This page is for articles that are so special that they need to be placed on a page. Actually, they were just too long for me to put in one of my normal news posts so I’m putting them here.
Panthers and Pandemonium
Thanks to Jon Barilone, a long time-W.A.S. fan and writer at Entertainment Today, I can post this exclusive interview he had with Keith earlier this September.
Tracy Zamot (Press Agent): You’re on with Keith.
Jon Barilone: Alright.
Keith Murray: Hey, Jon.
JB: Hey, Keith; how’s it goin?
KM: It’s goin pretty well; how are you doin?
JB: Oh, not too bad. So, are you guys on a break right now?
KM: Yeah, we’ve been off um for a week and a half, but we were sort of doing band-related stuff the whole time and we wanted to play some tours, which are nice. It wasn’t really much of a vacation, to be honest.
JB: A lot of work to do?
KM: Yeah. It’s incredibly disturbing that, even when we’re on break, I pretty much go to a show every single night. We end up in a bar every single night.
JB: I saw that you went to a Snow Patrol show with Keifer Sutherland.
KM: That’s true! We went to the Snow Patrol show and, afterwards, we went cruising around the meat-packing district.
JB: Sounds like a typical night.
KM: Yeah, it’s the usual. I was kickin’ it, that’s why I was hanging out with Keifer. Real low-key. If I want to get wild, I’d go with Keanu.
JB: So, you guys will be on another tour soon. What’s it called and how is it going to be different from what we’ve seen and heard before?
KM: It’s called the “Also-Ran Buzz Band Tour”—it’s us, Art Brut and the Spinto Band. And is the question “How is it going to be different from any other tour ever?” or “anything you’ve heard from us before”?
JB: First you guys, then any tour ever.
KM: I’ll start with pedestrian aspects in which it will be different from any other tour of ours and that will be because we’re sort of winding this album down now. After this last little batch of tours, we’re going to stop and work on the next album. We’re going to be playing some new stuff to test it before we actually have to go and record it.
Also—and this is totally going to be dependent on the expression on Art Brut’s faces when we do this—part of the deal with this tour is that we’re selling a split 7” with Art Brut wherein we cover one of their songs and they cover one of our songs. And we really like the cover that we did for the song [laughs]—we sort of rewrote everything about it except for the words. So, I think we may play their cover in front of them which, I think, for an audience member, will be delightful because the point in that case will be not to watch the band on stage but to watch the band in the crowd who are having to stand there while their song is maligned on stage. Like, “come view our group’s public humiliation.”
When it comes to different from any other tour ever—we’re going to have a bunch of Gila Monsters on stage. We’re going to let ‘em loose and see what they do and that’s about a half hour of the show. So, yeah, everyone’s going to have to sign a waiver when they come in—an affidavit that gives the consent to be mauled by the Gila Monsters. You know, so they won’t blame or sue us.
JB: That’s worth the price of admission right there. I have to ask—when’s the second album coming out?
KM: It’s somewhat hard to say at this point. We have a few songs written and then, you know, a whole bunch of [laughs] ideas that we haven’t really worked out arrangements for. In a perfect little world, we will pump it out as quickly as possible. We’d like to not, you know, hang out and do nothing for a year and a half. I hate to even give approximates, but we’re thinking we’d like to come out by next summer.
We’re going to be done touring by the beginning of December. So, we’d like to take two or three months to write and then one month or two months to record and mix and match it. So, the way album releases usually work with P.R. and label people is there’s usually a three-month lag between when you turn it in and when it gets released. Right now, in the ideal situation, that equals a summer release. We’ll see. Come December, we may be sitting in the practice space weeping.
JB: Is it going to have a totally different sound or stem from what you guys did on the first album?
KM: I think we’re sort of interested in, and into, other things. The thing about us is that we all listen to the same vague sphere of music, but all have different interests in music. It’s hard to say which way we’ll really go; we’ll have to see what happens. I’ve written a bunch of songs but, for the last album, the original versions that I wrote sound a little different. I really have no idea how the next album will sound at this point. What happens when you put us in a room and we fight for eight hours? The answer: our next album.
