Music Bugle Exclusive – Q & A – Keith Murray Of We Are Scientists

Artwork for “Contact High.” Courtesy of Reybee Inc.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

In a couple of weeks, N.Y. indie legends We Are Scientists will drop their first new album in three years via Masterswan Records, the highly anticipated ‘Huffy,’ containing the singles “You’ve Lost Your Shit,” “Handshake Agreement,” “I Cut My Own Hair,” “Fault Lines” and “Contact High.”

‘Huffy’ will serve as the followup to 2018’s ‘Megaplex’ and their ’50th Anniversary’ reissue of ‘With Love And Squalor.’ The release will mark a new chapter for the band, eager as ever to prove their relevancy is just as strong now as it was when they formed just over two decades ago.

In the meantime, they’ve kept active with a series of YouTube videos entitled “The Cocktails Of Huffy,” where they teach viewers how to make 10 drinks – each one inspired by the 10 respective vinyl colors ‘Huffy’ will have – with names that range from “Plum Damage” and “Some Kinda Melon” to “Cherry Laser” and “Earth Scoop,” complete with crafty jingles at the end of each video because reasons.

The Music Bugle had the opportunity to chat with singer/guitarist Keith Murray about what fans can expect from ‘Huffy’ and more.

Music Bugle – How would you compare the current music industry to that of when you started?

Keith Murray – Well, it’s certainly a little more surprising, these days, I guess. Back when we first signed to a major label in 2005, people were all pretending that they weren’t worried about MP3 theft and people just had a tacit agreement that nobody would actually challenge  one another’s authority on the topic of what the industry should do next. These days, everybody acknowledges that the future is unknowable and just hopes for a random viral TikTok hit and generally looks kind of nervous, like a cat during a thunderstorm. It’s certainly an “interesting” time to be doing this.

Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?

Keith Murray – We were extremely fortunate, in that we began the pandemic in the midst of recording our new record, ‘Huffy,’ so we were extremely busy and highly distracted. We used the extra downtime that had suddenly been dumped in our laps as an excuse to learn a lot about producing ourselves and I think our album is much more interesting, because of that. Granted, we finished the record half a year ago, so we’ve had “some” time to lose our minds due to our inability to tour. It could have been much worse for us, for sure, though.

Music Bugle – What has been your hardest challenge lately?

Keith Murray – Producing our own record was pretty challenging. Not having a third person in the room to sort-of-objectively tell you when an idea is great or when it stinks or when to put some echo on the vocals can be kind of scary. It was a lot of fun to push ourselves and to deliver upon one another the sort of unchecked cruelty that is 99 percent of a producer’s job, as far as I can tell.

Music Bugle – What advice would you have for bands in your genre that are just starting out?

Keith Murray – At the very least, I’d advise them to learn how to record themselves and make their albums precisely the way they want to without having to depend on anyone else. My second bit of advice would be to put drum machines on their songs.

Music Bugle – What has been your proudest accomplishment as a group?

Keith Murray – The fact that our seventh album ‘Huffy’ is my favorite We Are Scientists record to date gives me a real sense of accomplishment. I can certainly imagine starting to feel burned out, after our 15 years of relatively high-pressure songwriting and album-making, but I’m proud that we’re still keeping ourselves interested and making better and better albums.

Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?

Keith Murray – I’m really enjoying Magdalena Bay, a bedroom-pop band – what else? – from LA – of course – and the new Goon Sax album. I’ve also been listening to the new Turnstile record, trying to figure out why everyone else likes it so much. I just like it pretty okay.

Music Bugle – What’s a quote that motivates you to keep doing what you do?

Keith Murray – “Should we buy a boat?” – My wife.

Music Bugle – What are you looking most forward to doing in the future?

Keith Murray – I’m sure every musician you ask this question would say, “Touring” and I’m no different. Please let me play live shows, Covid!

Music Bugle – What’s something that people might be surprised to know about the band nowadays?

Keith Murray – Maybe that we’ve never really fought with one another, in our 21 years of being a band? Sure, sometimes we get huffy and sometimes we’ll sneer and snort, but, surprisingly, given the amount of alcohol we regularly consume, we’ve never been in an actual, full-on argument. Weird.

Music Bugle – How would you describe 2021 as a whole?

Keith Murray – Disorienting and full of creeping dread, like the first half of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” Maybe though, as in “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” we might just escape from the whole thing in the cab of a passing truck.

*Photo Credit – Danny Lee Allen*

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