Carolina Liar moonlights as headliner at the Conservatory

Carolina Liar leader Chad Wolf took a Swedish detour to success.
BY GENE TRIPLETT etriplett@opubco.com Published: August 3, 2012
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He boarded a plane for the first time at the age of 22, and the kid from Charleston, N.C., who grew up on his big sister's new wave record collection hasn't looked back since.

Now Chad Wolf is a man of the alt-pop world, having traveled all the way to Sweden — with a long stopover in Los Angeles, where he made a few lucky connections — to acquire a big-time record producer as his mentor and a band to back him up.

His sidemen are all Swedish, but the band was dubbed Carolina Liar, and under the Midas-like hand of Swedish studio wizard Max Martin (Katy Perry, Pink, Avril Lavigne), Wolf and company crafted “Coming to Terms,” a collection of 12 radio-ready songs that mixed the dramatic sweep of U2 with the tuneful, new wave-influenced snap of the Killers.

Atlantic Records snatched them up in 2008, and tracks such as “I'm Not Over” and “Show Me What I'm Looking For” spun into regular rotation on modern rock and alternative stations nationwide, the former reaching No. 3 on Billboard's Modern Rock Chart while the latter logged more than 600,000 downloads as an iTunes Single of the Week. Their songs became featured favorites on the soundtracks of shows such as “The Vampire Diaries,” “Gossip Girl” and “One Tree Hill.”

But Martin wanted bigger and better. He wanted stadium-size songs. Alt-rock anthems with indelible choruses. And that's the order that “Wild Blessed Freedom” was designed to fill, with such cinematic showpieces as “Miss America,” “King of Broken Hearts” and “Drown,” bearing the production polish of Martin, Shellback (Usher) and Tobias Karlsson (Kris Allen).

“Oh yeah, man, this is such a different record,” singer-songwriter-guitarist Wolf said with a laugh, as Carolina Liar's tour bus skirted Lake Shasta in California's Shasta-Trinity National Forest on its way to a show in Portland, Ore., last week.

“It was really a different ride for us,” he said of the band's sophomore album. “The first record was a real kind of indie approach and then the second one was when Martin and everybody decided, ‘Look, we just gotta go for broke and write the biggest songs that we possibly can and the biggest productions we can go for.' So that's what we did.”

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