Remember when Matt Dillon's character in the film Singles says his band, Citizen Dick, is huge in Belgium? That was awesome. While it always seems like clichéd bullshit when an American band claims to be bigger in Europe than at home-like professing to have slept with any number of girls in the Niagara Falls area-it's actually true for a lot of bands (see: Zappa, Frank and Mudhoney). The most recent American-made buzz-band in Europe is Brooklyn's We Are Scientists.
WAS (as the band is often called by hip Glaswegians and young Danish punks) have spent the last year playing Europe's biggest clubs. Their next U.K. tour isn't for a few more months, but dates are already sold out. At home, meanwhile, the band's playing paltry 300-seat venues.
"It's not too weird," insists WAS bassist Chris Cain. "To a degree it's less representative of any great difference in taste between the two populations and has more to do with, at this stage anyway, the fact that we've been working Europe a few months longer."
It may also be due to the plan of their label, Virgin Records: Build hype in Europe, then unleash the band on a primed U.S. market. WAS are planning a U.S. tour with the super-hyped British Arctic Monkeys later this year. Anything involving the Arctic Monkeys nowadays is a good plan.
WAS came out of last year's South by Southwest with the kind of buzz usually reserved for things like Pulp Fiction at Cannes. Of course, press is pretty fucking fickle, so too much underground buzz could kill WAS before they get going. Either way, Cain isn't too worried.
"I think there's an inevitable implosion of hype, but it doesn't necessarily have to be a backlash," he says. "I think as long as we don't come off as dickweeds or poseurs or whatever in the press, I don't think anybody will feel any bitterness towards us."
Other than smart marketing and a great live show, there's one other big reason WAS could blow up. With a sound that's equal parts Killers, Strokes and Franz Ferdinand, almost every song on the band's major label debut, With Love and Squalor , is a potential radio hit. "Inaction," with its rhythmic chant of " Cause I'm sick of waking up on your floor/For the sixth or seventh night in row/I'm lying next to you in all of my clothes/Someone stop me ," could be this year's "Somebody Told Me." When not making uncomplicated pop, the band fearlessly embraces anthemic guitar-rock. Massive, big-bottomed, arena-pleasing hooks dominate the disc, as do ultra-simple shout-along choruses like " I've been hit/I've been hit/I've been hit " from "It's a Hit."
With an album with so much breakthrough potential, the band will spend the next six months on tour bouncing between the United States and Europe (which is no different-they've been doing the same for the last year). In November, the guys will write a new album, and in December they'll record it. The whole thing has well-oiled-machine written all over it. A lot to digest for guys who just quit their day jobs.
"Every month has been different than the last since we started touring last spring," says Cain. "Every time we come back to a town, we're playing a bigger venue and the press progresses and the name of band expands in people's consciousness, and that lets us know that our efforts are going somewhere."
We Are Scientists play with The Grates and Foreign Born at The Casbah on April 2. $10-$12. 619-232-HELL.