We Are Scientists Interview
By Rob Nichols
Saturday 04 Aug 2012 00:24:00
Browse all Music articles


New York based We Are Scientists play the Main Stage at Stockton Weekender tomorrow at 7.50 in the evening. Make sure you join the throng. Keith gave us these hilarious answers to some questions I emailed to him. Michael Sanderson provided the sensible questions. I threw the parmo one into the mix. Hopefully it gives you a flavour of what the trio are all about.

1. Are you looking forward to playing Stockton Weekender? You've always had a superb reception in this area – with sell out shows at Middlesbrough Empire etc.

Middlesbrough has been the site of many a memorable moment for We Are Scientists.  Way back in 2005, we played the Middlesbrough Live festival, and, in an effort to catch a glimpse of the screaming success comet that was Editors, I wriggled my way up to the front of the crowd.  Former Editors guitarist Chris Urbanowicz must have caught sight of my gleaming, Hollywood-grade smile, because he leaned down off of the stage for an embrace and manage to tangle some poor girl's hair in the tuning pegs of his guitar.  Her life was probably ruined thanks to the awful, lumpen bald spot that was undoubtedly left on her skull, but, thankfully, Editors' show went on, albeit with an unsightly tuft of hair mottled with dripping scalp hanging from the headstock of the lead guitar.  Nasty stuff.

We also saw X-Men:First Class there last summer, and that was, you know, a pretty okay movie.

2. Do you enjoy playing festivals?

Festivals can be fun, yeah.  I think the biggest trial comes when a festival line-up is loaded with bands that you're largely indifferent to, as that means that you end up trapped out in a field somewhere trying to find a way to kill a full day before your set.  Of course, when you're stranded way out in, say, rural Austria, there's not much you're able to do to pass the time but drink and drink and drink and drink.  Fortunately, that usually means that the show will end up being pretty enjoyable (for us, at least).

3.  It must be very different when you are playing to a festival audience where people have bought tickets to see many different bands?

Certainly, festivals performances can entail a lot more work to win the crowd over.  We tend to do a lot of talking between songs in our live show, which generally serves to either win over an unfamiliar crowd or drive them away.  In the former circumstance, we'll end up with a crowd full of brand new fans.  In the latter, we manage to whittle the audience down to a core half-dozen or so die-hard or unconscious listeners.

4. It's been 2 years since the album Barbara was released, how far is the new album away and any clues as to tracks on it? (Barbara was released in June 2010).

We're currently wrapping up work on the new album now - by the time we arrive at the Stockton Weekender, the album should have just been finished being mixed.  Unfortunately, this festival run of ours is coinciding with the only available slot for our chosen mixer, James Brown (no, not that one), which means we'll be spending our post-show evening not celebrating our musical victory with the locals, but instead rushing around town to find reliable wifi so that we can download the days mixes and email our notes in response (usually stuff like: "Can you make the bass sound more like this: thunk thunk thunka?  And can you make the guitar in the verse go "bluggwhang" and the guitar on the chorus go "blugawhango?")  Anyway, we're thinking that the album will probably actually see the light of day early next year.

5. Any singles to bridge the gap as the last 2 "Rules Don't Stop" and "Nice Guys" were also in 2010?

Per centuries(?) of music industry tradition, the next album will almost certainly be preceded by a single, but what song that might be or when it might be released will be up to the record company, whose decision-making methodology, per centuries(?) of music industry tradition, is arcane and unknowable and probably involves actual dice-rolling, for all we know.

6. Why the small UK venue tour in July (pre Stockton festival)? A few of my friends were disappointed to miss out on getting tickets.

Well, given that we haven't released any new music in two years, it seems like the wrong time to try our luck and book a massive theater tour, you know?  This run of shows has  been largely based around the festivals  we're playing on the weekends, and rather than spend the days in between those shows drinking and watching X-Men: First Class on DVD, we figured we'd might as well spend them drinking and playing some intimate shows along the way.  The speed with which a bunch of those shows sold out did sort of make us feel a little badly for the fans who'd be shut out, but, again, since we've got a new album on deck, we'll be back in no time, playing sporting arenas and hillside amphitheaters and airfields all around the UK.  Probably.

7. Why just Keith and Chris in the videos for the band and also interviews? As since Michael left all drummers have been omitted from the We Are Scientists media machine!

Well, the real problem was that we didn't actually *have* a full-time drummer for Brain Thrust Mastery - we recorded the album with a couple of different percussionists and then hired a third as our primary touring drummer - so it didn't make much sense to include a third member in the videos, when we were, for all practical purposes, a duo.  Actually, though, in the video for Impatience, Max Hart and Adam Aaronson, our live band members of that era, make cameos as a couple of police officers, so there's that.

When Andy joined up for Barbara, he was simultaneously tied up in releasing his own solo album, and so he wasn't really around for any of the promotional stuff surrounding that record.  This time around, however, he's fully on board, so you can reasonably expect him to be all over the videos for this album, bringing their watchability values way, way up.

8. Knowing full well that you're both American, do you consider yourselves to be honourary Brits as you spend so much time over here?

Well, just to give you a practical answer to that, I should point out that we spell it "honorary."  So, no, I guess we're still pretty firmly American, although we're pretty big fans of your country, and we do find ourselves saying things like, "Sort yourself out, Jeremy," or, "Jeremy, your face is rubbish."  So, we're getting there.

9.  Will you be trying out any local delicacies here, we would recommend the parmo to you (but only if you like cheese on your meat)?

I'm definitely not going to eat whatever that is.

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