Remember our rants, telling you that punk is dead? That no band embodies the spirit and integrity of bands like Black Flag, Fugazi and The Descendants? This is our mea culpa. Haling from Boston, Libyans are the real deal. Their songs attack with a ferocity that hasn’t been seen in decades, while still maintaining that tenuous grip on melody that keeps them from becoming the self-parody that most punk bands are. But when we say melody, we’re not talking about My Chemical Romance crap. There are logical chord progressions that suck you in, while they tear you apart. Couple that with a vocalist that would make Brody Dalle jealous and you have the makings of the most exciting band we’ve heard in quite a while. Sania hurled questions at a rock band that is more than just a video game.
TDOA: You guys have been playing together for a while now, how did you all meet and start a band together?
Liz: I moved to Boston on a whim and wanted to start some bands. I met Dan through a different band we did with mutual friends called Nervous Wrecks. Aaron was Dan’s Roommate.
Dan: Aaron and I practiced a few times with Marcus (our first guitarist) and then Liz played a few of us the demo of that last band she was in. I thought she sounded like Keith Morris… She ended up coming to the next practice and things just went from there. We played our first shows in the spring of 2007.
Liz: Marcus moved on to bigger and better things, so we recruited Gebo (Kevin), who had recorded all of our stuff up until that point.
TDOA: What is the DIY scene like in Boston? How has it changed over the years since you guys have been a part of it?
Aaron: When the weather is nice here and the bands are good it’s the best.
Kevin: I actually live in Western MA, and the scene is pretty great. There is a DIY venue called The Flywheel that has been around for a really long time, over ten years, that is kind of the lynch pin of the scene. There are a ton of awesome bands from out here, Outdates, Hoax, One Happy King, and Bunny’s A Swine to name a few. In my opinion, the scene in western mass has had a lot better luck than Boston lately. It seems like the city of Boston makes it really difficult for DIY venues to succeed and stick around.
Liz: Like any city, it’s up and down. Venue problems and infighting on the one hand, but tons of awesome bands and people on the other hand.
TDOA: What’s behind the decision for the band to stay sans a label?
Kevin: We don’t have a contract or anything, if that’s what you mean. Sorry State records released A Common Place, and our next record is a split release with this band from Los Angeles, God Equals Genocide. That’s coming out on Dirt Cult records and Shock To The System, which is Dans label.
Dan: We chose to release the first few things ourselves so we could have control over them, and because of time constraints we had on them due to whatever shows or upcoming tours we had planned at the time.
Aaron: I’ve been doing all the art for our releases and I like having as few people involved as possible. It makes it easier to push the look of the record itself that way. You can try out different things that some wouldn’t want to invest the time in. Our first 12” had a two color spray paint stencil on 12” squares of acetate. I’m not sure how many labels would be psyched to cut out all the acetate and then put all those parts together for a band that was less than a year and a half into things. After about 200 of 500, I wasn’t really into it anymore!
TDOA: What can you tell us about your LP A Common Place that came out last summer? It’s pretty brutal, 16 minutes of intense brain rattling punk, and those vocals really kill it. How do you feel about the finished product now?
Aaron: The bird on the cover had caught something huge and couldn’t fly high enough while carrying it, landing in an SUV grill. I just happened to be at the right/wrong place at the right time to take the picture. I feel like the album reflects that kindof struggle.
Dan: We worked forever on that thing. A few of those songs go back to before our first tour with Gebo. I feel like its the most complete record we’ve done so far, whether it was by accident or not.
Kevin: It was the first Libyans record that I feel 100% Invested in. The first 12″ was partially written when I joined the band and some of the other singles were written before I fell into a groove with their writing style. I really think it’s a solid set of songs. Liz really struck a perfect balance of melody and more direct “hardcore” vocals.
TDOA: What is your writing and recording process like?
Kevin: Our writing process is pretty straight forward most of the time. One of us will write more or less a whole song, and teach it to the others. As we are learning it we will put our 2 cents in and make some changes and rearrange things. Aaron and Dan write on bass and guitar, which changes the flow of things a bit I guess. Once we have the arrangement down we record a demo so Liz can work on vocals.
