philosophy, Scott recently worked with Byron Bay local Pete Murray, recording on one of the tracks from Pete's most recent album. He also plays with Mr Cassidy, a country act founded by his wife Emily and Ash's wife Danni while their husbands were jamming.
Scott also discloses that he was very excited to get the opportunity to work with Midnight Oil drummer, Robert Hirst, on a string of shows with Ash Grunwald in late 2012.
“[It] was pretty unreal, because I'm a huge Oils fan. I've actually pledged my allegiance to Midnight Oil by tattooing one of their logos on my left shoulder.”
Scott laughs as he explains how he had broken the news of his obsession to Robert. “I had to wear long sleeves for the first 24 hours that I saw him, because I didn't want to make him feel awkward. I waited for 24 hours before I revealed that piece of information to him, which he took very humbly.”
Since then, Scott has continued to work with Ash, but has been joined by his band-mate and drummer from The Living End, Andy Strachan.
“We were down in Melbourne about a month or so ago and I did a couple more gigs with Ash and we got Andy from The Living End [to play] as well,” Scott says. “That was so much fun that we're going to do it again. He's going to come up to Brisbane and play at the [Caxton Street Seafood] festival … so that will be a bit of a treat.”
Scott confesses that he misses playing with Andy while The Living End are taking some downtime, so the shows with Andy are a welcome opportunity to reconnect.
“I know that I'm awfully biased ‘cause I've been in a band with him for years and years, but he is probably my favourite drummer to play with.”
Scott goes on to explain how Ash's philosophy to rehearsals actually suits Andy's abilities as a drummer.
“We haven't rehearsed. This is another thing that me and Ash didn't have in common is that The Living End have been the most well rehearsed oiled machine. We never go on stage without rehearsing a set probably ten times before we play it at a gig and Ash is the absolute opposite. We've sort of found middle ground I think … but Andy is such an intuitive drummer that there's really no need to get in a rehearsal room and play the same thing over and over again. He picks up on it first go anyway.”
In the meantime, Scott reassures fans of The Living End that although two thirds of the band are playing with Ash Grunwald, The Living End is still going strong.
“We've got a few Living End gigs coming up this year and we're also going to do a trip to Europe and doing a bunch of shows over there,” Scott says. “We haven't hung up the boots or anything like that, but yeah, we're just putting our finger in other pies, so to speak.”
Ash Grunwald with Scott Owen and Andy Strachan play The Caxton Street Seafood Festival Sunday May 5.