[see an old Deli interview with WAS from 2005 here]
We Are Scientists, California-born, New York-grown brainchild, cultivated by Keith Murray (vocals/guitar) and Chris Cain’s (bass/vocals) creative camaraderie, and joined this past year by Andy Burrows (drums), have undergone multiple transformations and experimented with musical chairs on their path to the top.  College buddies, a literature, and political science major, who shared a mutual passion for their “hobby,” the band's nucleus formed shortly after meeting, and relocated to Brooklyn post-graduation to make their premise a career, catching the ear of The Deli and Virgin Records. With three EP’s, four full-length albums, including their newest, “Barbara,” released this June, on their resume, W.A.S represent to the NY Indie scene a prime example of survival of the fittest. Pioneering the fusion of danceable-pop/rock with cerebral intensity and an urgent energy that umpteen bands strive to clone, Murray and Cain are not simply business they make funny their business, as well. Beyond music mayhem, the two have crafted a series of TV shorts for MTV UK, “Steve Wants His Money" and rumor has it, the show may capitalize on a second round in the not too distant future.  Hit-makers overseas for both their musical and comedic antics, W.A.S head out to the road/air for summer stints on the UK's, “The Four-On-the-Floor Tour,” and the US's “The American Barbarian Tour.”
Because rising out of the ocean of bands and finding success seem like a miracle, The Deli set out to investigate W.A.S’s momentum and ascent out of the hustle and bustle. The ultimate goal, however, was to write an interview that Keith would ACTUALLY read.  After a bit of small talk about a Digitech convention and bonding over the MetalZone and “crappy distortion pedals,” wise-guys, Keith Murray and Chris Cain, provided The Deli with career insight sprinkled with their signature drollness we all know and love.
There must be about 100,000 NYC musicians who dream of reaching your level of fame. Even though you are not INCREDIBLY famous, how would recommend reaching your state of notoriety?
Keith: Hey check this out! [going through the latest issue of The Deli] Talk Normal uses the same distortion pedal I used… Buy a MetalZone. No… buy TWO MetalZone's!...Nah… I guess to be noticed you should try to be aware of what music is doing around you, while remaining stridently difficult about maintaining your individuality.
In a 2004 Deli interview, you asked yourselves, &quotIs it right to be as poppy as part of us wants to be?"
Keith: It was...We were poppier than we collectively wanted to be… Part of us wanted to be poppy, and a part of us…was steeped in what was going on, what was popular in New York, but unsuccessful at the time. Where those two points met worked for us…initially.
Chris: Initially…Now it’s just pop, like Lucky Charms with maple syrup...
Keith: …I remember with our first record, the thing to do was the pop stuff…make it vaguely dancier and sound like it was recorded like “Surfer Rosa.”
That question sums up an ethical problem for many bands. You want to be yourself, but you want to be successful. Is that what was going on, then?
Chris: It’s hard to imagine that simply trying to write for the radio is going to be a successful path… Find something you do a little better or different, rather than just trying to compete with the best songwriters in LA...
Keith: …Our inclination to be overtly poppy is something we tried to rein in for the sake of our success. The aim is too stupidly poppy in a way we can’t deliver.
Record labels are dying. How does a not INCREDIBLY good looking band get signed to a major label?
Keith: Well, I don’t think we’re not GOOD looking. Medium, I’d say... The death of record labels is positive for your uglier bands. It’s probably record labels that care about looks. A visual presence is necessary, but beauty is not… The XX… they have a pretty dramatic visual band presence.
Chris: Music has not ceased to have a visual aspect to it… Photographs are important…I think a magazine is going to run a better looking photograph…I don’t mean the people in it necessarily… it makes a better editorial. That aspect and an album cover...
Keith: Like Yeasayer. They must’ve sat down and said, ‘Guys we look terrible. We need to fix the way we look!’... I get more enthusiastic now that they are taking the band seriously. ‘Look, we can half-ass it, and you can show up in your Hawaiian shirt, and we can just be a bunch of jerks, OR, gentlemen, I just bought you a trip to the Beehive. Get your hair cut!’
Chris: …In the Steve Martin biography, [he] says, ‘You should always look better than your audience when you’re up on stage.’…You shouldn’t walk out in your busted up jeans and Hawaiian shirt.
What elements do you think convinced the big dogs at Virgin to invest in your music?
Chris: …We played a few showcases back in 2004 and got a deal with Sony Publishing…We had some interest going into South by Southwest 2005.
Keith: …We would do a showcase here and there [and labels would say,] ‘We love it. We’ll sit on it for as long as it can be something we can snap up… Virgin…were the first people who were actually serious...
Chris: ...SXSW is ideally positioned because it’s the first big industry event of the year. These guys show up with full budgets to sign a bunch of bands…and they get to see each other on the other side of the Taqueria, pulling out their check books or talking to the bands they want to sign. It creates this competitive thing…beneficial to the bands.
Did you have a manager?
Chris: Yeah. He was actually younger than us. More experienced in the record industry, but that’s not saying much. It wasn’t a situation where we had this old, wizened pioneer of the industry telling us how it was supposed to happen. He was finding his way...
Keith: What was great about him was we trusted his gut. He lacked clout, but his advice to us was advice that we’d take very seriously…
How did you find your manager?
Keith: It was literally a friend of a friend situation... He worked at Hollywood Records… because he worked there, he had contacts… He wanted to begin a career…I think he was managing one other band…they were kind of like an Emo/Country band…
Chris:… Bright Eyes!