On A Common Place we recorded the drums and guitar together. Dans kit was in my living room and my amp was in the basement. We overdubbed bass and vox. There are a few guitar overdubs here and there, a couple leads, some subtle acoustic stuff, and some open tuned slide stuff. Ive moved out of that house, and my new place has some really great possibilities for recording spaces. It’s got high ceilings and is a lot bigger in general. Our next record might sound like some Def Leopard shit.
TDOA: How do you feel your sound has evolved over the years, and in what direction do you think it’s headed?
Dan: The songs are getting away from the standard verse/ chorus/ bridge formula that were more prominent on the first few records that we did. Im not sure if thats on purpose or not. The songs or parts that Aaron and Gebo come to practice with are a little less traditional than what I might think up. Adding Gebo to the band kind of put a more off kitler spin on things and helped us to grow and try new things that we may not have tried in the past.
TDOA: What are you guys listening to? What are some albums that never fall out of favor with you, punk or otherwise?
Liz: It probably shows in my singing style that I’m really influenced by the more melodic end of punk, especially melodic hardcore from Spain and the midwest in addition to more obvious stuff like southern CA bands like the Adolescents and Descendants. On the non-punk end, I’m obsessed with anything from New Zealand, punk or not- Chris Knox, the Verlaines, No Tag, and the Bats.
Kevin: This band from out here I mentioned earlier, One Happy King just put out a demo. I guess you could compare them to Archers Of Loaf and Pavement, but those references get used all the time. They really do sound like that though, so fuck it. I really like the Might Clouds lp that came out recently. I think they are from Ann Arbor MI. Really fantastic pop music. Off the top of my head, a few records that never get old: Television – Marquee Moon, Sahara Hotnights – What If Leaving Is A Loving Thing, Blink 182 – Enema Of The State. Those are just a few that pop in my mind as kind of timeless.
Dan: I enjoy the old standard punk records. Some favorites would be Group Sex by Circle Jerks, The Punchline by The Minutemen, Teaching You the Fear by Really Red among others.
Aaron: The Pop Group’s Y album and Pere Ubu’s Dub Housing gets played a lot. The song Humor Me by Pere Ubu is just too good.
TDOA: What is the typical Libyans live show like?
Aaron: I have my back to the crowd, Dan plays too fast, Gebo forgets how songs go…
Liz: Half the time people just stare at me, and half the time they get really into it and dance. There’s no predicting what it’s gonna be on any particular night.
Kevin: For the record, I don’t forget songs, I forget the titles, so I look at the setlist and have no idea what song it’s referring to.
TDOA: What is one of your coolest on stage memories?
Dan: We played this weird dance club in Virginia Beach, and it ended up being one of the funnest shows I’ve ever played.
Aaron: Yeah, That show had a full on mirror wall, disco ball going and people throwing chairs.
Liz: Also, we recently played with Rival Mob, and I was expected zero reaction, but kids went wild! it’s nice to see that people can go to a show with a diverse lineup and still appreciate all the bands.
TDOA: Was it cool to see one of your songs ‘Welcome to the Neighborhood’ included on something as well known as Rock Band? I’ve heard it’s a tough song to play!
Kevin: It’s been a blessing and a curse. I think it gave us some exposure with a hugely varied crowed, and I like to think maybe helped turn some kids on to some less commercial music. There are YouTube videos of people playing the song, and the comments on those videos are AMAZING. From that a lot of people absolutely hate us, and it’s really funny. I do get tired of people yelling “rock band” while we are playing, but I understand that it is weird.
TDOA: What can we look forward to next from the Libyans? Touring in Texas in 2011? please….?
Liz: We’re playing Texas next week!!!
See them on tour!!!
Saturday May 7th: Chicago, IL @ 2323 N Albany
Sunday May 8th: St Louis, MO @ APOP records
Monday May 9th: Kansas City, MO @ The Studded Bird
Tuesday May 10th: Denton, TX @ J & J’s Pizza On The Square
Wednesday May 11th: Austin, TX @ Beerland
Thursday May 12th: New Orleans, LA @ Siberia
Friday May 13th: Atlanta, GA @ 232 Wilbur Ave
Saturday May 14th: Raleigh, NC @ Slim’s
Sunday May 15th: Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter