"There is something to live for!" is not a declaration I expected to come up in my conversations with We Are Scientists' Chris Cain and Keith Murray. Still, experience has told me one should pretty much prepare for anything when sitting down with the side-splitting comedy team who also happen to power the heart of this indie rock institution. In this case, we have Mr. Murray, deflecting Mr. Cain's tongue-in-cheek assertions of the dystopian society in which we live in. "Don't succumb to the cannibal hordes just yet," adds Mr. Murray.
We were considering it, and then we got to hang with these two when they brought We Are Scientists by Baeble HQ for a stripped down, acoustic session of three songs from their latest and greatest, TV en Fracais. Those cannibal hordes he's referring to have to do with the requirements the band has asked of their listeners with the album. "It requires a great eeeeemotional investment from the listener and it requires a tremendous innnnnntellectual investment from the listener. A lot of albums don't and I think a lot of listeners are not prepared to make that investment in this day and age of rapidly flipping through tracks." Such scorn...on paper. In our interview, which you really should dig in to, it's served with the most delightful side of scrumptious sarcasm. Cain doesn't really believe that their new album is of such a quality that it would have been "more at home in the golden age." Either way, Murray is there for you, dear listener. "I would say you're better than he thinks you are. I believe in you. Buy the album." We agree with the man. Buy the album. It is available HERE.
- Yeah, people see this session and they say to us, what is that, your new album that I just heard? No, this is a stripped down version of a couple of the songs off the record. - Because I've never, have they heard the album and they just can't tell the difference? They sense that something is a little different. - Imagine if you were walking along the floor and then suddenly, you realized, you're walking along the ceiling. You're not in pain, you're not necessarily in danger but you would freak out. - That's true. - It wouldn't make any sense to you. That's what these people sound like when they ask me about the session but yeah, it's stripped. The secret is, it's stripped down, it's a different instrumentation than what we did on the record. - I mean, we've been looking forward to this sessions as long as we've known about these sessions. Forever is going a little. I mean, I think we always had a sense that we're longing for something and we didn't know what it was, then we heard about these sessions. - Because we used to know sessions, we'd do sessions for sites for other services and it was always missing something and we never knew what it was. - Yeah, it never scratched the itch. Now, we're done, no more sessions. - I mean, we'll probably chase the high for a couple more sessions, but, I doubt that we're ever going to find this again. - It all began with the witch's spell, that's a bit of a story. That's a bit of a story. - Yeah, nobody wants to hear about that. - I guess that's true. I guess that's true. If you had to tell someone the name of the record, what would you say? - I'd sit them down, make sure they're comfortable and then I'd say 'TV en France'. And I'd walk away. - What if it was non-verbal but it was clear that they were in a state of needing more information? They were going like this, they weren't doing the international symbol for choking, no, no, no. - What if, at first they were like, where did you get that phrase from? - Well, first I would thank them for their patience and then I would put that, TV en France' is an advertising tool for a lot of hotels in South Florida because they're big French/Canadian tourist population. They want you to know that at least some of you will understand what's on TV. Most South Floridians aren't going to get it. - Part of you, a part of you as an individual. - The French speaking part of you will understand. - Yeah. I thought that was a funny thing for them. I mean, it's a sales incentive. - It's an amenity. - You know how motels elsewhere might say HBO? - Free continental breakfast. - Free continental breakfast, pool, rooms. - Yeah, the sticker on the record refers to it as an expensive new album, right? - Yeah, but we don't necessarily, I mean it is expensive, albums are expensive, these days in this economic climate, it's a luxury item, no question, but it doesn't cost any more than another CD or vinyl. - Not relatively expensive. - It's not relatively expensive except that it requires a great emotional investment from the listener and it requires a tremendous intellectual investment from the listener and a lot of albums don't and I think that a lot of listeners are not prepared to make that investment in this day and age of, you know rapidly flipping through tracks and... - I feel like you're just demonstrating that you live an unhappy time. - A dystopia. I would go as far... - This day and age? - It's a dystopia, no question about it. I'm hopeful that we can improve that, but... - But it sounds like you're saying our album is part of the problem. - No. No I'm saying this is a quality item that would've been more at home in the golden age and now it's, you know, it's going to strike some listeners as requiring too much of them. I say this may not be for you. This may, you know, go, you know, go spend your time reading two panel comics. That's what you have the attention span for. - I will say to those potential listeners, you're better than he thinks you are. I believe in you. You can afford it. - I should note that the only way you can find out if its for you is to posses it and find out. So, certainly, and I think we should make very clear that it is not more expensive than any other albums out there, in terms of money. That's not what we mean. - Just what are you hoping people take away from TV en France', huh? - That there's hope in this day and age that things could get better, that there are at least a couple of guys out there who still know how to do it right. - There's something to live for, so don't succumb to the cannibal hoards just yet. - No, it's worth fighting because there could be a golden tomorrow, at least for your grandchildren, if not for you. I don't want to spread false optimism, that's cruel. - Hi, We Are Scientists, and you're watching Babel music, presumably of your own accord. - You're watching us watch you watch us watch you watch. - Well, you're watching us look toward you. - You don't see him. That's weird.
It was the kind of bar where nobody nice goes on the kind of street where nobody nice
lives, which is probably what made it so cheap, which is de?nitely what made We Are
Scientists take meetings there. Not that Murray & Cain were cheap, but they could do
math just ?ne. If they were sticking a quarter into a video game machine, they'd just as
soon the thrills last for more than thirty seconds. Same with buying a lady dinner. Of
course it had been a long time since video games or dinner with a lady cost a quarter, and
anyway they weren't looking for either of those things, except in the deep-down quiet way
that men always are. They were looking for a producer.
Murray & Cain, they're the guys who started We Are Scientists 13 years ago. Fresh out of
college and bored by their day jobs, they ?gured rehearsing a rock & roll band would eat
up the long slow evenings. Only it back?red, because the band panned out. Now nothing
eats up their long slow days, except proving that a busted clock is wrong nearly all the
time, and if you watch a pot long enough, eventually it boils.
They ordered two whiskies, no ice, ?lled to spilling. Those were for Cain. Murray took a
squid-looking thing made of plastic tubes from his briefcase and handed ?ve of the six
tentacles to the bartender, who attached them to the ?ve closest taps. Murray stuck the
free end into his mouth and nodded, and the bartender opened the taps. That's when
Chris Coady stepped out of the gloom.
They'd met Coady six years prior. At the time he was a hotshot engineer who'd made his
bona ?des giving Yeah Yeah Yeah's and TV on the Radio their signature sound. Now he was
one of the best mixers in the game, and had a producer's rsum that reminded you of a
perfect hundred dollar bill. It looked so good it had to be fake. Only Coady was for real
Beach House, Wavves, and The Smith Westerns could testify to that.
"Tequila, ice," he said, reading aloud every word on the itty bitty drink menu in his head.
"Beer fucks with my sinuses."
They talked. Songs, gear, bands, plus dirty, slanderous gossip. Lots of agreement, with
enough "you're fucking crazy"s to keep things interesting. It started to sound like this was
the crew for the job. Two months later, they were drinking the same thing, but they were
doing it in one of New York City's best small studios, the kind that doesn't come cheap,
but gives you a lot more than you paid for. By the end of the year they'd made a record
that knew how to throw a punch, but was no slouch in the bedroom, either. A record that
gave you the big, wide-angle view, then brought you in for a closer look. It was a We Are
Scientists record, and it was a Chris Coady record, and everybody who'd listened to it was
having a real hard time staying calm.