JB: You’ve been playing a new song, “Best Behaviour,” lately. Will that be on it?
KM: Hopefully “Best Behaviour” will be on it. That’s sort of the first song of the new batch. So, right now, we’re into it because it’s a new song that we actually get to play. But, we have already incorporated another new song into the set, so now that one is super-exciting to us and “Best Behaviour” is old news to us now. It definitely is troubling how a new song adheres and weighs incredibly heavily on our appreciation of other songs. It’s good to get a lot of distance from a song and not hang on the fact that it’s a mere child of another song. It’s a good mindset.
JB: Ok, hard question now. In 15 words or less, describe your guys’ musical style.
KM: Ya know, I hate to use poetry, but I’m just going to throw a picture at you and hope it translates. “If dolphins could ride jet skis, that’d be the sound of We Are Scientists.” And they’re working on it, just as a side note. Most people might not know this. I do a lot of scientific reading—the dolphins are working on it.
JB: You guys have been on tour for how long now?
KM: I think it’s 17 months at this point.
JB: So, is that hard on your girlfriends and families?
KM: Yeah, our girlfriends pretty much hate everybody involved in the band except for their specific boyfriend and pretty much hold grudges. Whenever I mention our manager’s name, my girlfriend turns beet red and, actually, hair starts coming out on the tops of her hands and her nails stretch a little bit. And I’m like, “Don’t wolf out! Don’t wolf out!” And, you know, her eyes kind of glow gold at for a second and then she makes this little growling sound. Sometimes I’ll throw a glass of cold water on her and then the wolf retreats and she returns to human form.
JB: Yeah, we’ve all been there.
KM: Yeah, girlfriends are not excited about We Are Scientists at all. It’s pretty funny—a lot of people assume that being in a functioning band will help your…abilities. I can pretty much assure you that everybody who’s in a band has had their luck with ladies hurt by the fact that they’re in a band. If you really want to attract the ladies, become, like, a financial lawyer or something like that. They love it.
JB: Now, Chris has a pretty serious girlfriend and a kid. How about you and Michael? Any kids out there?
KM: None that we know of and, in Michael’s case, that ignorance is very willful. He gets letters all the time and gets sued by lawyers for child support and custody. A lot of women have performed unique DNA tests on him that have proven that he is the father of their children. He just deals. He says, “I have no children that I know of,” even though several, I’d say about half a dozen, have been delivered to his door. So, yeah, I guess that’s sort of a tricky question for me to really answer. “None that we know of” is the official quote.
JB: Have you guys been able to keep updating your tour blogs and the website lately?
KM: We definitely have been negligent in our internet duties. Before we started touring, we pretty much pathetically updated our website every day or every other day. These days, you get onto the bus at 4:00 a.m.—and this may come as a surprise to some readers, but sometimes it’s good to pull away the veil here—the last thing you want to do is do some internet work at 4:00 a.m. after the show. I know, it’s sounds counterintuitive, but it’s true. You’d think you’d want to spend some hours logged on, but it hasn’t really worked out that way for us. We’ve actually made a pact that, on this next tour through December, we’re going to focus. We saw what the Internet did for Korn and we want that.
JB: And look at OK Go. That treadmill video.
KM: That’s the answer.
JB: Treadmills for the next music video?
KM: Oh man! Treadmills, fancy suits and Tim Nordwind as lead singer! There is the answer. So, I’ve been calling Tim; he hasn’t returned my calls, but we’re trying to recruit him.
JB: Speaking of Internet, did you know that you and Chris are on Wikipedia as Notable Alums of Pomona College?
KM: [laughs] I did not know that! Do you happen to recall who any of the other Notable Alums were? Did you recognize a single one of them?
JB: There were one or two. I just remember the dropout, Frank Zappa.
KM: Oh, right! I forgot about him. Now, I know Roy Disney, the lesser Disney, went to Pomona. But I figure, at this point, we’re playing the Glass House and Henry Fonda Theater this time—I feel like we’ve got Southern California all locked up. We’re the bigger name in So Cal these days. Sorry, Disney.
