What’s the Word’s Exclusive Interview with We Are Scientists in Kansas City (Part Two)

Prior to their show in Kansas City last week, Mahsa spent some quality time with Chris, Danny and Keith for a What’s the Word exclusive interview. Here’s the second part of her efforts:

We Are Scientists Kill Time In Kansas City

by Mahsa Borhani

M: I don’t really know if this is the best, but,
K: [laughs]
M: [laughs] No! It’s the best question.
C: It is the best.
K: This might turn out to be the best.
C: This could be the best.
D: She just meant best or second-best.
C: Right, right.
M: Exactly. No, actually I didn’t really want to bring it up because I know that in [previous] interviews it’s [been a sensitive] topic, but I’m not going to bring up any of those aspects. You switched drummers since, basically since Brain Thrust Mastery. I know that Michael recorded on that but he didn’t play live with you guys. So I noticed there’s a lot more crash cymbals than hi-hat on the–and I think that’s not because you switched drummers but because of an artistic change, like, “I’m going to do a little less dance-rock and more of like my guilty pleasures,” type of thing. But, I don’t know, can you comment,
K: There used to not exist a crash cymbal in the We Are Scientists drum set-up.
D: Really? No way.
M: In Michael’s kit?
K: Yeah, Michael did not own a crash.
C: Hi-hat and ride.
M: That’s great. [laughs]
C: It was, it was kind of great.
K: Um, you know what?? And, and, and I am–
D: Whereas I have to throw crashes away when I play with these guys!
K: I am legitimately citing just a, uh, biological citation that had been noted to me, because I had played a band, I play drums for an all-girl band, and I was not allowed to even play the ride as a crash most of the time. But I was talking to a drummer friend of mine about how I’m not allowed to ever play the ride, much less a crash in that, and he told me that as a drummer–and he is one of those idiots that really takes drumming very seriously as if it’s not a goofy, as if it’s not the equivalent of playing hacky-sack–
D: Who’s this?
K: Julian. And Julian told me that he had read an article that said that women in a like a scientific survey, hate the sound of crash cymbals!
M: [laughs] No!
K: They really do! And Bad Girlfriend were always like, “Stop being fucking splishy-splashy!” and I’m always like, “I’m NOT!”
D: “It’s loose, tighten it up!”
K: He literally said that like there was some musicologist survey that said women fucking hate cymbals.
M: So you’re saying the only reason why I asked this is because I’m a woman?
K: No! I’m just saying it’s interesting that you said that. I’m not, it just reminded me of that, how, because it’s funny because I’m very sensitive now having been yelled at by three women for a long time about hitting crashes, uh, that, yeah, crashes–crashes apparently don’t go over well. Um, women apparently like, um cowbell and tambourine a lot.
M: [laughing] But in my review where I talked about cowbell being in Central AC, I was like, that’s not why the song is awesome.
C: It’s true that she says specifically that Christopher Walken is wrong–
K: She doth protest too much.
C: –the song does not need more cowbell. Yeah. That’s on the record.
D: But you know what? Because I thought because Aaron wasn’t here, I’d pack the cowbell up tonight.
K: What?
[I leave to go to the bathroom]
D: I packed the cowbell up. I didn’t even put it on the stage. Well now you’re saying…it’s what women like the most?
K: What–but you–what did that have to do with Aaron? You were playing–Aaron never touched it.
D: No, no. It’s just, it came out with the tambourines as part of the “fun thing” what’s happening, that’s how it came up there as like, “Oh, this is, I’ll put that out there.” Now that he’s gone [garbled under ice machine noises, everyone takes a break to piss or drink more]

