We Are Scientists have just released their best album. Well, I think so anyway. It’s called Huffy and you like their danceable style, you’ll surely be in your element. So I asked Keith Murray, the vocaliser and guitarist of WAS how delighted he was. He laughs.
‘It’s pretty easy for us to delight ourselves,’ he accepts. ‘I think we’re too close to this one right now to be terribly objective about it, but it does feel like a particularly satisfying record for us. We very often talk about the sort of album we want to make before we make them and they almost never materialise in that form. We tend to just respond to the songs we’ve written in the past two years that seemed the most immediate and the the most gratifying and then work outwards from there rather than work with an idea and try to conform. So we say we want to make a Thrash Metal record, almost certainly our Thrash Metal songs aren’t very good, and so we end up leaning back towards a pretty dancy Pop Indie song.’
Thank goodness for that. I don’t want to see Keith in a bullet belt (not that he couldn’t rock it), but it wouldn’t surprise me if a rockier track was tried.
The great thing about We Are Scientists is that they almost allow you to define them and then dance away, smiling over their shoulders.
‘Our listening tastes tend to not be terribly similar to what we actually make…conviction that the sort of music that we make we are the best at making, but perhaps also a fatigue at a specific sound—when we’ve spent two years working on a record, the last thing I wanna do is listen to things that sound like it,’ he explains. ‘I tend to be into top 40 radio Pop and Chris [Cain, bass] tends to be into electronic, atmospheric stuff, smoother listening than I get into.
Our songs don’t sound like Justin Bieber songs or Dua Lipa songs, but those things get me excited about their immediacy and the fact that you hear a Justin Bieber song twice and then you’re walking down the street cursing yourself for singing it. I do like that, that is an interesting capability.
As we’re tweaking songs we always ask why would someone still be listening to this? Does it do anything surprising? Why does it exist?’
They exist to delight and surprise, surely, moving about so you can’t get a bead on them.
‘I’ll take that!’ He almost shouts. ‘Great!’
That’s that sorted then! Might as well bring in the P word, it has to come at some time. Production. What did you think it was going to be?
‘I think for us it was easier because we were afforded much more time than we would have been. I think if we had had to make the record in the amount of time that we had allotted for it, the learning curve would have been much steeper and dismaying.
I think what was perfect about it was that we didn’t spend more time writing or even really recording the album, we just spent more time afterwards figuring out specific sounds or what each part needed to subtly make it a little more appealing. Which is a nuance that I think is the essential job of a producer, like a little pixie dust is missing, what is it? That was a good hill for us to climb.
We tried at least not to go overdub crazy with our extra time, I think we just went analysis crazy, we were definitely hard on all our parts; we definitely did not want to make a maincured record, there’s kind of nothing less interesting to me than an extremely clean record.
I think Chris likes that more than I do, I think he can appreciate the very curated world of an album, I tend to like chaos more than curation. I tend to be performance shy, so when we have a producer, I’m like ‘I wanna play this correctly, I wanna get a perfect take’ whereas when when we’re recording it, I don’t care about getting a perfect take, I wanna mess around and see what happens; I can play the part, but what happens if I play the part very sloppily, does that have more character? No it didn’t, the only person’s time I’ve wasted was mine.
I think there’s a little more character in the performances on this just because I didn’t care that somebody else thought ‘oh my God, this dude sucks today’ – it didn’t matter. Sometimes the sucky takes were the coolest takes.’
Ah, but this album doesn’t suck at all. It has that We Are Scientists charm, groove and a feeling of excellent oddity.
‘The reaction does seem pretty positive. A lot have people have remarked that it seems like a special record for us. I tend to stay away from responses; I want to know how people are responding to it, I just don’t want to be confronted with how people are responding to it.
It does seem positive. What’s next is simply a lot of touring on the record, which is cool, it is the first record in a long time where I do genuinely want to play every song live. So that’s annoying, you can’t really.
We’re pretty busy through next Summer. UK tour coming up, US tour in the late winter and then a European tour in the Spring and then Summer festival stuff.’
And I look forward to t-shirts labelling lots of people Huffy.
‘I think if you’ll look at our previous titles, we tend to like titles that don’t have an explicit application, but kind of are purely evocative and are fun to say.’
Surely not ‘Brain Thrust Mastery’ or ‘TV En Français’!
We Are Scientists should be celebrated. And Huffy even more so. I ended by saying I would be reviewing the album but he perhaps shouldn’t read it, he cheerily responded ‘Not going to!’
Fair enough. Let’s just listen to the album…