Liars' moment of truth

After more than a year apart, Liars Academy returns to play at the Ottobar

November 09, 2006|By Sam Sessa | Sam Sessa,Sun Reporter

After a brief stint with rock group Midnight Revival, singer/guitarist Ryan Shelkett is reviving his most successful musical project: Liars Academy.

Shelkett recently re-formed the indie/power pop band he once fronted and has started writing new songs. The Liars Academy's first gig after disbanding more than a year ago is tomorrow night at the Ottobar.

In hindsight, Shelkett said dissolving Liars Academy for such a long time was not the best thing to do.

"It was kind of dumb to stop doing what we were doing and try something new," Shelkett said. "It was something to try, but it seemed like a smarter idea if we really wanted to still play music and take it seriously to take back up Liars Academy and keep that going."

After joining a couple of bands that never took off (among them Blank and Cross My Heart), Shelkett and several others originally formed Liars Academy in 2000.

But none of the band's three albums sold more than 10,000 copies, Shelkett said. The debut, No News is Good News, came out in 2001, followed by EP Trading My Life in 2002 and full-length Demons in 2004.

Shelkett said the band was banking on Demons to break into the mainstream. It dropped in the fall of 2004, but soon after the band was thwarted.

They had just started touring in support of the album when the guys stopped for a night off in Baltimore. They parked the van, equipment trailer in tow, in front of bassist Chris Camden and guitarist Fred Fritz's house in Roland Park. Overnight, someone stole all their gear -- worth an estimated $15,000.

"Everything," Shelkett said. "Every guitar, amp, pedal, drum kit -- you name it. Whatever it takes to be in a band was stolen."

Liars Academy was forced to cancel the tour. Months later, the group received a large donation from the Music Cares foundation and was able to get back on the road, but the time to capitalize on Demons had passed, Shelkett said.

"When you drop an album, you've got to be on the road," he said. "You've got to be moving and pushing for it. To just sit home and watch the record sales not go anywhere because you're not able to tour [stinks]."

The band kept touring until May 2005, when it finally called it quits. Shelkett and some of the other members formed Midnight Revival and started writing new music. They didn't touch Liars Academy songs at all during this time, Shelkett said.

Shelkett said the year-long break from Liars Academy left him feeling refreshed, and now he's ready to give the group another shot.

"It's kind of like when you have a nice sleep. You wake up the next day and you're like, `OK, now I can go to work and I feel rested, I feel good.' Sometimes it's time to just take a little break."

sam.sessa@baltsun.com

Liars Academy plays the Ottobar tomorrow. The Oranges Band, Chris Batten and the Woods and the Expotentials open. The show starts at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10. The venue is at 2549 N. Howard St. Call 410-662-0069 or go to theottobar.com. To learn more about the band, go to myspace.com/liarsacademy.

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