Short Circuit Preview: LIARS Play Tribute To Mute

As they prepare to play next weekend's Mute Short Circuit Festival, Liars pay tribute to the label, its artists, and founder Daniel Miller

Although I will now, hand on heart, say I believe that Liars are probably the most important and exciting proponents of American sex noise that we’ve seen in the past ten years or so, it was not always thus. In their early days, the group wound me up something chronic, with Angus Andrew prancing around in a trucker cap and bright jumper going on about being on fire. I even walked out of a few of their gigs in a fit of pique. A while after the release of Liars’ debut album They Threw Us In A Trench And Stuck A Monument On Top (a record I now love) I went along to see Kaito support them at the Camden Barfly, expecting to as usual be non-plussed. But instead of that abrasive punk funk, Liars did something different: they came onstage and played a deranged, intense, brutal set of the music that would make up They Were Wrong, So We Drowned. It was one of those experiences of live music that changes your outlook irrevocably. I have never looked back. What’s so interesting about that one gig, and the subsequent albums that have seen Liars rewrite their own rule-book every time, while simultaneously out-manouevering and out-classing their peers, is that I am quite sure no label other than Mute would have given them the freedom to evolve and change in such a way. Which is why we decided to ask the band to put together a feature on the things that, for them, have made Mute such a very special home.

Blast First

Paul Smith of Blast First was our first connection with Mute. He was the one that found us playing out in some garbage dump in Brooklyn. Many amazing artists have found their way from the US to the UK via the will of Blast First and Paul Smith. Bands like Suicide and The Butthole Surfers to name just two. For Liars, the importance of Blast First and Paul Smith cannot be understated. The label continues in the form of Blast First Petite working with some of our favorite current artists. – Angus Andrew

Daniel Miller

His response when he received the final mix of They Were Wrong, So We Drowned was, "Just have the vocals a little louder." This trust and freedom we are granted is invaluable to our relationship with Mute, and the functioning of Liars. Ever humble, and a true lover of music, I feel so fortunate our label boss has been a vital part of some of my favorite albums… it makes it more of a creative friendship we have, based on a true sharing of respect and excitement for music . He’s an extra member of the group whose feedback is crucial. It is taken with all of our respect, based on the massive amount of incredible music that has been a part of my life since I was eight years old, listening to the latest Mute release that my big brother brought home on import vinyl. – Aaron Hemphill

Mute’s Back Catalogue

Obviously Mute has great and interesting artists on its current roster. But what’s still amazing to me is what they have in their back catalogue. Can , Sun Ra!! I mean – the list is ridiculous… it’s like an all-star line-up of important and influential artists. When we first signed with Mute one of our greatest wishes was to be let loose in the ‘warehouse’ – which we did. I just remember a) freaking out because there was so much to deal with and b) not being able to fit all the records in my bag – forcing rushed editing which i ruminated on for days. – Angus Andrew

Fad Gadget / Frank Tovey

We were welcomed to Mute unfortunately too late to ever have the opportunity to meet or collaborate with Frank Tovey. He remains one of our favorites for his mix of drama, humor, and artistry as evident on ‘The Box’ and other tracks. The first Mute artist after Daniel’s own Normal, he set the bar for intense and unique spirit flooding his work, blasting the myth at the time that electronic music ‘has no spirit’. – Aaron Hemphill

Robert Rental

A lesser known Mute artist perhaps, Robert Rental made heartbreaking pop while also releasing material on Industrial Records with Thomas Leer. He had an extremely inspirational range of creativity. I hear attempts, intentional or not, of ‘Double Heart’ in a lot of young bands’ music today…There is a seemingly DIRECT, effortless and uncontrived sensitivity that makes Robert Rental’s material more of a communion than a gesture. The album Robert did with Thomas Leer, The Bridge shows his incredible ability to communicate the same intensity in a different, more abstract setting. – Aaron Hemphill

Throbbing Gristle

Throbbing Gristle is one of my favorite groups, and I’ve always felt they were about more than just the sounds they make. To me, they are a creative unit above all, pushing and inspiring one to explore and acquaint oneself with their inner limits, then to finally expand beyond them. All of the offshoot projects that followed, or are now concurrent with TG, have always inspired the above mentioned idea. Their own label, Industrial Records, has also released some of my favorite music. Some of those groups released their best material on Industrial Records, in my opinion – Clock DVA’s White Souls In Black Suits, Leather Nun’s Slow Death ep, Richard H. Kirk’s Disposable Half Truths, SPK’s Meat Processing Section, Monte Cazazza’s anything….on and on and on and on…. – Aaron Hemphill

Throbbing Gristle: New Years Eve 2005 Berlin

This show was at the legendary Volksbuehne but most importantly was performed with a full Quad surround sound system which was truly insane! I’ll never forget that night not only because of the incredible TG performance but also the other Mute artists who were there – particularly Big Bottom – the five-piece bass band directed by our great friend Susan Stenger and including one of Liars most trusted allies, Mitch Flacko. – Angus Andrew

Liars play Mute Short Circuit at the London Roundhouse next weekend, May 13th and 14th. For Festival information and tickets, go here

The Quietus Digest

Sign up for our free Friday email newsletter.

Support The Quietus

Our journalism is funded by our readers. Become a subscriber today to help champion our writing, plus enjoy bonus essays, podcasts, playlists and music downloads.

Support & Subscribe Today