We Are Scientists
'The Lowdown of Equating Success'
With their daft facial hair and questionable fashion sense, tank-top sporting Brooklyn supernerds We Are Scientists (Keith Murray, guitar and lead vocals; Chris Cain, bass guitar and backing vocals; Michael Tapper, drums) resemble those eccentric mathematics lecturers one use to see on Open University in the early 1970s.
Do not be deceived by this veil of foolishness, for With Love and Squalor is a splendidly dexterous debut, a lubricated salvo of trim pop-punk cramming 13 songs into an honorably waffle-free 36 minutes.
Obvious touchstones include Franz Ferdinand (on fun setting) and this new CD explodes into action with the adrenalin swoop of "Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt" and "This Scene Is Dead," before taking in such other fine moments as the reggaefied "Can't Lose" and the Terrorvision-meets-Buzzcocks "Callbacks."
Taking some time out with band members Keith Murray and Chris Cain, and safe in the knowledge that seemingly every written word about the band has thus far been a complete fabrication of possible near truths, I first wondered if they really did quote from the elusive J.D. Salinger for the title of their new album, For Love and Squalor?! [Keith] ”Yeah, we luckily just liked the sound of the phrase. It’s definitely a pretty funny marriage of images or states, I guess. But also, we’re pretty outgoing gregarious guys that don’t run away after the show, and that really irks us about Salinger! And so, that was just our way of sticking it to him, you know?! He’ll never escape those that want to feed from him, even in his little bunker in his back yard.”
So, is it a true piece of written work by Salinger? [Chris] ”It’s a story called ‘For Esme - With Love and Squalor’ that’s in the collection ‘Nine Stories,’ which is the most popular place to find it these days. But, it was published as a story in the ‘50s in the New Yorker and I think it was the most popular thing he ever did in England.”
What other name could this album so easily have been called? [Keith] ”’Tremor of Intent,’ from an Anthony Burgess novel. That was our #1 choice, but everyone else in the world hated it.”
So, are any of you really Scientists?! [Keith] ”Well, we love to get into things and see what makes them tick. Sacks of flour, pillows, couch cushions, and stuff like that!”
So, where does the bands name originate then? [Chris] ”We came up with the name before we had the band and I think it’s the same as ‘With Love and Squalor’ that we just liked the phrase. It doesn’t signify that we are indeed Scientists or anything. I just don’t take chances. I’m very methodical, I’m very plodding in taking a careful path towards truth. You can’t take leaps in science, that’s fake science. That’s not how it’s done.”
So, how do the songs come together? [Keith] ”Formula, formula, formula, formula! I literally have an equation written out that once I get two or three words randomly chosen from the dictionary can start to put something together. I discover some words, they create a few fragmented sentences that would be terrible as pros, pop them on top of some music and suddenly you’ve got something that people think MIGHT be a message! But it’s not! It’s not!”
[Chris] ”Well, if there IS a message there it comes from the words and not from you, that’s for sure,” he laughs.
Formed in 2000, but just now getting your debut out on a major label, was six years a once-projected time period for success? [Keith] ”When we initially sat down and did the presentation we had an eight year plan and it turns out that the market changed a bit. Things leaped ahead a little faster than I think WE would have liked, but the returns are here now. And, part of being in business is being able to bounce back. Yes, we became successful earlier than we would have liked, but we'll bounce back from that."
[Chris] ”I think that part of the problem was that for a while it felt a little unstable. I think right around year two the acceleration was so fast, the rise so meteoric, that just for a couple of months back in 2001 – 2002 we really didn’t have our sea legs yet. We were pretty nauscius from all the motion.”
[Keith] ”It seemed like that bubble HAD to burst …”
[Chris] ”But, here we are, four years later and the bubble has calcified and become an astrodome!”
During those early years, everyone takes risks ... but what has been the biggest risk that you have undertaken thus far to get where you are today? [Keith] ”Well, we would never have risked a dime on this,” he laughs. ”But, we did put our careers as A-List film actors at risk, I guess.”
So, based on your website’s on-going article, what’s your fascination with actor Josh Lucas and the Connecticut State Lotto?! [Keith] ”I don’t know. You’ll have to ask America, my friend. I just don’t think he understands math, is part of the problem,” he laughs. ”I think he thinks that if he buys enough tickets he’ll eventually get that pay off. But you’d have to buy so many tickets to have even a shot!”
Do the cats on the front of your CD cover have actual names? [Keith] "We did have names, but they all turned out to be pretty generic. There was Spectral Remorse, Throbble Gobbler, ... and Patrick."
Finally, I like Penguins, ... do you?! [Chris] ”I’ve personally never had any up close experience with Penguins. I’ve seen them at the zoo and I find their frolocksome ways to be fairly charasmatic, I admit. But as for whether I would trust one with my souviner bracelet or something, who knows!”
[Keith] ”Yes, I love Penguins. Should I tell you about ‘Ray’?! All right, … nah, but I’ve LOVED Penguins! And so let’s just leave it like that for now!”
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
If you would like to win their brand new CD, With Love and Squalor 'AUTOGRAPHED' by all three band members - with one lucky winner also winning a fully signed copy of their latst Press Release Clippings - just answer this easy question: In their video for "Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt," what animal is seen endlessly chasing them around the city and streets?!
Send me your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win a brand new With Love and Squalor 'AUTOGRAPHED' by the entire band! Just send us an e:mail here before March 1st with your answer and the subject title 'WAS GIVEAWAY' to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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