I had the good fortune of catching them live a few weeks back and had my mind psychically ass-handed to me by the sound druids in the sky. Liars are one of the few bands I know that you can definitely say are better live than on record, that still actually make great records. There are plenty of bands that excel face-to-face but can’t pull it together in the studio, ever. The way the bass amplifier worship reverberated through their new beat-heavy cuts brought a sinister vibe to sound, rendering the whole scene that much more exquisitely delicious. When they dropped into the punkier cuts from albums like Sisterworld and their self-titled third disc, there was more raw power per inch being blasted from the stage than most metal bands ever conjure forth in their faux demon-worshipping careers. A ton of acts are using pure volume these days as a way to mask underdeveloped songwriting chops, but Liars do it right. Frontman Angus Andrew talks about that and other fun shit like dreams below. Dig.
Liars – WIXIW Teaser
Liars Full-Length Discography
A full list of EPs and singles can be seen HERE.
They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top (Gern Blandsten, October 2001)
They Were Wrong, So We Drowned (Mute Records, February 2004)
Drum’s Not Dead (Mute Records, February 2006)
Liars (Mute Records, August 2007)
Sisterworld (Mute Records, August 2007)
So, this is oddly the third time I’ve interviewed y’all. The first time you mentioned deliberately inducing insomniac states to help fuel your creative process. Any such unorthodox practices going down during the making of WIXIW? Trying any new things?
Well I’m still very affected by insomnia, but on this record I also made a big physical effort to remove all extraneous influences from the creative process. So, no music, movies, and very limited TV. It was nice. It really helped me focus on what’s going on within and coming out of me. I’m very aware that I can be easily influenced. For example, if I happen to just have some rock radio station on in the car when driving to work, that stuff will seep in. I’ll pick up on a guitar or drum sound and it will skew my initial vision or intent for the work I’m doing. So it was really helpful to be vigilant about keeping that stuff out of my head.
You’ve mentioned dreams as being a direct inspiration for songs like “Scissor” on Sisterworld, and have previously talked about having rather violent dreams. Has this aspect of your psyche mellowed out in the last few years or intensified? How have your dreams bled into your music and videos over the years? Any particular instances or specifics on WIXIW or any particularly profound insights that didn’t make it on the record?
It’s an interesting question… My dreams during WIXIW were less violent and more paranoid. I think it had to do with the surroundings I was in when making the record. During Sisterworld, I intentionally placed myself in one of the worst and most crime-riddled [and] violent places in Los Angeles; it undoubtedly effected my subconcious. To write WIXIW, Aaron and I moved to a very secluded and serene cabin in the woods. It generated paranoia, claustrophobia and uncertainty. My dreams certainly reflected that mindset.
Your music has always struck me as having a dark trippy vibe to it without being overtly negative, angry, or depressing. It’s a dark elegance. By your own estimation, would you say this darkness comes from violent uncontrollable aspects of your unconscious or is it more a means to come to terms with the more negative traits you perceive in society as a whole? Or both, or neither. Maybe it’s just an aesthetic thing.
I think in general we’re critical thinkers — both of ourselves and our surroundings. This is not to say we’re negative or overtly ‘dark’ as you say. But it does mean that it’s difficult to be celebratory when we’re creating music.
On a similar note, you released a bunch of mysterious teaser videos prior to this album’s release, and the music video for “No.1 Against The Rush” was quite violent. How were these conceptualized and executed, and were they a direct collaboration with the video artists or did one party have more influence than the other? What other plans do you have for multimedia elements?
Well the Tumblr videos we put up prior to the release were all made by us and pretty heavily conceptualized.. We’d never really interacted with that kind of media platform before, mostly because we’re not really excited about the over-abundance of information nowadays. We needed to think about how we wanted to utilize this medium without just reporting the mundane details of our lives. Our idea was to try and subvert the believability of information found on the internet, to play with the idea of truth while also creating content that was interesting and somewhat revealing of our creative process.
In regard to the music videos, our involvement is intentionally pretty limited. I feel like once the record is finished, it’s useful for us to release our creative stranglehold a bit. We take a lot of time sifting through the treatments we receive and try to pick up on simple elements of these that we like. Once we’ve made a decision to go with a director, we really try and let their vision and interpretation of the song take precedence over our own.
Editor’s Note: The music video for “No. 1 Against The Rush” was directed by Todd Cole, and you can see more of his work at www.toddcolephoto.com.
I don’t think anyone hearing the new record would expect the full volume assault you bring to some of your more upbeat material live. During a few songs the last time I caught you, I was kind of thinking to myself, “This is heavier than a lot of metal shows I’ve been to,” and sure enough, by the last song, a most pit had broken out. Where does the need to unleash that kind of raw power live come from? Is there a bit of punk streak lurking in you guys that you still feel the need to indulge?
Over the course of our music-making career, we’ve covered a lot of ground, genre-wise. We’re still connected to those elements from the past, and I think in terms of our live show it’s nice to move through those periods rather than just staying in a sort of fixed gear. It might be a bit schizophrenic but I think it makes it interesting. Also, being on stage is intense for me. It’s really difficult to bottle up the adrenalin and resist playing songs that “release the bats”, so to speak. There’s been times where we’ve tried to do a more serene or composed show, but somehow it just doesn’t feel natural; it feels more us when things get unhinged and chaotic.
Liars – “No.1 Against The Rush” (Matmos Remix)
A percussive reconstruction bearing little resemblance to the original.
Liars – “No.1 Against The Rush” (Vince Clarke Remix)
A major club-stomper.
Liars – “No.1 Against The Rush” Music Video