• Liars Interview
  • 2006-03-10

On a Siberian evening, when Russia was blowing her cold, post-communist freeze onto the Deutsch in Berlin, I got the chance to have some discourse with Julian of The Liars. Sipping on a beer in the American owned, aptly named ‘White Trash’ bar in Prenzlauberg, we managed to reveal alot of the intricacies within the new record: Drum and Mt. Heart Attack.

Chico : Lets start with your new album. The inspiration being Berlin, and another inspiration being the dual concept of Drum and Mt. Heart Attack. First of all, in regards to living in Berlin, do you think if you had done otherwise it would have inspired another album?

Julian: Well… Berlin as a city didn’t inspire the record, really at all. What Berlin did was give us the opportunity to have a really nice recording studio, that anywhere else would’ve costed us so much money. Here we were able to live cheap, we were located in Europe which was something that we all enjoyed. Well, Aaron never moved here it was only me and Angus who lived in Berlin. Aaron would write songs in L.A. and Angus would write songs here and then we’d all kinda mush them together. So Berlin more helped out with the record rather then being an inspiration for it.

Chico: And having lived in Berlin what could you say about it? How does it compare to L.A. in regards to a environment which can produce a healthy appetite for making music?

Julian: Well it can. Differences between Berlin and L.A. are say, the way you move around the city I walk or I ride my bike here, I love that, that’s really great, same as New York it’s similar to that. But what I find Berlin does is, it’s so cheap to live here and the government is very generous with their money. I find that people here can become really lazy and not really work super hard, I mean because they could, because they have all the chances, but when you don’t really have to struggle sometimes you just don’t.

Chico: Exactly, I know from living here for several months I have exactly the same sentiments as you. That people can get by easily and therefore it doesn’t entice someone to go out and work intensely on something productive.

Julian: Yeah. It’s like, I can do that shitty job where I have to work really hard or what I’m doing. Here you can just be a DJ and that’s it.

Chico: Alright, on to the album. Why did the sound take so long again? Because there seemed to be a bit of a delay.

Julian: Yeah. The big part of alot of it has to do with coordinating things. I guess the part we have a hard time with making records and with being in a relationship with a record label is the delay. You just can’t put them out every three months. You know, there has to be these windows of opportunity where they can work on it. That’s really what happened with this one is that we had everything finished at the time but it couldn’t get put out so it had to be delayed another six months.

Chico: And how has it been with Mute? What do you think of them as a record label?

Julian: Actually they’re really great. They’re super supportive. They let us do whatever we want to do, there’s never a ‘no you can’t do this or that’. Well unless it packaging sometimes. I mean they’re like ‘you can do anything you want’ and I’m like ‘ok I want a foot book and all these things pop up!’ and they’re like ‘yeah.. ok except for that. But how about this..’ and you’re like alright. But they’re great, we have a great relationship with them and it just keeps on getting stronger really. And we keep on supporting eachother. And again with the record delay, they didn’t say that we had to delay it, but for them it was like, it would be easier for us if you could. And we said alright, we’ll deal with what’s better for you… we’ll try to scrath eachothers backs.

Chico: Alright, and this is obviously another concept album with Drum and Mt. Heart Attack being the two fighting or perhaps not fighting, but collaborating forces. First of all, who came out with the names for these two essences of musical concept? And have you found, after having used a similar concept with your second album for creating music, do you find it pragmatic or do you find the pragmatics of it to be easy?

Julian: Well yes, the last record (Drowned) was a concept record where we picked on this topic that kinda fell into our lap and we really kinda submersed ourselves in it and researched it. This one, we don’t think of it as a concept record it was never made as one. But the Drum and Mt. Heart Attack came as a afterthought, I mean the big part of this record is the drums and we knew that we wanted it to be about the drums. And at the very end, because we worked with each other very weird, where Angus could make songs, and Aaron could just make songs, and then sometimes we’ll just mix them in the studio. So The song title was more the thred that kinda bound everything together. If the record was a book the titles are just the chapters of the book. So they don’t necesarilly have to pertain to the contents. But there is a relationship between the two. Heart Attack as this nervous, anxious side and Drum kind of like more stability. And that was Aaron that came up with the song titles.

Chico: And going back to what you where just saying, as a finalization to the point I was going to arrive at: the whole problem with making a concept album is that surely everything in music is a concept, every record ever produced, because it’s an idea, and ideas have influences.

