This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Their appearance on the 2013 Rockstar Uproar Festival bill was supposed to signal Charming Liars' upward mobility, to herald their inevitable ascension to buzz band du jour.
True, when they appeared at West Valley City's USANA Amphitheatre that September, they were the low band on the totem pole, relegated to a side stage, the first group up in the daylong rock show. But if their performance that day didn't necessarily portend "next big thing," it at least seemed to indicate they would become something.
When Charming Liars make their latest stop in Utah this Friday night at Salt Lake City's In the Venue, there will be plenty different since the last time a new lead singer, a new musical direction and a new-in-the-near-future EP.
Alas, much of that newness stems directly from the one key component that remains frustratingly the same: their spot in the lineup.
Openers for the openers.
The aforementioned new vocalist, Kiliyan Maguire, hopes to be one of the catalysts that reignite the band's arrested momentum.
"When I first heard the music, I thought it definitely had that potential to take off, and it was surprising that it didn't," he said in a telephone interview. "… We kind of changed our approach and our direction a little bit. I think the reason that was keeping us from getting to that next level was the ability to connect with a more modern audience."
The path away from the sound and style practiced in their recent past is one mapped out by calculated practicality "a more modern audience" in this case being a polite euphemism for "not hard rock." Indeed, count up the radio stations in this market that identify as "classic rock" and contrast that total with those that consistently feature rock songs from the past half-decade. Since they don't fit the profile of the former and found the math unfavorable with the latter, Charming Liars ultimately opted for Door No. 3.
Hmmmm … seems like there's a whole lot of "alternative" out there these days.
"Before, I was doing a lot more hard rock, and they were kinda doing the same thing, and when we got together, we discussed and went over some direction of where we wanted to go a more modern sound, less heavy, a little more accessible," Maguire said. "So it was perfect when we met up together and compared notes, if you will. It made a lot of sense, musically."
Of course, a thing making sense doesn't always equal it working out. Around 2011, it made plenty of sense to a trio of London residents who'd been friends since they were teenagers singer Charlie Cosser, guitarist Karnig Manoukian and bassist Mike Kruger to come stateside to pursue their musical dreams. It also made a lot of sense to them to name the band after an interaction with a Nashville waitress, for even though an attempt to sweet-talk her into comping their meal didn't work out as planned she wasn't buying their sob story or their British accents, let alone their food she also didn't leave them totally empty-handed when she pronounced, "Y'all are a bunch of charming liars!"
By 2015, it apparently made sense for Cosser to depart the band an unfortunate casualty of its plateaued progress and for the "Southern California-born and raised" Maguire to replace him.
Now, Maguire, Manoukian and Kruger are hoping their latest EP, "12:31AM," which is due out May 27, will be well-received.
The singer has described "Soul," the first single from the EP, as "a song that symbolizes the passion one has when chasing their dreams and embracing the ups and downs that come with it." While Maguire hopes the song's thematic material proves broadly identifiable, he acknowledges given his and the band's histories it's also clearly personal.
"Yeah, that song was very, very first-person-written," he said. "I think a lot of people can relate, and it's ambiguous enough to where people no matter what they're chasing can kind of plug their life into it. Anybody who's trying to do something great has had to go through that struggle. [But] yeah, it's safe to say it's autobiographical."
Now, the plan is to take the new music public and hope that, at long last, it endears them to the masses and produces the breakthrough they've been chasing for years.
"The thing with us is, we enjoy writing music, we enjoy being in the studio, but more than anything, we're a live band. We love being on the road, we love playing in front of new friends and faces," Maguire said. "So just expect us to be going all-out to put on the best show possible. And also, come by after the show and come hang out with us, because we love meeting new people and new friends."
But then, accumulating new friends can be its own calculated practicality. After all, the more of them you have, the better your odds of getting a helpful push should the vehicle you're counting on to get you places unexpectedly stall.
P With Blaqk Audio and Night Riots
When • Tonight, 7
Where • In the Venue: 579 W. 200 South, Salt Lake City
Tickets • $18; Smith's Tix