JB: When’s the next time you think you guys are going to be on campus playing a show?
KM: I don’t know. At this point, playing the Glass House was sort of our concession to trying to get a Claremont-related show. It’s really hard to set up halfway-decent campus shows. Every show we’ve played at Pomona recently has sort of been set up by a friend who’s just like “Hey, yeah, I’ll set this thing up.” We say, “We have a day off on this day when we’re going to be in Southern California, let’s just do a show.” And then our friend will say “Okay, I’ll rent a basement somewhere and get a keg.” And we’re like, “Awesome.” So, yeah, now we don’t know anybody—we’ve been out of school for six years now. Thankfully, we no longer know anybody at any of the Claremont schools. I think the Glass House is a fine venue and I think it’s important for the kids to get the hell off of the Claremont Colleges.
JB: Yeah, I remember at the last campus show, you telling me that you played for free and that you didn’t get to practice beforehand.
KM: [laughs] Right. I think we literally got paid the amount that it took to pay our crew so that we weren’t actually losing money on the show. We were just like, “Look, if you give us—I don’t even know what it was—like, 300 bucks or something like that, we can pay our sound guy. That would be pretty sweet, thank you.” We have to make that pact with all of them. And people always want to hear old stuff, which we haven’t played in about a year and a half.
JB: You guys don’t play encores, which is interesting. Can you talk about that?
KM: The phenomenon of the encore is sort of mysterious to me. I’ve never really been particularly wowed by a band doing an encore because all that really means is that they go offstage for three minutes. When you do an encore and you go offstage, first, your worry is “Well, is anybody even going to, like, clap and want an encore?” And then, if not, “Why didn’t we just go ahead and play these songs that are probably pretty good because we saved them for what we thought was going to be a kick-ass encore?” If they’re not going to clap, then everybody’s just mad and the show was worse off. And then when they do clap and want an encore, you sort of feel like an asshole because you’re just standing backstage trying to gauge how long you should wait while these people stand up and are like, “SCIENTISTS! SCIENTISTS!” and stuff like that. It makes you feel super-sleazy.
By not playing an encore, we’re not playing fewer minutes of music or anything; we’re actually just taking away three minutes in which people would feel forced to cheer for us for no good reason at all. It’s not like we say, “We’re not going to give them an encore.” If I were standing in a crowd watching a band, I wouldn’t want to have to sit through somebody’s encore ritual. I just want to be like, “Yeah, okay, play those songs.” And, a couple times, we actually tried saying: “Alright, so let’s all pretend this was our last song, pretend we just went off stage, you guys cheered for about three minutes and now we’re going to play two more songs.” It sort of confused people and made them feel like we were being condescending to them.
So, yeah, best to just skip the encore. We’ll pretty much keep playing if a crowd seems like they want us to play more and more. We’ll just go ahead and play every single song we know, but we just won’t take the pause. And, you know what?, people should be applauding us for not taking pauses because that just demonstrates the true stamina of We Are Scientists! Although, to keep it fair, every song we know is pretty much only, like, an hour and fifteen minutes. So, I guess the stamina’s not really all that remarkable.
JB: You guys have been throwing in a few more soft songs into the repertoire: the “Be My Baby” cover and a couple acoustic songs. Have you ever thought of doing an acoustic version of “Can’t Lose”?
KM: I feel like maybe we talked about it. When we did all the acoustic versions, we pretty much were like, “Ok, which songs do we want to do acoustic versions of?” And then we all sit there and we’re like, “Ok, which songs do we have? Somebody name any song by us.” And then, eventually, someone will be like, “Uh…‘Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt’?” We’ll be, like, “Yeah! That’s one of them! Alright, let’s write one for that!”
We don’t really do that kind of thing unless we express a need for it, thumbs up.
I think originally what started it is that, a lot of times when you go play on the radio, they don’t have a full studio set up—you’ll have like three total mics. So, they “encourage” you to do an acoustic song. Which, for us, is sort of tricky because there’s not a whole lot of cool, little guitar stuff going on in our songs. To us, it would be really boring to just sit there and play the same exact version of a song—it just sounds weird. So we try to rewrite them all; three new songs we do acoustic are: “It’s a Hit,” “Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt” and “The Great Escape.” Those are three singles in England because we had to play them on the radio a lot. But, yeah, I think “Can’t Lose” could translate.