M: Okay. So, my next question–
C: Is a throwaway.
M: –is a throwaway.
C: [in a nasally voice] Cameron Diaz or Sufjan Stevens?
K: Who would get more people at Warsaw?
C: Cameron Diaz?
M: I guess I wanted to ask you what you think the difference, well, actually already since I’m assuming you guys have already been practicing and playing songs with Andy in a non-live situation. So what do you think the biggest differences will be between having Andy as, I’m assuming a permanent drummer, and then as having Tapper?
C: Well, it’s not altogether clear that Andy is going to be our permanent drummer.
M: Really?
C: He’s quite embroiled in his solo effort. He remains a good friend, etc etc, dot dot dot [Keith laughs] Nah I mean, I think we do want to do the next record with him if the timing works out clearly better than it did on this one.
K: Yeah.
C: I mean, this has been kind of a pain in the ass. But I think we’ve finally given up on playing any more live shows with Andy.
K: The timing of this worked out about as badly as it could have.
M: Well, one of the things when I was writing a “review” and I scrapped it, and I was like, “I’m just gonna write track by track,” one of the things I mentioned was that I think, actually, when other band members do solo projects it can be really beneficial for the rest of the band. Because, I mean I feel like they can bring something into it, like that they discover more understanding of other parts and instruments and the musical process.
C: Right.
M: And they automatically kind of code that into the way that they drum.
K: I mean I would say that would, that would be the case. I definitely agree with that except that his solo project is taking the place of actually being in the band.
C: Yeah. It’s also true that Andy, as a brand new member of the band, I think still held many resources that we had yet to really take advantage of. Still holds those resources, so, it’s not as though we needed him to expand his horizons so that he could be a viable member of We Are Scientists. We were really, still are really, excited about, you know, Andy as a contributing, creative member of the band. But the real problem is not his shortcomings as a fund of creativity–
M: No, I didn’t mean it like, I actually meant more in the sense that like, I guess a lot of times, I feel like [laughs] drummers get fed up with the rest of the members.
C: Well that’s one nice thing about having a drummer with a solo project. I mean, specifically a drummer, is that–not just a solo project but a project where he’s like, playing everything. I do feel like one awesome thing about Andy, and his drumming, is that he thinks as a songwriter, not really as a drum athlete.
K: Yeah. I think the thing that probably made–and I do think the drums on this record are the coolest drums on any of our records–is that he is an awesome drummer that, like, knows he’s on our record as a drummer, so the drums need to be like, pretty cool, but because he also is a songwriter, I think he is kind of sensitive to, like, drawing attention to the drums, away from the song. So he strikes a really awesome balance between playing drums in a way that like, you can listen to the song and be like, “Ah! This song is great! I didn’t even think of the drums.” And then you listen to the drums and the drums are fucking awesome.
D: I can’t believe you continue talking about the drums while I was gone [Danny had spilled a margarita earlier and went to go get another one].
K: The Drums are, once again, America and the world’s finest act that can’t play instruments.
M: I mean, I think [the drums affect] a lot of things, so…I mean the way that they’re mixed in I feel like can affect how someone perceives the guitar parts, or the bass parts! You know? So I think the drums are really important. But um, that was a great answer, so I’m going to move on.
K: Um, well no, I mean, yeah definitely, I mean certainly, certainly the drums are vastly, vastly important.
M: But, how do you, I mean what is your practicing dynamic gonna be? Because when you were talking, I saw this interview where you said when you were writing songs in Athens you would send Chris stuff and then he’d be like, “Okay, maybe this, maybe that” get back to you, you would rewrite. Do you think that’s the way it’s going to be with Andy?
K: Well Andy was part of that process. Andy was living in New York at the time.
C: Yeah he was with me.
K: They were hanging out every day.
M: Have you guys ever, pre, not, so not pre-With Love and Squalor, but like, “Hey dudes, we’re gonna practice twice a week. Meet here, we’re gonna do this shit together.” I guess that’s what I want to know–are you going to bring that back into your dynamic?
K: I mean, well that was never really part of the songwriting dynamic, though. I mean I feel like even when we were practicing, as a band, four times a week and we were all living in the same town, which never happened after With Love and Squalor, um, we would write a song every month and a half. You know? It wasn’t like we were writing songs four days a week.
C: Right.
K: So I feel like, you know, Brain Thrust Mastery was just like a weird anomaly where we essentially didn’t have a drummer, even though Michael was still in the band, but he was in LA and like, not part of it–at all.
M: Did you write those drum parts?
K: I mean, not really. No. They were like, they kind of got written.
M: Were they improvised?
K: I mean we knew how they–we knew the vibe, essentially.
C: Yeah, I mean, you wrote the drum feel, I would say, and then like Michael played one pattern or, you know, the other guys who drummed on it played a different pattern. But the feel was locked in.
M: Okay.
D: That’s interesting, you were saying that you were writing all the bass parts while hanging out with Andy a lot. Is that what you were saying?
C: We were talking about Brain Thrust Mastery the first time–
D: Before that. Before that.
M: Which, Adam Aaronson, right?
C: Well he played live, he didn’t get involved until after the record was done. We had a guy, Garrett Ray played on that record.
K: We’re talking about Brain Thrust Mastery?
C: I guess that’s it.
K: Yeah. Yeah, that record was just Michael and Garrett.

