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Deceiving you loud and clear
The industrial indie-rock of New York’s Liars isn’t pretty, but it’s always honest.
Ed Power, 21 Feb 2006
Liars aren’t trying to get on your nerves, although it may occasionally seem that way. Arch, ardent pioneers of the anti-song, the New York three-piece have built a career upon scandalising the sensitive listener.
Yet, bonding over beers and some sweetly, suspiciously pungent cigarettes, the band insist that creative curiosity, not a hunger to shock, is their prime motive.
“When we sit down to write a song, the challenge is to create something that makes sense to and excites us,” explains Angus Andrew, the trio’s surprisingly matey guitarist and singer (an Australian ex-pat, he comes across as precisely the opposite of glowering avant-pop stereotypes).
The new album, Drum’s Not Dead, is, explains Andrew, a cacophonous eulogy to the raw beauty of percussion. Translation: the record is stacked with shrieking, multi-tracked drums and there are very few songs you will want to hum in the shower.
Currently, the real Liars talking point, however, is not their attempt to rehabilitate melody-free drumming, but the ‘porn movie’ cover of their last single, ‘It Fit When I Was A Kid’.
A grainy montage of skin flick shots, the sleeve suggests both a juvenile plea for attention and a Situationist prank that hasn’t quite come off.
“Well, we aren’t making huge claims about deconstructing cover art or anything,” says Andrew breezily. “It just seemed to us that it would be a fun thing to do. The sleeve is sandpaper and the idea is that it scratches the record. Is that a statement? I don’t know.”
Liars recorded Drum’s Not Dead in Berlin, their base for the past 18 months. Despite the city’s renown as a cradle of artistic extremism, the catalyst for moving there was entirely practical.
“It’s so cheap, man,” Andrew laughs. “With the last record [2002’s They Were Wrong So We Drowned], we didn’t sell as many copies as we would have hoped, so living in New York was becoming very expensive for us.”
One of the reasons They Were Wrong... tanked was that the American underground media, until then overweeningly supportive of Liars, ripped the record to tatters.