- Emma Egan
SHOW GALLERY + INTERVIEW: A Chat With Charlie Anastasis of Liily, + a Glimpse of their Boston show
Scroll to the bottom for Emma's full gallery from the show in Boston!
A couple of weeks ago, Emma and Emily sat down with Charlie Anastasis from the band Liily for an in-depth chat about their debut record, TV Or Not TV, their influences, upcoming plans for the band, and their weirdest touring experiences. Continue reading to check it out!
EMILY: If you had to describe your music to someone who’s never heard of you before, how would you do so?
CHARLIE: God damn it! Um…Well I’m damned if I do, damned if I don’t with that one because… Okay, it’s guitar based music, it’s definitely got some post punk infusions, it’s got some alternative rock infusion, it’s…it’s damn fine music, that’s how I would describe it.
EMILY: Congrats on the debut album! TV or Not TV is a big departure from your earlier sound, was there anything in particular that inspired the change?
CHARLIE: Yeah, I mean, I was literally talking to someone about this last night - I think really the biggest one is, you know, when we came out with the EP, a lot of those songs we had written when we were 16/17, and so I just think a big component of it was just time, and we got older. Like, I’m 23 now, and I think there was a need between the four of us for just some kind of change. So like, although part of it was just evolutionary and the passing of time, I think another part of it was definitely a conscious decision to make a change. And that is still the same today - like, the stuff we’re working on, it’s another conscious decision, even though in practice that decision is very natural, it’s still - we just want to do something different now, you know?
Because, I don’t know why, I just…I think we’ve just never been the type of band that, I know every fucking band says this, but I truly don’t think we’ve ever been the type of band that, when we were working on a new idea, if it sounds anything remotely similar to something else we’ve already completed, it just doesn’t feel exciting. And that’s not knocking bands that have the ability to make records that have a very, very concise sound, and a very through line musical aesthetic, we just can’t do that.
And maybe that’s our attention spans, I don’t fucking know, but it’s exhausting.
EMILY: Yeah, it seems it. It’s exciting though.
CHARLIE: Yeah! Thank you! And maybe that’s kinda like - I feel like just doing it, it’s just finding a new form of that excitement.
EMILY: Yeah, you never know what’s coming next so, I love it.
EMMA: Building off that - you’ve said before that making TV or Not TV was a process that unfolded over a few years of work. How did the experience of creating an album shift [from] writing separately instead of all in one room together over lockdown? Any surprising upsides to writing remotely?
CHARLIE: Yeah, you know, it’s sort of…I think there were definitely more upsides than downsides. I think now that we can look at it retrospectively, before the lockdown we were really gearing up to go in and record a bunch of stuff, and I think that, now, looking at the time we had, I think that record pre-pandemic would have been way more half-baked than what it ended up being. Because for everybody, it just forced us… There’s a very different type of music that you have the ability to make when you’re not playing as loud as possible in a room with three other people, and so I think that influenced a different avenue that we could pursue for the record that wouldn’t have been there at all if we hadn’t had that time.
EMILY: Yeah, it’s kind of like working remotely has given people more opportunities to branch out [in] their own work. It seems like, when you have the opportunity to be in these separate places, you can work more often because you don’t have to have cohesive schedules and stuff like that.
CHARLIE: Totally, but I mean, also, I think we’re able to appreciate that now, because, I mean, there was definitely a window of really fruitful, creative, isolated time, [but] then it just got really depressing. Everything was so uncertain, and I don’t think…we all knew that we would eventually tour again, but I didn’t know if that would be when I was 30, you know? So I can have a deeper appreciation for it.
I remember being super…like, I was with my mom at the time, and I was just super depressed and super anxious all of the time, and just worrying about the state of the future of my career. And I even said to her, “I know for a fact I’m worrying right now, and when I reflect on this I’m going to reflect on it positively and miss it,” so it was this kind of double-edged sword of being, like, super appreciative of it, but also worrying about it incessantly, and now of course looking back on it I was like, “Oh, that was a pretty nice time, I shouldn’t have been fucking worrying,” you know?
EMMA: Yeah, I feel that. It was almost, like, a time of maturing, too, even if it doesn’t feel like it. Like, I was in a very similar situation to you, not to the same extent, but starting to take photography more seriously, just wondering, “what’s happening with this?”
EMMA: But I feel like that maturing is something you can really feel in the album for you guys, too.
CHARLIE: Oh, thank you.
EMMA: Also, just sonically as well, I feel like there’s a lot more going on from a lot of different places.
EMMA: Which actually leads me into my next question, I promise I didn’t plan that, but what’s the most unconventional source you all pulled from to create the new album’s sound? I know there’s some jazz in there, some post -punk, is there anything super unexpected you all stumbled upon, and were like, “that’s it”?
CHARLIE: Well, I mean there was… Like, 2020, I think I expanded the type of music I listened to more than any other year. I know Maxx [Morando] and Sam [De La Torre] got super into drum and bass music, and I was listening to a ton of afro-pop, like a lot of Fela Kuti, that was cool. We got super into Daughters, you know, and a lot of old post-punk stuff, and new wave. Like, we got into James Chance and The Contortions a lot…[I'm] trying to think of the weirdest one for me…I think maybe the weirdest one for me was, I was watching so many movies and so much TV - as we all were - and I got super, super into the soundtrack for O Brother Where Art Thou.
