We Are Scientists Are Ready Rock Your ‘Lobes’ Off

I recently had the opportunity to interview We Are Scientists. I remember listening to them in high school. They were the bridge between me and my friends when it came to music. My friends were more into the alternative soft rock where I was the emo/metal one in the group. My favorite song from them in high school was “Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt” off their 2005 album With Love and Squalor. We Are Scientists has a new album, Lobes, which is set to be released in January 2023. They currently have two new singles out called “Operator Error” and “Less From You”. These new singles will be on their new album and it’s a fresh new sort of spin on We Are Scientists, and it truly is a great listen. Their sound has evolved but also stayed very true to who they are. Their new singles are fun, catchy, and energetic.

I was able to pull out a few themes or meanings to “Operator Error.” I also noticed that the word confidence has a couple meanings. In the beginning of the song the word confidence comes off as being confident but as the song progresses the word changes as if it’s meant to be a secret. Can you explain your theme of the song or if there are other hidden meanings/themes inside this single?

Yeah, the main deployment of the notion of “confidence” in the song does center on the notion of keeping secrets and playing things close to the chest, but I also wanted to lean into the way that, sometimes, silence can be part of a duplicitous play. Sometimes, just keeping quiet and not saying a thing can be a con, a lie of omission, or whatever, and so this song kind of mulls over my standard practice of avoiding accountability by simply not weighing in, at all.

What (arguments) inspired you to write “Operator Error”? 

There is no specific argument that inspired “Operator Error.” It mainly spawned from my recognition that I tend to clam up when arguments do arise, just so I can avoid saying anything that might be used against me at a later date. That said, I also have a habit of delivering incredibly stupid hot takes, the fallout from which is probably what prompted me to try to adopt this silent approach more regularly.

You have a new album coming out in January, what inspired this album?

Chris and I both spent a lot of the pandemic messing around with synthesizers and generating electronic beats, and that approach to writing pop music as opposed to our usual guitar-heavy antics inspired us to pursue the sound of lobes. I mean, it still just sounds like We Are Scientists, I think, it’s just that instead of noodly guitar leads, you get a lot of noodly keyboard leads. Oh, let’s be honest: there are still a ton of noodly guitar leads on this thing. Mainly, though, I just wanted to deliver a bunch of big, infectious bangers, and oh boy, did we ever.

I noticed that many songs on the album deal with themes of trust and human relationships, was there a reason for this?

Well, I guess I’d say that a large majority of We Are Scientists songs tend to focus on relationships – maybe not always romantic relationships, but just sort of interpersonal interactions and the ways I try (and often fail) to navigate those. Our last album, Huffy, is sort of a sister album to LobesHuffy is kind of the daytime, peppy, guitar rock album, perfect for listening to on speed-boats or during a beach volleyball game. Lobes, on the other hand, is the music that would get played later that same night, maybe at 4 AM in a Miami nightclub, or at 4 AM under an overpass by the intracoastal waterway, or at 4 AM in a Jacuzzi with a bunch of knife-wielding, bikini-clad strangers.

Were any of the songs on Lobes inspired by true events?

Well they’re all definitely derived from my life, but I tend to write mainly as a means of trying to dissect myself, overall. Like, I’ll mull over specific incidents and then wonder what they mean about my general psyche and what the hell is wrong with it. There are a couple of songs on Lobes that are at least partially based on one improbably wild night at the seedy Manhattan nightclub Le Bain and the fallout of the events of that night, but, honestly, the less I say about that, the better.

I also noticed that the pace of the songs on the album picked up as the album progressed, as if it tells a story. Was this on purpose and if so why? I also have to say this album is fantastic and such a great listen! I can’t wait for the rest of the world to listen to it!

It is pretty unusual for us to back-load an album with bigger, peppier tracks – we usually like to come out of the gates with the biggest, craziest tunes. I think we were just so enamored of the idea of this record feeling like a late-night drive through a seaside metropolis that it felt good to start things off with some of the more midtempo, moodier tunes, like “Dispense With Sentiment” or “Lucky Just To Be Here.” But even those have poppy and bombastic elements to them, so they build pretty well into the wilder hangers that come later on, like “Turn It Up” or “Less From You.”

Will there be a U.S. tour coming up that coincides with the album?

There will definitely be a US tour coming, although we’re going to hit the UK and Europe more immediately, following the release of the record. I think it’s looking likely that a US tour will come after we’ve done some of the summer festivals, so maybe in autumn ‘23?

You formed We Are Scientists in Berkeley, CA, what are/were some of your favorite restaurants there that are underrated or not well known that should be?

Chez Panisse is an obvious all-time favorite. It kind of seems played-out now that everybody else has adopted Alice Waters’ farm-to-table ethos, but she really was an early adopter of the mode, and she still does it among the best. Most of our other favorite places from back in the earliest days of We Are Scientists are long gone. Raleigh’s is burned down, and the salad place next door to it that had gigantic, leafy bowls — shit I can’t remember its name – may have also perished in that fire. There’s a banging burrito spot called La Mission in Berkeley that may or may not have been there when we used to live in the neighborhood, but I go every time I’m in town, now. Oh, and of course the original Trader Vic’s has moved to a spot right on the bay in Emeryville – I have yet to go, but you’d better believe it’s perpetually on my “must visit” list.

I’m from Oakland, Ca and have a love for Fentons Creamery and have noticed since the Pixar movie Up it has become much more popular. What are your thoughts on that and on Fentons being featured in Pixar’s Up?

To be honest I don’t really know Fentons, and I barely remember anything about Up at all, other than that I did enjoy it when I saw it. I’ve been kind of trying to fight off a descent into full veganism, recently, curbing a lot of my egg and dairy consumption, but cheese is the last thing to go. Speaking of Bay Area cheeses, I do really love the Mount Tam cheese from Cowgirl Creamery – I think it’s based in Petaluma? Damn, that shit is good.

Also let’s touch on Homeroom, if you’ve had it. Everytime I visit home everyone wants to go. Is Homeroom (Mac N Cheese) worth the hype?

I haven’t been so I can’t say for sure, but I am willing to try any hyped mac & cheese. Even if people are overreacting, I want to eat any mac & cheese that is worthy of hysteria.

Amigo the Devil has also made a meme where he has photo shopped his face and Evan Peters face onto the Cover of Dumb & Dummer but changed it to say Dahm & Dahmer, what are your thoughts on this (he has written a song called “Dhamer Does Hollywood” from his Volume 1 album.

Well again I’m gonna be honest: I have no idea what you’re talking about. But I guess if somebody else out there wants to associate themselves with a guy who drilled holes and poured acid into the heads of people he’d abducted, they are welcome to do so!

My last question has to do with music. Beyoncé actually, she is currently trending with her newest song “CUFF IT” off her newest album that was released this year. What are your thoughts or opinions on her newest single/album?

I like Beyoncé pretty well. She’s definitely nowhere near the top of my list of favorite pop stars, but she is a hell of a singer and it’s cool that she has the power to whip the entirety of the human race into a frenzy every time she releases music. That’s a good popstar!

*Photographs by Dan Monick