Bands on the Verge: Liam and Me

Jenny Dwoskin

John Turturro, Robert Smith, Carson Daly. Now, there are three names that one wouldn’t normally see together. Besides the fact that they are all males, what could these individuals possibly have in common? How about Liam and Me, the emerging rock-and-roll band created by Villanova student, Dan Larkin?

Kick-started five years ago when Larkin was merely 16, Liam and Me is not “emerging” in the sense of garage-based jam sessions with neighborhood buddies.

Rather, the band’s demos have blared over Y100’s airwaves – more than once – and the guys already have a record deal with 456 Entertainment.

One of the perks? “We got to meet 456 co-owner, Carson Daly,” says Larkin, although he adds, “I’m not sure if that’s cool anymore – or, ever was for that matter – but we did get to meet him.”

Their sound is sort of 80s dance rock, twisted here and there with groovy bass lines.

Back in his high school days, Larkin says, he and his band mates were inspired more by the punk rock scene, but today, Phil Collins’s “SuSu Sudio,” The Cure and even the more millennial Franz Ferdinand prevail as Liam and Me’s most salient muses.

After replacing the original bassists and drummers on account of “bad attitudes,” Larkin explains, “I think our music has now evolved into ‘regular’ rock. We finally found our own style.” Their most recent songs have begun to stray away from more melancholy, Radiohead-esque vibes, in favor of “Please, get up and dance!” beats. “We realized that no one can play Radiohead like Radiohead.”

Today, the band is composed of four members: “jack-of-all-trades” Matt O’Dowd (vocals, guitar, keys, bass), McKenzie McKenzie (bass, guitar), Jon Briks (drums), and of course, Larkin (guitar, vocals).

As a junior philosophy major with a minor in communications, Larkin remains the only band member still in school. As for the other three, aside from various side jobs, they are all advocates for a sort of “save the music” type of program.

On a mission to keep music education alive, the band members help install high-tech keyboards and other musical equipment at schools around the Philly area. Larkin quips, “Actually, I am the only one who doesn’t ‘save the music,’ so to speak. Which, I guess, is kind of sad.”

As for the name, Liam and Me, it is actually borrowed from Coen Brothers comedy, “The Big Lebowski.” John Turturro’s notorious character, Jesus Quintana, delivers a line including the phrase “Liam and Me.”

Unfortunately, because the quote is studded with a bit of profanity, it cannot be printed in mainstreamed periodicals such as the Villanovan (but, if you’re still curious, just mention Liam and Me to any “Lebowski” aficionado and you are bound to get an answer). Surely, it’s a bit random, but after the tentative monikers Name Pending, McKenzie Explosion and Immaculate Erection, the guys haphazardly turned to Lebowski.

After standing barefoot in the snow late one night, the band forced one other to choose between Grayscale and Liam and Me; no one was going inside until the decision was finalized. “Liam and Me was suggested by a friend,” claims Larkin, “and because grayscale means ‘boring’ by definition, we picked Liam and Me.”

Although off the cuff, the name Liam and Me has been quite successful as the title under which the band plays. Their impressive history includes concerts at 2002’s Warped Tour, as well at major East Coast venues like Philly’s Khyber and New York City’s Sygnal (also frequented by Jeff Buckley).

Even still, the guys prefer more intimate settings like the new Grape St. Pub (in Philly) and Villanova frat parties. “At the bigger bars, people are sometimes there just to mingle and drink.” Whereas, at frat parties, “People are there to actually listen to your music.”

And it is that exact mix of boyhood enthusiasm and modesty which drives Liam and Me to continue recording in the basement of Larkin’s house, as opposed to 456’s studio. Undoubtedly, it is a lot less expensive to lay a track.

Besides, Larkin continues, “The setting is much more relaxed. My friends come over to record their stuff, too, and we all end up helping each other out. And, then, afterwards, everyone stays and plays video games.”

Looking towards the future, Liam and Me continues to write new songs and music videos, all of which can be heard on Y100 or sampled on their website.

On Feb. 15, the band will be playing at Khyber (56th and Second streets in Philly) and they would love to see Villanova students in the audience. Also, keep your eyes open for Liam and Me at Phi Sig parties in the upcoming months. After all, wouldn’t it be cool to say, “I knew them when…”