Colourful cocktails, wild video critiques, and shovel loads of guitar pop bangers – it can only be a new We Are Scientists record.
Indie legends Keith Murray and Chris Cain have returned with their seventh LP Huffy – a storming 10-track collection of blistering feel good cuts.
From the lockdown hit of I Cut My Own Hair and the foot-stomping freak out of opener You've Lot Your S*** to the electro-country of Bought Myself A Grave, Huffy doesn't let up, guiding us through a kaleidoscopic collection of tracks from heroes at the top of their game.
Keith and Chris, who exploded onto the scene in 2005 with their hit-happy major label debut With Love and Squalor, had Huffy's tracks penned before Covid-enforced lockdown – with the newfound time providing the opportunity to tweak and rethink tracks.
"We weren't in the position where we were forced to be writing in that weird claustrophobic world view that I think could have produced some different, less exuberant record than we put out", Keith told Daily Star. "I think it's good that when we wrote it we were writing it excitedly and thinking about playing it out at shows and festivals."
The vibrancy of Huffy is perfectly complimented by the band's own colour-coded cocktails representing each track (recipes and "how to" methods are available via their social media channels). Whether it's the refreshing Keylime Yum or the sun-kissed Lemon Beach Sunshine, you can channel your inner Tom Cruise in Cocktail and immerse yourselves in Huffy's feel-good vibes at the same time.
We Are Scientists are renowned for their must-watch music videos, and the clips accompanying Huffy's singles are no different.
Perhaps the stand out is Handshake Agreement and the introduction of "YouTube music critic" Beef Harmon£y.
"He's one of these YouTube, influencer goofballs who don't seem to have any particular skillset other than being able to sit in front of a camera and spout off", Chris explains.
Keith added: "Getting any sort of reaction from Beef Harmon£y these days should be a mark of success. He's seen it all. To get him out of his chair in his mom's house is a pretty big deal."
Daily Star's Rory McKeown caught up with Keith and Chris via New York to talk about Huffy's creation, getting the Beef Harmon£y treatment, making cocktails, and England's Euro 2020 heartache.
Hi guys. How can you sum up the past year or so for We are Scientists?
Keith: "It was an exceedingly weird time but we were pretty lucky because we began working on the record right as everything started shutting down.
"We were in this perfect scenario where we had plenty of time to record it, nitpick and rethink things. We weren't in the position where we were forced to be writing in that weird claustrophobic world view that I think could have produced some different, less exuberant record than we put out.
"I think it's good that when we wrote it we were writing it excitedly and thinking about playing it out at shows and festivals. We sort of had that insular time on work on the recording of it."
When did the writing process begin for your new album Huffy? How soon after Megaplex did it get underway?
Keith: "We're always writing. I'm pretty sure some of the demo sessions probably pre-date the actual release of Megaplex. There's always about six months or so between when you finish a record and when it comes out. There's always a lot of pretty heavy down time as well. Once you're totally done with a record and never want to think about recording again, which lasts for about a month after finishing a record,
"I'd say, before you have to start doing press for a record and don't want to think about anything that would qualify as work, other than promoting a record, there's a few months where you're sitting around doing nothing at all."
Did you have an idea of what you wanted the album to be like?
Keith: "We've never been good at following through on our preconceived notions of what a record should be. We've definitely said many times we were going to make a metal record. There have been other pretty goofy ideas we've had in advance. Chris, I don't know if you remember any of them?
"At one point I sent a record to Chris and management that I thought would be this record. I was pretty excited about it. We kept writing and none of those songs are on this record. So much happens that you can't anticipate. That's how we feel about song writing in general. I've almost never started a song and had it end the way I thought it was going to end. Any preconceived notions we had about the record were definitely abandoned as we were working on the record."
I guess that's the excitement of being an artist, ending with something completely different than you started with…
Keith: "Yeah. It's funny that the longer you write songs, the less stress you have about whether or not you will be able to write songs. I felt more anxiety of writer's block early on. We used to write a song and be like 'thank God we have a song! Now if we could have nine more songs what would be wonderful..'
"I think that's gone but it's interesting that that sense of not having any ideas of where songs come from or where songs end up where they end up. That still seems pretty ineffable. To say that's magic is probably going too far! I understand it about as well as I understand magic but I also understand it about as well as I understand science, which is not very well."
Theme-wise you tackle social media internet beefs in Handshake Agreement and Fault Lines, romance and psychoactive chemicals in Contact High. What were you consuming for inspiration at this time?
Keith: "I don't know if there were specific touchstones that were all encompassing for the record. Handshake Agreement is very specifically about a few Twitter accounts that we follow that exist at that perfect nexus of utter conviction and empty, hot air. Chris' dad has a pretty good phrase for it. What is it?"
Chris: "He used to say to my brother when he was a teenager that he was often wrong but never in doubt."
Keith: "That encompasses Twitter in its entirety for me. Twitter is often wrong, never in doubt."
It can get wild out there!
Keith: "I often find that people that strike me as most disagreeable tend to have higher credentials, not necessarily in the things they are spouting off on, but they tend to be pretty smart people who have been utterly deluded by their own intelligence that they know everything about everything."
