The latest Liars record, WIXIW, could be their best yet – and that’s a bold statement bearing in mind what came before. Loading up a host of programs and running in the world of electronic music the group have again veered dramatically from the path of expectancy – which is just what we expected.
We caught up with front man Angus Andrews to talk computers, working with your boss and keeping things interesting.
Bowlegs: WIXIW opens The Exact Colour of Doubt – which is a far cry from Sisterworld’s opener Scissor. So apart from this being an electronic album, are Liars tired of loud noises?
Angus: No I wouldn’t say that – I think we were just really interested in exploring different kinds of sounds and sonic textures. Particularly in reference to the opening track our intention was to introduce this interest right from the start and give the listener a taste of the new kind of landscapes we were exploring.
Bowlegs: Electronic music offers up an infinite amount of choices at the touch of a button, how do you decide where to start? Did you know what you wanted the record to sound like or was it found via experimentation? Was there a constant amount of fiddling with the dials and changing sounds in the studio?
Angus: Yeah there really are almost too many options within the computer – but it’s also what makes it so exciting and interesting. We definitely started the process with the goal of just experimenting as much as possible – so we spent probably the first six months just cataloging and obsessing over all the new and exciting sounds we were creating. It really got to the point where we actually had to physically stop ourselves from experimenting so we could knuckle down and figure out how to make the sounds we made into actual “songs”.
Bowlegs: Where were the ambient background sounds on Ill Valley Prodigies picked up? I like this track – it’s like a slightly warped piece of electronic folk, another new for Liars?
Angus: Those were field recordings I made both around my neighborhood in LA and up at the cabin in the mountains where we started writing. But like most sounds on the record everything got severely processed and effected through the computer.
Bowlegs:Is there a period in the history of electronic music that you wanted to hone in on?
Angus: No – we made a pretty concerted effort to block out all influences -particularly musical ones – on this record. It’s my preference to try and forget about music I like so I can better attempt to make something completely of my own. But, I think still naturally and subconsciously things creep in.
Bowlegs: How are these songs working out live? Must have been a little nerve-wracking at first being reliant on more machinery?
Angus: Absolutely. It’s definitely the most challenging album of ours to translate into a live setting. Pretty similar in a lot of ways to what we experienced in working out They Were Wrong So We Drowned – but even harder. Still, that challenge is what makes it fun, interesting and eventually very rewarding.
Bowlegs: Was this record influenced by any bands in particular? Which electronic artists do you feel have or are pushing the boundaries right now?
Angus: Hmm, like I said we’re really very adamant about removing influence and actually make a real physical effort to stop listening to music and to avoid any unwanted elements that could sway the mood of the record. That being said after finishing the album it’s really nice to dive back into consuming music and stuff. Some of the electronic artist I’ve been listening to the most recently are Oneotrix Point Never , SFV Acid , VCMG, and Black Dice.
Bowlegs: Being that your back-catalogue is so varied do you have a favourite Liars album (other than WIXIW)? Which one and why?
Angus: No, to me they’re all as important and significant as each other. Really none of them could’ve been made without the help of the one which proceeded it. But yeah obviously the most recent one is always my favorite.
Bowlegs: I was listening to Drums Not Dead the other week (love that record), was it recorded in Berlin? Do you record at different studios on every record?
Angus: Yes we made DND in Berlin along with the self-titled album that followed it. Both those records were made in the same studio – but no other 2 records were made in the same space.
Bowlegs: Was using Daniel Miller as the producer on this record a decision made on the basis of his previous work with electronic artists? How was the working relationship in the studio, he’s your boss at Mute too right?
Angus: Yeah he’s our boss and also an electronic music pioneer. We’ve been working with him for years and years but decided to ask him to have a larger role on this record because of his experience and knowledge base within electronic music. Mostly his role was as an advisor – he introduced us to some of the software we began writing with and also was there to give feedback on our electronic sounds.
Bowlegs: Even though the organic instruments may not be as ever-present as they were on your last two records you have maintained a certain tension you always seem to create. Was the song-writing process much the same here?
Angus: Actually no, Aaron and I normally write very seperately, putting together almost entire songs on our own. With this record we made a real effort to reverse that and to force ourselves to be involved in each others work right from the start. It was more difficult in some ways but overall quite a lot more rewarding.
Bowlegs: Being that the record has been received so well are you tempted to settle into this sound for a while longer?
Angus: It’s not something I’ve given much thought to. I like the evolution of our sound to happen as naturally as possible. It means that if we’re still interested in creating music this way then that’s ok but equally if we’ve discovered a new direction then we can follow that – in essence anything goes.
Bowlegs: What’s the plan for the rest of 2012?
Angus: How do you spell touring everywhere..? We’ve also got several video and visual projects underway that we intend to complete before the Mayan implosion….we hope!