Considering how much Aaron Hemphill, Angus Andrew, and Julian Gross of Liars spend in their East Hollywood studio, it’s surprising the guys have time to eat, let alone cook. But with a serious jones for pie and the occasional need for singer Aaron Hemphill to pay his rent by preparing dinner, the guys find a few suitable moments to emerge onto L.A.’s streets for a nosh. Their new album, WIXIW, was released last month and tonight, Liars are headed to San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall to kick-off a cross-country tour. Right before they hit the road, we caught up with the band to discuss their obsessions with sugar and the great Vegemite debate over a few sopressata sandwiches at Larchmont Wine and Cheese in this week’s L.A. Diet. Because there’s three of them, we let each of the three band members take two days to themselves. Have a look.
Thursday, June 28
Aaron Hemphill: Every day for breakfast I get a soy latte from Whole Foods in Pasadena. That place is massive, it’s close-by, and they do a great job. Then all I ate the rest of the day was two slices of pie: a slice of boysenberry and a slice of lemon meringue from Pie & Burger. That sounds bad, doesn’t it? But their pie is so good. I couldn’t help myself.
Friday, June 29
AH: I again went for my normal latte for breakfast, but skipped over lunch. I put all my energy into dinner.
Right now I’m living with a friend and his wife in South Pasadena, and my supplementary rent is that I cook from time to time. If I’m going to make a meal for them, I want it to be nice, so I made spaghetti sauce with some really awesome browned sausage and Italian tomatoes and served that with some spaghettini. Then I quickly braised kale with lemon and garlic and olive oil. With Italian food, it’s so few ingredients, so you really have to make sure they’re solid.
I really do love to cook and I’d do it more if I was in my own space. My mom wasn’t a very good cook, so I had to learn fairly early out of necessity. My list would be a lot healthier if I was living on my own. There definitely wouldn’t be those Pie & Burger days.
Saturday, June 30
Julian Gross: I started off my day with coffee, as I do every morning. My espresso machine broke, so I’m using an Aeropress right now. I’ve got my own grinder and I use the house blend from Cafecito Organico. I really like their beans a lot, they’re almost kind of sweet. Our studio is just a stone’s throw from Scoops, so that’s also awesome. I have a really bad sweet tooth, obviously.
I can’t stop making malts at home right now. I put ice cream, bananas, and malt powder in there- sometimes even Oreo cookies or candy bars. I used to drink them when I was a kid, but I just started making them again. That malt powder is such a game-changer. It took me a while to find good malt powder here, so my mom sometimes will have to send it to me.
For dinner I had some lamb chops. Do you know Speranza? They do such a good job. It’s one of my favorite local spots. It’s on the way home from the studio and I have a friend who lives close-by, so we’ll just walk over together. I got the lamb with roasted fingerlings, asparagus, and some spinach. Most people get their house-made pasta, but the lamb is unreal. They have these awesome little cookie things that they give you, too. God, I’ve got a crazy sweet tooth. I have to have something sweet every day.
Sunday, June 31
JG: I started out the day with coffee and a doughnut. The thing I love about L.A. is that there are so many awesome, nondescript mom-and-pop doughnut shops here. Not a lot of cities around the world have that. They’re on every corner, and a lot of them are really good. Around lunch time I had bagel and cream cheese and an iced mocha.
I usually have dinner with my family once a week, and last weekend we did barbecue. My dad grilled up flank steak and kielbasa. I really love a really good steak. It has to be cooked just right to medium rare—not too bloody—and my dad does a pretty good job. He’s Russian, Polish, and Hungarian, so we’d always get those awesome sausages growing up.
My mom made this rice pilaf that she calls pearl rice, where there are fresh green peas, rice, green onions, and some lemon zest. There’s this popping sweetness to it that’s so refreshing. They also did one of those Chinese chicken salads with the wonton noodles and oranges and cabbage and my dad busted out his famous chocolate pudding pie with a graham cracker crust. I could eat a whole one of those. Now that I think about it, I had pies three days this week! I really do have a problem with pie.
Later that night for a midnight snack I had some cherries and a bowl of cereal with soy milk. That’s my typical midnight snack. I always eat cereal at night.
Monday, July 1
Angus Andrew: For breakfast I had honey nut granola and coffee, and then when it came time for lunch I went over to Spitz in Eagle Rock for a falafel sandwich. That’s a great little spot.
Dinner was pretty healthy: a green salad with avocado and garlic bread. My girlfriend is vegan, so it’s a good challenge to try to find that balance when we cook together.
I guess my biggest guilty pleasure as an Aussie is that I could eat Milo (Australian chocolate milk powder) straight out of the can. But I don’t do Vegemite, I never liked it. It’s too pungent. Aaron loves it. I could live on meat pies, sausage rolls, and Violet Crumble indefinitely. I can’t find good meat pies here here in L.A. though. (Ed. note: We pointed him to The Pig and Pastry Pie Co. and The Village Idiot).
Tuesday, July 2
AA: I started out my day with a wheat bagel and a smear of peanut butter, and of course coffee.
As for lunch, we had it together at Larchmont Wine, Spirits, and Cheese. I go there all the time and they know my order at this point. I love their sopressata sandwich. I always get it with avocado and some olive oil and vinegar.
For dinner, we cooked chicken curry with saffron rice and papadum. And sticking with the sweets theme, I had a chocolate chip cookie for dessert.