Werewolves, triangles and French television

A&E talks with We Are Scientists members about life on tour and their newest album

We Are Scientists hypothesize about reptiles, make pop music.

Dan Monick

We Are Scientists hypothesize about reptiles, make pop music.

Jackie Renzetti

While touring, guitarist Keith Murray and bassist Chris Cain of We Are Scientists always pack a copy of Robert McCammon’s “The Wolf’s Hour,” which chronicles the adventures of a werewolf who must disrupt Nazi plans during World War II.

The indie pop duo feels that McCammon’s work — in addition to a selection of Lee Child novels — demonstrate the moral aims and perspective of We Are Scientists, making it especially important to bring them on their current tour so their newest drummer, Keith Carne, could get acclimated.

“If a person is going to be living with us … they need to understand that if we catch wind of a Nazi plot, we’re going to dive headlong into the effort to put a stop to it,” Cain said. “That surprises some people, unless they’ve read ‘The Wolf’s Hour.’”

Murray and Cain met in 1997 while attending Pomona College in California. After graduating two years later, the pair moved to Berkeley, Calif..

Murray, a literature major, worked in the University of California-Berkeley admissions department, while Cain worked for a consulting company focused on assimilating foreign companies into the U.S.

“They weren’t terrible jobs; they just weren’t specifically what we were dreaming we would do,” Murray said.

To spruce up their mundane work days, they started the band and eventually moved to New York City in 2001.

The band has seen a revolving cast of drummers since its inception. But that aside, their sound has changed significantly since their first album in 2005, which was purposefully influenced by local sound-alikes such as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. A sophomore record was similarly akin to David Bowie.  

But when the time came for a third and fourth album, the group decided to write as organically as possible, with results similar to that of the OK Social Club and Young Buffalo.

The duo chose their newest album’s title, “TV en Français,” to match its lyrical content.

The group found that watching television in a foreign language is similar to experiencing a breakdown in communication, fitting with the album’s lyrics that deal with the emotions accompanying a faltering relationship.

“You understand essentially what you’re seeing, but you are missing all the dialogue and so much of the meaning,” Cain said. “We felt that was an apt way of describing faltering relationships.”

Though the lyrics often deal with painful scenarios, the music retains up-tempo choruses and crescendoing guitar solos. There’s even the tinkling pitter-patter of a triangle to add a contemplative feel to “Make It Easy.”

“Keith Carne not only can [play triangle], but he can play it one-handed,” Murray said.

Carne uses a special, horseshoe-shaped triangle on tour that he can play with one hand.

“It’s been lauded with rave reviews … mostly from my parents,” Carne said. Now, horror fiction in hand, the band is currently back on the road for a tour.  

“It feels like how a vampire must feel like when he crawls out of the coffin. It’s great. And we are feasting on the blood of the young and the mortal as well,” Cain said. “Not literally. It’s great to be back on the road, playing shows.”

What: We Are Scientists with PAWS
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: 7th Street Entry, 701 N. First Ave., Minneapolis
Cost: $15
Age: 18+