JB: What’s the alcohol/drink of choice?
KM: For a long time, the sort of communal drink of choice was whiskey. And Chris and I were big Jack-and-Coke fans and Tapper was just straight Jack. And, to this day, he still maintains that pretty much. Weirdly, recently, I’ve been really into tequila and I don’t really know why. I crave it all the time. And, it’s sort of pathetic, but, recently, the tequila fixation has just funneled itself into a desire for margaritas. The fact that I feel it’s sort of funny to see somebody hanging around at a rock show drinking a margarita contributes to my enjoyment of drinking margaritas. It’s usually a pretty incongruous drink for me to be drinking, which really ups its value points.
JB: Would you say it’s a guilty pleasure?
KM: I don’t feel guilty at all! I think it’s a thrilling pleasure!
JB: Do you guys have any pre-show or post-show superstitions, rituals or traditions?
KM: Not really. I’d say the only really consistent pre-show for me is that I can’t eat for three or four hours before the show because, if I do, while I’m singing, all I do is just feel food sitting on my stomach. And I’ve never actually thrown up on stage, but there have been several times when I’m, like, hitting a really good, loud note and I thought that something unfortunate might have crossed the stage. But, that’s pretty much it. I would say the only other ritual, if you can call it that, is getting backstage and funneling beer into our throats.
JB: How long is this next tour going to be?
KM: Well, the American tour is about a month. Then it all bleeds into one tour for us because, the day after we finish the American tour, we get on a plane and fly to Iceland and play some Iceland. And then fly to England and start a month-long tour. And then fly to Europe and start, like, a two-week-long tour. Essentially, it’s something like two and a half months; luckily, at the end of that, we’re totally done touring for this album. It doesn’t really seem that bad. At this point, two and a half months seems kind of short considering we’ve been on tour for 17 months. It feels like it’s two days before the last day of summer camp where you’re like, “Oh, man. How will we remember this wonderful place? We have to write to each other!” That’s sort of what we’ve been telling each other: “Don’t worry, we’ll keep writing once this is over.” We’ll keep writing letters, we won’t actually be writing music. Although, long distance relationships never work. If I’m not hanging around those guys every day, I’m going to forget their names.
JB: Tell me about it, I’ve got a girlfriend in Madrid right now.
KM: Oh, God! Bad move. I had a girlfriend in Madrid at one point. Guess what? She’s not my girlfriend anymore. Ok, that was actually just a cheap scare because we dated for a long time after she got back. You did feel terror for a minute, didn’t you? You thought you had some empirical proof that it’s not gonna work out between you and Samantha or whatever her name is.
JB: And from a scientist, no less.
KM: See, you are a slave to facts!
JB: Would you say this American tour is setting up for your second album? Is there a specific plan of attack?
KM: It’s going to have an aspect of the “closing night party” of a play and all that. It’s going to be our last North American tour for at least four or five months. We might play random shows, but we’re not going to do a full, big tour. It will be like watching someone trying to eat the last bit of an incredibly delicious cake before the end of the party. This tour’s just going to be gluttony for us in every aspect.
On the other hand, that will be sort of offset by another form of gluttony which is sort of the incredible excitement of the Christmas Day thing where something new is happening and all you want to do is go into your parents’ bedroom and open your gifts ahead of time. That’s an incredibly clumsy metaphor for what we’re doing which will simply be to play new songs. But, I wanted to paint another picture for you and I apologize.
JB: I’ll try and spin that the best I can.
KM: Alright, thanks. Really tighten that up. Nip and tuck.
JB: Ok, time check real quick. How much time do you have left?
KM: For this interview?
KM: Oh, for a minute, I thought you were asking me when I thought I was gonna die. I have no idea. At this point, I’m a slave to your stamina.
JB: Sweet, I’ll keep going then. Are your parents proud of you?
