A Case Study In Perpetual Reinvention

Simon McCormack
4 min read
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Once unhappily lumped into the genre of dance punk, Los Angeles, Calif., power-trio Liars can now only be described as ever-changing.

"We’re more comfortable with that tag because it’s not really a tag," drummer Julian Gross says. "It gives us the freedom to do whatever we want. A lot of bands break up so one member can start that ska project or do that whatever project. We’re in the position where we can put out a heavy metal record and people aren’t going to freak out about it."

That unbridled creative license can be a double-edged sword for Liars’ fans. If you don’t like one Liars album, try another, because you can bet it’s different. But if you’re digging what you hear or where you think the band is going, watch out, because the band might never make a record like that again.

Critics have unleashed harsh words and tremendous praise for Liars, which has given the band a thick skin as well as a sense of humility. "None of what the critics say would make us change or shape the music we’re going to make," Gross asserts. "But when it stings a little bit and when it’s good, you don’t really believe it. What I like reading more than professional critiques are the comments under our videos on YouTube or other fan responses. Magazines can kind of piggyback on each other when it comes to what is or isn’t cool, but when it’s some 16-year-old kid named Tiger Face, or whatever, I find their thoughts more interesting."

Liars’ most critically acclaimed record to date is also its most recent.
Liars is about as close to straightforward rock as the band will ever get. You can identify honest-to-goodness song structures embedded beneath the atmospheric drone that is fast becoming Liars’ calling card. There’s still a pile of layers to sift through, and the lyrics are as cryptic and clever as ever. "We were trying to make it straightforward rock, which we haven’t really done so much," Gross says. "There are four songs on there that are so straightforward they could be a bad version of a Nirvana song or a retarded version of a Led Zeppelin tune."

Liars' Julian Gross On ...

… touring with Interpol:

"That was really fun. We got along great with the dudes from Interpol. It was cool to play these huge venues since that’s something we haven’t had much experience in outside of, like, weird festivals. One of the most flattering moments came after a show when some kids came up to us who had never heard us. One of them said, I saw you guys play and I don’t understand it. They just had this blank look on their face and I thought that was really cool to have made that impression on them."

… why Liars sounds like it was made in a hole:

"Well, it was kind of recorded in a hole. Half the songs were recorded in our practice space in L.A. with, like, two microphones, if even that many."

… hardly partying:

"We’re the biggest non-party band out there. When we come home off of our tour, we just barely go out. I don’t know why people think we party. Maybe because our music is all fucked up, they think, Oh, they must be crazy and on drugs. But it’s so the opposite. We’ll get asked if we want to go out and we’ll say, No … I think I’m going to watch ‘Project Runway’ or make a new T-shirt for our merch. That’s how we relax."

… coming to Albuquerque:

"I’ve always wanted to come to Albuquerque because of Bugs Bunny. We’ll take a left turn and see you there."
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