Nothing but unfettered creativity can come when a notoriously histrionic band cloisters themselves deep in the woods of, err, New Jersey to record an album. But, counter to the acoustic folk that a sylvan setting often inspires, the spastic, urban electro-rockers in Liars seem to have gone apeshit.
Their new disc, They Were Wrong So We Drowned, is rife with haunting sounds of witchcraft and folklore more suited to a coven than a Brooklyn-based rock act. Surely they spent day and night huddled around fires, shouting imprecations and sacrificing all manner of animals while mortifying their raw flesh, fetid with blood, pine and earth.
"Maybe you shouldn't have asked," guitarist Aaron Hemphill says. "It was more like a bunch of glass and crap. Really cheesy microphones that were taped to the ceiling and shit. Think of it more like a tool shed."
Right. In fact, Hemphill says the themes of fables and witchery arose through a serendipitous web search. When googling opening track "Broken Witch," spindly Aussie front-man Angus Andrew accidentally entered "Brocken Witch" and found scores of sites devoted to the witches of Germany's Brocken mountain.
After a bit of research, the band felt moved enough to design an album around a bouncing witch-trial polemic that alternates from the witches' perspective to the villagers' with each track.
And Hemphill's not particularly bothered if you don't like it or if timorous minions pee their pants over the content, because Liars make their music, quite appropriately, for Liars.
"Just to keep it fun is really hard," Hemphill says. "The first record [2002's They Threw Us All In a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top] got reissued and we had to tour on it so long, but we didn't really get a chance to check in with ourselves. If anything, going to the forest helps you feel the impact of things."