KM: Um…I think my parents are excited for me. I would say that, in the band, my parents are the ones who feel the most envious gratification. I think they know that we’re doing a job that, even though we complain about it every day, it’s pretty much—apart from being away from your friends and living in a bunk—like being in the military. Except we play rock shows instead of doing something fairly honorable most of the time. My parents are definitely pretty psyched. I think, because they’re rational parents, they’re like, “Yeah, make a go of this and sever all ties to any other possible profession you can have that will allow you to live once the average musical lifespan—which has got to be, what, three years?—stops.” Maybe their rational side makes them fear for the welfare of their child.
JB: How about Chris and Michael and their parents?
KM: I think they move down in gradients from there. I think Chris’ parents are happy for him that he’s doing something that he likes. As far as I know, they don’t have the visceral thrill that my parents seem to have, but I think they’re supportive and happy for him. They’re both extremely accomplished people—his dad’s like a heart surgeon or something and his mom is a city commissioner. And they sent their kid to a really good school where he excelled and could have had some tremendous academic career or done something useful. In some aspect, they have to feel like he squandered that. But, I they’re pretty supportive and, you know, “You make a go of it and it worked out, well done.” And then, Tapper’s parents, I don’t think they’re particularly psyched. I think [laughs] they think he’s wasting his time.
JB: You guys are on the road a lot. How do you waste the hours?
KM: On a van tour, you spend 70% of your time in the van or sleeping. You’ll crash on someone’s floors, sleep in a hotel or something, wake up, and have to drive, in America for example, the average drive between shows is seven hours. You get a lot of reading done and a lot of pathetic, mid-day napping where you’re not tired, but your body just says “there is no useful stimulus available, so I’m going to shut down right now.” I think, this time, we’re actually scaling it down to an RV. But, same scenario—we’ll sleep while the bus is driving, so, when you wake up, you’re in a new place. And, then you’re kind of screwed because clubs don’t tend to be in the most fun parts of town. Every once in a while, you’ll get one that’s in the super-hip part of town. A lot of times, we’re kind of like, amongst warehouses and stuff like that. But I learned my lesson, I take Mike with me after our shows. I pretty much get up and then get the hell out of there.
JB: Do you guys ever get homesick?
KM: Not really. Definitely, at this point, home is being on tour for us. Definitely screwed up our bodies and our psyches and I have a really hard time sleeping in actual beds now. I really like sleeping in bus bunks,—which are, essentially, like coffins—and having the bus move. Anytime the bus stops, I wake up and then I have a hard time going back to sleep until it starts moving again.
When I’m at home, I spend a lot of time sitting upright in bed and asking my girlfriend if she can push the bed around to make it feel like its moving or something. Just anything to help. There’s no real homesickness, I don’t really feel like I’m living here anymore; it’s definitely just more like missing specific people that live here. Except, now, most of my friends are in touring bands and I don’t really see them anyway. When I do, it’s somewhere like Cincinnati. Location no longer has any relevance.
JB: Since you guys have been in the UK and Europe for so long, what’s the best country to play in and what’s the best one to party in?
KM: Spain is pretty amazing for playing shows and the UK, just in general. If all things were equal, if we had the same fan base everywhere, I don’t know if England would be tops. But, for us, our shows are, by far, the biggest over there. So, England is the best place for us to play.
I would say Scotland is, and when I say “best place to party in,” it’s sort of a funny phrase to use, because it’s sort of like a dangerous place to party in. It’s because, and this is going to come off weird, they’re such animals over there. For some reason, we always have days off in Glasgow, Scotland and, every time we go there, something really unfortunate happens due to over-partying.
Like, one time I was there, I got separated from the group because I was at a bar and got really drunk and they left. It was after a show and we went across the street to this really dive bar, where I had conversations that I can’t remember and was reminded of them the next day. And everybody left and didn’t take me with them and my phone doesn’t work in England because I have some crap international service plan or something like that. I didn’t know where I was and I ended up walking around Glasgow, literally looking for a doorway to sleep in and I was drunk enough where I was kind of excited by that prospect. I was like, “Oh, it’s going to be amazing! I’m going to sleep in this doorway in Glasgow” and didn’t really think about what was going to happen the next morning when I woke up and the Scottish police were arresting me for vagrancy.
