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
“That was awesome.” “I… I suppose so.” “Um…[laughs]” “So, I’ve got class early…” “Oh, yeah, me too. Um…” “I think your clothes are all on the chair. Should you get dressed?” “Yeah, um… I like this song. Who is it?” “We Are Scientists. You’re shitting me, you don’t know We Are Scientists?” “I… No, but it’s good, though.” “They’re absolute legends. I can’t believe you don’t know them.” “No, uh… I mean, it sounds familiar. I’ve definitely heard them. I’m still learning all the English bands, so–” “Well, they’re not English, are they? They’re from New York.” “Oh, no way. Are they new?” “Compared to The Rolling Stones, yes. This is only their fifth record, so yah, baby band.” “Whoa! How old are they?” “I suppose they can’t be that young — they’ve been around since 2005. But they look twenty-two. Very handsome.” “[laughs] Should I be jealous?” “No point in that. I’d trade up without hesitating.” “Hey now…” “They’re also intelligent and funny. And rock stars. Full package, really.” “‘Rock stars’ might be a strong term…” “They’ve played Jools Holland. And the big stage at Glastonbury, and Reading & Leeds, and T in the Park. They’ve sold out Brixton Plaza.” “Uh… did you just make up a bunch of words and try to use them as evidence?” “David Letterman! Coachella!” “Okay, definitely more familiar. Wait, so how big are they here?” “Well, their first album, With Love & Squalor, sold a hundred and fifty thousand copies.” “Is that a lot?” “That’s gold! It’s one for every man, woman and child!” “Wait, the population of England is a hundred and fifty thousand?” “Twat. It’s hyperbole.” “I love that you just called me a twat.” “Is it a compliment in America? It isn’t really here.” “[laughs]” “I was on holiday in Madrid once, and I saw them supporting R.E.M.? They blew them off the stage.” “Man, R.E.M. … now there’s a great band.” “Of course. That’s why it’s significant. I wouldn’t tell you about seeing them blow Good Charlotte off the stage.” “Right. Hey, this was fun, we should totally–” “And what’s amazing about this new album, Helter Seltzer, is that they made it with Katy Perry’s keyboard player, so it’s got all this great poppy synthesizer on it, and drum samples, but still with those amazing Scientist melodies. I think it’s my favorite one yet, which is crazy if you think about it.” “Oh. Well, what are you doing this week? Should we get together again? Maybe tomorrow?” “I mean, he was Katy Perry’s keyboardist for three years, this guy Max Hart, but before that? He was the Scientist’s keyboardist. That’s the thing, they always work with their friends. Like Chris Coady, who mixed this album? He produced the last album, TV en Français.” “TV…on…” “And their first three albums were all produced by Ariel Rechtshaid, who’s now like this hot-shit super-producer of Vampire Weekend and Usher.” “Oh. Man, you know a lot about We Are Scientists.” “What I actually love the most is their videos. So hilarious. Every one is like this crazy, weird concept that no other band would do. It’s like, if you’re a band, and you have money to make a video, don’t just make some boring thing where you stumble around on a beach pretending to sing.” “I know, right?” “Plus they make hilarious comedy videos, basically for no reason. Have you ever seen their Instagram?” “Uh, I think so. It’s all those pictures of, of like–” “They do these short videos on it? They’re amazing. So funny.” “Right! Yeah, I think I’ve seen those.” “But the absolute best is their concerts. God, I’ve seen them about twenty times.” “Whoa. Twenty? That’s like how many times I’ve seen baseball.” “Such amazing songs, and it’s so unpredictable. Like things are always breaking, or somebody climbs on top of something, or Keith comes down in the audience, or Chris plays half the show in the audience.” “Huh.” “And between songs they always have a big chat, and it’s hilarious.” “Right.” “And different every time! Not memorized. Which is why I’m completely gutted.” “You’re… what do you mean?” “Well they’re playing in a week, aren’t they? But the show’s sold out and I didn’t get a ticket because I was at my stupid brother’s wedding.” “That’s cool about your brother. Congratulations.” “It’s all fucked. I wish I didn’t have a brother. The wedding was nice and all, but I wish I’d respectfully not attended and reserved a bloody We Are Scientists ticket, you know?” “Well, I guess…” “I suppose I’m just going to stand outside of Koko and try to mug someone.” “Um… Koko?” “Yah, Koko. Why? What?” “Um… well, that’s my cousin’s venue. He’s the manager there. That’s, like, that’s who I’m staying with. I live in his apartment.” “You’re living in the manager of Koko.” “Yeah, he’s my cousin. Tim.” “Tim. So… yes.” “Yes?” “Yes, I’m free tomorrow night.” “Oh! Ha. Great, should I just–” “Let’s meet at yours. At Tim’s.” “Um, okay. Sure! I’ll… I’ll text you the address.” “Fantastic. It was so nice to meet you… ah… Felix?” “Alex.” “Alex! Right. And I’m Alice. That was the joke.” “Yeah. Yeah, Alex and Alice.” “Right. Sorry, Alex. Look, this has been… awesome. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow night.”
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