“Some lady did ask us where babies come from”, guitarist and vocalist of indie’s ironic funsters, We Are Scientists’ Keith Murray tells us. “Just so you know, that’s the most boring question an interviewer can ask”. The band has been thrust headlong into a fairly intense Twitter AMA with their fans, but no one briefed us that this would be an NCT crash course. It is a birth of sorts though, as their latest release, Megaplex, lands and takes them down a decidedly more synth-driven road. “We grew up in riff city”, Murray explain, sat against the 1970s backdrop of a central London hotel bar. “But we’ve got a lot of good riffs, so you’ve got to live somewhere else in your life”. Bassist, Chris Cain agrees: “Even if just to make you appreciate riff city, you have to move away for a while”.
Instead, we find the pair hanging out at frontman of Britpop B-listers Ash, Tim Wheeler’s Atomic Heart Studio in Manhattan, where they ended up recording the album. “He hosts these songwriting days and at the end, everyone meets up and plays what they have written”, Murray reminisces. “It’s more of a show and tell than a collaboration. Like a jury, only without the judgement”. But for a band with a back-catalog that spans over 18 years, this pair have been creating chart-toppers since we were all drinking Hooch at Reading and Leeds festival, circa 2004. Their knack for bashing out a buoyant pop song is no mean feat then, nor is the elusive sixth album. When the NME lent an ear to sophomore release, Brain Thrust Mastery, they dubbed it a “flopped-fringed Foo Fighters meets a dive bar Duran Duran”: ten years on which two bands do we find merging in Megaplex? “One Direction and Gwar”, Murray is quick to respond. “Somewhere right on the Venn diagram where those two meet”. “The intersection where the diner is on the main street of synth city”, adds Cain, safe in the metropolitan Megaplex analogy.
Conversation turns to rebellious childhoods in honour of Neverworld’s humble roots, back in founder Lee Denny’s back garden. At first, both band members seem reserved, adamant they were fairly tame in their teens until Murray fondly remembers the A-frame structure outside his bedroom overlooking the pool. “I would consistently put slip and slide situations on our roof and encourage our friends to slide off of it. In retrospect, it was pretty dangerous; because the lip didn’t really go quite to the pool, you had to make sure your body was flipped towards it”.
With all these aqua capers brimming to the surface, you’d assume when it comes to their upcoming Neverworld slot that you’d find We Are Scientists deep in the Mermaid’s Lagoon wooing the oysters from their beds but they’re good guys at heart. “I’m more of the kid that’s in his PJs with his teddy bear…”, Murray trails off as Cain interjects: “Michael”. He’s pensive for a while before he adds: “I guess that’s why JM Barrie is such a genius because he made the heroes of the story the ones you identify with”.
Turns out we’ve all been identifying with the NYC pop pair for so long, we’ve grown up with them. Maybe we’ve all taken a sidestep into the riffs suburbs. But if these guys are our welcome committee, it certainly seems like a fun place to be. Just mind your heels on that water slide now.
By Chéri Amour, http://cheriamour.co.uk/