In June of last year, my favorite We Are Scientists superfan, Adrian Stone, made the pilgrimage that most of us fans that are non-UK residents wish we could do- see a bunch of We Are Scientists concerts in the UK. Right before the concert in Brighton, Adrian got to interview Chris and Andy, and along with an amazing photographer, Polly Thomas, to help document this momentous event, I am delighted to say that I can finally post the magic that happened that day here on What’s the Word. Part one is posted below. I’ll be posting part two of this interview on Monday:
(***Thank you to Adrian, Polly and Amber for letting me post this on my site***)
Adrian: You opened for Muse recently. How was that? ‘Cause I’ve seen them live, and they’re so incredible. Is that intimidating at all?
Andy: They’re miming, though, they’re miming.
Adrian: They’re miming? Oh, right, I didn’t know that. That makes…
Chris: I think that’s, actually…I don’t think that’s a secret, right? They acknowledge- that’s like, part of the amazingness of the show, is that they’re miming everything.
Andy: Yeah. Basic knowledge, isn’t it?
Chris: But, well, was it intimidating? I don’t know. You certainly don’t feel like you’re…I think it’s intimidating to play in front of 26,000 people, which was the size of the Moscow one.
Andy: Especially when you’ve got- when it’s just the three of you on a stage where they’re allowing you to use two flashing lights, on or off.
Chris: You feel a little silly. But…I don’t know, I can remember- y’know, I’m sure we’ve all been to big shows, and you judge the opener, y’know, kind of differently. It’s more like, if there are some catchy songs, y’know, you’re pleased, I think, as an audience member, and pleasantly surprised, usually. I don’t- I don’t often expect much from an opener.
Adrian: I judge openers pretty harshly.
Adrian: Yeah, especially-
Andy: Their crowds were really cool to us.
Chris: Yeah, they were. I think there was more awareness of our songs than I thought there would be. I assumed that we would be quite unknown, but it seemed like there was a fair amount of…there was always some group of people that made their way toward the front for our section of the show and would sing along and jump up and down and stuff, while 25,900 other people kind of milled around and chatted.
Adrian: Was it anything like opening for REM? ‘Cause they’re- I mean, they’re probably a lot bigger, but…
Chris: It wasn’t, really. It was actually quite different. Well, for one thing, the REM shows were much smaller.
Adrian: Oh, really?
Chris: Yeah. So actually, Muse may be bigger than REM, then. They definitely play bigger shows than REM.
Adrian: Where did you play with REM?
Chris: We played throughout Europe. We started in Estonia and went down to Spain.
Adrian: Okay, so it was just, like, general Europe. And you played with Muse in Russia?
Chris: Yeah. But, I know Muse definitely play one level bigger venues than REM, in the places we played with REM.
Adrian: I wonder if REM are bitter about that.
Chris: They do seem pretty darn bitter about Muse, and I think it has to do with the ticket counts, yeah. I think REM’s one of those…they’re clearly more iconic.
Andy: I think if Muse are still doing shows the size that REM are doing now in 15 years’ time, then that’ll be a fair test. Do you know what I mean?
Chris: 20 years, right?
Andy: Yeah, exactly. I mean, I think Muse are kinda, to be fair to Muse, they’re definitely kind of- they’ve carried the crown for biggest live act of now, but that doesn’t mean that they- yeah. They haven’t achieved the REM sort of status, have they? It’s kind of interesting.
Chris: I think- yeah, especially in the United States, like, if you walk into a mall or are sitting in the waiting room of a doctor’s office or whatever, the chances of hearing an REM song are like, eight to one. You’re pretty much going to hear an REM song, every day. But…yeah. I don’t know. Muse has the edge right now in Russia, for sure.
Adrian: So, you played with both of them in Europe, in crowds that maybe don’t necessarily speak English. Is that any different than playing in front of crowds that do speak English?
Chris: Well, we feel very inhibited in terms of talking between songs- [someone at the bar turns some music up really loudly and Chris leaves to ask them to turn it down.]
Adrian: I wanted to ask you about I Am Arrows. Are you making another I Am Arrows record?
Andy: I’ve got a- I’ve done a new single, which is gonna come out, I think, like, in August.
Adrian: Oh, okay. Nice.
Andy: I haven’t really had time to do a whole other- a whole album, ’cause I’ve been doing quite a lot of stuff. But I have done a new single. So that’ll come out, I guess, hopefully in August. The artwork’s real nice.
Chris: Who did it?
Andy: This guy called Sam. I’ll show you, if you-
Chris: Cool, yeah.
Adrian: [directed to Chris] were you gonna say something? Before you left? Are the crowds that don’t speak English any…are they similar to the crowds that do speak English?
Chris: Well, y’know, there’s- I think the aspect of our show that is kind of the chit-chat between songs tends to dry up a little bit when we’re playing in front of foreign crowds. I’m not sure it wouldn’t work; we really just never even try to talk in front of non-English speaking crowds. Sometimes we get chastised for that by fans after the show. [Chris puts on an unrecognizable accent.]“But why don’t you talk? You famous for being funny! Why don’t you talk?” That’s my generic, non-English speaker accent. It could be from anywhere.