Keith: Yeah!...He found out about us and said, ‘Hey, I want to be a manager. Can we make an agreement in which I manage you guys, and it will cost you nothing? If something fruitful comes out of it, we have a handshake agreement, then we’ll figure out a contract”…We had zero agreement until… [the Sony publishing deal], and he said, ‘I think I want a contract now…’
Chris: It’s not that weird to work without a contract in this industry…A[n]…experienced manger knows…you can’t go around changing managers every three months…If you’re both doing your job, why would you leave? We’re at a point where we wouldn’t sign another management contract…For a beginning band, a manager needs that security. If you’re a tiny manager and work hard to get the band signed…a bigger manager [could] scoop them up…
Keith: It would have been easy to find another manager when we signed to Virgin…had we been WORSE guys...
Chris: That guy was SO lucky!
Do you think it was just luck that you met each other, or was there a very strong selection process?
Chris: We were friends…then Keith taught me to play bass. That’s one option…Choose a bunch of friends who you are going to want to hang out with for a few years and pursue a hobby with…Anyone can figure out how to play an instrument.
Keith: …Not having a unified vision can be very divisive... The fact that we were friends for a very long time, we tend to operate in the band just as we did as friends before [Chris] could play bass last year!
Chris: What’s different about this latest record? Chris can finally play bass... Musical proficiency, especially in pop, is way less important than finding a great crew of people you’re going sleep in a van with...
Is ego what brought creative problems with Michael [Tapper]?
Chris: …Ego is not a very descriptive way of putting it…Musical differences…It’s a good blanket way of describing what goes wrong with any group of individuals. Well, I guess musical differences only apply to bands…
Keith: …A mutual unwillingness to compromise…We all decided we were no longer super interested in meeting half way.
Chris: Divergent visions.
Keith: AKA, musical differences.
How do you choose your studios and producers?
Chris: We’ve pretty much worked with the same producer consistently for the last five years...
Keith: …We met Ariel [Rechtstaid]… became enamored with his character…It was like, ‘I want to hang out with that guy! Can we pay that guy to hang out with him in the studio?..Does the band have funds?’…Our choice in producers has reflected our choice in band members. Do I want to hang out with this person all the time and have this person be mean to me for reasons I will happily digest?
Labels used to be in charge of recording and pay the producer to be in charge. Does it still work that way on a major label?
Chris: Never been our experience... Our label encouraged us to check out other producers... We ultimately went with Ariel...They had to accept that by virtue of the contract…This record, we made it without a label. I guess we’re not the right people to ask.
Keith: If you’re hiring a producer, you really ought to defer to their opinion…before you feel like you’re betraying yourself…It’s easy for me to say because I trust Ariel. …When we met these other producers… I was like, ‘You’re a joke, and the thing you just said only confirms that. I hate you. Where’s Ariel!? I want to hang out with Ariel! How much money do you have on you, Chris?’
Chris: There are bands…by virtue of the way they situate themselves with the label…[it] can dictate the producer, almost as their say in how the record is going to sound…I can see it being an antagonistic relationship between the band and the producer because they’ve had this person forced upon them… It should be the band’s choice someone who the band is excited about improving their songs. If the band thinks they know exactly what they want…they should hire an engineer.
Keith: Yeah. I don’t feel like band should hire a producer because the producer will deliver the thing that the band has decided that the record should be.
What does a band need to focus on for a good live show? How did you improve?  How did you get to the point when people finally talked about you to their friends?
(Keith:  In a positive way.)
Chris: …If you are going to see a friend’s band and you don’t know who the openers are…I think the thing that strikes you at a gut level is a tight band.
Keith: My girlfriend is in a band that hasn’t toured much…and I…REALLY want them to go on tour, not just because she’s my girlfriend. Everything changes when you have to play every song, every day under super adverse conditions for six weeks. You come back a tremendously able band.
Chris: I think everyone being locked in rhythmically and having harmonies down… ‘cheats’ is probably the wrong word, because they’re not easy to achieve…they’re the things to focus on early on…
Even bad lead vocals are a common problem…
Chris: I guess that’s a more fundamental issue.
Keith: I’m not sure if touring is going to solve that one.
When you did your first tour, did you have a feeling you were expanding your fan base?
Keith:  No…I do feel like our first bunch of tours were self indulgence…just us going, ‘Man, touring is fun! Let’s go on tour and lose money!’
Chris: Not always…In the early days, even if you’re not gaining fans, you’re getting better as a band…that’s the most important thing at that point.
I guess it’s kind of like rehearsing in a different place…
Keith: Being a band in [NY]…is brutal in a positive sense. It makes you have to become a better band to play shows and not loathe yourself for having just played that show.  I just spent the summer in Athens, Georgia…You can play any show anywhere. It’s ragtag…kind of inspiring…People were allowing themselves to do whatever the hell they wanted at a show…really fun, but I feel like only the true crème of the crop…only your Neutral Milk Hotel’s will be able to leave Athens …
Do you think if you had not come to NY, you would have made it?
Chris: It’s hard to say…
Keith: I sincerely doubt it….Living in [NY] weighed very heavily on how we operated as a band. It pushed us harder, and we felt the need to push ourselves harder than we would if we were in…even LA.
How long does it take before touring becomes an unbearable pain the ass?
Keith: It’s only the length of touring that makes it unbearable…six weeks into the tour…
Chris: Even if you’re playing to 2,000 people a night, it’s not automatically gratifying.
Keith: Now that we’re not on tour, I’m excited to go... Touring is still really fun the idea of leaving home is less enticing…Once I’m gone Wednesday, I’ll be excited that we’re in London. But right now, on Monday, I’m really dreading it.
Chris: I actually just canceled our flights…
Keith: Ah, thank you! I don’t really understand bands that REALLY whine…it’s fun. During the day you have to find a lot of things to do to keep from killing yourselves…
Chris: Even if it’s just a set of handcuffs and a pipe.