M: So, I’m going to push on this further and ask, do you think that in the next year or so that it will be Andy living in the UK and like you guys kind of communicating with him that way? The way you write songs and stuff? Or do you think he’ll be like, “Hey I’m gonna sublet an apartment in your city, and we’re gonna hang out.”
C: Well it wouldn’t be for another, probably talking like a year and a half, two years from now, to be honest. A year, year and a half at least. I mean–
K: Before we start writing again?
C: Well, no. I guess, I guess it depends on when we stop touring. If we tour through the summer…
K: I mean, [back to my question] I don’t know. I mean initially that was our idea. Well our initial idea was that the next record we’d make with Andy–that would be full-on. His involvement in his record, understandably, is pretty full-on. So.
M: Okay. Well we already got the question after that in this one, that’s good.
K: Is Razorlight still done? Is that the next question?
M: Well, it was about Andy’s future role. So, that, I think we answered that pretty well.
K: Yeah. Let’s see how the British public responds.

M: Haha. There are Danny’s questions now but I’m going to skip on that until–
K: Let’s hear Danny’s questions!
Brendon: What’s it like to live in Australia?
K: Has a poisonous beast ever struck you?
M: [pulls up a chair closer to Danny] Did you guys know about Youth Group before you met him? Yes?
K: Well he and I met–I think it was you–well I saw Youth Group play in New York City.
M: Okay. Cause they’ve been on like, four US tours?
K: Well I was aware of Youth Group because of [to Danny] you know Karen Ruttner? And what’s her partner’s name who ran a record label and put out The Horrors’ first record. She had a blog–Ultragrrrl!
D: Oh yeah! Yeah!
K: What’s that girl’s–Sarah.
D: Yeah, right. Yeah yeah yeah.
K: So I first heard about you guys through Sarah. Karen Ruttner who was her DJ partner was doing PR. Uh, but I never saw you guys, and then I saw them in New York, maybe, I don’t know, when were you doing that residency? March?
D: Yeah.
K: So March of 2009.
M: At like, Piano’s?
K: Piano’s, yeah. And um, I swore
D: I was living on Rivington at the time.
K: –I swore that it was you that I was talking to. But I thought you were blonde. But let’s be honest, it was probably dark and I was probably drunk.
D: I was probably pretty drunk.
K: Yes, that’s what made you blonde.
M: So yeah, that made him shine.
K: So you seemed really blonde.
C: He must have been drinking vodka.
M: No. Goldschlagger.
D: There’s no really blonde guy in the band, anyway.
K: No. And, I remember you having hair to like, here. So I don’t think it was somebody else in the band.
D: Yeah, yeah.
K: But for some reason I thought you were blonde.
D: It must have been that week that I dyed my hair blonde. Strawberry blonde. See I didn’t think, I didn’t think cause I didn’t make the connection to blonde. I didn’t feel like a blonde.
M: Kirsten Dunst, you know?
D: [laughs] Yeah, exactly.
K: But so yeah, I had been aware of Youth Group for a long time. And then, saw them at Piano’s.
C: Thought they were a marvel.
K: [laughs] A musical invention. Um, but then really began to friend Youth Group when he started hanging out at my house for parties. That was when I became a real fucking Youtube fan.
D: Which is good, I mean I’m way more proud to be able to say that I’m involved because I was approached as a friend rather than a drummer.
K: Party King!
C: Party Prince.
K: I will say one thing about Danny as an approached drummer is that, our mutual friend, Ken, for a long time was very much like [adopts shady voice], “Danny. You should, uh, you should get Danny. You should get Danny.” And I’d be like, “Man, mind your own business, creep, get outta here.” And then we start hanging out it’s like, then I was like, “Hey–what’s Danny’s deal? You think we can get him?” He was like, “I’ve been telling you for a long time,” “SHUT UP! No you haven’t!”
D: The funny thing is that Ken always goes onto me about, “Don’t forget who got you this gig in this band.”
K: You should have been like, “Yeah. Me, you ding-dong.”
[everyone goes off the record]

