Charming Liars is a British/American rock band, based in Los Angeles, California. Originally founded by lead vocalist, Charlie Cosser, guitarist, Karnig Manoukian, and bassist, Mike Kruger, in London, England. As teens growing up in London, England, the trio of talented musicians and songwriters that make up the core of this dynamic new rock band were shaken to their young souls by the crunching guitar riffs and memorable melodies that came out of the hard rock capital of the world, namely, Los Angeles. The impact on these impressionable music lovers was so powerful that they took the profoundly bold step of pulling up stakes, waving goodbye to the security of friends, family and a university education to follow their dream of becoming the next big thing by moving to Los Angeles – epicentre of American rock and roll for more than 45 years.
For the Londoners that are now the nucleus of Charming Liars, the move has paid dividends in ways even the most prescient or optimistic person could have imagined. The band landed a recording contract, earned a chance to work along side two of the most influential producers of the past quarter century – John Fields and Canada’s Bob Rock, and more recently, a slot on the Fourth-Annual Rockstar Energy Uproar Festival tour, playing along side some of the biggest alternative rock acts on the planet.
In October 2013, Charming Liars released a four- song EP called ‘New Disorder’ and followed it up with the ‘We Won’t Give Up’ EP in May of 2014. Both EPs feature captivating music best described as a perfect blend of melodic alternative rock, infused with arena size choruses and pop hooks. These powerful release serve as a powerful and compelling teaser for the debut Charming Liars full-length album which will be hitting stores later this year.
]The band played showcase gigs at The Viper Room, The Roxy, The Troubadour and the Whiskey A Go Go, carving a reputation as a band on the ascent in the highly competitive LA music scene. Fields, whose credentials include work with The Goo Goo Dolls, The Rembrandts and former Barenaked Ladies frontman Stephen Page saw this raw potential and was the first LA music gurus to encourage the band to at least try their hand at setting up shop in southern California. Bob Rock’s name initially came up in a casual conversation but the band decided to approach the legendary Canadian producer knowing that the worst he could say was no. Rock said yes and eventually produced the majority of the songs on the Charming Liars forthcoming album. Being part of the Uproar Festival this past summer had the Charming Liars rubbing shoulders with the likes of Jane’s Addiction, Coheed and Cambria, Alice In Chains, and Walking Papers. It afforded Charming Liars, which now included second guitarist Nick Krein and drummer Zack Riel, a chance for a first-hand real time master class in the music business.
Charming Liars is absolute proof that there is nothing wrong with following your heart and taking some calculated risks to make your rock and roll dreams come true. And what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger….right? Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Charming Liars bassist Mike Kruger to discuss his musical influences, the band’s early years, their process for creating music and what the future might hold for this band on the rise!
Take us back to your earlier years. What are your first memories of music in your life?
My first memories have to be my dad’s HUGE record collection. To date he probably has over 50,000 vinyl records and plays some pretty random stuff. As a really young kid I remember dancing along and crudely headbanging along to those records.
How were your biggest influences as a musician and performer? Perhaps even a mentor or artist you look to for inspiration along the way.
My biggest influence has been the people I have around me. We have been playing in bands for 10 years now and have made a lot of great friends, some of whom have gone on to do amazing and massive things. It’s this healthy competition that really inspires and influences me as a player/
They say a career in music isn’t a journey for the faint of heart. What made you take the plunge and pursue a career in the music industry?
It was an obsession that took over my life as a teenager and I just wanted to spend the rest of my days immersed in this wonderful world of music. I played in bands and worked in a music venue and just surrounded myself with good people. Couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
How did Charming Liars initially form?
We myself, Charlie & Karnig have played in bands together for years back in London. We all moved out here to write and record and album but soon realized that we were gonna need a second guitar player and a killer drummer to make these songs really sound great live. We met Nick & Zack here in LA and they are awesome players and brothers to us.
What can you tell us about your bandmates and what they bring to the table?
Charlie – The frontman – One of the best in the game, knows how to work a crowd and is a great fucking dude.
Karnig – The Musical Genius – Possibly the best and underrated guitar players out there at the moment. This guy plays and writes so perfectly it’s a joy to watch.
Nick – The Hunk – Nick looks like he should be a model, the girls love his smile and the rest of us never get a look in ;) He also slays at guitar
Zack – The Hulk – This guy is so fit and healthy he puts the rest of us to shame. He hits the drums harder than anyone I know.
From where did the band’s name originate?
We were all a bit drunk in a bar in Nashville and started having some banter with the bartender. She didn’t believe our accents were real and called us a bunch of Charming Liars. Cheers to her!
For those who may not be familiar with your work quite yet, what can they expect sonically?
LOUD! We like everything to sound huge so paid a lot of attention to the production of the record.
How do you feel your move from London to LA impacted the band musically and professionally?
What it did was make us professional. When in London we all had jobs and schooling to do while still playing in the band. When we moved out here we made our 100% focus the band and that really affected us for the better
What can you tell us about your songwriting process and how you bring a tune to life?
All our songs start off life acoustically. There is no set formula to writing the songs, sometimes it will start with a chord progression, a vocal melody sometimes even the name comes before the song has been written. The best songs are the ones that come quickly and naturally, we have found some of our favourite songs have come to us in a space of 2 hours.
Where do you find yourself looking for inspiration these days?
Anything can be inspiring if you look at it the right way. We don’t have a method or a formula, it just kinda happens.
Charming Liars has been hard at work creating their debut album. Where are you in the process?
We have actually finished recording the album but have decided to release it as a series of E.P’s coming out ever few months.
What has been the biggest challenge so far in the album creation process?
Making it happen in the first place was the hardest. Once we got in there we had a really great and productive time
The band is working with legendary producer Bob Rock for this album. How did that collaboration come about?
We were discussing potential producers for the album and mentioned Bob’s name as a joke. Someone at the label sent him some demo’s and he really liked them so we met up to talk about the album we wanted to make and we were all on the same page. It was an amazing experience being in the studio with him.
What has working with Bob Rock brought out of the band?
He taught us all about ‘vibe’ and serving the song. Sometimes its easy to become stubborn and overly attached to pieces of music or lyrics but Bob showed us how to simplify the writing process and make better songs.
What is the biggest thing you learned about yourself during this intense process?
It was scary for me personally to work with Bob who was essentially Metallica’s bassist. He was so calm and cool and made the whole thing really simple. I had such a great time that we finished all my bass parts in 2 days, I wish we could have gone on longer.
What can fans expect from your live show?
Loud and sweaty fun!
What are your favorite songs to play live these days?
We love playing all of them, they are our babies so we love rocking out to them.
Is there something you hope people come away with after they catch one of your live performances?
I hope they enjoyed it as much as we did!
Are there any other video plans in the making?
We actually shot the video for ‘The Desperation’ yesterday and its gonna look amazing! Cant wait to get it out
What do you consider your biggest milestone so far?
Being able to do this everyday as a job is a milestone in itself, we’re just thankful for the ability to do what we love.
How do you feel you have evolved as a musician since first starting out?
I have learned so much, met some cool people and shaped a fun life for myself.
What are some of your musical bucket list items?
I want to go back to London and play my favourite venue as a kid Brixton Academy.
What is the best piece of advice you can pass along to someone who wants to pursue a career in music in the industry’s current climate?
Be patient, this shit takes time. All your effort is worth it in the long run but its hard work.
Jason Price founded the mighty Icon Vs. Icon more than a decade ago. Along the way, he’s assembled an amazing group of like-minded individuals to spread the word on some of the most unique people and projects on the pop culture landscape.