We Are Scientists are pretty funny guys. And they know it too.
Lead vocalist and guitarist Keith Murray is in good spirits and ready at almost any moment to turn any question into a joke. The thing is, the words flow so naturally out of his mouth that sometimes you almost forget you’re not supposed to take what he’s saying too seriously. Take for instance Murray’s response to the fact that the Brooklyn-based trio We Are Scientists is playing a co-headlining tour with U.K. rockers Art Brut. They’ll be playing Montreal’s La Tulipe this Sunday, but who plays first? The concept is a bit of a contradiction, since logically there can only be one headliner (i.e. only one artist can perform at a time). “First of all, let me just begin by saying that the co-headlining tag of this thing is the grossest of euphemisms,” Murray said. “This is a pity tour that we’re doing with Art Brut. We’ve known these guys for a long time – they’re withering away emotionally and physically. We give all our money to charity and we saw this as a charitable case. But by virtue of this tour, they’ve all learned to read, they’re all cleaned up and five cents a day is all it took.”
In reality, We Are Scientists certainly are friends with Art Brut and the dilemma of who headlines each night is rectified by pure and simple alternation. But, Murray quickly added, “That’s just in the name of false equity. We all know that we’re the headliners and on the days that we play before them, they routinely play to an empty house. [Everyone] leaves the moment we’re done.”
All joking aside, Murray admitted that the middle slot is actually the best slot for the fans that are there only to see one of the two headlining acts. While it’s true that the night’s last act will lose a certain number of the crowd, this fact keeps the two groups on their toes about putting on a better show. This way, they’re likely to take less for granted.
But beware those of you who leave after their set, as We Are Scientists are a loyal bunch: “We have cameras, people waiting and lined up outside.we find them and we hurt them,” Murray quipped.
With high expectations for the Montreal date, We Are Scientists, who are also bassist Chris Cain and drummer Michael Tapper, will be “pretty darn furious if this isn’t the best show we’ve ever played,” Murray stated. The last time, Montreal (Cain’s original hometown), “had some destructive force,” and as such, the pressure’s sure to be quite high this time around – “but not on us – on the kids,” Murray clarified.
We Are Scientists are obviously expecting a lot from Montreal, but what can we expect from them this weekend? Murray revealed: “You can expect lasers and smoke and sort of invisible gases – they’re just barely legal – [with] high oxygen, concentrated with a little nitrous in there just to get everyone there feeling really good.”
Anything else? “At one point, we bring a corpse in and we raise the dead. It’s not actually really a corpse [though]. It’s actually one of the members of Art Brut who looks long deceased; but trust me, Art Brut can walk and talk. So it does startle the crowd to see what appears to be a largely decomposed corpse ambulating about the stage. And that’s about all you can expect,” Murray articulated.
A few moments later, Murray deadpanned, “I guess a couple of songs too.”
It’s obvious that the group doesn’t hesitate to take things lightly once in a while and their ability to use humour in a witty and unselfconscious manner, both in their music and everyday banter, probably helped a lot in furthering the “nerdy image” that the media claims We Are Scientists portray. It’s not necessarily a tag that Murray would agree with though.
On the matter he said, “I think we’re being misrepresented because the media is incapable of actually parsing information that’s placed right in front of them. If you show a picture of We Are Scientists in front of anybody and they say that is a nerd, they should be sent to school. A sociology course would help them to understand the significance and the difference between super cool awesome dudes and nerds.”
Speaking of the media and the entertainment industry, We Are Scientists have had a somewhat rare experience in terms of their success in different parts of the world. Since their music is often lumped into the ‘indie rock’ category, the threesome found themselves blowing up in England, where the scene is more popular, before finding any real recognition back home in the States. Murray maintained, “The North American market is definitely very different from the British market. The national tastes are very different and the way radio is run feels much more small scale over there.”
Here, most of their success has come from things like blogs, small newspaper write-ups and stuff like that, which is “fine with us,” explained Murray. While it’s still a bit strange for them to play huge venues in Europe, the group isn’t really affected by the fact that they have yet to become arena stars this side of the Atlantic .
For while playing music has been a far better job than their previous ones, Murray confessed that he didn’t think any of them are necessarily banking on still doing this 10 years from now because there’s so many things they’d like to do. Fortunately though, Murray did say that if the group continued to do really well and the interest was still there, then they would certainly continue along the musical path. This statement and the fact that they’re already working on album number two, which will be “less disco punk than the last,” will hopefully be enough to reassure fans of We Are Scientists.
We Are Scientists plays with Art Brut at La Tulipe Oct. 15. Opening Act: The Spinto Band.
Tickets are $17.