M: Anyway, I was gonna ask you about your favorite snack.
D: Aw, my favorite snack?
K: SCROGGIN!
C: Scroggin. Better be scroggin.
M: [laughs] What’s scroggin? Can you explain that?
D: Oh, no no, it’s just trail mix. But in Australia they call it scroggin. And one of the border patrol guys referred to [this was too low for me to hear]
M: But your favorite snack isn’t scroggin. It’s something else.
D: Yeah. Snack. What are one of my favorite snacks? I do feel like I have a lot of snacks. I’m just not thinking of uh, what they are right now.
K: I’m trying to think of what your, uh, what an obvious favorite snack is? Besides sushi.
D: Cause I do snack a lot!
C: Scroggin and yogurt?
D: Well, I do have a weird obsession with, I know–the cliche–Vegemite, right? But I put Vegemite with yogurt, that people think is, fucking bizarre.
K: I’ve never seen him eat Vegemite and yogurt.
D: No, no! It’s because I haven’t had any Vegemite.
C: There was some in Australia.
K: He’s showing off right now.
C: There was some in Australia.
D: I know, I actually was gonna buy some–or no, I was really kicking myself when I forgot to bring some back. But it’s an incredible mix! Vegemite toast with like, yogurt. A lot of yogurt. Fucking incredible. Anyway, anyway. I will think of my favorite snack probably at like, 12:30 at night.
M: I wanted to quiz you really quick because we talked about Vegemite. Do you know what the name of, it’s like, caviar in kind of like a toothpaste tube, and it’s really marketed in Scandinavia.
D: Oh, yeah!
M: Do you know what I’m talking about?
D: I do know what you’re talking about! Cause I dated a Norwegian girl, for two years–
C: Dated is uh…
D: We never, ever
M: Have you ever had that?
D: Yeah, but I have had it. She used to eat it all the fucking time. Yeah, I used to eat it all the time, but I can’t remember what it’s called [it’s called Kalles Kaviar]. But yeah, it’s in a paste tube, and they have it for breakfast. We would have, for breakfast, eggs and little tiny shrimps, wafers, and that stuff on top. And it’s pretty good–you get used to it. I mean, it worked for them, you know?
M: Hah, okay.
D: Yeah, but I don’t know what it’s called. But it is a caviar paste, kind of like pâté or something. But they have that, it’s not expensive there. They just have it, all the time.
M: Alright, my next question for you is [Keith makes a face] Don’t! Don’t even.
K: Danny?
D: What’s that?
K: Scrooooggin.
M: Your biggest hobby.
D: My god.
M: Yeah, besides touring or…drumming.
C: Not touring.
M: No. Nobody likes that.
C: That’s a career.
D: Well, that was my hobby forever, and then became the job.
M: Well let’s say you had a bunch of free time, hanging out, in uh where–I guess you guys are close to Sydney?
D: Well I live in Brooklyn. I’ve been living in New York for a year and a half, so.
M: Oh! Okay.
D: That’s how we became friends. [smiles] I uh, yeah I ride a bike around. I don’t know, this really doesn’t say much about [laughs] the depth of my personality!
K: Biking. Scroggin.
C: He rides a bike around! Then eats yogurt, with nougat.
K: What were you doing from, uh, October through March? [smirks] What were you doing?
D: I don’t know, like, hanging out with my girlfriend. Like, moving.
K: He likes moving people, not necessarily pro-bono.
D: Playing basketball, I don’t know, just stuff like that.
M: Really?
D: Yeah I play basketball quite a bit, and that’s how I kinda sprained my ankle. Well, actually in New York I used to play pick-up games a fair bit, so I guess that’s kind of a hobby.
C: Did you make cash?
D: No, man. I’m not like, I’m not anywhere near that good.
K: So he made a very healthy living but he obviously is not a millionaire! Like give him a break!
D: I got by! I got by.
M: I actually sprained my ankle for the first time last September, and it was only because I was playing on an uneven lawn, we were playing a pick up soccer game–
K: Oh man, it’s not only!
D: Well, yeah [at me].
M: And I mean, I was like, “How did I sprain my ankle now and I never did it before when I played [for years]?”
K: There was another factor. [I’m really good at ignoring his jabs]
D: Well I played basketball for so long and I have really fucking weak ankles now, and I, when we were in Paris recently, I got pick-pocketed, and then went back and I was trying to find some staff in the hotel and it was so dark that I slipped on the stairs–
K: I forgot about that.
D: –and hit my other ankle as well. So I have really bad ankles now, it was actually that one [he shows me his ankles] yeah, then this one, it was really annoying.
K: He’s got the ankles of a forty year old racehorse.
D: [laughs] I know! Exactly. This one, everyone had left, and I was just standing in the room shooting baskets on my own, not even running around–
K: He was humming a Third Eye Blind tune. [Danny laughs]
[Chris and Keith both start singing the opening of Semi Charmed Life]
D: [sings along] And then I did a little skip and trod on a, I don’t know, a broken, plastic tennis racket on the ground or something like that.
K: Or operating radio-controlled helicopter that was swooping around.
D: [laughs] There was a lot of stuff in Chris’s basketball play room, and I just twisted it, like, “Not again!” Fucking always!
[Chris and Keith make plane noises repeatedly]
B: Did you think it had anything to do with the fact that it was a carpeted basketball court?
D: Maybe. You’ll have to ask Chris about why it got changed from a racquetball court to a carpeted basketball court.
C: Oh that’s an interview in itself, right there.
M: Yeah, no.
K: This is contentious stuff.

