Having met and bonded in the hotbed of music that is London, England, Charming Liars made the choice to up sticks and relocate to Los Angeles. From that point on, the band has not looked back.
Described as alt-rock for all the misfits and outcasts, Charming Liars and their fans recently teamed up to create the video for their new single “Losers.” Following the release of the single, we spoke with guitarist Karnig Manoukian about the fan content they received for the video, the power of live music, and why they gave up the damp and chaos of London for Los Angeles.
Thanks for your time, how is life treating you at the moment?
Karnig Manoukian: “Life is pretty good. Considering all the world’s events and chaos, I think just to be healthy and surrounded by loved ones is a blessing!”
You’ve just put out your video for “Losers.” Can you tell us how the concept came about to get fans involved?
“We always like to have a variety of videos. So for us, we don’t want to repeat concepts or ideas. Early on we had discussed the idea of including our most dedicated fans and followers in videos and with all this pandemic craziness, getting them to send over videos seemed doable. With the songs, content, and message, it was a pretty easy thing to demonstrate so we just reached out to our fans and asked them if they were interested in being involved. The response was incredible!”
Seeing some of the clips you got sent to include, was that the response you expected and how did you feel seeing those contributions from your fans?
“To be honest, I don’t think we expected some of the really private stories and messages. We were blown away! They trusted us enough to reveal their most private and intimate life stories and we’re forever grateful.”
All over the world, people use music as a way of getting through whatever they’re going through. What do you get out of writing and performing?
“For us, it’s obviously some of that but it also reaches many other levels. Lyrically we try to concentrate on things that make a difference. Whether it’s a personal story or if we’re telling someone else’s story, we want it to have an effect. I think the reason people resort to art and creativity is because they feel the need to express themselves and making music is the best way for some people. I think that’s the best case with us. As individuals and as a group, we all have one main thing in common, we love going to watch live music and all three of us have loved doing that from a young age. Seeing a crowd fixated and just letting go for a couple of hours… that feeling can never be replaced. We have an incredible desire and commitment to doing that for others.”
Do you remember the first album or song that really resonated with you? What was it and how did it impact your life?
“Good question… I think it was probably Eminem with his Marshall Mathers LP. I remember putting it on and just feeling on top of the world. Up to that point, I had never really taken an interest in music.”
You met each other in London. How did that meeting come about and what was that common bond you had?
“I met our bass player Mike Kruger in London many, many years ago and it was actually through our drummer at the time. We had asked him for bassist recommendations and at a rehearsal, Mike walked in wearing a blazer and pink vans. I think I laughed to myself for a couple of seconds and the rest is history! With (singer) Kiliyan (Maguire), we had actually parted ways with our previous singer and a friend had urged me to check out a YouTube video of this Beatles cover… the moment I started watching it I knew that I had to reach out to him… and that was it!”
“In terms of a bond, it’s exactly as I mentioned before, we all primarily have a ridiculous desire and commitment to providing that moment where the whole room just dances, moves, and sings along. After that, I think we all have to get along. We spend a small amount of time on stage and the rest is spent packed together in a small vehicle traveling the world. We literally have to love each other and be able to withstand each other when we’re at our worst. That’s a bond!”
What prompted the move to Los Angeles in 2013? Why did you give up the wet, miserable chaos of London for Los Angeles?
“(laughs) It was a no brainer! We had toured quite a bit in the UK and had a small and dedicated fanbase but all of the people we wanted to work with were based in LA. We also wanted to become better songwriters and some of the best are also based in LA. The weather speaks for itself!”
London is a hotbed of different cultures. What did you learn from your time there?
“The thing that comes to mind most is the fact that we were going to shows almost every week. London is such a big and diverse city that all of the best bands from the U.S. toured there at least once a year. The difference between a show in LA and a show in London is the crowd and energy. So I don’t think it’s a matter of what we learned but more what we experienced.”
Although COVID-19 has temporarily taken shows away from us, bands are still giving fans music. How do you hope your music will help your fans through these difficult times, especially a track like “Losers?”
“All we can do is put out the best music possible and hope that listeners appreciate and like it.”
What are your plans now the single is out? Do you have anything special planned?
“From the beginning of the year, we’ve been putting out a song every month so it doesn’t stop here. We’ll release another in November.”
As we’ve discussed already, these times are challenging for people of all walks of life, especially on mental health. How are you keeping your own mental health in check?
“As I mentioned above, just being surrounded by loved ones, being healthy, and getting to release music… if we can check all those boxes, we’re in a good place.”
And what are your hopes musically and personally for 2021?
“We’ll put those together. I think we hope for a vaccine and then we hope to get back on the road!”
On a lighter note… can you look back on your life and pick one thing you’ve done or a time where you’ve looked at yourself and humorously thought “what a loser…?”
“I think in life what’s common is when others call us losers. I’m trying to think about when I’ve thought of myself as a loser and a moment that sticks out is when I got rejected from all my colleges of choice… I couldn’t get into one. I definitely considered myself a loser. That was right before I moved to the U.S.!”
Thanks for your time, and good luck with the single. Just to finish, how would you sum up 2020 for Charming Liars?
“Tough but making the best of it.”