“I knew a lot of the songs growing up,” he says. “I remember all the black-and-white videos of the band playing – ‘She’s So Fine,’ ‘Sorry,’ all that sort of stuff. I remember the shots of all the teenage girls screaming at them. When you saw that, you figured it was just another Beatles kind of band – that’s how big they were. They were on TV all the time, they were on the radio stations constantly. Growing up, they were everywhere – they had about a half-dozen songs that everybody seemed to know. When I started to get into guitar playing, I connected the dots – that Angus and Malcolm [Young, of AC/DC] were related to George; that George and Harry Vanda produced all the AC/DC records. It all started to make sense.”
Later on in his career, Cheney would get the chance to cross paths with members of The Easybeats, and even work directly with Harry Vanda himself. Cheney was a part of the supergroup known as The Wrights, who came together in 2005 to re-record Easybeats frontman Stevie Wright’s solo hit, ‘Evie (Parts 1, 2 and 3)’. Cheney looks back fondly on this experience, plus his other chance encounters with people such as Young and Wright across his time as a musician. “You never grow up thinking you’ll meet these people, y’know?,” says Cheney.
“All of us in The Wrights, we’d sit around in the studio like schoolkids while Harry would tell us all of these stories. He’d tell us all about The Easybeats, all about AC/DC, all of his favourite Bon Scott stories. It was incredible – it was such a thrill to meet him and to work with him. Me and the guys in The Living End also got to record a song for a tribute album a few years later – we did ‘Guitar Band,’ a Stevie Wright song. Across doing that, we got to meet a lot of the other guys as well. I count myself incredibly lucky that I’ve been able to have such positive experiences with these people I considered to be my heroes.”
Joining Cheney on stage as a part of Easyfever are a core group of veterans – Grinspoon’s Phil Jamieson, You Am I’s Tim Rogers, Spiderbait’s Kram and the man they call Tex Perkins. With a collective shared history that spans decades, Cheney is excited to get to work directly with people he’s been sharing stages with since the early days of The Living End. “Knowing all of these guys were involved was a big part of my decision to be a part of it myself,” he says. “If you’re gonna do a big collaborative effort like that, you want to do it with people that you have a lot of respect for. We all have our own connections to the music – I know Phil, in particular, was very close for a time with Stevie’s son Nick – he knew the Wright family pretty well. There’s only a few degrees between all of us from this music and these people.”
Fans heading along to the shows can expect all of The Easybeats’ biggest hits, as well as a few other diamonds in the rough. One track that will be performed is Cheney’s personal favourite Easybeats song, ‘Black-Eyed Bruiser’ – albeit not by Cheney himself. “I didn’t bloody get it!” he says of the song with a laugh. “I believe that ended up being given to Tim and Tex – and I’m not about to argue with those two, that’s for sure.”
The Easyfever tour kicks off on Thursday December 14 at Anita’s Theatre.