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Deceiving You, Loud And Clear
Six albums in, LA-based outsiders Liars have shaken things up. Angus Andrew explains how they left their comfort zone.
Chris Jones, 12 Sep 2012
Over the last decade, Liars have loitered menacingly in the margins, constantly reinventing their dark, mysterious sound and freaking everyone out with paranoid tales of witches and weirdos. Now, on the occasion of their sixth album WIXIW, the trio have decided to scare themselves instead. “You would think it would get easier the more records you do, but if anything I find it gets harder,” admits frontman Angus Andrew. “With this record, it wasn’t easy. I think it speaks a lot about doubt and fear and anxiety.”
Those traits have been constants throughout the band’s history – most explicitly on their second album They Were Wrong, So We Drowned (2003) a truly weird, abrasive record written about German witch trials. They were also a feature of their last outing, 2010’s Sisterworld, which lifted the log of their adopted town Los Angeles to reveal the dark underworld scuttling beneath. This time, rather than exposing the fears of others, the band have changed tack and shone their flashlights on themselves.
“Usually we come up with this subject matter to study,” says Andrew, “and in a way I feel we project feelings onto these ideas so it’s not necessarily a direct relation of what we’re feeling inside. This record is the first time we really left that space blank and allowed the lyrics and the idea to be informed by personal feelings. I found it frightening.”
A new working method was adopted. Rather than writing songs individually and bringing them together at the end, Andrew and co-songwriter Aaron Hermphill – plus third member Julian Gross – holed up together in a wood cabin, deep in the Californian countryside, to thrash out the record as one. It turned out to be an uncomfortable experience, but it has resulted in the most cohesive project of the band’s career.
“This idea of collaborating more is pretty frightening,” Andrew admits. “In the past, we’ve felt more comfortable developing ideas to their furthest extent when we’re on our own, and then being able to establish the confidence to bring it to the other members of the band. In this scenario, it wasn’t like that. It was like, ‘I’ve got this idea and I’m not so sure about it’, and you open yourself up to criticism – which is not easy to deal with.”