Obvious Liars are honest about their influences

South Carolinian alt-rockers visit Savannah to play The Wormhole on Feb. 19

click to enlarge The members of Obvious Liars, except for the random guy holding the 'SLOW' sign (no lie). - COURTESY OF OBVIOUS LIARS
Courtesy of Obvious Liars
The members of Obvious Liars, except for the random guy holding the 'SLOW' sign (no lie).
It’s difficult to overemphasize how fortunate live-music fans were over the last year. Who among us hasn’t reveled in the overwhelming and seemingly endless string of legendary national acts and inspiring younger bands making a name for themselves touring and playing to packed venues night after night across the country? Indeed, 2020 was a Golden Age of live music.

Such are the tall tales you might hear during the onstage banter from South Carolina’s alt-rock foursome Obvious Liars. If your sense of humor remains intact, pair it up with your undeniable need to feel loud, live sound and get to The Wormhole on Friday, Feb. 19, for a three-band lineup of sorely needed energetic and entertaining rock music.

Don’t let the humor fool you, though. Obvious Liars enjoy riffing off their name, but their dedication is no joke and the talent is apparent.

“I’ve always had a passion for music, but after seeing a buddy’s band play in Charleston and feeling that energy, I picked up my guitar again and started joining bands,” explained lead guitarist Pedro Guillen.

After a short spell performing classic-rock favorites with cover bands, Guillen eventually met vocalist Cole Ginn through friend and drummer Brian Hawkins, as their own cover band was falling apart. All three discovered they wanted to take their craft up a few notches and start writing and playing original music.

With the addition of bassist Al Crabtree, the lineup was set and the songwriting began in earnest. Some of the inspiration is late-’90s/early-aughts rock acts they grew up with like Incubus, H.I.M., Foo Fighters, and Taking Back Sunday. Others are less apparent.

“Neal Schon is my favorite guitarist of all time. He’s very inspirational, the way he plays with a lot of emotion,” Guillen says. “Carlos Santana saw something in him, so I’ve always idolized him.”

Guillen makes an excellent point, given that Carlos Santana knows a little something about playing guitar. Inspiration from unexpected places is a recurring theme with Obvious Liars. Very little in their sound will make you think “I’ll bet this guy loves Journey,” yet there it is.

And so it goes with vocalist Ginn, who cited The Doors as one of a few favorite bands that were decidedly unlike the others. Ginn’s voice isn’t quite the deep, natural baritone of Jim Morrison. He can certainly get low, but the highs aren’t as strained, boasting an impressive range.

A sampling of Obvious Liars’ music reveals that it isn’t simply a reflection of the overall sound and style of the bands they grew up with. The specific element that sets them apart is Ginn’s vocals and harmonies many bands take longer to achieve. Compelling riffs and hooks galore are present, but the tone, maturity and control of the vocals soar above it all, leaving the listener extra-satisfied.

“That comes from Ben saying ‘do it again, do it again’ so many times,” Ginn recalls, referring to producer and sonic taskmaster Ben McMillan eliciting the most out of his efforts while recording the new single “Those Things You Do.” That drill-sergeant effect is clear, but earlier songs like “Moan” prove the progression was already underway.

Diverse influences, a popular sonic landscape to mine, superior vocals, a joke or two, and a group of energetic performers promise a night out that live music is meant to provide. Support from fellow alt-rockers-who-can-sing Cleansweep and South Carolina funcore overlords Shem Creeps make this Wormhole show an offer you can’t refuse, and that’s no lie.

Obvious Liars | Cleansweep | Shem Creeps: Friday, Feb. 19, 9 p.m.; The Wormhole, 2307 Bull St., Savannah – visit facebook.com/obviousliars for more information.

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