Interview We Are Scientists: ‘Miley Cyrus Seems Savvier Than Justin Bieber’

We ask Keith questions to help him discover his true self.

Inspired by Vanity Fair’s recent use of the Proust Questionnaire, DIY asks Keith Murray, one part of well-dressed musical/comedy combo We Are Scientists - in town playing the Topman CTRL gigs - a series of questions to help him discover his true self. [Readers are welcome to re-post and re-answer the questionnaire].

What is your present state of mind?
‘Adult’. Today’s been one of those days when I don’t know what’s been happening to me. We left Cologne last night and woke up at 2 to go through customs and got chastised for not having our COS numbers at the ready, THEN had to wake up to ride the ferry, THEN woke up to do the Topshop thing, THEN a photo shoot, THEN went shopping in Tescos for supplies for Reading & Leeds and THEN went to Homebase. Then tonight we have a Topshop gig in Brighton and THEN we’re going to Portsmouth to DJ. It’s been a full day.

What do you dislike the most about your appearance?
My fingers are always pretty cut up. I really ought to go to a manicurist, but I’m too proud. I have two parallel splices down the middle of my thumbs. The first one is from opening a bottle of beer, using my thumb as the lever, and the other is from trying to play a funny trick on my guitar. My nails are also shaved at a funny plane due to striking guitar strings, almost as though wind has been blowing them for aeons and they are taking the shape of a smooth rock.

Which supermodel do you hate the most?
I love them all! I guess I hate Tyra Banks. She seems cruel. Naomi Campbell is sneaky, but I guess I can respect that, or at least expect that from my supermodels.

Which item of clothing do you most identify with?
I have a denim jean jacket that is torn in several places and is really falling apart, and has paint spat on it, but it has somehow an air of regality about it, which is kind of how I feel about myself: incredibly casual, non-manicured, but somehow character comes through. The tattered Queen Elizabeth look.

On what occasion do you lie?
If someone comes in and says ‘Who ate all the candy?’ I’ve been going through a chocolate phase recently, which is unlike me. I used to be a gummy lover, but I’ve moved away from the strictly sponged-sugar thing, and now I like a richer, milkier chocolate feel. My ideal would be peanuts or raisins covered in chocolate. OR maybe an almond! OR a macadamia nut! Steeped in chocolate!

If you could be 12 again, who would you rather be - Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus?
Miley Cyrus. She seems savvier than Justin Bieber. He looks like a deer in the headlights, and you get the impression that he has no understanding of what he’s doing, whereas Miley Cyrus has been ushered in by her mega celebrity father, who you would assume is wise to the wilds of the business world. She at least has a greater sense of her place. Whether or not she’s actually in charge is not what I’m going to assert.

Which scientific discoveries do you most admire?
Probably the discovery of vinyl… the vinyl that replaces leather seats. I’m into finding cheaper, more humane, garish coverings for sports car seats.

What are your favourite names?
I really like the name ‘Kip’ and I keep getting people to try and call me Kip, and only a select few do in the US. I do like the name Barbara a lot (I’m not gonna lie!) and in fact, I think I’ve made that quite public.

If you could change one thing about Chris, what would it be?
I’d like him to be slightly dumber so I could get the better of him more often. I still want him to be fairly smart so I can keep a handy business partner.

Who in rock is nicer than your new member Andy Burrows?
I would suspect, though I’ve never met him, that the Dalai Lama is a little nicer, but not by miles to be honest, and certainly is less fun to drink with. The Pope isn’t as nice as Andy Burrows because, due his job description, he has to make a lot of hard, moral decisions that require guts, which Andy probably doesn’t have to make. The Pope is probably a good man, who can’t afford to be nice all the time.

Which qualities do you value most in a bandmate?
That they should be as nice as the Dalai Lama. Also, the willingness to be ‘up for it’. No matter what time, night or day, you gotta be up for it. I don’t want sluggish people in the band.

What is your idea of misery?
‘Windowless rooms’. We have spent a lot of time in windowless dressing rooms in Germany, which was in contrast to the celebrational shows that we were doing. The time trapped for hours in underground lairs is pretty miserable.

Who or what is the greatest love of your life?
Either the book ‘Infinite Jest’ or candy! ‘Infinite Jest’ takes place in the near future and is about Canadian separatists who wanna leave their State, which is at this point joined with the US. It’s also about drug addicts in a half-way house and kids in a tennis academy. It’s way better than it sounds. It’s about entertainment addiction.

Who would you consider the most overrated person in entertainment?
There are so many! Jean-Claude Van Damme or Kesha, who is not really overrated but more popular than she should be.

Which cartoon character do you most identify with?
One of the three nephews of Scrooge McDuck. Any one of them! They’re just fun lovin’ without any concern. They don’t get up to actual deviance but they cause trouble for their wealthy benefactor.

Which word do you most overuse?
‘Genius’. I label things genius which are not genius. Though no one’s ever called Kesha ‘a genius’.

What is your favourite journey?
Any trip to Ibiza.

How would you wish to die?
Exhaustion by sex. Plummeted to death by exhaustion by sex.

If you could be resurrected, what thing or person would you come back as?
I’d like to be a Burmese mountain dog. They seem incredibly sweet at all times. I don’t think that’s because they’re incredibly stupid, which is the case for some dogs, but genuinely they digest their situation and they’re pleasantly surprised by what’s happening at all times.

We Are Scientists return for a full UK tour in November (see https://wearescientists.com/shows/ for details). Their fourth studio album ‘Barbara’, featuring the singles, ‘Rules Don’t Stop’ and ‘Nice Guys’, is out now.

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