Three questions with Angus Andrew of Liars

Spencer Patterson

Five years after the noise-rockers’ first Vegas visit left their frontman with a badly busted knee (“I jumped offstage thinking it was gonna be, like, a regular four-foot jump, but it ended up being, like, 14 feet! My knee totally popped out”), Andrew is headed back to town. Easy does it this time, big fella.

Though concert-goers in Manhattan or San Francisco are probably open to what you guys do, have you been getting confused reactions from Interpol fans at other tour stops?

I think the only real time that I’ve felt that was in Miami. They weren’t ready for whatever we do. But in some places it’s been surprisingly great—Nashville and Houston, for example. We all have learned to be realistic about the situation, and Interpol, also, bit off a lot to chew on—the venues they’re playing in are really big for even them—so you’ve gotta be prepared to go out there and see the whole upper arena empty. For the first couple of shows that was a little hard for me to deal with, but then you realize the other potential for what you’re doing on the stage. I’ve gotten into the idea of, “What’s it like for some kid who doesn’t know us and knows Interpol and comes to see them at this big, professional venue and gets to see us like totally f--k up, chords coming out of the guitars and mics flying off?” I think it sets a bit of a good example for kids who think that you have to be all perfect to play Madison Square Garden. When we played there it was a chaotic mess, and I was really happy about it, because it’s obviously quite a different show from the Interpol one.

Looking back with hindsight, are the one star from Rolling Stone and the F from Spin for 2002’s They Were Wrong So We Drowned more badges of honor than anything that might have upset you at the time?

At that point, I remember, I was so pleased with that record, I still am, so when I first saw those negative reviews, I was like, “Yes! This is a really strong reaction, not middle of the road.” And I thought it was amazing that a kind of debate developed. I was pretty aware that some people really liked it and other people really hated it, and there was gonna be this fight on, which in the most immediate sense was great. As time went by, I did come to realize that maybe if Rolling Stone hadn’t given it such a bad review, I might have a little bit of extra money in my pocket right now. I might have another hundred bucks instead of being broke all the time. But in hindsight now, again, I feel like it’s all come back on me, because at this point I feel like the love for that record has definitely outweighed what Rolling Stone or Spin said.

Was writing and recording your concept-free latest album Liars a freeing experience coming off two thematically driven works like Drowned and Drum’s Not Dead?

Yeah, it definitely was all about freedom and fun with this record. I’ve learned that using a concept or idea is really valuable for us, but with this record we decided not to enforce that idea on the listener. When [guitarist] Aaron [Hemphill] and I were talking about writing songs for this album, we had a common sense that we were interested in the way we consumed music when we were younger, when music seemed to be so vital. So there is a theme there—being nostalgic and looking back at the music that we’ve loved in our lives—but the difference, obviously, is that we didn’t call it, “Angus and Aaron’s teenage reminiscent album” or make up some f--king characters so that you had to figure out what the hell we were talking about. The idea now is that we wanted to have some sort of universal application. Anyone can participate.

Opening for Interpol. October 22, 8 p.m., $26.50-$52. The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel, 693-5066.

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