High school was a time when music influenced me to the greatest degree. Its not surprising that many bands get together and start creating music very early in life. Delhi-based outfit ‘Barefaced Liar’ (BFL) has a similar story. The band was formed in 2008 by two high school friends Akshay Chowdhry and Sumant Balakrishnan (Bala) brought together by their love for rock music. The aim was to create an ensemble of fresh song-writing, eclectic guitar playing, powerful rhythms and dynamic vocals. The band released their self-titled debut album ‘Barefaced Liar’ in 2010 with layered vocal harmonies, driving riffs and solos and keen Indian sensibilities. Since then, the band went on to play at some of the biggest festivals in India at the time, including The Great Indian Rock Festival, Bacardi NH7 Weekender, Escape Festival, Gig Week to name a few.
BFL also came to be known in the indie circuit over a period of time for their renditions of The Beatles. When they started to gain popularity for their covers of The Beatles in their hometown in Delhi, they went on to do more such shows and played to capacity at HRC Hyderabad, HRC Pune and Blue Frog Delhi.
BFL had independently released their self-titled debut album in 2010 after playing on the live circuit for only two years. Post that, the band wanted to spend more time playing live shows which included stints at festivals such NH7 Weekender, Escape Festival, Gig Week, and Harley Rock Riders, among others.
“The experience we gained had a huge impact on the next batch of songs we wrote and we ended up releasing a single in 2012 called ‘Toe The Line’. The track was well received and set up a sonic platform for us and lead the way in terms of direction for this album,” says Akshay.
Barefaced Liar featuring Akshay Chowdhury and Sumant Balakrishnan
Today, the band is back after a five year hiatus with a new album and a new sound. There is a heavy pop element to the music and whether or not this will be well-received waits to be seen. Called ‘Mind Over Matter’, it’s produced by Zorran Mendonsa and has nine songs in all.
It may have been five years between albums, but the band claims that it hasn’t taken them that long to make this album. Akshay clarifies, “We would peg the number at more like two and it only took that long because there was a longer period of pre-production where we recorded demos of the new material and then edited them further. We wanted all nine songs at par with each other and more importantly, up to our own expectations.”
Akshay and Bala began writing the music and lyrics in earnest in early 2013. The contemporary production values of the album were enhanced by Jens Bogren of Fascination Street, Sweden who has also mastered albums by Devin Townsend, Opeth, and Marty Friedman to name a few.
With regard to the musical evolution that took place ever since they started out, Bala says, “We have evolved as people in the last few years, started families etc, so naturally that translates to the music as well. Our influences have further expanded in the last few years and hopefully, this is evident when you hear the new record.”
Live drums have made a huge impact on the sonic quotient of an album- there is a depth to the low end that sometimes programmed drums can’t deliver on. The songs are more streamlined and the production has been beefed up by Mendonsa and Bogren. There are some Indian Classical influences in a couple of tracks and a healthy use of synths, layers and even MiDi instruments that make up a huge part of the sonic pallette.
The album art has designed by Kunel Gaur and his team at Animal. Each of the songs is represented by its own unique artwork, individually crafted by Kunel after some brainstorming with BFL to interpret the lyrical content of each track.
The band has recently released a new single from the album titled ‘Mind Over Matter’. I got an exclusive listen into the second single titled ‘All I Have’. Both the singles display a wide range of musical and sonic sensibilities of the band. While ‘Mind Over Matter’ is loud, with experimental guitar riffs, loops and meticulously created melodies, ‘All I Have’ is a romantic track and rather mellow but again, with good melody. The song-writing is notable as well and I feel the younger crowd will take to the music.
On the other hand, it’s in danger of falling into the massy bracket. The slight tinge of pop makes it so and hence BFL may suffer from not being differentiated in an era of niches., The music scene is cluttered and BFL may not stand out as such.
The are confident, however. “Bands come and bands go, what is and always will be unique is our music and our song-writing. We feel that our music manages to cut across age groups and is not restricted to a specific style/genre. This allowed us to experiment and ‘Mind Over Matter’ showcases a contemporary and modern pop-rock approach to song-writing while maintaining our own stamp on things.”
Album cover for 'Mind over Matter'
By Divya Naik