Although Liars' recent album 'WIXIW' was their sixth to date, in many ways it was a record of firsts, too. 'WIXIW' was the three-piece's first electronic album, taking their familiar no-wave experimentation and drenching it in warm analogue synths and pattering industrial beats. It was also their first album to feature non-image-based artwork, created by their longtime friend John Wiese.
I actually tried to make the title 'WIXIW' the most straightforward thing - it's just straight across, and then the name of the band is more cryptic. But when you get revelation of how it's pronounced, it's very satisfying. I think it's a really great title
The band explain: "We met John when we were at art school - CalArts. He was in the graphic design program but often performed music as well. We've toured Europe and America with him and most recently were honoured to have John design all our WIXIW album and single artwork." We called up John at his home in Echo Park, Los Angeles, to find out more about the witchy 'WIXIW' project.
Dazed Digital: When did the band approach you about making the 'WIXIW' artwork?
John Wiese: I've known them since I moved to California in '98. We were at CalArts together, so we just knew each other from the hallways. I was living in Berlin earlier this year, and Angus just wrote to me because they needed a cover for the record.
DD: Did they give you any instruction?
John Wiese: Well, I think Aaron was drawn to the typography stuff in my work, so we decided to make a departure from all the other Liars covers. Their other record covers have been very image-based, with hand-drawn lettering, and they decided to make something which was more… I don't know if it's timeless, but it's more typographic and plain. No matter what style of music they're playing, they always retain a slightly witchy quality, and that's what I tried to subtly infuse into the type on the cover.
DD: Well, it's not immediately obvious what it says.
John Wiese: Yeah. I actually tried to make the title 'WIXIW' the most straightforward thing - it's just straight across, and then the name of the band is more cryptic. But when you get revelation of how it's pronounced, it's very satisfying. I think it's a really great title.
DD: What's your favourite song on the record?
John Wiese: 'WIXIW'. They've always had a good knack for making really powerful stuff.
DD: You're also in a band yourself with Corydon Ronnau and Charlie Mumma called Sissy Spacek.
John Wiese: The band actually started at CalArts '99. Our class was pretty full - John Maus, Ariel Pink and Liars were in our graduating class! I guess it was the end of the 90s. We caught the tail-end of a great period.
DD: Why did you name the band after Sissy Spacek?
John Wiese: The combination of of those two words is really weird! It wasn't necessarily named after the actress - although she does mention us in her autobiography! She says "if you look for my music online you can't find it, but there is another band called Sissy Spacek, who probably use my name ironically." That's not true - our use of her name isn't ironic! But I thought it was funny that she mentioned it.
DD: What other design work have you done?
John Wiese: My approach to graphic design usually starts with typography. If there's a need or if there's some sort of artwork that fits in I'll use it, but quite a few of my works are wholly typographic. Record covers don't make up the bulk of my design work though, and I've designed books for Chronicle. At the moment I'm working on a lot of art videos, and my solo record is probably coming out soon.
More Liars Selects pieces HERE
Follow Owen Myers on Twitter here @owen_myers