It’s been a long time coming for Charming Liars to release their debut LP, Thought, Flesh and Bone. The band has been working towards this since they released their EP New Disorder six years ago. Since then, they’ve released three EPs and a few singles, but we’ve been waiting for a full-blown album release for years. One of the reasons why the band has taken so long to release an album is because they’ve consistently been on the road since their inception. In 2017 and 2018 they released just a few songs in both of those years, but they played hundreds of shows. Recently, Alternative Addiction talked with Charming Liars guitarist/producer Karnig Manoukian about the band’s touring consistency, their new album, and the video trilogy they recently completed.
“People used to make records and tour them,” explained Manoukian when we were discussing the band constantly being on the road. “Now, people have to tour so they can make a record. Touring is always the end-goal. I don’t think it used to be that way, that’s changed. Before, the point of things was to tour so you could make an album. Now, the goal is to make music so you can get on the road and make fans so you can play for more and more people. You have to make music to support that.”
Manoukian is right. There’s been great bands that haven’t been able to get anywhere because they couldn’t find ways to tour. So, if you’re out on the road playing shows, you’re not as desperate to release new music all the time; you’re already doing the most effective thing you can do to establish a passionate fanbase. That makes sets a little different for a band like Charming Liars.
“Last year when we were out, we played two songs from the past EP and we played most of the singles that we’ve been putting out and then a few unreleased tracks,” began the guitarist. “It’s kind of a mix. A lot of the times we play to people who haven’t seen us before. We like to play a cohesive, solid set and do the best we can do. A lot of it depends on the show, but we’re playing a similar set.”
No matter what set Charming Liars are playing, their main goal is to put their best foot forward so they can establish the connection with a fanbase so they can keep making music. Maybe more than any other true rock act that we’ve talked to in recent years, Charming Liars are passionate artists. They’re big on establishing connections to people with their music and lyrics and they’re big on saying important things with everything they do.
“Our goal is to get people to react someway,” said Karnig about what people get out of the band’s new album. “Lyrically, we’re diving into some very deep and dark topics on this record. I think people can take something from the lyrics that way. From the music and melody standpoint, we always want to make music that sticks in peoples’ heads. That’s always been a main goal of ours; lyrical meaning and having songs stick with you. We like that. We like it when people are humming along to the melody or the end of the chorus, or just a guitar riff. We want to affect people in some way whether it’s lyrically or musically. I think if we can do that, then we’ve done what we set out to do. We want people to dig into this music and have it affect them and then buy a ticket and come and see us play it. That’s the overall goal with this album.”
They’re not just setting out to get a reaction from their music, they’re out to do that with their videos too. Before the release of their album, the band had recently put together music videos for “Insomnia”, “Like a Drug”, and “Something Dark.” The videos are a linked story that when assembled are a mini-movie. It’s a passion project for the band and something they put a lot of work into.
“The trilogy has been a goal of ours over the years. There were a lot of reasons why we couldn’t do it, but it finally lined up. A lot of bands make videos just to get content out, a lot of them have teams and they have bigger budgets. For us, we want our videos to be something. We want them to be something we can be proud of. We’re not just out to get content out there for the sake of doing it. We always want to do something that has an affect and something that we can be proud of. We’re also big fans of film too. We’re not going to appear in our videos in the future, we’re not fans of acting and doing that. None of us are good actors. That theme seems really contrived. We like to include talented people. We’re big fans of film and when we do videos, we want them to seem like a film. The three videos are a short film with a lot of dialogue. The complete mini-movie is the same stuff you’re watching in the videos but there’s some extended stuff,” added the Charming Liars producer.
For previous releases, Charming Liars have worked with producers outside of the band after they spent time demoing their material with Karnig in his production space. With their new album, they worked on all the music in Manoukian’s space. Talking with Karnig about the method, he said it was extremely beneficial to the band’s procedure.
“This whole album was done in my production space. The process was interesting because what we’d done in the past, is we’d demo the songs then hire a producer and then go to a studio and have them mixed and mastered. The difference here, is we did everything in my space. We would start a song, then we hit the road for a couple of months, and then we come back a few months later after we’ve listened to it countless times. That gives us a new perspective on the song. That new perspective allows us to work on the song in a different way. Killian will re-sing a verse, or he’ll change a verse, or we’ll make tweaks to a guitar line. The main song stays the same, but little details are made better. That process makes for an improved final version of the song.”
Next up for Charming Liars, is a tour. They have a couple of shows near their base of California, but they’re working on announcing tour dates soon. You can keep checking back to Alternative Addiction and CharmingLiars.com for more info when those are announced.
“We’ve got some things in the works,” said Manoukian. “There are things getting put in the books and confirmed, and we should be announcing them soon. The goal is to tour the rest of the year. “ -aa