Before their performance at the Orpheum Theatre last Thursday, I got a chance to talk with Keith Murray, lead singer and guitarist of the duo, We Are Scientists, who are on tour with The Whigs and Kings of Leon. At a Finagle A Bagel around the corner of the Theater, Murray talked about a potential new addition to the band, explained the difficulties of playing a Halloween gig dressed as a ghost and shed some light on the ‘science’ of the chocolate chip bagel just in time to catch The Whigs ‘-‘- his new favorite band ‘-‘- open the show.
MUSE: You and [band mate] Chris [Cain] met at Pomona College in California, but how did the band come together?
KM: The band was sort of the product of about 18 other failed creative endeavors that had nothing to do with music at all. There was a period where Chris and I were convinced we were going to publish a magazine, a period where we were going to be screenwriters, a point we were going to write a novel, and then the band was just another crappy idea we had. It wasn’t actually intended to be a career move, but it just happened to be the one thing that we did that actually worked out.
MUSE: What were your majors in college?
KM: I majored in literature, and Chris majored in international relations
MUSE: If you were actually a scientist, what experiment would you want to be working on?
KM: This is more of a culinary science, but I’d like a chocolate chip bagel ‘-‘- I swear this isn’t just because we’re at Finagle A Bagel ‘-‘- whose chips maintain their integrity, even past the boiling process. In a chocolate chip bagel now, they’re certainly not chips. I’d be spearheading a movement, if not actually solving the problem myself. I’d probably actually just be applying for the grants and spend a lot of the money while the actual team worked on the project.
MUSE: A lot of taste testing?
KM: Yeah, definitely.
MUSE: For this tour, did you change anything from past tours?
KM: We did change a drummer and added a keyboard player. We paid a little more attention to arrangement, whereas last time we just wanted to be loud and fast. That was really our big idea.
MUSE: Is the keyboard player permanent, or is he just on for this tour?
KM: I would say he’s semi-permanent. Ideally, he’d be permanent. Now, he’s not officially a member, but we have no intentions of letting him leave after this. He’s not going anywhere.
MUSE: What’s it like playing with Kings of Leon?
KM: It’s fun. It’s a good tour. Being the sort of band we are, which is fairly energetic, playing seated venues isn’t always the most awesome thing in the world, but they’re really fun guys. The actual social part is amazing, and it’s awesome playing big places in the states, which we normally don’t do.’ ‘
MUSE: What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened at a live show?
KM: At Constitution Hall in D.C., for some reason ‘-‘- and still to this day we haven’t really figured out why ‘-‘- the lighting guy decided that he wasn’t going to change the lights at all while we played. So when we walked on stage the lights were kind of bright white. There was a little blue, but the whole stage was basically a wash in bright light and it never changed the entire show. For The Whigs he went nuts! He really liked The Whigs. I think he may have just left while we played, or something. I don’t know what happened, but for the first song we were like ‘Oh, this is a weird choice, but all right, he’s going for something creative here.’ Then, for the second song it just stayed the same and we were like ‘OK, wait a minute.’ Finally, by the fifth song, we were just mad, like ‘I can’t believe this guy ‘-‘- we’re going to kill him.’ But I’m sure he was bigger than us, so we didn’t seek him out.
MUSE: Do you have a favorite song to perform?
KM: Not really, it changes. I’m into a song called ‘After Hours’ right now. Usually the songs we play the least are the songs that I like to play the most.
MUSE: What bands are you listening to right now?
KM: A lot of The Whigs and a lot of Kings of Leon. I had never actually heard The Whigs before this, so I got their CD and I’ve been playing it nonstop. I am legitimately choosing to listen to them. I am listening to a lot of Chairlift, as well, from Brooklyn.
MUSE: Were you guys involved with any voting promotion, endorsing any candidates or getting young people involved with the election?
KM: No, we weren’t. I mean, we talked a lot about it, but we weren’t involved with any organized push.
MUSE: Are you happy with the outcome?
KM:’ Hell yes!
MUSE: Where do you hope to be a year from today?
KM: Hopefully we’ll be releasing a new record, or it’ll have been released a month or two before. That’s a bit ambitious, since we’ve written nothing for it yet, but this is our last tour for this record so after all of this it’s time to work on the next record.
MUSE: If you could give one message to your fans at BU, what would you tell them?
‘ KM: I would say never ever, ever, ever leave college. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever leave college. Because, you know what, I’m pretty much living a college existence right now and it’s pretty good. I’ve done the other thing, I’ve done the real-world thing, and that wasn’t fun. That was not fun.