Bowling Green’s dreamy indie upstart Wet Eyed Liars profess to being “a musical embodiment of glittering sadness.” The four-piece recently ushered in 2017 by releasing a pair of moody, catchy tracks on Bandcamp. Melissa Jones proves to be a commanding front woman, her cutting lyrics tinged with melancholy pair masterfully with the songbird’s unfeigned smoky vocals. The tracks released Jan. 18 “All You Really Want” and “Not Charmed” possess a lyrical candor at times recalling Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandovol, or simply an era when songwriters like Cat Power and Liz Phair were dominating college radio.
Jones paints a vivid portrait of a crumbling, toxic relationship on “Not Charmed”.
“‘Cause I’m not charmed by your bullshit,” she sings in the song’s brilliant chorus, detailing break-up angst and anxiety in anthemic fashion.
“I’m not moved by your tears / Not even a little, anymore,” she admits nonchalantly.
The band’s recent releases cement the group’s status as a Bowling Green act to keep your eyes peeled out for.
Check out a Q&A with drummer Joshua Riddle below.
When did Wet Eyed Liars form? I know y’all have been active for a while, just from randomly catching a couple shows at Tidball’s over the last year or so.
We’ve been a band since about September of 2015. We played our first show on Halloween of that year. We had a member leave last fall, and since they had written a big chunk of our songs, we couldn’t use them, so we had to start over with building up our set. We all work full-time jobs, and a few of us are in other bands, so we have mainly been focusing on songwriting and only playing about one show a month, usually at Tidball’s or The A-Frame. Speaking of the A-Frame, Alex Smith is the one that printed all of our shirts; he did an awesome job, and we need to get another run printed because they sold so fast!
What are the band’s major influences as far as particular songwriters, bands and eras in music? I feel like the most recent releases on Bandcamp (“All You Really Want” and “Not Charmed”) evoke this nostalgic 90s vibe ala Mazzy Star perhaps? I can’t quite put my finger on it. I know comparisons are reductive and your sound is definitely very much original, but just wanted to get a feel for how y’all would describe the band’s sound?
These questions are always the hardest to answer. We’ve resorted to just calling it Dream Rock for simplicity, but each of us have drastically different musical histories that help add a particular sound to our music. I wouldn’t say we all collectively “decided” on a genre, but there was a sort of consensus that the songs would be built around Melissa’s vocal style. Her playing and singing style is very much indie singer/songwriter (Laura Marling, Daughter) with roots in classic female folk and blues, so we just kind of started there. John, our lead guitarist, is excellent with spacey, bluesy licks (Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page), so that helps build the feeling of the songs. Cory, our bassist, is classically trained and has a very diverse skillset as a bassist; he can also play excellent lead guitar, so this lets him be able to go from intricate, melodic bass parts to more simple, backbone rhythm seamlessly. As a drummer, I don’t really bring much to the style of the song; I just try to keep it moving, add some tasteful fills, and stay out of the way of the breathiness of the music. It’s easy to overplay, so I try not to do that. I can see how “All You Really Want” has that Mazzy Star quality, especially with the vocals. We’ve also been compared to Natalie Merchant, Portishead, Stars, Fleetwood Mac, and Broken Social Scene, although none of us are consciously influenced by those artists. We for sure pull elements from a lot of eras from the 50s through the 90s. But, like any artists, we try to expand our sound and grow so we don’t get bored with it. And, truthfully, we’re still a brand new band, so our sound could drastically change over the next few years!
What does the band have planned for 2017? Are you hoping to put out an EP or album?
We just finished recording a set of six songs at Thunder Sound Studio (www.thundersound.com) in Franklin, KY with owner Billy Swayze and engineer Matt Schenck. We sent it to Mike Cervantes at The Foxboro (www.thefoxboro.com) in Grand Rapids, MI for mastering. On 1/18 and 1/19, we released our first two singles from this recording: “All You Really Want” and “Not Charmed”. We plan on releasing the rest of the tracks online over the next few months. Then, around summer of this year, we will release these six tracks, with some added bonus material, on a physical format, most likely CD. We’re currently gearing up to schedule some shows in northern KY, IN, OH, and, of course, Nashville.
-Feb 11th – Tidball’s – w/ Neighbor Love
-March 11th – Tidball’s – w/ Father Cairo and Bendigo Fletcher
-April 28th OR 29th (TBD) – Tidball’s (Live on the Lot)
From what I can see on Bandcamp, only two official Wet Eyed Liars songs are online. How much original material would you say the band has right now?
As I mentioned, we have six officially recorded. Other than that, I would say we have about another five or so that are either finished or almost finished. And we probably have another six or seven that are still in the beginning writing stages that we hope to have finished this year. They don’t all make the cut, though, so we’ll see.
I was really struck with the lyrics in “Not Charmed,” just the candor and realness in the relationship being detailed. To me, it’s anthemic in the sense that it’s instantly relatable to so many different people, but is also zeroing in on a personal experience. Personally, those are my favorites kinds of songs. Were the lyrics a collaborative effort?
“Not Charmed” is one of my favorites. I still get chills on the line “I’m not sure I like you anyway”, especially with the way the music gets really dark and foreboding at that part. Melissa Jones is responsible for all of the lyrics on “Not Charmed”. As for our other songs, I helped with one song, but 99% of the rest is hers. On a couple of our newest ones that we’re just finishing, the lyrics are written by John Shelton. Our current songs are mostly based on scenarios in relationships; it’s something that everyone can relate to: heartbreak and love.