M: Cinema popcorn [has second thoughts] ah, I don’t really know about that one…
K: Ahh! We, okay! Let’s go, let’s go! [starts clapping hands like a small excited child]
C: We had some last night and it’s still fueling us.
K: Tinsel Town’s fresh popped is pretty great.
C: That wasn’t Tinsel Town, that was Megaplex.
K: Oh, Megaplex crushes Tinsel Town, then, I guess.
C: It is better, yeah.
K: Um, their stale corn was pretty rough. But when you got a fresh one–ooh!
M: I feel like the question I was gonna ask you is better suited for your tour manager cause he knows so much about, you know…
B: Am I being interviewed right now?
M: [laughs] No, I was gonna ask about, you know…are you down with the clown? No–
[Keith makes a shocked face]
M: Are you cool–[laughs]
C: Cool in school.
K: Cool with the fools?
M: Let’s say in um, well, thirty to forty years instead of your corn being uh, harvested from ann– [laughs from Keith’s expression]
K: I’m trying to, I’m ready to answer when we get to the, end of this. I’m just trying to follow you on this roller coaster.
M: Anyways! Harvested from annuals to perennials. What do you think that experience would be like, eating popcorn harvested from perennial corn?
K: It would probably be shittier. The NPR, you know, quadrant of our population would probably [said very fast, sorry, can’t figure this one out]
M: That’s a pretty good answer, actually.
B: It would taste entirely different.
K: Yeah. It’ll taste like, fucking, hegemonic bullshit.
M: No, not hegemonic. Definitely less hegemony. I–no, really.
K: I don’t know, I feel like the hegemony is running thick in this room, corn-wise! No, it’s the other way around, it’s gonna get shittier. Right now, it’s, kick-ass!
M: Yeah. But that’s because it has so much fertilizer.
K: It’s like, you know what, here, let me, here–
[Danny and Chris continue talking about their respective popcorn experiences]
K: [leans in] Here’s how I’m gonna lay it out for you–Panda Express–is it very good? No. It’s a piece of shit. But you know what? I can always get steamed vegetables, fried rice, and chow mien. Now! I go to, uh, Chinatown in fucking Melbourne, the crazy Dragon Inn–
C: Melbourne, no less. No, it was the Dragon Boat!
K: Dragon Boat! [laughs] You’re right. The fucking Dragon Boat! Yes, a fucking celebrated, pure Chinese experience–and guess what?
C: Five star.
K: Prawns, prawns, prawns, why not have some prawns? “Can I get the vegetarian–HERE’S SOME PRAWNS!” “Can I bite on the vegetarian–why not eat some prawns?” Well let me tell you what!? I ate, I ate meat for the first time in about five years courtesy of FUCKING Dragon Inn–what was it called? Dragon Boat. “Could we get the vegetarian dumplings?” “Yeah, no problem!” Nice prawns! I prefer Panda Inn, Panda Inn is honest.
M: Okay.
K: And so is Tinsel Town.
M: And…
K: End. Of. Convo. [hits hand on chair very hard]
M: Wow! [Keith slaps down hand again] Anyway.
K: Hah, I know, [at Chris] never again.
M: Um.
K: I should have stayed at Hungry Jack’s.
[Chris starts to talk about dumplings]

