Having traded in the ambitious concept albums for uncompromising yet well-crafted rock songs, Liars’ self-titled fourth album produced their most entertaining and critically acclaimed release yet. Returning to Ireland for Dublin’s Analog festival, frontman Angus Andrews and guitarist Aaron Hemphill discuss their drive to be different.
Each Liars album seems to be radically different from the last. Do you think that every release draws a different set of fans that like a particular type of music? Or do you think you a have a steady following that enjoys whatever you do?
Angus: Obviously there’s that broader expanse of the public that get taken in and taken out of our spectrum but that’s what’s interesting about making different kinds of records: you can reach different types of people. Still, I think there are regular Liars fans that have gone through the roller coaster with us…which is a tough position for any music lover!
Have you noticed anything about the way the media approach your work from album to album?
Angus: I think since our second record, people have found it tough to talk about us in any particular way, so we’ve really tried to stop being difficult. I mean the point of making music or art is to connect with it and I don’t want that to be hard. ‘Drum’s Not Dead’ was really our first attempt at trying to be normal and that backfired! Utilising the song titles made it difficult for people to digest when really we were just trying to help them. So I think this final record is our final attempt at being, well, palatable.
Do you find people have to come expect a concept or a unifying theme?
Angus: Yeah, there was an expectation that we were supposed to be abstract and conceptual. We actually believe that to be thoughtful about how the songs connect is a really good way to make a record. We feel a little romantic about the period when albums were a whole but that seems quite antiquated now. It’s obviously not in keeping with how culture is moving anymore, which is the singular song scenario, so this record is kind of a reaction to the times. We thought about how music has the strongest impact on you in your teenage years not because of the albums, but because of how you relate to individual songs. So we built the album around that idea.
You never print your lyrics; do you ever get any interesting interpretations from fans?
Aaron: That’s the best part. That’s our whole goal in doing that. Personally, I’ve been disappointed when a lyric was something other than I thought. I mean why do you need to correct people? It’s almost like us going into your car and saying: “oh, you need to adjust the treble because that’s wrong”. With ‘Drum’s Not Dead’, we tried to provide as much information as possible, but sometimes that can just get in the way. You end up thinking about it too much. I think our current attitude is that we just want people to enjoy music and not intellectualise it. It shouldn’t be a challenge.
Saying that, the song “Pure Unevil” seems almost secretive. My entire interpretation relies on certain words that I can’t fully hear, making me think about the song more.
Aaron: Well that’s really important! I feel strongly about that because you don’t ever get a chance to really pick at music these days. If I tell you what the lyrics are, every time you hear it you’ll think: “what I thought he was saying is so much better”. So you have to be careful, because why would I ruin it? That way people can relate it to anything of their own. It’s general; it’s public. I feel that soap operas achieve that by being overblown. Say if someone’s falling in love with someone’s brother – that may have never happened to you, but if the language is potent and general enough, you can find some similarities that you can relate to. That’s the old fashioned element that we’re trying to bring back. I miss experiencing that with music.
‘Liars‘ is the most well received album you’ve released so far. Will that make going in another new direction more difficult?
Aaron: No, because I think people enjoy searching out what’s different and what’s new. They want to find what they’re against or what they’re for. For some reason, they seem to look for a different story within our records and we’re very fortunate that people care that much. It’s never a reaction to what came before; we don’t weave around what people think. It’s more that we genuinely try to put something out there that we think people will not only understand but will feel strongly about. It’s much more natural than you’d expect.
Liars will join Tortoise and Efterklang on Analog’s main stage, Grand Canal Square, on Saturday 19th July at 7.30pm. ‘Liars’ is out now on Mute.
www.liarsliarsliars.com / www.myspace.com/liarsliarsliars / www.analogconcerts.ie/