Monday 5 November 2012

K&A with We Are The Physics

Five years ago, it was impossible to be a physics student in the West End of Glasgow and not be intrigued by the strange We Are The Physics posters popping up here and there.  I did anyway.  Shortly after hearing, literally, Less Than Three of their tracks, I quickly developed an unhealthy obsession with them.  Then the years pass by, they slip off the radar and my musical taste takes a distinctly folky turn... until one day... I find Goran Ivanisevic in my inbox...

...and my geeky love affair begins again!  Since then, they've released another two cracking "mutant punk" singles in Applied Robotics and Napoleon Loves Josephine, and one of the albums of the year to boot.  Certainly one of mine anyway!  Your Friend, The Atom was released at the end of October so I caught up with the band via the very scientific medium of The Internet and asked them some questions about it.  To be honest, I'm not actually sure who answered my questions, but given I have 75% chance of being correct, I'll give Michael the credit.  Take it away Michael...

Kowalskiy: At the risk of asking something you've answered hundreds of times already... are any of you actually physicists?
Michael: No, none of us are actual physicists, but we are all genuine physics. Michaeldrum is a pilot.

Kowalskiy: It's been a few years since your debut ...Are OK at Music. Do you think you've gotten better at it, or is OK still a fair assessment?
Michael: I think we're still okay. People always want to hear of some journey when it comes to a second album, a maturing or an evolution, so I'm going to say we're exactly the same. Might even be a bit worse. No bands want to say the truth which is that they're probably still shite.

Kowalskiy: How do you think Your Friend, The Atom compares to it?
Michael: I think as much as it's still us, it's a lot more thoughtful than OK At Music was. We spent less time just hammering at our instruments and more time hammering at other people's instruments. OK At Music consisted of the first songs we wrote, and it was a case of throwing everything we had on one record, whereas we could pick and choose more carefully this time.

Kowalskiy: Are you going to make us wait four-and-a-half years for the follow up again?!
Michael: We didn't make you wait, you're perfectly capable of inventing a time machine and skipping ahead to hear the next one. Actually, if we'd had our way, this one would've been out in 2010. Unfortunately, banks don't respond well to us running in and asking for money. By asking I mean demanding. And by running I mean driving through the window with a van. Actually, none of that happened, we're law-abiding citizens.

Kowalskiy: My interview standard... what would be your ideal gig?
Michael: This is going to sound really unambitious, but I think we play ideal gigs a lot. When we first imagined doing gigs and what they'd be like, they were the ones we loved growing up - small, intimate and rowdy. A bit like Dudley Moore. So, we get to live out our ideal gig fantasy every time we play. We've done bigger gigs and they're always just a bit dull.

Kowalskiy: How geeky are you... give us your best physics joke.
Michael: A particle walks into a bar and the bar man says nothing of interest because, ultimately, everything we do is completely futile.

And on that positive note, I also asked them a few song-specific ones.  In actual fact, they have very little relevance... but here's what they had to say anyway.

Kowalskiy: Your opening track Go Go Nucleo -> For Science and the album title itself, both seem to suggest that Nuclear and Particle are your preferred physics fields... but which is better... and why?
Michael: It's not a competition - only the foolish reduce brilliance to lists. (That's how we get out of not answering that questions due to lack of knowledge)

Kowalskiy: The correct answer was of course, nuclear.  Tut tut!  On the subject of physics fields, I've been in and around physics for 11 years now and I've never come across Applied Robotics. Explain!
Michael: That's not a question, we refuse to answer.

Kowalskiy: Other than not being a Kevin Bacon film, what else is Apollo 11 an example of?  This is of course referring to your non-HTML-friendly track entitled  (e.g. Apollo 11).
Michael: Apollo 11, as you well know, sir, took Stretch Armstrong and Buzz Lightyear to the moon. Apollo 11 was an example of how, suddenly, the human race took a massive artificial evolutionary step in removing themselves from the planet and landing on the moon. The song's about how fusing technology and humanity can lead to the singularity and the ultimate technological evolution of the human body into a machine or, at least, a posthuman entity that requires technology to function. NBSP with its semi-colon and ampersand is HTML and causes a non-breaking space, a wee bit of blankness in between two pieces of text. So, Apollo 11's successful mission is an example of a non-breaking space between the old world of natural humanity, and the possibility of the reality of a new world where technology allows humanity to exist outside the natural limitations of the body and the planet. We were going to call it HTML On Earth though, which is dead dead funny and wouldn't have required me to drone on and on here. TL;DR - doesn't really matter.

