The Guy From the Liars Got Stabbed in the Face!
Photo by Joe Dilworth "When I moved to New York, my mom told me not to get stabbed," says Pat Noecker, bassist for a New York band called the Liars. "And after a month and a half, I got stabbed."
God, you gottalove New York. And a lot of people do, but not necessarily for the right reasons. The Sept. 11 thing? Well, that's okay. The stabbing of Pat and the related irony? Yeah, that's okay, too. The Strokes? Not as much okay. And the spit-flecked hype hurricane that spun up about 10 minutes after the laser hit the data on the Strokes' first EP? Okay, as long as you remember two things: there are a lot more bands in New York City than the ones that get to play Saturday Night Live, and there's a potent few that are really good. And Pat—when he's not being stabbed or unemployed, plays bass in one of the really good ones.
The Liars are sort of the quiet hype band, though they probably hate it when people say that. Their only full-length, They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top, pulled them from sterling New Jersey indie Gern Blandsten to big-deal British indie Mute and took them from bumming around Brooklyn with their buddies to bumming around with label mates such as, um, fucking WIRE, and it's okay to be okay with that because Trench can back it all up.
We know the Liars hate being compared to the Fall and Gang of Four and PIL and the Birthday Party because Pat told us so, but it's their own fault: singer Angus Andrew slops out lyrics with the surly crap-that-talks-back attitude that keeps getting Mark E. Smith in trouble; Pat and drummer Ron bang out the dirty-but-dance-y kind of punk-funk shtick that would've gotten you on Fast Product way back when if you sanded the raw edges off; guitarist (and DRUM-MACHINE PROGRAMMER, which explains a lot) Aaron wedges in guitar lines that must've been clipped out with rusty safety scissors. And then they finish their album with a 30-minute track—yeah, full sitcom length, with commercials—that pretty much dares you not to turn off the CD player.
"You either play it when you fall asleep or get up and go, 'God, fuck that thing!'" says Pat. "That's the whole idea, to put it in the hands of the listener—you either hate it or like it, you know what I mean?"
That's as good a motto to tag onto the Liars as any—well, except that two seconds later, Pat is saying, "Our intention is not to break bridges. It's to create them. We're warm-hearted souls." And then he's explaining how he doesn't even know what any of the songs are about because he likes to preserve the mystery.
"Maybe they're tricking you, maybe they're planting something there," he says, explaining how Angus and Aaron do the lyrics. "Maybe you think it's about taking Cinderella to the movies."
Um, yeah! So the Liars are an artistically ambitious, technically accomplished, friendly (none of them are actually from New York, see?) bunch of unemployed guys. So, Pat, you got stabbed?
"You know that feeling you get when you know someone is walking behind you?" he says. "Well, when I turned my head, he was already beside me, and he stuck his hand into my chin, and he had a little boxcutter knife that barely caught me on the chin. And it was really cold out, and as I watched him run away, I put my hand on my neck, and my neck was full of warm blood. It was a little scary but such a great New York moment. And I went right home to write that in my little New York journal."
So did your mom flip out when she found out? No, Pat says. He hasn't told her.
"But most people are really nice here," he explains. "I really only know one other person who's been assaulted. Although last night . . ."
And then he tells a story about a crazy guy at a deli ATM who came up behind him and was muttering about having a gun, and Pat looked at the guy like he was totally crazy, and he actually turned out to be totally crazy even though he didn't look crazy, you know? And he didn't really have a gun. God, you gotta love New York.
The Liars perform with the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at Detroit Bar, 843 W. 19th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 642-0600. Tues., 9 p.m. Call for cover. 21+.
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