Q&A: Liars' Angus Andrew On Basketball, Experimenting With Electronics, And How Visiting New York Is Disorienting
The globe-hopping music deconstructionist wonders in Liars revolutionized and jumpstarted the stagnant Brooklyn scene in the early 2000s with a bass-thumping, clatter-soaked dance-punk behemoth (They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top). Then they switched things up, and founders Angus Andrew and Aaron Hemphill rid themselves of their friggin' awesomer-than-thou rhythm section.
Turns out that questionable decision turned out to be Liars' epochal moment. Liars instantly distinguished itself from the growing pack of stale disco-punkers, with the move allowing Andrew, Hemphill and drummer Julian Gross to reinvent themselves album by album. In 2004, they released a creepy gloom-n-doom witch hunt soundtrack (They Were Wrong, So We Drowned); in 2006 they put out a percussive-damaged, dissonant mind-bender (Drums Not Dead); in 2007 they dropped an album of from-the-dungeon sonic guitar avant-rock (Liars); and in 2010 they wrote a love/hate letter to Los Angeles (Sisterworld).
Liars have returned with yet another facelift, WIXIW (pronounced "wish you"). Fittingly, it's Liars' definitive "Mute record"a sinewy, electronics-heavy, disturbing-dream sound collage, done with the advisory of Mute founder and electronic master Daniel Miller.
Sound of the City caught Andrew at his hotel as he returned to New York for tour to talk not only music but lot of sports, including what it would be like to have a Liars song playing as Chris Paul and his fellow Los Angeles Clippers run up the tunnel and onto the court at the Staples Cneter.
I hear you guys are huge L.A. Clippers fans.
Are you following the NBA Finals or is it too bittersweet for you to watch since the Clippers were eliminated?
No, we've been following it. But what's tricky is we've just come back from Europe so we've had to watch games at, like, four in the morning, streaming on some pirate internet platform. But yeah, it's fun, man. I like being able to watch basketball. I like it.
Are you bummed the Clippers play in the same arena as the Lakers [the Staples Center]?
[laughs] I'm bummed that we have to share a city with those people. But, you know, in a way, it's been kinda nice cuz we've always been these kinda bastard stepson of the Lakers. But slightly more and more we're coming up to take over.
L.A.'s got a Stanley Cup champion now, the Kings.
I know! I feel like I need to get on that. I've never been a hockey guy so I am pretty out of it in that sense. But still it's kinda great because I do know they were severe underdogs and that's always worth rooting for.
When you lived in New York, were you guys Knicks fans?
Oh, yeah! That was like [the] Latrell Sprewell [era].
Yeah, the late '90s/early 2000s, when the Knicks still had that thug thing going on.
[laughs] ... and [they] did pretty well. I think we just ended paying Allan Houston a little too much money.
Oh, man. That dude works for the Knicks now.
[laughs] I know. I think they forced him to because he got such a good contract.
Yeah, he got like a ridiculous 100 million dollar contract. I can't remember how many years it was for.
I know, I know. It was crazy and it was cool because they had Van Gundy as the little, funny coach. Good times.
Then the Knicks sucked for so many years after that and still kinda suck.
Yeah, yeah. We kinda left [New York] right at the right time, I think, ya know.
So is it weird that Liars are debunking that theory that punks shouldn't like sports, that whole punks vs. jocks thing?
[laughs] Yeah, I mean, I guess. I kinda don't know if that's been a reality recently. I'm not too sure if that's weird or not. I think a lot of people enjoy sports; I'm just not sure if they admit or something, maybe they don't. We've actually talked to quite a few people and asked them if they are into it. I always find it pretty surprising that you can just avoid that, you know. But, well, ya know.
Do you go to Clippers games a lot in L.A.?
Yeah, I mean, we used to more when the Clippers were broke, get in there for cheap. But more and more we've had to, you know, just go less and less. I did get in to see a couple of the playoff games against Memphis.
The Clippers are way better now, so I assume they have a lot more fans.
Oh, yeah, yeah. Fairweather friends. [Laughs]