M: My next question is [tries to continue]
K: Alright, sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry, sorry sorry! Here, hit me! Hit me.
M: WHY is Keith being such a baby about not playing Lethal Enforcer?
K: [starts yelling] Wait! Why is it ME?
D: No no no, nooo noo nooo!
K: We all agree it’s great–I just don’t want to play it without practicing it. I’m the only one who’s like, “Let’s not do it without practicing it.” So I’m getting in trouble.
C: Well, I have stated over and over–
K: Do you want to play it tonight?
C: Yes.
K: You want to play it tonight? [threatening tone]
C: I want to play it in any soundcheck, first.
K: Do you want to play it tonight?
C: No, I want to play it in soundcheck when we’re–
K: Okay.
C: –when we play our new songs over and over again, I would like to play Lethal Enforcer. I’d be happy to play that in soundcheck and then play it that night.
K: Well then that doesn’t make it my fault that we’re not playing it. Have you ever at soundcheck said “Let’s do Lethal Enforcer”?
C: Yes…
K: You fucking liar.
C: Weeks ago. And then I said, in an email to you guys, can we please play this fucking song?
K: [sarcasm] Okay. Have you–is an email gonna do it?
D: We tried it together once, just fucking around, but we haven’t actually gone, “Let’s–
K: It’s not my fault! I’m not gonna be like, “Oh people want to hear Lethal Enforcer tonight? Guys, Lethal Enforcer is on the fucking set list.”
C: No we definitely have to–
K: It’s not my fucking fault.
C: We definitely have to practice it. But in your reply to my email, you wrote that we should learn the songs off of Barbara that we don’t know yet, first.
K: Do you or do you not–Should we fucking do that? Yes. I feel like Barbara is still underrepresented. We’re still acting like our first two records are [better than] this record. I feel like.
C: [in a placating voice] I agree we should learn all the Barbara songs.
K: I feel like we should be playing more Barbara before we start playing other songs.
C: So, that’s the reason why we’re not playing Lethal Enforcer right now.
K: So that’s why I’m a baby, is that I think that our latest record is our best record.
C: Nah, I never said you was a baby.
K: No, she did. She did.
M: I did…say that. [laughs]
K: So here’s why–because I think our latest record is our best, and I don’t want to fucking live in the past. I think we need to be playing all of our songs from our new record before we’re worried about other things.
C: But my concern is that we play so many songs off our old records that aren’t as good as Lethal Enforcer.
K: I don’t think we should play two slow songs. When we play Pittsburgh, which I think is one of the best songs on our new record, I’m still like, “Augh!” I don’t want to play two slow songs.
C: Well then you’re never gonna play Lethal Enforcer! Why are you pretending that you want to?
K: I’m not saying I want to
C: Well then we’re not gonna play it! Why would we practice it if you don’t want to play two slow songs?
K: Cool. Agreed.
C: Alright. We’re never gonna play it because Keith doesn’t want to play two slow songs. End of story.
D: We’ll still learn it [reassuring me].
K: We’ll learn it.
C: Yeah, but we’re never gonna play it. Keith doesn’t want to play two slow songs.
K: That’s true.
M: The same reason why you won’t play…Foreign Kicks?
K: No, I want to play Foreign Kicks.
C: Why? That–which one would you cut? Pittsburgh or Foreign Kicks? I mean, Pittsburgh is certainly as slow as Lethal Enforcer. It’s definitely as slow as Lethal Enforcer.

M: I know you guys said that, this album, one of the reasons why you wanted, when you were making it, you were like, “Well we want an album that we can really bust out when we tour. This is going to translate very well in a live setting.” So, but I feel like, do you still make changes? What kind of changes do you make to songs off Barbara recently playing live?
K: No. They don’t need changes. That’s the point. The record’s a kick-ass record.
M: Not even in like, drunken vigor? No?
K: Well, yeah. When we’re drunk there are mistakes that are awesome. [Chris laughs]
C: We don’t like, work out a six minute version of The Great Escape because people want to sing the chorus nine times. Like some bands do. But, you know.
D: Are you talking about just music or just, all of the songs?
M: No, songs off of Barbara specifically.
D: Well the only difference would be, me playing Andy’s parts. I think that would be the only real difference.
C: We don’t play the lead synth line in Jack & Ginger. Because we’re only three men. Flesh and blood.
K: No, because we like to–because we like to experiment.
C: And we–oh yeah, because we like to experiment.
K: We’re live experimenters.
C: Experimenting with not playing that.
M: I’m sure Jack & Ginger does sound fucking awesome.
K: It does sound awesome.
C: It does sound good, yeah. Without the “beeping” [laughs]
K: I mean I will say that the songs on Barbara, the ones we least are inclined to, need to, rearrange, because we’re still the most interested in them–
[I start talking about The Grates poster up in the room and Keith stops talking]

