Interview with... We Are Scientists

I caught up with We Are Scientists after The Fly awards to chat about their latest album, b-sides, their plans when it comes to making new music and what they're listening to!

You've been in this band for more ten years now, does that make it easier
to write and record your latest album?
Certainly. We're a well oiled, well fueled, high tech, hyper-efficient machine. If it came down to it, we could record an album in an afternoon, at this point, on a transatlantic flight, if we had to. Understand, that would not be our preference, doing it on a flight. The crowded quarters, the constant ambient roar — it wouldn't be ideal.

When going into the studio, did you have a plan for the record or was it more of a toying around with ideas kinda situation?
We've never really been a "studio band," not in the sense that we hate being there — it's a lot of fun to watch your songs turn into diamond-hard, beautiful sounding gems in the hands of a real producer and engineer — but we never feel comfortable enough in the studio to do any writing there. Some of that is the fact that it's costing money to be there, but more than that I think it's the fact that you're using a bunch of other people's time, not just your own. So our vast preference — and indeed the way we've done it every time so far — is to write the record completely in a practice space, and even play the songs a few times live, before going into the studio. This method also allows you to spend studio time focusing on the sounds and the smaller embellishments that can really only happen once you're there, with the fancy equipment. There's just no point spending studio time figuring out the chord change for the bridge. 

We've been loving your album recently, what albums are you guys currently loving in regards to new music?
I like the new Jeremy Jay record, and the Skaters record. Last year's Pure Bathing Culture album still kills me every time I put it on, which I do often. I just found out today that there's a new Notwist record, but I haven't had a chance to spend any time with it. How can it be anything but great, though?

What's the best show you've played in the UK?
Kind of pointless to try to name a best, honestly. We've had tremendous shows in so many different towns and venues over here. I've only been hit in the head by a (plastic) bottle thrown from the crowd in one place — Manchester — so maybe that was the best show? Is that the correct way to gauge a best show?!?!?

Some fans ask bands to do shows where they play either a smattering of B-Sides or an album in it's entirety, would this be something We Are Scientists would be possibly up for?
Sure! Bring on the request, fans! And the business plan!

For someone who hasn't heard your latest album, what's it all about?
I'd say it's pretty "cool" sounding, from a production standpoint. We hired this man Chris Coady to produce it, and that's because everything he does with his hands and ears is cool as hell. (Also because he's a great hang.)
The songs are, on average, mid-tempo, but there are some fast ones and one or two slow ones. You can shake yourself around while listening to it, if you like — nobody would fault you. But it's certainly not a relentlessly upbeat record, sonically speaking.
Lyrically, it's probably our hardest hitting record to date. Keith mostly stripped away the layer of fiction that he's applied to lyrics in the past, and so you get a very real story. It's a really compelling picture of a relationship that's sort of on the verge of collapse, with all the bitterness and anger, but also the nostalgia and loyalty, that that implies.
Does living in New York influence your music in an way?
Definitely. Maybe not as obviously as it did on the first record, when we sounded like an amalgam of three or four other New York City bands. I think we've stopped sounding like anybody else now, but the lyrics are shot through with New York City as a place, and of course Chris Coady is definitely one of the quintessential New York producers working right now.
I think in other ways that are less easily expressed we're a very New York City band, but I might be delusional about that. We do, after all, live in New York City, so of course when I picture We Are Scientists, I picture us here. (We're standing on top of the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty, respectively, using reflecting mirrors to communicate plans for a movie viewing later.)

Do you have any tips for new bands trying to break in music?
If possible, be good looking, well connected, and great at writing songs. It still probably won't work, though, so also really helpful is to like playing music just for the sake of doing it.

We Are Scientists latest album "TV En Francais" is out now!

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