Andy: Anything east of London!
Chris: Yeah, so, that’s the main difference, I think. I mean- y’know. Certainly, I can name plenty of non-English speaking countries where we don’t have very many fans and those shows aren’t very good, I guess.
Adrian: Are you working on the fourth album now? Have you written anything for it?
Chris: We are working on it. We’ve got, like, some scraps, I would say. I’d say we’re at the scrap phase.
Adrian: ‘Cause when I saw you at San Diego Indiefest in March, you said if you weren’t playing new material by now, that you should be looking for new jobs.
Chris: That’s, uh…that’s a tough quote to have thrown back at us, ’cause we’re definitely not playing any new material right now. And we’re not qualified for any other jobs. So…yikes.
Andy: I think we’re on course. We haven’t got stuck in- I think Keith’s kind of…y’know, he’s got some songs kicking around. He plays them really quietly and quickly and then runs out of the room.
Adrian: But you don’t know when you’d be recording, hopefully?
Chris: I think we pretty much need to record in October, barring some total creative meltdown before then. That’s the plan.
Adrian: Let’s hope that doesn’t happen. I would really like a fourth album.
Chris: I mean, we’re gonna make- I guess my point is just that if the material’s not there, we’re- there’s no real deadline. It’s kind of, y’know, you look at festival season next year, and possible release dates, and things like that, and kind of back it out from there. If we wanna do the easiest schedule, then, it means we have to record in October. Otherwise it creates problems.
Adrian: Are you still mostly just listening to Weezer? Is the next album gonna be like the blue album?
Chris: No, no. I think the last album was our Weezer-y album. I don’t know what this album’s gonna be like. There’s been…I think there’s definitely been sort of a direction struck out that is on the heavier rock side as opposed to…indie, I guess. But that may or may not actually bear out.
Adrian: You haven’t been writing- or, you have been working on new stuff, but not really, but…are you re-working a lot of the old songs? Because I really like the new version of Dinosaurs. I really love it.
Chris: Yeah, we’re really excited about it, too. We have, uh, talked about trying to do as much of that as possible with the live set. I think Dinosaurs is the first one that feels like it’s actually a little different, but, um, there- other moments have emerged in other songs.
Andy: But I think also Dinosaurs is kind of key ’cause I feel like, and this might just be from my point of view, but I feel like Dinosaurs, the way we’re playing it now, is kind of a good gauge of where we wanna take the next record.
Adrian: Oh, well that’s good ’cause I really love that new version.
Andy: I don’t know, that may well just be my thinking, but I think that is what we all-
Chris: No, yeah.
Andy: Quite exciting, playing it now.
Chris: Yeah, I agree, I agree.
Adrian: Did you change Chick Lit at all? It just seems slower to me. Maybe that’s just because I’m in a different country than-
Andy: Slower? Oh my god.
Adrian: It seems slower than I’ve ever heard it before, but maybe…
Andy [to Chris]: You must’ve been playing it super-fast.
Chris: We definitely- Danny used to play- used to really go on the- well, I would say Danny was more susceptible to Keith’s fairly persistent desire to play everything as fast as possible. Whereas I think Andy is more, like, making it his- like, listening to the song and deciding how he would like to play it, and so we’ve kind of actually got three votes. Whereas Danny would always just do what Keith wanted to do, speed-wise.
Adrian: Okay. I’ve only ever seen Danny, so. It’s not- I like it, still. It’s still really good, it’s just different.
Andy: No, no, no, I know, I don’t mind at all. No, it’s always interesting, y’know, to- you have different musicians playing different things, it’s gonna be, y’know, there’s gonna be major changes. I really like the recorded version of that tune, so I think I like to try and play it with a bit of the groove of the original.
Chris: Yeah, I like it with the groove, too. I think the way- I think the original idea of that fast version was just that, to play it as a 3-piece without all of the-
Andy: Yeah, the noise.
Chris: The sound effects and keyboards and stuff that we needed to- that that was what we were going to do to make it work. But I think, in losing the groove, I feel like it…I didn’t love it. I never loved the fast version, personally. I like having the groove back. But hey, I’m the bass player; I’m supposed to care about the groove. I’m the- I’m the groove guard.
Andy: The groove guard- the lynchpin!
Chris: I guard the groove.
Adrian: So, you’re on your own label, Masterswan.
Adrian: Would you ever sign any other bands to it?
Chris: Yeah. We aren’t actively doing anything to make that happen. I think the most likely situation would be if one of our friends made something and had no real- hadn’t sorted out how he or she wanted to release it, we might offer to do it for them. I doubt we’re gonna begin scouting bands that we don’t know personally.
Chris: I mean, people are free to submit. Submissions-
Adrian: Okay, I’ll make sure to put that-
Chris: Put the word out.
Adrian: Yeah, get it out.
Chris: Submissions are welcome, yeah. Masterswan Recording. We’re a very non-prolific label, but we’re a quality label.
