We Are Scientists released their much-loved debut ‘With Love & Squalor in 2005, but the New Yorkers aren’t letting maths getting in the way of celebrating its 50th anniversary on their latest, ongoing tour. NME sat down with duo for a typically baffling chat about what the album means to them and their next moves.
Watch our full video interview with the band above
So, er, you’re celebrating 50 years of ‘With Love & Squalor’. How have these past five decades treated you?
Keith: “I’d say it’s been a rollercoaster ride, but by that I just mean we’ve been throwing up a lot. We’ve been mostly sitting in one spot barfing.”
There was a different focus and energy to indie music in 2005. Did you feel part of it?
Chris: “That era in New York City, where we’d moved just a couple of years prior, was a really fertile music scene. There were a lot of bands that were incredibly inspiring to be around and see in their early days, like The Strokes and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. We definitely felt like our songs were capable of competing in that world.”
Why do you feel the record still holds such a special place in fans’ hearts?
Keith: “It has a pretty Gonzo exuberance to it. It is pretty devil may care, while waiting in a morass of tribulation.”
Chris: “It’s got the melancholy quality of the lyrics that would allow people to go to those songs when they were having tough times, but it’s also not downer music. Once you’re done with your depressive post-break-up week, this record could continue to come with you as you’re like, ‘I’m joining the gym!’ You could take this on the treadmill, through your teenage years and early 20s.”
‘Crap Attack’ (the later companion album of B-sides, covers and acoustic versions) was a staple for a lot of students at the time too.
Chris: “We actually just heard from our manager less than an hour ago that Universal is finally going to put that on streaming services. That’s been unavailable for all of these years, and it was just a matter of finding someone who had the log-in to put it all up. That will finally be going up in the next few weeks.”
So will next year see a 50th anniversary tour of ‘Crap Attack’?
Keith: “Yes, it will be a 15 week tour that dominates the year.”
Do you have plans to tour the anniversaries of any of your other records?
Chris: “I can imagine doing some ‘Brain Thrust Mastery’ shows at some point. I don’t think any specific anniversary is important to us. We were lucky that this one landed on the 50th! With [2008 follow-up] ‘Brain Thrust Mastery’ we could just as easily take the 14th and call it the 25th. The math is complicated.”
Keith: “We trust that no one is actually going to look up when these albums came out.”
Chris: “I think a [2010 album] ‘Barbara’ only show would be fun to do. There would be enough fans to fill out a 50-100 capacity theatre. Maybe a living room.”
How’s progress going on new material?
Chris: “We’ve been writing a lot. We’re in the process now where the challenge is winnowing down what the actual album is going to be. We are incredibly prolific artists.”
What direction is your new album heading in?
Chris: “That’s the decision we really haven’t made. There’s a hard rock record, there’s a mid-tempo electronic-y pop record…”
A Kanye West gospel record?
Keith: “Well we had that and then he dropped his and ruined it for everyone.”
Lyrically, is the new material inspired by the oncoming apocalypse?
Keith: “That’s quite a presumption! It’s about water skiing. Well, there are a lot of waterskiing songs. I don’t know if they’re going to make the cut, that’s up to Chris.”
Chris: “I’m sort of the sports minister when it comes to our albums. I decide which sports songs get in there. Our last album is a badminton record. There’s an archery record in there somewhere.”
Watch our full We Are Scientists video interview at the top of the page, where the pair also discuss why they no longer talk to the band Editors, what it means to “throw ham in Lincoln”, and much more.
We Are Scientists’ remaining ‘With Love & Squalor’ anniversary UK tour dates are below.
Friday 6 December, 2019 – O2 Ritz, Manchester, UK
Saturday 7 December, 2019 – The Roundhouse, London, UK