EMILY: Oh, my god, that was my dad’s favorite movie when I was a kid!
CHARLIE: Me too! Me too, so I was listening to that every fucking day. And then it was cool too, because the studio we ended up recording the record at, that soundtrack was recorded there.
EMILY: Oh, no way.
CHARLIE: Yeah, so it was this sort of full circle honestly.
EMMA: Speaking of the recording process, you guys also released a short documentary with the record. I know you filmed and edited it, any insight on the driving force behind putting that out with the album?
CHARLIE: That was just one of those things - I can thank my past self for just having the agency and, like, foresight to be able to go through with that, because I just felt, like, “Okay, we’re making our first record, like, I feel like this is an important thing to just, like, film non stop," you know. And I didn’t even do that good of a job at it, because the lockdown happened and then I just forgot about it, but no, that was just, like, a weird intuition that I was like, “Oh, I should probably do that," and I’m glad that I did. Because, like…we all also just fucking love looking back at shit like that, and I knew that…Personally, it’ll be cooler and cooler the more time passes, you know. To look at that when I’m 40 or 50 will be really cool.
EMMA: I also feel like, for you especially as the person who made it, it’s not only going to be seeing it from the perspective of, “Oh, this is us making our first album,” but also, “This is where I was at creatively at that time.” Like, a little time capsule.
CHARLIE: Totally! Yeah, totally, absolutely.
EMMA: And the edit is so interesting, too, I remember watching it and thinking, “Oh, this isn’t a traditional documentary style.” Like, I like that you were basically like, “This is what happened, there you go.”
EMMA: Like, it makes sense now hearing you talk about it, because that’s really just how it was.
CHARLIE: Yeah, and well, I’ll say we get very nervous about, like, that kind of super expository, like, talking about ourselves on camera a lot and there’s something about, I really like that Fugazi documentary Instrument, where it just feels like the camera is just a fly on the wall. It feels less serious, self-serious I should say, which I feel like we all try to adhere to that as much as possible. So, thank you.
EMMA: Yeah, no, it’s super cool. I mean, I’ve made films before, definitely not to that style or length, but like…I was a stop motion gal so I feel that feeling. It’s so cool to go back and be like, “Okay, so this is where I was at that point,” and see how much you’ve grown.
CHARLIE: Yeah, totally. Well, that’s how Sam got into making movies and stuff was stop motion.
EMMA: Oh yeah! You guys have a few videos that feature Sam’s stop motion too right?
EMMA: It’s cool that you can be so insular and lean on yourselves so much in more than just the musical aspects of it, I feel like that’s a fairly unique way to go about it.
CHARLIE: Yeah, and we try to do that as much as possible. Because, like, we all trust each other, so it makes it so much easier to delineate work, as opposed to bringing in third parties that you kind of have to establish that trust [with] before you start delineating shit. The more we can keep it in-house, I feel like, the better it serves us in the long run all the time. You know what I mean? Because then if someone’s like, “Fuck that documentary,” it’s like, “Well, I made it, so…” There’s not, like, the guilt by association where you’re like, “God damn it, we should have fucking hired somebody else,” just because this guy doesn’t like it.
EMILY: Okay, so we have a few more questions, and they’re sort of your standard, fun little interview questions.
EMMA: The greatest hits if you will.
EMILY: Yeah! Okay, so, who are some artists making music today that excite you?
CHARLIE: Oooh! Our friends in Model/Actriz are definitely one of them, love them. They’re one of the coolest bands we’ve ever seen. And, like, the coolest, most sweet and interesting people we’ve ever met.
Our friends in Kills Birds, we really like them, I think they’re doing something really cool…
And obviously we really like [the] British wave of post-punk coming over, we love all that shit.
Emily: Hell yeah.
EMMA: We are huge fans for sure, like TV Priest, all of those guys. The British post-punk is really going off right now.
CHARLIE: Yeah, we love it. And then the guys in Catcher we really like too, we’re going out with them this summer as well.
EMMA: Sweet! Kind of going off of that, who would be an absolute dream to play the same stage as?
CHARLIE: That’s a tough one. Because it’s funny - there’s a theme in this band that we talk about all the time that, like, up until recently, most of the tours that we’ve been supporting on have just made zero sense musically. So we always talk about what would make, sort of, the perfect tour, sound-wise and fan-wise, and…I don’t know. I obviously feel like IDLES would be a contender for that, that would be a lot of fun…Turnstile is a contender for that…This is just me, this wouldn’t make any sense at all, but the Sons of Cemet, that shit’s awesome. I [also] think a Viagra Boys tour would be the most fun thing ever, those guys seem insane.
EMMA: They played at a venue down the street from me a couple months ago, I didn’t get to go, but it seemed like a really fun show.
CHARLIE: Yeah, I mean, they just seem out of their fucking minds. But I don’t know, like, we just like touring, so it’s kind of whoever.
