Getting set to play Harvest Festival later this year, Angus from Liars, who have been absent from our shores since 2006, caught up with Larry Heath to talk about their new record and their long awaited return...
How are things going at the moment?
Good, we just got back from doing a promo tour of Europe where you go around talking about yourself more than you actually get to play shows, which is a perplexing situation. And we stopped off in New York and played there, we just played in LA last night and we’ve got a little time off before we head off around America.
Then you’re finally getting back to Australia after way too long!
That’s what I say. Someone asked me when we were there last time and I don’t even remember!
It was 2006 I think.
Okay, yeah that’s a bloody long time ago.
It certainly was, I do remember those shows and they were lots of fun and we’re looking forward to seeing you as part of Harvest. I imagine the show has changed quite substantially though since 2006, especially with three new albums in that time period.
Yeah, it’s hard to even imagine what we were even doing back then. But it’s changed a lot, but still maybe the same in the sense that Liars shows are pretty chaotic and things go wrong and things fall apart. But that’s the way I like it, keeping it unique and fresh each time.
Well you’re promoting specifically a new album WIXIWW (pronounced ‘Wish You’). It’s gotten quite a great critical response, how have you guys felt about it since its release in that respect?
Good, but to be honest I try not to get too involved in the post-release results. For me, a big part is making the record, and as long as I know that we tried what we wanted to try and pushed ourselves creatively then I’m happy. Obviously I want people to be able to connect with the record, and if they do that’s great but I was already happy.
When you talk about pushing yourself creatively, how did that occur with this record in particular?
There was a couple ideas that we had, we wanted to really explore this whole frontier of working within the computer, which we hadn’t done before, and to really experiment with different kinds of sounds. The last record we did was in a way, from my perspective pretty traditional, in the sense that I was writing the strings and horns and all that. So this record was really an exploration into a whole new way of putting music together.
And I think we also really wanted to try and push ourselves to collaborate more as a band, it’s just not always that easy. It’s kind of a lot simpler to go off and work on your own and develop confidence about your ideas that way. That was something we got a bit use to, so this time we really forced ourselves to be in each others face.
When you weren’t working so much on the computer for the record and in that digital space, how then was it translating that into the live setting?
Yeah that’s the tough part, because when you make music normally you have this physical relationship with the sound you’re creating. When you hit a drum, you’ve got this connection with it, like when you push on a piano and the sound comes out. But this way it’s all mouse clicks and keyboard strokes, it’s difficult. But the key is to try and reinject that physical relationship with the music, which is what we’ve been working on.
It will be interesting to see how that translates when you come down to Australia. And you mentioned before you’re about to tour around America. Now America seems to have taken on you guys almost in a cultural sense, I feel like every time I see a TV show or film where a mum’s walking into her teenage boys bedroom, there’s a Liars poster on the wall. I guess my question is, are you guys making a million dollars from those inserts? [laughs].
A million dollars in theory! But in practice, no. It’s always nice to see that you have some sort of effect or relationship with the world. But in terms of a financial outcome, that’s not really something that is the utmost goal. I don’t think we’d make the records we do, if we were really interested in breaking the top 40. But it’s always nice to see that if you work on something you believe in and are interested in, that if it actually does make it out there and people like it, then it’s more rewarding.
Definitely. When it comes to the rest of the year, what else have you got in store? Are there any new singles on the way?
We’re just working on this new video for the next single, which is called “Brats”. It’s kind of a fun video in a sense that we’re being computer animated, in this kind of weird, artistic way. I’ve never had that happen before, so I’m really excited to see the end result of that.
“Brats” in particular on the record, really kind of heralds back to your earlier material. Is that something that happened naturally?
Yeah it’s interesting, it’s also a more dance orientated song, and working in the computer it felt like that was the way the music went towards. It’s almost like the computer was forcing us to make dance music, which is cool. We made a lot of songs kind of in that vain, but the reason why we chose to have that song on the record is that it had somewhat of a relationship with some of the older music we’ve had and made. That’s kind of interesting I think, to use a whole lot of different techniques but still come out with a similar idea.
It’s in a sense, looking back to move forward.
Yeah, and then we can segue into the album title being a palindrome and I think that’s one thing that attracted us to that title, this idea of starting somewhere and going through this big process and coming out in the same position. In a lot of ways people say when you go back to square one it’s a negative connotation, but when you’re working in a creative field it’s reassuring and a positive result. That you can try a whole lot of things, but your first idea is really sometimes the best.
Well I thank you very much for your time, and we’re really excited to see you back in Australia, it’s been way too long. But you couldn’t have picked a better album to come back on, it’s phenomenal.
Cool, thanks Larry.
Harvest Tickets go on sale tomorrow morning! Liars' new album WIXIW is out now.