Brooklyn’s We Are Scientists are getting lots of love in the UK. The boys are currently touring across the pond in support of their latest album, Brain Thrust Mastery, (which debuted at #11 in the UK album charts), spreading their witty WAS wackiness wherever they stop. I switched time zones and chatted to singer/guitarist Keith Murray while he was awaiting sound check in Sheffield, England. Always an engaging and clever conversationalist, it’s clear why the Brits can’t get enough of Murray and equally comedic bassist Chris Cain. Here’s hoping the majority of America will catch on to the band as soon as their new album drops here.

You’re calling from Sheffield!

Keith: Yes, sweet Sheffield. I just walked into one of the dressing rooms. It’s a terrible dreary brick room, and I went to draw the curtains, and it was more brick.

I highly doubt Sheffield is the glamor capital of northern England! [laughs]

I think its star as the glamour capital has faded, to say the least.

Weren’t you playing in the Hollywood of England—Manchester—just two nights ago? [laughs]

Yeah! Then we had a sweet night off.

What’d you do?

We got trashed in our hotel bar. That was our night out in Manchester!

How many shows have you done so far in the UK?

Seven or eight. It’s attached to a European jaunt as well. We left around the end of March and finish in Europe.

How about New York?

Probably not for a while. Right now, we’re talking about the end of summer, the beginning of fall.

Do you find it weird that even though you’re based in New York, you don’t play much here?

Yeah, it is, for convenience sake. Talk to my management squad. [laughs]

It’s funny because you seem to be one of those bands that are loved and exposed more in the UK. You’re all over the place there, like The Strokes were, but in America, there’s not the same level of exposure.

I think the fact is that bands like us and The Strokes actually get played on mainstream commercial radio and get played a lot on MTV [in the UK], while in the States, it would be your Fall Out Boys and Paramores.

I just lived in England for a year. It’s so hard to come back to America and adjust to our radio stations.

It is really shocking to come back and adjust to the structure of American radio.

On this current tour, since your band is now a duo [with original bassist Chris Cain], do you have Matt Helders, the drummer for the Arctic Monkeys, still helping you out?

He did some TV shows with us… but I don’t think he’s going to be leaving his day job! It’s funny, because Alex Turner [Arctic Monkeys’ singer] has his side-project that he’s doing to keep busy for the next few months, Light Shadow Puppets, and so we were like, ‘it’s too bad we already booked a drummer’ (who we do like a lot). We could’ve had Matt come on tour with us. He does like drumming!

Working previously as a trio, was it a big creative change for WAS to pair down to a duo?

It wasn’t a huge change. When there are three people, I think there’s always the odd man out, but we were all friends. I think the major creative stuff was always done by Chris or I. We’ve been best friends for ten years now, and if Chris left the band, it would be a huge change. But now it doesn’t feel like a huge change. Things are a bit easier now because only two people have to fight over something! [laughs]

I like the title of the album. It feels very sci-fi! Where did it come from?

In the autumn, we did a tour in England supporting Kaiser Chiefs. After our experience doing Q&A [interviews] at a festival last summer, our label wanted us to do a Q&A tour and play acoustically around universities (during the Kaiser Chiefs tour). We were like, ‘No way! That is the most absurd idea we’ve ever heard.’ But we said we would give a lecture [instead]. The label was like, ‘Oh shit. Okay.’ We forgot about it, but then the label said they’d everything set up! So we decided we were going to do a fake self-improvement seminar with no actual information. To give it a vacuous, powerful title, we decided to call it Brain Thrust Mastery. When deciding a title for the album, we were musing over how bands use grand, vacuous titles for their albums, and this was a funny version of all that.

This summer are you booked on the festival circuit?

Yeah, this year is more stripped down than years before. We’re doing a bunch [of festivals] in the UK: Reading and Leeds, T in the Park, maybe Glastonbury. Then some random ones in Germany and Belgium… I don’t think we’re going to do the festival onslaught we did years ago.

Can’t we get you back here to do something?

Yes, done! Consider it booked!

–Andrea D’Alessandro/photo (with shrubbery background) by Dan Monick

  1. [...] We Are Scientists: Powerful, Non-Vacuous, Brain Thrust Masters of Rock Sentimentalist Magazine talks to Keith about the tour and etc. (GRRRR! Hurry up- we want rock hard solid tour dates here, damnit.) [...]

  2. [...] Clever, clever Brooklynites We Are Scientists have claimed they are “bigger than Madonna,” — in height that is — and just off a tour of lectures, these witty brainiacs are hitting the road in July with the “American U.S. America” tour, kicking off July 1st and wrapping up in Newport, KY, on August 10. Brain Thrust Mastery is out now on Astralwerks. Tour dates below. And while we have you, check out our recent interview with singer/guitarist Keith Murray right here. [...]