The Bowery Ballroom


We Are Scientists, Reputante

Tue, November 20, 2012

Doors: 8:00 pm / Show: 8:30 pm

The Bowery Ballroom

New York, NY

This event is 18 and over

1977 came out in 1996. A record from 12 years ago, alluding to bassist Mark Hamilton were born) and cultural (punk rock, “Star Wars”) year zero that’s now over 30 years in the dim and distant past.

All of which might be enough to make you feel old, if the opening whoosh of “Lose Control” wasn’t always guaranteed to send you whizzing back to the fountain of eternal rock youth faster than even that monster riff can transport you to rock’n’roll heaven.

Because “1977” is one of those rare albums that is simultaneously locked into a specific period of time and yet remains forever fresh. The nostalgic fuzziness of “Goldfinger” and “Oh Yeah” will always send those of a certain age back to that crazy, hazy Britpop summer when the sun always shone, everything seemed possible and most things actually were. Yet the sheer vigour and vitality of “Kung Fu,” “Angel Interceptor” and “Girl From Mars” makes this wonderful, wonderful album the perpetual sound of youth, as thrilling and unsullied as the first day it was ever committed to vinyl. Whatever vinyl might be, Grandpa.

The Ash story began in the early Nineties in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland when schoolboys Wheeler and Hamilton hooked up with older, but scarcely wiser drummer extraordinaire Rick McMurray and bonded over a love of metal riffs, pure pop melodies and a desire to be the biggest thing out of Northern Ireland since, well, ever.

I first encountered them in 1994 when their effervescent first single “Jack Names The Planets”—included here as part of the “Trailer” mini-album— arrived in my pigeonhole at NME, on 7” vinyl no less, with little outward indication of the genius that lay within. Even at a time when British music was rediscovering its sense of excitement, records like this didn’t come along very often. When we discovered it was made by punk rock reprobates who weren’t even out of school, well, we had no choice but to investigate further.

In the company of Ash’s career-long press officer, Paddy Davis, I travelled across the Irish Sea to see them play a storming gig at Belfast Limelight in an atmosphere pitched at the exact mid-point between the rock god’s banqueting hall in Valhalla and a school disco. The next day, I travelled to Downpatrick to interview Tim and Rick for their first major press piece. Tim wasn’t yet old enough to drink but we went to the local boozer anyway, them ducking into a booth to avoid the barman’s inquisition while I got the Guinness in.

Photos taken of them that day show them looking so alarmingly youthful that even most teenagers resemble Methuselah’s dad in comparison. Yet, while finding such “guaranteed real teenagers” in a band was a novelty at the time, Ash were soon to prove there was much more to them than mere precociousness. Ahead of them lay all the signs of rock maturity—platinum albums, festival headline slots, Ivor Novello awards for songwriting, innovative digital age-orientated release strategies—but at the time, they seemed more concerned with their exam results and their parents not finding out about their burgeoning rock’n’roll lifestyle.

We returned—once Paddy and I had contrived to miss our flight—with a hangover and one decent quote but the unshakeable feeling that this was the start of something big.

And so it proved. The singles—“Petrol,” “Uncle Pat,” Kung Fu”—just kept on coming, each one more accomplished and successful than its predecessor. The band toured as much as their educational guardians would allow—manager Tav surely spent more time in the headmaster’s office than even Tucker Jenkins ever did—stunning fans of Elastica, among others, with the ability of three such callow youths to make such a monumental racket. They even found time to turn down a slot with Pearl Jam in favour of the educational hard yards, while their headline shows got bigger and more delirious with each outing.

By the time “1977” arrived in May ’96, Ashmania was in full flow. Praise flowed in their direction from seemingly every publication on the planet, from Smash Hits to Kerrang to The Guardian to Melody Maker. Small wonder: just as Britpop was going a bit Met Bar/Knebworth on our asses, here was a record that embodied the purity of what great rock’n’roll was all about. A record that gave you hit after hit after hit without ever making you think about its marketing plan. A record that could rock out with the best of them, while offering you a shoulder to cry on and the night of your life. A record that could somehow contain both touching ballads and a recording of someone being violently sick, and sound utterly uncontrived in both instances. When it went to No. 1, the alternative nation punched the air as one and went down the pub. However sick we got as a result, it still smelt like... victory.

Ash’s status was confirmed at that summer’s Reading Festival. They might only have been third on the Sunday night bill, but the combination of great songs, supreme joi de vivre and some awesome fireworks—preserved as part of this here reissue as a lesson for future generations in how to rock someone’s world—created such a sensation that even the Stone Roses’ notorious implosion at the top of the bill couldn’t ruin it. The past may have been theirs, but the future belonged to three kids from Downpatrick.

