We Are Scientists Interview

October 10, 2010 by Chris Grosso

Saturday, Oct 9th, 2010, 7pm. I sit on the corner of Daniel St, in Milford, CT at a quaint, hipster sort of coffee shop, called Café Atlantique. Tonight is the first night in the We Are Scientists month and a half Behold The American Barbarians Tour, which has the scientists covering the east coast, mid-west, and UK.  

I have approximately an hour to kill before my interview, so I begin reviewing my pre-interview notes. After a few moments, I look up and coincidentally see the scientists come in (those hipsters). I briefly consider playing the star struck fan, making a huge scene, but I then look back down at the piece of chocolate cake I’d been working on, and get back down to business.  I finish my notes, and cake (not necessarily in that order), and contact their tour manager Brandon to get things rolling.

The following was conducted at a back table of Café Atlantique. The interview begins with guitarist/vocalist Keith Murray and myself, shortly after which, we were joined by bass player/vocalist Chris Cain. Keith and Chris are easily the most enjoyable guy’s I’ve had the privilege of interviewing to date. Read on and see why…

The We Are Scientists Interview

TIS: I really don’t feel like doing a typical interview with you guys. Can we do a couple of obligatory band questions, and then get into having some nonsensical, fictitious fun?

Keith: Absolutely. We excel at nonsense.

TIS: Great, so you guys seem to be real joke makers everywhere except in your music. Your lyrical content even seems pained at times, in the vein of Tim Kasher (Cursive). How do you reconcile the comedy from the song writing process?

Keith: I would say that we don’t reconcile the comedy from the song writing. I’d say they appear to exist in an unhappy harmony, if harmony can even be used to describe something that’s dispiriting to a lot of people. I would also say our issue is that we hate joke songs, and we hate morose people, so we write “non-jokey” songs, and don’t behave morosely (laughter on both ends). Obviously, the packaging in which a song is presented, does affect the way it is digested by the people who are listening to it, but we would definitely be terrible at delivering our music in an overly earnest way.

TIS: Sure, I get what you’re saying (I think).

Keith: Yeah, it probably does need a little more thinking on our part. We’ve gone with our guts thus far, but perhaps that’s not the way to go. Maybe we need to redirect one way, or another. Maybe the next album should be all joke songs.

TIS: Fair enough. (At this point Keith receives a text from Chris saying he’s heading over for the interview. Keith and I continue in the meantime). Can you tell me about one of your funniest memories from tour?

Keith: Oh man. Among many, I’ll say it’s with our most recent drummer Danny Allen, who is a pretty gifted mimic. He also loves accents, and impersonating pretty much every single person he meets, but the thing he loves more than anything else, especially when he’s drunk, is “chimping out”.

TIS: Um, did you say “chimping out”?

Keith: (Laughing) Yes. It’s when he goes on a berserk, ape tirade. It has only happened a couple of times, but when it does, it’s truly a sight to behold. The reason it’s on my mind right now is Chris recently pulled up some photos of Danny’s most recent chimp out. (At this point, Chris enters the interview. Low and behold, he has his laptop with him, and is happy to share some of the infamous “chimp out” photos with me).

Chris: Let me help you understand this through photos, as words truly fail to convey the full effect.

TIS: I can only imagine.

Chris: In a moment, you’ll be able to do much more than imagine, and then, you’ll be longing for the time before you witnessed this incredible transformation.

TIS: Wow. (See the facebook link at the bottom of this interview for more “chimp out” photos).

Chris: Yes, man becomes chimp.

Keith: Who’d have thunk it?

Chris: And after that, you can’t look at the man, without seeing the chimp, and that’s what they don’t tell you.

Keith: Yeah, that’s the danger.

TIS: So this is your current drummer!?

Chris: Yeah, Danny Allen.

(At this point, we’re waiting for Chris to pull up more photos, and Keith and Chris sidebar while passing the time).

Keith: They gave you your coffee in a nice ceramic mug, and mine is in this paper to-go cup?