EMILY: Yeah, you said that earlier tours have kind of made, like, no sense, and that is a little bit how we felt about the Bad Suns tour. Very grateful that seeing Bad Suns led us to be [introduced] to your music, but the crowds just, like, made no sense, [especially] with Ultra Q on that tour too.
CHARLIE: Yeah, exactly.
CHARLIE: Yeah, it almost felt like Bad Suns were out of place on that one, like, “Why were Bad Suns on this tour?”
CHARLIE: Dude, yeah, because, like, we’re all friends with them now, and I’ve talked to Miles (their drummer) about this a lot, and it’s just like, “Why the fuck were we on that tour?” You know, and he’s like, “I don’t know, but it was fun.”
EMILY: Yeah, I forgot my earplugs that night and it was, like… the worst decision of my life. I feel like I lost half of my hearing that night.
EMMA: Yeah, that stage was so low, though, too, that we were like, truly just eye to eye with the amps and were like: ”Okay, well, we’ll see what happens."
CHARLIE: Yeah, and I remember that was one of the shows that we didn’t turn our amps around, because we had to do that a couple of nights.
EMMA: Yeah, that was a wild one. Okay, what’s next? Oh! Coolest or weirdest tour experience?
CHARLIE: Well, I mean, just even on this run alone it’s been fucking weird, like…We went through Lubbock, Texas on our way to Austin the other day, and Maxx and I had to sleep in the same bed, because Maxx’s bed was just, like, covered in blood stains.
EMILY: Oh, my god.
CHARLIE: Yeah, I mean, even last night [in Houston] was weird, because we finished the show and, like, immediately after, the venue turned into a stand-up comedy club? And so, we’re like, packing up our shit while this guy is doing stand-up comedy, like, on the floor in front of the stage, and like, he was getting heckled, and it was so uncomfortable. And I mean, he was fucking terrible too, like…
EMMA: In Texas, too.
CHARLIE: In Texas, yeah.
EMMA: So, yeah, I can’t even imagine what kind of comedy that was.
CHARLIE: Oh, dude, it was just, like, bottom of the barrel stand-up comedy while trying to take a bass cabinet off stage. Just, like, nobody was laughing, somebody booed at some point…
EMILY: Like, what a weird choice that immediately after a show ends to turn into a standup comedy club.
CHARLIE: Yeah. Yeah, there’s a lot of weird story stuff that I don’t...Just kind of having brain fog right now, but… Honestly, the weirdest shit, though, just happens in the middle of the country, which is not surprising anybody, you just encounter the craziest people.
EMMA: I feel like it’s the East Coast, then just like a big question mark fog, and then West Coast.
EMMA: No offense to Emily in Nashville, because Nashville is where it’s at.
CHARLIE: Yeah, no, Nashville is cool!
EMILY: Yeah, Nashville is cool, it’s like, I wish I could pick Nashville up and, like, put it on the East Coast, that would be the dream.
CHARLIE: Yeah, totally.
EMMA: Alright, cool, I think that basically wraps up everything! Last question is just, what’s next for you guys? Personally, musically, anything exciting you want to talk about?
CHARLIE: Oh, yeah, well, we’re working on the next record right now. And we’re on tour, well, I mean, obviously right now we’re on tour, and we’ll be with our friends in Milly until Monday [June 20th], and then Model/Actriz and Catcher hop on for the East Coast, we have Catcher coming all the way back with us to the West Coast…and then July 27th, we start the TV Priest tour, that’s two weeks. We have another cool tour coming up in the fall, but I don’t know if I’m allowed to talk about that one yet, so maybe I shouldn’t say anything, I don’t want to get in trouble.
EMMA: We’ll be hype for it nonetheless.
EMILY: Yeah, we’ll wait with bated breath.
CHARLIE: Awesome, haha. And we’ll definitely put out music this year, so.
EMILY: Oh, perfect!
CHARLIE: Be it a song or an EP, something will come out this year.
EMMA: Ah, that’s so exciting! Can’t wait. I’m super excited. I think I’ll be headed out to see you guys in Boston next Tuesday.
CHARLIE: Oh sweet, yeah, see you there.
EMMA: But I think that’s all the questions we have, do you have anything you want to chat about that we haven’t hit yet or missed?
CHARLIE: No, I think that was great.
EMILY: Cool! Awesome! Well, thank you, thanks for taking the time to talk with us, Charlie, [we] really appreciate it.
CHARLIE: No, thank you, thank you, too, that was great.
EMILY: Yeah, of course!
EMMA: Yeah. Well, have a good one!
EMILY: Enjoy your drive to Dallas!
CHARLIE: Yeah! Thank you, take care. Alright, bye.
Liily are out on a headlining tour now through the end of July, so be sure to catch them if they're making a stop anywhere near you. They'll be supporting TV Priest for a few of their North American shows at the end of July, too. Their debut record, TV Or Not TV, can be streamed anywhere you listen to music, and is available on red vinyl on their webstore now.
Additionally, if this is your first foray into Liily's music, might I recommend their Vevo DSCVR performances of Wash and Sold.
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