Artist Interviews

Q&A: We Are Scientists

By | Published on Thursday 29 April 2010

We Are Scientists

Formed by Keith Murray and Chris Cain after meeting at Claremont College in California in 2000, We Are Scientists’ breakthrough success came with the release of their second album ‘With Love and Squalor’ in 2005. As well as their musical talents, WAS have also created and starred in their own short film ‘Steve Wants His Money’, which aired on MTV last year. The band are now set to release their fourth album ‘Barbara’ on 14 Jun via Masterswan Recordings, and more imminently headline the Roundhouse in Camden this Sunday (2 May) as part of this year’s Camden Crawl. We caught up with Keith to ask the Same Six Questions.

Q1 How did you start out making music?
My musical career was, essentially, parentally-imposed. My folks bought my older sister, Caroline, an electric guitar for her fifteenth birthday and, when she gave up the instrument two months later, they, in the interest of legitimising their investment, demanded that I pick up where she’d left off. Unfortunately, the guitar was designed for a right-handed player, so, as a lefty, I was saddled with a bit of a glass ceiling on my abilities. Had I been given a left-handed guitar, I’d surely be ranked much higher than my current #14 on the official list of Greatest Guitarists Of All Time [no citation given].

Q2 What inspired your latest album?
Our last album was largely designed with the studio in mind, and was written to sound as lush and commanding as possible in the recorded form. As a three- (and occasionally four-) piece band, however, we found some of the tunes somewhat tricky to replicate live. Where are the violins? The tubas? How do you effectively produce a mountain cat’s growl live, on stage, in time, every night? It proved taxing, to say the least. This time, we decided to write an album to be played live by a three-piece. Short, fast, hook-riddled tunes aimed at filling the dancefloor. The mountain cat can stay at home (his home, on the mountain – not our home, thanks).

Q3 What process do you go through in creating a track?
The songs usually begin their lives as crude demos performed, by me, in our practice space. These are shown to Chris [Cain, bass & vocals] and our producer, Ariel Rechtshaid, who make helpful suggestions, most of which I reject wholesale, throwing a fit and stamping around the room like an infant. They then outvote me, implement their changes, and improve the song immeasurably. Next, they usually implore me to write actual lyrics for the song, despite my protests that nonsense syllables are the future of pop music lyricism.

Q4 Which artists influence your work?
We’d like to think we’re influenced by Velvet Underground, Pavement, Hall & Oates, and Poison. Sadly, when critics claim that we’re derivative, those are rarely the bands they cite.

Q5 What would you say to someone experiencing your music for the first time?
I would say: “Now? You’re only just hearing us for the first time, NOW?! You, my friend, need to spend less time at work or with your loved ones and more time watching MTV and reading music magazines!”

Q6 What are your ambitions for your latest album, and for the future?
As we come from an indie background, our ambitions for this album are fairly humble. We’d be happy if the record were only, say, the third best-selling release of 2010.