Keith Murray of We Are Scientists
We Are Scientists, primarily made up of the duo of Keith Murray and Chris Cain have taken a brave new approach to music…they’re having fun. Their biting sense of humor and the rapport between the two permeates throughout their live set and its hard to leave one of their shows without a smile on your face. The two first met in college where the idea of forming a band was born (while watching an episode of Dawson’s Creek if you believe anything they say…but we don’t!) Originally a trio with Michael Tapper on drums, the band has had various musicians help them out on tour since Tapper’s departure the in fall of 2007, the latest being Max Hart and Adam Aaronson from The High Speed Scene.
Their latest musical experiment “Brain Thrust Mastery” was released in March. The subject matter on the album is a bit of a departure from the last with more of a darker melancholy tone, the music delivers with the pop synth goodness and the catchy melodies that we’ve come to expect. We Are Scientists are currently out on tour with Kings of Leon, so check them out when they come to a city near you. Keith Murray took some time to sit down with TWRY staffer Lexi to charm her pants off with an all you can eat buffet of sarcasm and silliness. Talk about right up our alley!
Interviewed by: Lexi Shapiro | October 2008
(To get the full frontal sarcasm of this interview you must check out the audio/there’s a bit of back noise but it’s worth the listen! Listen to it here.)
So, on a scale of one to ten, with one being “only slightly devastated” and ten being “I still have trouble getting out of bed in the morning as the grief is so overwhelming and immobilizing”… how did you feel about losing the PETA World’s Sexiest Vegetarian title three times over?
You know, the first one was crushing, but after a while, I became inert to the pain. It’s just numbness, just numbness, the way verbal abuse from a loved one over time just becomes standard conversation in the ears of the receiver.
Could you handle a fourth time?
Yeah, actually the third time, I didn’t even know it was happening. I will say, the only time I ever even knew it was happening was the first one. I didn’t even know… three is news to me, to be honest.
Three years running, man.
Wow… WOW! Total burn. Total burn.
How long have you been a vegetarian for?
Uhm, thirteen years? Yeah, thirteen.
And, what was the defining moment that made you decide that that was what you wanted to do?
When I moved out of my parents house to go to college, and I was paid too cheap to buy food and too lazy to prepare it. So, there was a lot of cereal my first few years, ramen, that kind of thing.
But, ramen is chicken.
Not vegetable ramen.
You stated in your advice columns section of your website that you excel at “creative stuff” like art, dance, and magic…
Where did we say this?! *laughs*
In an advice column.
Alright, yeah, okay.
What is your special magical skill, then? What’s your magical power?
My specialty is the detachable thumb. *demonstrates* Chris’s is the coin behind the ear.
Will you ever do magic shows? Do you do birthday parties?
We don’t do birthday parties, no.
NO. We’ll do special business events, more upscale things, bachelor parties, just classier events than your standard birthday party.
Do the bachelor parties include magic tricks and then removal of clothing?
No, just removal of body parts!
Is making promises really always a mistake?
I’ve found that it is. I’ve found that it is, because you can’t win with a made promise. If you break it, then you’ve betrayed someone. If you keep it, they’re just like, “Oh, yeah, that’s standard. That was our verbal contract. You said you would do this.” If you don’t make the promise, and you don’t fulfill the promise you WOULD have made, no big deal! If you DO actually go ahead and fulfill the thing you would have made a promise about, but elected not to make the promise, you’ve just, out of the kindness of your own heart, done something.
You’ve gone above and beyond.
Check out Brain Thrust Mastery – the latest release from WAS!
Since you guys have become “self-help gurus” of sorts, let’s propose some hypothetical problems, and you tell me what one should do in these situations. Okay?
Someone is having trouble getting over a breakup.
Keith: Kill yourself.
Someone’s parent is getting a sex-change.
Oh, kill yourself, definitely. Definitely kill yourself.
Someone is under attack from a pack of wild dogs.
Oh, you have to kill yourself before the dogs get you. YOU kill YOURself. That’s not my advice… if you’re watching… is the question what do you do if you were watching someone be attacked by wild dogs or if you’re being attacked by wild dogs?
You, personally, are under attack.
Oh, also kill yourself, yes. But, even if you’re witnessing someone attacked by wild dogs, kill yourself before the dogs get the chance to come for you.
What guilty pleasures do you have, whether they be activities, songs, movies, etc. that would make one doubt your sexuality and come to the conclusion with 99% certainty that you’re probably gay?
Bow-hunting. Bow-hunting buffalo and people’s horses. *laughs*
Being that you guys seem to have such vast popularity in the UK, you’ve spent a great deal of time touring there. What bands have yet to catch on in the states that you enjoy that you‘re waiting for to catch on over here?
Uhm, let’s see. What level of “catch on” do you mean? Like, would you consider Light Speed Champion having caught on here? You mean radio, like, Coldplay catch on?
No, no. More like, “I’m indier than art thou” catch on.
Ah, gotcha. There’s a band called Light Speed Champion who are quite excellent. Editors never really caught on here, did they? I don’t know. Have you got them as having caught on? Have they caught on?
