Alternative rock trio, Charming Liars may call Los Angeles home these days, but the band began its journey several years ago in London. The duo of guitarist Karnig Manoukian and bassist Mike Kruger founded the group in the West End, yet ultimately found its voice in West Coast vocalist, Kiliyan McGuire. Over the last year, the band has enjoyed enormous breakthroughs across radio, streaming music channels, and on stages across the globe. A series of radio-friendly singles have kept the momentum going as Charming Liars prepares to release its full-length album, Thought, Flesh & Bone.
The trio has tapped into the essence of its London roots on the new single, “Something Dark,” a song that recalls the energy and buoyant rhythms of the 80’s English, new wave era. Despite its vintage sound, the track also offers a modern dynamism, and McGuire’s poignant falsetto rings brightly throughout the track. AXS recently spoke with McGuire and Kruger about the new video and upcoming album.
AXS: Mike aside from handling bass duties you also directed the video for “Something Dark,” with Andrew Mason serving as your Director of Photography. It is a performance piece. Where did you shoot it and what was the goal?
Mike Kruger: “The scenes from the video were shot on the recent US tour in Detroit at the Shelter @ St. Andrews Hall, Chicago at Chop Shop and Minnesota at 7th Street Entry. We wanted to show the incredible energy we’ve been getting back from the audience every night. The response has been phenomenal - so we shot in a spontaneous, free-form manner to do our best to capture the moment. We hope you get a sense of our live show – come out and see us!”
AXS: Charming Liars originally made the pilgrimage to Los Angeles in 2013, in part with the encouragement from producer John Feldmann. These days you seem to be going in more of a DIY direction.
Kilyan McGuire: Our guitar player, Karnig, has produced the whole thing. He wears two hats. We’ve actually done everything in-house since I think the Delete Repeat EP.”
AXS: That must offer a good deal of freedom, but the flip-side has to be that the pressure of knowing everything lands on your shoulders.
KM: “It’s true. If the songs are good and it all works out, it’s great. We did it all ourselves. But if it’s the reverse, it becomes, ‘Well, maybe we shouldn’t have done this all by ourselves (laughs). I think it’s happening more and more. With the advances in technology, I think more people are starting to step out of their shells.”
AXS: Over the course of the last five years you have released some EPs and singles, and you have grown together as a collective. How did that process and producing it yourselves, impact recording Thought, Flesh & Bone?
KM: “Through that era, I think the songs were getting an idea of where they wanted to go. You can hear subtle nuances of our sound now, in those older songs. Which is good, because we’re the same band (laughs). You’d hope to hear that. But the process was really a no-brainer. We had worked with so many great minds, musically, and we felt that we were in a position now to take all of those things we learned and try to make sense of it as we could. We knew it could go either way, good or bad, but we knew after the first recording sessions that we had the capability of doing something interesting on our own. It’s just the three of us, less chefs in the kitchen.”