The Parklife interview: Liars


Over the course of their five studio albums, Liars’ explorations of the heaviest in punk and the most subtle of experimental electronics have made them one of indie’s most unique acts.

Gloriously impossible to pigeonhole, the L.A.-based trio of Angus Andrew, Aaron Hemphill and Julian Gross have, with most recent LP ‘WIXIW’, stretched their creative muscles towards a new sound that’s equal-parts Aphex Twin, Kid A-era Radiohead and the psych experimentalism of The Horrors. We caught up with Angus from the band for a quick catch-up.

You’re out of touring for a couple of weeks now, right?

Yeah, our next show is in New York mid-May, so we have a bit of time off. That show is at the Met Museum and it’s a bit of an artistic affair, so it’s something that we are actually preparing for now because it’s a little bit more involved than your average show. It’s not often you play there and it’s in this room with all Egyptian ruins, a bunch of walls with hieroglyphics on it. It’s quite impressive when you go and look at it and we’ll be set up in the middle of that. We’re collaborating with a few different artists to do a visual exposé that involves some technology that… well, I’m not the best-versed and most versed to talk about it but it’s got something to do with them being able to draw the projections as they’re happening, in real time. It’s interesting because on our side of it, we want to create a set of music that is new and relevant to that piece, so it requires creating some new music for it and at the same time taking into account what these visuals are going to be like. It’s a bit of a challenge! We do that show and then the next day we play another more standard New York show, and then we come over to Europe.

This show at the Met seems to follow on a lot from the visual element of the last video (The Exact Colour Of Doubt)

That’s right. Yes, actually. You’re right. Initially, when we first began talks about this project, that video hadn’t yet come to fruition so initially it wasn’t but once we saw the final results of that project we realized that we could involve that. The technology seems like it can utilize the kind of raw footage that we did to create the video, which is some sort of technology that can project in 3D images of us and stuff like that. It should be interesting.

Do you think that visual element is something that’s more important to you now compared to before?

I don’t think it’s a question of thinking about it more, I think the only real difference is that we now have more immediate access to the tools with which to create that different stuff. Certainly it wasn’t the case with the first record, where we were still drawing on napkins and trying to figure out how to have that as an album cover, but by the second album we were making videos. They’re out there somewhere. They’re pretty low-budget because we had limited access at that point, but we were always still thinking about it. When it gets to this point, especially with the last record where we went further than we had before in terms of embracing a platform like Tumblr or something like that, the work that we would possibly do anyway when making a record finally had this kind of outlet that it never really had before. We could put things on the internet that didn’t need to necessarily work as some sort of official release or whatever. I just think those tools, since we’ve been a band, have multiplied and the technology in terms of creating them – whether it’s just shooting video or taking photos – all those things have become so immediate that it’s just been a natural thing to create more and more.

How do you feel about WIXIW at this stage?

In terms of it being a change, it is clear to me that it was a very distinct change in terms of the means and the techniques and the technology in order to create it. It was very different because for the first time in that record, we used all computer-based programmes and instruments, which completely moves your whole world around when you enter that realm. Functionally, as a way to create that stuff, it was a big sea change but I agree that we’ve done that functional change in the way we make music a lot and that’s kind of who we are. I don’t think it alters the music itself that much. It’s still really the same thing, it’s just a different way to create it and the way we go about it has more effect on us than on other people, I think. On one hand it was incredibly liberating and exciting and fruitful to be able to create willingly within the computer. It opened up a lot of doors but at times it was a bit difficult to grapple with in terms of things like originality and moving into this kind of genre of music that I didn’t feel like I was that versed in. It was a little daunting for me. But all of those things are really good things when you’re making music. Generally, it’s great. For me, 9 months down the track I guess the way it works for me is that I don’t really get the chance – or maybe I don’t allow myself the chance – to reflect on that work until I’ve started or completed the next work, you know? I’m not sure exactly why but it helps me keep moving on instead of thinking about how that one worked or what happened with that one. I like to begin work on the next one and then at some point look back, I suppose. I guess that’s just the way it works for me.

Also, if you’re still thinking too self-critically about the last release it’s going to prevent you moving forward for your next project isn’t it.

Exactly. So in that sense, I don’t really want to know what the consensus was about the last record until I’ve really gotten far with the next one, and then it doesn’t really matter and I can say “Oh, this is what people thought” just for interest’s sakes. But like you said, I don’t really want it to affect the direction that I’m interested in going in because that’s what the most important thing is, that I’m excited about what I’m getting myself into. I don’t want to be second-guessing that stuff.

You’re LA-based now, and you have been for some time. Having lived in New York and Berlin, does being based in LA now have a big impact on

I think it’s really important for me, and it’s getting to that point where LA is going to have to be moved on from in that sense. For me, it shakes it all up and when you take yourself out of a place where you’re starting to feel comfortable and pop yourself down in somewhere you have to get used to and things are new, it just generates a whole new way of looking at things that I find really important. It’s almost like being able to give your creativity a little kick in the butt every couple of years. Beyond the music, as well as personally, I find it interesting and exciting to put yourself in a position where things can’t just become standard. Much as I appreciate some people who are able to stay living in their hometown where they were born, and part of that to me is really appealing, I feel that part of that wouldn’t work for me because I need that shake-up. It just helps me look at things in a completely different way, particularly when you move from country to country. That’s where it gets really interesting. Different cultures and the way they look at basically the same things.

What’s your experience been like being in Europe, compared to America? Is there a big difference between the two for you?

In terms of living, it’s all about what you’re looking for. It’s all in the goals, the same as making a record. What’s the aim, you know? When I moved to Berlin, my goal was to in a sense retreat and put myself in a position where I wasn’t immediately influenced by mass culture, really. By living in a culture where I didn’t speak the language, you block out a massive amount of that disposable media. I wasn’t reading newspapers or watching TV or going to the movies or any of that, because it’s just a bit more difficult. For me, that’s great. You can sit on the train with everyone talking around you and it’s just a blur. That was one of the biggest benefits for me, this possibility of being isolated but in a city where I could be creative in the way I wanted to without being influenced by anything.

What memories do you have of being in Manchester?

I remember we’ve had great shows and I feel like one of the times we played in Manchester we opened for Sonic Youth. That was my first real introduction to a great Manchester crowd. It was a bit rowdy and I remember that being a good thing!

Liars appear live as part of the Now Wave arena at Parklife 2013, headlined by The Horrors and Everything Everything and special guest Johnny Marr

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

AER Teachers: Graduate Primary Teaching Assistant

£65 - £75 per day + competitive rates: AER Teachers: A good primary school in ...

AER Teachers: Graduate Secondary Teaching Assistant

£65 - £75 per day + competitive rates: AER Teachers: A good and improving scho...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Software Developer - Entry Level

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate Software Developer i...

Guru Careers: Graduate Print Producer / Account Executive

£18 - 25k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Graduate Print Producer / Account Execut...

Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

RuPaul interview

The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

Secrets of comedy couples

What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

The best swimwear for men

From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

Mark Hix goes summer foraging

 A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

Aaron Ramsey interview

Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men
The unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth - and what it says about English life

Unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth

Bournemouth’s elevation to football’s top tier is one of the most improbable of recent times. But it’s illustrative of deeper and wider changes in English life
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms