Arts

We Are Scientists prepare to experiment in Belfast

We Are Scientists arrive in Belfast later this month for one of three Irish gigs, a catch-up with friends and hopefully a guided tour by local-lad-made-good Tim Wheeler. Michael Jackson spoke to the band's Keith Murry

Keith Murray and Chris Cain, aka New York-based indie band We Are Scientists

IT WOULD not be unfair to note that US indie duo We Are Scientists are not known for their chart-smashing album releases. The wacky rockers have released a string of albums since their formation in Berkeley, California, in 2000 that have always fared relatively well, but the band are best loved for their excitingly energetic live shows. Irish fans will be glad to hear that their current tour will include gigs in Belfast, Dublin, and Galway this month.

Having released their sixth studio album Helter Seltzer in April, We Are Scientists have been touring virtually non-stop since then. While their live performances are undeniably great, it is impossible to have a successful live show without releasing some good music and Helter Seltzer is arguably their best album yet; although, the band's frontman Keith Murray may not be the best person to ask.

“I'm definitely the least objective person about our music,” he jokes. “I guess maybe my mom is slightly less objective than I am. I definitely always feel like an album is our best album when we put it out or else I wouldn't put it out.”

The new album is definitely their most dynamic, and Murray believes that WAS have matured in their approach to song-writing.

“I think we had this idea that we wanted to be a party band and a dance band, and if we wrote a song that wasn't very energetic I always wanted to throw it away,” he explains.

“Even if I liked the song I would feel funny playing it in a club because people wouldn't be jumping around to it and then I wouldn't know if they like it – because that's the only way to tell if someone enjoys something. As our albums progress we're getting better at harnessing textures, and moods outside of what we had shackled ourselves to.”

Murray also believes that the band's scheduling is improving, but then again, that is matter of perspective.

“If you ask us we're getting better, but if you ask our tour manager we're getting worse at indulging in the places that we visit,” he laughs. “In our first many years of touring I really could not tell you any real difference between Liverpool or Newcastle – now when we go we make real day of it. I feel like we get away with it a lot because we're a pretty small band; we're pretty streamlined – our set-up is just our instruments.

“We've gotten better at taking stops at National Trust sites and wandering around, while our tour manager fumes in the parking lot.”

The current We Are Scientists tour is jam-packed with shows and it can be difficult to fit in some leisure time but Murray is looking forward to visiting Belfast and spending time with some local friends.

“It's going to sound disingenuous but I've been very, very excited about Northern Ireland,” he says. “My wife is coming out for a week of this tour and she pointedly is coming out because she has never been to Ireland.

"We have friends who live in Belfast so that's going to end up being a pretty big night. We're all going to be up for it and wanting to have a big one. We're also spending New Year's with those friends so we've kind of had this sense that Belfast may be our home away from home in the future.”

We Are Scientists live in New York, more than 3,000 miles from Belfast; however, it is said that like always attracts like, and the band just so happen to be friends with one of Northern Ireland's most famous rockers.

“One of the friends I'm talking about is Tim Wheeler from Ash. He lives about a 10-minute walk from my house, and he's going to Belfast. I think he's getting an honorary degree from a university around there, so we're going to spend the weekend hanging out with him.

“We're pretty excited about doing the We Are Scientists leisure tour of Northern Ireland.”

:: We Are Scientists play The Opium Rooms in Dublin on October 20, Róisín Dubh in Galway on October 21 and Limelight in Belfast on October 23.

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