Spotlight on: Charming Liars [interview] – New Music Out Now!

This week we chatted with Kiliyan of Charming Liars about a lot of our favorite topics at Concert Archives like first/favorite concerts, bucket lists, etc. Charming Liars recently released their newest album “Losers” and you should definitely check it out!

Charming Liars; Kiliyan in the middle
Charming Liars is Karnig Manoukian (left, guitar), Kiliyan Maguire (vocals, center), and Mike Kruger (right, bass).

Past Shows

BP: What’s the first concert that you went to?

Kiliyan: Well, the first concert I ever went to was Van Halen in 2007. I’d always been a big Van Halen fan. And then when I found out they were getting back together with David Lee Roth, I mean the 15-year-old-me pretty much lost his mind. I bought tickets and was in the second to last row at the Honda Center. It was the loudest thing I ever had experienced up until that point.

It was really sad, obviously, when Eddie van Halen passed earlier this year. I have been thinking about that show a lot recently so it’s funny you ask that. I’m sure a lot of musicians can relate, that even though I always knew I wanted to do music, after show I knew. We weren’t going to be Van Halen, but I had to be in a touring rock band. That was my first concert.

BP: What’s your favorite concert that you’ve been to?

Kiliyan: My favorite concert was kind of a surprise to me, because I got tickets from a friend who couldn’t go to the show. I liked both these bands, but I just missed out on the tickets. It was Nine Inch Nails at the Hollywood Bowl. They were playing with Soundgarden so it was a really cool lineup obviously. Nine Inch Nails came out and the show, the visuals, the music, it just really blew me away. It was a very unique experience seeing them live. And every time you see them live it’s a very unique thing ’cause they’re always mixing things up. So if you haven’t seen Nine Inch Nails live, you got to go!

BP: What’s the first show that you ever played?

Kiliyan: The first show I ever played was at this place called MPS – Musicians’ Performance Studios. It’s in Rancho Cucamonga. It’s a bunch of rehearsal rooms, but they also have their own stage there, which is literally an inch off the floor. So it definitely counts as a stage, but it’s interesting when you’re up there because you’re just barely taller than everybody. I remember, I was so nervous, I’d never played a show, let alone fronted a band.

If you’re playing an instrument, it’s hard enough, but you can at least meld into the jam. As a vocalist, you have to entertain people and get the crowd going. And that’s a really daunting task for a 15 year old, you know? So yeah, that was my first show and it went well. I remembered all the lyrics. I’m glad I did ’cause I did write them. But yeah, that was at MPS.

BP: That’s why I’m glad to be a bassist ?. I don’t have to talk to anybody or anything.

Kiliyan: I envy you. If I was in a band… Well I am in a band, but if I was in a different band, I would totally want to play bass. I think bass is the coolest instrument ever. You get to lock in the groove and the pocket, and you and the drummer are like best friends. I envy you. That’s so cool.

BP: When was your first show with Charming Liars?

Kiliyan: So the band fluctuated a little bit and was trying to find its legs from 2012 to until I joined in 2015. My first show, we played at… What’s the really famous venue in Arizona? I think its in Phoenix or maybe Scottsdale? One of the two. It was a very intimate show; it was really cool. All the fans were really welcoming. So that was our first show, in some undisclosed location in Scottsdale or Phoenix.

Current/Upcoming Shows

BP: So Charming Liars did some live streams earlier this year. What was that experience like compared to playing a normal show?

Kiliyan: We’ve done live streams and things like that before, so we’re a little bit familiar with them, but this was a little different since we didn’t have an option to go and do the actual touring. Usually when we do live streams we like to give a good performance, but over the last two live streams we had a little more fun with it beyond the playing an acoustic guitar thing. I think there was a moment I jumped on the couch and we just kind of had fun with it because we’re losing our minds over here. You know, we wanna get out there and get on stage. And I think some of that angst is bleeding into our acoustic live stream performances. We’re actually filming a lot of new songs full band in the next few weeks and months, so that’ll be something to look forward to as well. It won’t just be acoustic stuff.

BP: What other things have you been doing to help pass the time at home?

Kiliyan: For me, I’ve been catching up on a lot of quiet time that I didn’t get in the last two to three years. A little bit of reading, a little bit of writing. I’ve been trying to conquer eating healthier, which has been nice because usually when you’re on the road, you’re limited to certain options that are usually terrible options. So now I’m trying to master the perfect kale, frozen banana smoothies. That’s been fun. Nothing too crazy. However, Black Ops Cold War did come out last night and I play (Call of Duty) Zombies all the time, so I think that’s going to eat up a majority of my time.

BP: What’s your favorite Charming Liars song to play live?