Julian: Totally, I totally agree with you. It’s really weird. That’s what we would kinda say. Some people feel this negative idea in a sense because it’s a concept record, it’s like… ‘what is it?’. You have a idea and you’re executing you idea isn’t that a concept at that point? I mean if you write your songs about love, then don’t you have a love concept record?

Chico: One more thing on concepts I think I’ll stick with is… after the second album, in regards to press reviews, they didn’t have great appeal to it. A lot of press agencies gave it bad reviews. Did you ever pick up on this? And having done so did that make you worry about having used a concept as a driving force for the album, and perhaps wanting to stear clear of something you did? Did that ever affect you, the opinions of these writers?

Julian: The opinions can affect you in a way because of the critique, and whenever there is a critique it’s interesting to hear what somebody else has to say. And so each critique at that point can be really… you can’t think anything about it. It’s like… someone says, “the record is stupid, it’s a concept record, they’re just art fags!”. I mean what kind of critique is that? That’s not really an intelligent response to something. Reviews and critues you can only take to a point, because you don’t wanna make something foreign just to go against it. You just do it ‘cos you do it and then the critique just kinda happens. And then it’s just a whole different part of this project that you’re doing.

Chico: Moving on to the DVD on your record, it has thirty six shorts on it?

Julian: Yeah.

Chico: And you worked with Marcus, how did you meet this guy to work with him? Whose idea was it — if anyone in particular — to release these dvds?

Julian: Well we know Marcus because he’s roommates with Angus. He’s lived with Angus since Angus moved here. We went out on tour and he was filming a bunch of footage for us and at the end we’re just like, “why dont you just make one yourself”. It’s like you do one yourself, I’ll do one myself, and Angus did. Originally we only had planned to just do a DVD, that’s how the delay of the record also happened. First it was just the DVD where we had different songs that never got used, and as that developed we thought, “oh maybe the songs could be better” and as the songs changed the video changed. At the end me and Angus just wanted to try to make videos, we’d never tried that before. We then asked Mute if we could put a DVD out with it and they said yeah okay. So we had a new opportunity to make something. ‘Cos CD’s suck, I mean who wants to buy a CD with just a little slip of paper in it? I mean that suck, why not just download it? I would. So we’re trying to just offer more if you’re gonna buy it. It’s a look, it’s a little bit of our hands, something that we do.

Chico: Alright, cool. I’ve got two more things for you. Having talked about your band and what you’re doing now, let’s talk about plethora of new music coming out right now; it seems to be streching its arms in regards to rock’n’roll and whatnot. Is there anything that you have particularly been listening to over the past couple of years, or the past year more appropriatly? Any specific genres or collective of musicians?

Julian: I mean not really, I mean I love hip-hop. I like Animal Collective as much as the rest of the world. We just played with this band Leopard Leg from Bristol, and they also lived in London, it’s a ten piece all girl all drum band and it’s amazing — very inspirational. It was really different, new, it was just beautiful. Something so different, and was just so one hundred percent into it for no other reason then wanting to do it. It was really great.

Chico: Yeah, there are alot of these kinda hippie collective, kinda acid refuge folk music about.

Julian: Yeah, I’m a little tired of it.

Chico: Yeah, some of it has gotten a bit bad. Like some of the pioneers. In regards to Devendra Banhart, I don’t think he’s gotten any better from square one. But there are some new bands coming out, and some bands that have been around for ages like the No-Neck Blues Band.

Julian: I’m glad it’s there, you know. I’m glad there’s more stuff coming out. I just don’t listen to it that much.

Chico: And finally, last time I saw you live, there was alot of improv in your music. Now that you’ve found a new sound, are you going to be sticking with that sound and kinda mastering that in your live performance, or will you maintain the improv in your live sets?

Julian: Well there’s always going to be the improv involved because we enjoy that. And because we fuck up a lot (laughs)… then you’re gonna have to start improving. So that par will always stay. As far as the sound goes, I mean it’s kinda hard to say… now we’re talking about doing the metal record next. It’s hard to say what’s next because we’re all trying to figure that out ourselves. And that’s the fun part, figuring out what your doing next, and the experimentation that goes on during that point. And the improv sparks a lot into that idea. It gets started with drums, you know, where there’s one idea to use two drums… and then it turns into a drum record two years later.

Chico: If you’ve been interested in releasing a metal album, as you mentioned, what kind of influences in metal have you had recently?

Julian: Well what metal I like, whether or not it’s going to reflect on us, is Dark Throne, Emperor, and similar black metal.



See interview photos here:

blog comments powered by Disqus