Chris: Well obviously, they were crossing their fingers, hoping you would leave.

Keith: I did pay for mine with a credit card, so…

Chris: Get out of here. You’re worthless.

Keith: Fuck you.

Chris: You seriously paid a dollar on your card?

Keith: It was two dollars actually.

Chris: Mine was only a dollar. I guess it is smaller though.

TIS: So do you mind if I take a picture of the picture of the “chimp out”?

Chris: Not at all. I can also email them to you if you want, but if you prefer the context of seeing it on my computer, that’s fine too.

TIS: I’ll be greedy and go for both if you don’t mind.

Chris: Not at all.

Keith: Also, just to give you a greater idea of the general lifestyle we live as touring musicians, here is a text that just came in; “Thank you so much for grabbing our gear. You are definitely getting a t-shirt from me, and maybe jelly beans.”

TIS: Very nice, can’t beat jelly beans. So there has been much conjecture surrounding the origin of your name. Can you do me the favor of going on record now, and verifying my personal favorite, as it cites your reason being an ode to the Cap’N Jazz song “We Are Scientists”?

Keith: Well, certainly that’s the most boring, mundane one.

TIS: Hey, be nice.

Keith: Well, to have simply lifted it from someone else…

TIS: Fine, fine. Can we make up something better then? Is the Uhaul story the true one?

Keith: Indeed, the Uhaul story is the true one. But if you want me to craft a new tale for you?

TIS: No, no. The Uhaul one is still pretty damn good.

Keith: Yeah, the Uhaul employee asking us if we were brothers, and then scientists, as he inspected our van, is in fact, the true story.

Chris: Yes, we looked like we might be brother scientists.

TIS: Ok, well are you Cap’N Jazz fans at least?

Chris: Well we’re really big Promise Ring fans, but to be honest, not the biggest Cap’N Jazz fans.

TIS: Really? Too bad.

Keith: I think it’s fair to say that the first time someone asked us if we’d named our band after that song, we had never even heard of it.

TIS: Really?

Keith: Yeah, neither of us were sufficient enough fans to know actual song titles.

TIS: Ok, so you guys did a series of short videos for MTV UK called “Steve Wants His Money”, which were damn funny.

Chris: Ah, yes.

Keith: Chris actually just re-watched that last night.

Chris: Yes, and I’m a big fan. I’ve come back with a positive review; “I laughed my ass off. I definitely love that show.”

Keith: Well, it is tailored to your sense of humor, let’s be honest here.

Chris: That is true.

Keith: I haven’t seen it since the edits.

Chris: Yeah, and that definitely made it the worst possible version, but it’s so good that no amount of editing could destroy it (Keith and I laughing). You laugh, but it’s true.

TIS: Is there going to be a season 2?

Keith: We’re definitely not going to try and do a second season, but we are going to try and do another TV project.

TIS: Ok.

Keith: We don’t know exactly what yet. A friend of ours just recently got a job hosting a show called “Gonzo” on MTV in England, so we’re going to try and weasel our way into having a regularly recurring segment on it, but that’s still a non-ordained claim.

TIS: Good luck with that. So that’s it for the obligatory band jargon. Now I’d like to move on to the random fictional part of the interview, where I’ll give you guys some scenarios, and you work off of them from there.

Keith: Sounds good, let’s try.

TIS: Cool. Scenario the first; You’re locked in a basement with Gary Busey and there is no way out. What do you do?

Keith: Hmm, well I have the feeling that if you told Gary Busey there was a full pig roasting on a spit outside of the basement, he would get out of there. What else does Busey fancy? RC Cola, crates of RC Cola.

Chris: And Jelly beans. Jelly Bellies specifically. And teddy bears too.

Keith: Teddy bears!? Jesus.

Chris: Maybe not in the same voracious way he fancies the other things, but he loves teddy bears. If I could have one thing to try and get me out of the basement, it would definitely be Gary inside, with the food outside, creating odors that permeate the basement. I’d easily prefer that than a piece of mining equipment.