Kowalskiy: For your latest single Napoleon Loves Josephine, you chose to immortalise this love story in musical form.  How comes?
Michael: We always liked how that wasn't actually Josephine's name and how Napoleon just decided to call her that, so it echoes the point of the song which is about mutual manipulation. It's more about how people use each other for their own personal gain, with Napoleon and Josephine as examples of that.

Kowalskiy:  And So Now We're Wrestling With The Body Politic... which politician would make the best wrestler?
Michael:  David "The Rock" Cameron. Can you smell what The Rock is cooking? Possibly the NHS.

Kowalskiy: On to There Is No Cure For The Common Cold So Don't Expect A Cure For Cancer now... I don't mean to contradict you when you're in one of your more deep and philosphical moments, but haven't you heard of the Vicks' Bullring!?
Michael: That's true. And also carefully cutting your own skin off can cure acne.
[Don't try any of these at home kids!]

Kowalskiy: Track 7... this is more of a curious one about the video... what's going on?
Michael: Which video, damn you? Are we talking Goran Ivanisevic here? I just had to check the tracklisting on my own record. I think the whole plot of the video is thH3HCVV-39ERRROR LINE 9122.

Kowalskiy: Yeah, again... never heard of this Dildonics field.
Michael: I've always had a personal hang-up about Teledildonics - I remember reading a chapter about it in a book once on the way to college and this girl I thought was really pretty sat down next to me. We'd never talked because I was me, and she glanced over just as I turned the page to reveal a picture of a massive mechanized penis. Needless to say I had the last laugh. She still never spoke to me.

Kowalskiy: Right... Scottish music Cluedo. Who done 'it', where and with what?  I'll leave the 'it' up open to interpretation.  Don't get me sued!
Michael: Professor Green, in the TITP campsite, with the Benzo Fury.

Kowalskiy: Not really related to your song Eat Something, but what's your opinion on the recent findings that chocolate consumption is directly related to your chances of becoming a Nobel Prize winner? SUBQUESTION... if there were to be a Nobel Prize awarded for music, who'd win this year?
Michael: My opinion is that if it were true, I'd have all the Nobel Prizes. We should win the Nobel Prize for music because we've successfully managed to be awful for many years with only the truly enlightened noticing.

Kowalskiy: All My Friends Are JPEGs seems to be a dig at various aspects of social media. Care to go into more more detail, and also explain why constant Farmville requests from people you never even spoke to at school wasn't mentioned in the song?
Michael: It's not so much a dig, I just don't enjoy going out and having every moment captured on camera. You see groups of people emulating having a good time for the camera rather than actually, you know, having a good time. It's all become a bit like our online personnas are the ones that truly count and it's more important to show that we've had a good time on Facebook than to genuinely have one. It's a worry that eventually these online lives will be the ones that we're working in our real lives to maintain, the digital image of ourselves being more important than the physical. I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing, but we're in a rubbish transition stage where nothing's validated until it's been liked on Facebook.

Kowalskiy: Given the recent Scottish interest in The Great British Bake Off, what's your recipe for the perfect Junkie Bun?

Kowalskiy: Are you planning a John Travoltage counterpart to Olivia Neutron Bomb for the next album?
Michael: You're the one that I watt. You are the one I watt. Ooh ooh ooh frazzle.

Powerful stuff!  So, I hope that gives you a bit more insight, not only into their warped minds, but into the album too.  It's frenetic, fast-paced and offers very little in the way of respite.  And I'm pretty sure a lot of the subject matter violates the laws of physics themselves (should've known they weren't physicists!).  But all that is what makes it such an outstanding album... which you can of course buy here

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