And indeed, while everyone else from our supposedly golden generation crashed and burned, Ash have never let us down. As heart-tearingly fantastic today as they’ve always been, throughout the line-up changes, shifts in direction, rock’n’roll excess and rehabilitation, their recordings have always retained the happy knack that all the greats possess: of always being different, while never once betraying their core essence. Similarly, whether encountering them in grotty London dive bars or swish San Francisco pools, dull German industrial estates or cool New York rooftops, Mark, Tim and Rick—an unshakeable rock’n’roll triumvirate to rival any power trio past or present—remain the same charming, talented people they were all those years ago in Downpatrick—except nowadays, they even get their round in. Still, unfeasibly, younger than many of today’s hot beat combos, they’ve retained a joy and delight in music that, frankly, should be bottled and given away free on the NHS. Or at least to some of the lily-livered outfits posing as “alternative” rock groups nowadays.

Many of you purchasing this timely re-issue will know that already of course. Others will no doubt be discovering it for the first time. Either way, once you’ve heard “1977,” whatever year you’re living in just won’t feel the same.

But it will feel like the start of forever. Enjoy...

Mark Sutherland
We Are Scientists
We Are Scientists
It was the kind of bar where nobody nice goes on the kind of street where nobody nice lives, which is probably what made it so cheap, which is definitely what made We Are Scientists take meetings there. Not that Murray & Cain were cheap, but they could do math just fine. If they were sticking a quarter into a video game machine, they’d just as soon the thrills last for more than thirty seconds. Same with buying a lady dinner. Of course it had been a long time since video games or dinner with a lady cost a quarter, and anyway they weren’t looking for video games or ladies, except in the deep-down quiet way that men always are. They were looking for a producer.

Murray & Cain, they’re the guys who started We Are Scientists 13 years ago. Fresh out of college and bored by their day jobs, they figured rehearsing a rock & roll band would eat up the long slow evenings. Only it backfired, because the band panned out. Now nothing eats up their long slow days, except proving that a busted clock is wrong nearly all the time, and if you watch a pot long enough, eventually it boils.

They ordered two whiskies, no ice, filled to spilling. Those were for Cain. Murray took a squid-looking thing made of plastic tubes from his briefcase and handed five of the six tentacles to the bartender, who attached them to the five closest taps. Murray stuck the free end into his mouth and nodded, and the bartender opened the taps. That’s when Chris Coady stepped out of the gloom.

They’d met Coady six years prior. At the time he was a hotshot engineer who’d made his bona fides giving The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s and TV on the Radio their signature sound. Now he was one of the best mixers in the game, and had a producer’s résumé that reminded you of a perfect hundred dollar bill. It looked so good it had to be fake. Only Coady was for real — Beach House, Wavves, and The Smith Westerns could testify to that.

“Tequila, ice,” he said, reading aloud every word on the itty bitty drink menu in his head. “Beer fucks with my sinuses.”

They talked. Songs, gear, bands, plus dirty, slanderous gossip. Lots of agreement, with enough “you’re fucking crazy”s to keep things interesting. It started to sound like this was the crew for the job. Two months later, they were drinking the same thing, but they were doing it in one of New York City’s best small studios, the kind that doesn’t come cheap, but gives you a lot more than you paid for. By the end of the year they’d made a record that knew how to throw a punch, but was no slouch in the bedroom, either. A record that gave you the big, wide-angle view, then brought you in for a closer look. It was a We Are Scientists record, and it was a Chris Coady record, and everybody who’d listened to it was having a real hard time staying calm.

A little calm was required, though. It had been a couple years since the band were part of the major label world, with its conveyor belt efficiency — putting out the record would take time. So while the suits set to work finding the right label partner, the band did one of the the only nine or ten things they do really, really well: they recorded some more music. Just a little more music.

A couple of days in their pal Tim Wheeler’s studio with his wunderkind partner Claudius Mittendorfer, and five more songs were ready to go — chopped, locked, exported to lossless AAC. But what to do with them? Like greed pooling in the chest of a recently elected politician, it didn’t take long for a plan to form.

We Are Scientists released “Something About You/Let Me Win,” a double-A-side, in July. “Business Casual,” an EP featuring two tracks from 2014’s untitled album, is out October 15th on Dine Alone Records (North America), 100% (UK/Europe), and through Caroline Records elsewhere.
Reputante is a band from NYC with James Levy, Jimmy Giannopoulos, Raviv Ullman and Emiliano Ortiz. Tim Wheeler (Ash) produced their debut EP, which will be released by Julian Casablancas' label, Cult Records.

"Reputante managed with Lock Me Up to sustain a beautiful packaged emotional song that sound like a lost gem of an already classic name! Beautiful and unexpectedly pleasant by its all means!!!" -- Sound Injections

"We're really starting to believe that post-punk inspired music is about to take over from all this hazy dreampop as the indie/alternative sound of choice very soon. The groundswell is palpable. New York band Reputante could well be key players. They've just signed to Cult Records and are offering you an excellent introductory track called 'Lock Me Up'" -- Sound of Confusion
Venue Information:
The Bowery Ballroom
6 Delancey St
New York, NY, 10002