As he considered an eighth album with his inventive outfit Liars, band leader Angus Andrew, who brings the group to the Bay Area this week, faced a crossroads.
He wanted to effectively utilize the computers found on 2014’s Los Angeles-based album “Mess” in a looser, more natural setting, but he also wanted to retain his outsider, eccentric sound.
The issue resolved itself two years ago, when the native Australian returned to his homeland (which he left as a child) and set up a home studio in a rugged part of the bush, accessible only by boat. The resultant “TFCF” turned out remarkably organic.
When Andrew, his wife and baby daughter first moved into their retreat, it was sheer culture shock. They were accustomed to driving everywhere in L..A for tacos, whatever convenience they desired.
“But suddenly, you’re doing shopping runs only once a week, and you fill up your boat with the basics, bring it back, and lug it up the trail to the house – it’s quite an ordeal,” says the singer. “No one ever said it would be easy, but that’s the charm of it. It keeps all the ‘easy’ people out.”
Andrew quickly got into the rhythms of the place.
With no TV – “and the slowest internet in the world” – he stopped mainlining 24-hour news stations and following his favorite teams like the L.A. Clippers and began studying the tides, gaging how long the family water supply would last.
Newly aware of the sounds of his surroundings — cicadas, wild cockatoos, waves — he installed microphones outside the studio and began recording them, some of which made the final mix of “TFCF” (for “Theme From Crying Fountain”).
“I was very apprehensive, because I’d never written any music in Australia; would I able to see the country in the way that I needed to see it?” says Andrew. “But everything turned inward, and it became a very personal record.”
From the rubbery synth-rocker “Staring At Zero” through the pastoral “Face to Face With My Face” and the off-kilter punk-folk of “No Tree No Branch,” the disc blends cold technology with outdoorsy warmth. “That old idea that there are no straight lines in nature applied perfectly to the way that I worked on my computer,” he says.
Andrew learned some hard lessons about Down Under wildlife.
Iron-beaked cockatoos – if you suddenly stop feeding them – will literally begin chewing your house apart. “And the goanna — this prehistoric-looking lizard –– will do you dirty,” he says. “If it sees you and feels threatened, it will run up like you like you’re a tree, using its sharp claws. Oh, and then there’s those greedy little buggers, the leeches.”
IF YOU GO
Where: Great American Music Hall, 859 O’Farrell St., S.F
When: 8 p.m. Oct. 10
Tickets: $21 to $23
Contact: (415) 885-0750, www.eventbrite.com