We did a two-man presentation once – we were on tour and during the daytimes we were going to Universities and giving fake motivational speeches.
We chat with Keith of New York double act We Are Scientists ahead of their upcoming Bristol show.
Hi there Keith, you’ve been sitting on the new album for quite a while, It must be exciting for it to be finally launching?
Yes absolutely, it’s sort of weird because we made the album so long ago and it just had no administrative preparation time behind it. So we made an EP and a 7″ in the interim and I think we kind of got distracted by those and for a while, I sort of forgot that this album hadn’t come out yet. So now it feels like a surprise holiday or something that I had no idea actually existed, I’m sort of getting this free exciting moment.
So how did ‘TV EN FRANÇAIS’ come together?
Well it started out pretty good, it was the first album that we ever began with a preconceived idea of what we wanted. We wanted to do a 90’s college rock kind of album, we were really into The Lemonheads for a while and we were like, we should make a Lemonheads record! So we started writing the record for about five or six songs like that, we worked on them and had arrangements for them and stuff. We liked the songs a lot but then we were like this is really weird. We all chickened out and wrapped everything then started again without any preconceived ideas.
Would you say it was more beneficial hitting the studio without an idea of what you wanted?
It immediately felt like the songs were coming more naturally and were actually reflective of how we felt. It started out really weird but it was a fun exercise to decide what kind of songs we wanted to write and then write them. But I definitely like all of the songs on the album now way more. There are a few on there that have taken on a bit of that 90’s folk rock thing a bit, but most of the songs just came on their own.
Our first taste was the single ‘Dumb Luck’ is this a good reflection on the album as a whole?
I don’t think so, I think it’s the dumbest song on the record, it’s the most basically appealing tune. The rest of the record is a little more thought out than ‘Dumb Luck’, I love it it’s definitely one of my favourites but it’s very immediate like, here’s a big dumb guitar part and some drums, I feel like the rest of the record is more thoughtful than Dumb Luck might indicate. It’s kind of like a golden retriever, it’s likeable but it’s definitely an idiot.
The video must have been a laugh to make?
We have been wanting to make a fail video for a while. My friend and I got really obsessed with watching the twenty minute compilations of really painful fails on youtube and we’re also obsessed with the Final Destination films. So I feel like our videos are just always us trying to live out a long standing cinematic dream. Like the ‘Nobody Move’ video we’ve always wanted to jump through a pain of glass so we did it, then in ‘After Hours’ I really wanted to break a bottle on somebody’s head. But the one thing we have still not been able to do, and we’ve tried, is to be set on fire. Nobody will let us, the insurance companies said no.
Do you feel it’s important to have a good sense of humour when it comes to music then?
I think it is for us because we would just lose our minds if we took everything we did seriously, not because I don’t think it’s worth being serious about it but I think it would just shatter our minds all of the time, if the weight of what we were trying to do was upon us. I feel like it’s important to not get mired in self-seriousness. I think it’s cool to take what you’re doing seriously, but I don’t think I could do this career if I did.
Well the music itself is very serious…
I’m not a big fan of joke songs I have to admit, I liked Weird Al Yankovic when I was eight years old, maybe?
I think we all did!
Haha I think that’s his core audience, like eight year olds!
In the latest press shots you’re both holding an Alligator, that’s quite a radical substitution from the cats on the ‘With Love And Squalor’ cover…
Haha! I don’t know why we’re constantly holding animals that we’re dominating. We had just got off an airboat ride and when we got off they made us hold that thing. I kind of felt bad for it because you would like to think that a small alligator would still try to kill you. I wanted a little more fight out of that guy, at least the cats would scratch you. It was pretty submissive, I give him a D- in terms of living up to my ideology of an alligator.
You very recently hosted The Fly Awards, have you done anything like that before?
Not really, we did a two-man presentation once – we were on tour and during the daytimes we were going to Universities and giving fake motivational speeches. It was like an hour long and we were introduced and we had a big powerpoint presentation. It sort of feels like that, but we’ve never done it when we’re standing in front of a bunch of jackasses in bands who are sitting around silently hoping they win.
Prior to that there was a show at The Barfly in Camden, how did that come about?
It started out because we were meant to do a press show playing for media people, I kinda thought, well that sounds really boring, can’t we at least do it in a bar or something. The guy setting it up said, no you can’t do that, but we can just set up a show for you at The Barfly. We were like okay awesome, let’s do that! Does this show have a reason? Nope. We’re just going to show up and play some songs for free!
The full tour is coming in March, are you looking forward to airing the new material here in the UK?
Yeah it’s been a real long time, I think we did a week and a half late last summer, but at that point none of the new songs had been heard by anyone so we weren’t really playing many new tunes. It will be nice to have people coming to the shows having actually heard the new songs.
Does your spare time on the road vary from being at home?
When we’re in New York, Chris and I hang out at least four days a week, we hang out and drink at bars. When we’re on the road all that’s different is that we get to play music, I still hang out in bars and it’s still with Chris. All that’s different is that I don’t have an apartment to clean when I get home.
Is there a particular track that you think will really resonate on the tour?
Umm, I do think ‘Dumb Luck’ is going to be a lot of fun live. There’s also another song called ‘Slow Down’ which is kind of the other fast and loud tune. It’s really fun to play, it has demented drumming and a really loud start which I always think makes for a good live show.
I last caught you guys at Glastonbury a while back, is it inevitable that you’ll get stuck into festival season this year?
I sure hope so. I don’t know if we have any British festivals booked yet, I know we’re going to be in Europe doing festivals this summer, but nobody really tells me anything so I don’t know which ones we’re doing. We’re usually knee-deep in festivals, not literally.
We Are Scientists play Bristol’s O2 Academy on 19th March, whet your appetite with ‘Dumb Luck’ here: