Dabbling in punk, noise, ambience, dance music and indie rock, Liars has covered a lot of territory in seven short years.
The group's 2001 debut, They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top, crystallized the decade's early dance-punk resurgence. But Liars' next foray couldn't have been more unexpected. The adventurous experimentation on They Were Wrong, So We Drowned (2004) confounded fans while setting the tone for Liars' unpredictable career trajectory.
Reinventing itself again with the deceptively simple and critically hailed Drum's Not Dead (2006), the trio (Angus Andrew, Aaron Hemphill and Julian Gross) further solidified its reputation as one of contemporary music's most consistently creative and attention-grabbing bands. The band's most recent, self-titled album landed Liars the opening slot for Interpol in 2007. Now, the band is headlining its own tour, bringing like-minded Los Angeles duo No Age along for the ride.
Preparing to head back out on the road after suffering a painful back injury in his Los Angeles home, singer and guitarist Andrew interviewed with The Pitch by e-mail about Liars' most recent activities, including the Interpol tour and the release of Liars.
The Pitch: The gap between Drum's Not Dead and Liars was relatively short compared with previous releases. Did this album come together quickly, or did you just get a big head start?
Andrew: We made a decision after the release of DND that we wanted our next release to come out super-quick. We set a six-month deadline from writing to mastering so that we could force ourselves to produce quickly. I think we felt that after the enduring process of DND, we needed something fairly light, fast and fun.
Have you started the next record?
We're always writing, so it's possible that what we're working on now could eventually see the light of day. Still, though, we are in the midst of touring, so no real plans have been made for the next record other than we want to take it slow this time and all work together in L.A.
The tour with Interpol landed you guys in some venues you might not have otherwise played. What was that like?
That tour was really interesting and challenging. I think that anytime you can take yourself out of the comfort zone and attack something new, then it's inherently beneficial. Not to mention the Interpol guys and their crew were really helpful and supportive. I could easily get used to playing hockey arenas.
Did you ever feel that you caught Interpol's audience off guard?
Yes, I think when someone comes to see a band play at Madison Square Garden, they expect a certain amount of professionalism or something. For the audience to see us up there making mistakes and goofing off must be shocking. Still, I found this to be one of the most rewarding elements of the tour. Hopefully, some people saw us and realized that there's more than one way to play live.
Is this tour more inside your comfort zone?
Certainly. When you have the chance to actually touch the audience and breathe with them, then it's 10 times easier to make the show tactile. You do encounter different issues with sound and technical elements, but overall it feels much easier to get your point across when the audience is close.
A growing number of bands these days seem to take some cues from you guys. Do you see yourselves influencing other bands?
I can see our influence more than I hear it. I think the way Liars have approached albums and being a band is something that resonates with other artists. It's not the most lucrative career model, but it's certainly an honest one.
The last tour consisted solely of tracks from the last two records. Would you ever go as far back as They Were Wrong in a live set?
Generally, sets are comprised of technically similar songs so that the equipment we travel with is not everything-but-the-kitchen-sink. In this way, some songs from previous albums that require different gear from that used to play the newer, more rock-oriented stuff must be sacrificed.
If you could open for anyone, who would it be?
The Wu Tang Clan.
Apparently, you have some sort of association with Kansas City band the Ssion?
Cody Critcheloe [the Ssion's frontman] is a Kansas City native who is one of the most talented individuals in the world. We met him on our very first tour of the U.S. His band played with us and blew us off the stage. Cody makes amazing hand-drawn videos, too, which we commissioned him to do for us on "There's Always Room on the Broom." I haven't spoken to him in ages.
How's your back?
Really, really fucked. It should make for some interesting performances.