INTERVIEW: “Dark, dancy and sexy” is how singer Kiliyan Maguire describes his Los Angeles-based alternative rock band Charming Liars. We sat down with him before their show at the Troubadour and talked about the band’s upcoming full length album, having Elton John as a fan and when he feels the sexiest.
RR: So tonight is the first show of the year for you?
– It is! We’ve been lucky to have played here a couple of times, so every time we get to come back to Troubadour we have a lot of fun. Looking at the walls were all of my heroes are is pretty cool.
RR: It sure has a lot of history.
– It sure has. If the walls could talk, right?
RR: So can I ask you why you call yourselves Charming Liars?
– Sure: We were out drinking one night, and the barmaid didn’t believe my friends were English. The other two members are from England, and I’m obviously American. They were talking with their accents, and the barmaid thought they were putting the accents on, so she called them a bunch of charming liars.
RR: How would you like your band and your music to be described?
– Oh, that’s a tough one. We just finished up our new record, but when I listen to what we have done in the past, it’s very dark and dancy. When we are asked that question we usually say dark, dancy and sexy.
RR: That sounds good!
– Yeah, it’s cool right?
RR: So you said you finished an album?
– Yeah, actually we have just finished making a full length album, but we don’t have a name for it yet. Basically, it’s gonna be a couple of songs from the EP 12:31, and then it’s about six or seven new songs. We have been in our studio, not very far from here, and finishing up. So it’s finally done! And we’re gonna play some new songs tonight, too.
RR: When is it coming out?
– Good question. We’re sending it out now to be mixed and mastered so I wanna say hopefully around the summer.
RR: I heard that Elton John is a fan of your music.
– Yeah yeah, we love Elton John. He’s been kind enough to play two of our songs on his radio station and added them on his playlist on Spotify. We’re so humbled that we were featured in that. We’ve actually met him a few times, and he’s really, really nice.
RR: How do you feel about being compared to bands like Imagine dragons and Bastille?
– Well, they’re successful bands, so it’s definitely a good comparison. They are bands we would definitely be interested in sharing a stage or tour with. So if people are comparing us to them, I think we’re doing something right.
RR: You like those bands?
– Yeah I do, especially that new Imagine Dragons song that just came out. If that’s the direction they are heading, I hope to somewhere down the line we will kind of intersect.
RR: Who writes the lyrics in your band?
– That’s all me!
RR: Is it mostly personal experiences or how do you get your inspiration?
– Some of it is definitely autobiographical. I’ve always had a way with lyrics that I write from personal experiences, because those are what I know best. There are times when I take it from an alternate perspective and write from that, but most of it is personal.
RR: What music do you listen to yourself?
– How long do we have? Haha. I know that many people say that, but I really do listen to everything. It kind of varies. Third Eye Blind is a really cool band.
RR: Which is your favorite song to play live?
– I really like “Outta My Head”. The crowd usually go crazy when we play it; they start dancing more than I do.
RR: So I read you studied at Musicians Institute.
– I did!
RR: What kind of degree did you receive from the school?
– I got my associate in vocals. Which is convenient since it’s exactly what I do. So I did that, and the individual artist program. They teach you a variety of things you use in the music business, like graphic design, recording, a little bit of everything.
GM: Do you feel like it helped you?
– Yeah it did, it was one of those experiences that really shaped who I was and where I was going as a musician.
RR: So you kind of recently joined this band, you were a 5 piece before; how did you guys meet each other?
– We actually met through a mutual friend of ours. At the time I was playing in another band, and I was looking to change up the music a bit. This mutual friend suggested I met with the guys, so I sat down with them and they played me some of the music they’re playing. If you listen to Charming Liars prior to when I joined them, it sounds a little different from what we have done recently. I wasn’t interested in joining just another rock band, I wanted to do something different. So when I heard what they were working on and what they had in mind, it was one of those aha-moments when you go like “yes, let’s do this!”.
RR: So they were actually looking for a singer at the time?
– They were, things hadn’t worked out with their previous singer. It was just perfect timing.
RR: Do you have any goal of what you want to achieve with the band?
– Yeah, what we are trying to achieve are”¦ Wow that’s a really good question. (Laughs)
GM: Don’t be shy!
– Yeah I mean we definitely have a goal, at least lyrically speaking. I wanna create something that isn’t just a pretty sound to listen to, that has some kind of meaning or purpose. My songs are usually about overcoming and going after whatever your goal is, and not letting the world beat you down. So if I were to say one thing, it would be that. To empower people.
RR: Since this is a partly Swedish magazine, what do you know about Sweden?
– I know a lot about Sweden, my best friend is from Sweden. He actually went to MI too, and he and I used to go out and party. Some of the things I know most about Sweden is: you love your candy. He used to come back with bags of chocolate and different sour candies. Actually, there are a lot of Swedish people at MI, so I’ve got many Swedish friends who have taught me all kinds of nasty words. I have been wanting to go to Sweden, my friend has invited me to go but I haven’t had the chance.
GM: Would you rather have no one to show up at your wedding or your funeral?
– Oh, that’s a good one. I think I would say my wedding, because it is kind of an important thing anyway. On the other hand, if you knew me you probably had a good time, so you don’t have to go and stare, you know, it would probably be very sad. So I’m gonna say funeral, because if we shared a drink and we had fun, just remember me that way.
GM: Would you rather know the day or the cause of your death?
– I would say the date. Because it makes it much more interesting. If you knew you’d be hit by a bus, you’d be terrified of buses all the time. But if you know the date, you don’t have to worry, except for that one day. So you can basically be very reckless, every day but that day.
GM: Would you rather never be in love or never get laid?
– I’m gonna have to go with”¦ never be in love. I’m gonna go with that one.
GM: Would you rather always know when someone is lying, or always get away with your lies?
– I’m a really terrible liar, I’m the worst at it. So I’d go with that one, to get away with your lies.
GM: Would you rather know everything there is to know, or rule everything there is to rule?
– If you do know everything there is to know, you do rule everything. So I’m gonna go with that one. Because knowledge, my friends, is power.
GM: When do you feel the sexiest?
– On stage, definitely.
GM: Which is your favorite karaoke song?
– “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by The Rolling Stones.
GM: What’s your guilty pleasure?
– Karaoke. (Laughs) I’m staying with that, it’s funny!
Interview by: Rosanna Rundlöf & Gosia Machaczka
Live photography by: Gosia Machaczka