I was pretty excited about sleeping in a Scottish doorway somewhere, but then, randomly, another American friend—who wasn’t part of our tour, he just happened to be in Glasgow—just bumped into me and said “What the hell are you doing?!” And I was like “Yeah, got tired! Gonna sleep here!” And he was like “Well, come to this party with me.” So, we went to this house party where I drank more and went to sleep and woke up in some strange Scottish person’s house. And then they drove me back into Glasgow and that all worked. Glasgow’s dangerous, don’t go. It was a warning, sort of a shot fired overhead for me.
JB: I don’t know if you’ve had a lot of these nights, but the album’s lyrics talk a bit about drinking, partying, bad relationships, hooking up—do those stem from personal experience or is it more a group effort?
KM: The lyrics are, generally, definitely a sort of palette of different people. They’re all sort of first-person and there’s no real totally third-party story. It’s all about stuff I’ve been involved in, even if the “I” in the story isn’t me. They’re just generally about the friend group I had in New York at the time, it’s sort of what everybody was going through. But, to be fair, I was pretty much involved in every ounce of drinking that’s in the album. And then a little more, too.
JB: Any of that from your time at Pomona?
KM: Not really, I actually [laughs], this is really weird. When I went to Pomona, I was “straight edge.” I mean, I wasn’t actively like calling myself “straight edge,” but I didn’t drink and I didn’t really do anything and I was actually really boring. For some stupid reason, I waited until I was out of college to really become a total hedonist. And, everybody knows, college really facilitates fantastic hedonism. You never really have to drive home, you can just walk back to your dorm. Or fall into the bushes and Camp Sec will take care of you! God, it’s glorious! Campus Security is like the most understanding parent a kid can have. They just pick you up and they slap ya around a little, that’s it. They won’t yell at you like your parents would, they just slap ya around. They’re Camp Sec, that’s what they do. Heck, they’ll take you on a golf cart ride, it’s amazing! Unfortunately, none of that impact is from Pomona. The other guys definitely did drink and, you know, whatever in college. But we all essentially got way, way, way worse since we graduated. And I think New York has definitely not helped our sensibilities at all.
JB: Is there anything you’d like to say in particular? Anything you want to get out there?
KM: I’m exhausted; I feel like I’ve just had a psychiatric session.
JB: Alright, I’ll start closing it up, then. You guys have had a song on The OC, CSI: NY, a 2006 Winter Olympics commercial, a video game and you’ve played on David Letterman and Conan O’Brien. What’s next?
KM: We really would like to get into writing jingles for commercials and anonymous theme songs for TV shows. Like, it doesn’t matter to have We Are Scientists’ songs on stuff, I want to just have random, really innocuous background music for TV shows. Kind of like the oboe and the snare drum going “doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo-doo” right before it goes to commercial. That’s the kind of thing I want to work on.
JB: Ok, should be the last question here. What can we expect from the show at the Glass House on Oct. 1?
KM: Complete pandemonium. We’re going to bring four live panthers on stage and they’re going to fight to the death, and then Michael will fight the winner. And, you know, that makes it sound like he’s incredibly brave and strong because he’s fighting the strongest panther, but that panther’s going to be pretty worn out since it just killed three other panthers. So, it’s actually pretty inglorious. The crowd usually boos him because, at that point, the panther’s just kind of lying on the ground, panting. You know, breathing it’s last anyway and Michael comes out and, very jauntily, straddles it and breaks its neck with his hands. And it can barely put up any resistance, it kind of paws at him in what appears to be more a pleading way than an actually aggressive way. So, Michael turns out to be a villain more than anything else; it’s actually pretty depressing. I wouldn’t come.
We Are Scientists: More Fiction than Facts
Thanks to Ness for providing an English translation of this Dutch article!
We Are Scientists: More fiction than facts
They think they’re very modest. And clean. The perfect sons-in-law, even. You shouldn’t take WAS’ quotes too serious. They aren’t modest at all, and I’m not so sure about the cleanliness either. The conversation with this American trio, which is according to many the next big thing, is jumping from one subject to another. The separation line between fiction and truth is very thin with WAS.