Okay. I know there are MANY. I was actually just thinking about this a few days ago, and now I can’t think of a single one. Uhhhhhhhh, we’ll come back to that. The Cribs! How about the Cribs?
Ever heard of them?
No, I’ve never heard of them.
It’s alright. The Cribs never caught on here.
So, what is this multimedia project that you guys are working on?
We can’t talk about it yet.
It’s top secret?
Yeah, yeah. We don’t know whether it’s actually going to happen or not, so when we get the green light for it, we will announce it.
If you get the red light, will you announce it and then say “This is our failed…”
No. We’ll just keep it quiet.
Tell me about something in your life that was ‘worth the wait.’
I actually had a pretty good salad today that took ten minutes longer than I thought a SALAD should take to arrive. But, you know what, it came and I was like, aw, you know, I was only HUNGRIER when it came, so it was that much more…
It was more satiating.
You also have lyrics that states that you “fall on your face just like everyone else.” Tell me about one instance where you completely fell on your face.
Uh, oh man… 2001 through 2008, I would say was just one example.
You call THIS falling on your face?!
No! Not this, right this moment, I guess, I guess! Noooo, maybe not. Let’s be more specific. Today, I tried to put on my favorite shirt only to remember that it had had buttons torn off of it by overzealous Brits. And, I really wanted to wear it today and I put it on, and it was unbuttoned to about here and I was just like, “You know what, I can get away with this!” And then, I walked out of the dressing room and the first person that saw me was like, “HA. Nice one.” and I turned around and went back in to change into a t-shirt.
It looks fine, if that’s any consolation.
Thank you. Thank you.
The band formerly known as We Are Scientests – The founding trio
You list some influences on your myspace. There’s a laundry list of various creatures in the animal kingdom.
I have selected a few at a random that I‘m going to throw out, here, and I would like for you to tell me how they have made an impact upon your life or influenced you, okay? The hedgehog…
Its cunning is to be valued and integrated. I would say, you know, we’ve got a lot of work to do before his cunning is there.
You’re not at the same level as the hedgehog.
Oh, not even close. Not even close.
Okay, what about the otter?
The otter is a model of devotion, dedication. I think, “Man, that sort of unity of spirit is important to us.”
And, the flamingo?
Also cunning, cunning. There’s another example of great cunning nature.
And balance and poise.
That, as well! That, as well! For sure! I would say that wasn’t really an influence on our balance. Our balance and poise was pretty much…
…sprung from us fully-formed, yeah.
And then, last but not least, the unicorn.
Mystery. Always lay low, keep people wondering. If unicorns were around, we’d pay them no more mind than we pay the common squirrel, but simply by virtue of the MYSTERY, they’re a fantastical creature.
So, you want to remain enigmatic?
I’d like to.
The title of your new album is Brain Thrust Mastery. Tell me… how does one become a master in the art of brain-thrusting?
By taking our weekend seminar. It’s five thousand pounds and involves a two taco lunch.
Yeah, maximum of two. You can have one if you want.
What if people are hungry?
Two maximum! You could buy more, I guess, buy more tacos. But, it’s INCLUDED. Those two are included.
Five thousand pounds?
Five thousand pounds.
Only two tacos.
Okay. Alright. I was just making sure you’re not starving your patrons.
Okay. Tell me about a crazy or funny experience that you’ve had while touring, aside from Brits tearing your clothing off.
That was neither crazy nor funny. It was crazier than it was funny, but really, not that crazy. I once threw up into a garbage bag on the bus and then had to squeeze that bag through a very thin window to throw it out. Crazy? Not really. Funny? In retrospect, not at the time.
Oh, it was successful indeed, indeed.
So, this is the last date of your tour. What are you looking forward to after this?
I’m looking forward to the ACTUAL last date of our tour, which, right now, is November 16th.
Really? I thought you guys were done after this.
No, we go to Europe tomorrow. Yeah, that’s what I’m looking forward to: November 16th. I know our management is going to add more dates. I know it! I know they’re going to. Monsters!
What idiosyncrasies, quirks, or habits do the other band members have that annoy, agitate, or otherwise irk you?
Mmkay. Chris, I would say Chris is very self-possessed, refuses to lose an argument no matter how boldly he is in… I don’t want to say “in the wrong.” I just mean like, literally, his facts are incorrect. He will not listen ever. Max has a very piercing cry and he cries a lot. Adam is just plain dumb. The Cracker Barrel has a term for just an idiot? and that’s egg-nu-ra-moose!
What legacy do you want to leave? What’s the mark that you want to leave on this planet? Or other planets and universes?
I want to get in the top five largest playing card structure, stacking rank. I phrased that poorly, but the structure that I build out of playing cards is to be one of the top five largest ever
And, do you have any last words?
Not yet! I don’t, no.
Any last words for They Will Rock You? Anything we should check out?
Oh! Oh! Oxford Collapse’s new album BITS, out last Tuesday… I think, the work of two geniuses and one guy who got lucky and is in the band.
Quite selfless. Anything for yourself that you want to plug?
Oh, no. I actually get a third of all their money.