This year marks the 20th anniversary of experimental rock band Liars and, for frontman Angus Andrew, their upcoming 10th album, The Apple Drop, out August 6th, is indicative of their journey.
“[Working on this record] let me re-imagine the whole trajectory of what Liars has been,” he tells Rolling Stone. “I’ve really made a point with each record to experiment and try something brand new, a completely different way of working,” he says. “I always imagine that as the kind of a straight line of creativity, sort of pointing out into the distance. Working on this record, I started to realize that maybe that trajectory is more a bit like a spiral or something. And it’s sort of coming back into itself, like the stuff that you learn each time, you don’t totally disregard, so it does keep affecting the way things are working.”
For The Apple Drop, Andrew teamed up with avant-garde jazz drummer Laurence Pike, multi-instrumentalist Cameron Deyell, and lyricist Mary Pearson Andrew for an experimental studio session that yielded a hard drive full of music.
When the pandemic began, Andrew returned to that glut of content and — with the aid of psycociblin — began noodling with the music that would become the band’s next album. “I live in Australia, north of Sydney in a place that’s only accessible by boat,” he says. “There’s no roads or cars or shops or anything like that. It’s a very isolated spot. I just brought those hard drives back here across the water into my home studio.” The resulting record follows 2017’s TFCF and 2018’s Titles with the Word Fountain, which were solo efforts.
Andrew says that there’s somewhat of a sci-fi theme to The Apple Drop, although it’s not explicitly of that genre. “I’ve always been a big fan of sci-fi,” he says. “I never thought I would make a sci-fi record; I don’t think this is, but I certainly was influenced by ideas of space travel and wormholes and dimensions and that sort of stuff. … I wanted to imagine the work as — not like a movie, but I wanted to write in a way that was like a screenplay. Just so that I could imagine how I was going to move the listener through the record.”
“I started to think about the back catalog of Liars. And I wondered how the characters that I had written about, you know, 10 years ago, how would they react to this music?” he adds. “And I sort of thought about bringing them forward and ideas that I’d gone through in the past, back into it, you know what I mean? So it was everything started to sort of become self-referential.”
Liars dropped the first single, “Sekwar,” in May, along with a music video in which Andrew goes spelunking in a spooky tunnel and uses a contraption called a Sekwar to open a wormhole into another dimension. The Clemens Habicht-directed video for “Big Appetite,” out Tuesday, is a continuation of “Sekwar” where “we start to see this hallucinogenic trip that’s going on in my brain,” Andrew says. A prequel video is forthcoming as well.
The song itself deals with the greed inherent in the society the protagonist of the track is escaping. “It’s the one spot where on the record it talks about the things that you are trying to get away from,” Andrew says. “I live in this kind of strange place that’s very isolated. But funnily enough, one of the lines from that song comes from this situation that occurred, not that long ago here, where it was discovered that someone was drilling holes into the bottoms of the trees and pouring petrol into them because they were trying to kill off the trees so that they could have an ocean view.”
“It was a really strange thing to come across being in a place like this because it’s so serene,” he adds. “But it was a metaphor — this idea of selfishness. These are the kinds of things that we struggle with, I think, as a society.”