Away from the darker side of the internet, you like life hacks, don't you Keith?
Keith: "Who doesn't like life hacks?!"
Our readers love life hacks. Are there any in particular you'd like to share?
Keith: "Oh man. I've probably incorporated so many of them that I no longer think of them as having existed outside of my life before life hacks.
"Our cocktail enterprise we're on now where we're matching a cocktail for each of the 10 colours our album is coming out in, I'd consider that a bit of a life hack.
"If you consume these cocktails your life will be easier."
There's Keylime Yum and Dog Tongue. I'd like to try them…
Keith: "You really ought to. You'd be doing yourself a disservice if you don't."
Chris: "This week is a pretty big drop in the cocktail series. It's Lemon Beach Sunshine. It's a heck of a cocktail."
Keith: "Lemon Beach Sunshine is my favourite. That might be because it's this week's. As soon as I'm slugging down next week's, that's going to be my favourite."
Where did the idea come from for the cocktails? Are you big cocktail fans?
Keith: "There's always the idea we should be drinking cocktails. That's not a new idea."
Chris: "It was our label guy, Ed. He was well aware of our, to him probably, very repetitive need to talk about cocktails. When we gave him the list of vinyl colours for Huffy, I think it was he that decided that they read like a list of cocktails, and he would like to see us do something that we actually love in promoting this record (laughs)."
Keith: "I suspect he actually thought it was a list of cocktails we had been drinking when we sent him the colour titles."
A perfect combination, really. Vinyl and cocktails…
Keith: "A magical combination!"
Handshake Agreement was given the Beef Harmon£y treatment.
Chris: "That guy can be brutal."
He’s quite the character, isn’t he? For those who don’t know, who is Beef Harmon£y?
Chris: "He's one of these YouTube, influencer goofballs who don't seem to have any particular skillset other than being able to sit in front of a camera and spout off."
Keith: "Pump those brakes! He's one of the great arbiters of cultural importance."
Chris: "His reaction videos are incredibly important documents. We were pretty excited he was doing a reaction to our latest single. He hated the video, not the song."
Keith: "Getting any sort of reaction from Beef Harmon£y these days should be a mark of success. He's seen it all. To get him out of his chair in his mom's house is a pretty big deal."
How's he doing? There was a bit of a change in his character afterwards…
Chris: "He's mainly moved on to doing corporate HR videos. I'm not sure how much of this stuff we're going to see publicly."
Keith: "He's definitely got a TEDx talk in his near future, that's for sure."
Chris: "He'll be a regular on that."
Huffy gives fans the chance to personalise their own artwork. What are you hoping the fans will create?
Chris: "Obviously the social media tie in for folks to send in their version of what they do with the stickers.
"I would like to see a lot of customisation that goes beyond the stickers. We think of the stickers as your starting point but obviously people have Sharpies lying around to do other customisation to it."
Keith: "Printing your own stickers is not a financial hurdle these days by any stretch of the imagination. I think we're definitely thinking of this as a nudge people might need to be so reverent to not only our album cover but any album cover. Feel free to put our stickers on the new Killers album."
Chris: "Or on your first edition of Smells Like Teen Spirit single."
Keith: "Or if you have a first edition of Finnegans Wake, go to town on it."
Chris: "Signed? Yeah! Stickers."
Keith: "Hey, sign it yourself!"
Just let your imagination run wild. Do you think Beef will come in and critique some of the covers that come back?
Chris: "We should request that he does so. But I don't think he gets out of bed for less than £20k right now. Maybe he'd do as a favour for some old friends."
Keith: "Given his fashion sense I'm not entirely sure he's got a knack for the visual arts."
Chris: "And yet he's a video reaction guy. Somehow he's earned the public trust."
You have a big UK tour towards the end of the year before hitting the rest of Europe in April. How much are you looking forward to it? I know the UK is your second home, I bet you can't wait to be among it again?
Keith: "To describe it as desperation sounds overly ecstatic but I don't think it is. We will do anything.
"Our friend and often drummer Andy Burrows has been playing a bunch of festivals in the UK and it's really starting to p*** me off watching the good old time he's having!"
You were part of this huge exciting explosion of guitar acts in the mid-2000s. Do you have fond memories of that era? Any stand out?
Keith: "The memories are hazy but fond. I don't know if there are very specific stand outs but it seemed like five straight years of stand out moments."
You famously released an England World Cup anthem Goal! England! in June 2010. Did you cheer on the Three Lions during the Euros? What did you think of their performance?
Keith: "We sure did. We planted our flag once again for England."
Chris: "It was heartbreaking. They played well. The way the last game ended was tough to watch."
Keith: "That doesn't really count as part of a game to me. At the very least it was a tie game. They had a little secondary round of darts that they lost at the end of it."
What’s next for We Are Scientists?
Keith: "We are indeed already thinking about the next album. But, it's hard to focus on it when I just want to play these darn shows already."
Huffy by We Are Scientists is out now via 100% Records
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