Adrian: What has been your most embarrassing on-stage moment?
Chris: Um…that’s a good question.
Adrian: Or you can just say Keith’s since he’s not here, if you wanna embarrass him.
Chris: Oh yeah, Keith’s most embarrassing on-stage moment… Well, there was a- I don’t know if embarrassing is the right word. It’s kinda weird… So, at the London show, I whacked Keith in the face during the last song with my bass.
Adrian: But that wasn’t the other night. Are you talking about a different London show?
Chris: No, no, it was the other night. It was during After Hours, during the last song. He definitely took it like a champ. But he’s actually got kind of a swollen cheek now. He looks kind of like, kinda Sly Stallone. Or more Sly Stallone than usual. A little puffy.
Adrian: I didn’t notice it after the show.
Chris: I think it kind of- the next day it was much more swollen. Yesterday, it was much more swollen. You can definitely kinda notice it. It’s not a huge- it didn’t really bleed or anything.
Polly: Were you pretending it’s an accident and just taking out some anger instead?
Chris: Yeah, it was a big “accident”, y’know what I mean? Had to put him in his place. Yeah, that was- I was like, “oh, shit! Can he still sing? Did I knock out a tooth?”
Adrian: I don’t know if you know, you have- well Andy doesn’t have as many, but Chris has a lot of nicknames with the fans. Keith has a lot of nicknames. Do you have any nicknames besides the- most of the ones we give you guys are kinda cruel, but do you have any ones that aren’t given to you by fans? Well, actually, no, Chris’s are good.
Chris: Mine are nice but Keith’s are cruel?
Chris: Uh…I don’t know, do we have nicknames? I don’t really know.
Andy: No. I mean, Fucknuts…
Chris: Fucknuts and Shitballs.
Andy: And Shitballs. Those are our nicknames.
Adrian: Those are good ones. Those are good ones.
Chris: That’s what we call each other.
Adrian: Those are such common nicknames, though.
Andy: That was when we had our summer of love. That’s when we had the We Are Scientists Summer of Love. The Chris and Andy Summer of Love. That’s the kind of thing that comes up- shit happens.
Chris: It does. We call Keith “Farts” a lot.
Chris: Yeah. Or like, any sort of variation on “farts”. Mr. Farts. If we’re in a Spanish-speaking territory, we call him Señor Farts.
Adrian: Señor Farts… We call you Señor Cain.
Chris: Okay, okay. That makes a lot of sense.
Adrian: Mostly we just call you Mr. Handsome, though.
Andy: Ah, heeey.
Chris: Ah ha ha! Yeah.
Adrian: What is your least favorite We Are Scientists song?
Chris: Least favorite We Are Scientists song?
Adrian: Yeah. And your favorite, but your least favorite’s more important.
Chris: Yeah…that’s a good question. Mine…
Adrian [to Andy]: I don’t know if you have one or not.
Andy: What’s that?
Adrian: Least favorite We Are Scientists song?
Chris: You must have one.
Andy: Yeah, um…I’m not huge into that one that goes [sings the melody to Worth the Wait]. We never play that one. What’s that?
Chris: Oh yeah, uh…
Adrian: Are you talking about, uh…
Chris: Worth the Wait?
Chris: That’s funny because that’s the song that’s most like a Muse song in my mind. It sounds a lot like that song, [Chris starts singing Muse’s “Time Is Running Out”].
Andy: Right, yeah. Oh yeah, that’s the same song! Yeah, I like that bit. Oh, I like that bit. My favorite song is more important. I like After Hours and I like Lethal Enforcer. I think Brain Thrust Mastery is the best- is the strongest record so far.
Adrian: Brain Thrust Mastery’s amazing, yeah.
Andy: Yeah, I love that record. I mean, I am really proud of Barbara ’cause it’s my only one, but-
Adrian: Yes, Barbara is my favorite. Barbara’s the best.
Andy: So, obviously, I have a soft spot for that album, but I think if I- as a fan, I think Brain Thrust Mastery’s my favorite record. It’s my own personal mission that the fourth one- that the fourth one is fucking kick ass.
Adrian: Do you like Altered Beast?
Andy: That’s fucking amazing.
Chris: I like Altered Beast a lot. Yeah, yeah. There’s definitely no bad song on, um…
Adrian: Brain Thrust Mastery?
Chris: I think on either of the two most recent ones. I’m sure if I think, my least favorite will be on the first record- I just can’t think of what it is.
Andy: That’s what often happens from a record that really kind of- ’cause it really connected with kind of a team thing, didn’t it? I think on that kind of record, you’re probably always gonna have something that’s kind of like- you look back on and go, “not really feeling that now”. But it’s a great album.
Chris: Yeah, it is. I almost feel like Great Escape is my least favorite song…just ’cause we’ve played it so many fucking times.
Adrian: That was mine- when I started listening to you guys, that was my least favorite song.
Chris: I do think it’s the one, I think that, of our better known songs, it’s definitely, to me, the least- like, it’s the one that I wouldn’t mind if it got- we got discredited for it. We’d lost the credit.