Kiliyan: Oh that’s tough. We just released all of these new songs this year and we haven’t got to play any of them live with the exception of maybe one or two. And I know one of those songs is probably going to take the mantle and be my favorite. But for right now, I’d say my favorite song to play live is probably “Soul.” It’s just an incredible moment and an exchange that we get with the crowd, because they really seem to resonate with it and it’s really cool when you write something on your kitchen table and then you go out in the world and there’s faces singing that lyric back to you. It’s one word, it’s “soul,” so it’s kind of hard to forget, but still it’s the thought that counts. It’s really incredible.

BP: Speaking of the new songs, which one(s) from “Losers” are you most excited to try out live sometime?

Kiliyan: Probably “Favorite Show.” “Favorite Show” or “Disco Elvis.” “Favorite Show,” I just love the lyrics. I love the vibe and I’m really excited to see how it translates into a live setting. “Disco Elvis,” I just can’t wait to bust out my Elvis moves. So both songs are ranking kind of high for me.

BP: Are there any touring plans for Charming Liars that you had on the books and didn’t even get to announce that you’re trying to work on rescheduling? Or are you just waiting to see what happens at this point?

Kiliyan: Yeah. We were lucky, but also obviously unlucky cause it all fell through, but we did have a really busy year planned for 2020. We’re fortunate in the respect that we had those tours lined up. That means when touring begins, we’ll be able to just start right off the bat.

But I really do think about like the bands that maybe didn’t have anything booked yet or maybe they were going to book something later because all the venues are all booked for 2021 from all the 2020 shows that were pushed back. There’s 365 days in a year so I’m sure they’ll figure it out, but it is weird when you think about it. Like if you wanted to book a tour, you almost have to book two years in advance right now. It’s really weird and I’m sure it’s different for everybody. We definitely had a few tours lined up that were postponed because of COVID.

BP: Do you have a favorite venue to play that you’re looking forward to getting back to?

Kiliyan: There’s a couple that I think are really, really cool. There’s the Bluebird in Denver, which I think is a really cool theater. It’s almost like a mini theater. It’s really strange. I don’t know the cap, but it’s like if you took something like the Avalon but squished it to like one third its size. It’s really cool. You don’t even have to have a ton of bodies in there for it to look really, really big. It’s a really exciting venue to play, and I always loved playing in Denver. So I’d say for right now that one sticks out in my mind, the Bluebird in Denver.

Bucket List/Just for Fun

BP: Are there any festivals or venues that are on your bucket list to play someday?

Kiliyan: I don’t really go to a ton of festivals, so I don’t really have a lot of festival envy. If I did, something like Download would be really cool. That would be a really fun festival! The amount of bands that have come through there and played, both legendary bands and even new bands, it’s the hub of the who’s who.

Venue-wise, a very greedy part of me would really love to play The Forum here in LA. It’s a massive, massive sports arena, but I would like to play there because it’s “The Fabulous Forum.” That’s where the Lakers won a majority of their championships in the eighties. I think even the nineties. So I’d love to play there even more than the Staples Center, which is a bigger venue. I think the history of The Forum is just really, really cool. So that would be my bucket list venue.

BP: On your dream tour, what bands would you want to tour with?

Kiliyan: Okay. You ready for this? It’s going to blow your mind. I’d love to tour with Depeche Mode. I think that would be such a cool tour, us playing with them. And if somehow there was a possibility of past bands and new bands, I’d love to play with The Doors. I know we don’t sound anything alike, but I love that band and I would love to watch them play every night for two months. So it’s a very selfish reason for wanting to tour with them, but those would be my touring bands.

BP: Do you have a go-to food or snack that you have to have when you’re on the road?

Kiliyan: Oh, good question. I mean, I try and eat healthy the first week, but then that just goes out the window. What do I always spend money on and regret later? Besides beer and alcohol, I’d probably say beef jerky. I love it. It’s super high in protein, if that matters. And I don’t feel super bad about eating it, in terms of what I’m putting into my body. If not beef jerky, then probably Skittles. Cause I love Skittles.

BP: What’s the craziest experience that you’ve had while on the road?

Kiliyan: That’s a good question. I mean, there’s always little weird things happening whenever we’re touring but one time on tour in December, which shame on us for doing that, I’m not surprised that it happened, but we got caught in the middle of a blizzard in Oregon I think it was. And this was the worst snow storm that had hit Oregon/Seattle in I think a decade. It was a really thick snow storm.

We ended up having to unfortunately pull out of a few shows because when you’re hauling that giant trailer, obviously you can’t go super fast, and we also had to figure out how to put on snow tires. I’m from Southern California so that’s not really something we generally do here. Maybe we fix a kayak thing to the roof of our Jeeps, but never really the snow tires. So that was crazy. We were literally in the parking lot of a Pilot gas station, trying to figure out how to put those on. It took us forever, but we finally did. It was an adventure. It was a very strange, strange time. But we made it through and we learned our lesson not to tour in December if we can help it.

Thanks Kiliyan for taking the time to chat with us! Be sure to follow the band on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram for updatesand listen to Charming Liars wherever you like to get your tunes!

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