M: Last question is uh, musicians who inspire you in the vein that–I guess recently I was thinking about Art Tatum–and um, he learned how to play piano by listening to a player piano that was actually made for three hands, and so he didn’t know that–
K: That sounds like something his PR people made up. I’m just gonna go ahead and say. That’s not true.
M: Okay, whatever.
D: It’s a good story!
K: It’s a great story and we should find out who his PR company is, because that’s a great fucking story.
M: Well he was a jazz musician.
K: Uh-huh. So he needs a great lie to get anybody interested.
M: Yeah yeah, rah rah shish-kabob. Uh. [continues] There’s something to be said about finding your own solution to an artistic process despite the rich history behind your craft, which can be, I mean, I think history sometimes can be really daunting, and sometimes misleading, when it comes to the creation of the work in mind. I’m gonna let you think about that, and then I’m gonna answer my phone.
C: Get your–get this call. It’s gonna be important.
[I leave to answer a call from someone who is coming to the show]
D: Is this still recording? No?
C: Yes.
[someone screams METALLICA!!!!!! into the mic]
M: This can’t be worse than Chris answering his phone during the Union Chapel Sessions.
C: That was a planned–hey, that was a stunt. It went over great.
M: [back to the question] I mean, I don’t, I’m not gonna scratch that

. I feel like when I started, when I went to college and I started out painting, because I’d been oil painting since I was fifteen, I said I’m gonna keep with painting–it’s something I’m good at–when I would sit down to start a painting, I don’t know, I just, I knew that realism was my way to go. But there was just so much to draw from, and I think that’s what I meant was, it was really daunting but maybe not knowing that there is that much to draw from informs the creative process more–just like kind of being in your own little world. Does that apply to you guys?
K: We’re not terrifically insular.
C: No.
K: I think we like a lot of stuff that sounds absolutely nothing like what we do. I mean, we definitely do not listen to a lot of stuff that sounds like our songs.
[pause]
C: In that Stephen King book, about writing, whatever it’s called, he says that–
K: On writing?
C: On writing, yeah. That sounds great. [Keith laughs] Um–
K: Or are you talking about, lethal things?
C: Hah, yeah, lethal things. [continues] He says that it’s really important not to read other writers, but he clearly does. He’s on the back of book jackets all the time. So I didn’t fully understand his–I understand where he’s coming from, theoretically he clearly doesn’t live by it. I can see how it would be interesting as a musician or any other artist to be insulated from other similar art, you know, art that you could actually create with your instruments or paintbrush or whatever, as opposed to stuff that would have to be filtered through your instrument, like, you know, ballet or something.
K: I think it would be better, for Stephen King to follow, I mean, not to read Dean Koontz?
C: [laughs] Is that the one thing that would dumb him down?
K: Well just that’s–well, hey, who knows.
C: Well [continues] I mean, here’s, I think this is maybe actually a much better rule–in tennis you’re supposed to play with people who are better than you as much as possible. That’s probably true in art. More so than you should isolate yourself from other artists–you should probably just focus on people who are better than you–try not to digest too much nonsense.
M: So history can be very conducive to the process. I mean, well, obviously, you know that but, you never feel overwhelmed [from it].
C: I mean history is probably the most honest, uh, nourishment for an artist because you’re digesting art that wasn’t formed from the same you know, like, you’re not sharing contemporary influences. So no one’s going to accuse you of like, “Oh! You stole your reaction to, fucking 9/11, from Monet! You fool.” Maybe you stole your technique, but, your reaction to current events is gonna be pure, like it’s gonna be yours. I mean, you’ve just digested other artists. But with that said we also listen to contemporary bands all the time and we don’t give a fuck.

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3 thoughts on “What’s the Word’s Exclusive Interview with We Are Scientists in Kansas City (Part Two)

  1. Excellent interview! So nice to hear the guys just chatting about stuff, but also some really insightful questions from someone who clearly knows their subject matter (and knows about drums!) Interesting to hear K&C talk in an unguarded way about the “behind the scenes” stuff that we don’t often hear about.

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