We Are Scientists, a.k.a. "the We Are Scientists", a.k.a. "W.A.S"., sometimes written "tW.A.S.",
Comprises Keith Murray, guitar and lead vocals; Chris Cain, bass guitar and backing vocals; Michael Tapper, drums and backing vocals
Generating rock music of the thoughtful, sometimes epic, often loud, vaguely danceable, implicitly humanist variety.
Begun in a bar in A.D. 2000,
They moved to New York in 2001,
Have issued three self-released e.p.s since then,
Performed sporadically across the United States and the U.K.,
And recorded their debut full-length with producer Ariel Rechtshaid (of L.A. bands Foreign Born and Dirty Little Secret) this Spring,
Which is out on Virgin Records January 16th.
The Most F.A.Q.
How would you describe We Are Scientists to people who have never seen you before?
A three-tusked mastodon. A triple mohawk. A flight from New York to L.A. with three layovers.
Physically, the We Are Scientists are not imposing. We are of medium height and slight build, but together weigh enough to be a linebacker, a linebacker of the steam engine, straight-arming, bone-snapping variety. All of us wear corrective lenses. Each has his driver’s license. (1)
How would you describe your music?
A question no band likes to be asked. Like asking a writer to describe her work using a guitar solo. But there are a couple of things that characterize our sound right now, and we're prepared to reveal them. First there are melodies, some of them catchy. They can be found in the vocal lines and often, yes, god help us, the guitar lines. Second, and lastly, we try to have each instrument do something distinct from what the other instruments are doing as often as possible. So for example the bass doesn't just play the root notes of what the guitar is playing, and it doesn't necessarily hit when the bass drum is hitting. We call this approach, which we didn't invent, and which many people do much better than we do, Advanced High Level Sectional Articulation. In fact, we don't call it that; we don't really refer to it by a special name, we just do it. We did invent that name, though – 'Advanced High Level Sectional Articulation'.
Have the critics responded?
The critics have been kind to W.A.S.:
"Once you've experienced We Are Scientists, it's incredibly difficult to get them out of your head. I've even started to enjoy their music!" (2)
So what's your story?
In the summer of 2001, Michael, Keith, and Chris responded to an offer from the band We Are Scientists to relocate, all expenses paid, from California to New York City. Brokering the deal from both sides, we quickly accepted and hopped the next steam train out of town. We Are Scientists became the Superman to our unusually pathetic Clark Kent. By day, we fumble pick up lines, choke on cigarettes, and wear those fucking P.E. coach-style shorts. By night, same pretty much, but on stage.
What is your favorite part of being in WAS?
Chris: I love the bass guitar lines; the bass work in general.
Keith: The guitar, hands down. The guitar work is amazing. The lead vocals are outstanding, too, but I would never call 'the vocals' my favorite part just because the backing vocals are pretty roundly lackluster. The guitar, though, jesus...
Michael: The drumming in W.A.S. is nothing short of spectacular. It's... it's genius. Every time I think about the drumming I'm, I'm sort of taken aback. Blown away, a more dramatically bent person might say. And then I think about the fact that I'm in W.A.S.... 'Holy crap,' I say to myself, even sometimes aloud and apparently without context. And then, and THEN I think about the fact that I'M THE DRUMMER! And... and, well, say goodbye to another pair of pants.
Where do you get the ideas for your songs?
We like to look at seemingly incompatible things – the way a painting looks, the sound of a poem as it's read, the taste of a certain sheet cake – and take our inspiration from them. The way a puppy gets muddy when he flops around in a muddy pond; the sound a pillow makes as you dry it in a dryer, that tiny nervous scream; the way a rocket goes up! up! up! up! uh... you know, up! until, until you can't see it or it dissolves or whatever happens to rockets. We take these things, these seemingly innocuous fragments of the quotidian trudge, and we honor them by turning them into big beautiful rock songs.
What was your first show like?
One of our first shows – it may or may not have been the very first, we can't remember – was in a dorm building's courtyard at a small college in southern California. There was no stage and Michael had only heard the songs a couple of times, most of them for the first time earlier that day. It's generally considered by rock historians and astrologists to be the finest, most precise, most explosive, most inspiring rock show of all time, and one of the top two or three performances of any kind, musical or otherwise, ever. People fainted dead away; this sentence is not related to the rest of the paragraph.
How did you get together?
It's complex and a little embarrassing, but it's something we can kind of laugh about now, however hesitantly. Michael had this huge crush on Keith; like, huge. And of course Keith had been friends with Chris for a couple of years at this point and had always nursed this gigantic crush of his own toward Chris, but always in secret. Now, Chris had never really thought of Keith as anything more than a friend, a good friend with a great body, so nothing had ever really happened between them, excepting the occasional drunken round of mattress dancing (literally; we're not using 'mattress dancing' as a sexual euphemism, we mean literally dancing – bouncing along to music – on a mattress or a set of adjoining mattresses). But so Chris, who had always been careful to keep things fraternal with Keith, developed this major huge crush on Michael soon after meeting him. So what you've got there is you've got your typical love triangle; a textbook example, in fact – perfect in its proportions, an isosceles love triangle, as experts in math would say. You see where this is going. There was only one way to avoid huge major hurt feelings, and that was for us to form a band.
The website, wearescientists.com, is really funny. How did you decide to start that?
Back in 1999, 2000, right around there, when the Internet was really just getting started, we had this idea for a thing that we called a 'website', or 'webpage'. Our thinking was, Okay, you've got this great, largely untapped resource – the Internet – which is essentially, if you think about it, little more (and also nothing less!) than an 'information superhighway', as we put it in those days. But what was needed in order to make the Internet of any interest or use to Joe Q Dumbass was content – locations, destinations, places from which to depart and at which to arrive on that superhighway. 'After all,' we thought, 'what would be the point of a vast, exhaustive system of interstate freeways if there were no cities and towns for the system to connect?' So we sort of blindly jumped in and created a website. And, of course, it was a huge hit; many, many people followed closely on our heels.
How would you describe your fans?
Lucid, discerning people with amazing taste and salacious physiques.
How old are each of you and where are you each from?
Keith and Chris, the both have 52 years. Michael has 45 years, and has inhabited at Dallas, in the Texas. Keith has inhabited at Miami, in the Florida, and Chris has inhabited in the Utah.
How can people get your CDs and come see your shows?
Our CDs are available on our website; we mail them out ourselves. To see our shows a person has to leave their house, which is something we're working around the clock to fix. We also bring CDs to our shows sometimes, when we remember.
What is in the near future for you?
Some serious maneuvering. You've got our third visit to the UK 8/15-9/11, which will include sets at Reading & Leeds; then we're back to the US for two weeks of shows all over the place; then you've got a return to the UK in late October for 10 days of UK shows with Editors; then as you may have suspected back to the US for the beginnings of some serious goddamn touring; around this time the album will be dropped like a warm, poppy blanket onto the UK. We'll be in home territories for most of the year's remainder, with the exception of a quick trip back to the UK for another week or two of dates in early December. Then the album comes out in the US in mid-January and all hell breaks loose. Or something like that.
(1) Michael’s has never been suspended. Neither has Keith's.(5)
(2) Guy from nationally-renowned city weekly.
(3) Reviewer for big British music publication.
(4) If you think of the most famous music critic currently working, you're probably thinking of this person.
(5) Neither has Chris's.