We Are Scientists

We Are Scientists

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Monday, 30 October 2006
INTERVIEW

When We Are Scientists played the Troubadour in Los Angeles last November, the room was filled to near capacity with young fans who already knew every word of the trio’s music. Keep in mind, the band’s album had not been released in the States yet. On stage, their performance was charismatic, the audience was dancing their asses off and interacting with the band during between song banter that seemed like a bizarre comedy show (and one that was actually funny). Speaking with a fellow writer at the show, I heard how the band tends to take to interviews in a rather mocking fashion. Sure enough, after reading many interviews with the trio and scanning over their sarcastic (and dare I say, quite well-written) website, one might be led to think that this is yet another kitsch rock band who aren’t too serious about music.

However, it is the quality of the trio’s watertight Virgin records debut, With Love and Squalor, that provides the counterargument to that assertion. Filled with complex anthems, energetic hooks and lyrics that actually resonate with the album’s title, their music provides more insight into the band than perhaps another cheesy interview could. With numerous songs that bear reference to debauchery, hints of loneliness, frustration and regret, it’s hard to think that this is just a novelty rock act. What is easy to think is that these are three smart guys who seem pretty self-deprecating, write great songs, look fairly normal as far as rock standards go and probably won’t molest your sister after a show.

That being said, if you’re expecting a serious, hard hitting interview with the band at this point, the following Q and A with We Are Scientist’s bassist Chris Cain will disappoint you terribly. Note to readers: the following interview is R-rated. Note to Tom Cruise: Chris said you’re gay, I totally didn’t.

TS: I’m still hazy on exactly what kind of scientists you are, care to explain?

CC: The fact is, we don’t know shit about science – think of us more as “anti-scientists”. Basic science facts like the chemical formula for water and whether water is a solid, a gas, or a liquid just won’t stay in our brains. “Simple” scientific principles such as how to make the lamp thing make the light when it’s dark and how to make the water come out of the sink spigot when you’re thirsty – we have no aptitude for these. Even velcroing our shoes shut is a major hurdle.

TS: After perusing your website it seems you have a penchant for actor, Josh Lucas. He is quite an attractive guy, but why so much love for Lucas on the site? He may think you’re coming on too strong and get frightened off. (Ed. Note: Readers, please consult the article, “Top Ten Stories We’d Like To See in 2006” on wearescientists.com.)

CC: More than anything we just want to see actor Josh Lucas live up to his potential, and I’m not sure he’s doing that in his current film, Glory Road. The “Top Ten” thing is a way to show actor Josh Lucas one possible road map to success; I hope it goes without saying that the course we’ve outlined for him is one of probably a hundred paths he might follow to excellence. Actor Josh Lucas is one of these guys in whom you see so much possibility, and you just don’t want to see that go to waste, so you try to find ways of encouraging him along.

TS: Unbeknownst to some fans, you guys have two brilliant videos directed by Akiva Schaeffer, S.N.L. writer and director of the crazy-delicious “Lazy Sunday” video. You guys used Akiva before his S.N.L. days, do you think you might be responsible for his sudden good fortune?

CC: Well, yeah, I think we did have a lot to do with Akiva’s recent success. An obvious pattern has emerged in the last year or two where people we work with end up doing very well for themselves – very well. Look at Jaime Foxx, Scarlett Johanssen, Franz Ferdinand…

TS: Also, where did you get the idea to have the three of you quasi-siamese for “The Great Escape” video? Is there some heavy metaphorical ideology behind that or just, “Hey, it would be funny if we all slept in the same bed”?

CC: No, no, no – nothing like that. It was more of an, “It would be funny if we all took a shower together” thing. That led pretty naturally into us all sleeping in the same bed.

Actually, there is some symbolism. We wanted to try to show visually what happens when, in his mind, one man sleeps with, showers with, eats with, even pees with, two other guys he knows. The central conceit of the video is our ingenious way of bringing that deeply mental notion into the visible world.

TS: In your previous lives, before you became rocking scientists, were there any particular day jobs you held that were rather embarrassing? Please discuss.

CC: I know that I was always pretty embarrassed by my job jacking off bears. Yes, jacking off bears. Let me explain: for several years I worked at a nature preserve in Wyoming where we rehabilitated injured animals. One of our most common customers were brown bears who had been shot by hunters – you have to aim pretty carefully to bring a bear down with a shot from a rifle and if you don’t bring him down with your first shot, you’re not likely to get another one. So, we’d find these bears exhausted and bullet-wounded and we’d get them through the lengthy healing process, at the end of which they were often so softened up by the catered life that returning to nature wasn’t an option.

These bears became tenants of the preserve and we had an aggressive breeding program in place to help repopulate that range of Western America that used to be positively crawling with browns but which now is home to just a few hundred. When I say our breeding program was aggressive, I mean it. Bears’ reputation for lethargy is not exaggerated, and if we waited for them to get in the mood we’d be waiting a long, long time, so we didn’t. It was my job to manually stimulate – “jack off”, as we called it – the male bears while they slept or ate honey sandwiches. Another preserve employee – W.A.S. singer Keith Murray– then had the exacting task of getting the male bear’s “essence” up into one or more female bears – “she-bears” we called them.

Anyway, telling people what I did for a living used to really embarrass me…that big thistly bear cock in my hand all afternoon and everything.

TS: How could our readers who say, rock in private but work full time in the fast food industry make the change to the rocking scientist life of glamour and intrigue?

CC: First, this person will need write some screechingly hot tunes. It’s something we never bothered to do, sure, but I think it makes the whole process easier.

Next, this person should get him or herself a snappy indie rock wardrobe. Tight black pants, tight stripy shirts, black leather Dior jackets and nifty pointy shoes is what we’re talking about. Again, We Are Scientists could never quite find the time to make this happen for ourselves, but I think it definitely expedites things.

Finally, this future rocker or rockette needs adopt the proper ‘tude. Split your time between being sullen, being mad-dog mean and drunk, being sexy-cocky and being fake vulnerable about how hard it is not to get burned when you’re in the spotlight. Again, we tried this for a while but could never pull it off; needless to say, we’d be playing stadiums today if we had.

TS: What has a writer never asked you that you secretly wish they would?

CC: “Is there any truth to the rumor that Katie Holmes is looking to start a putatively-on-the-sly yet very-much-in-the-public-eye affair with you in order to make up for all the sex she’s not having with her gay husband Tom Cruise?”

TS: Please answer that question…

CC: Wow, I don’t know – I hadn’t heard that. If it is true, Katie Holmes should get in touch with me ASAP so that the healing can begin.

TS: Anything else you’d care to add?

CC: I suppose just that if Katie Holmes is really thinking about the two of us getting together, then let me just reinforce that I think it’s a great idea, that I think we’d be highly compatible, that, y’know, I’m pretty much into whatever she wants to try, whether it be sick shit involving saddles and padlocks and finger paints, or just slow afternoons in the long grass near the creek holding each other.

TS: As a writer, I feel particularly insecure when I wear my “i are scientists” t-shirt because I don’t want people to think that I have bad grammar (except for my copy editor). How does one overcome this insecurity to wear their W.A.S. shirt with pride?

CC: One does not overcome this insecurity, one embraces it. To be a W.A.S. fan is to take joy in all of life’s accents, in all of its convexities and concavities, to revel in triumph or loss, melancholy or happiness, hunger or gratification, imagining Katie Holmes nude or actually seeing her right there, two feet away, nude.

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