Keith: I’d say that I would prefer that even to the keys of the door.

Chris: It’d definitely be more fun.

Keith: So wait a minute, by teddy bears, do you mean Teddy Grahams?

Chris: Yeah.

Keith: Ok, not plush animals?

Chris: No, no, we call them teddy bears.

Keith: Who, or what people call them teddy bears?

Chris: When you go to the grocery store, they don’t have stuffed animals, so one would assume it has to be either Teddy Grahams or honey that comes in bear shape bottles.

Keith: Well, what about Gummy Bears?

Chris: Good point, good point. There is room for error when just putting teddy bears on the grocery list.

TIS: Well I, for one, am comfortable with that answer. Scenario the second; You wake up one morning naked, in a strange bed next to Prince, who also is naked. What do you do?

Chris: Call my publicist and try to make the most of it. The worst is over, and now it’s time to reap the rewards.

TIS: Sounds good. Scenario the third; You develop a full blown drug and/or alcohol problem which lands you on Celebrity Rehab with Dr Drew. Who do you want cast on the show with you…who do you want holding your hair as you’re in the bathroom throwing up?

Chris: Carmen Electra, Yasmine Bleeth, and Jenny McCarthy. Oh, and Yancy Butler. Mia Sera too, that would make a great show. TV hotties like five to ten years past their prime.

Keith: You’re really asserting that what’s her name, from BASEketball, is only five years past her prime?

Chris: Jenny McCarthy.

Keith: Yeah, she’s only five years past her prime?

Chris: Well, I did say five to ten, so ok, she may be ten.

Keith: So BASEketball was her prime? I’m just curious as she may feel differently.

Chris: No that was it. It was her prime as well as Yasmine Bleeth’s, and Dr J.

Keith: Dr J was in BASEketball? It certainly was Squeak Scalery and Reel Big Fish’s prime. Man, BASEketball was a lot of people’s prime.

Chris: Yeah, absolutely.

Keith: Ernest Borgnine too.

Chris: Yeah, Ernest Borgnine. That’s a hell of a nexus.

TIS: I can definitely work with all of that. The final Scenario is; You’re next album is a Hip Hop release. What are your stage names?

Keith: I really want my DJ name to be DJ Hep C, or no, I mean MC Hep C. That’s my MC name.

Chris: My Hip Hop name is going to be Passive Aggressive.

Keith: How’s it spelled?

Chris: Traditional spelling. Well, maybe no E’s at the end of either word. Yeah, I’ll skip those unimportant final E’s.

TIS: Sound good. So I’m curious after sitting here talking with you guys, do you generally get along this well, and play off each other so naturally?

Chris and Keith at the same time: This is day one of tour (laughing).

Keith: Tomorrow, we’re probably not talking.

Chris: Part of what keeps us sane is that we take every other day off from one another. Even if we have a show, and are on stage on one of our “off days”, we’ll do our best not to make eye contact. Even harmonizing is too much.

Keith: Yeah, we had these Chinese screens set up before, and tried to make the theme of the stage Asian, so people wouldn’t really suspect anything, but you can’t do the orient on every tour, you know?

Chris: For a while, we were both wearing a single blinder, obviously on opposite sides of our eyewear.

Keith: Yes, well as Woody Allen said, “whatever works.”

TIS: Very nice.

Chris: Way to bring it full circle, very masterful.

TIS: Thanks you guy’s. This has been great.





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Chris Grosso is a writer, public speaker, mental health youth group facilitator, and author with Simon & Schuster. He also writes for Revolver Magazine, Fangoria, and has spoken at a bunch of fancy-schmancy festivals and conferences (as well as even more events that were significantly less than fancy-schmancy). Chris's podcast, The Indie Spiritualist, is hosted on Ram Dass's Be Here Now Network.
  1. […] The Indie Spiritualist: We Are Scientists Interview (And here’s a quick link to some of those infamous pictures of Danny mentioned in the interview.) […]

  2. Chris Grosso says:

    Thanks for the link! Great show and interview! Be well.

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