Liars released a new album, Sister World, earlier this year, and now they’re doing the requisite touring in support of the disc. They hit Toronto on Wednesday September 29, at Lee’s Palace; TWM got the chance to ask them a few questions about their music and playing live.
Dan (TWM): How has the touring been so far in support of Sister World? Do you find, at this point, that the Liars have a devoted fan base that supports all the band’s records or are you still picking up new fans as you go?
Liars: TOURING THIS RECORD HAS BEEN REALLY PRETTY AMAZING. MOSTLY BECAUSE WE’VE PACKED IN SOME GREAT MUSICIANS TO PLAY LIVE WITH US THAT’S MADE SOME OF THE SHOWS REALLY SPECTACULAR. IT SEEMS LIKE THERE’S SO MANY PLACES IN THE WORLD TO PLAY LIVE AND EACH TIME WE GO SOMEWHERE NEW I’M SURPRISED BY HOW WELL WE’RE RECEIVED. I LOVE OUR FANS.
Dan (TWM): I probably found the Liars because of my love of creative and well-done concept albums. But I’ve always wondered, does the band think of a concept and then write songs around that concept? Or does one just sort of develop throughout the creative process?
Liars: WE’LL DISCUSS IDEAS WE’RE INTERESTED IN BEFORE WE START WORK ON ANY ALBUM. ITS IMPORTANT FOR US TO AGREE ON THE DIRECTION AND MOST IMPORTANTLY THE MOOD OF THE RECORD BEFORE WE BEGIN. IF THERE IS A CONCEPT IN MIND THEN WE’LL START GENERALLY AND WORK TOWARD BEING MORE AND MORE SPECIFIC ABOUT WHAT WE’RE TRYING TO ACHIEVE WITH IT. AS SONGS COME TOGETHER THEY FILL IN CERTAIN ASPECTS OF THE CONCEPT AND YOU GO DEEPER INTO THE IDEA. ALTERNATIVELY SONGS ARE MADE THAT FALL SHORT OF THE CONCEPT AND ARE LEFT BEHIND.
Dan (TWM): It seems to me that Mute has been a tireless supporter of your band. Does having a label that seemingly has your back, no matter which way you want to go, make a big difference for your band?
Liars: MASSIVELY. WE ALL AGREE THAT IF WE WERENT WITH MUTE OUR LIVES WOULD BE MUCH DIFFERENT RIGHT NOW.
Dan (TWM): Having not seen you before, I wonder — when you play live do you go through the current album as to get the point or concept across, or just mix and match from all the releases?
Liars: IT DEPENDS ON THE TOUR AND THE RELEASE. RECENTLY BECAUSE OF THE EXTRA HANDS WE HAVE ON STAGE WE’VE ENJOYED RE-WORKING SOME OLD TRACKS THAT WE WERE NEVER ABLE TO PULL OFF PREVIOUSLY AS A THREE-PIECE. I’T CAN BE REALLY INTERESTING TO LINE-UP SONGS FROM STYLISTICALLY DIFFERENT ALBUMS AND SHOW THAT INTRINSICALLY THE SUBJECT MATTER IS STILL QUITE SIMILAR.
Dan (TWM): Have you toured through Canada often? What encouraged you to start this next tour here before going out to Europe?
Liars: WE’VE PLAYED THE MAJOR CITIES A FEW TIMES BUT NOT SOME OF THE SMALLER PLACES WE’RE ABOUT TO REACH. i THINK INITIALLY THIS TRIP CAME ABOUT FROM OUR INVOLVEMENT IN THE MONTREAL POP FESTIVAL AND FROM THERE ON I SUPPOSE ITS JUST ALL ADVENTURE!
Dan (TWM): It definitely seems like a theme that the Liars put a lot of value-added material into the packaging for your albums. This one includes a bonus second disc with songs remixed by people like Thom Yorke and Devandra Banhart. Is this something you do to try to keep giving people reasons to buy CDs and albums?
Liars: I THINK FIRST AND FOREMOST WE JUST WANT TO PUT OUT THE BEST AND MOST INTERESTING WORK WE CAN.
WE’RE ARTISTS WHO ENJOY CREATING THINGS SO REALLY IN THE END WE WANT TO MAKE ALBUMS THAT ARE ENTIRE EXPERIENCES AND FULL BODIES OF WORK. I THINK WE FEEL LESS AND LESS LIKE WE SHOULD BE LIMITED TO MUSIC ALONE.
Dan (TWM): While you guys are out on tour, what have you been listening to? Do you still get time to check out a lot of current releases, or is it old favourites for the most part?
Liars: WE’VE BEEN LISTENING A LOT TO THE ALBUMS FROM THE ODD FUTURE CREW IN LA. EARL SWEATSHIRT, DOMO GENESIS, TYLER THE CREATOR ETC..
Dan (TWM): I read this quote over on Pitchfork (“If I ever manage to lose my mind entirely, I hope the voices in my head sound something like this band.” ) and I have to say that I have always described your band in a similar tone to friends who ask me what I’m playing at the bar or at home. So, when you read a review like this are you thinking “why the hell is everyone saying our band is crazy” or is it really a compliment to what you are trying to do?
Liars: YEAH REALLY I DON’T KNOW HOW TO DIGEST THIS KIND OF QUOTE. IT MAKES ME FEEL LIKE EITHER I’M CRAZY OR EVERYONE ELSE IS TOTALLY INSANE. ACTUALLY, WHAT IT MAKES ME MOST WANT TO DO IS WRITE AN ALBUM ABOUT LOSING MY MIND SO THAT ONCE AND FOR ALL I COULD UNDERSTAND WHAT THAT WOULD SOUND LIKE.
Dan (TWM): Last one: word has been going around Toronto that people would be fools to not bring earplugs to your show at Lee’s because your band is crazy loud when you play live. True or false?
Liars: SIX TIMES AT OUR SHOWS I’VE SEEN PEOPLES EAR DRUMS LITERALLY EXPLODE IN MY FACE. I’VE NEVER BEEN SURE IF THIS WAS BECAUSE WE WERE PLAYING LOUD OR THEY WERE JUST HAVING SOME HORRIBLE PHYSICAL REACTION TO OUR SOUND. IN ANY CASE, BRING EAR PLUGS – YOU CAN ALWAYS TAKE THEM OUT.
Photo by Kevin N. Murphy, via Creative Commons