On the Road with We Are Scientists

Hailing from different parts of the USA, founding members of _We Are Scientists_ Keith Murray (from Florida) and Chris Cain (from Utah) first encountered one another, in 1997, when they were students at Pamona College, in California. Later moving together to Brooklyn, New York, they released an album on a small label before upgrading to a major label for their second effort which they consider to be their official ‘first record’. Since then they have enjoyed phenomenal success in many different ways, from music which you’d expect, to comedy.

As I sat down to meet Keith (lead singer and guitarist) and Chris(bassist) of _We Are Scientists_. I couldn’t help but be nervous, the band have become known to their fans almost as much for their irrepressible sense of humour aired at each and every one of their now infamous live shows as their music. The bands legendary hijinx even landed them their own MTV mini-series, dedicated solely to their comic talents

The meeting in person didn’t disappoint, the tone was set from the first words, Chris informed us, “Keith couldn’t make it for the interview but I have power of attorney over whatever he says and does and can substitute”. The moustachioed bassist of the band, smiling broadly, sat himself across the table, to give us a little insight into what it’s actually like to be on the road with We Are Scientists.

Although they have three (or four, depending who you ask) studio albums _We Are Scientists_, major label debut album, _With Love and Squalor_, still perhaps evokes the fondest memories for fans, and in many ways for the band too. It’s where it all really began. Despite the positive reaction to their latest effort Barbara, on the 2010 tour, the band relate, they’re still happy to indulge the faithful, “We don’t play stuff off the first record anymore but when it comes to stuff people love it’s impossible not to play them just for that incredible audience reaction.” However it is perhaps the follow up _Brain Thrust Mastery_ which holds the most significance, “I’m still really in love with Brain Thrust. It’s a really fucking great record, I’m really proud of it!” Their recent, riotous Birmingham gig, which the band related to use, found itself replete with older material, as well as the new the band wear their pride in their back-catalogue on their sleeve

Despite their notorious humour which has now come to play it’s own unique role in the band, when asked if they liked being compared to comedy bands like Flight of the Concords, Chris scathingly replied, “While I enjoy guys like Weird Al”. Reputation aside, the guys from _We Are Scientists_ don’t see themselves in that way. “I despise humour music. It feels like a prop for an entertainer or comedian. Real music is far larger than the artist.”

Though the boys place the band’s roots to when they were at college, it took a while for _We Are Scientists_ to take off. Both Chris and Keith had jobs to fall back on after graduation, in case it didn’t work out. Keith worked at an independent film channel and Chris worked in an ad agency until the band gained momentum. But music remained the heart of their ambition “Our families were really supportive to us.” Despite being a college graduate, who could have gone for a steady job, he reasoned on why they would supported their crazy dream back then, and why they still take pride in their children’s touring life style now, smiling mischievously, Chris told us, “I think our parents get a kick out of telling friends that their kid is in a successful rock band.”

But what if it hadn’t worked out? What then? “Novels, I guess, I’d write fiction.” Chris is an avid reader and keen writer – having recently contributed to a series of blogs for the Guardian, which helps to keep him sane on tour. He reads widely, and when asked he revealed himself a scifi buff, he likes he lists the work of Ray Bradbury and, his absolute favourite, the Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson.

With a beer now in hand the conversation turned to alcohol and music, the notorious ‘cabin fever’ is an issue. Being a touring musician is one (profession) that requires a medicated liquor release,’ he added, “Alcohol is great” it inspires, “but it’s certainly double-edged.” The varied experiences of the booze filled touring lifestyle Chris told us finds its way into the band’s music, “To fail to express that in our music would be silly.”

The obligatory tour bus, the symbol of the glamorous dream to those on the outside that of, the heavy drinking, non-stop party, rock and roll lifestyle which entices so many is a mixed blessing in many ways. Talking about the infamous bus that enables all the gigs, the MTV capers, and the dream held since college to be lived out, Chris sighed, “We definitely get sick of them [tour buses]. We were fortunate that, when we got our first tour bus, it was a discounted premium one. (Quality-wise) it’s been downhill from there.” he said chuckling to himself. “The best part” of it all though, “waking up in a new place every day.” Playing those songs from _With Love and Squalor_, _Brain Thrust_ or _Barbara_, watching, “the incredible audience reaction”, as their legion of fans finally get to hear the song they wanted. That’s why We Are Scientists hit the road.


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