Credit:Danny Lee Allen
Beloved indie heroes We Are Scientists return with news of their first album in three years, with a blistering new single “Contact High.” Listen here
The intoxicating, high-octane hit is set to soundtrack a surge of pent-up revelry and romance throughout the summer of 2021, as it ushers in a bold new chapter for the band. Lifted from the new album HUFFY – also announced today for release on October 8, 2021 – the band have revealed the secret ingredients of the lead single’s winning formula…
Tell us about the genesis of We Are Scientists for new fans who might be unfamiliar. How did you get to where you are now?
We met in college, became best friends, and formed the band merely as a means of giving ourselves something to do after work, once we graduated. It eventually took over our lives, and, then, the lives of many hundreds of thousands of other people to boot.
How would you describe the highs and lows of being an artist?
I mean, being a full-time “artist” is a constant emotional roller-coaster. It’s obviously amazingly gratifying and fun and the height of good fortune to be doing the thing that you love most with your best friend, as a job, but, conversely, having your very livelihood tied to whatever it is that you love can often be fairly terrifying. I (obviously) wouldn’t trade being in the band for less-gratifying-but-more-existentially-stable job, but, yeah, it can be fairly stressful.
What’s a musical guilty pleasure of yours?
I know it’s a cliché to say that there are no such things as musical guilty pleasures, but I really don’t think there’s anything that I actively enjoy that I feel ashamed about. Even enjoying corny pop like Shawn Mendes or poor old Justin Bieber or whoever is actually the opposite of shameful for me. Rather, it fills me with a real sense of insolent cockiness.
What are some sources of inspiration for you?
I mean, I listen to lots of new music as much as possible, and watch a lot of film, and read a lot, and go for long walks on the beach and thrill at spotting birds in the tress and dumb crap like that, but I wouldn’t really say that any of that stuff actively inspires me. Consuming other art does sometimes make me excited to make something, myself, buts it’s actually getting down in it and rolling up my sleeves to work on music that actually gets me inspired.
Who is an artist that you look up to more than others today?
Being a professional musician it’s a pretty good way of ensuring that you’re not going to ever actually be in the thrall of other professional musicians; being right there i it is a pretty good way of humanizing everyone in music. I do admire, say, a band like The 1975, who seem to have crafted their own insular empire in which they operate, seemingly, outside of the greater music industry, producing their own records and putting them out on their own label, and all of that. I find that *enviable,* although I guess I’m not sure that’s the same thing as saying that I look up to them. And anyway, we’ve produced this last record, ourselves, and we have a great relationship with our label, so, whatever, The 1975!
Favorite activity to blow off some steam?
Hanging out at any outdoor bar anywhere in the world with my bandmates is a pretty good steam-blowing experience, I find. Like, a night off, on tour, at a nice German biergarten or whatever on a lovely evening with those guys is a fairly sublime experience. It’s pretty helpful to be in a band with your best friends, I’ve got to say.
Tell us about your latest release and how it came about
Our latest release is Huffy. We started working on it at the beginning of 2020, just before COVID-19 shut the world down, and so we ended up having way more time in the studio we’d rented than we’d anticipated, because the owner couldn’t return to the United States, under quarantine. So, we ended up just working and working and working throughout the pandemic, at the studio and in our little home offices. We ended up with a much bigger crop of songs, in a much wider variety of genres, than we normally would, and Huffy comprises our 10 favorites of that enviable glut.
What are some things you do to deal with anxiety and creative blocks?
I don’t think I’m a very anxious person, really. I’m more “neurotic,” I’d say. Like, I do tend to stress out about little things, and to overthink things in a way that isn’t particularly helpful, but rarely in a way that becomes particularly overwhelming or stifling. In terms of creative blocks: that’s not really an issue for me, these days. When we first started the band and began writing our first ever songs, there was the naive sense that every idea had to be clung to and mined for all it was worth, because you never knew if any other ideas would ever come, again. After years and years of writing songs now, I’m over that. My new technique for combating even the threat of writer’s block is to just work consistently. Writing song after song and still feeling excited and curious about music was the best way for me to learn that creativity isn’t really a well that can run dry. You just have to keep at it, drawing from its depth and drinking its rewards. Also, always having a big crop of songs ready to go is a great way to stoop pressure from stifling you. I swore I had this whole record written about six months before we recorded it, and by the time we started actually tracking it, I think only one of those original songs was still in the tracklist. I know it sounds like terrible advice to fight writers block by writing a lot, when the very problem with writer’s block is that it makes it impossible to write a lot, but trust me on this.
What’s the future looking like for you?
Well we’ve got lots of shows lined up around the release of this record, and I think it goes without saying that we’re delirious with excitement about those. It’s really all we’re thinking about and working toward right now; playing these amazing live rock shows, having an absolute blast with people who have also gone far too long without cramming into a venue to hear some live music.
What inspires your visuals, videos, looks etc?
This album’s visuals have largely been inspired by my time down in Miami, where I’ve been for the last nine months. My wife has been working from home, which untethered us from New York, for the moment, so we figured we’d exploit that by temporarily relocating to the beach. So, I’ve been immersed in the stupid, gauche tropical luxury of the place – it’s simultaneously beautiful and indulgent and alluring and hilarious, which I think can also safely be said of us, as a band.
What is the most embarrassing memory and most proud moment of your career so far ?
There was a moment at a show in London in maybe 2006 that was pretty embarrassing. It was in an era where I was wearing a lot of slick-bottomed dress shoes and also spilling a lot of beer on stage at every show. So, we were playing our largest-ever show, at the point, and filming it for our record label, and my treadless shoes hit a wet patch and I landed on my ass. I doubt I would remember this at all (remember, I was drinking enough beer to leave sizable puddles onstage), but it was captured on this video, which the label then put out into the world. So, I guess that’s embarrassing.
I’m pretty proud that we got to have our little comedy series, Steve Wants His Money, on MTV, in the UK. That seems like a pretty unusual achievement, to me. When I was growing up, The State (a sketch comedy troupe who had a show on MTV in the US in the early 90s) were my favorite, so it felt pretty nice to be able to say that we (sort of) did the same.
Where do you think the music and entertainment industry is headed after this past year?
Well, I certainly can’t say for sure, and I hate to prognosticate. I just know that in the past year and a half we personally certainly gotten much better at streamlining the way we work, and being more and more independent, producing our music and our videos our online content, etc. So the future for us, I think, is just about being even more brazen than we have been in the past, and forging ahead within the world of We Are Scientists.