We Are Scientists

by
we_are_scientists_was
Following their afternoon in Exeter’s finest boozer, The Imperial, Will Gamble sat down in the backstage area of The Lemon Grove with We Are Scientists; Keith Murray (vocals/guitar) and Chris Cain (bass).

Photo Credit: Shervin Lainez

I discovered you guys when my school friend used to wear an “I Are Scientists” t-shirt, how did you come up with your name?
Chris: Well, we’d just moved to San Francisco and rented a truck from U-haul to move our stuff. We were all six foot skinny white guys, all wearing glasses. When returning the truck, they looked it over and the guy asked us if we were brothers and we were like “no?” and he said “then are you scientists?” and we thought that was a very strange question! We then had a chat in a bar about it a week later and thought that would make a great band name, so with thanks to that incident the band was born.

So you moved from California to New York in 2001, do you think your sound would’ve been the same had you stayed on the West Coast?
Keith: Yeah I think so, I feel like the bands that we really got into in New York really influenced a lot of people so it probably seeped in to us as well.
Chris: [sarcastically] I feel like we’d of sounded a lot like Blink 182/Chili Peppers had we stayed on the west coast.
Keith: We’re glad we made the move.

Your influences are made up of a lot of animals, if you could create your own animal super-group which animals would you have playing each instrument?
Chris: Well we were just talking the other day about wanting to train birds to play the drums. You’d have at least one bird per drum and it would sit there and peck, so that would be cool.
Keith: I think the big draw of that was the portability of the birds compared to Keith Carne (drummer) who is like 150 pounds.
Chris: You wouldn’t even need to buy them a plane seat, you could just put them underneath.
Keith: Or just point where they need to go and they’ll meet you there.

What about the guitar?
Keith: Oh! Lets see what sort of critter could handle the guitar…
Chris: Probably a skunk.
Keith: Or a raccoon?
Chris: Yeah they have a cool face!

A raccoon might be quite good on bass?
Chris:
Maybe a chimp on bass, long arms and big fingers.
Keith: A squirrel horn section would be good, if you had them on piccolos.
Keith: And a dolphin on lead vocals.
Chris: With whales on backing vocals.
Chris: You’d have to put a little aquarium bubbler in the tour bus!
Keith: Yeah, it’d be hard to keep them wet onstage.

Your 5th Studio Album Helter Seltzer was released back in April, do you find that the recording process gets easier and slicker as you’ve progressed?
Keith: It normally takes longer every time we do it, but by taking virtue of this it actually gets easier. We’re getting much more casual each time we record and not really doing the thing where you book 10 days in a studio, we like to devote three months to recording and that’s very easy.

When you perform, do you like to embrace the classics or introduce more of the new material?
Chris: We’re pretty much greatest hits guys when it comes to the setlist, we like to play the singles from every album and then try to work in a little bit of the medicinal new songs.
Keith: Indoctrinate them.
Chris: We’d prefer to please 98% of the room rather than just 2%.

Do you find that audiences change from country to country?
Keith: Not terribly, I guess its different if you’re in a big town than a small town. So more within each country. I feel that the Manchester and London crowds are more similar as to what I’m anticipating a Falmouth crowd.

The song Goal England Goal, for the 2010 World Cup, where did the inspiration for that come from? Is there a secret admiration for Wayne Rooney?
Chris: Well, the impetus came from our label, who always wanted us to do creative things.
Keith: They always wanted us to do a Christmas album, which we refused.
Chris: We gladly refused that.
Keith: But they told us about football anthems and they pitched doing a football album. We sort of said no, but upon listening to some actual football anthems we said to ourselves, “these are terrible” we could easily beat that with an afternoons work, which is exactly what we did! I still think we have the best football anthem.

What’s your favourite greasy spoon/fast food joint?
Keith: Errr… Gloucester services! [laughs]

The one with the farm shops?
Chris: Those beets’ were pretty greasy!
Keith: I think our favourite U.K chain is Pizza Express although its not that greasy.
Chris: But not gonna lie, we usually get the salads. But our favourite US chain?
Keith: In N Out, right?
Ian (tour manager): I’ve never gone to In N Out with you guys?
Keith: That’s a lie!
Chris: Well, the problem is they’re only in California and Northern Utah where I grew up.
Keith: Warrens are the best in Utah, your family don’t let us eat In N Out.

Whats Warrens? We have one here and they do pretty good pasties
Chris: Ah unfortunately they don’t do pasties, they’re like a small Burger King trying to topple the king – but its way better!

Having read online that you spend “100 hours a week writing jokes” what are you working on at the moment?
Chris: We have an answering machine gag that’s pretty great.
Keith: But we haven’t really figured out the punchline yet.
Chris: It goes, everyone has answering machines but…
Keith: Yeah we’re still working on that, it’s the latest but not the greatest.

To round up, I’ve got a couple of quickfire would you rather questions. Would you rather know how you’re going to die or when?
Chris: I think I’d rather know how, so that I could start to inoculate myself to any specific sort of pain that would be involved.
Keith: The one thing the Final Destination series didn’t teach you, Chris, is that although it stated that you can’t escape death, it never made it explicit but it definitely showed you that it wants to make the process as painful as possible! So, don’t worry!
Chris: Oh I’ll know…
Keith: I’m sure it’ll catch you a different way! Well it depends how deeply specific its going to be…
Chris: “You’re going to be doused in gasoline and set on flames” for example, that specific.
Keith: Or you’ll accidentally drink a bunch of gasoline and then panic so to calm yourself smoke a cigarette.
Keith: It’ll figure out a way…

Would you rather fight one horse-sized chicken or a hundred chicken-sized horses?
Chris: It depends what your goal is, I would want the chicken sized horses, as I would seek to tame and then exploit them.
Keith C (drummer): [background] Obviously that’s what you want!
Chris: I mean you could do horseback riding for babies, which I think is a market that so far has only been a fantasy of great business thinkers such as Donald Drumpf but now we could actually give horseback riding to the babies of the world. You could also use them as old fashioned roller skates.
Keith: You could also fry them up and just have some chicken?
Chris: ..horse flavoured chicken.