No idea who WAS are? Then pay attention! American trio, practises in the garage for years and gets a big fan base. With the age of 30 in sight, they get signed at Virgin in 2005, with the plan of becoming more famous in America. Instead the British DJ Steve O’Mack discovers WAS at the SXSW-festival. The influential DJ, immediately a fan of the trio, plays WAS on BBC1 and so the American breakthrough has to wait. Europe goes first.
First the attention is set on the UK, where WAS play with Maxïmo Park, Mystery Jets, Editors, Kaiser Chiefs and Arctic Monkeys, sometimes in a package deal from music magazine NME.
And that’s quite a change. “And egg, a sausage, beans, mushrooms and bacon. Horrible! If it’s possible, we have a curry from the corner of the street.” says bassist Chris Cain, with his moustache and his thin body the least attractive of the bunch. “In America breakfast is about the best meal of the day. You get pancakes, scrambled eggs, bagels, sandwiches with egg, crispy bacon, eggs with cheese or even a Mexican breakfast. Delicious! And not as greasy as in England. Really, the European Union should do something to improve the British breakfast.” The tone is set.
Having a serious conversation with WAS is impossible. The band has its own view on the world. You probably already noticed that if you’ve seen their website. In the photo section you’d expect pictures of the band, but instead we see a photo of the crowd in every place they preformed when they’re on tour. “Very encouraging to see there are more people every time”, says drummer Michael Tapper. That’s original, but then there’s the biography. Therein you can read that WAS got together because Michael had a crush on Keith, who had a crush on Chris, etc. “Nonsense? I don’t think there are any lies in it?” Chris immediately defends himself. They’ve given up on the romances now. “We’re professional now.” Tapper: “Our manager said: ‘don’t shit where you eat.’ Cain: “And above all: don’t eat shit.”
The band has a very energetic sound, that, to us, Europeans, sound very British. And while all European bands try to break through in America, WAS does it the other way around. Surprising? “I’m surprised that journalists always say that”, Tapper begins. “Because at the time we didn’t listen to British bands. We have a very New York – sound. I think a lot of British bands have based themselves on the NYC sound of five years ago. The kept on working from that point on. The Strokes have been the katalysator of the current British stream. We only tried to improve the music we heard and develop it into something our friends liked.”
Anyway, how are the Americans (where everything is always better & bigger) liking it in Europe? “Well, we mostly spend a lot of time playing in England, and we know that by now. The two weeks that we just spent touring in Europe were fun”, says an exhausted Cain. “We were finishing the NME-tour in England. We were on the bill with Maximo Park & Arctic Monkeys. Fortunately it wasn’t like we were their support act. ‘Cause let’s be honest: they’re now way hotter than us. But the crowd enjoyed all the shows.”
And just when the conversation’s getting serious, the line is crossed again, when we ask what WAS has learned from those big British bands. “What we learned from then? I think you mean the other way ‘round?” Cains says, to immediately answer himself: “We are older than them. Before they went on tour with us, they were sissies who didn’t drink beer. Thanks to us, they can drink a lot now. And they couldn’t hit on a girl. But we taught them some opening lines. “Hey, I play in the Arctic Monkeys.” Or: “Hey, I’m Paul from Maximo Park.” Yeah, they’ll be grateful for a long time,” Cain smiles.
Let’s try anyway, then. How are the gentlemen dealing with feelings of homesickness & missing the family. “Drinking a lot of beer & whisky, getting drunk every night, getting up some time around noon with a hang-over, play at night, and getting drunk again,” Cains sums up. “Do you know he has a baby at home?” Tapper says before he realizes what he said. “Sometimes I wake up hysterical, and I search for the baby. And then I remember that he’s miles away, at home, and I’m okay.” says a more serious Cain. “I’ve seen it once now, the first three weeks after he was born.” And here we cross the line between fiction & reality again. “Maybe that was the last time, if I keep on drinking like I do now. Well, later we have 3 days off again, and then I can see him again.”