WATCH: New Liars Video! Plus Interview!
, April 20th, 2012 10:17
'No 1 Against The Rush' now online, Angus & Aaron speak
Sheesh, what is it with Liars and forms of transport? There was the mad cars-and-beams-of-light stuff in 'Plaster Casts Of Everything', the doomed rock-filled life raft and yacht of 'Scissor', and now the excellent video for 'No 1 Against The Rush', where Liars find themselves victims of some Sopranos-style car boot and plastic wrap unfortunateness, courtesy of a particularly devious man in his 50s or so. Watch the bleakness, directed by Todd Cole (who has previously made videos for No Age and Kurt Vile) above. The bit where Aaron Hemphill gets his blond locks slammed in the car bonnet is particularly bracing.
Liars have always had a strong visual identity to their work, from the giant letters of their early stage set to the three different videos that accompanied each track on Drum's Not Dead, and the elaborate peephole packaging that housed Quietus LP of 2010 Sisterworld. We caught up with Hemphill and Angus Andrew to discuss the new video and Liars' visual side, including the films that appeared on the Amateur Gore blog in the run-up to the announcement of new album WIXIW. So Aaron, how did the video happen?
Aaron Hemphill: When we approached the director we wanted to give him full control and just see what his response was to the song. He developed it entirely, it had nothing to do with us. At the time we make the record usually nobody has heard the record, so it's a really good chance to get a visual on what these people think, or how they interpret the song.
What was it that you were into about his pitch?
AH: We had a few people in mind. I think it was the enthusiasm that he had for the track. What he was trying to set out to do with the video was really exciting to us. He was trying to see the city in different ways, and I thought that was great. I think how we see the city and how we interact with our surroundings is very different from when we made Sisterworld.
What did you make to his violent-towards-Liars interpretation?
AH: I think it's odd that everyone gave us more creepy or violent videos, but again we encouraged everyone's immediate response. It's interesting that everyone reacted that way. So no it wasn't bizarre, and again we don't want to step back and tell people that that's wrong or right. It's the whole point on really collaborating with someone. I don't want to prod or make them feel wrong about why they were thinking that way. I don't need to ask. It must sound like that or make people react that way, it must be in the music if they're reacting that way.
Has it been liberating to relinquish control of videos?
AH: I think so, I think it's exciting that we get to have a video made like that and spend their time on it. I think if we made every video it just generates this authorship as to what the songs are about and this definitive answer as to what it's about. I think it's taken differently.
Was it fun to shoot? The bit where you get your head slammed in the bonnet was pretty gnarly.
AH: It's hard work, it's kind of uncomfortable, but it's exciting to be part of the project and see someone's movie take shape. I can't say we're all aspiring actors.
How do you develop the visual identity to what you do?
AH: Well first we make the music, and then we think about what we feel would accompany that. Sometimes we bring in other people, like the designer for the Sisterworld packaging, that was his interpretation of it. For this new record we brought a friend in to design it and brought in key words and they got to do what they wanted to do. As far as packaging and whatnot, it depends on what you've done before and where you want to take it next. The last record had a lot involved with the packaging and we just wanted to streamline it a bit.
Thinking about the videos you were putting up on Amateur Gore, how did they come about??
AH: I think it was just a way for us to interact with people who would be at the Liars website in a way that's exciting and less journalistic or diary-like. 'Oh we ate this food at such-and-such time'. It's hopefully more interesting and more creative, more fun, it takes it away from just being this slice of life.
Did the videos feed into the music you were making?
AH: Yes I think the excitement of doing the videos might have led us to being more adventurous with the sound, and our approach to it.
I myself and others were quite surprised about the sound of the record after hearing the videos. We were perhaps expecting an electronic noise ambient record after seeing all those clips. Were you trying to put people off the scent?
AH: That was accidental. I think that's something that’s out of our hands, but a welcome and exciting reaction. We weren't trying to throw people off the scent, we were just trying to do something fun and interacting with people through the internet.
[speaking to Angus Andrew about the videos just afterwards...]
Angus Andrew: I don't ever thing we intended those things to be too telling or revealing of what we were going to end up with with. Maybe they were a bit to throw people of the track, you know?
But Aaron said that's what you were trying to do.
AA: Just to keep a bit of mystery in there, you know? He's right. At the same time we wanted to have the chance to get in there and interact with people and give them a bit of insight, but not to give the whole picture away.
I liked how you had everything hidden when it came to who you were working with. But then when that guy kidnapped you… He's about the right age. It could be Daniel Miller.
AA: Ha. Interesting. We should say that's Daniel.
Liars new album WIXIW is released via Mute on June 4th. They play Field Day in Victoria Park, London, on Saturday June 2nd. Check Angus Andrew's guide to WIXIW on the Quietus in mid-May.